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More on Law and Politics in Battlestar Galactica:

Part II of Concurring Opinions' interview with Battlestar Galactica co-creators Ronald D. Moore and David Eick is now available here. This part focuses on the political and economic system of the Twelve Colonies, both before and after the Cylon attack. More fun for sci-fi fans with an interest in legal and political issues.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Cylon Politics and Religion:
  2. More on Law and Politics in Battlestar Galactica:
  3. Law and Politics in Battlestar Galactica:
Tom R (mail):
"They used replicators. There was no scarcity." Oh, wait...
2.24.2008 11:24pm
Cornellian (mail):
Will definitely have to put those interviews on my iPod.
2.24.2008 11:54pm
Tom R (mail):
It's a shame to hear from Eick/ Moore that they couldn't do more stories set among the civilian fleet ships, as originally planned, because they didn't have the budget to mock up different shipboard sets. I for one would have been perfectly happy with either (a) the same "generic civilian ship" set for all the others (I mean, come on, how different do jet liners look from each other?), or (b) the "Colonial Day" solution - "gee, isn't it amazing how this advanced technology can so exactly simulate an outdoors garden planetside?" "Yes, indeed amazing! Nearly as lifelike as the Star Trek holodeck's simulation of Sherlock Holmes' London!" [1]

A few more examples of "how the Destruction affected random, everyday Colonial citizens" (like "Sacrifices" but less extreme) would have been preferable to yet another "Starbuck has issues with Lee, Anders and her mother" episode. Again, I for one would have put up with a good deal of budget-cutting dramatic licence to see those stories. It would be a shame for a Shakespeare production company to say "Sorry, couldn't do the Agincourt speech, our budget didn't extend to a muddy French field".

Don't get me wrong - what "BSG" did achieve was excellent. The blame for its shortfalls lies with the bean-counters at Sci-Fi channel, who can't seem to recognise the difference between art that'll endure for decades and light fluff like "Flash Gordon" and "Earthsea".

[1] The difference being that the conference in "Colonial Day" actually extended the characters (Starbuck, Zarek), the plot (how much democracy are we going to restore?) and Colonial society (hey, they have patriotic holidays too!) whereas most Trek holdeck stories became a lazy way for scriptwriters to phone it in.
2.25.2008 12:01am
Cornellian (mail):
Speaking of budgets, that reminds of another point about BSG that I read somewhere a while back. The show creators made the point that an intricately plotted series where actions in one episode have consequences in a future episode have an inherent viewership problem. Every show gradually loses viewers through attrition. People move away, gets jobs that make it hard to keep up with the show, lose interest or whatever. It's hard to get new viewers to replace them if the new viewer has to watch the series from the beginning to understand what's going on. They're not going to put in that effort.

What's the answer to this? The interviewees didn't know, they just knew it was a problem that was gradually eroding their viewerbase.
2.25.2008 1:13am
Oren:
Oh seriously, how hard is it to head over to the pirate bay and pick up the episodes you missed?

That's got to be the lamest excuse for a lack of viewership I've ever heard.
2.25.2008 1:22am
Guest101:

Speaking of budgets, that reminds of another point about BSG that I read somewhere a while back. The show creators made the point that an intricately plotted series where actions in one episode have consequences in a future episode have an inherent viewership problem. Every show gradually loses viewers through attrition. People move away, gets jobs that make it hard to keep up with the show, lose interest or whatever. It's hard to get new viewers to replace them if the new viewer has to watch the series from the beginning to understand what's going on. They're not going to put in that effort.

I wonder to what extent new forms of distribution, such as DVD sets and digital downloads, may mitigate this problem. Personally I've never watched BSG on TV; I downloaded and watched all three seasons on Amazon's Unbox service over the course of about three weeks, which made it a lot easier to remember plot points from earlier episodes and also kept my interest up given the absence of a lag between episodes and the ability to work fit the viewing around the rest of my schedule. I wouldn't be surprised if general attrition becomes less of a problem as shows expand their audience base through alternative distribution methods.
2.25.2008 10:29am
Kenvee:
Oren,

It's not a matter of laziness, it's a matter of pulling people in. I don't just randomly start watching back episodes of a series. I have to get pulled into it somehow by the current episodes out there. I didn't watch the new Doctor Who series at first, but then I saw the "Girl in the Fireplace" episode and thought it was really clever and well done. So I grabbed Season 1 on DVD and got hooked. By the same token, I didn't watch Lost for a long time because I missed the first several episodes and knew how intricate the plot was supposed to be, but the snippets of episodes I'd seen didn't make me want to go to the trouble of watching old episodes to catch up. I have to have some indication I'm going to enjoy the show by watching the current episodes. Then and only then will I pull out old episodes to get caught up. So if your episodes don't connect to people who haven't been watching from the beginning, you're not going to pull in new viewership.

Incidentally, for a show that was amazing about building future storylines based on earlier plot points, check out Farscape.
2.25.2008 10:46am
Orielbean (mail):
I will say as a fan of Sopranos that missed a lot of the middle seasons, coming into things near the end, I was still able to piece together what was going on without much difficulty. The skill lies is keeping the story arcs shorter while still shifting the overall paradigms each season and keeping the big picture clear. Having a giant arc will definitely create problems and can't be solved with flashbacks, asides, or other creative "plot catch-up" methods.
2.25.2008 10:59am
BU2L:
This is why I think that the ability of the broadcast channels to release their series online is amazing. There are many shows that I watch now that I didn't used to, simply because I was stuck somewhere for a few hours and decided to use the time to watch some new series.

Now, if they could do this for BSG (I stopped watching somewhere around the end of season 2.5), it would be easy for me to catch up and then start TiVoing the new episodes as well.

I think this would resolve the eroding viewership problem.
2.25.2008 11:04am
Guest101:
BU2L,

You can get BSG online, you just have to pay for it. Well worth the cost, in my experience.
2.25.2008 11:46am
Tom R (mail):
Interesting comment from Eich/ Moore that economic and social differences among the Colonies are more than those among States (in the US) but less than those among different nations on Earth. I suppose that, even with quite a centralised federation on paper[1] - probably a result of a 40-year war for survival - the tyranny of distance among different planets (even with FTL jumps, or in the sqame solar system) means the federation's writ may not run everywhere - much as, say, Alaska and Hawaii, or Tasmania or Norfolk Island, or Sabah and Sarawak, are noticeably more different from the "mainland" States.

[1] Pro:

* a strong unified military

* direct one-person one-vote elections for President

* uniform abortion laws

* Baltar's change citizenship from Aerilon to Caprican seems to be just a matter of moving house - no internal naturalisation as per Switzerland or Quebec

Anti:

* The Colonies had fought and plundered each other, within living memory (hence Zarek's grievances about Sagitaron)

* Quorum of the Twelve (a sort of Senate/ Cabinet) has 1 per Colony, even though (we learn in "Dirty Hands") some are wealthier and more populous than others

As I noted in an earlier thread, it makes sense to use twelve tribes as electoral districts when they have colonised separate planets, but less so when everyone's living in tents on the same big mud flat.
2.25.2008 2:54pm