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Jane Espenson (#110 of 5)

Review: Firefly: Still Flying, A Celebration of Joss Whedon’s Acclaimed TV Series

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Review: Firefly: Still Flying, A Celebration of Joss Whedon’s Acclaimed TV Series
Review: Firefly: Still Flying, A Celebration of Joss Whedon’s Acclaimed TV Series

I like a lot of things these days. I like the Best for Babes Foundation. I like Rachel Ford’s status. I like the photo my husband posted of our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter scratching her ass in front of some student artwork—and I am duly pleased when four other people indicate that they like it too.

It’s so easy to like things nowadays that I can forget how hard being a fan of a TV series used to be. Pre-Internet me had to bid high on dubbed “complete series” VHS tapes off of eBay, subscribe by mail to fan-produced, photocopied, and stapled zines, and pore over ancient issues of Starlog otherwise gathering dust in my parents’ attic just to feed my obsession with the shows that consumed me.

I loved the world of TV fandom so much that back in 1996 I registered a domain name—tvgen.com—in the hopes of starting some kind of web-based clearing house for TV fans to meet other fans. I think I harbored secret hopes of financing a trip to Portmeiron, Wales, where Number Six from The Prisoner would magically come to life and whisk me off for a life of nonconformity and awesome scarves. Instead, I caved under my first offer and sold my future dreams for the ability to pay off my credit cards.

Ironically, as TV shows become more accessible, thanks to cable repeats, Netflix, streaming video, and TiVO, my ability to go nuts over a TV series seems to have decreased. It’s so easy to watch every episode that it’s even easier to give up when a show loses its footing. I’ll just go searching for something more exciting, or have a tawdry one-night stand with a couple of Real Housewives.

Battlestar Galactica Recap: Season 4, Episode 16, “Deadlock”

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<em>Battlestar Galactica</em> Recap: Season 4, Episode 16, “Deadlock”
<em>Battlestar Galactica</em> Recap: Season 4, Episode 16, “Deadlock”

Uhhhhhhhhhhhh ...

Hmmmmmmmmmmm ...

“Deadlock,” written by Jane Espenson and directed by Robert Young, offered up the best and worst of Battlestar Galactica. Characters changed their minds on a dime in seemingly unrealistic ways (seriously, WHAT IS UP WITH TYROL (Aaron Douglas) this half-season?). The writers pulled Baltar’s (James Callis) strings a little too obliquely to force him into YET ANOTHER crazy new persona (with only a handful of episodes? Really?). And there was a long, probably too soapy plotline that was still pretty terrific just because of the layers and layers and layers of backstory that were laid onto it. I see the fandom is largely unkind to “Deadlock,” if not outright hostile, and, yeah, this episode both feels like a waste of time with only four episodes left AND strangely rushed, as though a lot of plot had to be telescoped, since there are only four episodes left and the show has bigger questions to answer than whether Tigh (Michael Hogan) ends up with Ellen (Kate Vernon) or Caprica Six (Tricia Helfer). But, Hell’s bells, sometimes you watch a show like Battlestar for the simple pleasures, and seeing Hogan act the piss out of that monologue about the love he feels for women and then collapse weeping in Adama’s (Edward James Olmos) arms was pretty damn pleasurable, even if the episode, overall, prompted a long, long period of head-scratching.

Battlestar Galactica Recap: Season 4, Episode 4, “Escape Velocity”

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Battlestar Galactica Recap: Season 4, Episode 4, “Escape Velocity”
Battlestar Galactica Recap: Season 4, Episode 4, “Escape Velocity”

“Escape Velocity” is probably one of those episodes that most of the diehard Battlestar fans will hate because it’s a little strange, the feel of it is rather hazy and, well, not a lot actually HAPPENS in it. It’s very definitely one of those episodes that exists solely to set up future episodes and to create plot points and/or red herrings that will keep those following the storyline guessing as the series plays out. The episode also focuses on the weird mysticism that has always permeated the series, and it deals with the painful birthing pangs of monotheism. In some ways, it feels like more of a thinkpiece than an episode of a very plot-driven series. I really liked it, all things considered, but if you hated it, I don’t blame you. It kind of drifts about like a fever dream or a vision rather than just getting to the point already, though it builds to a memorable montage, filled with portent. And now that I troll the TWOP boards to read fan reactions, I see that most everyone else was on its wavelength too, so, once again, my fandom radar is way off.

Battlestar Galactica Recap: Season 3, Episode 16, “Dirty Hands”

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<em>Battlestar Galactica</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 16, “Dirty Hands”
<em>Battlestar Galactica</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 16, “Dirty Hands”

When the producers of Battlestar Galactica said they wanted to examine the life of the civilians in the fleet, I pictured episodes like the one that aired Sunday night, “Dirty Hands.”

The episode’s focus was the grunt workers who keep the fleet running by refining fuel, and the voyage into their refinery, basic as it was, was fascinating, shot in a style reminiscent of those famous photos of men constructing skyscrapers and working in mines during the 1930s. One of the things that has prevented Battlestar from taking us into this world in the past is its steadfast resolution to avoid technobabble, something that sunk many an episode of Star Trek. Certainly we wouldn’t buy that these massive spaceships run on gasoline or anything like that, so it’s necessary to come up with a cheat like tillium (the fuel used in the episode), but once you introduce such an element, there’s a temptation to explain how it fits into everything, how it’s processed, how the spaceships fill up and so on. Battlestar got around this by keeping everything deliberately vague, as if we were citizens of the Battlestar world and would already know what was going on, as we might when watching a documentary on how gasoline is made.

Battlestar Galactica Recap: Season 3, Episode 10, “The Passage”

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<em>Battlestar Galactica</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 10, “The Passage”
<em>Battlestar Galactica</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 10, “The Passage”

“The Passage,” the penultimate episode of Battlestar Galactica’s2006 run, was both a throwback to the series’s more action-packed first season and an attempt at rehabilitating a character who was mostly invented to be a thorn in the side of the regulars. It succeeded at the former and almost succeeded at the latter, though it took a strong final monologue from Edward James Olmos’s Admiral Adama to rescue that plot point. All in all, a solid stand-alone, inching the show’s mythology forward a bit while returning to the feeling of imminent doom that was season one’s stock-in-trade.