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Life is Fleeting: The BSG Colonial Fleet

In a wibble session a while back, taiji_jian made the point that the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series would have been more intriguing if Ronald D. Moore had stuck to his miniseries and Season 1 pattern of delving into the "transition to fleet life". The difficulties of moving from terrestrial life to a refugee generational fleet should have been tremendous. You can see how every loss impacts the food production capacity of the fleet, from the sublight botanical ship that Roslin has to leave behind in the miniseries to the luxury liners they show in "33" and "Colonial Day". There is a nice level of tension surrounding the needs for everyday resources from the Colonies: water, energy, Vipers. Then an ice planet is found... then a tylium planet... and then Tyrol holds DIY Viper class, after which every pilot apparently gets to take one home.

At some point, RDM decided that this was too minute and boring, and soon we've got just periodic allusions to how the food situation is getting tense again. (Again? A year on New Caprica should have let them at least restock, not keep depleting resources at levels that would have made the fleet inviable during the first three years.) The next chronic time their food shortage is even mentioned is in "The Passage", with the planet of Milk and Algae coming to the rescue. What's next, praying for manna to the Lords of Kobol? Open the ramscoop and get a boatload of quail?

Oh, and let's revisit Laura "Let's Start Making Babies" Roslin for just a second. Repopulation of the human species is all well and good, but I guess Caprica's version of Malthus was too busy lusting after Cylon babes to lay out one of the most fundamental theories of sustainability known to us of the Thirteenth Colony (or Zeroth, as the case may be).

Does this strike anyone else as jarring? I find myself in full agreement with taiji_jian and others who said that this could have been a serious dramatic element for a lost-in-space series, not just a chore as it seems to have become for BSG. On the other hand, making it a whimsical exercise in diplomacy and scavenger hunting as the Star Trek: Voyager writers did is not too smart either, in retrospect.

The bottom line: I think that if you find yourself stranded in space with nowhere to even touch foot to earth, you should feel it within the length of a normal space trip. That is, if you are a culture that already has generational ships, it should be like the Boomers of Star Trek: Enterprise - nothing should faze you. If, OTOH, the longest you spend in space is a week, you should be pretty well and truly frakked. That could make for very poignant and profound drama if a series creator lets it, but it takes a little imagination and courage. What say you?



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2008 01:59 pm (UTC)
Again? A year on New Caprica should have let them at least restock The fleet was not at New Caprica technically. They dropped the people off and placed them in geo-sync orbit. Plus, don't think the cylon overlords would have allowed a restocking of any escape vehicles.

As for the making babies thing, that was spoken at a time of great hope that they'd finally found a home, but before those dreams were crushed by those dreaded machines.(Though Six might cause many to think the same thoughts. ;) ) In even a generational ship, the population would have to be heavily controlled, due to limited resources. Not a popular topic to be talking about in today's politically charged America. So up until then, they would have been trying to keep the baby making down. While I think the limitations on ship would have made a good story and episode, I also think it would have hurt their ratings as pro-abortion, etc.

So, yes, I do agree that this is an issue that was overlooked, but I think, for the overall success of the show, it was a good topic to overlook.
Nov. 6th, 2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
The main problem is really that RDM likes to ADDRESS things, rather than EXPLORE them. He takes issues that would be on-going problems in daily existence of the fleet, and gives them a single episode. "HEY LOOK GUYS! I WAS THINKING ABOUT IT!" And then he moves on to the soap. It is kind of annoying to me, because I think those ongoing issues are the interesting ones, and should be driving the characters. You can't have just ONE weird black market ep. You can't have just ONE weird medical supply ep. You can't have just ONE economy ep, just one personnel shortage ep, just one water ep, just one famine ep, just one fuel ep. It is silly.
Nov. 6th, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
Exploration versus Exploitation
Precisely. I really think that to tell a story, you need to have all the issues and story arcs mesh together. The ideal series should advance the plot, interweaving threads, but not expose the machinery by making every episode about something. RDM does this a little with characters: take the Kat/Starbuck rivalry, for example. Sometimes there will be a milestone, such as a death or a flashback, but it was always there, waiting on the sidelines and threatening to boil over. I just wish it was more about things that affected all humanity instead of Adama's ship-crumpling rage and the unending emo saga of Anders/Apollo/Starbuck.

Nov. 6th, 2008 07:10 pm (UTC)
This is my biggest issue with the series. OK, they're on an air craft carrier in space, hopefully built like a relatively self suficient city but as soon as it was apparent to them they'd be in for the long haul rationing should have REALLY kicked in - and I mean REALLY kicked in - from socks to every microbe of food and just where does one get water for showers and laundry when in space? where is all this alcohol coming from? Who smokes on a spaceship? i mean air doesn't grow on trees!! oh, wait, yeah it does, but there arent legions of Ficus lining the halls of Galactica now, are there?. And the clothing, if they are trying to find Earth, and not escaping from it, why are they wearing suits in the same style as us in our modern era? at least Trek and Stargate made an attempt not to put aliens in Armani. It always really bothered me that a culture that did not grow with ours wears CLEAN HILFIGGER for press conferences. These people should stink, be filthy and hungry, and should be constantly running out of things. Trying to get the story in without this is as heinus as not changing the names of the characters. The story i've already heard - 25 years ago.
Nov. 9th, 2008 06:38 am (UTC)
Good points all
Really, I think a complete relaunch would have been superior to a reimagining, even if I had never seen an ep of the old series (I think I did see one ep or two, but it was after the original airings, in the early 1980s when BSG:TOS was first in syndication). Unforunately, are gondhir noted, Hollywood is obssessed with reimaginings right now, from the Terminator franchise to Knight Rider, and it's a bad thing to have an original bone in your body when it comes to what to call it.

Well, I for one say, creative is as creative does! Let's take a deep breath and dive into the unknown again, Daniel Day-Lewis style.

Nov. 7th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
The food, air, and water issues would appear to be the most pressing, but I've wondered where the power comes to keep the Vipers and the ships in operation.

We need to know their renewable source of power!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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