August 2, 2017

Battlestar Galactica was Originally Pitched as a Very Different Show

Dan Neilan – The A.V. Club:

By having its roots in episodic storytelling while purposefully evolving into a serialized format, Battlestar was able to give its audience engaging, action-packed weekly episodes while laying the groundwork for a complex, long-term narrative. As Moore notes, part of the danger of the recent move to exclusively serialized shows tailor-made for streaming services “is that you almost get into a monotone, where they all have the same beat and pace and it’s all one long thing— and when you can kind of do this interesting mixture of episodic and serialization, you can kind of take the audience on a more interesting journey.”

Part of the enjoyment of Battlestar was that you never knew what the next episode would bring. It wasn’t a binge-worthy movie-divided-thirteen-ways. Battlestar might move sets, even jump story lines, appearing on a planet or splitting an episode between Galactica, a squadron of fighters, and a Cylon basestar. You never knew what was coming next.

Throughout the series each season arc, and the even larger series arc moved along at slower and even glacial paces. It was like watching a clock within a clock within another clock, and each clockwork moved independently.

Battlestar was written so compellingly that Kelly got hooked early on, and we watched every episode together. Sometimes we’d watch three back-to-back, others we’d watch just one. Every installment had a different flavor. Our DVR died, taking with it the final episode, and it was months before we got to see it. We made sure we did.

Contrast with two of my current favorites, each exemplifying the monotone look and beat mentioned by Moore: Stranger Things and Fargo. Each is well-written, well-produced, and leads the viewer deeper into the story with each episode. Each episode does, however, have a very similar feel to all the others. You’d feel right at home knocking off an entire season in one day-long, perhaps holiday-spanning, marathon.

I could never do that with Battlestar. Too intense, and too diverse. My mind whipsawed after two or three episodes.

Contrast those with another current fav, The Expanse. The Expanse is written with a more episodic bent, not unlike Battlestar. Each installment might take you somewhere else in the story’s universe, but arcing over all is a season-long story, and above that, a series-long story line.

The Expanse is Battlestar Galactica for this decade.

If binge-worthy shows have a monotone patina in order to make them go down easier for a day-long, Cheetos-laden binge, so much more’s the loss of craft.

#battlestarGlalactica #episodicTV #binge #watching

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