Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

La La La

Man, according to the BlogPatrol thingy I have running to check referrers and suchlike stats, my post on the BSG Mutiny arc seems to be still getting hits from forum discussions of how badly the finale sucked. How people can still be arguing over this, I don't know.

Dudes, forget the deus ex machina. Forget the fact that the Flying Spaghetti Monster did it. (Remember, that last line about how "it" doesn't like to be called God? FSM, man, FSM. Or maybe alien space bats.)

Forget the great honking "his name was Adam(a) and her name was (mitochondrial) Eve' cliché, and the whole teenage-pregnancy-and-an-early-death picture that paints for Hera's short, unpleasant life.

Forget the ludicrous scenario of your heroes returning to hunter/gatherer living, cause that's not actually the case; they're not breaking up into tribal structures; they're shown going off in pairs or family units at best, and often completely on their own. Abandoning technology, culture, medicine? Shit, these cretins are abandoning society.

Forget about Adama blowing his own brains out after Roslin's death, or Apollo falling down a ravine and dying a slow agonising death trapped down there with his broken femur with nobody to help him, or Chief building a coracle to try and sail to Scotland, only to drown in the English Channel, or Doc Cottle getting about five miles before his emphysema kicks in and the strain of it brings on a heart attack.

Forget the fact that Starbuck is magic! I mean, you've seen that Sarah Silverman "Jesus is magic!" routine, right? The one where she imagines explaining the difference between Judaism and Christianity to a child with "no bias whatsoever". That's the voice I hear that in. "See, mommy believes that Ronald D. Moore has zero respect for the intelligence of his audience, so didn't bother even attempting to resolve the narrative, preferring just to shout, 'Look, it's the Goodyear Bimp!' and run away. And daddy believes that Starbuck is magic!

No, no, no, forget all that. All you need to demonstrate the level of retarded in the BSG finale is one line, from the attack on the Cylon colony:

Apollo: Alpha Team, helmets off.

Heh. I mean, a soldier taking his helmet off before going into battle is retarded. An officer ordering his men to do so is retarded-squared. A writer incapable of seeing the inherent stupidity of this is retarded-cubed. (I mean, it's not even something you need to be gleaning from research, is it? It's not like you have to go and ask real-life soldiers whether, you know, it would be, like, a good idea to remove armour from a prime target before going into battle. You just have to exercise an iota of intellect marginally above that of Homer Simpson. You just have to remember the word "head-shot".) A writer so retarded that they still fail to see the inherent stupidity of this even despite countless war movies and tv series in the history of the modern media where some newbie schmuck takes his helmet off and gets a bullet in the forehead... that's retarded-off-the-fucking-chart.

So, you know, if you're arguing with BSG-finale defenders about whether or not the finale worked on any of those other points, just... don't bother. Really all you need is "Alpha Team, helmets off." Man that's so dumbass, it's a fucking benchmark-of-dumbassity. It should be used henceforth as an idiomatic measuring-stick of imbecilic writing.

"How dumb was that show last night? Man, that was Alpha-Team-helmets-off dumb!"

"Dude, that scored ten out of ten on the Alpha-Team-helmets-off scale!"

"Shit, man, that almost makes Alpha-Team-helmets-off look smart. Almost."

Cause it would have to be almost. Nothing could make that look smart.


Blogger Nalo said...

Thank you. So very much. Because the line, "Helmets off" just had my spidey sense jangling, and it all went downhill from there on.

4:03 pm  
Blogger Chris said...

Maybe they just wanted to be able to see!

4:24 pm  
Blogger Dianora said...

Dear Hal Duncan,

I love you.

Jen Heddle

4:39 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Chris: Suuuuuuure. And for extra flexibility they could have dumped all their body-armour too. And they could, you know, run faster if they weren't carrying guns. Maybe they could even have done the whole Pictish thing, and struck fear into their opponents by painting their naked bodies in blue patterns. Circles, maybe? Concentric ones focused on the chest area, I'm thinking. :P

6:57 pm  
Blogger Chris said...

Dude, they were pre-Picts. It all makes sense in retrospect! I fully expected to see Lee Adama beating a cylon to death with his purple headed bush-ferret, chanting early pre-Scottish poetry and supported by Kiera Knightley with a bow and arrow...

... oh God, I shouldn't have had that last pint.

10:50 pm  
Anonymous Libbet said...

Word. Frakinig word. You exactly nailed how absurd it was.

Thank you.

4:39 am  
Blogger anna tambour said...

You're too hard on the helmet scene, Al. There are two good reasons why this order would have been given. First, historical accuracy. Take the Adrian Casque, invented supposedly because of a soldier who stored his mess bowl under his helmet and it saved his life. Who has metal mess bowls today? Glass shatters! So wearing a helmet of glass is downright dangerous. If I were a commander, I'd tell my men to take them off and lay them down carefully in a safe place where no one could get hurt. But the scene could have been written in ignorance of history and glassware, and the instructions are due to writlat (writers thinking like automatic translaters), a perfectly legitimate way to think, seeing that we all use calculators and don't question their results.
Helmet > casque > bowl
Modern soldiers shouldn't go into battle with bowls on their heads.
should soldiers stand in formation > rock.

5:09 am  
Blogger anna tambour said...

'translaters' (sic). Arrrgh. How did that happen? Though some translated texts do spell it that way, so maybe that makes it wel.

5:35 am  
Blogger Divya said...


12:38 am  
Blogger S Johnson said...

The reason that BSG posts are still getting hits is that BSG is still with us. Not just in the form of Caprica (presold for an entire season, isn't it?) but in the form of the BSG people addressing the UN or BSG being cited in a Newsweek article as the symbol of the Bush years (their version of culture crit, I guess) or in the form of the TV shows and movies modeled upon it. We've already had Bionic Woman, Flash Gordon, Tin Man, Eureka's turn to the dark side just on SyFy. (Typing SyFy makes me want to giggle.) The determination of the mainstream media to praise BSG for its political daring and its hot chicks isn't going to go away just because the show's finished its run. There are political attitudes expressed by BSG praise. The politics are still with us. BSG criticism verges upon political criticism upon topical issues.

I looked at the link to One poster quoted a so-called military advisor about the helmets off line, to the effect that the helmets would limit visibility, especially if the faceplate fogged up. The BSG fans greatly enjoyed that one.

The notion that the spacesuit helmets wouldn't have something to deal with fogging strikes me as conceding that it wasn't a real spacesuit, just a prop. Have to admit, I laughed out loud at the line too. But that was because I wondered how they could smash a hole into the structure and walk through corridors to find air in the first place. The Galactica itself was an airtight cork in the hole it made? The answer obviously is no. BSG was so stupid it didn't have a sound grasp on the fact that there's no air in space.

The shot where the Galactica's back breaks also shows that the writers seemed to think that the "ship" needed a strong keel to climb the waves in heavy weather, or break under the weight of the ship.

They also seemed to think that the Galactica could achieve ramming speed without accelerating the vessel in the first place.

The really funny thing is that lots of people specifically praised the action sequences!

3:59 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

The thing about the action sequences is they worked dramatically, purely in terms of narrative dynamics -- peril and such. I did have... a somewhat arched eyebrow at the ramming speed from docking position, and the strange lack of roaring winds of air being sucked out gaping hole, but I was still boggling at that point from the minute long pounding being dished out to the ship. Given that, for however many episodes previously, the narrative had *pivoted* on the structural disintegration of the ship, the fact that it might not even make another jump, the fact that it was *fucked*. Given that it made the jump, took a solid pounding from the defence system of the colony of planet-levelling killer robots, (cause, you know, you'd think they'd have quite good guns, wouldn't you?) and then *rammed* its way through the very structure of that colony... well, I had only barely recovered from the boggle when the "helmets off" line came along.

6:29 am  
Blogger S Johnson said...

One of the producers, Ron D. Moore, posted this incredible assault on Voyager (when he worked briefly on the show, he was apparently freaked out that he was expected to come aboard as low man on the totem pole.) Given that, the way the rickety Galactica somehow rams the station had an eerie parallel to Voyager ramming a time-traveling spaceship in one of their episodes. That worked dramatically just once. One time viewing is a short shelf life. But when BSG did it again, it didn't work even once for me.

2:09 pm  

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