Tag Archives: Cultural Learnings

BSG: The Long Goodbye – Introduction

bsggoodbye

Introduction

March 23rd, 2009

I have written a lot about Battlestar Galactica over the past two years of this blog. One of my very first posts, in fact, was about how Battlestar Galactica was more or less taking over my life, leading me to see parallels in literature, in every day life, and expecting in some way that it would slowly meld with my own life. And, on Friday night, it pretty well did: after watching the finale, I shut myself into my room and turned out an epic, sprawling and rather indulgent review that was part catharsis and part exorcism. It was not, however, a goodbye.

I don’t think I’ll ever say “goodbye” to the show, what with the DVDs I could watch, or the academic papers I might eventually write, but at the same time I felt after writing that review that I need some more time, and some more posts, to really come to terms with this ending. And so, throughout the week I’ll be posting a myriad of thoughts on the show, whether it’s some links to the views of other critics, or an extended analysis of Season Four’s narrative structure, or potentially even something I’ve been resisting for a while but may have found its ideal time frame in the wake of the finale. I’m also considering the rather insane task of confronting the issue of the finale’s religious elements, but perhaps I’ll come to my senses before wading into that particular conflict.

Regardless, it’s one last chance to get some of this off my chest before I know I’ll have to put it on the backburner in favour of academic pursuits.

Monday:

The Critical Response to “Daybreak” – A collection of various critical analyses of the finale, with some of my own insight sprinkled in for good measure.

Tuesday:

Finale Discussion – A two-hour discussion of the series finale done with Devindra Hardawar and Meredith Woerner, recorded as a special edition of the /Filmcast, is now available for download at the above link.

Wednesday:

The Trouble with Twenty – As ironic as it sounds, an analysis of how the problems of feeling like the season needed more time could have been solved by shortening its season to tighten the show’s narrative.

Thursday:

The Real Higher Power – With all this talk of God and religion, let’s realize who really holds the most control in the BSG universe: Bear McCreary, composer of the Gods, controls our emotions and reactions more than any writer, producer, or higher power ever could.

Friday:

Romancing the Cylon, Revisited – My obsession with BSG is perhaps best represented by my undergraduate thesis about the series’ connection with Medieval Romance, so what better way to finish this cathartic week than spreading it to the world?

[Come back daily for another dose of The Long Goodbye.]

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False Pluralism: Emmys go from 5 to 6, but not from Wrong to Right

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False Pluralism:

From 5 to 6, but not from Wrong to Right

If you’re the kind of person who is reading this article, there are certain hopes you have in life.

They were once personified by Lauren Graham, critics’ darling and star of Gilmore Girls, who went seven seasons without an Emmy nomination. Then, you had The Wire, a low-rated but critically acclaimed HBO series that despite being hailed as the greatest series of all time failed to garner any non-writing nominations. And then there’s Lost, which after winning an Emmy in its first year out faltered due to its genre elements getting in the way of its taut and well-constructed drama, only returning in 2008.

The last decade or so of the Emmys have been defined less by who was winning (dominated as it was by The Sopranos and The West Wing), and more by who wasn’t even getting invited to the dance. In the internet age, this is to be expected: internet chatter is always more focused on the negative than the positive, and when the Emmy system is a complex unknown to most people assumptions are made and grievances are aired. The three above examples, and countless more, will go down in the annals of message boards or blogs as those shows which represented a black spot on the Emmy Awards – and, unfortunately for the Academy, their record is getting spottier every year.

But hope is not gone for a show like Lost, or shows like Battlestar Galactica and Friday Night Lights, for the Academy is making another change to its nomination structure:  they’re taking all Drama and Comedy series and acting categories into six horse races. Once reserved for a tie, the six-way battle is now the standard, and to quote Academy president John Shaffner this move “exemplifies the academy’s awareness of the amount of great television and fine individual work that is seen across the enormous spectrum of the television universe.”

Of course, what Shaffner is really saying is much simpler: “Dear Internet fans, *Insert Favourite Show* now has a better shot at being nominated, aren’t the Emmys relevant again?”

And sorry, Mr. Shaffner, but this wasn’t the only change, and your statement is an inherent contradiction of the OTHER methods taken by the Academy today. While the Emmy system was before extremely complex, (which I try to explain here), they’re going back to the drawing board: gone are the Panels that made up 50% of the final standings, replaced by, in the case of series, nothing but the popular vote of the entire membership and, in the case of acting races, by small, selective sections of the membership.

Which is officially the most egregious example of “one step forward, two steps back” that I’ve ever seen.

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Why I’m watching the Golden Globes instead of 24

globesFrom the title alone, this seems like it’s going to be one of my usual long-winded essays on the situation at hand, lengthy paragraphs on the sheer entertainment value of drunk Jack Nicholson heckling acceptance speeches and detailed analysis of my frustrations with season six of 24.

But when it comes to these two particular pieces of television programming, I have no powerful feelings in either direction: I do not despise 24, I do not love the Golden Globes, and yet I am deciding to watch the former.

The reason is really quite simple: the Golden Globes is capable of surprising me and I don’t really feel as if 24 is able to do the same. The Golden Globes, should the various awards go in directions surprising and different from expectations, have the chance to change the ongoing Oscar race, while 24 is unlikely to head in any direction that we would consider surprising (perhaps if they hadn’t spoiled their own “Yes, we’re desperate enough to resurrect a dead character,” this might be different).

I’m actually, by comparison, excited for the Golden Globes – I’ve obviously seen Slumdog Millionaire, so I’m rooting for it in its major categories, but there are some other big questions at stake especially in terms of acting momentum (where only really Supporting Actor (Ledger) is looking secure). Plus, with no musicals or comedies in contention for the eventual Oscar for Best Picture, it will be intriguing to see where the Globes go in terms of Musical/Comedy picture. And this is only on the cinema side, where my interest clearly doesn’t always lie: the television nominees weren’t that impressive, but I am nonetheless curious to see what hilarious impression of the current television landscape the HFPA comes up with.

24season7I have every intention on watching the seventh season of 24, but my priorities are for the things I know I will enjoy and that I know have some potential to be surprising. So tonight, I’ll be liveblogging the Golden Globes, and tomorrow night I will be watching How I Met Your Mother. If the seventh season gets off to as good a start as some of the reviews indicate, then that’s wonderful: I’ll be able to catch up later in the week when I’m not busy rewatching Battlestar Galactica Season 4.0 in order to prepare for Friday’s premiere.

However, if 24 is higher on your TV viewing hierarchy than it is on mine, I simply hope that it does not disappoint: I may be heading into this season with a fairly critical view of the show’s potential, but I would never begrudge anyone their enjoyment of what remains to an extent a well-produced piece of television with a solid central performance.

Season 7 of 24 begins its two-night, four hour premiere tonight, Sunday January 11th, on FOX (and Global, in Canada) at 8/7c, continuing at the same time tomorrow; the Golden Globes, meanwhile, start at 8/7c (with a red carpet special airing the hour before) on NBC (CTV).

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Cultural Learnings’ 2008 Television Time Capsule: An Introduction

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Faced with the task of memorializing 2008 as a year in television, there have been two major trends: either accepting the challenges facing the industry in 2008 and focusing on the positives which emerged, or eviscerating the industry for falling out of its golden age and squandering its potential.

I don’t envy people who truly have to do this job for a living: in a year of failed pilots and declining ratings, it must be tough to sum it all up from a critical perspective without the same kind of freedom that this blog affords me. The Cultural Learnings 2008 Television Time Capsule is an attempt to elide the year as a whole altogether: yes, it is tied together by some vague idea of recognizing that which was memorable in television, but I have no obligation to step outside my own station in doing so.

But I can’t pretend that writing this feature didn’t make me think about the broader implications of the industry, or that I didn’t read numerous other year-end features that influenced me to some degree in the process. This has been, even if we ignore the qualifications of good and bad, an interesting year for the medium of television, and I can totally see how some would begin to view the year as somewhat of a disappointment.

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Cultural Learnings’ Fall 2007 Lineup: Fridays

Fridays aren’t a big night for television: even in the wake of a few new shows debuting (Women’s Murder Club for ABC, Moonlight for CBS), I really can’t say that much on the night piques my interest. However, that doesn’t mean that I won’t be watching anything: unlike last year, there’s a show on Fridays that is worth the time of every TV viewer out there.

Friday Night Lights

Last week, I received my Friday Night Lights DVDs on Tuesday evening. By Saturday night, I had completed the entire 22 episode season. While light on features, the incredibly well-priced DVD collection reminded me of two things: that this was by far one of the best shows on television last season, and that I didn’t give it enough credit at the time.

Cultural Learnings’ Friday Night Lights Coverage

Why FNL is Emmy Worthy – Cultural Learnings

I’ll write more about Friday Night Lights when its debut in early October moves closer, but for now here’s something for those in the U.S.: until the end of the weekend, Yahoo! has the premiere streaming in its entirety. Check it out, and feel proud that you’re able to see something that I (As a Canadian) cannot see.

Yahoo! – Friday Night Lights Season Two Premiere

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