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Zane314
Fri, Sep 7, 2012, 9:02pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: The Expanse

Very good episode, I'd go 3.3, call it 3.5 stars. The opening was an eye opener! It is getting a little tiring to have the Vulcans always holding the Humans back; it'll be nice once the United Earth Empire, I mean the United Federation of Planets is formed and the Vulcans end up in a smaller role besides the dominant Hue-mans. B&B really went out of their way to make the Vulcans pains in the butt unlike TOS and later. I didn't mind the 911 parallels; it seems they needed a new, unique threat instead of Klingons, Borg, and other recycled races. Sure, we have the Temporal Cold War but that seems hard to use for a coherent, multi-episode story arch. Having Trip lose his sister was understandable from a plot/show point of view but it seems a tad unrealistic to have the #3 officer in charge of the ship going to find the people who did this. And Archer basically says go for it! Ok, it's tv and they need this to be personal. And the Klingons were fine; let's face it, they couldn't have Archer meet the Xindi all in part1 so they needed to pad it with another threat. We got the attack, Klingons, our Suliban friends, and great effects which all equals excellent tv sci-fi.
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Zane314
Fri, Sep 7, 2012, 8:48pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Regeneration

What can I say, I think Jammer missed this by 1/2 star. It was 4 stars in my book! Great episode despite reintroducing the Borg. I don't mind the timeline stuff; I've kind of gotten used to jump suited, ridge nosed aliens that speak English and lots of timeline games in Star Trek. And I think the writers worked hard to make the puzzle pieces fit together like Jammer noted. Plus the opening with the guest stars was excellent, it reminded me of 50's black and white b-movies but was perfectly executed. And the music, pacing, effects, everything after act 1 with the ENT crew was so well done, it felt like a cinematic experience. And much to my surprise, they made the Borg threat come alive again, very impressive after all the Borging I've experienced over the years. Episodes like this make me glad I'm finally skipping through Enterprise looking for the cream after years of avoiding it.
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Zane314
Fri, Sep 7, 2012, 8:40pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Cogenitor

This was quite an episode, Jammer nailed it. I might go 3.8 stars but we only do 1/2 star units here. I was a little taken back by Trip's recklessness educating the "it" when he should know this is way out of bounds. In fact, they might meet races that are much, much worse to some of their peoples than we saw here. E.g. chattel slavery. I like the observation in an earlier comment about how this mirrored treatment of women though I'd add this treatment of women still occurs in some places and some people still want it to be the standard (almost all men of course). Anyway excellent episode, effects, and guest stars. It was great to see Commander Tomalak again; his easy manner with Archer really worked well. I didn't mind Reed and his forward alien though some of their dialog was a bit painful. The suicide was heavy and not very "lightweight" like most Enterprise stuff but it was realistic - actions have consequences that are sometimes tragic. Lastly, I really liked Arched chewing out Trip at the end; it's what I wanted to do the whole episode! I thought it might end in a demotion or at least a permanent mark on Trip's record but I guess I should be happy with a chew out. This scene so reminded me of Adama chewing out ... well, anybody! Adama gave these talks to Starbuck, Sharon, Lee, probably others. I particularly liked how Archer kept his back to Trip when he dismissed and Trip seemed taken about by that and the whole chew out. Excellent episode, very good tv sci-fi.
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Zane314
Fri, Sep 7, 2012, 8:29pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: The Breach

John Billingsley is awesome. There I said it. He's got range, is believable, and seems able to make all his interactions, even mundane ones, interesting. His story in this was excellent. The b-story with the rock climbing ... ... was extremely skippable, and I did skip it! Gotta love watching stuff on disc, dvr, and online. I'd go 3.5 stars on the Phlox story.
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Zane314
Fri, Sep 7, 2012, 8:23pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Judgment

Sure this was a replay of the movie Klingon trial but J.G. Hertzler and great sets and a decent story really made this enjoyable. I didn't mind the quick escape but I did like Kolos staying behind and his reasoning. Also, it was neat to see him remembering a time when Klingons weren't quite to warrior obsessed and that their culture is still more heterogeneous than it was depicted in TOS.
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Zane314
Tue, Sep 4, 2012, 6:27pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Vanishing Point

Even though I've been just selectively watching non-T'pol portions of the better episodes, I'm a big Hoshi fan and watched this end to end. Right off the bat I saw the standard "altered states" template for Hoshi where everyone else was different. But after accepting that template from the start I very much enjoyed the episode because the execution was very well done, mainly because of a balanced, believable performance from Linda Park. Archer's call to her father and the over the top evil looking aliens doing evil things both seemed off but in the context of Hoshi's dissolving reality - and body - it only added to the surreal feel. I was genuinely uncertain on how they'd go at the end: was it a dream or were there aliens sabotaging the ship? If it was the latter the campy, evil aliens and Archer's long winded, stuttering call to Hoshi's dad would have happened which wouldn't have rung true. Also, Hoshi still not liking transporters and not "growing" is fine by me since it makes sense to have this fear and would be strange to have it suddenly recede after this nightmare. I like that it ended as a dream ... sometimes a dream-like episode is just a dream.
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Zane314
Sat, Sep 1, 2012, 4:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Carbon Creek

Warning: I barely watched any of this episode so this is a meta-comment on Jammer's review only.

I can't agree with this more so I'll simply go with "I agree 100%":

Jammer said:
"... I'm sorry to say that it fully reveals [Jolene Blalock's] limitations. She is simply not engaging here — as either of the two characters she plays — and the episode suffers as a result."

"... Blalock constantly comes across as a bland vessel of robotic Vulcan dialog. There's something wrong when you want to reach into the TV, shake the actress, and shout, "Just speak UP, for crying out loud!" If Blalock spoke any softer, and with any less variation in expression, her dialog would be completely inaudible."

"Blalock plays her part so relentlessly one-note that I longed for anything that would break through the cool detachment."

For me, this perfectly describes the issue with Blalock as T'Pol. Maybe it's the writing, maybe the director is constantly saying "more wooden, speak quieter, make your face more emotionless!" I don't know.

But what I see on the screen is a manikin (at best) mouthing lines. Spock (TOS and 2009) and Tuvok brought character to their supposedly emotionless roles unlike Blalock's T'Pol. The same can be said for the many guest star Vulcans. But she comes across so wooden and monotonic it makes me think she's a robot. Actually Data was a robot and he had way more color than T'Pol even without the emotion chip. I wonder if B&B casting an attractive actress with more acting range would have energized not just the T'Pol character but the Archer-Trip-T'Pol "big three" trio that the show features. Kirk/Spock/McCoy and Picard/Riker/Data were strong big threes - they blew it with ENT and Blalock.

So in summary, I barely watched any of this episode but as a review of T'Pol I completely agree with Jammer's comments.
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Zane314
Sat, Sep 1, 2012, 4:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: ENT S2: Shockwave, Part II

I feel compelled to finally comment on an Enterprise episode during my ENT re-watch/first-watch because poor Jammer is getting a lot of negative feedback for this review. To be fair, I didn’t watch this whole episode but more on that in a moment.

When Enterprise first aired I was very put off (disgusted?) by 2 things: the blatant sexual pandering with Jolene Blalock as T’Pol and the bad casting of a model who acts wooden all the time in a role that rarely employees emotion. An emotionless actress in an emotionless role = bore-ring! I’m a big fan of Vulcans and not showing emotioness does not mean acting/being wooden all the time - T’Pol really wrecks the cast for ENT. And the very obvious plastic surgery on Blalock is just so nonsensical for a Vulcan. At least with Seven of Nine she looked proportioned and was of a race that used implants anyway! :) The decontamination scene with T’Pol in s1 really started the clock ticking; I made it through most of s1’s first airings and gave up.

But years pass and I finally decide to try Enterprise again as long as I skip most T’Pol scenes and the blech intro song. I enjoyed the parts of s1 I watched recently and really like Hoshi (a natural beauty) who has a comfortable ease at playing her academic-in-space rookie role. Phlox is also excellent, a nice twist on a ship’s doctor. Everyone else is fine though I wish Trip didn’t have a (fake) southern accent or they cast a different actor with a natural southern twang: his acting the accent is noticeable to me.

With all this skipping, my watching all of Shockwave part1 end to end was a testament to Jammer’s 4-star review. That was an excellent episode indeed and I was excited for part2 despite 2nd parters rarely living up to a great 1st part. Well, Shockwave part2 stunk IMO. It was pretty ridiculous that a communicator and copper wire equals a time traveling comm device. And what could have been a very intense, gritty scene of Hoshi being gripped with fear in the confined space and overcoming it was actually very tame and ends with a juvenile shirt torn off / Hoshi holding her breasts shot with a supposedly funny quip. What a letdown in the middle of a weighty two-parter for Breman & Braga’s writing to morph (again!) into Beavis & Butthead style schlock. Remember in DS9 By Inferno's Light, Garak, who suffers from claustrophobia, had to work in a confined space in the Jem'Hadar prison? We saw an outstanding performance by (IMO) the best actor in the series bar none and with no silly comedy/sexuality thrown it. Now imagine those scenes ending with Garak stepping out of the tiny space and tearing his pants off revealing his butt (maybe just hip for TV). That’s how I think they ruined what could have been a great scene with Hosi by having her top rip off. And can someone tell me why T’Pol needs to be tortured with the top half of her cat-suit off to show off her Vulcan issue a-shirt? Nuts!

I’m not 100% against this epi, it has some good moments a great effects, but I think 2 stars is about right. I haven’t always agreed with Jammer’s ENT reviews but I think he nailed this. +1 for you sir!
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Zane314
Thu, Jun 28, 2012, 11:01am (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S2: Scattered

Serious LOL Justin! You know the stach's history, very cool.
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Zane314
Thu, Jun 28, 2012, 10:58am (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S1: Flesh and Bone

Hi Nick P. and Elliot (again!). A few hopefully short torture comments. (rats, too long a post ... again!)

About torture in BSG, Lee and Kara torture a Human later in s1 - where's the "it's just a machine so it's ok to torture it" rational there?

This is not an endless debate, I made and will continue to make the points I did about torture. I hope it changes the minds of others and lessens suffering in the world.

Torture is implicitly repudiated in the founding documents for the United States: the Eighth Amendment against Cruel and unusual punishment and the United States Declaration of Independence: "that all men are created equal ... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." And yes, that covers Nero, Hitler, Mao, and OBL. They're all Humans. It's also against U.S. and world laws, many of them in fact.

Also, note that I don't hold the Constitution and other founding documents as inerrant and unchangeable. In fact, I really think the Constitution should be scrapped since it was originally so largely structured around slavery and has led to a very undemocratic system: presidential election electoral college (should be popular vote), bicameral system with the Senate being extremely undemocratic (should be 535 members in a single legislator), and state drawn electoral districts which are manipulated like crazy (should be an objective, geometric formula, e.g. rectangles with only rivers and state borders as the boundaries). I'd also limit all judges to 10 years of service, especially the Supreme Court, to better reflect the current populace. These 4 things would go a long way to modernizing our political system and making it more democratic.

The President can't do whatever he wants, at least not 100%, and that is most definitely not the ideal to reach for. Also, torture has been shown to frequently not yield results even when he victim does know the desired information. E.g. in Casino, a movie setting based on a true event, a guy is tortured with his head in a vice - an eye eventually popped out (in the extended version and in real life) and the guy died. But he never gave up the info. Though torture no doubt can and does force information from victims, this movie example actually happened and there are many other examples in real life like this.

I'm against torture for the reasons I listed and because it is simply Wrong, it's against Humanity and what we should be - that's my belief, I can't "prove" it. And about the "effectiveness" Vietnam-era torturers, I recall reading about a South Vietnamese intel officer *and* a CIA officer taking up 2 Vietnamese in a helicopter, way high up. One of the bound prisoners was suddenly pushed out of the helicopter, falling a long was to his death. The executioner/tortures looked at the other victim and he immediately started talking. So is this a "success"? Not to me, it's an utter failure of Humanity. Sure they got the info they wanted but at a cost over the executed man and the torture victim. This is why I'm so impressed with our WWII interrogators, they got results *and* maintained their Humanity.

Also, torture wasn't just part of Roman military operations, it was enshrined in their legal system and *required* for the lower classes, even if they willingly told all they knew up front. Pretty horrible and something that should be left in our shameful past. But no, torture continues in the world and is very much reborn in the U.S. under Bush.

I really love history, including Roman history, particularly Byzantine since it's in between the ancient and medieval in time and later between Islam and Europe in space. I would agree that the Roman Empire was the "greatest" as in having the most resources and being the most feared in Western history up until 1989 when the U.S. because easily the greatest. In old times, The Persian Empire was great as was Alexander's short lived kingdom, China had periods of incredible power and great resources, plus the Mongols were really other worldly when they exploded on the world between 1206 and 1294. I think, normalizing any slight technology differences, the Mongols would have rolled the Romans in say 125-175, about the apex of Roman might. The Mongols were almost an alien invasion they were so fearsome and successful. I mean they attacked North into Russian forests and won ... in the winter! Also, Pax Romana was 207 years (27 BC to 180 AD) and wasn't so great for non-Roman citizens, women, slaves, conquered peoples, etc. And Rome raided northerners relentlessly taking materials, slaves, killing, exiling, etc. This wasn't mainly a response to northern aggression, Rome started a massive expansion while it was a Republic. It's estimated that in pacifying Gaul, Gaius Julius Caesar and his armies killed about a million natives and displaced another million. From Wikipedia "His ambition was to conquer and plunder some territories to get himself out of debt, and it is likely Gaul was not his initial target." How nice that Gaul wasn't his initial target but he did get there eventually and wrecked murder and terror until Rome ruled all of modern day France. And does this make the Roman Empire "greatest"?

Ashoka the Great is my idea of an ancient emperor getting it right and leading his people in a better direction. He and his huge kingdom converted to Buddhism which almost stuck if not for a lot of Hindu reforms. From Wikipedia:
As the legend goes, one day after the war was over, Ashoka ventured out to roam the city and all he could see were burnt houses and scattered corpses. This sight made him sick and he cried the famous monologue ...
"What have I done? If this is a victory, what's a defeat then? Is this a victory or a defeat? Is this justice or injustice? Is it gallantry or a rout? Is it valor to kill innocent children and women? Do I do it to widen the empire and for prosperity or to destroy the other's kingdom and splendor? One has lost her husband, someone else a father, someone a child, someone an unborn infant.... What's this debris of the corpses? Are these marks of victory or defeat? Are these vultures, crows, eagles the messengers of death or evil?"

I'm a little struck by the derisiveness that "bleeding heart" or [some negative adjective] liberal is used so much here and elsewhere. If being anti-torture, anti-war are these things then fine, that's me! And I'll explain why and try to get others to go that way. When did wanting less suffering and more peace become something to be denigrated? Both as an ideal and something to strive for in practice, there's no shame in wanting these things even if it means actually being a bleeding heart liberal. While I'm pragmatic and realistic, no doubt Humanity should have high ideals and work towards them. Bleeding heart and all!
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Zane314
Thu, Jun 28, 2012, 9:52am (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S1: The Hand of God

Hi Nick P. and Elliott, if you guys only read one sentence [of probably too long post! :)] read this: let's dial down personal comments and keep mining the great discussions for this show. I really can't hack "you said this because you're X" or "you're just a Y" and so forth. I'm a forum wimp in that respect. But I love love love talking about BSG! And you guys have both seen it, are passionate about it, and post here. Thus I value your constructive, show based comments. If I write something, call me out on it just like Elliot did. I'll explain ad nausea for you! The name calling and harshness, mostly not by you two, is such a turn off, it makes me want to abandon the forum. But I'm steeling myself against the negativity and will ignore the bad and focus on the good. Ok, soap boxing over, thanks for the patience.

Starbuck is a hot button character from day one when it was announced he was to be a she this time around. I only watched the show last Fall 2011 but reading the SyFy BSG Archives it is apparent that fandom blew a gasket pre-mini about her being a she. It never really hit me watching first time around that a female playing Starbuck was an issue. I mean I noticed it! But I gave her a chance just like I gave Boomer who not only was a woman this time but ethnically Korean (born in the US, Canadian by upbringing & culture - what a mix!). I was really pissed at her for answering Tigh's teasing of her call sign and insubordination with her taunts about his marital problems. Yes, all 3 items were true but Tigh choose things I thought were either subjective or not really a taunt, I mean, Starbuck revels in her being a rebel and getting tossed in the brig for drunk and disorderly should be a badge of honor for her. But Starbuck's taunt back to Tigh was much deeper, meaner, and way out of bounds considering what he had said. Ragging a on persons broken marriage (and man was it a mess!) is just despicable. But she still wasn't totally wrecked for me, she got in the hole at the end of the mini:

(Starbuck's quarters - Tigh walks in, Starbuck stands up)
Tigh: As you were.
Starbuck: Just trying to avoid another trip to the brig, sir.
Tigh: Lt. Thrace. Kara, what you did out there today with Lee Adama, it was a hell of a piece of flying. The Commander has always said that you were the best pilot he has ever seen. Well, today you proved it. Now, about yesterday, during the game, well, maybe I was out of line too. And I just- (Starbuck smirks) I wanted to say - sorry. Well, don't you have anything to say?
Starbuck: Permission to speak off the record, sir?
Tigh: Granted.
Starbuck: You're a bastard.
Tigh: You just don't know when to keep your mouth shut, do you? I am offering you a clean slate here.
Starbuck: I'm not interested in a clean slate with you. You're dangerous. You know why?
Tigh: This'll be good.
Starbuck: Because you're weak. Because you're a drunk.
Tigh: Are you done?
Starbuck: Yes, sir.
Tigh: You're returned to flight status. Let's see how long that lasts.

Now she raises the stakes not content with just calling out his terrible marriage problems. She ignores his complement, harshly rejects his apology, and adds ragging on his alcoholism issue! The drunk comment is so ironic because she was the BSG queen of the drunks. And I really felt for Tigh struggling to overcome his drinking issue, carefully marking his last liquor bottle and limiting himself to just that much per day. Of course, Tigh returns the rejection to Starbuck later in s1 but I had definitely sided with Tigh in the mini and Starbuck was in "the hole" for me from then on.

About misogyny, I've been called out that way for criticism of Starbuck and Roslin ... and I disagreed in detailed length about that. I know of no other BSG forum poster who goes on and on and on (repeat a jillion times) like I do. And in all my BSG ramblings I've *never* said I hate Starbuck or Roslin because they are women nor do I use derogatory labels for them that harsh, unempathetic people frequently apply to women. If you want to see my detailed reply to the misogynist label regarding Starbuck/Roslin criticim, see the following link which I did not start but I definitely posted to!
Re: Starbuck and Roslin are worst thing about this show
www.imdb.com/title/tt0407362/board/flat/197617250
Control-F on:
I find most criticism of Roslin here to be misogynistic at best
My mysoginy reply is right below that comment.

About "evidence that the character was poorly written" - I think think there are 2 viewpoints to the show at a high level:
1) what actually happened in the show, aka "canon", what we actually saw on screen in the episodes, movies, webisodes, and deleted scenes (except deleted scenes that contradict episodes)
2) the why, how, etc of how the show happened, the direction, writing, casting, and so forth

So when I criticize Starbuck and say I don't like this of that, I feel no obligation to justify it with evidence of bad writing. I see Starbuck doing something, e.g. rejecting Tigh's out reach at the end of the mini, and I react. In that case it was a bad reaction! [trying to be spoiler free] When Starbuck returned from a big mission at the end of s2 and Adama greeted her on the flight deck she squished up her face with a smile - my reaction was that's Starbuck, that's her relationship with Adama, it was cool, I really like the little moment. Based on my canon reactions I have my 3 phases for her: up and down, jerky, and repulsive. It is what it is for me and I respect others who see different things with Starbuck. A spoiler free example for another character is Boomer: she had a talk in a flashback in s4 with Adama and Tigh and I thought one of them was WAY out of character. Another poster at IMDB sincerely felt the other character (adama or tigh) was just fine and in character. I mean, I'd bet a lot of money and testify in a real court as a BSG expert and fanatic that one of those guys was way way way out of character and present evidence about it. But, I've got my biases and this other lover of the show honestly disagreed and said why. That's cool, we all see different angles especially with a show that isn't cut and dry like BSG, The Wire, etc.

Now, outside of my gut reaction to on screen canon, I like to delve into WHY? Why was X written this way, what as Y given a certain story, why was Z cast for a role? That's all I can really do now that I've watched the show and formed most of my opinions about canon. Sure, my canon thoughts may drift over time but I'm very unlikely to become a big enjoyer of most or Starbuck's scenes or a big disliker of any of the Boomers' scenes [never! :)]. I do enjoy peering behind the curtain or as Ron Moore said about the podcasts "see how the sausage is made."

So on that topic, I think my behind the curtain belief that Moore was TOO much in love with Katee/Starbuck is the show became imbalanced. Now this criticism is coming from a huge Boomer fan and she was number 7 in the opening credits, Eick (not Moore) had the idea of making her a Cylon, and she probably ended up with way more screen time than Moore originally planned. But keeping this on Starbuck, she was written so harshly it was hard for me to watch at times, with so many skills which took away form the show's realism, and (spoiler free) the writers ended up going to the "unexplained stuff is cool" well way too many times for her. It would have been great to take a major storyline or two away from Starbuck, round some hard corners, have her do a couple of nicer things. And, give Apollo, 4th in the opening credits right about Katee, some more to do and do well. (spoiler free) The writers really walked all over poor Jamie and it was kind of ridiculous. The writers (Moore?) also seemed to have it out for Grace, I mean she acted out so many death scenes it's nuts! But that's for another post.

In general, the quality of the writing had plus *and* minuses. Moore said in the podcasts he wanted a seat of the pants writing approach for BSG, more so than normal tv shows. Meaning that within over story structures he wanted to try all kinds of ideas episode to episode. So if a writer has a cool idea he was likely to green light it *even if the resolution was murky and not there are all*! You can see this when Kara is called a particular phrase with the H word in it - the writer in the podcast (not Moore) said he put it in cause it sounded cool but he was freaked out since he had no idea what it meant or how to reconcile it! This happened a lot in s3/s4 - the chickens had come home to roost and all of the cool, seat of the pants stuff had to be fit together or just let go. Grace Park said that at the end of s4 all the writers were upset, working hard on trying to put it all together. This is where The Wire did just a great job writing: whole seasons felt like incredibly long episodes and all the seasons were smoothly interconnected and consistent. But you can't expect The Wire with every tv show. And on balance I'm glad Moore did his writing approach for BSG, overall it was great.

Divine intervention? I don't know about that but regarding Starbuck "coming out on top" the Tigh apology at the end of the mini is an example to me. As is the (spoiler free) the time Starbuck caused a BIG problem at in s4, someone got hurt, and Starbuck starts shouting orders in her impatient, irritated, snarky tone. Not only was she again chosen as the "person of action" with the "skills" for the task at hand but she's speaking in the least concerned, least contrite manner possible for what was her fault! And after, when she actually compromised proving the other side's point there was no apology, no acceptance of what she did and caused to happen. Starbuck did verbally acknowledge "you're right" but it was with that angry, biting tone that belies the words coming from her mouth. There was an articulate post on this in the SyFy BSG Archive but I can't find it again. :(

Lastly, sure plenty of writers have a "thing" for a lead character but we're talking BSG here. If every other show has the Creator's Pet tv trope or none does isn't my concern. I wonder how Moore's thing for Katee/Starbuck colored the show's realization and evolution. BTW, I don't know of other shows I've watched, like Star Trek, where there was a big fave of the show runner like Moore/Starbuck. Now, Hawaii Five-0 did have a fifth team member in s2 that not only took time from Chin and even more from Kono (Grace Park), but the fans really hated this fifth member. The show runner stuck with her for a real long time ... a Creator's Pet example for sure. Now, in Moore's defense maybe if I could hear detailed podcasts for every Trek episode I'd learn that those show runners had things for character X or Y, e.g. was 7 of 9 a Creator's Pet? Maybe. But I think they brought her on to boost rating with her sex appeal and she was largely accepted, even liked, by the fans. With Enterprise, the main reson I stopped watching after s1 was T'pol was such an obvious pander I couldn't take it. I mean, come on, a Vulcan with breat and lip augmentation?!? At least Borg are supposed to be part mechanical and I don't think Ryan was augmented, at least it wasn't obvious with T'pol. And the salve rubbing scene in the Enterprise opener was so base, so ridiculous. Why just not just show Blalock's Maxim video during that part of the Enterprise episode? Come on! :)
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Zane314
Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 5:36pm (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S1: The Hand of God

Hi Nick P.! Thanks about the Starbuck agreement. I do want to say that I don’t dislike *everything* about her and that I know in real life she’s a good person, has survived cancer, and is very charitable. But Starbuck is mean and harsh so I’m not a big fan of that. Yes, Tigh is harsh too … and I’m not a fan of that part of his persona. The issue with Kara is the writers made her *too* mean and harsh IMO. I don’t want to do spoilers but I see 3 phases for Starbuck, I’ve edited this post from elsewhere to be sensitive to new viewers:

phase1, mini to late s1: “up and down” – I didn’t like her lashing out at Tigh about his wife and drinking but her back story with Zak and 1.04/1.05 were good. Sucked (with some redemption at the end) in 1.08. She was also cool in 1.10 Hand of God. She could be a little jerky but there was balance.

phase2: late s1 to end of s2: “the jerk phase”

phase3: early s3 to the finale: “repulsive, simply repulsive”

I truly believe that pulling her out of 2 major story lines, rounding some harsh/sarcastic corners, and playing up some slightly nicer moments would have made her perfect. E.g. add some more stuff like the 2 excellent deleted scenes from s2 where she showed a softer side and a caring side. I really like Kat and think if Lucianno was 5’ 6” plus she’d been great as Starbuck … I’ll keep quiet due to spoilers.

The other thing with Starbuck was she was great at so many things! Unbelievably so.

1. best pilot in the fleet, maybe one of the best pre-Great Attack, I’m good with this, make her an awesome pilot, loved her saving Apollo in the mini with a crazy hard stunt

2. best sniper in the fleet, this makes no sense with Marines on board and no, piloting well and being a good sniper are totally different things (this was completely show driven to get her into 1.03)

3. top military planner, e.g. for Hand of God. You mean the old warhorses Adama and Tigh couldn’t do better? This comes up again in s1 and s2. I did like her in Hand of God with a busted knee learning to contribute outside of the cockpit, but they played up her military planning genius too much

4. best card player in the show, except for Baltar the super genius who can probably card count

5. a combination of Scotty, Mr. T, and MacGyver: her repairing the Raider in 1.05 was pretty amazing, I know it was show driven and a great episode but still

6. 1 item redacted from 1.11

7. 2 items redacted from 2.02

8. 1 item redacted from 2.04

Ok, ok Moore, enough is enough! I know this is the fave character from the old show, I know Katee is number 3 in the credits after the super established big two, and I know you love, Love, LOVE Starbuck. But come on, this strains credulity. All the other characters are pretty balanced and not too superhuman but not Starbuck! It put me in the situation of thinking “wow, what new great skill will I discover Starbuck having in this episode?” And I don’t want that, it detracted from the show’s realism and hurt her character.

I’ve written a lot about Adama’s “Cronyism”-like enablement of Starbuck elsewhere and I can’t spoiler it on this page. But I posted a great quote by Dee from a deleted scene at www.jammersreviews.com/bsg/s3/rapture.php which really sums it up.

Hola Elliott! I agree Starbuck is far from perfect, she has great flaws and terrible baggage. But, though she makes mistakes she’s good at way too many things and she almost always comes out “on top” in a situation, even when she’s chewed out. Again not wanting to spoiler, she has many confrontations where she may be wrong or get the logical short end of the stick but her anger and sarcasm seems to always insulate her from responsibility and give her the air of victory. And she’s never contrite! There’s a scene in early s4, a terrible situation which she caused, and it was completely her ultimate responsibility. But she’s angrily barking orders with an impatient, irritated, sarcastic tone that is incredibly off putting.

I know a lot of folks love her and that’s cool, I respect that. And kudos to Moore & Co. for making a compelling character, no doubt about it. I just don’t enjoy Starbuck, at least not most of the time.
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Zane314
Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 4:33pm (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S1: Flesh and Bone

Hi Elliott, please see my comments above on torture in general and Starbuck in 1.08. I guess to be more accurate, I *HATE* Starbuck's actions in Flesh and Bone, her over the top sarcasm and smirking and, above all, her hearty embrace of torture. Now at the end, she at least partially redeemed herself to me by genuinely feeling for Leoben and not wanting him executed. And she prayed for him at the end. But when Leoben grabbed her I was exhilarated! I find her attitude in general to be nasty and snarky and combine that with the torture and I *HATE* her actions in 1.08. I'm real disappointed in Adama giving Starbuck this job instead of, well, anyone else! I think Tigh would have done better and he's pretty nuts. Apollo would have been cool since it makes sense to me and he doesn't do as much as Starbuck. Note, that I totally agree BSG characters mostly go up and down, do good and bad (with 2 exceptions). And you nailed it about the dialogue and myth making the show great, Flesh and Bone was outstanding for it's take on torture and for being engrossing TV.
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Zane314
Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 4:30pm (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S1: The Hand of God

Elliott, I responded to you on the Flesh and Bone page: www.jammersreviews.com/bsg/s1/flesh.php
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Zane314
Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 4:19pm (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S1: Flesh and Bone

How about torture and Battlestar Galactica 1.08 Flesh and Bone? Well, Roslin has a drug induced dream/hallucination about Leoben and she wants Leoben interrogated over Adama’s desire to immediately "destroy it" since she thinks "it might be important." While I don’t condone summary executions of "persons" (I think Cylons are persons), I think this is actually bad leadership and selfish of Roslin: over the military leader's objection she wants more information, probably because her dream has peaked her interest. There was nothing specific in the dream about the fleet or the safety of humanity so her interest was selfish. She actually endangered the fleet by letting Leoben interact with the crew, critically with the super valuable top pilot who happens to be a bit of a nut case.

So Adama orders Starbuck to interrogate Leoben since the President orders him to "send someone who won't be easily confused." Why didn’t Adama pick Apollo? I think he’d been much better, he’s got a cooler head and Adama can trust him. But Starbuck gets the call, busted knee and all.

Here’s how our crack interrogator (that’s sarcasm) plies her trade:
* wake up the prisoner
* in one sentence, insult his religion and use a racial epitaph (at least to Cylons)
* ask simple, blunt questions in a monotonic voice, even repeating questions verbatim
* 64 seconds after asking her first question, Starbuck becomes impatient and gets up to leave

Wow, she may be the top pilot in the fleet but come on, this is pretty shoddy questioning! She reports to Adama that Leoben said her call sign and he says "Don't take any chances, Starbuck" – guess that means start torturing!
* now they banter back and forth about religion, Starbuck is totally off her game now
* she brings in a tray of food and starts eating it just out of his reach (classy!)
* she allows him to eat after he asks
* they talk about Cylons sweating, being hungry, and feeling pain

Then the critical passage:
Starbuck: Hmm. Here's your dilemma: turn off the pain, you feel better but that makes you a machine, not a person. You see?, human beings can't turn off their pain. Human beings have to suffer and cry and scream and endure because they have no choice. So the o­nly way you can avoid the pain you are about to receive is by telling me exactly what I wanna know. Just like a human would.
Leoben: I knew this about you. You're everything I thought you would be. But it won't work, I won't tell you anything.
Starbuck: Maybe not. But then you'll know, deep down, that I beat you. That a human being beat you. And that you are truly no greater than we are. You're just a bunch of machines, after all.
Leoben: Let the games begin.

This is terrible, just awful for Starbuck to say. She’s trying to put Leoben in a lose-lose position: be a computer/machine and turn off his pain receptors when she tortures him which makes him a non-person. But he wants to be a person so he won’t deactivate the pain and thus the torture will hurt and he’ll give up the info. This is wrong on several points: she assumes Cylon humanoids can control pain in a way which they can’t. She also assumes Leoben "wants" to be a person – why does she think this? Lastly, she assumes any normal, feeling person will react to torture by giving up the information she wants. All wrong!

So she tortures the frak out of Leoben and still gets no info. He’s totally under her skin which is exactly what Adama warned Roslin of and he warned Starbuck twice. So Starbuck fails miserably: fails to get info, fails to keep Leoben out of her head, and fails to retain her humanity.

When Roslin came in, I initially liked her but ... to quote:
Roslin: What the hell is going on here? What exactly is it that you are doing here?
Starbuck: It's a machine, sir. There's no limit to the tactics I can use.
Roslin: And where's the warhead?
Starbuck: I don't know.
Roslin: You don't know. You've spent the last eight hours torturing this man... this machine, whatever it is, and you don't have a single piece of information to show for it.

Note Starbuck thought it was fine to torture a "machine" despite it being sentient and able to feel pain as we would define it. But I ended up more disappointed in Roslin who is most upset that Starbuck didn’t get any useful intel, not that she used torture! It’s one thing for a hot shot crazy pilot to torture a prisoner but the head of the civilian government just endorsed torture *if* it gets good intel, for both machines and humans! Then the President summarily executes Leoben for him saying Adama is a Cylon without consulting with Adama (though he’d probably says airlock Leoben since he wanted him dead from the start). Well, I’m definitely not voting for Roslin! :)

Pulling my last comment on torture, I think Starbuck tortured for 3 of the 4 common torture reasons:
1) To gain information that could save lives – they thought there was a bomb, the classic case
2) To punish someone for past or possible future actions – he’s a Cylon who's part of a race that almost eliminated humankind and he can't be trusted/released/etc
4) To satisfy the torturer either for a specific grievance – Leoben seriously irritated Starbuck and got under her skin, he's not getting away with that, she's going to win!

Moral of this story: Starbuck should stay in the cockpit and torture should never be used!
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Zane314
Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 4:08pm (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S1: Flesh and Bone

Jammer, this got a little long and is only loosely related to BSG so thanks for allowing the post and no problem if you pull it due to length/content.

Justin, I wanted to follow up your anti-torture comment with some documentation you and others might find interesting. It think this is also very much related to the excellent 1.08 Flesh and Bone episode which took the topic of torture head on.

Torture largely occurs for 4 reasons:
1) To gain information that could save lives or lessen suffering. The classic example is the Ticking time bomb scenario (Google it for Wiki’s page).
2) To punish someone for past or possible future actions. This frequently happens before executions (mostly in the past) and in past and present extra-judicial and criminal executions.
3) To instill fear in the torture victim and if he or she survives, in the public. This is a form of terrorism, spreading fear to achieve an end. The 80's terror wars in Central America has many examples of this.
4) To satisfy the torturer either for a specific grievance or due to pathological sadism. For example, someone may torture because the torture victim killer their family or because they are a pathological sadist in general.

Most (but maybe not all) will agree that 2, 3, and 4 are unreasonable in most if not all situations. Certainly no government of rational, calm individuals should make laws condoning 2, 3, or 4 nor should these governments covertly promote torture for these reasons.

Reason 1 is tricky though and it is most frequently held up as a justifiable reason to torture. This reason has also gained prominence recently because it’s the rational behind the Bush administrations ordering of systematic widespread torture after 9/11. By the way, the Obama administration has only partially curtailed the Bush regime and has dramatically stepped up the no longer covert extra-judicial assassination program which covers both U.S. and non-U.S. individuals.

About reason 1, using torture to gain info to stop more death/suffering, there’s just no consistent evidence that this *reliably* works and what are the *boundaries* for the torture to be used. The 9/11 case was broken wide open by a completely non-torture interrogation by an FBI agent, Ali Soufan. Plus, the Senate committee investigating Bush’s torture program has found that no attacks were prevented from the torture and no useful intel was gained. The Republicans on the committee withdrew because pro-torture evidence could not be found.

It’s interesting that lower classes in Roman times (e.g. ~300BCE t0 350CE) were *required* by law to be tortured if they were to give evidence. Even if they gave it up front, torture was applied. I’d think after the Enlightenment, the European Wars of Religion, the Spanish Inquisition, WWI, WWII, etc we’d have moved way beyond torture but back to Roman times it is!

A few more data points on torture:

Google: After Waterboarding: How to Make Terrorists Talk?
Quote:
At their next meeting, the Americans brought him some sugar-free cookies, a gesture that took the edge off Abu Jandal's angry demeanor. "We had showed him respect, and we had done this nice thing for him," Soufan recalls. "So he started talking to us instead of giving us lectures." It took more questioning, and some interrogators' sleight of hand, before the Yemeni gave up a wealth of information about al-Qaeda — including the identities of seven of the 9/11 bombers — but the cookies were the turning point. "After that, he could no longer think of us as evil Americans," Soufan says. "Now he was thinking of us as human beings."

Google: Fort Hunt's Quiet Men Break Silence on WWII
These awesome old men are true heroes of World War II: they did their job successfully and were as humane as possible in tough circumstances. Our current and last administration could learn a lot from them.
Quote (excerpts):
When about two dozen veterans got together yesterday for the first time since the 1940s, many of the proud men lamented the chasm between the way they conducted interrogations during the war and the harsh measures used today in questioning terrorism suspects. Back then, they and their commanders wrestled with the morality of bugging prisoners' cells with listening devices. They felt bad about censoring letters. They took prisoners out for steak dinners to soften them up. They played games with them. "We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess. Blunt criticism of modern enemy interrogations was a common refrain at the ceremonies held beside the Potomac River near Alexandria. Across the river, President Bush defended his administration's methods of detaining and questioning terrorism suspects during an Oval Office appearance. Several of the veterans, all men in their 80s and 90s, denounced the controversial techniques. And when the time came for them to accept honors from the Army's Freedom Team Salute, one veteran refused, citing his opposition to the war in Iraq and procedures that have been used at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. "We did it with a certain amount of respect and justice," said John Gunther Dean, 81, who became a career Foreign Service officer and ambassador to Denmark. The interrogators had standards that remain a source of pride and honor. "During the many interrogations, I never laid hands on anyone," said George Frenkel, 87, of Kensington. "We extracted information in a battle of the wits. I'm proud to say I never compromised my humanity."

Google: Verscharfte Vernehmung
The author is a Republican who considers himself a conservative! So it’s nice to see at least one of our Red State friends taking the moral, right stand about torture. Also note that the Church during the worst of the Inquisition tortured with a “no blood” rule so they’d stretch torture victims on a rack or lift them off the ground with their hands behind their backs dislocating their shoulders. If the torture victim was to be executed, they were turned over to secular authorities since the Church could not be stained with the sin of murder. So we are following in some very old and bad footsteps with water torture, “stress” positions, slamming against walls, beating prisoners in heavy bags with steel pipes, etc.
Quote:
The phrase "Verschärfte Vernehmung" is German for "enhanced interrogation". Other translations include "intensified interrogation" or "sharpened interrogation". It's a phrase that appears to have been concocted in 1937, to describe a form of torture that would leave no marks, and hence save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court. The methods, as you can see above, are indistinguishable from those described as "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the president. As you can see from the Gestapo memo, moreover, the Nazis were adamant that their "enhanced interrogation techniques" would be carefully restricted and controlled, monitored by an elite professional staff, of the kind recommended by Charles Krauthammer, and strictly reserved for certain categories of prisoner. At least, that was the original plan.

Google: From Water Torture to ‘Waterboarding’ fair.org
That’s right, the United States *executed* Japanese war criminals for water torture aka water boarding of U.S. and Chinese POWs. Now it seems the U.S. government and most people have forgotten ...
Quote:
Following World War II, when U.S. military tribunals tried Japanese military officials for war crimes for torturing prisoners of war, graphic accounts surfaced about the practice called “the water treatment,” which, as federal judge and laws of war scholar Evan Wallach observed (Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, 2007), “differ[ed] very little” from the “descriptions of waterboarding as it is currently applied.” One of the common practices of the Japanese military was described as follows in the Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East: “The victim was tied or held down on his back and cloth placed over his nose and mouth. Water was then poured on the cloth.”

So torture is bad and doesn’t work reliably for even extracting information to stop deaths/suffering. Other reasons for torture are simply (and rightly) dismissed. Personally, I’m against all torture. If someone knew of a bomb that was about to go off and I could only stop it by torturing him I’d say in a calm moment (like now) I wouldn’t do it. And I think we should write and enforce laws similarly. Now, if someone killed my love ones, I’d be enraged and want to torture and kill then murder the perpetrator. But that’s not how a civil society should be managed.
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Zane314
Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S1: Flesh and Bone

Hey Justin, I support your criticism of people who think its "great to see enhanced interrogation techniques in action" - good for you, don't ever be shy about your morals and reasoning for disliking something as abhorrent as torture! Also, just like the U.S. First Amendment doesn't allow us to scream FIRE in a crowded theater when there is none, Jammer has the right to restrict speech on his forums which are actually not legally "public" - the Jammer forums are on his computers and content that he allows the public to participate in. Selections from Jammer's comment policy from www.jammersreviews.com/info/commentpolicy.php follows ...

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You can add your own comments to the end of Jammer's Reviews so you can have your say in a public-like setting. That said, this is not a flame board. It is not a spamming forum. Flaming, spamming, and other general misuse of the commenting feature will not be tolerated. ...

You are encouraged to keep things civil. You may, of course, openly disagree with my reviews or other user comments, but I expect that you will not submit posts that are blatantly rude or harassing, excessively profane or offensive, or that contain defamatory remarks, commercial messages, or violations of copyright, trademark or intellectual property. At my discretion, posts deemed unacceptable or irrelevant to the topic at hand will be removed. I reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Here are the general rules:
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Don't post anything libelous, defamatory, harmful, threatening, harassing, abusive, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, racially or ethnically objectionable, or otherwise illegal.

Maintain a civil tone. Blatant rudeness to other posters on the board (or to me) will not be tolerated.
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Thank you. Please play by the rules so that everyone has fun.
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Zane314
Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 2:11pm (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S1: The Hand of God

Hi Justin! I've been reading and enjoying your episode comments here at Jammer's excellent site, keep it up! A few meta-comments. I love love love BSG and overall I'm really happy with the casting, acting, and characters. But during the mini and most of season 1 I was in what I call Starbuck phase1, my "up and down" time with her. I didn’t like her lashing out at Tigh about his wife and drinking but her back story with Zak and 1.04/1.05 were real good. She was also cool in 1.10 Hand of God being grounded but still contributing. She could be a little jerky but there was balance overall. I'll definitely chime in during s2 and later to comment on your comments on how she develops and I'm real interested in what you think of Starbuck during the series arch.

BTW, I *hated* her in Flesh and Bone because it made no sense to have Adama order her to interrogate Leoben - she's a hot shot pilot not an intel officer. I know its TV and she's number 3 in the credits but it took suspension of disbelief to see her in there. Secondly she extensively used torture and was snarky and sarcastic the whole time. I was happiest in 1.08 when Leoben said he could break free and she assumed a big smirky smile - his breaking his bonds, tossing the metal table aside, throwing her against the wall and holding the door shut made me go YEAH! Too bad normal torture victims can't do this, not they want to, more likely they just want the torture to stop. The end was cool when she connected with him and prayed for him after his summary execution by Roslin (without consulting the military no less). But still, I really was pissed at her for the torture. And note, not only did the Colonials gain zero info from Leoben, he totally got into her head which I think was very clever writing by Moore & Co.

There's another character I really don't like but it's mostly for stuff you haven't seen yet. But I mention it because she's a she. So I'm negative on 2 women but by no means do I consider myself misogynistic: a hater of girls or women just because of their sex. My favorite characters in the show are the Boomers, I really enjoy their stories and I think Grace Park fit the roles perfectly and acted well in all of them. Of course she's very pretty too! But that's not the point. I like Six but it's for her sly God/sex banter torturing poor Baltar with nearly non-stop hallucinations which brings out the best in James Callis. It's not just because she's attractive. Same for the 2 females I don't like in the show - it's not looks, it's their casting, direction, writing, and acting all in one. And both female characters I don't like are good people in real life; I've read a bit about them both, real good people and nice to boot. Plus, I don't dislike them 100% of the time in BSG. Like you said about Tigh Me Up Tigh Me Down: It is really is a testament to how brilliant this series is because my 2 least favorite characters in the show have many good and even great moments in my eyes.
Lastly, calling women actors on the show a bitch or a broad is certainly cruel and mean and possibly points to the speaker being a misogynistic. We don’t need that on Jammer’s board or anywhere else.

I've heard all the web podcasts and the 16 unique, non-podcast commentaries on the Blu-Rays and I can say for a fact that Ron Moore constantly heaps praise on Katee, more than any other actor by far. And Moore love, Love, LOVES the character Starbuck, he talks about it all the time. It really seemed out of sorts to me for an ensemble cast but apparently show runners frequently have a main character that they lock on to no matter how it works for the show or the fans. It's the "Creator's Pet" tv trope but without much of the fan hate (but there is some). See tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CreatorsPet While some may say it's "completely irrelevant how Moore felt" to me it does matter because I'm trying to make sense out of something that seemed out of place and not up to par for BSG. Moore just loved Starbuck to death and I think her performance created a feedback loop with the writers which intensified the character over time. I'll be interested in how you see Kara developed over time.
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Zane314
Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 2:26pm (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S3: Rapture

Well, we finally came to it: Athena and Helo find Hera is alive and have to deal with it. The scene with them obliquely discussing Athena’s plan really threw me, I had no idea what was coming! Downloading coupled with the Cylon’s strict belief against suicide makes it all seem plain now but seeing Helo fire made me jump. And then we get Helo being grilled, albeit lightly, by Adama and Roslin of all people. It all began when our never-elected-to-anything President decided unilaterally and without explanation that Athena must have a forced abortion. This from a women who’s dying from cancer, has taken a lot of hallucination inducing medicine, who thinks she’s a religious messiah of sorts but who apparently has fought for a women’s right to choose her whole life. Maybe that didn’t cover Cylon females! :) Then, she hatches and executes a criminal conspiracy with both government officials and military officers to fake Hera’s death and kidnap her because Athena or Cylons raising Hera would be a “disaster.” Well, well, well, guess what, in the end, the baby is on a Cylon Baseship anyway, the total opposite of what she said should never happen! And to get Hera back, Helo had to shoot his wife to death.

Now Roslin has the temerity to stand there (with Adama restraining him) while Roslin self-righteously says: "... there is plenty of blame to throw around and I accept it. And now all of our lives are in the hands of Sharon Agathon. All we can do is hope that your wife is worthy of the unconditional trust you place in her, Captain." Great apology Madam President! I do like how Adama said nothing after Helo and Roslin started talking *and* he kept his back to Roslin the whole time – that's pretty harsh criticism of Roslin from Adama. (though I wanted Helo to take her head off) I agree Athena does have the fleet’s safety at least partially in her hands but I feel this was 100% Roslin’s responsibility. The President again demonstrates what a terrible leader she is; I’m not surprised at all that Baltar got elected and I always wonder if Zarek would have been better if he had Adama’s support.

On to the other great part of Rapture: the deleted scene with Starbuck yammering about why do I this, why do I do that while Dee is fixing the Raptor. This is my second favorite deleted scene in the whole series after the absolute gem of Athena confronting Cally in 3.18 The Son Also Rises. Here we have Dee putting the smack down on a self-absorbed Starbuck: Great, great line from Dee:

"Yeah, I know what you're trying to do, you're trying to make it all about you and how frakked up you are. How you can't help yourself. Well I'm not buying it. Know why? Because of the Admiral, he loves you, he respects you. And that tells me you're not some pathetic loser who can't keep her pants on. You're not a victim of circumstances. He loves you and that means you're in charge of your own life, you make your own decisions. So if you are frakking around with my husband it's not because of your frakked up childhood or society or the gods-d@mn weather. Its cause you decided to do it."

Yes! That’s it in a nutshell: Starbuck, you’re a frak up because of your *choices* that Adama let's you make not your childhood, Zak dying, you’re love Z with Lee/Ander/Dee, or the “gods-d@mn weather.” *You* make bad, self-destructive, very hurtful choices. And you are responsible.
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Zane314
Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 11:25am (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S3: The Eye of Jupiter

And thus begins the mess that is the Final Five. I think your 3.0 stars is spot on Jammer as is your "part 1 of 2 parts syndrome" comments. This was particularly thoughtful and accurate:
"That the series is willing to pose philosophical questions like that is to its credit, but I can't shake the feeling that the writers increasingly rely on the metaphysical as a crutch. ... The higher power is apparently Ronald D. Moore."
I’ve phrased it as they went to the "not explaining stuff is cool" well way too often: Opera House visions, Final Five, the song story arc (more of it just happened, not a story), and, of course, lots of stuff about Starbuck in s3/s4 starting with Leoben’s unexplained love for Kara on New Caprica and his inexplicable need for her to reciprocate. It’s like Moore wanted his cake and to eat it too: here’s religion, philosophy, and the mysterious stuff … or is it? [as Moore slyly winks] He wants the mysticism of these things without the commitment. No doubt I love these elements of the show but I think Moore really missed with the balance and kind of chickened out by never owning up to any of it. More on this later in s3 and s4.

For The Eye of Jupiter, it was pretty cool but 3's obsession with the Final Five and the Temple never felt right to me. Plus the nuclear threat from Adama, really, I mean, really? (say it Amy Poehler style!) I don’t want to spoil anything for Jammer folks reading and watching in tandem but when I first watched this episode I thought no way he’s nuking the planet with 2 of the 7 opening credit actors on it along with Anders and Dee. (sarcasm mode on) What, is Adama going to eliminate all 4 corners of the show’s beloved “love Z” who happen to be on the planet that might be nuked? (sarcasm mode off, Great love Z comment Jammer!) Funny that the deleted scenes have even more “I hereby authorize, I concur, put in your arming key, open missile doors” blah blah blah. By the way, the love Z bull-feldercarb was really trying. And, here’s a new gun pointing first for BSG: make someone lead troops at the point of a gun! Stupid, just stupid. I’m glad Anders called Lee on this.

Ryan said: “Sense made by the Cylons: zero. Likeable qualities in Starbuck: zero. Number of MacGuffins and asspulls used by writers: too many to count. … The show's stubborn refusal to give Starbuck even a single redeemable quality coupled with its insistence on making her more and more of a central character is truly infuriating.”
Priceless! Great job Ryan, I was really laughing out loud at that and I agree with it 100%. See my The Passage comment and the 3 links I posted for nearly endless jabbering by me about Starbuck being a poopy head.

Ryan, Nick P.: I totally agree about the mystery of why Starbuck gets away with the bad things she does. Outside of the show’s fantasy, based on the podcasts I’m convinced that Ron Moore was in love with the character Starbuck and was simply thrilled by Katee’s performance of the character. There are 2 very interesting exchanges in the 3.09 Unfinished Business podcast with Moore baring his feelings about Starbuck (selections from the podcast):
RDM: Love- Kate is lovely in this episode.
RDM: She's lovely in this episode.
RDM: Oh she's just- you just love her. You forgive her all her sins. This is why they had a successful marriage. 'Cause no matter how crazy she was, she could be this person, and ultimately you gotta love her. (Laughs.)
RDM: This crazy bitch-
Grace: I- people love to hate her.
RDM: -who does all this nice psychotic stuff.
Grace: I love her.
RDM: But you gotta love her.
Grace: I love her through and through.

Terry: Ugh. This is so awful.
RDM: It's so awful.
Terry: Oh... the first time I saw this I just hated her.
RDM: See? That's what I mean. It's all- it's-
Terry: I just hated her.
RDM: It's about how much can you hate Starbuck and you can't hate- you can't completely hate her? You have to-
Tahmoh: No, you can't.
RDM: -be careful on the show-
Terry: I don't know.
RDM: -that you don't- Do still completely hate her?
RDM: Oh. But by the end of this episode, you still hate her.
Terry: At the end of this episode I still hate her.
RDM: Ok.
It's really funny that Grace almost, almost says "I hate her" and then back peddles furiously! :) It takes Ron's wife Terry to flat out say "I hate her" with no apologies - too bad she wasn't a writer so she could blunt Ron's excesses with Starbuck. And in the other podcasts he really heaps praise on Katee, more than any other actor by far. And Moore love, Love, LOVES the character Starbuck, he talks about it all the time.

Within the show’s fantasy, for whatever reasons, King Adama gives her a pass in almost every instance. Sure he pushed her out of her chair and was hard on her and in early s4 he gets mad at her but considering her behavior he’s being ridiculously, unbelievably soft. But the King allows it, so it shall be.

On the upside, I agree with Jammer that the Cylon delegation visit was cool. It really shows up how irrational Roslin is regarding Baltar and how this is an example of her being unfit to lead the fleet’s civilian government. I mean this happens *all the time* in the real world and fiction: bitter, hateful advisories face off and have discussions, sometimes right smack dab in the middle of killing each other in some form of warfare. And Roslin just up and says to Adama: “I think you can handle this alone, if you can stomach it” and walks out. If I were the Cylons I’d value Baltar for his natural ability to completely unhinge one of the two leaders of the Humans. Cavil’s line about “we’ll throw in Baltar” and Gaius’s response are great. That’s the wiggling, off balance, side shifting Baltar I know and love! And the first confrontation between Athena and Boomer was Fantastic! I think Grace Park did an excellent job with Athena’s stiff, intense demeanor and Boomer’s posture and combative attitude. Tigh’s line about visiting privileges being revoked is pure Tigh. Boomer’s yelling after Athena “You’re not one of them, you’re a thing!” is powerful and sets us up for the long coming confrontation between Athena/Helo and Roslin/Adama.
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Zane314
Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 9:42am (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S3: The Passage

I'd give The Passage a solid 3.0 stars, maybe 3.5. On the downside Jammer is right: the story is simple, cliched, and technically weak (star navigation, no sunglasses, etc). Plus, I'm with Kyle and Ryan about Starbuck in this episode: annoying, harsh, angry, destructive and (my fave for her) repulsive! Note that "Starbuck's reconciliation with Kat" was actually Kat requesting to see Starbuck. And at the end Kara says "I've gotta go" and kind of winces a smirk. (sarcasm mode on) Perfect! Great way to apologize for being a mean, colossal jerk Starbuck to your rival on her deathbed! (sarcasm mode off)

On the upside, wow, what great work by Olmos and Carro for Kat's deathbed scene, chokes me up every time. Adama saying he doesn't want to hear about her past, she was a good CAG that made her pilots feel safe, and his "oh, I'm staying" was so strong. His adopting her as his third kid in spirit and posthumously promoting her back to CAG was moving, very moving. Too bad Luciana Carro isn't 5'6" or 5'7" - she'd been a much better Starbuck IMO: the right balance between brash, egotistical, confident and empathetic, kind, and forgiving. No matter, her send off was outstanding, great job!
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Zane314
Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 8:06am (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S3: Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business is probably my most disliked episode though it has some bright spots; I'd say 1.5 stars. It would be completely unwatchable for me if it wasn’t for:
1) Nice flashbacks of New Caprica with Gaius not being evil and Gaeta being a hard working idealist.
2) Adama and Roslin letting their guards down and fantasizing about a possible future together.
3) Tahmoh being able to use his real life martial arts expertise; he’s actually a good Thai kick boxer.
4) Athena being able to be excited, happy, and just part of the crew for the first time - much more like Grace Park and not acting out terrible suffering and angst filled situations like poor s2 Athena.

But … [you knew a “but” was coming! :)] … 3 things really brought this episode down for me:

1) The amount of blood and violence was blech; I know it’s boxing and I’ve succumbed and enjoyed boxing matches in my day but this went on and on despite the flashbacks. And the blood was ridiculous; I think Moore & Co. just liked it gory and over the top so we get an almost completely red faced Adama for his dramatic speech – it looked like a slasher film at times and took away from the acting and story.

2) Starbuck just gets worse and worse. I have 3 phases for Kara:
phase1, mini to 1.11: “up and down” – I didn’t like her lashing out at Tigh about his wife and drinking but her back story with Zak and 1.04/1.05 were good. She was also cool in 1.10 Hand of God. She could be a little jerky but there was balance.
phase2: 1.12 to 2.20: “the jerk phase” – Now she’s just a jerk. Siding with Roslin, shooting at Athena on sight over Helo’s objections (which she does again to a Marine during the mutiny) then calling Helo an idiot in the least supportive “pep” talk ever, her wrecking Kat’s moment of glory in Scar, etc ... the writers needed to round off her harsher moments and add a few of her deleted scenes to make Kara more like her “up and down” phase1.
phase3: 3.05 to the finale: “repulsive, simply repulsive” – I give Starbuck a pass for 3.01 to 3.04, what a terrible torture she suffered and why, why was Leoben obsessed with her “loving” him? (we never find out) Anyway from 3.05 Collaborators onwards she was just repulsive, I’d look away during her worst moments and this was on my first viewing! From her saying "I want to tear your eyes out" to her policy on violence towards the handicapped she was 100% repulsive.

As for Unfinished Business, her turning around and marrying Anders after a night of sex with Lee, who bares his soul to her, is unconscionable. I know about Zak, the Admiral as a father figure, her broken fingers issue from her childhood – I don’t care. You don’t cross some lines without personal responsibility kicking in and her marrying Anders like she did is way over the line into repulsiveness. And her baiting Lee around the ring was terrible. I’m 100% against violence of men vs women (and just violence in general) but I uncomfortably found myself wanting Lee to beat the tar out of Kara. And despite Lee getting softened up by Helo, Starbuck being very fit, Lee being hesitant to go full force, and Starbuck sweeping and kicking, she should have gotten her arse kicked by Lee. Just a single 80% punch from Lee should have put her down, probably for the count. The fight realism isn’t really a big deal here; I just hated her and wanted her to get beat.

3) The worst part of Unfinished Business is the shameless, grotesque blending of a man and woman’s personal relationship problems with violence, bloody violence. I know BSG extended boundaries and was an intense human drama but there are things I don’t want to see no matter how much the writers rationalize it as part of a character or a story. For example, Simon the Cylon (that sounds so funny, like he’s a children’s cartoon character!) in 2.05 The Farm tells Kara about radiation sickness: “… cell death in the gastric and intestinal tissue causes massive diarrhea, intestinal bleeding, and loss of water. It’s not pretty.” Did the writers visualize this for us on screen? No! It would have been too much and not added to the story. I feel the same way about the writers having Lee and Kara beat the bleep out of each other and finally saying I missed you. Gross, just gross.

My mom who's 70+ and got hooked on the show (she calls it "Masterpiece Theater with lots of action") said at the end of Unfinished Business that "if this was the first episode of BSG I had seen, I'd never watched another" and it was over Starbuck's horrible relationship actions. This episode just wasn’t a dud to me like Black Market which simply lacks good qualities; Unfinished Business had some good qualities but its badness overwhelms them. A real miss for me.
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Zane314
Tue, Jun 12, 2012, 8:12pm (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S3: Exodus, Part 1

Yes Vylora, turtles. Turtle love leads to all love. :)
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Zane314
Tue, Jun 12, 2012, 4:37pm (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S2: The Captain's Hand

Hi Michael, I'm glad you responded. I agree very strongly with you that we Humans are all of the same species, Homo Sapiens. I believe the word "race" when applied to Humans is at best scientifically controversial and at worst is a European convention invented during the Age of Discovery to justify the massive wealth transfer from the Americas, Africa, and Asia to Europe which incidentally killed huge portions of those plundered lands. I recall EJO saying this at the BSG panel at the UN, he's a very intense defender of indigenous, weak, and poor peoples - he's a good guy. [see the bottom of this comment for EJO’s quote]

But [you knew a but was coming! :)] many people who argue "we have no race" use that to follow up stereotyping, mean, and sometimes untrue statements. Stephen Colbert frequently lampoons this fallacy on his show when he interviews noted civil rights leaders and thinkers saying "I don't see race, our society is beyond that." Of course he'd satirizing and criticizing this approach that is almost always taken by a white person whose knee jerk response to an accusation of racism is "I don't see race!" So while I agree that technically there isn't "race" I very much try to use that to bring people together regardless of appearance, ethnicity, geography, and language. Many people (and I'm not insisting you do this) take this "no race" idea to inoculate them from criticism for bigoted and discriminatory ideas and actions.

My point about Utah and Ultra-Orthodox Jews is that high fertility rates are not dependent on being members of the groups you listed but by a combination of education, poverty, and religion (in these cases, religion). Also, I didn't say overpopulation was caused by conservative politicians in the US but they do try their best to limit family planning both in the US and abroad. This certainly raises fertility rates.

Lastly, your again saying 3 groups of people comprising about 36% of the world's population "breed" and don't reproduce, have kids, or whatever is offensive. It takes about 2.5 billion people and says they are more like non-Human animals which breed, not people or persons who have families. Also, saying these people having lots of kids makes them like "rabbits" is again dehumanizing. I wonder what the many, many brilliant scholars, religious teachers, mothers, writers, scientists, nurses, teachers etc from the Arab, African, and Indian peoples would think of this, what did they do to deserve this grouping? And for the uneducated, impoverished who have large families for the wrong reasons, should we reacted with dehumanizing, cruel comments?

These sorts of demeaning stereotypes are not only hurtful to many/all of the 2.5 billion people you're referring to but it also has an insidious effect on people not from those groups. By creating distance between "us" and "them" it becomes easier and easier to treat "them" as something less than Human. We Humans should all be "us" and treated with empathy and compassion ... at least until we have a Cylon Humanoid issue to contend with! :)

PS – Jammer: thanks again for your great reviews and site! Plus, thanks for indulging me on an almost completely off topic; I will get back on topic from now on!

PPS – I found a transcript of Edward James Olmos talking about “race” at the U.N. :
I still find it incredible that we still use the term race as a cultural determinant. To this day, you should have never invited me here because I detest what we’ve done to ourselves out of a need to make ourselves different from one another we’ve made the word race a way of expressing culture. There’s no such thing and all you high school students bless your heart for being here. You are a hundred champions right now that are going to go out understanding this. The adults in the room will never understand it. Even though they’ll nod their heads and say you’re right they’ll never be able to stop using the word race as a cultural determinant. I just heard one of the most prolific statements done by one of the great humanitarians. He’s really trying to organize and bring us all together and he used the word race as if there is a Latino race an Asian race, Indigenous race, Caucasian race or a Latino race. There is no such thing as a Latino race, there never has been, there never has been. There never will be. There is only one race and that is what the show brought out. That is the human race period. Now the pressure comes, why did we start to use the word race as a cultural determinant? The truth is that over six hundred years ago the Caucasian race decided to use it as a cultural determinant so it would be easier for them to kill another culture. That was the total understanding, to kill one culture from another culture. You couldn’t kill your own race so you had to make them the “other” and you to this day I’ve spent thirty-seven years of my adult life trying to get this word out and now I am done and well prepared as the admiral of the Battlestar Galactica to say it to all of you, there is but one race that is it. So say we all. So say we all. So say we all.
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Zane314
Mon, Jun 11, 2012, 2:17pm (UTC -6)
Re: BSG S2: The Captain's Hand

Michael said:
"... we should be exerting pressure on the Arabs, Africans and Indians to quit breeding like rabbits."
This is a patently racist statement and it's factually incorrect. Fertility rates are primarily driven up by low education and low income with conservative religious belief being a big accelerator. In the United States among whites, the highest fertility rates are in Utah and other conservative religious states. Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox community has a sky high birth rate. In the United States (and abroad) we have the ultra-fundamentalist “Quiverfull” movement that is predominantly white and strives to have as many children as possible. In Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia THERE ARE big education programs and free or very cheap contraception. Of course, conservative U.S. governments do everything they can to thwart the education and contraception available in the U.S. and abroad primarily due to conservative politicians seeking the support of fundamentalist Christian constituents. Please reconsider your beliefs regarding fertility and race Michael.
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