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21 March 2009 @ 09:59 pm
Sarah Connor Chronicles > Battlestar Galactica  
Are you disappointed in BSG's finale? Wondering how all the promise of the mini-series and Seasons 1 and 2 drained away into a cross between Days of our (Cylon) Lives and Angels in America?

Maybe you're feeling too scarred right now to ever trust a TV series again (understandable). But that's a great pity because there IS a show, doing it all right.

Ten ways in which Sarah Connor Chronicles and Battlestar Galactica are similar
1. The central premise involves an apocalypse in which most of humanity dies. The remainder of humanity struggle to survive and form a resistance against the machines.
2. It has kickass and complex female characters.
3. Both shows have male characters that aren't just a stereotype of alpha masculinity.
4. Hot (killer) robot chicks.
5. Both shows are about trying to break out of a cycle of violence and destruction.
6. In both shows humanity is forced into compromise with machines in order to survive.
7. The degree to which machines can become human is explored on both shows.
8. Family loyalty, the value of human life and the natural nihilism that comes from facing death on a daily basis are at the heart of both shows.
9. Both are action-based, but contain extensive philosophical or political material as well.
10. Both have 'destiny' couples, whose love outlasts/overcomes the tragic world in which they exist.
ETA: They also both have scores by Bear McCreary.

Ten ways in which Sarah Connor Chronicles does it better than Battlestar Galactica

1. The female characters remain central to the narrative, remain complex, are not all killed, raped or reduced to stereotypical gender roles, or given the 'love/a baby fulfils them' plot. Also, they don't just mimic male 'strength'. While Sarah is an action hero in the traditional sense, there is also a well explored theme of the female 'heroic' strengths of self-sacrifice and enduring great physical suffering.
2. Likewise the male characters show a range of behaviours and strengths, including the capacity to express emotion and, indeed, to shoulder the emotional burdens of others (perhaps considered primarily a female strength). The male leader of the resistance is not a cranky bigoted old man, but an emotional teenage boy who is both incredibly strong and incredibly fragile.
3. The compromise with machines is well explored. There are those that think it is the wrong idea and who think that the leadership is blinkered, self-interested and arrogant. The resolution of that plot does not reduce it to 'leadership right, naysayers bad' and it respects the audience's intelligence by showing both sides of the equation fairly. Also the leaders are continually questioning themselves--not just doing so once and then assuming that that theme is done and dusted.
4. The religious elements are handled as a matter of personal belief, though in no way dismissed. Ellison is a believer and his religious struggles form a strong narrative thread. His religion is alive to him, but NOT LITERAL. Sorry: my own prejudices show here, but I do feel that there's a far more subtle exploration of religious issues on Sarah Connor. The fact that one human character continues to believe in God despite the apocalypse is a fascinating aspect of the show and far more interesting to me than 'angels are real!'
5. Cameron is the best exploration I can EVER imagine of a robot that is becoming human. Even more so because the show never definitively shows that she is. The question 'at what point will machines have become us?' is raised but both arguments are explored. Cameron appears to be displaying emotion of a sort at times... but is the appearance of emotion the same as 'real' emotion? Is the mimicry of beauty the same as beauty? She questions her own identity: does that mean she has a 'self'? And that's before we even consider her origins as a 'real' human. It's all so fascinating. Also, she's played by the amazing Summer Glau and is both stunning and sexy and an AWESOME action hero. Really, what more could anyone want? Cameron > all the Cylons on BSG.
6. The action ... well, I do love space battles so this is hard for me, but the action in Sarah Connor is really well done. In fact I'd say it's the best true 'action' series on television. It cops some crit sometimes for not having enough action in some eps--that's because the writers believe you can't just revel in violence, you have to also show the consequences and the complexities that come from human life being destroyed. Does that not sound BRILLIANT?
7. BSG often gets admiration for its nihilism and 'epic tragedy'. Well I think Sarah Connor is the show that does true nihilism and tragedy. BSG's was so often just superficial 'shock value' stuff sugarcoated with some very traditional heroism. In Sarah Connor the characters can never escape from their destinies, even as they fight to change time. It doesn't wallow in this but rather shows the struggle to fight (and hope) in the face of all that. The nihilism is more a cumulative experience for the audience as they think through all the complexities and try to work out for themselves what the 'right' way is... and realise there isn't one.
8. The pigeon metaphor in SCC is much creepier and much more interesting. *snerk* (How much did I wish Cameron would show up and snap that BSG pigeons neck?!)
9. The 'destiny' couples really do have a tragic ending--if you've got a tragedy kink, this will appeal to you--and yet they're also very fulfilling as 'ships'. Kyle and Sarah had only a short time together, but their love imbues the whole show through the writers respect for that original canonical relationship. Cameron and John are the machine/human couple, and even though I don't ship them the tension between them is amazing. And maybe it's just me, but I find in Jesse/Derek many things that I wished Kara/Lee had been but wasn't in the end--essentially they're both soldiers, with different but complementary skillsets, they work together and love each other, they 'have each others' backs'. Yet they are caught up in something so much bigger than themselves and they therefore find themselves on opposing sides of a political debate. Yes, they're a tragic couple but tragic in a meaningful sense, not with stupid alternaships and orchestrated angst.
10. Most of all, SCC is written by people that respect both their audience and the source material. They strive so hard to do justice to the concepts and they never, ever dumb things down for the audience. They often pull out surprising moments (as they did this week) but not in order to shock the audience--rather, they've been plotted in advance and prove to be a satisfying culmination of many threads coming together. The writers clearly have a plan (even when the first season got aborted!) and are steadily working towards it. Some episodes are more interesting than others, but overall the series has got better and better rather than worse and worse. And it remembers its own canon (the Andy Good reference this week was so poignant!) and doesn't just retcon. As a viewer you have the sense that the writers have a clear understanding of where each character is 'at' emotionally--they're not just randomly playing with them like puppets. They respect their characters.

Obviously Terminator's not everyone's taste, I wasn't really sure it was mine to begin with--to be honest I started watching for Cameron to begin with but have grown to love all the characters. I've found the show really rewards rewatching. And I do honestly believe it tells a similar story to BSG's but in a more sophisticated way--its control of its own metaphors, narrative and characters is, I believe, objectively more successful even in its 'unfinished' (and possibly to receive early termination!) state. Do check it out if you think it sounds interesting. :)

ETA ((((((HUGS))))))) to BSG fandom
ETA2 Yes, I am going to review SCC 2.19 (but not the BSG finale because it doesn't deserve thought). I just needed to get this post out of my system first! ;)
Current Location: sofa of comfiness
Current Mood: determineddetermined
something clever: wolv eepshah_of_blah on March 22nd, 2009 05:57 am (UTC)
I have a question about TSCC. I've never seen it myself, but have been told by certain family members that I ought to watch it. I've decided that I will once I have the time to invest in a new tv show, but I'm a little worried about one thing. They also told me that the first season was pretty bad but that the second season was so excellent that it made up for the first. I'm not sure I have the patience to make it through a whole season if it's as bad as they say it is, so my question: Do you agree? If so, can I skip to the good stuff without being totally confused?
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TSCC Cameronbop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
I don't agree completely. I think the second season was better than the first but the first season had some awesome material too--it was just a little rougher round the edges. I was hooked after Season 1 and felt it was hitting its stride by the end of that season. I think it did suffer from being cut short a little but then they got to develop further in season 2. I don't think you'd find season 1 unbearable. And I do think it is much better to watch all of it (season 1 is very short!) as so much of season 2 builds on the emotional resonances built up over that first season. So I'd say it's more a matter of season 2 being where they could bring it all to fruition.
(no subject) - shah_of_blah on March 22nd, 2009 06:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
Invader Ace: windowbirdlint138 on March 22nd, 2009 06:11 am (UTC)
8. The pigeon metaphor in SCC is much creepier and much more interesting. *snerk*

The bird is the word.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Empire Records leanbop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 06:19 am (UTC)
the plucky young girl who helps the Doctor: cameron - badassalissabobissa on March 22nd, 2009 06:28 am (UTC)
I heart you for spreading the TSCC love. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TSCC Sarahbop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 06:57 am (UTC)
It deserves it! It needs more audience. :D
(And imho, BSG deserves less.)
Charmax: TV on the braincharmax on March 22nd, 2009 06:41 am (UTC)
I agree with a lot of what you've said here. I might elaborate at some point...
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TW smilebop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 06:56 am (UTC)
Oh cool! I am rather in pain at the moment so I wasn't sure this would make any sense through the haze of meds! ;)
Nora Norwichnorwich36 on March 22nd, 2009 06:51 am (UTC)
Hey, can I read any of this (maybe from the 2d cut tag?) without getting spoiled for the finale of BSG? (I thought about trying to catch up this week, but I'm at least 8 eps behind, and could only find 4 of them online, so it looks like I have to wait until the DVD comes out).

I agree that this week's SCC kicked almighty ass, though. BEST SHOW ON TV, hands down.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Blair yelloqbop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 06:53 am (UTC)
Mmm, you can ... the spoilers are very minor (they mention a metaphor used in BSG S4.5). There's also a mention of the handling of the religious themes though and I know you care about those. Wait a sec, I reckon I can edit to remove it for you. :)
(no subject) - bop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 06:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
daybreak777: daybreak mountains-no namedaybreak777 on March 22nd, 2009 07:21 am (UTC)
Aww, Boppy. I'd watch but it would only be to read your reviews and I've been down that road before. (SV) And this show might cancelled too? Oh noes.

I'm glad you enjoy it. It's good to see you happy about TV. :-)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TSCC Sarahbop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks, dear! And no, of course you can't watch it for my reviews. You came to SV at a hard hard time and I know it was sad for you. :(
deathisyourart: TSCC - Derek + Gundeathisyourart on March 22nd, 2009 07:36 am (UTC)
All I can do is nod as I read this (though I did feel that the beginning of this season was a little dumbed down due to Fox's request that each week be simpler; however by about episode 6 Friedman said "fuck that noise" and began to build it back up again) because GOD I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH! I just posted this long ramble where I mostly just typed out all the possible questions the show has raised lately, and I adore any show that makes me think this much! If Fox cancels it there is going to be PAIN!

Also, I am REALLY going to miss the person we lost this week!

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TSCC Sarahbop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
*nods* How great is Friedman for not pandering to the networks completely? :D I know, I know, the show may get cancelled... but I really do admire him for not dumbing down his vision completely. I'm seriously impressed by the integrity of his vision and execution.

I will have to check out your questions post!

And yes... eeeeeeeek! I can't quite write about the loss we had this week which is why there is this post not a review one yet. But I will! It was an AMAZING ep.
legendsinlove: awesomelegendsinlove on March 22nd, 2009 07:52 am (UTC)
You've managed to articulate why TSCC is so awesome more intelligently than I ever will. You, in a word, rock. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TSCC Cameronbop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
I tried! But it does make me so excitable that I fear it came over rather more rambly than I intended. ;)
(Deleted comment)
chani86 on March 22nd, 2009 10:07 am (UTC)
Thanks for the recommodation I've been looking for a new show to get hooked on (Dollhouse doesn't do it for me), but I'm kinda nervous they'll cancel it soon.
And I don't have the time to catch up on two seasons at the moment, would I still get it, if I started with season 2? Or would I have missed too much of the build up?
BSG finale? never happened.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TSCC Sarahbop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 08:57 pm (UTC)
It's true... we're all nervous it will get cancelled. We'll know around May if you want to hang off?

I think you'd still get something out of the show if you watched it now but it definitely works much better with build up (alas!).

Yup, TOTAL DENIAL is your friend where the BSG finale is concerned.
fruitsome: l_leewispgrapefruitzzz on March 22nd, 2009 10:15 am (UTC)
I haven't seen the finale yet, cos I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to my Lee (whaaat a sap. I don't have ships as such, just pet people).

Baby!Lee with the flowers and pigeon was adorable, and despite the nothing he's been given to do, he looked prettier than ever. I loved the blank, horrified look he gave Baltar when he started yelling to everyone about Kara's non-alive status. And it was good to see Zack, but do we need it rubbed in that he's a second choice for everyone? Not to mention the 'daughter' thing said by Admiral Excess, just to give more people fuel for saying it's sick that they ever fancied each other.

And why oh why start a new Mission this late on? Ho well, I'll find out this evening when I've got more chance to drink away the pain :D

"Sarah Connor" is a great show, but I haven't quite found my pet yet. The cast are ace, but no-one quite leaps up at me and begs so far. I do love the conversations between JohnRobot and Ellison about why it's naughty to kill people.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee frak betide!bop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
Oh gawd! Oh gawd! *worries for you watching the finale* BRACE FOR THE WORST! And feel free to come back here and whimper when it's over. LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is no Lee equivalent on SCC, it's true. I don't know if I'll ever find a Lee equivalent anywhere... :(
(no subject) - grapefruitzzz on March 23rd, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on March 24th, 2009 07:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - grapefruitzzz on March 24th, 2009 10:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on March 24th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - grapefruitzzz on March 25th, 2009 10:09 pm (UTC) (Expand)
mahaliemmahaliem on March 22nd, 2009 01:30 pm (UTC)
the Andy Good reference this week was so poignant!

I know! That entire scene, and then the one afterwards with John, made me see 'more' of Derek. Aspects of his personality, of his past, came so much more sharply into focus. I've never been much of a Derek fan, but I think this episode changed that.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TSCC Sarahbop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 09:02 pm (UTC)
*nods* I came round to Derek on rewatch of Season 1. I was surprised how much more there was to him and I really love him and what his character brings to the show now--whereas I was very territorial about the show when he first arrived and did not want this new guy muscling in. ;)
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TSCC Sarahbop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
That's completely understandable! I've always had my silly show (Smallville) and that has helped... though it disappoints in its own ways. ;) Everyone needs to balance these things out.
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TSCC Cameronbop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
I'm TOTALLY attached and will be very griefstricken if it gets cancelled.

both show so much of how the Terminators are COMPLETELY alien, but have this learning curve so we don't quite know what they are exactly. So, so much more complicated and fascinating than the "cylons, YAY!" of BSG, you know?
Absolutely! I never lose sight of them being machines but at the same time they're more than any machine I could ever imagine so...? And the show carves them with such apparent ease that it really does make BSG look like a clunk-fest when it comes to the Cylons. Though I know it's a lot harder than it looks to write, play and direct Terminators--I'm very impressed with the whole cast and crew.

sarmoti: BSG - Frak Earthsarmoti on March 22nd, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
I've been considering revisiting this show (watched S1, but not super fannishly) and now, after the BSG finale trainwreck, is probably the best time for me to do so! When I watched there weren't any characters I was in love with, and no ship that interested me, but things could change. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TSCC Sarahbop_radar on March 22nd, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
It changed for me! *g* I got a character I adored (and more characters that grew on me) and a ship! The cast is bigger in season 2 and I think that helps. *g*