Red Right Hand: MAYBE YOU JUMPED THE SHARK. EVER THINK ABOUT THAT?
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.

 

MAYBE YOU JUMPED THE SHARK. EVER THINK ABOUT THAT?

That last Battlestar Galactica was amazing. This show is fearless. Absolutely fearless and for that I will follow this show to the ends of-- well, to Earth. If this show doesn't get some significant Emmy nominations, then ATAS needs to be put down like a sick dog...with a tire iron...because it was possessed by the spirit of Hitler and eats other dogs. Seeing eye dogs. Okay, maybe it's not that serious, they're just little gold hood ornaments, but you know...it would be nice to see it get some recognition.

If you haven't watched it or heard about it, go to iTunes and get it. Right the fuck now. I'll wait.

See, you couldn't have seen that coming. "One Year Later" and no take-backs (because Ron wouldn't do that. See how I'm on a first name basis with him. Ron. Fine. Mister Moore).

This is a big, big bet and the thing is, I know some people aren't going to like it. I've seen the whining on the net. If you listen to the podcast commentaries Ron-- Mister Moore has graciously given us (and if you want to write for TV, you probably should) then you know that even some of the staff had to come to terms with it. Even Mrs. Moore had to digest it for a while. This changes the whole paradigm...for a while anyway...ultimately the show is called Battlestar Galactica. The program opens up with a goddamn mission statement, but this is certainly a significant detour and nothing's go back to normal. No reset button. It's a pseudo reboot.

Now, the people that don't like it. Good. Don't like it. Just watch it. It's not your story to tell and you are not in control. In fact, in this particular case, there's a certain advantage to not liking it, because now you're in the same shoes as the characters, because they sure as hell don't like it much. Now, you're in the struggle with them. Same thing with the dank sixth season of Buffy. She was miserable, all manner of bad shit was going down. Money problems. Commitment issues. Abandonment. Murder. Dark Willow. Lots of Buffy watchers hated it, but they kept coming back. They were down in it with her. Now, her victories were theirs as well more than ever.

I love it, though. This is going to be French Resistance with robots and shit. Tell me that you wouldn't watch that show. Imagine there was no Battlestar...it was just all these same actors and producers and directors and writers and they were doing a show about the resistance on an occupied alien world. Same quality of writing and acting. I'd watch it.

The debate among Battlestar fans about this bold move and my suggestion that it doesn't matter if you like it or not brings to mind an editorial I stumbled over while perusing WHEDONesque. Right here, Scott Nance talks about who really owns the characters (creators or fans), largely with respect to Joss Whedon's works.

Whedon has a philosophy that he's there to service the story, not the audience. "I give them what they need, not what they want," Whedon says. I agree one hundred percent. If they get what they want, then nothing really happens. It gets boring. It might as well be fan fiction. Besides, everybody wanted Dave and Maddie to get together and they did, suddenly Moonlighting wasn't about anything anymore. Boring. The gone.

To a certain degree, I'm even of the mind that from time to time you absolutely must shove something they don't want right in their face. It's a gamble every time. Sometimes it works (current season of 24 for example, deaths and stuff and, in my opinion, the fifth season of Angel was astonishingly good) and sometimes not so much (the birth of _______'s baby on _________).

Maybe the problem is the audience getting too comfortable. Battlestar has zigged and zagged all along, but in the first season or so, it was all brand new, you didn't know what to expect. There were no preconceptions. Same with Buffy and Angel. And West Wing. I recall lots of whining about the forth season, but I found it to be as good as the first three seasons, but I think people were feeling to comfortable and the sense of entitlement began to set in, so they get upset when Donna gets a new boyfriend or when (gods forbid) someone leaves and someone new arrives because that never happens in the real White House.

Like I said before, it doesn't matter that you like it. It matters that you're coming back to it. I have a friend who, like me, enjoys the wittiest show on TV, Gilmore Girls. He hates Rory dating Logan ( I dig it). He's a little twitchy about Lorelei and Luke's relationship go through some slight instability. Doesn't like it, but he keeps coming back. He has to see what happens next. That is successful writing.

When I sit down to write a pilot script, one of the things I do is consider where the series will go. Does this concept have legs? I'll think about where I would want things in a third or fourth season. It's usually right around there that I'll come up with a radical shift, but still in line with the basic concept of the show I've devised. I also see how it might be a "jump the shark" moment. If I get there, then I know I've done okay and I'll get down to writing.

It's my story, not yours. You may not like everything that happens. That's fine. As long as you're not bored.
©2017 Michael Patrick Sullivan