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The Science of Battlestar Galactica

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the set-phasers-on-unrealistic dept.

Sci-Fi 465

gearystwatcher writes "TV science adviser Kevin Grazier talks about getting rid of the Trek babble in Battlestar Galactica. From the article: "Grazier's job was to help keep the technology and science real and credible — even when there were some massive leaps. Grazier didn't just make sure that there was a reason for what we saw — bullets instead of lasers — but also that when the science bit did break into the open, it was more mind-blowing than the writers could have conceived — such as when the humans discover their mechanical Cylon persecutors have evolved to look human.'"

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465 comments

Doesn't matter what he did (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119066)

The networks keep canceling all good TV shows and instead keep crap like American Idol and 90210 alive.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (3, Funny)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119100)

Someone still hasn't gotten over the cancellation of Caprica.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (4, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119248)

He's right though. It's not just about Caprica, it's about TV shows which require a minimum of brain cells to watch.

Reaper (CW), Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox), Better Off Ted (ABC), Heroes (NBC), Caprica (SyFy)... I've heard rumors about Stargate Universe being cancelled too.

Reaper was a lot funnier than Chuck. The guy doing the devil was hilarious and hated at the same time. I hope he gets a devil role in a future movie.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles may have not had a lot of fans, but those who followed the story really want a proper ending/tie-in with the movies storylines.

Better Off Ted had a lot of good nerdy jokes and references in its first season but went a bit too mainstream for its second season, that's why ratings went down. You can see it happen with the fake Veridian commercials. The first ones are clever (friendship: it's like stealing), the last ones are just stupid.

Heroes... why did they cancel that? Is there not enough viewers that can follow a story told in a few years instead of a few minutes?

Caprica... we know what happened, the story was about filling in the details, which we'll never know. It sure didn't get cancelled because of the decors, special effects or actors IMHO.

Stargate Universe was slow to start (hey, the damn ship was falling apart), too bad too many viewers stopped watching. Their loss may end up being everyone's loss.

And those are just from memory, I'm sure a lot more good shows have been cancelled in the last decade.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119366)

Re: Heroes

Because, after a truly phenomenal first season, the last season or two was quite dreadful. It seemed clear that they didn't have a story to tell - you seem to assume they were really building towards something of note - like the end of the first season, opening of the second. It sure didn't feel like that to me.

As a fan that watched every single episode, I thought it was ready to be cancelled.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (5, Insightful)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119512)

Heroes devolved from a series about a super hero showdown to high school drama at an actual high school with the plot seemingly generated at random. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was the best TV in a long time, unfortunately the whole setup reeks of some half-effort crap that's just there to sell a movie - until you actually watch a few episodes to prove that wrong. It's a bit how Batman: Arkham Asylum was a tremendous game, but it might easily have been passed over because most movie tie-in games suck. I enjoyed Caprica, but I can easily see how many other people wouldn't. It was too all over the place - while much better than Heroes, it shared that flaw.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (2, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119540)

I wouldn't say any of those represents shows that 'require a minimum of brain cells to watch. I don't see the mark of intellectualism really applying to any of those.

Reaper was funny and the Devil really carried it, but it did kinda go in circles in fairly short order. Easily forgivable though, since it was funny and going around in circles isn't such a horrible thing when a series doesn't take itself seriously.

Terminator was somewhat interesting, but spread what they had too thin. It's the mark of many shows of that ilk, trying to pull off long story arcs can get tiresome when the material could be handled more succinctly without real loss. Suddenly in the last episode they hinted at maybe having some interesting place to go, but guess we won't know now.

Better Off Ted made me smirk a little, but never had me over the top entertained or anything.

I was a big fan of the first season of Heroes. There were some genuinely interesting mysteries and satisfying reveals. They really had no where to go from there but down. They really wore out the Sylar character, and never created a villain as compelling as him again. Similarly they had to nerf the most powerful good guy, and propped up Hiro moreso than I think was originally intended.

Can't comment on the other two. I will say Firefly could've gone places, but give Whedon too much leeway and he will produce an overly dragged out set of arcs.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (3, Insightful)

visualight (468005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119710)

Farscape and Firefly

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (5, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119792)

Not sure I agree on Universe. The last couple of episodes make me suspect the writers have lost their way. Look we don't really need the girl having an alien hiding inside. There are lots of other loose plot threads on which they could move forward without having to add yet another that they'll abandon anyway in a few more episodes.

And let's face it, it's not reasonable for Rush to be able to keep the control room secret for this long. The others have *seen* the control room in the gate ship. They *know* what a control room looks like and probably the most likely location. It's contrived and totally out of character for Young to not have Rush followed either physically or electronically at all times at this point.

SGU is becoming uninteresting because they're taking small plot points and obsessing over them in episode after episode after episode. I'm still watching for now, but if something doesn't happen in another couple of episodes, I'll drop it, just as I dropped Caprica. Which, incidentally, had all the good parts in the pilot and then was excruciatingly boring afterwards.

This is not about a show being intelligent. It's about a show having too much dead time and too many contrived conflicts designed to fill same. It's about writers who (a) don't have a story arc and are just wandering, or (b) have a story arc, but are trying to stretch one season of story to three seasons to guarantee income from reruns.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (5, Insightful)

QuantumBeep (748940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119172)

The series ran until the story ended, then it ended. May god grant that happens more often.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (3, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119312)

The series ran until the story ended, then it ended. May god grant that happens more often.

Amen, brother!

Too many people are still overwrought about cancellations of great shows, like Firefly. The thing is, if they kept riding that horse, it'd just have ended up becoming another Star Trek Voyager.

Could they have filmed another season's worth of episodes? I'm pretty sure they could have written some really excellent ones. But there likely would have been a few stinker episodes. Season 3? Not so much. By season 4, it'd still be a good show, but showing wear around the edges.

As it was, they went out in a blaze of fandom glory, shining all the brighter for having done so. Enjoy the memories, rewatch the DVDs if you're bored, but move on.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119456)

Firefly ended before the first season was done and was broadcast partially out of order.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (-1, Flamebait)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119588)

Wow, downmodded because I made a Firefly fanboi cry? That's so sad and pathetic. You should go upstairs and ask your mommy for a hug, it'll make you feel better.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (5, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119814)

This comic [cracked.com] illustrates the subject well, I believe. I rarely see a series that goes for more than 3 or 4 seasons and is very good.

There's nothing wrong with the short form! If you write out a series to be 3 seasons, you shouldn't hurriedly try to make a fourth because the producers wanted to drop a ton of money in your pocket. Finish the three seasons and leave it at that. Hey, you could always follow up with a movie!

On the flip side, I think maybe I would rather see a good series go long and have a lot of mediocre episodes than a series go short and not be able to resolve any of its major plotlines.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (3, Insightful)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119332)

I think it ended rather poorly, but hey, that's just my opinion.

In the science department: No, BSG wasn't as bad as star trek, but neither was it good enough to deserve acclaim. It was, by the end, about B5/Firefly level, maybe a little better in some areas and worse in a few others. To wit:

1. Unobtainium. I realize Tylium was a holdover from the original 70's BSG. But they displayed it having a range of properties that completely exclude it from being any real life element or compound. It would have been trivial to give Tylium the properties of either Deuterium or Helium-3, and simply work from the assumption that the protagonists have different words than us for the elements. Hell, "frak" already established that the writers were ready to sub in one word for another.

2. Magic. B5 and star trek have been guilty of this too. Is it too much to ask that a sci-fi series stick to a rational universe? Or at least leave sufficient ambiguity that the few supernatural events might have been natural ones instead?

3. Space combat. This one is kinda a case of rule of cool. Realistic space combat wouldn't look like much. But really, the ranges involved in BSG are much too short, both for weapons fire and for targeting/detection.

4. Living ships. Seriously, this one's been done by every major soft science fiction series in the last 15 years, and has got to stop. Living tissue has no place in spacecraft design, except the warm meatbags who fly the damn things (and possibly as part of their life support).

Other than those 4 things, the series wasn't bad, science-wise. I'll give free passes on FTL and generated gravity, as those are virtually prerequisites for the type of setting involved. It may have been the first soft sci-fi series to employ concepts like mind uploading as major plot elements. Concepts like the Galactica being minimally automated made sense in context. They actually addressed realistic details like the number of survivors dwindling and running out of resources.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119450)

4. Living ships. Seriously, this one's been done by every major soft science fiction series in the last 15 years, and has got to stop. Living tissue has no place in spacecraft design, except the warm meatbags who fly the damn things (and possibly as part of their life support).

Once you give ships self-repair capability or a good deal of intelligence, "living" ships are a natural extension. It may be cliched beyond redemption, but it's not that great a stretch.

My personal peeve is using boat physics in space. There's a natural "up" direction, ships bank when they turn, and ships top out at a maximum speed.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (2, Interesting)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119530)

Once you give ships self-repair capability or a good deal of intelligence, "living" ships are a natural extension. It may be cliched beyond redemption, but it's not that great a stretch.

Except that's not what's being addressed here.

I will grant that a ship with sophisticated self-repair, artificial intelligence and the ability to communicate is very much like a "living ship". It also won't bleed if you shoot it, nor does it have a spongy mass of brain tissue at the controls.

The kind of living ships you're talking about, where repair nano-tech and advanced computing are invoked, is more often found in written science fiction. And is just fine as far as hard science goes.

What BSG, B5, Farscape and some of the latter additions to Star Wars and Star Trek involve is ships made of living tissue. And that makes no sense whatsoever. It's like the writers somehow got the idea in their heads that flesh can be engineered to extreme levels of durability and regeneration, or without the limitations of conservation of matter and energy. It ties into a fundamental misunderstanding about the capabilities and limitations of evolution and life in general.

Want to see a ship made or organic matter? Wooden sailboat. You'll note we make our warships out of steel, and would continue to do so even if we could make a wooden boat that healed.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (0, Troll)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119680)

Besides there's the definitive argument for living ships. How can you have space whales, if you don't have living ships? Space harpooning inert space debris just doesn't work for me. And space environmentalists need something to angst (or is that "space angst") about other than oppressed giant blue smurfs on planets.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (1)

forlornhope (688722) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119744)

I think the one thing that BSG got right about living ships was the fact that the living goo inside actually served a purpose. Near the end, when Galactica was about done for, they started spreading that goo around and it would grow and harden in ways that improved the structure of the ship. So it isn't like it was useless goo just there for looks. It was the self repair system, which makes a lot of sense in how it operated. The fact that it was red like blood was simply a design decision (or maybe because it was rich in iron oxide?).

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (5, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119812)

It also won't bleed if you shoot it,

Sure it might, likely has all sorts of fluids in it. Cooling, material transfer, hydraulics and so on. Just because it's a "living ship" does not mean it's made from the same material as life on Earth.

nor does it have a spongy mass of brain tissue at the controls.

That's a design decision, if the easiest way to make an AI is to grow one from brain tissue than why not just make that part of the ship?

It's like the writers somehow got the idea in their heads that flesh can be engineered to extreme levels of durability and regeneration, or without the limitations of conservation of matter and energy.

No, they simply don't have your limited imagination and understand that just because life on earth is made out of something that doesn't mean all life must be made of that. Plenty of great hard science fiction covering that area I should add.

It ties into a fundamental misunderstanding about the capabilities and limitations of evolution and life in general.

Life has no limitations, anything that grows and reproduces is alive. It can be made of nuetronium and eat stars. Or be made of metal and nano-machines (technically proteins are nano-machines anyway). Or maybe it breather methane. Living ships in general are described as being engineered rather than naturally evolving so I'm not sure why you even mentioned that.

Want to see a ship made or organic matter? Wooden sailboat. You'll note we make our warships out of steel, and would continue to do so even if we could make a wooden boat that healed.

Why are you imposing the arbitrary restriction of it having to be made of Earth style organic material? Life is not limited to being carbon based. Hell, even life on Earth isn't as stupid as you apparently think it is. That calcium which makes up your bones isn't particularly organic.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119554)

My personal peeve is using boat physics in space. There's a natural "up" direction, ships bank when they turn, and ships top out at a maximum speed.

Topping out at a maximum speed is understandable. Given the incidence of particles and debris in space, going faster means that you get exposed to more radiation and a higher chance of collisions with stuff. If there's space and energy limitations then there's a practical speed limit on spaceships. Go any faster and then you end up damaging your ship or dying due to radiation exposure. Don't forget that your acceleration imposes limitations on your speed. Going so fast that you take days to slow down or to change your direction doesn't work so well if you are engaged in close combat. Also, c provides a upper speed limit in normal space as we understand it.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119630)

"I'll give free passes on FTL and generated gravity, as those are virtually prerequisites for the type of setting involved."

Your post is very insightful and shows the work of someone in engineering or the sciences... May I just point out that the sentence I quoted also applies to us? Our physical reality precludes any form of Space Nuttery, including Moon colonies, Mars colonies and the wackier Galaxy-colonizing. It also nixes space-based power generation and space mining. I just want to point that out.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (1)

forlornhope (688722) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119764)

Not entirely. It means that doing BSG without an FTL would have been really really boring (running from a superior force in space without the ability to 'jump' doesn't last very long). And making BSG without generated gravity would be very expensive with everyone having to be on wires every time they moved around. Also, the exercise program to keep all those people from losing all their muscle mass would have taken up the entire show.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (1)

cloricus (691063) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119748)

3. Space combat. This one is kinda a case of rule of cool. Realistic space combat wouldn't look like much. But really, the ranges involved in BSG are much too short, both for weapons fire and for targeting/detection.

I totally agreed with the ranges used in BSG space combat. Too many hours of EVE fleet fights have convinced me that regardless of what makes sense space combatants will always follow a simple rule regarding engagement ranges: furtherest 'safe' distance to effective deploy weapons. In BSGs context this meant incredibly close range battles due to the option of deploying nukes which needed as short a travel distance as possible since both forces had defense batteries. These close ranges were backed up with the ability to jump away, assuming the FTL stayed up (real life wouldn't have plot devices). In EVE the same sort of tactic exists, typical maximum range of battleships is 150KM and at that range it takes almost a minute to take direct action against a fleet giving it time to jump away. I assume this rule would be a constant in any combat where both parties have the option of fleeing at will.

The way space combat would look is entirely dependent on what sort of ships exist. A couple of shuttles duking it out would really be who landed the first shot. My only issue here is light source, how would you see the battle with no light. BSG battles often mimicked what you'd see in EVE where the larger ships really just sat there while the smaller ships had all the fun and the real action, if any, was in following them. BSG battles always heavily focused on the fighters.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119392)

So say we all!

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119470)

true but there were so many pauses in the series that many stopped watching.

Seasons 4 was separated by what 9 months? more.

TV shows that are popular but the networks don't like get all sorts of random stupid things, night changes, forced show changes, etc.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119538)

Considering the ridiculous ending that they came up with, I rather wish The One True God had aborted this series a season early.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119698)

The series ran until the story ended, then it ended. May god grant that happens more often.

The series (like all other Sci-Fi Channel series before it) ended when Bonnie Hammer, or her successor, decided to kill it and not a minute before. Usually it was to put on more wrestling, or some mindless show like "First Wave".

Sci-fi Channel my ass. Pardon me, "SyFy Channel", whatever the FUCK that means. I used to love that channel, back when shows like Sliders and Stargate SG-1 were on. They also tended to show decent movies. They were, in fact, sufficient reason for me to pay my cable bill each month. But that hasn't been true for a long, long time. I wrote a couple of letters to Bonnie Hammer some years ago, didn't even get a form letter in response. They haven't been in touch with their viewership for quite some time.

there is some good stuff on showtime and HBO but w (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119304)

there is some good stuff on showtime and HBO but we need more channels like that for shows not the same movie over and over 100 times a month at a lower cost then HBO.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (5, Insightful)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119444)

Can we please talk about the "the networks cancel the good stuff and keep the crap" spiel that I see every single time Slashdot or Reddit or whatever starts talking about television?

Networks are businesses: they exist to make money. Network executives are not evil men who... well, OK, they are evil, but not in the way you think: they don't say to themselves, "This show is much too intelligent, it might awaken our viewers out of their drunken stupor, cause them to realize that corporations like us are the reason for their miserable lives, and spark a revolution! Away with it!". No, what they do is say, "This show is losing money, not enough people are watching it. Away with it." That's their job.

And don't talk to me about how the Nielsen ratings don't accurately reflect viewership, and how Firefly was actually this smash hit being watched by gobs of people around the country that Fox somehow overlooked. You know how Serenity did at the box office, the movie that all the fans were supposed to go see multiple times to convince Fox to bring the show back? It didn't break even [boxofficemojo.com] , even when you factor in DVD sales. You're not as numerous as you think.

If you want to complain about bad television being the norm, you need to go find people and convince them to watch your favorite show instead of { watching crap like American Idol, pirating the show off the Internet, doing intellectually-stimulating or otherwise rewarding activities besides TV }. Lousy television is their fault, not the networks', the latter is just giving people what they want.

Lord knows I don't want to sound like I'm sticking up for TV executives, but it pains me to see this same crap appear in the comments every single time, when people could actually fix the problem if they were willing to make the effort.

Frothing rant over now.

Re:Doesn't matter what he did (3, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119688)

Regarding firefly and serenity: I didn't see all of the firefly episodes on tv because of the unannounced schedule changes. I didn't see serenity in theaters because it was in the theaters in my (medium sized) city for only one week. I didn't get a chance to see it because of a mix of time constraints and theater stupidity. Even the dollar theaters didn't play it afterward. So I bought serenity on DVD just like I bought firefly. But if they would have been "straight to DVD" productions, I probably would have not bought either.

I don't like syence fyction any more (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119136)

it's just not the same

Re:I don't like syence fyction any more (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119264)

Why? You don't like pro wrestling?

Re:I don't like syence fyction any more (2, Insightful)

guybrush3pwood (1579937) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119598)

You should read more. There're probably more great sci-fi books out there than you think. In fact, you shouldn't watch TV at all...

I don't think that word means what you think ... (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119140)

Grazier didn't just make sure that there was a reason for what we saw - bullets instead of lasers - but also that when the science bit did break into the open, it was more mind-blowing than the writers could have conceived - such as when the humans discover their mechanical Cylon persecutors have evolved to look human.

Yes, that is one sentence.

But I don't think "evolved" is applicable in this situation.

Re:I don't think that word means what you think .. (2, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119180)

Evolved simply means changed. It doesn't mean "biologically improved by a process of natural selection". A model of car evolves from one year to the next.

Re:I don't think that word means what you think .. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119194)

But I don't think "evolved" is applicable in this situation.

Correct - the term they are looking for is "robo-evolved".

Re:I don't think that word means what you think .. (2, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119338)

But I don't think "evolved" is applicable in this situation.

Correct - the term they are looking for is "robo-evolved".

Nonsense. Robots were created, not evolved!

Re:I don't think that word means what you think .. (2, Funny)

EveLibertine (847955) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119462)

I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

Re:I don't think that word means what you think .. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119464)

But I don't think "evolved" is applicable in this situation.

Correct - the term they are looking for is "robo-evolved".

No, the term "evolve" fits quite nicely. The presumption that the world only applies to living organisms is incorrect.

Nonsense. Robots were created, not evolved!

So? According to some people, all living creatures on this planet were created, but we still evolve. If the robots are sentient and capable of modifying and or improving themselves, then they are capable of evolving as well, regardless of what point in that evolution they were "created." Even if they are not sentient, but capable of altering their own structure in response to external stimuli, they can still evolve. Not Darwinian evolution, or necessarily anything like it, of course. The fact that the process is not arbitrarily governed by environmental constraints is likewise irrelevant.

We're already capable of artificially modifying our genome. We're not particularly good at it yet, but we will be, and when we are, we'll be directly and consciously affecting our own evolutionary processes. No different from Cylons advancing their own design, when you get right down to it.

Re:I don't think that word means what you think .. (1)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119652)

Whoosh. [theinfosphere.org]

Re:I don't think that word means what you think .. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119782)

Whoosh. [theinfosphere.org]

Yeah well. It's been a long day. I'll go back to my room now.

Re:I don't think that word means what you think .. (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119548)

I don't want to live on this planet any more.

Re:I don't think that word means what you think .. (3, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119212)

I think it would be appropriate. Each subsequent generation corrected faults found in previous generations, for future generations. More of, favorable traits were maintained, and unfavorable traits were discarded.

    Or the appropriate definitions [reference.com]

evolution

-noun

1. any process of formation or growth; development: the evolution of a language; the evolution of the airplane.

2. a product of such development; something evolved: The exploration of space is the evolution of decades of research. ...

4. a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development, as in social or economic structure or institutions. ...

--Synonyms
1. unfolding, change, progression, metamorphosis.

Re:I don't think that word means what you think .. (1)

BitHive (578094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119334)

Except the root claim is that BSG is somehow more scientifically accurate, which means we are talking about biological evolution, which has nothing to do with the process you describe as "evolution", which is more akin to the kind of "evolution" that takes place in manufacturing.

BSG is no more scientifically plausible than Star Trek, they just use words like "evolution" instead of "warp drive"

Re:I don't think that word means what you think .. (1)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119468)

BSG is no more scientifically plausible than Star Trek, they just use words like "evolution" instead of "warp drive"

I'd put the two series on par with each other, as far as bad biology and misunderstanding evolution go. Recall that Star Trek produced such unscientific crap as "Threshold", that TNG episode where they start devolving into animals and that Enterprise episode with the one species limiting the evolution of the other. BSG was similarly bad about abusing life sciences for fun and profit.

But then again, I'd challenge anyone to name a soft science fiction series that paid any mind to realistic biology, natural selection or any related topics. No seriously, check your list of sci-fi favourites. What you find is either a) they abuse biology in the same manner as BSG/B5/ST/Farscape/etc, or b) they don't touch on the subject at all, thus averting the problem, like SW/Firefly/TSCC/etc.

Biology is the one field of science where the more educated viewers of sci-fi are willing to excuse even the most basic errors, while physics and astronomy are probably the fields where errors are most noticed.

Re:I don't think that word means what you think .. (1)

LiquidAvatar (772805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119810)

While that is the correct definition of evolution, it does not describe the leap from inorganic to organic cylons. As the show presented it, there was no transformation from inorganic to organic. Instead, a few members of a species of organic machines (the "final five") came across and subjugated the cylons. While it's true that this conquering species did take on the name of the conquered species and they did share their biological tech with the cylons in a limited capacity, there was no evolutionary link between a Cylon Raider and a Number 6. The cylons never evolved to a point where they looked human.

Re:I don't think that word means what you think .. (3, Funny)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119222)

Clearly they were intelligently designed.

Exactly. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119294)

Although if you stick to the mythology of the series ... there may not be much difference between the two. Re-watch the final episode if you need it clarified.

mind blowing? (4, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119146)

Ok, let's get one thing straight -- the Cylons "evolving" into human form was not "mind blowing". It just wasn't.

It looked like a shameless ploy to reduce production costs, (which it probably was) and to have a bunch of scenes with James Callis dry-humping Tricia Helfer (which got tiresome after the second or fifth time).

Re:mind blowing? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119162)

So was the transporter on Star Trek. Doesn't minimize the effect it's had on real-life science since then.

Re:mind blowing? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119534)

So was the transporter on Star Trek. Doesn't minimize the effect it's had on real-life science since then.

Sure, because it avoided more expensive Shuttle sequences. But the fact remains that the Transporter, as implemented by Roddenberry's effects people, was way cool and added another plot dimension that otherwise would have been unavailable. I don't know what particular effect the Star Trek Transporter had on real-life science, considering that it was a very, very old idea in science-fiction even then.

Deciding to make the robots in one's production look like humans is a legitimate cost-cutting measure, I suppose, but don't try to justify it on any other terms. It was just cheap, and really added nothing of value. Besides, the original series' Cylons were impressive machines. They were black and silver, very shiny, and had that nifty scanning eye. I wouldn't mind having one, so long as it could be programmed not to try and kill me.

Re:mind blowing? (2, Insightful)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119206)

Well half the series was based on the fact they the humans couldn't identify the Cylons living among them. That would be pretty hard to pull of if the Cylons were all 3m tinmen.

It might have reduced production cost, but it also gave the series most of its subject matter.

Re:mind blowing? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119296)

The storylines would have been virtually unchanged if the human looking cylons had been actual human traitors and fanatic cylon sympathisers instead.

Re:mind blowing? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119352)

The storylines would have been virtually unchanged if the human looking cylons had been actual human traitors and fanatic cylon sympathisers instead.

Are you kidding? Cylon sympathizers know who they are. They don't think they're humans fighting the good fight against the machines until they find out they aren't. They don't have to make a choice between what they really are and what they always thought they were. It would have been a totally different show.

Re:mind blowing? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119552)

It would have been a totally different show.

Yes, and arguably a better one.

Re:mind blowing? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119596)

Are you kidding? Cylon sympathizers know who they are. They don't think they're humans fighting the good fight against the machines until they find out they aren't. They don't have to make a choice between what they really are and what they always thought they were. It would have been a totally different show.

You're actually describing religious or racial extremists. Imagine some people who thinks they're "chosen people" for most of their life, and then one day discover that there was a mistake and they're actually not. You could build a whole show on that premise, and the issues wouldn't be substantially different.

For example, you could have a show about Jewish people who one day discover that they're actually gentiles, or about a group of Nazi soldiers in WWII who discover that they're actually Jewish, or about a family of white people in Alabama during the fifties who discover one day that they have black ancestors. You get the point.

Re:mind blowing? (2, Interesting)

guybrush3pwood (1579937) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119600)

[...]dry-humping Tricia Helfer (which got tiresome after the second or fifth time).

It most certainly did not! :P

Re:mind blowing? (2)

Jartan (219704) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119658)

This is the kind of comment that deserves to go past 5. I realize a lot of people love the show but at least accept the "human" psylons were an attempt to move AWAY from sci fi and keep production costs down. The fact that it let them add a bunch more drama was just a bonus.

Unfortunately (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119176)

Unfortunately all that stopped a little after Season 2, when someone decided gypsy seers went perfectly with robotic space battles. They didn't even TRY to make it sci-fi, it was just straight up sixteen hundreds earth style gyps fortune tellers you might find in France set smack in the middle of an otherwise sci-fi story.

Re:Unfortunately (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119466)

Well, you used to be able to find in France.

Oh, they meant the NEW Battlestar Galactica. (5, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119184)

I was confused there for a centon.

Re:Oh, they meant the NEW Battlestar Galactica. (2, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119354)

I was confused there for a centon.

You still remember that show? It didn't even last a yarin.

Re:Oh, they meant the NEW Battlestar Galactica. (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119566)

I was confused there for a centon.

You still remember that show? It didn't even last a yarin.

Too much feldergarb. Oh frak, where did my mouse pointer go?

Re:Oh, they meant the NEW Battlestar Galactica. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119564)

The original was vastly superior to this unimaginative remake bullshit. It had a better story, better actors, better music and better cinematography. Even some of the special effects were better.

Re:Oh, they meant the NEW Battlestar Galactica. (2)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119614)

You definitely had better drugs when you were watching it. The old show has more cheese than a Man Vs Food nacho episode.

Re:Oh, they meant the NEW Battlestar Galactica. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119738)

You definitely had better drugs when you were watching it. The old show has more cheese than a Man Vs Food nacho episode.

Sure, and therein lies the charm. The remake took itself far too seriously, in the same way that Stargate: Universe takes itself too seriously.

And you're right about the drugs.

Re:Oh, they meant the NEW Battlestar Galactica. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119732)

The original was vastly superior to this unimaginative remake bullshit. It had a better story, better actors, better music and better cinematography. Even some of the special effects were better.

Douglas Trumbull and John Dykstra did the effects for the initial season. So yes, some of those effects were very well done for the time, I agree.

As remakes go, the SyFy Channel's effort just didn't really quite measure up, so far as I'm concerned. They cancelled Stargate in favor of this crap. I know that BSG fans claim it's because BSG was more popular, but I don't believe that. This is also the channel that axed Sliders in favor of First Wave, so I don't trust their judgment. Period.

Bah (0, Flamebait)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119196)

Stargate was better, well up until Stargate Universe that is.

Re:Bah (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119590)

Stargate was better, well up until Stargate Universe that is.

Yes, I preferred SG-1 to Atlantis, but I have every episode of both. Conversely, I stopped watching Universe after the first few episodes. I mean, taken on its merits it was a decent, well-produced show, but it wasn't a Stargate series. If you use the word Stargate in your show's title, viewers are going to have certain expectations. Universe, so far as I'm concerned, simply didn't meet them.

Re:Bah (1)

guybrush3pwood (1579937) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119694)

SG1 was a silly show, IMO. I challenge you to watch its first chapter now, about 12 years later. You'll be ashamed of yourself, for sure. On the other hand, ten years from now BSG will be as great as it is today.

"The Office" Quote (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119214)

Beets....Bears....Battlestar Galactica

The beauty was in a lack of explanation! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119218)

I liked BSG because they don't bother with all the techno-babble. How does an FTL drive work? They don't tell you and it doesn't matter. It just makes the spaceship go and uses up some fuel. Quite refreshing from Star Trek and their neutrino flux combobulator matrices and anti-gluon snark fields.

Re:The beauty was in a lack of explanation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119368)

As far as I remember, TNG was set during a Galactic Snark Minimum. Dialogue analysis gave an upper bound of 10^-5 snarkulons.

Re:The beauty was in a lack of explanation! (2, Interesting)

shugah (881805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119682)

I absolutely hated TNG - not just because of the techno-babble, but because techno-babble became the turning point in too many episodes. Got a problem? Geordi, Data or that irritating little wuss Wesley will propose routing the tachyon emitters through the main deflection shield (or the holodeck grid) that will blah, blah, blah, solve the problem. Make it so. The only thing I really hated about BSG was the word "Frack". I hated it in both the original series and the remade series.

Re:The beauty was in a lack of explanation! (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119660)

I liked BSG because they don't bother with all the techno-babble. How does an FTL drive work? They don't tell you and it doesn't matter. It just makes the spaceship go and uses up some fuel. Quite refreshing from Star Trek and their neutrino flux combobulator matrices and anti-gluon snark fields.

Spoken like a true Joss Whedon fan (and yes, Firefly was one of my favorite TV shows but not for the science, because there wasn't any.)

The problem with your perspective is that if you remove the actual science from a work of science-fiction, at best you have a fantasy. Nothing wrong with that, except that for the minority like me who grew up on books by the likes of Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, George O. Harrison and other masters of hard sci-fi, well, we tend to resent fantasies falsely represented as science fiction. More to the point, it's the how and the why that makes the story interesting. If the only reason you watched Battlestar Galactica was for the (ahem!) "human" element, you might as well just watch re-runs of Wagon Train, or maybe a good soap opera. BSG (and Stargate, and Atlantis, and hell, Star Wars for that matter) are all fantasies with technological trappings, and the lack of any supporting foundation for all the critical technologies depicted simply detracts from the believability of the storyline, so far as I'm concerned. Complain about Star Trek's technobabble if you wish, but the original series, in particular, was about as much of a true sci-fi as the studio heads would allow: Roddenberry used scripts from some of the best science fiction writers of the time, and much of what they wrote was a legitimate projection of existing scientific knowledge (not all, but they tried.)

Galactica really was better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119230)

I think Battlestar Galactica raised the standard a little for what is "good" science fiction TV.

Like it or hate it, the drama was better than Trek.

One other thing: The entire series only really requires two technologies "granted": jump drive and strong AI. This is good from a viewer-engagement standpoint (again, compared to Trek).

Depends... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119636)

Trek and bsg represent distinct subgenres of science fiction. Trek more frequently grappled with questions directly related to aspects of change resulting directly from technology. It wasn't as deep on that front as less mainstream material, but they did ponder some questions (how does very advanced technology affect primitive culture interaction, how do you communicate with a species with an entirely difference frame of reference, what happens when transporters inadvertently clone somewone, stuff like that).

BSG is space opera. Spiffy environment, but largely a tale that could be told without the technology. Prime example being the whole New Caprica arc, which conveniently resembled the situation in Iraq. The extraordinary bad-ass rescue mounted by the battlestar's superficially involved advanced tech, but was not deeply tackling many things inherent to coping with advances in science.

This gives me hope (4, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119270)

So you mean in the future really hot female asian robots will be feasible? Well I now have reason to live as long as possible.

Re:This gives me hope (1)

glebovitz (202712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119342)

If I were a hot asian female, I would be totally insulted by your comment, But I'm not, so ... cool where can I get one too.

Re:This gives me hope (4, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119412)

If I were a hot asian female, I would be totally insulted by your comment, But I'm not, so ... cool where can I get one too.

You take a blank robot and download Lucy Liu... or don't you watch science fiction?

Re:This gives me hope (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119790)

"Hot Asian", female or otherwise, is an oxymoron. They're all ugly, pale skinned, pan faced, flat chested, fish/onion smelling, boyish little elves that you could blindfold with a piece of dental floss.

Science fiction ... (5, Insightful)

gerddie (173963) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119300)

The result: BSG was barely science fiction - at least to purists.

I risk to differ: Good science fiction can and should also refer to social sciences by putting people into extreme situations that are probably easier to conceive in a fictional setting then in a setting of the current world. When doing that kind of science fiction it will most likely tell you more about the time when it was created then about a possible future and IMO that is a good thing, because the future is not foreseeable anyway and the fiction should reflect and influence the now. I think BSG did an excellent job at that.

Re:Science fiction ... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119460)

Good science fiction can and should also refer to social sciences by putting people into extreme situations that are probably easier to conceive in a fictional setting then in a setting of the current world.

That's just fiction, not science fiction. Real science fiction should have a large science component. That's what it's primarily about. Stories about people who use science to overcome difficulties, or who struggle in worlds ruled by scientific principles, etc. Think of it as fiction based on the core principles of the Age of Enlightenment.

Re:Science fiction ... (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119752)

Good science fiction can and should also refer to social sciences by putting people into extreme situations that are probably easier to conceive in a fictional setting then in a setting of the current world.

That's just fiction, not science fiction. Real science fiction should have a large science component. That's what it's primarily about. Stories about people who use science to overcome difficulties, or who struggle in worlds ruled by scientific principles, etc. Think of it as fiction based on the core principles of the Age of Enlightenment.

And if you are going to create a universe that is technologically and scientifically more advanced than we are (but not so advanced that their technology might as well be supernatural) then you must project their developments in light of current scientific knowledge. That's why it is science fiction and not fantasy.

Re:Science fiction ... (2, Interesting)

s-whs (959229) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119524)

The result: BSG was barely science fiction - at least to purists.

I risk to differ: Good science fiction can and should also refer to social sciences by putting people into extreme situations that are probably easier to conceive in a fictional setting then in a setting of the current world. When doing that kind of science fiction it will most likely tell you more about the time when it was created then about a possible future and IMO that is a good thing, because the future is not foreseeable anyway and the fiction should reflect and influence the now. I think BSG did an excellent job at that.

I agree with the one you quoted: The new battlestar Galactica series was interesting in some aspects, but contains huge amounts of melodrama, useless drama, and even soap opera level drama that was completely worthless. Many an episode I used fastforward/skip on xine for the entire episode, then concluded: That was a complete waste of time.

I skipped a lot after season 2, then the last season was a pretty poor and the ending a boring interpretation of making the story fit into the world as we know it. Interesting? Not very. Surprising? Perhaps but not that interesting. It was a bit like Pierre Boulle's story 'planet of the apes', or rather, the film made from the book. The ending of the book is much better than that of the film even though it can be argued they are essentially the same in varies respects. Boulle's ending gives you a shock of leaving a planet, then seeing the same thing they escaped from happened on their own planet, suggesting this is something that will always happen due to human stupidity, whereas the film's ending gives more a regretful ending of 'Oh how stupid we humans are', a 'once' event, that perhaps could have been averted, nothing more...

Re:Science fiction ... (2, Interesting)

Junta (36770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119674)

But science fiction (purist definition) refers to posing questions about things that are explicitly raised by advanced science concepts. BSG is good space opera. A story told against an aesthetically interesting backdrop defined in terms of futuristic aspects, but a story that could replace it all with fantasy or even current day elements and still preserve the essence of the story.

Re:Science fiction ... (1)

Jartan (219704) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119714)

You're just explaining what you think is good. That has nothing to do with whether or not something fits the descriptor of "science fiction". The reality is based off what you said you don't like real sci fi. There's no need to feel threatened by that though. We aren't going to revoke your geek card.

Reborn Kara Thrace was 'Science' ... WTF? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119364)

Don't get me wrong. I drooled over BSG, and it was a welcome change from Star Trek (victory for modernized scifi). But the part where Starbuck dies, then miraculously appears alive, and ends up stumbling over her dead previous body... culminating in her literally vanishing into a puff of smoke -- it made me facepalm IRL. I think some of the original appeal of BSG was what it could have become; the hope that, as you're watching it, all the crap religion and character idiocy will be tossed out in the later episodes. Unfortunately it only got worse. If BSG accomplished one thing, it was in showing a version of humanity even stupider than our own -- surely a remarkable feat.

Re:Reborn Kara Thrace was 'Science' ... WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119528)

If BSG accomplished one thing, it was in showing a version of humanity even stupider than our own -- surely a remarkable feat.

After yesterday, I'm not sure there could ever be a version of humanity stupider than our own.

Re:Reborn Kara Thrace was 'Science' ... WTF? (1)

gijoel (628142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119560)

I have to agree. BSG started off as a good hard science look at what would happen if the premise of the original series was true. Then around the end of third season it veered off into "God did it" territory.

Which might have worked if they had actually examined what kind of god would kill off two civilizations. (hint: not a nice one). For all its flaws I feel Stargate handles this better. First with the Goaul's sufficiently advanced gods, and then with the Ascended Ancients/Ori, who do actually resemble all powerful beings. At the end they imply that even if you are omnipotent and benevolent that doesn't mean that I should bow down and worship you.

Depressing (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119378)

The whole series was great and all, but the story also very depressing. Talk about slitting your wrists. Damn.

Re:Depressing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119542)

I've heard a few people say this, but I'm not sure I agree. Yeah, a lot of bad stuff happens to pretty much all the major characters, but they persevere for the most part. Their successes seem more genuine for the struggles. I found the triumph in spite of the tragedies more uplifting than depressing.

I think TVTropes says it best with Earn Your Happy Ending [tvtropes.org] .

Lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119396)

Really? I figured they looked human to save money on CG. But of course it was more clever than that!

Getting the facts right.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119420)

"Moore wasn't messing around when it came to getting the "facts" right."

Except for the episode (S2E01, Scattered) where Gaeta "networks" some computer systems of the BSG to do faster jump calculations, and somehow the Cylons can infiltrate what... the cables? Pretty sure if they could do that, they could do much worse to the systems outright.

I always found the episode very lame from a tech perspective.

Re:Getting the facts right.... (1)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119592)

I always assumed that there were some peripheral systems open to infection (external sensors or communications maybe?) and that the lack of networking simply isolated the inevitable infections until the affected systems could be reset. Press a button, load from ROM, and whatever viruses got spammed at the communications receiver (or whatever) are deleted.

But that does raise the question of why all the systems aren't networked except the vulnerable ones. Is there seriously some reason why they couldn't network the non-vulnerable systems?

Not interesting at all (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119454)

The new BSG was basically a soap opera for the women and a sexy show for the men. It had a dash of pseudo spirituality, and a game where cylons were slowly revealed. The basic premise was slaves trying to destroy the former owners, and former owners feeling guilty about killing the former slaves, but they had no choice. The reason the techno-babble was minimal was because the whole technology thing was irrelevent. The show was purposely designed to not alienate viewers with the science fiction angle.

OTOH, more innovative shows like SG-1 and B5 did manage to use the plot device effectively, explore the broad impact of technology on our civilization, and the stress caused when different cultures mingle. These are real non-trivial problems that we need to explore. Not paranoid delusions that are featured on BSG, like one person getting seduced and destroying a world, or technology, like facebook, being used by kids to plan virtual or real sex parties, or us losing all our material goods to terrorists and having to live like them.

To boot, these other shows, especially B5, did at least attempt to make the physics work. How did the crew of BSG no float around, given that they were in space?

I was ok with the remake of BSG. It was a good story, though not really what I would call useful science fiction. Caprica is crap.

Offtopic, sort of. (5, Insightful)

jiteo (964572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119536)

I'm still angry at BSG for ending with "You know all of those cool questions we left unanswered? Yeah, those. Yeah, God did it."

Real and credible science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119556)

There's artificial gravity, instantaneous travel and Cylon robots who leave no footprints in soft dirt... Yeah, real credible.

Reaction Thrusters... (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119558)

Years later I still recall watching the pilot / mini-series and being impressed with the physics of the vipers - When we saw Starbuck push the viper's stick forward we also saw a reaction thruster fire to push the nose down. It was at that moment that I realized, "Hey, this show could be alright." (...and I was correct, except for the last 10 minutes of the series finale.)

Was there still sound in space? (1)

RNLockwood (224353) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119718)

Interesting article. I saw some of the original series and never wanted to see the new one but now I think I will see if it's on somewhere in cable-land. So the writers know the difference between star systems and galaxies but even documentaries have sound in space: Does the new Battlestar Galactica maintain the "standard"?

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