Thursday, July 22, 2010

drug of choice: bsg

I'm not sure who it was who hooked me on BSG. Maybe I stumbled on it myself? Pretty unlikely. Maybe it was a colleague of mine who was raving about the visions... Trouble was, one shot of BSG and I was hooked. And while I've always maintained that I've tried every drug in existence, the truth is a) this was somehow different, and b) I'd certainly never gotten hooked on anything before.

I don't believe this particular addiction will rot my brain. The problem, of course, was the withdrawal.

And trying to find a methadone cure that might wean me off of BSG, there was only one reasonable substitute, and it only worked for a few months and it won't be available again until next January. And I'm afraid that the withdrawal substitutes currently available might indeed rot my brain — and I know I'm not alone in this concern.

And I think we should all get together and just sue SyFy for their sadistic withholding of the Caprica fix until January, 2011.

When the BSG Finale was about to air, I did something I'd never done before: I ordered satellite TV for the first time in my life. There was no way I was going to be able to wait the six months or so that it would take before the last season came out on DVD. And suddenly, I was watching TV. That's the horror of it. I became a viewer of nothing worth watching.

That is, all the other junk that happened on TV apart from BSG. And I kept saying I'd get rid of the satellite TV once BSG was over, but well, they were already filming Caprica and I thought I should give that a shot, right? In the meantime, brain rot.

And then we got a hit of the Caprica pilot, and had to wait even longer for the season to begin. And then it was only about half a season, anyway, and more waiting ... and I got sucked into even more brain jelly shows.

The problem is, I'm a vision junkie. And these other shows have no vision. The fix is ephemeral. I can't remember anything of significance even an hour later. They just leave me hungry for substance. BSG never failed (or rarely failed) to offer up that larger history forcing you to struggle with the really large questions, and forcing you to face the fact that the larger questions are always worth examining.

And that throughout these cycles of history, humans (or whatever) will continue to make the same mistakes, frequently in the same ways. And that we will continue to struggle with the notion of a higher purpose, and that we will want that higher purpose to exist, and want it to offer us a rationale for our poor choices. We'll struggle with technology not being the panacea we hoped it would be, and our disappointment that saviors are filled with self interest (when you meet them up close). BSG reminds us that religious movements thrive in times of social distortion. That no one is purely good or purely evil. That we'll keep making poor choices. That we keep wanting more visions ... Keep expecting saviors to bail us out...

Mostly, I think, what I was hooked on even with Caprica, was that magnifying mirror held up showing the mistakes we're making right now that we still don't want to acknowledge. Blackheads on the collective face of society, more easily visible under the magnification. And a show that proves you can't really solve the larger mystery in one episode, one season, one year, or even in one series.

Caprica promised to look at the roots of our malaise and force us to really see it. And I think Caprica does deliver. Or it would, or it might, if SyFy would just give it half a chance and show the bloody season already and let us junkies have our little fix.

Instead, we get the rest of television: Shows that resolve satisfactorily every unsolved 'case' in less than an hour — and the case isn't large enough to consume us, anyway. Isn't large enough to care about. Where's that larger vision? Where's the mirror held up showing us the consequences of our actions? I hate to admit this, but Caprica does an even better job at this than BSG. Or it would, if they'd just run the damned show and stop jerking us around dribbling it out in such small doses. To be fair, I probably just don't understand how TV programming actually works. Still, I contemplate ripping out the satellite dish, but know that I'm now too hooked on even all the other crap out there to go cold turkey. Recommendations for a cure are welcome.

The closest I've come to an antidote is called 'real life.'

And it's filled with nightmare oil spills, and unresolved devastation from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf Coast. Natural disasters, or the wrath of the One True God, or man's inescapable hubris, (depending on your point of view). The antidote entails waking up out of the comfortable apocalypse of BSG and facing all the signs of the one before us.

Yah, I know, much less fun. But it's worth a shot. Until we can fall back into the dreamscape of the BSG universe. I mean, if BSG and Caprica really are a better drug of choice, they should teach us something — teach us that we're part of the story — and that it's up to us to play our parts inside that vision.

And that no matter how we act in the so-called real world, that even the smallest of our own actions is more profound or consequential than any that appear so magnified in front of us upon the plasma screen.

At least till January, anyway.


  1. i, too, was like a junkie watching bsg. it was the best show i've seen in a long time, for all the reasons you state.

    now i'm watching caprica, and it's a strange experience, because i know what happens down the road. i'm on the lookout for how childhood experiences will shape bill adama, for instance, and for how they will decide on the 12 models, and so on.

    caprica is good, but so far not quite in the same league as bsg, however, i will continue to watch, because i am a junkie, after all!

  2. Mira,

    While you are waiting for the next something, have you come across Charles Stross? (I'm senile, so if I've already recommended him I apologise). He is a new generation writer of the old school, before the guns and the action, writing sci-fi as it's supposed to be done. Pick up Accelerando if you have time.


  3. Will track him down. Thanks! In the meantime, I've discovered David Foster Wallace and am starting Infinite Jest, which should keep me fully satisfied for a while. When I went to pick up my order, the guy at the bookstore gave me two bookmarks — one for the text and one for the footnotes. Even the time-keeping in Infinite Jest is just brilliant.

  4. Cool, I will look it up. It's salary time, so amazon's gates are open again.