Battlestar Galactica
Question: Thanks for the columns every week. I'm usually in agreement with you on most shows and things. However, it did strike me as a little bit hypocritical when I read your response to the writer asking if you thought the dark tone of Battlestar Galactica might be a hindrance for it in the long run. While you applauded its "fatalistic tone and mood," you are constantly knocking Six Feet Under for basically the same tone and mood. Especially with the plethora of programs and channels these days, a show that maintains a sense of tone (albeit with moments of levity that Six Feet Under interjects) is to be applauded. I enjoy both shows (and I, too, think Battlestar Galactica is the second-best show ever shown on Sci Fi after Farscape), but I find it confusing that you can praise and enjoy a "fatalistic tone and mood" in one show while slamming it in another. Of course, differing opinions are what make this column and life so interesting, now, aren't they?
Answer: Apples and oranges, my friend. Or, should I say, sour apples and blood oranges. The worst thing you can do when you're reviewing, or watching, TV in volume is to get locked into a simple, single mind-set that what works (or doesn't) for one show necessarily applies to another. I applaud Battlestar for its sustained dark intensity because it sets that show apart from the myriad sci-fi shows that rarely go out on such an extreme limb. Whereas Six Feet Under's fatalism takes the form of an unbearably whiny, overdone soap that happens to be set in a business place of death. The episode in the aftermath of Nate's death had several quite moving moments (David and Ruth washing his body comes to mind), but then the characters had the bad luck of opening their mouths for more misery to spew out. One show excites me, one show annoys me. That's the way it goes.

And let me add this footnote from Chris about Battlestar's oft-criticized dark side: "I just wanted to respond to the question in the Aug. 8 posting about Battlestar Galactica not having any light moments. It has had some light moments, such as the Colonial Day dance and Lee and Kara playing in the park with the hose. It is just that these lighter moments are fewer, and seem to be followed by some of the darker moments of the show, such as when a bunch of pilots were killed after Lee and Kara were trying to put together a celebration for the 1000th landing. Besides, the show is about a small group of people running for their lives from a terror that is never far away. A laugh track for this kind of situation would be very, very wrong."