Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Galactica


I have a teenage-girl crush on Battlestar Galactica. I love this show so much that I actually have trouble writing about it. The lead review I wrote for the magazine was the hardest review I've ever done. (For me, it is always harder to write about something I love than something I hate. The venom just flies easier. It's like Spock said, "It has always been easier to destroy than to create.")

So, while I would like nothing more than to explain, in detail, the many and varied ways I admire Galactica, I won't, for it would read like the rambling love letter you sent to that little red-haired girl in homeroom before she crushed your burgeoning ego by frenching that stupid jock wrestler under the bleachers.

What I will say is that the Galactica podcasts are pure gold. For every episode, executive producer Ronald D. Moore records a showrunner's commentary track and releases it as a podcast through the Sci-Fi channel website (easily shunted into iTunes). If you're both a fan and, like me, a writer, it's bursting with insight into what is, easily, the best, most complex show on TV.

And here's the thing: I have never listened to the podcast while watching the corresponding episode. While some of Moore's comments are loosely scene-specific, the experience isn't tarnished by not having the scenes in front of you. Instead, you just get to just roll around inside a showrunner's head, learning how things went right and, more importantly, where they went wrong. (One of my favorite tracks was for an episode called "Black Market," which Moore felt failed on a fundamental level and then candidly dissected, fully shouldering the blame.)

These podcasts are an invaluable learning tool for any writer who's even casually thinking about serial storytelling, be it TV or comics. The fact that they're free is just icing on the cake.

Here's an idea that I'll just give away: Why don't the studios release feature film commentary tracks as podcasts? They're already recorded and, while won't be nearly as popular as an episode of The Office, would be like crack for cinephiles. It'd be great to have them for nothing, like most podcasts, but I'd drop 99 cents to listen to James Cameron on Aliens, or Martin Scorsese on Goodfellas, or Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Milius on Conan (seriously, one of the most entertaining tracks I've ever heard) on my commute into The City.

Look at that: an untapped revenue stream derived from material already produced and just lying around that wouldn't cannibalize from DVD sales in the slightest.

My gift to you...the magnificent seven of you who read this.

14 comments:

ivan brandon said...

make it eight.

good meeting you at NYCC.

KAC said...

Been wondering why they haven't done this myself. I'd buy 'em.

marc bernardin said...

damned good meeting you too, Ivan.

And, yeah, Kac...I'm thinking of making it my platform when I run for studio president.

Randy said...

You're so right. I treasure Moore's podcasts (and to a lesser extent, the official ABC Lost Casts) and would happily fork out a buck for movie commentaries to listen to as well.

Here's hoping somebody out there who can get this done is listening.

Oh, and I love Galactica too... but better than The Shield? Can't quite get behind that.

marc bernardin said...

Both The Shield and The Wire are my TV blind-spots: apparently phenomenal shows that I just can't work up the enthusiasm to watch. And I know I should...

ivan brandon said...

for most people i gather it's an either/or thing... the shield is like a thriller, full of action and twists... the wire is the cop show equivalent of literature, probably the best writing i've ever seen on tv. both shows are great, neither is for everyone...

if i had to choose one (why i would have to is anyone's guess) i would probably go with the wire, although i would recommend the shield to more people, if that makes any sense...the shield is a lot easier to get into

marc bernardin said...

I smell a DVD buying spree coming on. As well as a dropping my kids off with the grandparents for a week or two...

Bill Cunningham said...

The Shield is best watched on DVD. The commentaries on those sets are phenomenal as well. Shawn Ryan and the rest of he staff have really outdone themselves.

I've also found that 24 is best watched on DVD. I have watched eight episodes back to back before my then girlfriend pried me away with..."inducements".

Ah, the good old days.

marc bernardin said...

nuts and berries?

Bill Cunningham said...

Melons...

marc bernardin said...

ahhh...nuff said.

Justin said...

I second The Wire. Brilliant stuff. Can't wait until it returns.

I suppose I'm going to have to start picking up the Galactica DVDs...

Randy said...

I definitely agree with Ivan on the Shield/Wire thing. Some people will like both (a friend of mine loves both equally), but you'll probably pull one way or the other depending on your inclinations.

I couldn't get into the Wire too much (despite recognizing it as a great show), but I love The Shield more than anything else on television.

marc bernardin said...

for sure, Justin. Galactica won't leave you sorry...but it will leave you like a meth addict looking for the next hit.

Fine...I'll get The damned Shield. And the Wire.