So, the last episodes of Battlestar started last night. I like the show a lot, and I really really liked the first season or so, but then it started to get weird, and has kept getting weirder. I think I finally figured out why I don't like the more recent stuff as much as the initial miniseries and first season: The show is not what I was expecting it to become.
While I was not expecting "hard" scientifically accurate sci-fi, the beginning of the series seemed a lot closer to that. The main plot was to get the survivors of earth away from the cylons and find a place to live. It was clearly sci-fi (what with the evil robots and the spaceships) but it was no more sci-fi than necessary.
But then for some reason, the series decided that they would follow a prophesy to find earth. That's cool: In their bible it talks about earth, what a twist! But the series got more and more concerned with main characters having visions and following hidden signals and retrieving mystical artifacts, and it lost what originally made it super awesome to me. Or maybe it's more accurate to say that the things that I liked (the grittier, "realistic" side of living in a fleet of refugees fighting to survive) are still there, but they are overshadowed by all the new-agey prophesies and chosen ones, etc.
I don't know where, but I have this vague notion of what a sci-fi universe would be like if I was in charge. I can't pinpoint a specific book or movie that it matches, maybe some combination of the Red, Green, Blue Mars trilogy and Foundation. But anyway, early Battlestar was close to my vague ideal sci-fi universe: plenty of cool sci-fi, but not fantastical. And now it has drifted away from that, which is disappointing.
Even without the prophecies and quests and things that are now the focus of the show, they made a big mistake early on in the series when they decided to skip more than a year and try to colonize a crappy planet. I felt betrayed as a viewer when all of a sudden I was told that more time had passed than was supposed to have elapsed in the rest of the series to date. All of the characters changed and did things for which there seemed to be no good reason (probably because we missed a whole year which would have explained their motives). It was like some sort of bizarro universe where everyone grows a mustache or gets fat or gets a different haircut, and they don't act quite right. And they all got married to unexpected people! And then they escaped and went back into space, and the stupid marriages gradually broke up, and the mustaches were shaved, and the fat was lost and it was back to something resembling normal. I'm sure this was supposed to be some sort of cool twist, but mostly it just eroded my faith that the writers and producers knew what they were doing. I almost stopped watching, and I don't think the episodes since then have been nearly as good.
Obviously, the folks running the show had decided that they had been doing too much of the same stuff with cylons chasing people in space, and so they changed the pace a little by colonizing this planet. But that's no excuse for changing the entire dynamic of the show all at once with no notice. And then they realized that it wasn't working, and tried to re-assemble the show that they had had before. It could have been really interesting to see how the fleet tried to rebuild their lives, but we missed all of that it was just used as a gimmick whose consequences then had to be repaired when they went back into space and on their way.
I guess in the end, it seems like the storyline of Battlestar has flailed around, trying the first shiny new idea that came to mind, and then trying to make that shiny new idea make sense after the fact. This is frustrating because it was good to begin with before the flailing! Don't get me wrong, I still like the show, and the characters, and am going to keep watching, but it is not nearly as good as it was when it started or could have been.