Friday, September 23, 2005

Geeking Out

Hello kiddies! Last time it was Nightstalkers and Blade. This time I want to talk commentaries. Battlestar Galactica commentaries. I just watched all the commentaries from the season one box set. How was it? Good. If you know anything about BG you probably already know it's one of the best shows on TV. You learn a lot about the writing and that most of the series biggest ideas were made up on the fly. For example, the 33 minutes in the "33" episode was just a arbitrary time they picked. Mostly, they talk about how great BG is and how they were going for something different and blah, blah, blah. That stuff is fine but for the conservative geek the commentaries tread on the dangerous ground of politics. They started out by questioning the whole "if you don't go about your life the terrorists have won" theory in a rather glib jab at Bush, but it was minor. Then they Suggest Starbuck and Cmdr. Adama are Republicans and Apollo is a Democrat. They talk a bunch about the influence of 9/11. And the topper, after pointing out that the characters have to make tough decision with the information they have the writer quotes Rummy's famous you go to war with the army you have line. Personally, I was amazed that a Hollywood type would identify characters he loves with Republicans. You generally get the impression that these guys are libs, but they're anti-PC semi-south park conservatives libs. The main thing is that I feel safer watching the show because I think they're not going break the filter. Speaking of commentaries I find there are a few basic types:

The Professor: Almost scripted lecture on culture, film, politics, history, etc.; informative though possibly off topic and annoying. Ex: The Saint.

The Back Slapper: "I love this guy, that guy was great, she did a terrific job!" Ex: Sky Captain, Blade 2

The Narrator: Worst of the lot, this one explains what only the blind could not understand. Man on the screen opens a door, Commentary track: "Here he opens the door." Ex: The Quiet Man*, The Exorcist

The Crowd: This comes in different forms, some times it's a group of buddies talking, sometimes it's people actually doing commentaries from a coffee shop or something. It totally works but sometimes it's like watching a movie with a bunch of idiots talking over it or inside a bus station. Ex: The Life Aquatic, Hellboy cast commentaries

The Inner Circle: The best of the lot. These commentaries bring you into the confidence and back story of the movie. Sometimes it can be too much info, or, in the case of politics, alienating. Ex: Evil Dead II, The Simpsons

Battlestar Galactica's commentaries are a fair mix of Inner Circle, Crowd, and Back Slapper, but worth listening to for a better sense of the characters in this gem of a series.

(*Ed. Note- Maureen O'Hara does the commentary for The Quiet Man. I love the movie; it's way up there on my list of great John Wayne movies. But her commentary. . . Oh God, her commentary. She actually narrates the opening credits. Then it goes downhill. I love movie commentaries, but this was my biggest let-down. Almost hellish to watch/listen. I kept waiting for some actual information, but all I got was "Yes, Bobby was the assistant Gaffer. He was my cousin-in-law twice removed. We never spoke much." AGHHHHHH!!!!! -Garm)

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