It’s the final season of Battlestar Galactica and SciFi is scrambling to monetize every last moment.

“Buy artifacts from Earth!” they keep cajoling. Er, no thanks, I have plenty.

In addition to all of the prop and costume auctions, SciFi and Kentucky Fried Chicken are apparently running a sweepstakes. I hadn’t paid any attention to it – living in a time-shifted viewing universe I generally ignore the commercials. One of my knitting buddies was over today to catch up on this season and I failed to fast-forward through one of the commercial breaks in the first episode. Our jaws all dropped when we saw the commercial.

I just hit the SciFi channel website to see if they’re still running the promotion. I see that they’re now calling it the “Can’t say that word on tv” sweepstakes. I’d like to imagine that the Battlestar Galactica writers laughed so hard they ruptured their spleens when the SciFi marketing braintrust rolled out what they originally called the “frak pak”.

Now, obviously, you can say the word on television, because they do. That’s the point of the word. SciFi is basic cable, so having characters utter the word fuck every 6 seconds on a 42 minute program would break the bank. On the other hand, I don’t know if I’m willing to give SciFi enough credit to believe that they rolled this out on purpose so that they could then change the name with a wink-wink-nudge-nudge bit of viral publicity.

Husband suggested I embed this video for those who don’t know the show. Here’s a montage of BSG characters using the word Frak. (It’s pretty amusing, anyway).



So why don’t I think this was a calculated plan on the part of SciFi and KFC?

For starters, I don’t think KFC is that cutting edge in their thinking, nor do I think their shareholders would probably dig that plan.

Secondly, SciFi is the channel that killed the clever, witty and original Dresden Files in favor of Sanctuary. I rest my case.

Still, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that my inner 13 year old found this frakkin hysterical. It’s really a miracle I’m able to get through this post without pointing out to KFC that they missed the boat with this one, because they do allegedly sell chicken at their establishment and the phrase “box of cocks” rhymes as nicely as “frak pak” and could be a cross-promotional bonanza.

Maybe that’s not as funny as I think it is – I proposed it to Husband and he just stared at me while I laughed hysterically.

I think I ate too many cookies today.

If you so desire, you can learn about how the FCC determines if the usage of a word is profane or obscene by reading the Golden Globes Award Order, which was the result of the legal wrangling after Bono used what the FCC refers to officially as the “F-word” (in quotation marks) during the Golden Globes. Or, you can just say “frak pak” a lot and giggle hysterically, which is what I’ve been doing.

We went on a date recently and we actually went to the movies – we saw The Day the Earth Stood Still at the local IMAX theater. We watched the original first because, well, we’re geeks. Keanu Reeves acquitted himself nicely as the completely expressionless Klaatu, and the pacing was much better, and GORT the robot was seriously creepy, but it lacked all the nice DC scenery that gave the first one so much of it’s charm (for us).

The real geek-fest was the previews – warning – these websites all launch annoying sound effects when you click the links so you may want to turn your speakers offThe Watchmen (which author Alan Moore is, predictably, upset about), Star Trek, and Monsters Vs Aliens, which looks really cute. I also choose to take it as further evidence of the dinosaur-human hybrid super-soldier project in the basement of the Pentagon.

To be fair to Moore, Hollywood hasn’t done a particularly good job of translating his work to the screen (see also: League of Extraordinary Gentleman and V for Vendetta). Plus, the guy probably gets more press as the disgruntled and disenfranchised creator than he would if he was gung-ho about the adaptations.

I decided to watch a 2007 SciFi Channel Saturday Night Craptacular, Ghouls. Ghouls was heavy on the crap-, light on the -tacular. I got it from Netflix, I don’t know why. I think it was because it starred Erin Grey. Or maybe I was on drugs. I abandoned it around the half-way mark.

It may at last be time to face my arch-nemesis. No, not Wolf Blitzer. Galactica 1980.

I’m about to go totally meta here, and quote from that previous post about why you don’t want to try this at home:

Here are the original posts from that first little (mis)adventure, to help newer readers understand why they shouldn’t try this [watching Galactica 1980] at home. Not without first undertaking a rigorous training regimen. And possibly lobotomizing themselves with a number 2 pencil.

Remember people, I watch so you don’t have to. I am a trained media professional and this is the big time. You should not, I repeat, not, try this at home.

And if you do, I’m not responsible for the psychological carnage. Nor will I come to your home and scrape the fetid remnants of your anguished soul off of your rug.

1) galactica 1980 marathon, part I (caution: new series spoilers)

2) Cousin Oliver gets kicked to the curb; or, Galactica 1980 marathon, part 2

3) Mormons, or, Galactica 1980 marathon, part 3

4) Galactica 1980 marathon, part 4, wherein I talk about Knight Rider instead because I still haven’t been able to bring myself to finish watching episode 5

5) Galactica 1980 post part 5; I only wish the 6th episode starred Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce

6) And, if you got through all that, a bonus post, at no extra charge: The Big Score, and a minor Battlestar Galactica (new series) spoiler

(Original post here).

The DVDs are standing by. If anyone wants to undertake this mission with me, drop me a line. Be warned that you aren’t getting your mitts on one of the lollipops and you’re going to need to know me fairly well to be allowed to babysit.

The category index for Galactica 1980 is here.

In February 2006 the SciFi channel aired a Galactica 1980 marathon. In a series of escalating dares, Husband goaded me into watching it. Perhaps it was the gray February weather, or maybe it was the drugs. Whatever the reason, I accepted.

Later, we needed to make room on the Tivo and I only saved one episode from this precious cache. I thought I could pick them up cheap somewhere for later, more leisurely viewing. This was a mistake, as I soon learned. For some reason (basic human decency?) the show wasn’t commercially available.

Until now.

Quite by chance, I just discovered that Netflix has every heart-wrenchingly bad episode available on demand. At long last, I can complete my journey through the darkness.

Here are the original posts from that first little (mis)adventure, to help newer readers understand why they shouldn’t try this at home. Not without first undertaking a rigorous training regimen. And possibly lobotomizing themselves with a number 2 pencil.

Remember people, I watch so you don’t have to. I am a trained media professional and this is the big time. You should not, I repeat, not, try this at home.

And if you do, I’m not responsible for the psychological carnage. Nor will I come to your home and scrape the fetid remnants of your anguished soul off of your rug.

galactica 1980 marathon, part I (caution: new series spoilers)

Cousin Oliver gets kicked to the curb; or, Galactica 1980 marathon, part 2

Mormons, or, Galactica 1980 marathon, part 3

Galactica 1980 marathon, part 4, wherein I talk about Knight Rider instead because I still haven’t been able to bring myself to finish watching episode 5

Galactica 1980 post part 5; I only wish the 6th episode starred Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce

And, if you got through all that, a bonus post, at no extra charge:
The Big Score, and a minor Battlestar Galactica (new series) spoiler

Now that I’ve reread them, I have to say that those were actually entertaining, if only because they brought back lovely memories of giant spaceships full of Lucy Lawless clones, getting in trouble for calling girl scouts “sugar whores”, the 1970s sci-fi show time travel Nazi-encounter plotline fad, and, a personal favorite of mine, our fearless leader freaking out over human-animal hybrids (Manimal?) in his State of the Union. Good times, indeed.

Last night we watched the pilot ep of the new Bionic Woman. A review I read (Tom Shales?) reminded me of what was missing – and by “missing” I mean “not there,” I certainly don’t mean “lacking.”

In the original series, Jaime Sommers had a bionic dog named Max.

I searched my archives because I was pretty sure I posted about bionic dogs a couple of years ago. I found the post, “In the future we will all have…robot dogs,” but notice I forgot (repressed?) Max.

70’s television writers always seemed to pull the robotic dog out of the Big Bag of Hackneyed Plot Devices when their show started to go to ground, didn’t they? I’d try to answer the question of which came first, a show’s implosion or the addition of a robotic dog, but it seems a rather “chicken or the egg” proposition. Plus, much like the last time, I’ve gotten distracted thinking about zombie dogs and already lost interest in the subject.

William Gibson’s Spook Country is out and Gibson is in town reading and signing this weekend. You know, the guy who came up with the word “cyberspace.” The guy who writes really great books like Neuromancer and Pattern Recognition and All Tomorrow’s Parties.

Neal Stephenson once gave a great interview to slashdot where he was asked, “In a fight between you and William Gibson, who would win?” I’m copying his whole response here even though it’s long, it’s question number 4 in a long interview that’s mostly not about Gibson. Not that this is really about Gibson, but it makes me laugh.

Neal:

You don’t have to settle for mere idle speculation. Let me tell you how it came out on the three occasions when we did fight.

The first time was a year or two after SNOW CRASH came out. I was doing a reading/signing at White Dwarf Books in Vancouver. Gibson stopped by to say hello and extended his hand as if to shake. But I remembered something Bruce Sterling had told me. For, at the time, Sterling and I had formed a pact to fight Gibson. Gibson had been regrown in a vat from scraps of DNA after Sterling had crashed an LNG tanker into Gibson’s Stealth pleasure barge in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. During the regeneration process, telescoping Carbonite stilettos had been incorporated into Gibson’s arms. Remembering this in the nick of time, I grabbed the signing table and flipped it up between us. Of course the Carbonite stilettos pierced it as if it were cork board, but this spoiled his aim long enough for me to whip my wakizashi out from between my shoulder blades and swing at his head. He deflected the blow with a force blast that sprained my wrist. The falling table knocked over a space heater and set fire to the store. Everyone else fled. Gibson and I dueled among blazing stacks of books for a while. Slowly I gained the upper hand, for, on defense, his Praying Mantis style was no match for my Flying Cloud technique. But I lost him behind a cloud of smoke. Then I had to get out of the place. The streets were crowded with his black-suited minions and I had to turn into a swarm of locusts and fly back to Seattle.

The second time was a few years later when Gibson came through Seattle on his IDORU tour. Between doing some drive-by signings at local bookstores, he came and devastated my quarter of the city. I had been in a trance for seven days and seven nights and was unaware of these goings-on, but he came to me in a vision and taunted me, and left a message on my cellphone. That evening he was doing a reading at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus. Swathed in black, I climbed to the top of the hall, mesmerized his snipers, sliced a hole in the roof using a plasma cutter, let myself into the catwalks above the stage, and then leapt down upon him from forty feet above. But I had forgotten that he had once studied in the same monastery as I, and knew all of my techniques. He rolled away at the last moment. I struck only the lectern, smashing it to kindling. Snatching up one jagged shard of oak I adopted the Mountain Tiger position just as you would expect. He pulled off his wireless mike and began to whirl it around his head. From there, the fight proceeded along predictable lines. As a stalemate developed we began to resort more and more to the use of pure energy, modulated by Red Lotus incantations of the third Sung group, which eventually to the collapse of the building’s roof and the loss of eight hundred lives. But as they were only peasants, we did not care.

Our third fight occurred at the Peace Arch on the U.S./Canadian border between Seattle and Vancouver. Gibson wished to retire from that sort of lifestyle that required ceaseless training in the martial arts and sleeping outdoors under the rain. He only wished to sit in his garden brushing out novels on rice paper. But honor dictated that he must fight me for a third time first. Of course the Peace Arch did not remain standing for long. Before long my sword arm hung useless at my side. One of my psi blasts kicked up a large divot of earth and rubble, uncovering a silver metallic object, hitherto buried, that seemed to have been crafted by an industrial designer. It was a nitro-veridian device that had been buried there by Sterling. We were able to fly clear before it detonated. The blast caused a seismic rupture that split off a sizable part of Canada and created what we now know as Vancouver Island. This was the last fight between me and Gibson. For both of us, by studying certain ancient prophecies, had independently arrived at the same conclusion, namely that Sterling’s professed interest in industrial design was a mere cover for work in superweapons. Gibson and I formed a pact to fight Sterling. So far we have made little headway in seeking out his lair of brushed steel and white LEDs, because I had a dentist appointment and Gibson had to attend a writers’ conference, but keep an eye on Slashdot for any further developments.

Don’t know who any of these guys are? Here are the serviceable [tag]wikipedia[/tag] entries on Gibson and Stephenson. And, for good measure, Bruce Sterling.

Obligatory Galactica 1980 content: Glen A. Larson was the executive Producer of Knight Rider, and even co-wrote the theme song.

This has been bothering me for a while. Since 1982, to be precise. Have you ever paid attention to the prologue for Knight Rider?

“Knight Rider, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless in a world of criminals who operate above the law.”

What’s up with the loner schtick? It sounds romantic, I guess, but the plot revolves around the guy not being a loner. In fact, he runs with a whole pack. First of all, he’s supported by Knight Industries, presumably a big company. Knight Industries somehow operates the mercenary organization F.L.A.G. – the Foundation for Law and Government. F.L.A.G seems to be bound by neither the rules of law nor government, but we’re just going to let that go for now, because to think about it would just bring my headache back.

Even if you discount F.L.A.G., Michael Knight has also got a band of wacky sidekicks who ride around in an 18-wheeler and attend to his every need.

Probably most importantly, he has that deep homoerotic bond with his car, KITT.

What part of that spells loner? I mean, except in the whole existential “we’re all alone” sort of way, of course. If this guy is a loner, he’s a miserable failure at it.

Incidentally, William Daniels, the uncredited voice of KITT, was a guest star on Galactica 1980 in the 2 parter, “Night of the Cylons.” So there, more Galactica 1980 content. They were both Glen A. Larson shows, plus he’s pretty much guest starred on everything ever made, so it’s not really that interesting of a coincidence. Or, really, technically, a coincidence.

(proceed to part 5)

Husband informs me that Barry Van Dyke and Not-Starbuck’s dorky motorcycles could fly in the first episodes of Galactica 1980, I was just in some sort of fugue state during the flying dorkcycle scenes and didn’t notice.

Oh well. Welcome to day 3 of the Galactica 1980 Fest, wherein we don’t actually watch an episode of the show because it gives us a pain right here and we need a little break. By “us” I of course mean “me.” Even as I type Husband is happily viewing an episode of Miami Vice that starred Miles Davis, who seemed intent on proving that a great, great musician could be a bad, bad actor. The episode is from 1985. The following year, Don Johnson proved to the world that a bad, bad actor could be a bad, bad musician with his opus, Heartbeat, but that’s a post for another day. I don’t think this episode is going to be as good (if by “good” you mean “bad”) as the one with James Brown as the leader of a UFO cult.

Tivo is not your damned friend.

There is a Miami Vice-Battlestar Galactica connection. It’s not Glen A. Larson. It’s Edward James Olmos, who co-starred on Miami Vice as the token (token actor, that is) and now stars in Battlestar Galactica (the iteration I refer to as “the real one”, much to Husband’s annoyance) as Admiral Adama. (Lorne Green Action Facial Hair sold seperately).

This post is a little too paranthetical (even for me).

The problem with prolonged viewing of Galactica 1980, and in fact any show from the franchise, is that it inevitably leads to prolonged ranting (by me, at any rate) about Mormons. Not all Mormons. Not even most Mormons. Only the Super-conservative misogynistic Mormon missionary dudes who live up the blocl. I got rid of them for a long stretch of time at one point by actually inviting them in and spilling the ashes of my deceased cat (it was actually a peppermill, but they didn’t know this).

So yeah, maybe I do have a problem with some Mormons. But those are specific individuals and they’d be annoying no matter what flavor of oppressive theology they adhered to. But I could ignore all that, if the Galactica Universe wasn’t just ooy-gooy with theology, which I find boring and trite. Again, no matter whose theology it is. Series creator Glen Larson really wears his religion on his sleeve in this one. Yes, I know, plenty of sci-fi is just rehashing of established religion. (I just did that nerdy thing where you clear your throat while croaking a word, in this case: The Matrix. You just didn’t hear it). I don’t care. It’s intellectually lazy. If you want to invent a religion, invent a religion. Don’t just make anagrams and call yourself clever.

If there’s overt Mormonism in some of Larson’s other epic masterpieces, Knight Rider, Buck Rogers, and Quincy spring to mind first, I’ve never noticed. My own babblings about Mormons and Battlestar Galactica are neither insightful nor interesting, so I’ll send you elsewhere if you’re interested in reading more on the subject.

Michael Lorenzen’s essay on “Battlestar Galactica and Mormonism is interesting, albeit stiff and awkwardly written. This essay is probably a better summary, although it doesn’t go into the depth that Lorenzen’s essay does.

Well, whatever. Just think about all those naked Lucy Lawless cylons and it will all a-okay.

You may think that it’s silly to devote time to the Glen A. Larson oevre, but that just means you haven’t been following U.S. politics closely enough. According to the requisite sci-fi moment in this year’s State of the Union Address, President W pointed out that Manimal is a serious threat to our freedom:

A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator — and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale. (Applause.)

Sure, there are loads of bioethical issues to be addressed in the field of xenotransplantation and creation of chimeras is a hot topic. Personally, I think it’s unfortunate the Prez wants to devote more resources to stopping this research entirely, not because of the medical implications but because I’m so looking forward to someday being able to mutate into various animals at will, especially raptors.

Again, not for any medical reason. Just because the idea of being able to poop on people and get away with it sounds kinda fun. And raptors are big, big birds.

And on that note, it’s time for us to finally catch up with Friday night’s ep of (the real) Battlestar Galactica, “Downloaded.” With special guest star Lucy Lawless.

Go on to part 4