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Watching the season two finale of Battlestar Galactica today, I couldn't help thinking of a scene from Angel's second season. It's the one in 'Epiphany' where Angel, full of guilt and remorse and not knowing what to do next, has a sit-down chat with Lorne in Caritas. "I don't know how to get back," says Angel, and Lorne replies, "Well, that's the thing--you don't. You go on to the new place. Wherever that is." Actually, what I was really thinking of was not that scene, but what David Hines said about it:
*Exactly* right.

Dramatic television characters are like chess pieces. If you want to continuously develop one's position, you have to keep moving him to new places. If you just shuffle him back and forth between the same two squares, he's not actually going anywhere ... and you're wasting turn after turn.
(As an aside, I miss David Hines. He regularly and then semi-regularly posted reviews of Buffy and Angel to Usenet from about mid-s2 of the former to mid-s3 of the latter, and is still one of the sharpest and most entertaining tv critics I've read--even when I think he's being completely crackers. His take on the first half of Angel's second season, for instance, is definitive, and he was good on Buffy when it was good and when it wasn't. Sadly I haven't seen him review anything for several years.)

Anyway, I think Hines is spot-on about character-shuffling as a trap that so many long-running tv shows fall into; one of the reasons I like Angel so much, despite its faults, is that it avoided that trap, more or less. But watching 'Lay Down Your Burdens', the observation came back to me, because Galactica's writers seem to have gone a bit too far in the opposite direction.

the spoilery bit )
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Everyone knows what space opera is. Right? It's the public face of science fiction, for starters: spaceships and space battles, exotic planets and alien peoples. Star Wars and A Fire Upon The Deep. In short, it's one of the most traditional forms the genre can take. In the past couple of years, though, there has been some fuss about something called 'new space opera'.

definitions )

farscape: the peacekeeper war )

iron sunrise by charles stross )

exultant by stephen baxter )

the algebraist by iain m banks )

battlestar galactica: the mini-series )

conclusions )

Some people eat ice-cream as displacement activity, you know. Me, I write four and a half thousand words about space opera. Go figure.

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