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Writing 101

Spoilers Below

Don't read this if you haven't yet watched the season finales of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and/ or LIFE ON MARS. I've finally seen both (we are TIVO junkies, so we don't always watch shows the night they air), and... well...

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA ends with "God Did It." Looks like somebody skipped Writing 101, when you learn that a deus ex machina is a crappy way to end a story.

And now LIFE ON MARS ends with "It Was All a Dream." Curiously, I actually found that a bit more satisfying than the end of BSG. But still... really??? C'mon. Writing 101.

Oh, and while I'm at it, let me spoil the new Nicholas Cage movie, KNOWING. I actually enjoyed that one, mostly, although everyone else I know who has seen it hated it. But the ending... this time it was space angels who did it. And when the little kids starting running through the alien grass toward the glowing alien tree, I almost thought the boy was going to say, "My dad used to call me Caleb, but my real name is Adam," and then the little girl would say... oh, wait, you've seen it?

Yeah, yeah, sometimes the journey is its own reward. I certainly enjoyed much of the journey with BSG, parts of LIFE ON MARS, and even some stuff in KNOWING. But damn it, doesn't anybody know how to write an ending any more?

Writing 101, kids. Adam and Eve, God Did It, It Was All a Dream? I've seen Clarion students left stunned and bleeding for turning in stories with those endings.


(I sure hope those guys doing LOST have something better up planned for us. Though if it turns out to be They Were All Dead All Along I'm really going to be pissed).


Apr. 5th, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC)
A random observation: "deus ex machina" is, I suspect, very apt. It's not God -- "it" doesn't like being called that, we're told right at the end.

It makes me think of Asimov's "The Last Question", for some reason. So ... god out of the machine? God _is_ a machine (maybe).

On the whole, I thought the finale ended well. More importantly, it was told well, because it brought the focus onto the characters and their journey, temporal and spiritual. To me, this was always the central aspect of the show. The "mysteries" were something a lot of people were into, and to some degree the writers kind of fed that mentality, but it was really the story of the characters for me.

I know a lot of people wanted a lot more action, a lot more explicit closure, or what have you, but for me this felt like a fairly bold tack to take against prevailing opinion.

I'm told the LOST writers have said that it's not purgatory and they're not all dead and just don't know it.

As to LIFE ON MARS, as I recall, in the original British series, it was "all just a dream", but they were, I guess, "true" dreams. The character really did live back then, somehow, and then did wake up again in the present. IIRC, the follow-up British series references what happens to him after that point (in short: nothing good.)
Apr. 5th, 2009 09:26 pm (UTC)
In the UK LoM Sam Tyler was in a coma and everything was a product of his imagination. At the end of the series he commits suicide and 'dies' in the present, but continues to live in the 1970s for another seven years. When Drake gets shot in the first episode of ASHES TO ASHES, she assumes (as do we) that because she was reading Sam Tyler's psych profile and his detailed account of life in the 1970s, she created a similar fantasy world.

The whole thing gets thrown into severe doubt because in the final episode of the first season, Gene Hunt is revealed as having played a role in investigating the murder of Drake's parents as a child, so he really existed. Apparently the second season of ASHES TO ASHES is supposed to dive into this mystery in more detail.
Apr. 6th, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
BSG ending: the nature of God
I expect that in "Caprica" and "The Plan" it will be revealed that the God of the BSG series is actually the transcended intelligence of the Centurion Cylons. It clearly does not have a perfect understanding of human or skin job character or motivation, but has been trying, in a somewhat mechanistic way, to ensure the reconciliation of the human and Cylon races through miraculous interventions.

If not, I agree, weak ending.
Jul. 30th, 2012 03:39 pm (UTC)
Re: BSG ending: the nature of God
This would have been impossible, the Messengers are too old. In "No Exit", Sam mentioned the Five seeing them on the first Earth, and in the final scene of "Daybreak" they referenced having seen the civilizations of the first Earth and Kobol.

Edited at 2012-07-30 03:39 pm (UTC)
Jul. 27th, 2012 01:35 am (UTC)
I agree; I see the finale of BSG as more character-driven than God-driven.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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