Well, NBC's Heroes is now firmly in the lead with my three favorite televisions shows, overtaking my other two favorites Battlestar Galactica and Rome due to its deft plotting and the clear evidence that they have worked their backstory out in much better detail than BG. Mind you - I love BG and maintain that it's cumulative effect on SF television and the wider perception of SF in the mainstream is overwhelmingly positive, but I'm losing paitence with the way they use the religious beliefs of both sides as a catch all for moving the plot without bothering to work out just what those beliefs are in any convincing detail. It's not good tv when the characters are working from information that is rote to them but vague to the audience and as much time as the crew of the Galactica has spent with "good Sharon", we ought to know a damn site more about the Cylon's core beliefs than we do. I mean, how can the Cylon's not know who the "final five" are? Were they built at the same time? Were they built first? Were they not build yet? For that matter, the Cylons treat the "bullet heads" like morons, but didn't the bullet heads build them? So, wouldn't the bullet heads know who the final five are? How do they even know there are a final five if they've never seen them, don't interact with them, don't receive orders from them, and didn't apparently hang with them back on whatever Cylon homeworld they were on for the last 50 years? It's all a big mess, and I'd like to see it untangled, but I still don't think the writers have an effing clue.
This doesn't mean BG's character work isn't amazing - it's what keeps me glued to the screen week after week, and god, I love Baltar under pressure - and this season's Rome is tremendous even if the 3 months forward jump didn't jar a little bit and undercut a little of the episode's potentia. But these three shows aren't just my favorite shows on TV now - they could easily be my favorite shows TO DATE when the dust settles. Now...
Back on Heroes - anyone not watching Christopher Eccelston's performance is really missing out. His delivery isn't far from what he did on my fourth favorite current show, Doctor Who, but I could watch him spew patronizing vitriol all night. But - and here's a minor spoiler warning for anyone who didn't see last night's episode - I was expecting that shove he gave Peter off the building. When Eccleston came on last week, his character - that of the vagabond mentor wandering the streets - really reminded me of something else - the homeless wizard Tom O'Bedlam of Grant Morrison's brilliant comic book series, The Invisibles, who mentors the young boy Jack Frost, troubled youth who doesn't realize his true potential and all that. After wandering the streets as poor mad Tom's pupil for a while, their lessons culminate with a death defying leap off a London skyscraper. Coincidence? Not with comic scribe Jeff Loeb as co-executive producer. But need more proof that it isn't just synchronicity. Well, come on, just what is Eccelston's particular power anyway?
Update: While I'm thinking of it, it occurs to me that it's instructive to look at the way all four of the above mentioned shows - Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, Rome and Doctor Who - deal with Providence. I've blogged before about the fact that the world of Battlestar Galactica is clearly one in which the divine forces have some reality / influence on events, as we've seen multiple charactes experience prophecy that has come to fruition. And while the majority of Heroes' synchronicities can be explained simply by what happens when one character sees the future and shares that knowledge with another who can travel in time, they are racking up enough meaningful coincidence to suggest that other forces may be at work beyond their own self-generated domino effects. Doctor Who second season is interesting for the way it sets up the Doctor as a "lonely god," and remember the episode "New Earth" where he tells a Nun that there is "no higher authority" in the universe than himself. The running theme of that season is that the previous Godlike powers, the Time Lords, are now gone, and thus the Doctor is forced to step in and play God to a hitherto unattained (or at least unacknowledged) degree. So in this series, he is Providence, hence his really interesting decision to forgo sharing the details of his meeting with the devil in "The Satan Pit." I mean, keeping the fact from humanity that a, there was actually a devil and b, he's dead now is a pretty major card to hang onto. Now, what's really interesting to me are the recent developments in the fourth show, Rome. Up unto this point, and despite the widespread belief in the supernatural shared by its cast of characters, we haven't seen the presence of the supernatural at all in its story. But now, with episode 15, "These Being the Words of Marcus Tullius Cicero," we have Pullo, who left Rome several months ago and has only just returned, convinced he has been sent back by the gods to set things right with Vorenus, stumbling synchronistically upon Lyde, who tells him Vorenus' children are still alive. Can it be that the supernatural has finally reared its ugly head in ancient Italy too?