Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Battlestar Gallactica Vs. Wonder Showzen: Tacky Art Battle Royale (May 2006)

My friends have differing opinions, as they are wont to do, and one such discussion stemmed from how good the new big-budget series Battlestar Gallactica was. Two of them say that it's the best Sci-Fi show on TV, and the other thought, "it's good, but they could have done so much better", adding a painful, "I didn't even like it when it was called Wing Commander".

The dissenter in question extols the virtues of such shows as Wonder Showzen, a low-budget MTV2 oddity of a program where kids say lovely things like "Delicious Murder!" while narrating the 'How a Hotdog is Made' segment, or telling an old man at a racetrack "This is my impression of you: Gamble, Gamble, Gamble, Die."

People say that you can't compare apples and oranges. These shows are completely different. Well if you ask me, they're both shows... And are not apples and oranges both fruit? Exactly.

The 'Bacon or patio chairs?' fight is one I'll stay out of, but the merit of worth of these two seemingly diametrically opposed television shows connects on a level that is everything good television is about: Art.

Having seen both the First Season of Battlestar Gallactica as well as the First Season of Wonder Showzen, I think I'll try to decide which is better artistically, which deserves to stay on the air, you know, like if I had a gun to my head...

Let's start with budget. This is what will make everyone exclaim, "Battlestar Gallactica is better, stupid!" To this I reply, "you sound like this moron I knew back when I was in college getting my Photography diploma."

He said, "It's not art unless it costs over $20,000." No shit. What a douchebag.

Why must American television be like the American consumer? Just because a show has a budget does not mean it's automatically better. In fact, the more money there is, the more people are involved. The more people involved in production, the more originality becomes a smorgasbord of normalcy. No. Granted, Battlestar Gallactica spends it's money wisely, but Wonder Showzen delivers us the feel of the 70s children's show regardless of what little money it has.

The cash category gets a draw.

Hitchcock said that he made 'art for the masses'. Some said that he was selling out from his artistic penchant, debasing his ideals for the crowd. Others said that it was proof of his artistry, since it appealed to a greater audience because he knew what people liked, acceptability rather than snobbery. I'll say here that Battlestar Gallactica, though original, does not take chances.

'Meat for the masses', it has some splendid plotlines, terrific special effects, and camera work and dialogue that though occasionally suffers from TypicalTelevision Syndrome, it will make most people happy. Not so with Wonder Showzen. This show is made up entirely of bold dares, blasphemy, tasteless humour and some genuinely disturbing content, not to mention a style that is so strange that no one can question its artistic integrity (however controversial the material might be). Wonder Showzen certainly will not appeal to everyone, in fact some will retch at the pus-filled scab-eating, but it is amazing. Though sometimes it is hit and miss, the best moments in Wonder Showzen are doubtlessly better than the best moments of Battlestar Gallactica, because they are so unique, so new. Battlestar, is an overall consistently good program, but lacks any real "What the Hell?!" moments.

I would have said that peaks and valleys versus smooth sailing would give us another draw, but Wonder Showzen has insinuated itself into my head so completely that I can no longer say that. One point for the Showzen.

Many of you will disagree with my final conclusion. These two programs are so different that many of you should, and by all means write your comments, but after all is said and done, I'll beg and pray that Wonder Showzen wins the longest number of seasons fight. Today, both shows are in their second, so they're neck and neck, but I suspect that Battlestar will win it in the end, due to the Lowest Common Denominator Factor.

And the winner of the Tacktastic award is presented to...

I, myself, am more surrealist than realist. I like art that pushes the boundaries. The other reason I hope Wonder Showzen wins is that shows like Battlestar Gallactica will always be around, we know that television is moving in a more realistic and less melodramatic direction, so Wonder Showzen is clearly the underdog in this case. There's very few shows like it, and this has to stick around, in hopes that others pick up something as daring and innovative.
It's terrific, they're both terrific. This is some of the best television out there, which sadly, isn't saying much.