As i was packing up our basement recently (in prep for a remodel), i ran across the boxed sets of the first three seasons of Battlestar Galactica. This is the 2000′s remake (I also have the box set of the 1970′s original series). But there were four seasons of the show. Where is the season four box set? It’s not like i didn’t know that i didn’t have it. I knew it was missing. It’s not like i couldn’t afford it. Money isn’t the issue. And with my slight OCD nature, when i start into collecting something, i almost always get it all (which can sometimes be rather expensive and annoying). It’s also not that i didn’t like the series. It’s an amazing series. The story is compelling, the acting is good. But … for some reason i just feel reluctant whenever i think about getting season four.
Well, today i was listening to a podcast, and the discussion there hit the nail on the head. Battlestar Galactica is a “shaggy dog story” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaggy_dog_story). Which basically means that the story is long, it’s complex, it’s interesting. And it ends with a horrible fizzle that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Many people view Lost the same way (although i never got into Lost – it “lost” my interest halfway through season 1). I would stick the Heroes series in this same camp. And the Matrix franchise. Loved it, hated the ending. Ruined the whole thing.
So yes – that’s it exactly. Everytime i think about Battlestar Galactica i think of the amazing story. And everytime i think about picking up that fourth season boxed set, i go “ehhhhhhh”, because it would mean i have to watch the ending again, and i just have no interest in ever doing that.
Of course, not every sci-fi tv series is a shaggy dog. Probably the very best example i can think of is Babylon 5. It has a five year story arc that’s completely planned out from beginning to end. There are scenes in the very first episode that only come to full fruition in the very last episode. There are story elements that span years. Characters make choices that actually matter and don’t ‘reset’ after the episode is over. If only more shows were like this.
What are some of your favorite (as in bad) shaggy dog shows?