Battlestar Galactica is the most celebrated science fiction of film or TV over the last few years. And it does indeed have unprecedented quality in acting, characters, and character interactions. The setting and plot mostly do a good job of setting off these characters and their interactions. However: this setting and plot make very little sense. Nowhere was this clearer than in tonight’s series finale. – it doesn’t even make sense in a “God works in mysterious ways” sort of way. It might be true to the emotional core of many characters and their interactions, but that hardly makes it a plausible overall outcome for a civilization.
Even though science fiction as a genre pays an unusual degree of attention to the larger settings of its stories, I in fact expect most BSG fans hardly noticed this key fact, and if they noticed hardly cared. You could hardly ask for clearer evidence that the near “detached detail” fiction uses to fill in its far setting does not much discipline that setting. You can tell pretty much any crazy far story and still fill it in with emotionally compelling near detail.
Added: I was recently flown to LA to personally advise a director of several famous (and good) SF movies, and his scriptwriter, on a new movie based on a famous SF book. Even I was surprised by how little they understood the story’s basic technical premises, and how little they cared about its basic emotional core.