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Is it really the end for ''Galactica''?

Dalton suspects low ratings are a bigger enemy for Adama than the Cylons — and new viewers (i.e., you) can help keep the series alive. Plus: The Glutton is itching to check into ”Paradise Hotel” again, introduce five Jersey giants, and answer your mail

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Justin Stephens

Is it really the end for ”Galactica”?

The executive producers behind Battlestar Galactica announced the other week that they were wrapping up the space drama after the upcoming fourth season. A statement from Ronald Moore and David Eick reads: ”This show was always meant to have a beginning, a middle and, finally, an end. Over the course of the last year, the story and the characters have been moving strongly toward that end, and we’ve decided to listen to those internal voices and conclude the show on our own terms.”

I have two problems with this. The first is, I love the show (although I feel season 3 was not as strong as seasons 1 and 2) and am bummed it will be ending so soon. The second is, I’m not convinced this decision was made by Moore and Eick. Look, the fact remains that Battlestar is (for cable) a very expensive show to produce. But that big budget has not translated into big ratings. Last year the program was being buzzed about as the best drama on television. Critics raved, geeks rejoiced, and fans flocked to the Internet to watch things called webisodes. Hell, the show even made the cover of Entertainment Frakin’ Weekly. The season 3 premiere was poised to break all sorts of viewership records. Or so we thought. Amazingly, the premiere episode had even fewer viewers than the season 2 premiere. It lost people instead of gaining them. The Sci Fi Channel went into panic mode and switched time slots from Friday to Sunday night, which helped only marginally. The show ended up averaging about 2.3 million viewers an episode, or, to put it in perspective, about a third as much as inane fare such as Ghost Whisperer.

The Sci Fi Channel announced the drama was coming back for another season, but with only 13 episodes. That was the first warning shot that the network might be wary of spending more big bucks for a mediocre-ratings performer. The order was eventually bumped up to 22, but one couldn’t help feeling the end was near. Especially if you remember what happened to Farscape. Farscape was another costly, critically acclaimed, lowly rated show on Sci Fi. At the height of its big buzz (which, granted, was nowhere as big as Galactica‘s), the channel pulled the plug, with the cast members eventually splintering off into wildly inferior shows like Stargate. (Sorry, Stargate fans. Be gentle with your hate mail.)

So despite the recent statement by Moore and Eick, I can’t help assuming that this was not the executives’ decision after all. You see, it’s not the Cylons that have been plaguing Adama and Apollo all this time — it’s the Nielsens. Trust me, if ratings were through the roof, we wouldn’t be talking about this show going off the air. As for the Sci Fi Channel, it’s easy for us to bitch and moan at networks for canceling our favorite shows, but then again, it’s not our money going down the drain. As much as I loved Farscape, it was a cult show with a cult audience, and as much as it sucked to see it go, it was hard to gripe. Galactica, however, has definitely reached a more mainstream audience — an audience that might not otherwise bother to check out the channel. That’s a pretty precious commodity these days. And then there is the matter of the ratings themselves. It’s not just that Galactica is down in viewers — everything is down. This is because people don’t watch television like they used to. They’re watching them later on DVRs, iPods, and DVDs. I can’t tell you how many people I know who were not watching season 3 of Battlestar because they were furiously catching up on the first two seasons on DVD. The old model is antiquated. In any event, Moore and Eick can put on a brave face, but I highly doubt ending the drama was all about mere creative control. Of course, that may turn out to be a good thing, because it means if you really want to save Battlestar Galactica, you only have to do one thing — WATCH THE DAMN SHOW!

OBSESSION OF THE WEEK

It’s baaaaaack! Perhaps the most fabulously awful reality show ever, Paradise Hotel, is set to make its triumphant return on Fox Reality and MyNetwork TV. (See, it’s so awesome that one mere channel can not contain it — it needs to be simulcast on two!) I wasted an entire summer waiting to see who would get banished each week from paradise…for-evaaaaa! The show was incredible in the way that they stuck a bunch of brain-dead hotties at a resort together and then watched them talk incessantly about ”the game,” even though none of us were even sure what said game was. (There was no prize announced until the very end of the show.) What was even better was how the producers shamelessly kept changing the rules and bringing back ousted contestants to make sure they had their preferred troublemakers around as long as possible. I couldn’t help but obsess over this program, even watching every episode of its inferior sequel, Forever Eden (in which one blond bimbo actually asked an African-American why his feet were so black). If you missed Paradise Hotel the first time around…well, then you have pretty good taste. But I encourage you to at least take a gander at the second season, whenever it starts airing. Hey, you never know when bug-eyed Toni is going to make her triumphant return!

NEXT PAGE: The Five: New Jersey’s giants, and Dalton answers your mail

THE FIVE

There’s been a lot of debate over the Sopranos finale. Personally, I loved it, and if you want to know why, you can read my musings in the issue of EW hitting stands this Friday. With Tony bidding adieu, it’s time to look at who is the most famous celeb a Jerseyite like myself should be celebrating. Which brings us to:

The Top Five Homegrown Celebrities Jersey Folks Can Claim As Their Own

1. Bruce Springsteen
This is almost too obvious. The Garden State’s true ”Boss.”

2. Frank Sinatra
Pros: Born and bred in Hoboken. Cons: Dead.

3. Jon Bon Jovi
He’s seen a million faces, and he rocked them all!

4. Joe Piscopo
What? He was funny! 25 years ago, perhaps, but funny nonetheless.

5. Tara Reid
The pride of Wyckoff. Which I suppose implies that Wyckoff doesn’t have a whole lot to be proud of. But she is indeed living proof that New Jersey KNOWS HOW TO PARTY!!!!!!!!! And party. And pass out. And then party some more.

READER MAIL

This week’s mailbag was overstuffed with responses to my plea for a return to the kinder, gentler days of summer reruns. An even bigger debate raged over the list of the Top Five Most Awesomely Preppy ’80s Movie Villains. Here’s a sampling…

I wholeheartedly agree with you, Dalton Ross. Not only did you hit the nail on the perfectly feathered head in regards to James Spader being the yardstick by which all preppy villains should be measured, but the disappearance of the summer rerun is a tragedy. I used to actually look forward to catching up on some of the episodes I missed, and to re-enjoy some of the more exciting ones I’ve already seen, or to get hooked on a show I wasn’t able to watch in the fall. The ”original” programming dreck the networks feed us over the summer tastes like a recipe Mom tries out on the family and expects us to choke down and be happy, because it’s not the same old same old. And all it does is leave us wanting her meatloaf. Again and again. —Siobhan Tunstead

Hey, Siobhan. Can your mom hook me up with some of that meatloaf? Tell her there’s a 140-lb. weakling of a writer whose goal is to make it up to a whopping 145. One can only dream.

Due to scheduling conflicts and a new baby, I missed a VAST amount of great shows this past season. After watching the season finale of Lost, I couldn’t wait for the reruns. Boy, did I get screwed. Do network execs really think that America wants a show featuring talentless impersonators of mostly talentless celebrities judged by talentless, unknown z-listers? America’s Got Talent just proves that we don’t (and that Hasselhoff’s probably still drinking heavily). No wonder Arrested Development got canceled — it wasn’t humiliating enough for all involved. Please, just give us the reruns and call it a day. —Bronwen Dyll

I hear ya, Bronwen. Due to my Survivor obsession and needing to keep tabs on a friend in Ugly Betty, I missed a lot of The Office this past season. Luckily, that happens to be one of the shows in reruns. As for Lost, the whole last month was fantastic. The fact that you’re now forced to watch old episodes on your computer or buy them on DVD is more insidious than any black smoke monster.

I’m right there with ya Dalton on the summer reruns. I had the last six episodes of Jericho on my DVR for a marathon-viewing session after the season finale. Lo and behold, CBS announces it is canceled. Why waste my time on something that is just going to leave me hanging, right? Wrong! I delete them, and then CBS announces that it is bringing the show back. So NOW I have to sit in front of my LAPTOP to watch the shows instead of watching them on my BRAND NEW FLAT-SCREEN TV. I guess I should be thankful that CBS is bringing it back, but come on! —Mari Roberson

Hope is on the way, Mari. Starting July 6, CBS is going to air Jericho reruns throughout the summer, so put that flat-screen TV to use! Say, speaking of Jericho, I wonder if I can get any of my favorite old shows renewed by sending a few bags of peanuts: Freaks and Geeks, Invasion, Harsh Realm, Arrested Development…hell, maybe I’ll send 30 pounds to David Chase and James Gandolfini and they can start working on some new Sopranos episodes for me.

I love the ’80s villain list, but I prefer James Spader in Less Than Zero over Pretty in Pink. —Patrick Pohlmann

That’s a tough one, Patrick. While I’m a PIP guy, I clearly acknowledge the full-on smarm that Spader brought to Less Than Zero. First off, he’s dealing smack and male prostitutes. And the slicked-back hair is pretty clutch as well. I suppose there is no clear answer, just a matter of personal preference.

I love your villain list. I could go on and on, but I’m partial to Teddy Beckersted in One Crazy Summer. Not so much in a realistic Spader way, but in an over-the-top train wreck kind of way. (I suppose I could say that for the whole movie, don’t get me started.) The temper tantrums, the animal crackers, the ridiculously hot girlfriend and equally ridiculous car, the daddy issues, the sadistic personality, plus he’s got Jeremy Piven as a sidekick. Beat that. Well, ok, Spader beats that, I agree with you, but he’s up there with Zabka. — Khurston Epple

I like where you’re going with this, Khurston. After all, anyone pimping a movie starring Curtis ”Booger” Armstrong — also a top-hatted star of Better Off Dead, I might add — knows what they’re talking about. But don’t sleep on William Zabka. His triple-threat jerk work in Karate Kid, Just One of the Guys, and Back to School is a trilogy for the ages.

I think you mentioned all the best male ’80s movie villains, but what about the girls? Caroline from Sixteen Candles? Or that snooty brunette from Girls Just Wanna Have Fun? And though I agree James Spader is awesomely wicked in Pretty in Pink, how about the girl who was drunk and hanging off him the whole time? (”You’re an a–hole.” All breathy-like.) And of course, the female ’80s teen movie villain supreme, from Heathers, Heather Chandler. Hey, gotta give the mean girls props! — Suzanne

Fair enough, Suzanne. The ladies are definitely deserving of equal time when it comes to this category. There are plenty of fantastic preppy babe villains as well, one of my favorites being Jami Gertz in Sixteen Candles, for drunkenly cutting off Caroline’s hair. A small role, to be sure, but she made it her own — much like her Muffy Tepperman in Square Pegs.

Do you have your own take on why Battlestar Galactica is saying goodbye? Scared or psyched for the return of Paradise Hotel? How about some better New Jersey celebrities for me? Send your questions, comments, and quibbles to theglutton@ew.com, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. The Glutton will be closed for shop next week as I take a much-needed vacation, but I’ll be back in two weeks to answer your e-mail while no doubt finding something else to bitch and moan about. See ya then!

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