Monday, June 25, 2007

Nova Channels Jimmy Durante

Though it seems like a natural, this Tuesday marks the first collaboration between Nova and National Geographic Television. The material, entitled "The Great Inca Rebellion," focuses on new discoveries and revelations about the Spanish conquest of the Incas. It is certainly a worthy topic for these two heavyweights to tackle together.

As the documentary states, for years the accepted version of the Incas' devastating defeat by the Spanish focused on horses, steel, and germs. The commonly accepted view is that due to the horses and steel of the Spanish conquistadors, the Incan army was no match for the Spanish. Then, as the Incas came into more contact with the Spanish, they fell ill and died due to diseases carried by the Spanish. In short, it is because the Spanish wore more advanced and somewhat lucky.

Now, however, a new theory has emerged. There are some historians, archaeologists, and assorted other scientists who are piecing together a different version of the events. They believe that while it is true that horses, steel, and germs helped the Spanish, that a deciding factor in these battles was in fact the enlistment of other native tribes to battle against the Incas.

Nova begins this story by talking to Peruvian archaeologist Guillermo Cock. Cock, who has for a long time been provided grants by National Geographic, discovered an old Incan burial ground on the outskirts of Lima. While some of the graves there are traditionally Incan in nature, nearly 70 others, which sit on top of the Incan graves, are not. They may contain Incas and other natives of the region, but they are buried haphazardly, not in the methodical Incan style. The bodies also contain crushing blows to the skull and numerous broken bones.

After bringing in experts, it was determined that at least one of these bodies contains a bullet wound, one that is consistent with what would be produced by the Spanish guns of the era. That, along with other evidence, helps Cock and his team place the site as the first one that contained bodies from the same time period as the Inca Rebellion in Lima.

Once the narrative of the documentary gets this far,it takes a strong left turn and becomes almost something else entirely. Two separate historians, without the aid of the grave site, have already started putting together a different view of the Spanish conquest than the traditionally accepted European one, one in which other Indian tribes played a huge role in vanquishing the Incas. These historians recount how Francisco Pizarro's concubine was an Indian and how the Inca Rebellion in Lima was not put down due to a heroic charge on a part of the Spanish cavalry, but rather by the concubine having written to her mother, a tribal chief, that sent an army to help Pizarro.

The story of the cemetery and the Inca Rebellion are told with great style and it is clear that a lot of care went into constructing all the visual images. The various tales told within the single documentary are fascinating as well, but, as presented, they do not mesh as smoothly as they ought. They should work together perfectly as they are two halves of the same whole, but very little effort seems to have been put into having these two stories flow from one into the next. It's sad, because the rest of the documentary is put together well.

The historians interviewed have clearly been formulating their beliefs for longer than this new cemetery has been known to exist, yet the episode makes little mention of this. The cemetery supports the historians' already existing beliefs, rather than helping the historians formulate them. Additionally, the historians make no mention of the grave site. It seems completely and totally beside the point to them, which aids in the disjointed feel of the program.

Despite this weakness, the episode is an engrossing look at the historic realities of the Spanish conquest of the Incan Empire (which was, as the episode reminds us, in decline when Pizarro arrived). While the cemetery is clearly the impetus for the episode, the more fascinating aspects of the historical reality, the second half of the episode, is the more interesting half.

Nova - "The Great Inca Rebellion" airs on PBS, Tuesday, June 26 at 8pm. However, it's always best to check your local listings rather than just taking my word for it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Worst.. Finale... Ever...

Oh boy.

A week and a half after the finale of HBO's The Sopranos, it seems like the perfect time to take a step back and have a look at television finales, specifically bad ones. I didn't think that The Sopranos did deliver a disappointing final episode, I thought that the ending to the series faced the same sort of uncertainty that was exhibited throughout every season. However I seem to be in the minority here, so I wanted to take a moment and remind people of what a truly dreadful finale is like.

Not every show, of course, delivers a bad finale. Something like St. Elsewhere, with its famous snow globe final show caused viewers to stop and think about what they witnessed. It caused a complete reassessment of everything that came before it, a new prism through which to view all the interactions that had taken place in the series. Then there was Babylon 5, which ended its run with a deadly virus getting unleashed that would destroy all humanity (there was a spin-off in which a group went off to find the cure).

There have also been distinctly disappointing show endings, like Seinfeld's trial and jail finale. Some would actually call that a bad show finale, but it pales in comparison to the worst of them all.

No doubt, hands down, unquestionably, the worst finale ever to air on television belongs to Donald P. Bellisario's Quantum Leap. The show starred Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett and the basic premise was that in the near-future, Beckett created a machine, the Quantum Leap Accelerator, that would allow him to travel in time. Upon its first use, Sam is sent into the past and into someone else’s body. The brains back in the near-future decide that Sam has been placed in this body by something or someone greater than them all in order to correct a mistake, to fix something. Once Sam does this, he moves on to another time and another body, and correcting a mistake there into another, then another, and so on and so forth. Thus, as the viewer is told at the beginning of most episodes, the premise of the show is that "trapped in the past, Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put things right that once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home."

That’s it, the basic premise -- Sam is time-traveling in the past and only wants to go back home, to his body and his life. The show, though sci-fi in premise, focused far more on human interactions. Sam traveled in time and gave everything he had in order to make the world a better place, to help the lives of individuals and humanity. He struggled, but never shirked his duty, always doing his best to help correct mistakes, and always wanting to somehow get back home.

Well, the finale is all about him getting one last chance to go home, and he fails. The series ends with the postscript that “Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home.” It is true that in its original conception, the episode was only intended to be a season finale, and that upon not getting renewed it was re-edited and turned into a series finale.

That, however, is no excuse.

The ending proffered, that “Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home,” destroys all hope for Sam. Sam is still traveling, still striving to put right what once went wrong, and forever hoping that his next leap will be the leap home. For a show that was entirely about optimism, self-sacrifice, and doing the right thing, for a show that was entirely about changing the world, making a difference, and helping humanity, to have the final message be that those that help the world are doomed to lose themselves and their lives in their work is horrific.

The notion that by doing good we lose who we are is not one that fits the rest of the series. While Sam never intended to help save the world with his project, once he started down that rode he continued, unswervingly, and all he ever wanted was to one day, somehow, go back home to his wife.

What a bleak, wretched ending, having this man who gave everything, lose everything.

The show may have ended 13 years ago, but I’m still waiting for a retraction. It is unacceptable that Sam Beckett never returned home. I wait for the day when Beckett travels into Bellisario and corrects this grievous error.

And you thought the ending to The Sopranos was bad.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hell's Kitchen Cooks Up Killer Food

What in the name of all that is good and holy are those women on Hell's Kitchen thinking? 

No, seriously, it's time for a good old fashioned rant...

Last night, three of the women, yes, three of them, tried to serve food that may actually have made people ill had it gotten out of the kitchen.  It was almost enough to make me worry about going out to eat.  So many of the people on the show are actual chefs at restaurants.  Are the people that cook in restaurants really more concerned about getting food out fast than not making their customers ill? 

First on the list last night, you have Joanna, who wanted to serve rancid crab.  She claims never to have smelled the crab, so, the claim goes, she didn't know that it was bad.  She did however, as the cameras pointed out, taste it, so she should have had some idea.  Good old Gordon Ramsay however was on his game, he smelled it and tore Joanna, deservedly, a new one.

Next up, Bonnie.  It was Bonnie's job to cook the scallops.  Upon being called to the pass by Ramsay, Bonnie, in her inimitably blond fashion, queried Ramsay about what was wrong, quickly following the first question with one about whether the scallops were raw.  Now, a smarter person that was trying to pass off raw fish as being cooked, wouldn't immediately jump to "is the fish raw," they'd allow the person judging them to state the problem up front.  The issue could have been any number of things, and she, by jumping the gun, made it clear she knew exactly what she did.  Dumb.  Just dumb.

Lastly, there was Jen.  Jen, thinking that they were done with the spaghetti for the night tossed it.  Sadly, they weren't, she was made aware of her error and then went to the garbage to get the spaghetti back.  Her claim:  well, it was on the top of the garbage and I only took some of it.  Now, a couple of things immediately spring to mind.  Additionally, she argued, she was going to cook it again, which would have killed any and all germs.  First, as George Costanza learned:  adjacent to refuse is refuse.  Then, and this only struck me later, but that better have been a different garbage can than the one that the rancid crab ended up in.  I believe it was, but wouldn't swear to it. 

The insanity continued later, though in a less directly dangerous to customers way, as the women were assigned to choose two of their own for nomination.  Obvious to everyone was Joanna.  Her wanting to serve the rancid crab was the most insane of all the problems.  Melissa, in a move that certainly felt weird, led the charge for Joanna to be nominated and then wanted to add Julia to the list instead of Bonnie or Jen.  Julia, Melissa argued, didn't know as much as the other chefs.  Personally, I couldn't help but look at her pushing these nominations as her pushing the nominations of the two African-American women on their team.  Julia had saved the day during the challenge earlier in the episode, running both the women and the men's kitchens.  Melissa had two other teammates that that could have made customers ill that she could have nominated, but she went for Julia instead.  Despite whatever she argued, it wasn't a matter of Julia knowing less as Melissa argued, or even that she is an exceptionally strong competitor and Melissa wanted to eliminate Julia for that reason (she's really a pretty poor competitor and I would be shocked if she won).  There was something else at work in Melissa's decision-making process. 

The whole thing is oh-so-incredibly disturbing.  Is that seriously, is this what happens in restaurants all the time.  Because, if so, I’m going on a serious diet. 

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dig That Funky Binary Solo And Cable's Other Great Offerings

With the ever-expanding set of original programming choices that are offered by cable networks over the summer, I think that the months between the end of one traditional season (May) and the beginning of the next (September), are rapidly becoming the best time to watch television. To be sure, there isn’t as much original programming as there is in the fall, and one would be hard-pressed to try and fill all the primetime TV hours in the summer (a far easier task in the fall), but there is still tons of good stuff out there. Last night, two shows had their season premieres and another its series premiere, and all are definitely worth checking out.

Up first was The 4400, that odd, slightly disturbing sci-fi show that more recent programs, like Heroes, certainly owe a debt. The name from the show comes from the fact that within its world, 4400 people were taken from Earth over the course of 60 (or so) years. They were all then returned to the same place in Washington State at the same time. Some have developed special abilities (superpowers). The show follows some of the 4400 and the government agency, NTAC (the National Threat Assessment Command), that watches over them.

I’ll admit that I have a hard time in this show remembering the specifics of what went on from one season to the next. From the first to the second season it didn’t seem that important, we were mainly dealing with “freak of the week” episodes (single, standalone episodes exploring one never before and never again seen character that didn’t really tie in to a larger picture). Over the last few seasons however, there has been a far larger story arc in play, mostly recently with The 4400 Center and Jordan Collie (Billy Campbell) trying to convince everyone in the world to take a drug that would help them all unleash their “4400” ability. The authorities (mainly in the form of Joel Gretsch) don’t appreciate the fact that many 4400 abilities are dangerous, and the drug he pushes, deadly.

It’s a show that occasionally is a little too obvious in its message (anytime anyone has the initials J.C. I get nervous), but still poses interesting questions about our society and where we’re headed. If sci-fi isn’t your thing, there are still a number of strong family-based stories to follow, though joining the series at this point in its storyline may prove difficult (there are of course DVDs available of the first three seasons).

Next up, the ever-funny Entourage. They had a slightly different episode last night, quite reminiscent of several M*A*S*H episodes, though they may have been pushing more for a Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse thing (the documentary made by Francis Ford Coppola’s wife about the making of Apocalypse Now. The cast and crew of Medellin, a film being made by Vince Chase and his buddies about Pablo Escobar, are followed by a documentary filmmaker through their trials and tribulations of making a movie. It was a great way to show what happened on set during the filmmaking, and it advanced the main story three months without skipping over anything. I always find Entourage a great diversion, and am interested in what happens with the main characters, even if I never really see anything laugh-out-loud wonderful.

What did make me laugh out loud last night was the new show that followed Entourage, Flight of the Conchords. Any show that talks about, even in passing, gulab jamuns that are “off the hook” is unquestionably worth checking out. The show follows a couple of boys from New Zealand trying to breakthrough with their odd, folksy band in New York City. It’s a little bit Extras, quite a bit weird, and filled with funny, funny songs. Last night’s premiere focused on one-half of the duo (Jemaine) trying to date the other-half’s (Bret) ex-girlfriend. Needless to say, it was an idea doomed from the start.

Normally, I would find a show like this a little too quirky and a little too far out there; weird for weird’s sake, rather than weird for funny’s sake. However, there were enough truly hysterical moments to stop that from being the case. Outside of the “off the hook gulab jamuns” which, I’ll give you, you need to know Indian food to appreciate it, during the credits there was an extended portion of a music video that the duo filmed earlier in the episode. In short, in the video they’re robots talking about how they now run the world and all the humans are dead. The extended portion features a brilliant “binary solo” which solely consists of a (I hope) random string of “0” and “1”s, which, if you think about it, is exactly what a binary solo should be. It’s a funny notion, made utterly hysterical by the deadpan portrayals of the main characters. These guys act perfectly serious, even with the dumbest things, and that’s what makes them funny.

See, cable is good. TV is good. And tonight, I’m hoping Hell’s Kitchen will be good too.

Nova Gets Jiggy With Thylacoleo Carnifex

There is very little that can be done to make paleontology “sexy.” This is not a slight against paleontology itself, the importance of paleontology, or some sort of joke about paleontologists. It’s just a cold, hard fact. Much like the bones that paleontologists discover and endlessly analyze, shows about paleontology, with few exceptions, are bleached of any color or life and just sort of sit there. If they’re your thing, they’re your thing and you’re going to love them. If they’re not your thing, you’ll probably do no more than pick it up, give it a once-over, and then banish it to the rubbish bin of history.

Take, for example, Nova’s latest episode, “Bone Diggers.” This episode spends an hour going over the search for, and discovery and examination of the most complete bones of thylacoleo carnifex ever found. This bad boy of prehistoric times lived in Australia and was a giant marsupial. Thylacoleo carnifex was a predator and on top of the food chain. Now, Nova joins an Australian expedition to uncover the bones of a particularly intact thylacoleo carnifex.

If that’s your sort of thing, you’re already hooked and the rest of what I’m going to say will make absolutely no difference to you. If it’s not your sort of thing, you probably didn’t get down this far because the words “thylacoleo carnifex” scare you. If you’re intrepid, press on.

Whether or not you’re into paleontology, this episode is a grand disappointment. It’s just not well constructed. The story starts out simply enough. Paleontologist John Long was sitting at his computer one day when he received a mysterious email from someone he didn’t know. The email had, as an attachment, a picture of the most intact thylacoleo carnifex on record. The mysterious emailer was also nice enough to leave directions to get to cave that the bones were in.

Nova joins up at this point, to tag along on the expedition. After being at the site for a day or so, the searchers realize that poachers have been through here. Their evidence? Footprints around the cave. They haven’t seen that the site is hugely disturbed or anything like that, but there are footprints at this place that no one else is supposed to have been inside of for, possibly, millennia.

Luckily, the bones of the animal were eventually found (along with a ton of others), and they were analyzed. A lot of information was discerned about thylacoleo carnifex’s body structure, with extrapolations made about what this meant for his life. The show goes through all of this in great detail.

But, let us return to this poacher thing for a moment. There were footprints around the site that no one was supposed to have been inside of for millennia, so the show and the scientists assume it was poachers. Makes sense, right?

Not so much. While the episode makes much of the possibility of poachers at the site and the fear of the scientists, it neglects to link up the fact that Long received an email with a picture of the bones inside the cave. The picture was taken inside the cave. Are you making the connection that the show does not bother to explain?

Quite obviously at least one person besides the researchers was present at the cave within the last few millennia as a digital photograph was taken from inside the cave and emailed to one of them. Short of aliens or Marty McFly (and if it was Marty in the year 2025 who went back to 2005 to email the picture, the bones in the picture would have disappeared once Long discovered them). Of course, it is possible that there were poachers, that there is something else about the footprints that leads the scientists to determine that, but the episode gives no mention of it.

There are numerous other examples of where the show fails to give sufficient explanation of what is going on. It is far more interested in showing the viewer the tedium of removing bones from the site and analyzing them (with some CGI tossed in of what thylacoleo carnifex might have looked like, provided one remembers that they don’t know the color or markings on the fur, which are quite fantastic in the animations). There may also be a reason why the discovery is important (outside of improving our knowledge of one animal that died out millennia ago), but the show makes scant reference to any such things.

A mystery does exist here. Who sent that original email? Why did the person who sent the email not take part in the expedition to get the bones? It seems clear that this mysterious emailer knew what he was seeing, but that he did nothing to safeguard the site. Who is this person and why did he act in the manner that he did? There is a "sexy" story here, but it's not the paleontology aspect, it's the mystery of the email. The paleontology aspects of the story become quite dull after about 10 minutes.

There are moments within “Bone Diggers” that are fascinating; there is an inherent level of interest in learning about what life was like for the animals that roamed our planet millennia ago. However, the manner in which this story unfolds doesn’t provide for sustained interest over the course of an hour-long episode. The narrative is overly in-depth on some aspects of thylacoleo carnifex’s life, without ever truly delving into the surrounding story fully.

Nova’s “Bone Diggers” episode airs Tuesday, June 19 at 8PM, but, as always, check your local listings.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The TV and Film Guy's Recent Sporadic Posting

Okay, so here's the deal: The TV and Film Guy is in the process of moving across the country. That's bad because it means he doesn't have the internet access he'd truly like nor does he have the television access he'd truly like. It's good because it means that pretty soon The TV and Film Guy will have more time than ever to devote to watching television and movies, playing games, and pontificating in general.

The upshot of all this is that The TV and Film Guy is going to be posting in a slightly more erratic fashion for the next month or so. Never fear however, The TV and Film Guy will be back writing fulltime sooner than you or he can possibly imagine.

To be clear, The TV and Film Guy not suggesting that you check the page any less often or that you stop referring people to the site. He believes that we can all agree that checking the site on a regular (read: daily) basis is pretty much the way to go.

Thank you for your support.

- The TV and Film Guy

The Nintendo Wii Is Now Ready for some Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat has been around for years and years. The franchise has put out an incredible number of releases -- between console and arcade, the number is somewhere over 70. It’s an incredibly successful franchise and it has had both stronger and weaker moments.

Happily, the newest release in the franchise, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, in its Nintendo Wii incarnation, is a very good game. The game was released to the Playstation 2 and Xbox last fall, but with some tweaks here and there, it has just come out for the Wii, with, of course, motion-sensing control via the Wii Remote.

The main portion of the game, as with almost all Mortal Kombat games, is the head-to-head with the computer tournament (Kombat). Also included here is a relatively brief linear game where the player controls one fighter throughout (Konquest). There is a kreate-a-fighter mode and a demonstration video on how to use the Wii Remote to properly immolate your opponent. Plus, there is a racing mini-game (Motor Kombat) which is similar in style to a kart game like Mario Kart or Crash Team Racing, an endurance mode, and you can, of course, play head-to-head with friends either in Motor Kombat or a regular old battle.

Because everyone wants to know, there are, astoundingly, over 60 different fighters from the history of the Mortal Kombat games that can be chosen. It’s an incredibly wide selection of players, and even if many of them have similar fighting styles, it still is a lot of fun to go through and play as the different ones.

The ultimate question of course is how much fun is Mortal Kombat on the Wii and using the Remote. While it does take some getting used to do the special moves and trial and error to learn to get them right (the game insists you push the B button when starting a special move. I found that the move should be started immediately prior to pressing B, despite protestations in the manual that pressing it after the beginning would not work), it is an enjoyable experience. The moves can take a long time to get right, but general fighting is easy enough, even if using the directional pad to initiate the regular kicks and punches is a little awkward. Once you have them down, most moves and combinations can be executed fluidly, though there are times when executing a move on the Wii Remote fails to translate to it being executed in the game (user error, perhaps?).

Should one choose not to use the Wii Remote/Nunchuck combination to play, the entire game can be played using the classic controller. More serious aficionados of fighting games will probably have a better experience using the classic controller, it is the far more traditional route to playing such a game, and it does make initiating moves easier and more consistent.

New in Armageddon is a “kreate-a-fatalitity” system, by which players can destroy their opponents when the computer states “Finish him!” (or her) at the end of a battle. Players can enter strings of motion gestures in order to tear their opponent limb from limb (literally). This new system is more difficult to master, and never quite as downright odd as some of the old fatalities, but can be fun to try and figure out.

Though small, and a little silly, the Motor Kombat mini-game provides a wonderful sense of speed and is something I’d like to see more fully developed. It may seem like an odd sort of thing to construct a full-sized game out of, but it could be incredibly fun.

The graphics on Mortal Kombat: Armageddon are quite good, some of the best and smoothest currently available for the Wii; the blood spurts and droppings look wonderful, as do the flames. The sound is solid as well, though, as with all Wii games, the sound that is played from the Wii menu when the game is first selected is far louder than anything that occurs during game play (perhaps Nintendo needs to tweak this).

As stated above, this game was released (in a slightly different format and with online play) for the PS2 and Xbox last fall. However, the experience of playing a game on the Nintendo Wii is unlike anything else currently in existence. This game certainly doesn’t represent the best possible fighting game for the system, the Wii Remote controls are, at times awkward, but it is one of the better Mortal Kombat games, and it is incredibly fun to play on the Wii.

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood, Gore, and Intense Violence. This game can also be found on: PS2 and Xbox.

Four stars out of five.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Out of the Frying Pan and into Hell's Kitchen

For the past three summers, Fox has whipped up a deliciously spicy little reality treat, Hell’s Kitchen, starring the inimitable Gordon Ramsay as a complete and utter SOB.

The premise is simple: take 16 chefs (or wanna-be chefs) that want a big time restaurant of their own, make them work together in a restaurant while yelling at them every second of the day and night, and kick one off the show every episode, last person standing gets the restaurant.

It’s Survivor but with Simon Cowell replacing Jeff Probst and getting to be judge, jury, and executioner. Hell’s Kitchen does not play at letting the audience decide who will be eliminated, that choice rests with Gordon Ramsay alone.

On June 4, the third season of Hell’s Kitchen started up, and Ramsay was back to his old ways, ridiculing all 16 chefs, finding the weak members of the pack and picking them off. The teams were separated into the now traditional men versus women, and informed that the restaurant would open the next night.

True to form, once the restaurant opened, Ramsay was disgusted by the way the chefs were performing and shut down the kitchen and restaurant before even finishing serving the appetizers for all the tables. This ought not to have come as a surprise to the diners, as this happens every season, but more than a few seemed shocked by the poor quality of service. Ramsay declared the losing team to be the women, due to their inability to talk to one another, a huge pet peeve of the Chef’s, and to fry an egg. Ramsay, for some reason we are not privy to declares Melissa to be “the best of the worst” and asks her to nominate two people to be booted off the show.

Melissa meets individually with members of her team; everyone she speaks to wants Julia nominated because she’s a short order cook at a Waffle House (how do these people not like Waffle House?). Instead, Tiffany and Joanna are nominated, the first for not being able to fry an egg and the second for her lack of communication.

Nominating Tiffany is just wonderfully fun, because Melissa had specifically promised Tiffany during their conversation that she was safe, that there was no way she would be going home that night. Then, of course, Melissa nominated her. Needless to say, Chef Ramsay booted Tiffany. What a great opening backstab to the season. And, the true genius of it is that no one heard Melissa tell Tiffany she was safe, and so no one knows just how two-faced Melissa is.

Some would argue that Ramsay is overly cruel and relishes his role a little too much. I completely disagree. As the season progresses, Ramsay will start to show a softer side and will start to talk to and open up to the contestants. Don’t think that he’s just playing at being tough up front though, he may open up to people later, but he’ll still flay them if they disappoint in the kitchen.

If there was a weakness to last night’s episode, it’s that it traded a little too much on knowledge of previous seasons. The rules, regulations, and procedures were not fully explained. There really isn’t a lot to understand, but to help bring in new audience members, it might have behooved the show to do a little bit more of an introduction.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Frak It All, Battlestar Galactica is Ending

Bye-bye BSG

It’s true, after months of rumor and speculation, hand-wringing among fans, statements from stars Edward James Olmos and Katee Sackhoff, Battlestar Galactica producers and the Sci-Fi Channel have announced that the upcoming 22 episode season will be the end of the series. 

This not-so-surprising revelation was issued in a press release from NBC-Universal (the parent company of Sci-Fi).  The release states that the choice to end the series at this point is that of Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, executive producers of the series. 

"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," stated Eick and Moore in the press release. 

Sci Fi Channel had previously stated that they were looking at possible spin-off of Battlestar Galactica, entitled Caprica, which would focus on events that led up to those described in BSG.  The press release did not mention anything about the future plans of this series. 

A special two-hour episode entitled “Razor” will kick off the fourth season in November of this year.  The rest of the season will then air beginning in early 2008. 

Eick will have another show on the air this fall, as NBC announced during its upfronts that they would be airing Bionic Woman this fall.  Katee Sackhoff was featured in a guest starring role in the pilot, perhaps her schedule will now be open enough for her to join the cast full time. 

Though the news of the ending of the series will surely upset fans, there’s still a lot of fraking story to go.