BSG. The finale was a contrived sentimental load of horse manure. It reminded me of nothing more than the end of Kafka: The Musical in the pilot of Home Movies, in which God says, in a booming, cheery, patronizing voice "Hello Franz Kafka! My name is God! I think you're going to like it here!" BSG has always been good at avoiding typical sci-fi junk such as fetishizing the technology. In retrospect the acting was the thing that made this show great. The acting was good for the finale but it was overshadowed by the decision to avoid sci-fi endings, such as the black hole as a time travel gateway, by going into sentimental melodrama, and relying on gestures toward divinity to justify lazy plotting. Things that were atrocious:
The planet shown at the end of season 3, the one where you could see North America, turns out to be different from the planet Kara found, the one that turned out to be radioactive. Removing all hope from your story for ten episodes is a serious thing to do and it needs to not be a fake out.
After so much conflict among the fleet, everyone universally agrees to get rid of all the technology and live among, and breed with, cavemen. In a show that values realism Earth appears in the most idyllic verdant green fields. Essentially all the characters reach heaven, where they happily forgo all their earlier conflicts to live in a green and pleasant earth. This is not even the same show anymore.
Kara was an Angel the whole fourth season, who disappears in a field when Lee turns away for a moment in the most absurd cliche. The Baltar that appeared only to Six and the Six that appeared only to Baltar turned out to be Angels that like Kara, were working for God to lead humanity to their new home. A key reveal -- when both Six and Baltar can see their Angels together -- was handled like a screwball comedy moment that had no connection to the show around it -- or anything before. "God" is the answer to any questions you may have had. To our mere mortal eyes it may appear to be lazy plotting that an asteroid bumps a ship with dead Racetrack and Skulls inside causing their bodies to shift in such a way as to launch the nukes at the Cylon colony at the exact moment our heroes leave -- so as to wipe out the bad guys without it being anyones decision. But it is just God's plan. It was also God's plan to have the Bob Dylan song contain the co-ordinates to the real earth. If you "assign" numbers to the notes, as Kara did, isn't that arbitrary -- how for example do you decide which note gets to be "one"? But it doesn't matter because her assignation was guided by God. Why did Kara lead them to the wrong earth first? Because that was how God wanted it. The worst thing the finale did was to resolve all the ambiguity of the show into an absurdly happy ending where gesturing toward god resolves every ambiguity and conflict and coincidence.
And the show ends by updating to modern Earth, New York City, for a robot montage. Will the cycle that our characters tried to break be broken. Well dear viewer -- the choice lies in your hands! Be kind to you robots! or Maybe don't make them in the first place. Idiotic. Suddenly this complex ambiguous drama where where the line between good and bad is constantly redrawn now wants to deliver a MORAL MESSAGE? AT me? Was the idea to ditch the tech pointless since we ended up building robots anyway? Also Hera's significance was that she was the "Mitochondrial Eve." This is deeply dumb. The show could not even let Helo die -- everyone gets a happy ending, even the centurions. The ending was basically "suddenly, by divine grace, peace washes over everyone." This is how a child ends a story.
The show was also padded with flashbacks that, in an interview with the creators, turned out to just be backstory from the show bible about the characters that they never got to use. So they were basically a pointless info-dump -- use it or loose it, I guess was the philosophy.
The only parts of the finale I enjoyed was the robots beating on each other, Al from Quantum Leap shooting himself, and the fact that Tyrol's wife's death came back into play when you thought it would all be forgotten about. The Baltar becoming a farmer was ok -- the moment was well handled. I guess I can see that all the roles he has had -- scientist, politician, jailed revolutionary communist, Jesus, Bin Laden -- have all been him trying to avoid this one true calling. I guess. He just does not feel like a character that makes much sense. And what was the point of Adama giving his cult guns a few episodes back?
There may be more to think about. This is a first reaction. Perhaps because of the way the show has been in the past we can imagine the characters will still have conflicts -- Ellen and Tigh surely don't live happily ever after since they are pretty dysfunctional. But the show does suggest that they do. Perhaps an ambiguously identified god is the right ending for a show with so much moral ambiguity -- but to me it just feels like all the ambiguity was pushed onto this higher, ineffable, level so our characters could be happy. Perhaps the fact that we do not know if the cycle has been broken or not is a good ending -- but the semi-direct address -- the aim to go SEE! this is RELEVANT! this is about YOU -- feels ridiculous to me.
I have to give this an F. Seriously. LOST, I am looking at you to be taking notes on how NOT to end a show.
[UPDATE: I talk about the objection that the show has always been about religious stuff in the comments. ]