Battlestar Galactica, Sky One
MANY young girls believe they are princesses. Sajani knows she is a goddess. And everyone agrees: the eight-year-old (at time of filming) is worshipped as the latest incarnation of Taleju, a form of Durga revered for centuries in Nepal in the form of pre-adolescent girls.
Living Goddess fascinatingly showed how Sajani is both the giggling schoolgirl used to getting her own way – her family begged forgiveness if they couldn't meet her wishes – and also the serene icon sitting on her throne to receive offerings and prayers. To be chosen as a goddess, girls must meet a detailed checklist known as the 32 Perfections, including "loins like a black antelope", "chest like a lion" and "moist tongue". Once chosen they are worshipped until they menstruate, when it abruptly ends.
There was something familiar about the way Sajani was adorned and made-up for her long hours on display, like one of those creepy child beauty pageants. But there were also parallels between puberty taking away her precious status and the increasing pressure which descends on young girls of that age everywhere.
The film was made at a time of great unrest in Nepal as Maoist protests grew against the King's power, traditionally legitimised by the child goddesses. In the same streets where Sajani was carried around to have her feet kissed, other crowds were shouting slogans like "Autocracy bye-bye, democracy hi-hi", fighting police. When she grows up, there may be no more little goddesses.
This could have made its point in 20 minutes fewer, cutting out some dreamy but pretty shots of nothing much, but it was a poetic portrait of a clash between belief and a changing world.
Which is, in fact, pretty much the theme of Battlestar Galactica, the dark, intense science fiction drama where they're more likely to debate terrorism and free will than have an exciting spaceship battle (though you do get those sometimes). Returning for what the makers have declared its final series, the show has a plethora of dazzlingly confusing plotlines to tie up, not least explaining just what, if any, is the difference between its increasingly converging humans and Cylon robots.
The key to BSG is that it's a post-apocalypse show, the characters' entire world having been destroyed right at the beginning. In lesser sci-fi shows, they'd have got over that by now, but here the survivors have basically gone crazy, stewing in an endless cauldron of paranoia, anger and grief.
This isn't really a show that you can dip in and out of. But there is light relief, sort of, in the wonderful, demented Gaius Baltar, who has been everything from scientific saviour to collaborationist traitor, but is always entertaining. James Callis plays him brilliantly as a weak, selfish man who does more harm than any villain, yet still has enough humanity to occasionally realise it.
Now, somehow, he's become the messiah to a cult of female worshippers, who seemed keen to check if he had the 32 Perfections' "moist tongue" – yet was he happy? No, he grumped, they're a "bunch of loonies". This from the man with the ever-present imaginary friend.
Meanwhile, no-one wanted to follow the mysteriously back-from-the-dead Kara's dodgy directions to Earth.
Perhaps they knew Katee Sackhoff had actually been away acting Michelle Ryan off the screen in the terrible Bionic Woman remake and didn't want to risk getting mixed up in a real disaster.