If there’s one thing that can be annoying about watching cable television, it’s the way the networks play around with their schedules. The main broadcasters reliably roll out new episodes of their shows in the fall or at midseason, but with cable, anything goes. Seasons can be delayed for months, years, or in the case of Battlestar Galactica, broken in half for an unnecessary midseason hiatus. Just as we’ve settled comfortably back into the BSG universe, the show will disappear from the Sci Fi Channel after only three more episodes. Despite the fact that the network has about ten more installments in the can, we may have to wait until 2009 to see them. I’d rather arm wrestle a Cylon Centurion than endure such a long, torturous hiatus.

On last week’s episode of Battlestar Galactica, “Guess What’s Coming to Dinner,” we were left with a mini cliffhanger. Roslin (Mary McDonnell) and Baltar went to the Cylon Basestar with the intention of talking to the Hybrid, but the ship then made an unexpected jump to an unknown area. Roslin and Baltar disappeared, and because there’s no new episode scheduled for Friday, viewers will have to wait until May 30 to discover what happened.

I’m trying to use this mini cliffhanger to prepare myself for the ridiculous wait we’ll soon have to endure. After BSG’s June 13 episode, the show will disappear until late 2008 or early 2009. According to our exclusive interview with Jamie Bamber, the series will leave us with a massive cliffhanger that will torment us for months to come. I enjoy a good jaw-dropper as much as the next guy, but considering that the remainder of the season is nearly finished shooting, the wait seems unnecessary.

Why is the Sci Fi Channel dragging out the final season of their most critically beloved show? Good question. Maybe they don’t want Battlestar to air during the summer months, which is the time when most people are doing something other than watching TV. They probably don’t want to bring it back in the fall, because then it would be overshadowed by other big premieres. That leaves late 2008 or early 2009, both of which leave the fans with an extremely long wait.

I’ve been loving the current season of Battlestar Galactica, messianic Baltar (James Callis) and all, and of course I’ll come back for the final episodes when they air. However, I fear that the story line will lose a lot of momentum when the show disappears for six or seven months. It’s almost enough to make me want to wait for the DVDs, though I’m far too impatient for that.

The Sci Fi Channel has trapped us right where they want us. They know the obsessive fans will watch the final episodes of BSG even if they air Saturdays at midnight beginning in 2012. We’ll tune in, but that doesn’t mean we can’t complain along the way. After all, we’ll need to pass the time somehow for the next seven months.

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