Sunday, July 16

Executive Producer David Eick Talks Galactica Year Three – and Caprica

Source:Now Playing

Battlestar Galactica may not have gotten any major Emmy nominations last week, but that doesn’t mean that many of us aren’t dying for season three of the series to debut. That won’t happen until the fall, but in the meantime I recently had the chance to talk to David Eick, executive producer of the show. What follows is a portion of that chat (subscribe to our print magazine for the rest of the interview), including a glimpse of what’s to come for Galactica, as well as its spin-off series, Caprica.

Now Playing: You took a step forward at the end of last season, and I hear you’re planning on doing it again at the beginning of season three. Why did you choose to make that jump?

David Eick: It seemed that much of that year was being spent under a pretense of a detente between the Cylons and the humans. And there’s little drama to be gotten out of that truce. In other words, one would presume that they made nice for a period of time. Basically, there is a lot of start-up that would have to take place within that society. The building of that society, the organization of it and then the beginning of the fraying of the relationships with the Cylons. And it just seemed like the more interesting part of the drama to cut to would be the point at which the world had undergone a year of having been built, the relationships had changed to some degree and the beginning of the friction with the Cylons was really beginning, so that was the reason for it.

NP: I understand that you’re setting up a government similar to Vichy, France, is that right?

DE: Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly my point. Versus what felt like rather dull society building, which just didn’t seem that terribly compelling.

NP: Have you planned out the arc for the season already?

DE: Not for the entirety of the season, but certainly for the first 12 or so, we’re pretty clear where we’re going.

NP: Seems like you just went back to work.

DE: I know. It’s going fast.

NP: Are we going to see a splintering of the Galactica characters?

DE: For the first three episodes of the new season, the skeleton crew that’s left on the Galactica is in space sort of working as the lighthouse holding a vigil to protect against any sudden Cylon attack or anything going wrong. And the rest of the society is down on the planet.

NP: Is there a risk in making big changes to the show?

DE: I realize there’s stuff we’ve got in the works that you aren’t aware of yet, which is why things seem a little more different. But I do think you’re correct that the formula so to speak has changed in that we had in the first season, for example, episodes like “33,” “Bastille Day,” “Hand of God,” these were episodes that were more or less self-contained, they involved a specific agenda that resulted in some kind of clash or conflict and by the end of that episode, the conflict was resolved. We probably have fewer of those. I know there are some that are more in that direction. There’s one that involves a human POW who’s been trapped on the Cylon base ship for the last four years, and when we meet him we realize it’s a great homecoming for him because he was one of Adama’s pilots. But by the middle of the episode you realize the reason why this guy was taken prisoner was because Adama shot his ship down. And it becomes sort of an episode about why such a thing would have happened and how Adama begins to believe that on some level he might have been responsible for provoking the Cylon attack on the 12 Colonies. That’s a very intense sort of tour de force episode for an actor like Eddie Olmos and for whoever we get to play this pilot. And it’s also really an episode that brings Adama and Tigh, who have been a little bit at odds for the first handful of episodes of season three, bringing them back together. Through this very tumultuous and agonizing process for Adama, those two old friends are brought together. So that kind of episode is still possible. We will still do episodes like that. They still affect some of the arc, like I said, the Adama-Tigh arc is sort of resolved in this, but it’s more of a standalone. That being said, the first three episodes are serialized. Episode four is pretty much a standalone. Five and six is a two-parter about the discovery of a dying base ship and a plague that has befallen the Cylons. And seven is standalone. Eight is a memory episode that goes back to that lost year and some of the things that took place. So in a way, that’s sort of a standalone episode because it’s not the continuation of an arc, but it’s still serialized because it’s going back and exploring an old story. And then nine is basically teeing up - it’s not quite a standalone, it’s not quite serialized - it’s teeing up where we’re going in the season finale, which is discovering the next big clue on the road to Earth. And that is the centerpiece of the next episodes, the 10 and 11 two-parter.

NP: So you’re dividing the season into two halves again, with a mid-season finale?

DE: Exactly, although the breaking between the two halves is much shorter. I think it was four months last year and it’s only going to be a month this year.

NP: How many episodes total this season?

DE: Twenty.

NP: In the past you and Ron have been very involved in doing podcasts and v-casts and additional material for the fans. Are you continuing that?

DE: Yeah. I was shooting my video blog yesterday with Lucy Lawless. So that stuff’s continuing.

NP: How has it been working with Lucy?

DE: She’s magnificent. She really is. And the audience that might be coming to see her because they were a fan of Xena are going to be dumbfounded.

NP: She’s been great so far as a guest star.

DE: Yeah. I think she’s reached a completely new level now. It’s almost like she’s not the same character. I just think in that [first] episode she was sort of in disguise. She was pretending to be this character named D'Anna who was a journalist. So she was affecting certain characteristics that would be consistent with that kind of person, but that’s not her personality. The nature of the character’s real personality is, I think, much darker, much more interesting and threatening. But in a very, very quiet, understated, powerful way. Which is a little different from the Xena character, which was obviously more fun, more in your face. It was a broader tone than this.

NP: Are you bringing back any of the other guest stars, like Richard Hatch or Dean Stockwell?

DE: Oh, yes. They will all be back, absolutely. Although not everyone survives, they will all be back. For the time being anyway. Some in flashbacks, some as we proceed.

NP: So what happened to Richard’s character in the interim year?

DE: You’ll have to wait and see. Initially, he is basically banished. And imprisoned. And you’ll have to wait and see what happens.

NP: Are you looking at parallels with current events? Does that enter your mind in the writing or story development process?

DE: I think it does to the extent that we’re all kind of political junkies and we all watch and read and consume a lot of material regarding what’s going on in the world. Both Ron and I were poli-sci majors in school and it remains a sort of natural interest for us. So it informs what we do. It informs our conversations. It informs what we write. It informs how we play things editorially. It’s not, however, a contrived, forced agenda. It is not the kind of thing where we sift through like they do in Law & Order, where they literally go through the papers and find their story. For example, when we did the prison torture episode “Flesh and Bone” in season one, I don't ever recall a conversation where we said, “Hey, did you see what’s going on in Cuba? Let’s do that.” It was just a natural outcropping of what we were all kind of thinking and talking about, but it wasn’t like we sat down with that agenda.

NP: In the coming season, are you splitting your time on this and the development of Caprica?

DE: No, because we spent a handful of days in a room with Remi Aubuchon, the writer, breaking the story, and we spent a day or so working on the outline with him. But really, that’s in such an embryonic stage that it hasn’t pulled us away. I mean, we should be so lucky to be sitting here going, “Gee, what do we do today, Caprica or Galactica?” It’s not at that stage yet. Right now, it’s just a script that none of us have even read yet because it’s being written.

NP: It’s something that will take place in the past, right?

DE: Yes. Exactly. It takes place about 50 years ago. It’s in the Galactica universe, only 50 years before the events of Battlestar.

NP: Will we see any familiar characters, then?

DE: No. At least, not for the most part.

NP: Will we see Cylons like we know them now?

DE: It is about the birth of the artificial intelligence technology that will one day lead to the Cylon race. So on that level, it deals with the Cylons. But certainly not in the same way that we deal with them on our show.

NP: Is there anything more you can say?

DE: The script is still being written.

NP: O.K. Anything else on Galactica you wanted to say?

DE: No, other than if you really love the characters, prepare yourself to say goodbye [evil laugh].

NP: That can be taken many different ways.

DE: Exactly. And that’s why I’m going to leave it at that.

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