Sunday, July 23

A few 'Battlestar' bits before I go on vacation

Source: The Chicago Tribune

Without any clever preamble (I'm about to get on a plane and leave the country for two weeks, and boy, do I need the break), here’s my last bit of TCA reporting for you. I spoke last night with Bradley Thompson, one of the writers on “Battlestar Galactica,” and got a few interesting tidbits for fans of the show, which returns in October.

There’s some semi-spoiler-y info here, but don’t fret -- I’ll warn you when that stuff is coming. And trust me, I will have plenty more "Battlestar Galactica" coverage when the show returns in the fall.

One final "Galactica" note before we get down to business: The second half of Season 2 comes out on DVD Sept. 19, and it features an exclusive extended version of "Pegasus."

Anyhow, here goes:

* The first outing of the third season will be a 2-hour episode. Early in the season, there will be two linked episodes as well; episode 3 will end with a “to be continued."
* Thompson and his writing partner, David Weddle, produced 10 2-minute “Battlestar Galactica” Webisodes which could debut online as early as August (when Sci Fi confirms a date on their debut, I’ll let you know). Those Webisodes will concern the birth of the resistance movement on New Caprica (as you’ll recall from the show’s breathtaking finale, the Cylons, after leaving the human survivors alone on New Caprica for months, invaded the planet and took over).

Weddle says the Webisodes will give viewers more information about why certain resistance fighters take certain actions fairly early in Season 3. You don’t need to have seen the Webisodes to enjoy Season 3, but it sounds like you’ll have much more backstory on the resistance fighters if you do happen to see the Web stories. “You find out why they do what they do,” Thompson said.

We’ll meet two new characters in the Webisodes, which take place a few months after the Cylon invasion, and they’ll also feature Tigh, Cally and her baby, Tyrol and other characters we already know.

Thompson said he and Weddle didn’t really view the Webisodes as 10 totally discrete stories, but more “a half-hour episode broken into 10 chunks.”
* Jane Espenson, one of television’s best and most versatile writers (she has a great blog too), is writing an episode called “The Passage.” It’s episode nine of Season 3. “We had a freelance slot,” and Espenson got the call, Thompson said. Just some of the shows that Espenson has worked on: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly,” “Gilmore Girls” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (where Weddle and Thompson were staff writers). So, yeah. I have a strong feeling that her episode is going to rock. (Jane on "Galactica": "It's been a long time since I've seen a show that does such a good job of crafting plot developments that defy prediction without feeling arbitrary." Word.)

Anyhow, Espenson’s episode arose when the show brought in Dr. Kevin Grazier, a scientist from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who talked about how one would navigate through space; how one would figure out how to get from one point in the universe to, for example, Earth. Grazier's talk prompted the story at the heart of Espenson's episode.
* I asked Thompson about Adama’s actions in the finale -- had he let the fleet protecting New Caprica dwindle because he was just tired, because so many folks wanted to head down to the planet and he couldn’t stop them, or because he really thought the Cylons weren’t coming back? “That will be addressed,” he said.
* I also asked about the return of the Cylons. I’d thought that in the finale, Brother Cavil (Dean Stockwell’s character) had said or at least implied that the Cylons were going to leave the humans alone. But Thompson pointed out, quite rightly, that Cavil had only said, “We have other plans.” Hmmmmm.
* Part of the reason Billy died in Season 2 is because the actor got a pilot and things got complicated as far as getting him for certain days/episodes. “To his credit, [Paul Campbell, who played Billy] did a terrific job,” in the episode in which he bit the bullet. (How cool is this? We're going to see Campbell again soon -- now that NBC has picked up Webisodes and prime-time episodes of "Nobody's Watching.")

This is the semi-spoiler-y stuff (everything in quotes is from Thompson):

* The Cylons “will have a bigger presence” in Season 3. And “we’ll learn something new about them.”
* “People will die. They always do,” he said. When I asked about the strong rumors about a high-profile character’s death, Thompson just gave me an enigmatic grin. He wouldn’t elaborate on who dies and how, but he did say that when the writers sketched out the third season, there were originally going to be a lot more deaths. Regarding character deaths, some actors “don’t know how closely they missed it.”
* Baltar is more or less New Caprica’s Marshal Petain in the new episodes. Did Baltar know the Cylons were coming? “That’s a good question, isn’t it?” He asked what I thought. I honestly don’t know. I’d guess Baltar didn’t know, but boy, wouldn't it be interesting if he did?
* In the third season, we will meet someone from Adama’s past.
* Though the third season will begin months after the Cylons begin their occupation of New Caprica, there will be some flashbacks of the “lost time” between the end of the finale and the start of the third season. One of those flashbacks will involve what Adama and Roslin were up to once the Cylons arrived.
* We’ll find out why Kara "Starbuck" Thrace and Lee "Apollo" Adama were really, really grumpy with each other in the Season 2 finale.

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