Wednesday, November 29

Battlestar Needs More Diversity

Source: SciFi Weekly

I've been following the reactions to Toni Reynolds' letter that equated a shackled Black Cylon, Simon, to a captured runaway slave ("Battlestar's Shackles Offend Viewer"). As a black man, I didn't find the scene in and of itself offensive. Several Battlestar Galactica fans have done a great job explaining that Simon would be shackled like any other Cylon prisoner because his robotic race nearly wiped out humanity.

That said, I do believe the perception of Simon's imprisonment as racist stems from the dearth of major black characters on BSG. This has been an ongoing complaint from a growing number of black sci-fi fans since the miniseries. These fans are concerned that the show's lack of diversity gives it a "No Blacks Allowed" vibe.

This concern is understandable since, like comic books and fantasy novels, sci-fi has traditionally been stories about white people by white people for white people. This is ironic because sci-fi creators and fans always argue how "progressive" the genre is. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine underscored this hypocrisy in "Far Beyond the Stars," an episode about a 1950s black novelist (Avery Brooks) who pens a sci-fi novel starring a negro space-station captain. Unfortunately, the writer's groundbreaking idea convinces his boss to not publish the "unbelievable" book and then fire the writer, who is left devastated. Considering how sci-fi has been historically marginalized by mainstream American society, you would expect the genre to be devoid of racism. But that's not the case.

Not surprisingly, sci-fi TV shows with racially diverse casts tend to garner more praise and even attention from a wider audience because they buck the genre's lily-white reputation. Star Trek is an excellent example of this, as are current hit series like Lost, Heroes and Jericho.

Conversely, sci-fi shows with lily-white casts like BSG are going to face a lot more scrutiny and suspicion. For instance, a comic-book retailer I spoke with informed me that his black friends snub the show for this very reason. Such a reaction isn't going to do wonders for BSG's ratings.

One hopeful sign for BSG is Carl Lumbly, guest starring in the latest episode. Lumbly's character, Bulldog, has the potential to become a major character because of his presence, his antagonism toward Adm. Adama and his tragic backstory as a former Cylon POW. Whether by design or coincidence, Bulldog's addition is a good first step for BSG in shedding its "for Whites only" image and expanding its viewership.

Frederick D. Weaver
Duane1061 AT verizon DOT net

Tuesday, November 28

Lucy Lawless Talks Battlestar Galactica

Lucy Lawless talks with iFMagazine about her role as the Cylon D'Ana on Battlestar Galactica, this season, which has expanded into a recurring guest role.

"You see the schism stating to happen," she says of the Cylons this season. "Basically, its individuation, where as before there was all a collective thought and consensus about everything they were doing. Its like the humans are the serpent in the garden and the mere contact with them has splintered the Cylon collective psyche and everyone is individual again, even within each model. They do not know how to handle individuality; it’s a great threat to their way of life and their programming."

Lawless says the role requires constant adaptation to a character doing some times contradictory things week to week.

"One week I’m in a ménage with Baltar [James Callis] and Six [Tricia Helfer] and next time I’m sucking his brains out with a turkey baster and then the next week its back to being pals. You really have to find a way to make that authentic."

The recent torture scene with Baltar presented the challenge of remaining in the moment while Baltar's inner dialogue with Six takes place at the same time.

"The difficulty was I had to pretend to not be hearing Six who was sitting right beside us carrying on a conversation with him. I was supposed to be completely unaware of this sort of cyber sex relationship, and yet I could hear her and it was a little annoying."

Read the full article, which includes Lawless's discussion of a humorous moment on set with a naked James Callas (Baltar).

Friday, November 24

On the Next Slice of SciFi Show #085 - Nov 29,

Source: Slice of SciFi

Our guest for the next Slice of SciFi Show #085 - ready for download on Wednesday, Nov. 29th, is Canadian-born farm girl Tricia Helfer.

Tricia is a former Victoria Secret model who has graced the cover and pages of Elle, Cosmopolitan ..modeled for shows run by the likes of Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani and Emmanuel Ungaro.

She got her break in acting after a short correspondence gig with “Ooh La La,” a fashion TV magazine show out of Canada. This led to the female lead in Showtime Cable Network’s highly acclaimed, but short-lived series “Jeremiah.” That role led to appearances in several smaller films for the big screen and television and in 2002 a guest spot on the high-profile CBS drama hit C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation.”

Just one year later Tricia was on a set to play the memorable role of Six, a humanoid-Cylon on “Battlestar Galactica,” Ronald D. Moore’s re-imaginative, dark and soon-to-be award-winning hit show for the SCI FI Channel — and the rest is, as they say, history.

Here is what we have in store for you on the rest of the show:

In the news -

Bill Gates is disappointed over retail sales of his iPod competitor ZUNE.

On December 12th it’s time for the Trek To The Troop’s 2nd Annual Meet and Greet at the famous Bob Hope Hollywood USO at LAX. Dress up as your favorite Star Trek character and drop by to greet the over 300 expected troops and rub shoulders with some Star Trek celebs as well.

M. Night Shyamalan has joined the vacate bandwagon and has bailed on longtime UTA agency, joining the ranks of Jim Carrey and Will Ferrell as high-profile celebs to leave the one-time go-to agency in the dust.

In Movie Talk - we will take a look at past stories we have done over the last year and bring you important updates which will include “The Tripper,” “The Watchmen,” “The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless” and what Frank Miller is up to. We also presented a story about the Hobbit that has changed since show #085 was recorded and put in the can, so please refer to these SoSF website updates for the latest on “The Hobbit” and Peter Jackson.

For TV Talk - we have some exciting news about Babylon 5 that you will not want to miss out on.

Finally, our crystal ball jumps one month into the future at Ben Stiller’s new film “A Night At the Museum,” but we concentrate more on the contributions to the film from comic legends Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney.

Slice of SciFi Show #085 with special guest Tricia Helfer promises to be fun, entertaining, enlightening and exciting so be sure and join us beginning Wednesday November 29, 2006.

Thursday, November 23

Episode 3.7 - "Hero" Review

Source: HGO

You've got to love David Eick. Eick's the fellow that helped Ronald D. Moore reimagine the new Battlestar Galactica and he's also the day-to-day showrunner that supervises the production while Moore focuses on the writing side of the equation. Still, it seems that he still finds the time to write now and again, and with his latest effort, "Hero," shows that he's a talented force with words.

The latest predicament for the Adamanator runs like this: a MIA Colonial pilot captured by the Cylons from before the attack on the Twelve Colonies is picked up by Galactica. Before long, the real story of why Daniel "Bulldog" Novocek was taken prisoner by the toasters bubbles to the surface and we realize that the Colonial Forces and the squeaky-clean Admiral Adama may have had a hand in the build-up to the Cylon attack.

Showing us that Adama has his own sins of the past is a surprising move by the BSG team. Up until now, Adama has probably been the closest thing to being a textbook definition of a true hero in the Galactica universe (Helo may actually be the top dog in that department) but the specter of involvement in provoking a Cylon response during a time of peace, and the cost of throwing a friend and teammate to the wolves, has lowered him down a notch. The good thing is that Adama himself recognizes his faults and that's what goes towards making him the exceptional leader that he is. "It was a bad call," he tells Roslin shortly after Bulldog tells his story to the President, and it was, but he's not the commander that Admiral Cain was. The fate of humanity is still in good hands with Adama behind the wheel.

But this being BSG, it's never quite that easy. The momentum of "Hero"'s storyline drives the dynamic between Tigh and Adama further, and surprisingly it's the revelation that Adama too has his faults that leads to the start of reconciliation between the two old war horses. Michael Hogan has had some great opportunities to deliver the goods in the third season and here again he brings it. Tigh is such the bad ass now and I can't help but wonder if he can ever return to the XO job now... all I can see him doing is leading Marines into battle at this point, which is not a bad thing at all.

And did you catch the five glowing figures in D'anna's dream? Five figures, five remaining Cylon models left to be revealed. Hmm.

Good things: a flashback to another Battlestar; seeing where D'anna woke up and with whom; Starbuck and Apollo, fleetingly used but used appropriately for the purposes of this episode; Roslin's talk to Adama at the conclusion.

As Bulldog, Carl Lumbly brings a heavy sense of sadness to the part. It's hard to tell what the character will ultimately evolve into or if this guy could ever fit in amongst Galactica's Viper pilots. Actually, that would be pretty cool to have an older, seasoned pilot amongst the young bucks, and one that has pretty strong feelings about the Cylons. Wonder how Bulldog would react to being hooked up with Athena for a mission? I smell a future episode cookin'!

UGO Rating
Direction: B+
Writing: A-
Performances: A
Visual Appeal : B
Overall: B+

By Patrick Sauriol

Wednesday, November 22

Galactica Continues To Assault Comfortable Sensibilities

Source: HNR

In a world where people are trying to blow up airplanes using tampons and KY jelly; where donkeys and elephants continue to dance on the head of a pin; and where every crackpot dictator wants his own personal 'nucular' device, it’s becoming almost pro forma to call Battlestar Galactica the most topical series on television.

It remains unabashedly unafraid of wading waste deep into the often depraved psyche of our collective humanity.

And the wading continues. Eight episodes into Season Three it's clear that there's no let-up in sight. The constant assault on one's sensibilities; the bombardment of the senses by way of situations few humans can imagine, nor would wish to; the oppressive relentlessness of the Cylon pursuit—it all adds up to nine hours of riveting, yet often exhausting, television. It's difficult not to tune in to see exactly who will be dropped in the meat-grinder next, and how.

This is not intended as a flippant remark, for the results almost always yield unexpected consequences—unexpected for the audience, anyway. For the series doesn't just put us behind the camera using its well-publicized cinema vérité style, it often swings that camera towards the mirror, so to speak, and forces us to take a an unvarnished look at ourselves, too, challenging the audience to confront its own convictions and dogmas. It's a task that the news, no matter how gruesome, is often bereft of accomplishing. With our own beliefs often mercilessly sacrificed on the alter of forced introspection, Battlestar Galactica doesn't take sides or preach philosophies, rather it shatters preconceptions and leaves a slack-jawed audience to pick up the pieces. Very clever, those Galactica writers.

Perhaps nowhere was this more aptly demonstrated than in the season's opening episodes, "Occupation" and "Precipice." Certainly, as Baltar remains cloistered in Colonial One, presiding as a Cylon-imposed figurehead over what has become a sort of ossified fiefdom, we experience feelings of disgust at his apathetic slide into the cold embrace of the enemy, particularly given the abhorrent physical and psychological tortures being endured by the Colonists in the New Caprica camps. But it's the story of the insurgency that resonates for the audience, for they — who are willing to blow themselves up in their fight for freedom — are the Colonials; they are us. It's a 180 degree look at events happening on the ground in Iraq, events that the news too often regurgitates as dates...and numbers...and simple equations of good vs. evil.

Life is seldom so simple, of course.

And while the initial two episodes have been accused of being a bit slow in pacing, they nicely presage "Exodus, Parts I & II" in which the octane is lit ablaze and the "insurgents" are finally brought home in a daring rescue executed by William Adama and his son Lee—one that, unfortunately, results in the destruction of the Pegasus.

In episode four, "Collaborators," the aftermath of the Colonials' treatment on New Caprica is explored, resulting in the meting out of revenge (passed off as "justice") by a small group of the occupation's survivors, led by Colonel Tigh. The episode wastes little time chronicling what can happen when assumptions are made without proper evidence; and how vengeance can diminish a human being.

Meanwhile, Baltar awakens to find himself aboard a Cylon baseship, and just like the collaborators on the Galactica, his fate now rests in the hands of Six, the only one who can break a deadlocked jury, half of whom want Baltar put to death.

By the episode "Torn," the series is moving in a new direction, one that reveals more about the Cylons, as we explore two possibly intersecting story points: that the Cylons are aware of Earth and anxious to use Baltar to help them find it, and that they are susceptible to an unknown virus found aboard a Cylon scout ship.

The final two episodes aired so far, "A Measure of Salvation" and "Hero," force the audience to face a bitter conceit: that in our pride and arrogance — and indeed in our very fight for survival — we can do no wrong...or so we tell ourselves. It's "the end justifies the means" argument that runs throughout the series, and boils to the surface in episodes like these two. In "A Measure of Salvation" an opportunity to eradicate the Cylon race once and for all presents itself, and is hotly debated between Laura, William, Lee and Helo, calling into question the perhaps obvious, but necessary argument about whether or not the Cylons are sentient beings, or merely machines that should be "switched off" permanently.

Regardless of the outcome, what makes "A Measure of Salvation" truly resonate is the next installment, "Hero," where we learn that William Adama may have partially precipitated the Cylon attack upon the Colonies by following the orders of an overzealous Admiralty and crossing into Cylon territory with a stealth ship, thereby violating the terms of the armistice agreement.

Battlestar Galactica remains a show that asks tough questions, but offers no easy answers, preferring instead to allow the audience to draw their own conclusions.

Tuesday, November 21

Capsule Review: Battlestar: Galactica 3.7

Source: Live Journal

The first time I watched this episode, I was not pleased. I thought it violated some basic aspects of the established continuity, especially in terms of what the Colonies knew about the potential for a Cylon strike. I also found the whole situation with Bulldog to be overly contrived. After all, it makes little sense for the Cylons to send Bulldog back to the Colonials at this point. Why wouldn’t they try to destabilize things prior to this point?

I was also annoyed by the timeline issues. If Adama has been in the fleet for 45 years, then he’s running up on 65 years old at this point, and I never would have expected that. Also, based on the information contained within the episode, he would have been assigned to Galactica about 2.5 years before the Cylon strike. So how could he have been on the Valkyrie a year before the strike? It all felt a little sloppy and ill-conceived, an attempt to blur the lines of responsibility for the genocide.

However, I had an opportunity to watch the episode a second time, and I realized that the writers were focusing on something a lot more interesting. As Roslin points out rather clearly, Adama is shouldering the blame for something that had already been in motion. Recalling the mini-series, the Cylons had been infiltrating the Colonies for years before the strike. More to the point, the Valkyrie incident proves that the Cylons were preparing for the strike. They found the stealth Viper so quickly that they were either patrolling the armistice line to eliminate any “spy planes” or they had a mole within the Admiralty. For that matter, the Admiralty’s plan could have been contrived to supply the Cylons with a handy justification, if things went awry.

So it’s quite possible that the Cylons knew who Bulldog was and that his “rescue” would do an awful lot to shake everyone’s confidence in Adama if the truth came out. It still seems a bit odd that they would use such a plot, especially one that could be so easily debunked, but the Cylons have been seriously affected by recent events and they seem to be reaching for a greater purpose.

D’Anna, after all, seems to be touching on something unusual and unexpected within the Cylon subconscious. It would appear that her discussion with Baltar shook her to her core, and perhaps that opens up the door to revelation. It’s interesting that she encounters something metaphorical in between life and death, especially since she gets a glimpse of five unseen figures. Could these figures be related to the five remaining Cylon models?

The writers reach for a connection between Bulldog’s escape from the Cylons and Tigh’s escape from the cage of his own self-loathing, but it doesn’t quite come together. For all that, the episode does give Adam and Tigh a reason to sit down and work out some of their issues, and that’s a neat bit of progress for the character arcs. Much like Adama in the second season, Tigh is trying to figure out how to deal with the world again, and it’s a long and fascinating process.

Unlike some of the weaker episodes of the second season, this is the kind of episode that challenges assumptions and focuses on character without frustrating the audience or falling apart under inspection. It’s now clear why Adama was so concerned about the prospect of a Cylon return in the mini-series, and it once again echoes the underlying question: are the survivors worthy of that survival? The answer, thankfully, remains unresolved.

(As a sidenote: I also have a podcast associated with my various reviews called “Dispatches from Tuzenor”. Current episodes cover “Battlestar: Galactica”, so it might be something of interest. Go to if you want to listen!)

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 2/4

Final Rating: 8/10

Scoop! Battlestar Galactica on the Move!

Source: TV Guide

A Sci Fi Channel rep is now confirming what I've been hinting at for weeks: Battlestar Galactica is saying "Frak you!" to Friday.

The galaxy's best space epic ever is heading to Sundays at 10 pm beginning Jan. 21, when the show returns with the second half of Season 3.

Wait a second, Sundays at 10 pm? That's when Brothers & Sisters airs. Frak me!

Monday, November 20

It Only Takes One

Source: TVGuide

Wow. Last week, Galactica's fearless leader was on the brink of destroying the entire Cylon race, because they struck first in the war and destroyed millions of humans. Tonight, we learned that the attacks msy not have been completely unprovoked. That actually blows my mind. Of course, Adama and his black-ops team aren't completely to blame for the Cylons' destruction; they were lying dormant for 40 years preparing a "war machine," and clearly they had it ready to roll out. I've got a feeling that it was only a matter of time before they did attack the humans. They were just waiting for the smallest frak up to pounce. Then again, the black ops' presence there did "show them we were the warmongers they figured us to be." And, of course, as Roslin mentioned, maybe the humans actually were trying to stir up some trouble. "I think you are being naive," she told Adama. "Did it ever occur to you that the Admiralty set you up to provoke a war that they wanted?" I think I could go back and forth on this issue all day. The only thing that is clear in my mind is that Adama is not solely responsible. But it is understandable that he feels more than a little guilty about his role in the whole thing.

It is so awesome that Roslin knows exactly how to handle the admiral. Making him stand up, give a speech and get a medal for his 45 years of service - "They give them out for anything these days: good behavior, attendance, playing well with others." - seemed like utter torture to him. But Roslin lets Bill get away with little these days: "Are you gonna tell me what really happened?" and her stern, "Sit down, Bill." Love her. Especially since she decided that the most appropriate place for a painting of former president Baltar was over the toilet.

Another person I am loving this season is D'Anna (Lucy Lawless). That Cylon is all over the place - from badass to sensitive and wanting to be loved. I, for one, was unprepared to see her in bed with Gaius and Caprica. Guess the Cylons are OK with the whole sharing thing. Her dreams seem to be indicating that she might be "boxed" soon, but I never trust this show to do what I expect it to. Anyway, I thought Lawless did a tremendous job as the sick D'anna who was holding Bulldog captive. She's really got quite a range on her. Consider me impressed.

Tigh was the other character who had me captivated tonight. The fact that he's been in his room drowning his sorrows and testing out his peripheral vision is so depressing. The image of him with the socket of an eye but no eyeball in it was just downright haunting. I was annoyed with him for telling Bulldog that Adama had shot down his ship before the Cylons could spot it, but the truth probably had to come out sometime. But Adama and Saul seemed to make amends toward the end of the episode, and I think that is a good thing. Adama doesn't want to see his friend waste away to nothing, and Saul keeps Adama in check.

Then there was Bulldog (Carl Lumbly), who mysteriously arrived on Galactica in a Cylon raider after three years with no contact. He claims that the Cylons are infected with a virus, and he took advantage of that. Which base ship was he on? Are we to take that to mean that this virus has spread beyond the single ship that the humans discovered? Are we to actually believe Bulldog's story? I know good old Starbuck was the first to be suspicious and noticed that the other Cylon raiders that were "chasing" Bulldog's ship weren't actually aiming at him. Does that mean they wanted him to get on Galactica, knowing he'd be pissed when he discovered what Adama had done and would then go and attack and perhaps kill the admiral? Or did the Cylons really make a deal with Bulldog that if he spread the rumor that the infection had spread, they'd let him go free? Otherwise, if he didn't have Cylon help, I'm still not sure how he would have even found Galactica, unless he got really lucky.

Random thing: Did anyone else catch Edward James Olmos actually saying the word bulls--t but having the word censored so that all you heard was attitude?

Phew. This show just keeps getting better and better every week.

An old friend and a new threesome

Source: The Houston Chronicle

"Sooner or later, the day comes when you cannot hide from the things you have done anymore." -- Admiral Adama.

Well, if you were thinking "Hero" might be the long-awaited comedy episode of Battlestar Galactica...

Just kidding, just kidding. NO COMEDY ON BATTLESTAR GALACTICA!

Adama's speech from this week's opening (is this taken from the speech he is about to make at his award ceremony at the end of the show?) pretty much spells out the theme and indicates another episode of severe guilt and gloom. Maybe, as they often say, the colonists who didn't survive were the lucky ones.

There was a light moment though. Wasn't it a relief when Bulldog cracked the joke with Adama, the one about leaving the Cylon baseship because the accommodations were lousy? I mean, great, we didn't need another dour character. But of course, it doesn't take long on Galactica to turn a smiling escaped POW into a tormented revenge seeker.

Adama made a tough call before the Cylon war that he thought not only killed his friend Daniel "Bulldog" Novacek (Carl Lumbly) but in his mind may have precipitated the Cylon attack.

He was able to suppress that suspicion -- until Bulldog returned.

(I'd say Adama's decision to shoot down Bulldog was a lot better call than his decision to let an unknown Cylon raider land aboard Galactica just because it had the voice of an old friend. That could have been the end of Galactica right there.)

By the way, Olmos is always excellent, but he was so good in the scene where Roslin asks him what happened, and he tells her trust him, he'll fix it. The pain and shame on his face: Whew.

Though basically a free-standing story based around Bulldog's return, "Hero" also advanced several parts of the overall B.G. story arc.

We get so used to seeing these big story arcs on Battlestar Galactica that an episode that is basically a stand-alone can seem less profound. This was a big problem last year when there were some really lame mid-season episodes. This year the writers have done a great job of mixing in elements from the larger storyline and themes. And in throwing in some regular curves.

One of those big curves in "Hero" had, apparently, nothing to do with Bulldog. You know the one I mean. D'anna Biers waking up from a dream of death at the hands of the colonists to find herself back on a Cylon ship, in bed with the galaxy's once and future sweethearts, Baltar and Caprica Six.

It has to be a pretty big bed considering the size of Baltar's ego.

Man, that Gaius Baltar, is he ever proof that women go for bad men? Or maybe this is just a new form of interrogation.

I can never watch a peek-a-boo scene like the one of Biers/Lucy Lawless getting out of bed without wondering: How long did they have to work and how many takes did they have to do to get just that barest hint of her breast and butt, without showing too much to offend the watchful eyes of the TV overlords?

When they moved the camera for that shot from behind, where she's walking away from the bed, were James Callis and Tricia Heifer still there, watching? (No, probably not.) And is it fun for the crew to do those shots, or does all the technical stuff make it boring?

And then D'anna decides God is trying to tell her something "bigger" than Gaius. She goes and has her self executed so she can download into a new body. Can someone please tell me what it is she said after she pops out of the goo? Something about "This is something beautiful. ----- --- ------ --- between life and death."

Back among the humans, Tigh is still tearfully fondling Ellen's things and getting used to having one eye, and caring on his bitterness toward Adama.

"He still does his share of ass-covering," he says to Bulldog of Adama. "Problem is, it's his main function now."

Logically, when Starbuck figures out the Cylon raiders were not actually trying to shoot down Bulldog, she goes to her new partner in rebellion, Tigh, instead of Adama or Apollo. But this turns out to be just what is needed to start mending fences for Tigh and the Admiral. He gets to Bulldog's quarters in time to save Adama from Bulldog's attack.

And did you expect Tigh to be such a street fighter? He may look like a withered old drunk but, hey, he can still kick ass, taking out Bulldog in a couple of quick moves.

Loved that painting of President Baltar. Classic. Over a toilet seems the right spot.

OK, Adama was getting his medal or whatever for 45 years of service. Edward James Olmos is 59. So assuming Adama is the same age, he has been in the Colonial Fleet since he was 14. Yikes.

That would be unusual in the current American Navy or Air Force, but certainly not unusual in the 18th century navies. So maybe the Colonial Fleet takes very young ensigns.

Ratings slump: You've probably noticed that SciFi certainly wants us to watch the show live. Almost every week there is a promise of secrets reveled if we go online during the show. The reason is obvious: Advertisers want people to watch their shows live because if they record it, especially on DVRs, they are more likely to fast forward past the commercials. Or walk away and not pay attention because they know if they miss the start of the next segment, they can just back up. And since the ratings have been way down on Galactica this year, they want to do all they can to keep the sponsors happy.

One Man, One Mission, One Hell Of A Secret

Source: ScyFy Portal

Although the arced episodes of "Battlestar Galactica" are taking a brief respite and making way for some standalone episodes, none of the intensity from the previous seven episodes of the season is lost.

Far from it in fact, as the series continues to build on its strengths and further develop the extreme levels of passion and emotional resonance through the individual lives of the characters. And mixed throughout it all is the mystifying secret from Adm. Adama's (Edward James Olmos) past.

Ignoring the fact that this is essentially a free-standing episode, and ignoring the added bonus of finally seeing why the Cylons invaded the Colonies, this is a particularly big episode to me. For those of you who don't already know, I was (and still am) a huge fan of J.J. Abrams' spy-drama "Alias" which recently ended its five-year run on ABC in May. If you are wondering why I'm bringing this up now, it's because Carl Lumbly (yes, the guy in this week's BSG) was a regular on the series. And he was absolutely terrific as the complex Marcus Dixon and his mere presence was enough to help ground the series a little ... something that was vital when facing some of the "out-there" plot developments "Alias" often faced.

So when I heard he was going to be making an appearance on BSG, I couldn't help but wonder what kind of a role he would be stepping into. Was he to be one of the as-of-yet unseen Cylon models? How about a terrorist a la Tom Zarek (Richard Hatch) or even a discontented member of Baltar's (James Callis) former cabinet?

In reality he plays Daniel Novacek, a pilot who once served under the then Cmdr. Adama on a mission to cross the Cylon armistice line in order to assess the threat of invasion. Aside from his marvellous talent for making a role his own, it seems that that Lumbly brought a little of "Alias" with him, as his mission with Adama was strictly off-the-books and deniability is the key word for the evening.

It comes as no shock that the mission went south with Novacek's stealth ship being detected by an unknown force across the line. And in the end, it was more important to have the mission suitably denied by all those involved than to risk being compromised. So as the unknown vessels begin closing on the location of the stealth ship, Adama orders its destruction and abandons one of his pilots behind enemy lines.

And therein lies the problem. One man was sent on what constitutes and illegal mission, one that very well might have compromised the Colonial armistice with the Cylons paving the way to the destruction of humanity.

Cut back to the Galactica, and you've got a whole crew filled with suspicions, hunches and a few drinks more than you can handle, all waiting for Danny to screw up and announce that he is on a mission for the Cylons. Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan) is perhaps the greatest asset this season pushing his reckless behavior as far as possible, as if he wasn't bad enough at the beginning of the second season. The key difference however is back then he had command of the Galactica to keep him in check. Now he is a rogue agent and answers to no one but his own inner needs to take revenge for what happened to his wife on New Caprica. Throw in a very suspicious Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) with a new found loyalty to the old colonel and you've got one hell of a setup.

Leave it to Tigh to drop the bombshell on Danny as to what really happened back in the day and all hell breaks loose (as if there was ever any doubt it would). Lumbly is every bit of a marvel on BSG as he was on "Alias," bringing about the same colourful spectrum of emotions as he works through his issues, and Olmos was equally good by presenting a more vulnerable Bill Adama.

How the revelation of Adama's failure will change things for the future is anyone's guess. I gave up trying to predict the future of this series a long time ago, but one thing is for sure, Adama is still a hero to me.

"Battlestar Galactica" stars Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff and Jamie Bamber. "Hero" was written by David Eick and directed by Michael Rymer.

Steering a New Course

Source: Entertainment Weekly

"Galactica" exec producers David Eick and Ronald Moore detail for EW's Jeff Jensen how they transformed a '70s TV footnote into a rich sci-fi powerhouse

Are you watching Sci Fi's Battlestar Galactica?

Sure you are. But I wasn't.

That is, not until last June, when I found myself confronted by a group of enlightened EW colleagues one afternoon while I was trying to write a nutty Lost theory about Desmond, Charles Dickens, and some pseudo-scientific business I found during my frequent trolls of Wikipedia. Anyway, these friends - these dear and precious friends - conducted what amounted to a geek intervention. They said: "You claim to be this sci-fi/fantasy/comic book fanboy - but are you watching Battlestar Galactica, the best frakkin' show on television?"

At the time, I had no reference for the show besides its famously cheesalicious late seventies incarnation, starring that old guy from Bonanza, that funny guy from The A-Team, and all those chrome-plated robots with their ping-ponging crimson eyes and Atari-era videogame voices ("BY. YOUR. COMMAND.") And so I said: "Frakkin'? What the fudge are you talking about?"

That was all they needed to hear. I was immediately put in a car and whisked away to a remote location with nothing else but a jug of milk, a box of Cocoa Pebbles, and DVDs of every episode of Battlestar Galactica. When the weekend was over, I felt like Paul on the road to Damascus, but without the icky scales falling from eyes. I had been born again. Frakkin' good news, indeed!

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating the details. But that's pretty much my Battlestar Galactica testimony. My reward for becoming a true believer was being given the chance to write EW's recent cover story about the show, in advance of the premiere episode of the third season. I thoroughly enjoyed my immersion into the Galacticaverse, and I've been utterly riveted by the new season, which has found provocative and heartbreaking ways to create an allegory for the moral quagmire that has become America's War on Terror. (I'm totally getting my phone tapped for that one, aren't I?)

If you are still as lame as I once was, I encourage you to give Battlestar a ride. If you do, you'll find it to be one of the most challenging, provocative, and timely tales being told in our pop culture. If that sounds like I'm saying the show isn't always fun - well, yeah, you're right. But it's always riveting, and I dare say it might even be important. To better understand why, I bring you Part One of a conversation with the creative masterminds behind Battlestar's revamp, executive producers David Eick and Ronald Moore, a conversation that I think will also be of interest to hard-core fans. I'll bring you more of the interview next week, and in coming weeks, I'll introduce you more formally to the cast of the show. Until then: Keep on frakkin'!

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I'm betting you've told this story many, many times, but since I'm new to Battlestar Galactica and many of our readers are, too, I'd love to know how this project came to you and what your interest was in restarting and revamping this world.
RONALD MOORE: I had done a lot of years at Star Trek, including 10 years at Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. I was moving on and doing other things when I got a call from David, whom I had met when I was consulting on a show called Good Vs. Evil. David called me, I think, in like February 2002...

DAVID EICK: No, it was actually December of 2001.

RM: Was it December?

DE: It was really on the heels of 9/11.

RM: Yeah! It was in that winter. He called and said that [Sci-Fi] was looking for somebody with a new take on Battlestar Galactica. The previous version that Bryan Singer and Tom DeSanto had been trying to do for Fox had fallen through, and so they were back at square one. I said, "I'm not sure if I want to do another space opera..." I knew the original show, but hadn't seen it since - well, literally since it had been on the air in '78. So I said, "Let me think about it over the weekend." I went and found a copy of the original series pilot and watched it again. Like David said, this was all in the aftermath of 9/11, and so here I am, watching this show that opens with this genocidal attack by the Cylons, which wipes out an entire human civilization in a stroke. And then the heroes of the show are the survivors of that attack who escape into space, where they are forever pursued by their enemies... I just felt that if you really took that premise seriously, and you really played that in a sort of emotionally true way, it would have a really strong and incredibly powerful relevance in today's climate. I thought, "Well, this is a really interesting opportunity." Moreover, I had been thinking about some things in science fiction that I wanted to do differently. Like I said, I did Star Trek for so long, there were things that I was just getting tired of. I wanted to reinvent the way you did stories in science fiction. I wanted to lose things like space hair and space costumes and... just make it more real. Break down the barriers between the audience and the drama and really hook into who the characters were and make it more about a drama that happens to be set in space. So I called David back on Monday and said, "Let's try to make this happen."

Making the decision to "take the 'opera' out of space opera"

DE: And for me, not coming at it as someone who had worked inside the genre like Ron had, there was certainly an awareness that the genre had atrophied, that sci-fi television had a certain cookie-cutter approach. Things like there being a bridge on which a captain would sit in a chair and look at the horizon, and that spaceships all basically behaved like they do in George Lucas land, where they bank against an imaginary gravitational force and fly around like airplanes, and where explosions are big and bright and loud.

RM: When we approached it, one of the things that we said was, "Let's take the opera out of space opera." Let's go for a really more naturalistic. We kept referencing shows like NYPD Blue or Hill Street Blues or ER, shows that were set in places that treated those spaces as real places - that weren't afraid of fluorescent lights and bad lighting and nappy looking walls and...

DE: Letting the actors fall into shadow...

RM: Yeah.

So to be clear, from the start, you really had no strong personal connection to the original show. Taking this job wasn't about nostalgia or anything like that.

RM: Yeah, that's true. I mean, when it was on in '78, I was in junior high, and on the heels of Star Wars, I think everybody in America, or at least everyone of my age, was really jazzed by the idea that there was going to be a big, splashy sci-fi series on TV, because there hadn't really been one on network television of any real note since the original Star Trek series. So I certainly lined up and watched it religiously. But even at the time, there were things about it that I didn't click into. You know, it's easy to take shots at the old show. It really is, because there's a lot of glaring things that you can really make fun of. But I think the central problem that sank the show was that ultimately, there was this contradictory impulse. They wanted to make this really dark show on the one hand that was all about a genocide and about survival, about running away from your enemies and hoping against hope that you can find a place called Earth. And that was pulled in the opposite direction by the sort of network television credo of the time, which was to make it fun. To make it escapism. So if you watch those shows, they go from the complete and utter genocide of the human race and the destruction of 12 colonies of billions of people, and [then] they go to "the casino planet" for fun and games. That, in essence, was the problem. I mean, they just were never able to square that circle.

DE: And they may not have been allowed to.

Deciding how much of the original show to keep - and ignore

RM: Right. I don't think ABC could've possibly really supported them if they had really tried to be true to the premise of what that show was. And as a result, it became this thing that couldn't take itself seriously, and therefore, you couldn't take it seriously. But at the heart of it, there were these interesting ideas, and we've embraced many of them. Design elements, like the Vipers on the original show, are very, very similar to the Vipers we use today. The Galactica herself is very similar. A lot of the background mythology is borrowed from the original show. When we set out to remake Battlestar Galactica, we really did want to remake it. We wanted to really make this a different telling of the same story -

DE: - that just happened to be called Battlestar Galactica.

RM: Yeah.

DE: By the way, either out of kismet or just by laziness, I've never seen the original pilot episode.


DE: Yeah.

RM: I'm going to make him sit down and watch it someday.

DE: I remember Ron and I were in the middle of one of the early development meetings, which is to say, we were drinking scotch at Pinot Hollywood. It was the day/meeting that we first talked about the Cylons looking like human beings. We agreed to go home for the weekend and watch the original pilot movie/miniseries before making the decision. Now, Ron had already seen the miniseries. So I would be watching it for the first time, with the idea we'd come back on Monday prepared to address some specifics. And I just didn't watch it. I tried. I'm not trying to be derisive or critical, it's just... It's very much of its time and it's much more difficult for me to see through a lot of those period elements to the root of all the things Ron was able to very adroitly cull from it. And so when we regrouped, Ron became the resident expert of the things that you needed from the original Galactica, and I, by default, because I didn't do my homework, became the one who was/is always advocating, "This has to make sense." Because I didn't have any context.

RM: I remember the writing staff and I sitting down together and watching some episodes. And periodically, we like to drop in elements from the series because it inspired an idea, or as an act of homage. There was an episode that was inspired by a story from the original series in which the Galactica found another Battlestar named Pegasus. That and the pilot are really the only two stories per se that we went back and revisited the original. There are also bits and pieces of backstory and mythology that we've borrowed from. But here's a funny story: The guys at [FX company] Zoic, who do a lot of our visual effects work, contain in their ranks various and sundry fans of the original series, although they won't raise their hand and say so. They think they'll get in trouble or something. There are even a few people at Zoic who have gone on bulletin boards and say things like: "They're destroying it! Every day, I go to work and I am destroying that which is Battlestar Galactica!" You know those shots in our show where you see the entire ragtag civilian fleet of spaceships trailing the Galactica? Some of Zoic guys have, like, re-created them lovingly from the original designs of the original show. There's at least a half dozen of them in our fleet. If you know the old show, in some of our establishing shots, you'll see replicas of those exact ships drifting by.

Sunday, November 19

Interview with Katee Sackhoff

Source: Slice of SciFi

On This Week’s Show: Interview with Katee Sackhoff

News Bytes:

* SciFi Studios has announced the release of a brand new bi-monthly genre magazine
* Sci-Fi to Sci-FACT: British scientists have applied for permission to create human-animal hybrid embryos by injecting human DNA into cow’s eggs for stem cell research. ANCESTOR, anyone?
* Xbox TV: Microsoft has announced that it will offer movies and TV shows on-demand via its Xbox Live Internet Service beginning November 22nd


* Clive Barker will write and produce a re-imagined Hellraiser. The original 1987’s flick featured some unforgettable characters including Frank and Julia Cotton, and the really creepy Pinhead.

Clive didn’t reveal exactly how this version would differ from his original creation of 20 years ago, but did promise to bring the film’s original concept up-to-date saying, “There are some areas of the first movie where I think we can be a lot more intense and a lot more scary…it will not be simply a reworking or reshooting of the first picture.”
* Matt Lanter will play the lead in WarGames 2. Lanter will portray a hacker named Will Farmer who begins to play an online terrorist-attack simulation game against a government super-computer christened Ripley. Word on the street is the plot thickens as Farmer begins to realize he is in way over his head and becomes a target of Ripley, a highly evolved computer designed specifically to ferret out potential terrorists and hunt them down.

Filming begins on November 20th for a release sometime in 2007.

Slice of Trivia: Doug provides the gang with another 3 film clips to identify. Well, it’s not the worst we’ve ever done.

TV Talk:
Tobin Bell (Saw) will be starring in the made-for-TV movie sequel to the 2004 scream-fest “Decoys.”

Appropriately titled “Decoys 2: Rebirth,” Bell portrays a college professor, who is teacher and mentor on a university campus where female aliens prey on hapless young horny human male students.

This week, Michael and Summer talk with “Battlestar Galactica”’s Katee Sackhoff (Kara “Starbuck” Thrace). She tells us about Starbuck’s recent trials, about acting in “White Noise 2″ with Nathan Fillion, and much much more.

Future Talk: What’s Coming Up?
Undeterred by the poor fan reception and the terrible reviews he recieved for ”BloodRayne,” Uwe Boll is at it again and will soon begin shooting the follow-up to this vampire legend with ”BloodRayne 2.” There are two other Boll films of note for the future that look fairly promising. One is titled “Postal,” based on the video game, and the other is “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.”

These latter two films are due out in 2007, while “BloodRayne 2” is not expected in theaters until sometime in 2008.

Listener comments: If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know. (Our Voicemail Number: 206-339-TREK). We’ve got plenty of voicemail from fans to listen and respond to, but you’ll hear that in a fresh, separate show.

See you next week with fresh, new content!
icon for podpress Slice of SciFi #83: Interview with Katee Sackhoff [55:53m]

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Saturday, November 18

Found in space

Source: The Arizona Republic

OK, OK, already: Battlestar Galactica is a great frakkin' show.

Sorry, got carried away there. Me, a newbie, using Battlestar lingo. Won't happen again. No real fan would stand for it.

Because, like any good genre show worth its salt, the updated tale of war between humans and Cylons inspires intense loyalty among its fans. Which is a polite way of saying that sci-fi freaks are nastily protective of their show.

And in this case, they deserve to be.

Battlestar Galactica, much to my delight, turns out to be less a traditional sci-fi TV show and very much more a character-driven drama, thick with political allegory, moral ambiguity and only the occasional spaceship battle. It transcends genre in much the same way Buffy the Vampire Slayer did. Where that show used metaphor to shine a light on the horrors of high school, Battlestar goes for bigger game, using conventional sci-fi to examine, among other things, the war in Iraq, its costs and consequences.

It's a show that deserves, even demands, to be seen by anyone who loves good television. And I was late to the party - a glaring omission.

"I'm on board," said Peter Lehman, the director of the Center for Film and Media Research at Arizona State University. "I just think on a lot of different levels it's a very thoughtful and engaging series. . . . I like Battlestar Galactica better than Star Wars. I think it's better than Star Wars."

Heresy? No way.

As for my late start, there are excuses (someone else wanted to write about the show when it debuted, only so many hours in the day, failed attempt at having a life outside of watching TV nonstop), but they don't really matter. What does matter is that after a Battlestar marathon and a chat with one of the executive producers, I'm on board. And if you're not, you should be. The only question I had after hours of episodes was a simple one: Exactly who am I supposed to be rooting for here?

"Who told you you needed to be told who to root for?" asked David Eick, a Phoenix native and one of the show's executive producers. "That's just a convention you've grown accustomed to. That's a convention of the times we're in. That's never necessarily been the case in drama or good storytelling."

And Battlestar is that.

To recap the entire story would take far too long - it's complicated, but not so much so that you should let it prevent you from diving in - but here's the short version: Cylons were created by humans and eventually rose up against them. They evolved over time, so that they now look like people, some of them, and not just chrome-plated kitchen utensils.

Naturally, they want to wipe out the creatures who created them, and they did a pretty good job of it, managing to kill all but a few more than 50,000 humans in a surprise attack. Those survivors, led by Adm. William Adama (Edward James Olmos) and Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), a former secretary of education elevated to the presidency after the attack, took to a battleship named Galactica and headed off for a planet that may be just a myth: Earth.

Of course, the Cylons are in hot pursuit, their single-minded purpose driven by - metaphor alert - religious fanaticism.

As the second season ended, humans thought they'd found safe haven on New Caprica, but the Cylons followed them. Rather than kill everyone, they decided to allow the humans to live under occupation (the humans have since fled).

Any parallels you want to draw to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, feel free. And note: the Cylons, not the humans, are the ones doing the occupying.

"Clearly we knew we were going to do a story that was going to evoke what was going on on CNN," Eick said. "Once those seeds were planted, it was a very natural thing."

No choices are easy. The humans strained under the yoke of the increasingly brutal Cylons and resorted to savage tactics, including, at the beginning of the third season, the use of suicide bombings. How human is that?

When Col. Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan), the drunken former second-in-command on Galactica and a leader of the insurgency on New Caprica, found out that his wife, Ellen (Kate Vernon), betrayed his comrades in an effort to save him, he killed her. How far are we willing to go in service to a cause, noble or otherwise?

Those kinds of questions lie at the heart of Battlestar. Other hot-button issues have included genocide and stem-cell research (or at least a reasonable stand-in). This is heady stuff for a television show to tackle, much less a genre show, yet it's the smartest Iraq portrayal out there, in any media. In this case, the genre format is a blessing; a straight-on take - a lightly disguised, traditional fictional account of the war, say - would be too tough to stomach, particularly with both sides being so morally slippery. The sci-fi trappings allow the show to take aim at difficult targets in a more palatable way. Which isn't to say the violence - and more importantly, the choices about when and how to use it - is anything less than teeth-kicking in its intensity.

When plotting out the new version of the show, Eick said, the producers decided, "If we're going to do this, let's try to make it feel real. Once you say it's a society that's been devastated by a holocaust, it leaves you very little wiggle room to say, 'Hey, let's do the casino planet,' which is what they do in the original Battlestar."

Oh yeah, that. The 1978 version was a campy affair - Lorne Green in space, no less. The current edition retains some basic plot elements from the original, but it's obviously a much darker show.

The Sci-Fi Channel occasionally suggests a somewhat lighter touch, Eick said, but none of the attempts seems to work out that way. The episodes in which they try to lighten up become their most depraved. He pointed to an episode in the first season that was going to be a laugh riot, ha-ha, but by the time Olmos stepped behind the camera to direct, things had taken a different turn. The episode included Ellen Tigh "swinging from the rafters with her legs wrapped around Tigh's neck, thrusting her pelvis in his face.

"It's just not in our destiny to do the light or the morally deliberate episode," Eick said.

Sounds like. And that's a good thing.

After escaping the Cylon occupation on New Caprica, the humans are once again searching for Earth. But now so are the Cylons, who have decided they want to make the planet, if it exists, their home. Gaius Baltar (James Callis), a genius who manages to get himself into some incredibly stupid trouble - he allowed his Cylon lover access to defense secrets that led to the attack that nearly annihilated the human race, oops - is trying to prove his worth to the Cylons so that they won't kill him. (Baltar is perhaps the show's most intriguing character, at least when he's acting crazy. He's somewhat wasted negotiating for his life trapped on a Cylon ship.)

Of course, proving his worth involves putting his fellow humans in jeopardy - old hat to Baltar, and typical of the dilemmas the show's characters face (though most struggle with them a little more than he does).

"We win this particular battle, but there's a cost," Eick said of the consequences of what seems like everything that happens on the show. "We win, but there is an ethical compromise."

That doesn't sound like science fiction. That sounds like real life.

And that's what makes Battlestar Galactica frakkin' great.

Oh yeah... about that whole war thing

Source: Tuscaloosa News

Long lost black ops pilot, Bulldog, finds Galactica with two cylon raiders in hot pursuit, bringing up tough memories for Admiral Adama. Mainly, Adama remembers that he may very well have provoked the entire war that destroyed billions of humans. (No wonder he's been so serious since day one ).

While scouting beyond the armistice line prior to the initial cylon assault, Bulldog was spotted by cylons. Adama gave the order and shot Bulldog down to save the mission. The scenario's plausible and gives Adama a great scene where he confesses to Apollo and even sheds a tear. Adama manages to cry once a season, so this year's quota has been filled.

In fact, now that I think about it. Adama seems to cry an awful lot. Maybe it's the juxtaposition. You know, the grave authority figure sheds some tears showing the audience that events are, indeed, graver than expected. But I'm starting to think he's just a crier.

Hey, we all shed tears from time to time. Who didn't develop a little moisture when Brad Pitt begrudgingly cut out his own brother's heart with a giant hunting knife in Legends of the Fall? Or when Tom Hanks talked to a volley ball for two and a half hours in Castaway? (I know I still weep for the cost of that movie ).

At first I thought, a man who's been in the fleet for 45 years, surely understands why sacrifices like Bulldog are made and understands that if the cylons spent all of that time building a war machine, they were going to use it whether his mission was discovered or not. Then I realized Adama just wanted to cry again. I assume he had loaned out all of his Louisa May Alcott novels, and so, subconsciously, his brain overcompensated.

Bulldog was an interesting character. The actor didn't really seem to quite gel with what was written, but I think that was a result of brevity more than anything else. Honestly, this would have made a better two-parter than the virus episodes. Hopefully, they won't just throw away Bulldog, and we'll learn a more sinister reason for his release toward the end of the season.

Perhaps the most important function of the episode was the revelation of Tigh's eye patch. Oddly, it's flesh colored and decidedly filled with unpirateishness ... errr, non-piratesque? Okay, listen writers. For future reference, all crabby ship officers who lose eyes and are forced to murder their treasonous wives get black eye patches. (And perhaps a hook for a hand ).

The preview for next episode looked pretty interesting. Perhaps we'll finally see a bit more tension between Starbuck and Apollo. Looks like we'll get a lot of answers to ... who'd win in a fight... as well.

I just hope Admiral Adama doesn't fight. I really don't want to see him cry again.

TV Guide Review: Hero

Source: TV Guide

I remember back when I interviewed Carl Lumbly that he'd mentioned something quickly in passing about making an appearance on Battlestar Galactica, or maybe it was just something I read somewhere later. He'd actually also said that he wanted to take a rest for a while, once Alias was through, though I'd hardly call his appearance on Battlestar taking a rest.

This episode was ... strange. There are definitely some interesting things we come to learn about Adama's command before the Cylons wiped out Caprica, though I feel like much of what was told could have (or should have) been told over several episodes. It's still possible they're going to do this, though.

The notion that Adama may thing (or did think) that he possibly caused the Cylons to go on the offensive seemed rather sudden. It's one of those important factors of his character that I'd have thought we'd see more glimpses of in the past, as though there were this "something" haunting him, making him always question his next move when it came to the Cylons. We did get a moment of that last week, when he passed the buck to the President for signing off on the infect-the-Cylon-resurrection-ship plan, though to me it wasn't enough.

I guess you could say Adama just put professionalism and duty before his emotions all this time, and it took the appearance of Bulldog to make him come to grips with what happened that day Bulldog was captured.

About Bulldog's release and the Cylon's "plan" for him. Did anyone else not think that seemed a weak plan? Three years on a Base Star and that's all they came up with? No mental breakdown to create a spy for their own? Why is it that the Cylons are so hellbent to kill Adama anyway? Would his death really drop morale so much that the humans would simply falter and fade away? I'd actually think that, had a Cylon killed Adama, it would only fuel the rage humans already have for Cylons, and the next time they happened upon some of that virus that makes the Cylons sick, they wouldn't hesitate to use it.

Random observation: Amazing shots of BSG still battered to hell. A commenter mentioned this as well several weeks ago, and it's still nice to see this bit of detail still being used. I know, it's a small thing, but I appreciate it.

Getting back to Adama and him feeling at fault for the Cylon aggression. This episode does seem to tie in well with last week, with the question of what makes us human and what rights we have to destroy a sentient race. It seems the patter of the show continues to slowly lean toward the humans and Cylons possibly understanding one another more, and these past two episodes sort of gave that theme a little jolt.

Random observation #2: Love Tigh's eye patch. I've always thought of Tigh as an old salt sea captain, and all that's missing now is a missing limb.

Speaking of Saul, it seems he's back to being close with the Admiral, which is a good thing, as I'd like to see more of his presence on the show.

And what do you make of the Cylon killing herself and going on about what's "beyond" when she dies?

Not a great action-packed episode, though I think I've pointed out that it seems to be purposeful in showing how that line between the humans and Cylons may be starting to blur more.

Oh, and two weeks until the next episode. Boo!

Friday, November 17

Always Handle Cylons With Precaution

Source: SciFi Weekly

I could not believe it when I read Toni Reynolds' letter ("Battlestar's Shackles Offend Viewer"). Here I was, an African-American male, being offended by another African-American taking offense to this issue. I'm not sure what it is Reynolds wants. For African-American Cylons to be treated differently than other Cylons, or for no Cylon to ever be bound?

It was already established that Cylons are stronger than humans. In episode 1.08, "Flesh and Bone," once Leoben is alone with Starbuck, he easily snaps out of his shackles, pins Starbuck to the wall with one hand and holds a door closed with another, preventing help from getting in. From this point on, the Colonials knew that a simple pair of handcuffs just weren't going to cut it.

If you recall, the chains, poles and shackles used on Simon (the African-American Cylon) were identical to the ones used on Athena in episode 2.09, "Flight of the Phoenix," when she was brought into the CIC. She was brought into the CIC with the same poles, same chains and same shackles.

So, as this has obviously become the "safe handling method" for Cylons, why would an exception be made for the Simon model? He's a POW that thinks he's infected with a fatal disease, and given the chance he'd likely take as many humans with [him] as he could when he dies. For a show that strives for realism, having Simon in anything but what they presented him in would've been far-fetched.

Of course, they could have had another Cylon be chosen, but to what end? Cries of "Why wasn't the African-American Cylon used more in the episode?"

Duane Long
blaq_chaos AT yahoo DOT com

Moore To Script Thing Remake

Source: SciFi Wire

Strike Entertainment and Universal Pictures will remake John Carpenter's SF horror movie The Thing, with Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ronald D. Moore writing the script, Variety reported. The 1982 original dealt with a shapeshifting creature from outer space that terrorizes researchers at an Antarctic station. That film in turn was a remake of the 1951 classic SF movie The Thing From Another World, which was adapted from the 1938 short story "Who Goes There?" by legendary SF author John W. Campbell Jr.

Strike partners Marc Abraham and Eric Newman will produce, and the company will co-finance the remake, to which Universal owned the rights. David Foster, who produced the 1982 film, will executive-produce.

The producers said they consider the new film to be more "a companion piece" to the Carpenter film than a note-for-note remake.

Thursday, November 16

Exploring a 'real-world dilemma through a fictional medium'

Source: The University Daily Kansan:

Ratings for cable television show Battlestar Galactica drop as writers mix fiction with realities of war

In 2003 Battlestar Galactica, the SciFi network's most popular show, premiered and rallied instant support as a metaphor for 9/11. However, this season as the show has taken a new direction exploring the U.S. occupation of Iraq, ratings have seen a severe hit as viewers change the channel rather than be confronted with unpleasant realities of war on a Friday night.

By Patrick Ross
Monday, November 13, 2006

A furtive woman skulks into the factory with a satchel cradled in her hands. The security guard calls for her to stop and asks to look in her bag. She freezes. The guard moves toward her and she pulls a small pistol from the satchel. She shoots the guard and vaults over a railing just in time to detonate the bomb she has strapped to herself under her clothing before the other guards can reach her.

No, this isn't a scene from war-torn Iraq. It's a scene from the Oct. 13 season premiere of Battlestar Galactica.

Galactica, the SciFi network's most popular show, began in 2003 as a metaphor for 9/11 and its ratings were outstanding for a cable show. Then, at the beginning of the third season, the show's writers went in a new direction. The show became a metaphor for the U.S. occupation of Iraq and it lost viewers in droves.

Fans liked the show's original 9/11 metaphor. Man-made robots called Cylons carried out a surprise attack and destroyed civilization on humanity's 12 planetary colonies. This sent the last humans - about 50,000 people - running toward a distant safe haven. And this was good. The Cylons were al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. The humans were the noble Americans who struggled to make sense of the tragedy that happened so close to home.

As fans followed the human Colonial Fleet in its flight from certain destruction, they recognized parallels between the government of United States and the fictional government on the show. Both had a president who did "not negotiate with terrorists." Both had rival factions, each of which thought it knew what was best for the people. Both dealt with dissension from within.

Eventually, though, the villainous, human-looking Cylons became characters in and of themselves. The show's writers revealed them as discerning individuals with complex codes of morality that couldn't easily be dismissed as "evil," much like the Iraqi people. Fans were taken aback but gave the show some leeway because it was engaging and thoughtful.

Then the timbre of the show changed at the end of the second season. Humanity settled a new planet, not its original destination, but one capable of supporting life and providing shelter, with the investment of some hard work. And the Cylons found them.

Eight online-only, between-season "webisodes" at and the first five episodes of season three chronicled a human "insurgency" against the Cylon force occupying the new planet. Suicide bombings, a human-staffed police force working for the Cylons and storing weapons in a religious temple topped the list of issues touched upon during the episodes.

If this sounds familiar, it should.

The premiere episode of season three lost about one million viewers compared to the premier of season two, according to In comments in response to the Web site's article, users repeatedly criticized Galactica's tendency to "preach." Season three has continued to see falling ratings.

Unfortunately, viewers are turned off by the idea that the Cylons, once the show's terrorists and villains, are now obviously meant to represent the U.S. troops in Iraq. The humans working with the Cylons are meant to be the Iraqis seen as collaborators by their fellow citizens.

The show reminded some viewers of unpleasant realities they would rather not think about on a Friday evening. OK, there's a rising death toll in Iraq, composed of both Iraqi citizens and U.S. troops, but surely there's no place for that in what is supposed to be an enjoyable hour of television.

The majority of American young adults - those composing the largest portion of Galactica's audience - are overwhelmingly apathetic about the war in Iraq, according to They would rather not be reminded of the "Iraq problem." For every Iraqi who wants the United States' help in Iraq, there are two who are willing to support violent opposition to the troops, according to a Sept. 27 poll conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes. The show's fans would rather ignore this fact, and they certainly don't need their television shows reminding them.

Americans shouldn't shy away from difficult themes in fiction. These themes should be embraced and Galactica's writers should be praised for exploring a real-world dilemma through a fictional medium. In fiction, situations can be analyzed in ways that aren't possible in the real world. Fiction can give insight into the Iraqi mind, for instance, and that shouldn't be off-putting or seem preachy to anyone who cares about understanding humanity.

Newshound: SciFi

Cylon Battle Royal in "Battlestar Galactica" #7

Source: Comic Book Resources

Official Press Release

Runnemede, NJ - DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT today released images and information featuring the next issue of their hit sci-fi series NEW BATTLESTAR GALACTICA! Scheduled to ship in January, NEW BATTLESTAR GALACTICA #7 continues Greg Pak's thrilling new story arc and features covers by series artist Nigel Raynor, Stjepan Sejic, and Jonathan Lau, as well as a new Battlestar Galactica photo cover!

Dynamite Entertainment is proud to bring you each and every month your only additional source for the all-new adventures of the crew of the Battlestar Galactica! Have you come onboard yet?

Dynamite stated, "With our Classic Battlestar title already on stands and receiving great reviews, the much anticipated first issue of the Zarek mini-series about to launch, and the recent announcements of the upcoming Cylon Apocalypse and Cylon War mini-series- Battlestar buffs have got to be reeling with excitement! Now, it's Cylons galore in this latest issue of New Battlestar Galactica! Greg Pak's strategic second story arc moves everything into place for a battle of the Cylons with Adama and Returners caught in the middle!

From the series debut, Greg has carefully orchestrated the events in New Battlestar Galactica to make it the perfect counterpart to the show. And Artist Nigel Raynor continues to present fans with art that is every bit as dramatic and captivating as visuals on their television every Friday night! Additionally, the issue will feature out of this world covers from Nigel Raynor, Stjepan Sejic, and Jonathan Lau, as well as another Battlestar photo cover!"

The issue is available for PRE-ORDER now through your local specialty retailer.


Each and every month, Dynamite Entertainment is your only source for the all-new adventures of the crew of the Battlestar Galactica! Read the stories that compliment the Peabody Award Winning TV Show! Have you come onboard yet?

In this issue: Facing an attack by New Cylons, Adama forms a Returner brigade to be led by Sharon and then ruthlessly engineers a battle between three different groups of Cylons -- The OS Cylons, Sharon's army, and a troop of New Cylon Centurions as terrible moral choices abound!

Featuring the continuing creative team of writer Greg Pak and artist Nigel Raynor along with another stunning series of covers including Nigel Raynor, Stjepan Sejic, Jonathan Lau and a photo cover!

Newshound: SciFi

Totally Frakked: Battlestar Galactica - So What is the Plan, Exactly?

Source: MeeVee

For two years now, the opening credits of Battlestar Galactica have warned us about the Cylons: "They have a plan." Those menacing words hover over our poor humans' monkey heads as they hightail it to Earth. But now that we're looking at Cylon society from the inside, it's starting to seem as though there never really was a plan. Or if there is a plan, it's sort of like the plot of Lost: long, meandering, and full of holes. Maybe the toasters really are trying to conquer the world. Maybe they're trying to create a hybrid human-Cylon race. Or maybe they're just waiting to see what the humans of Galactica will do next. That's what the frustrated TV audience is doing during this episode.

Let's say -- for the sake of argument -- that the Cylons want to go to Earth for a "new beginning," as one of the captured Simon Cylons tells Adama. Does this make any sense? They've already got the planets of the twelve colonies for their "new beginning." Why don't they just stay on Caprica or wherever? If this episode is any indication, they're tailing the humans for some kind of twisted psychosexual reason -- essentially the same reason Number Six is torturing Baltar with one avatar and humping him with the other. Yup, this was another episode with crispy torture on the outside, and a gooey moral lesson in the middle.

The atmospheric opening sequence reminds us of how great this show can be when it tries, as the humans glide into the plague-stricken Cylon ship. When Apollo and crew realize the ship is (literally) dripping with infected goo, they nab some survivors "for interrogation" and zip back to the Galactica. The Simon model spills his guts about the Cylon having Baltar, their plans to go to Earth, and their fear that if an infected Cylon is rebooted on a resurrection ship, the virus could spread throughout the Cylon fleet. Apollo suggests to Adama and President Roslyn that they get into Cylon territory and whack their infected prisoners so that they get resurrected, thus jump-starting the Cylon bio-apocalypse.

Before we get to the torture, allow me to lay out this week's moral dilemma. Is it right to exterminate a race in self-defense? Adama and Helo say no. Roslyn and Sharon say yes. Oh, those bloodthirsty girls -- always pushing for genocide. Normally I'm a fan of BSG's political bent, but this conflict is so contrived and simplistic that it falls flat. Does anyone really think genocide is a good idea? And why aren't there any "weapons of deterrence" alternatives offered? The doctor says that he can keep the infected Cylon prisoners alive indefinitely with some kind of serum. Why couldn't the humans threaten the Cylon by saying, "If you come near us, we'll execute these prisoners and kill you all."

Anyway, the real point of this cheesy moral dilemma is to make audiences feel as though they're watching intelligent TV instead of a softcore BDSM flick when D'Anna and Caprica -- convinced that Baltar is responsible for the virus -- decide to torture him. Of course, when they inform Baltar about his impending torture, D'Anna and Caprica are wearing sexy dresses; Baltar's naked on a red velvet couch; and the whole scene is bathed in mood lighting. Did Anne Rice write this episode or what?

The Cylons have these two thimbles they can put on your fingers to deliver immense pain, making torture a neat 'n' tidy activity. As Baltar screams and writhes, the Number Six in his head tries to distract him with sex. So we're literally flashing between images of D'Anna torturing Baltar (under Caprica's watchful eyes), and Number Six getting him horny. It's such a nakedly fetishistic scene that I was actually embarrassed for co-creators Ron Moore and David Eick. I love kinky sex as much as the average San Franciscan, but even I was grossed out. Honestly, though, I might have dug the scene a whole lot more if it had been dear departed Admiral Cain sexually torturing Starbuck.

Can you guess how it all ends? Cylon-lover Helo cuts off the oxygen to the Cylon prisoners' room so that they die before Galactica is in range of the resurrection ship. Baltar has a torture-gasm while screaming "I love you" at D'Anna, who has some kind of pain-probe jammed in his ear. Blah on psychosexual melodrama masked as political something-something.

Tune in next week, when someone from the show Alias escapes JJ Abrams' clutches the Cylon ship and tries to mess with Adama.

by Annalee Newitz

Newshound: SciFi

Battlestar Disturbs Intentionally

Source: SciFi Weekly

This is just a short note regarding Toni Reynolds' recent letter on prisoner treatment on Battlestar Galactica ("Battlestar's Shackles Offend Viewer").

I, too, was disturbed by the image of a black man in a neck collar being prodded to and fro like a herd beast.

But then, this is not the first time Galactica has sought to intentionally disturb. Especially where prisoner treatment is concerned. The Number Six Cylon agent originally discovered aboard the Battlestar Pegasus was beaten viciously and sexually assaulted, with graphic footage that hearkens to the plight of abused and assaulted women everywhere. Helo and Chief Tyrol are bound and then brutally beaten in their Pegasus brig cell; the normally iron-toothed Col. Tigh is shown reduced to a scurrying, pathetic version of himself in the Cylon detention center on New Caprica; Dr. Baltar shrieks with agony in the interrogation chair aboard the Cylon Basestar; and so on, and so forth.

We should also note that the Athena version of Sharon has been yanked about in a neck collar numerous times, so it's not like these devices suddenly appeared in time for the diseased Simon's scene in the last episode. If we're more shocked by Simon in the collar than Athena/Sharon, it's only because historically, in America anyway, we have a shameful photographic history of African slaves being kept in similar bondage.

I won't guess at the underlying motives of the producers; suffice to say that if their intent is to disturb, it seems to be working. But then, good science fiction has always sought to disturb, in one way or another. And the best part is? Battlestar seldom preaches. There is no overarching moral point pounded into our heads with a ball-peen hammer. It is left to us to decide how and why we are disturbed, and what lessons might be taken away from a particular episode, regarding a variety of social, political and humanitarian issues.

Brad R. Torgersen
sub-odeon AT comcast DOT net

Wednesday, November 15

Galactica's Precautions Were Necessary

Source: SciFi Weekly

One thing that can be said about the Caucasian race is that, over the centuries, we have managed to offend every other race on the planet. We have! And with that statement, I know I just offended a whole bunch of people. Yet I'm not going to apologize. Not for what I said, because it's true, and not for what my race has done, because I wasn't there! What we've done to the black man, the various Asian races and most especially the Native American is beyond description, yet we're trying to move past that and grow up, not only as the Caucasian race, but as the human people.

When I read that someone was offended because a black man was shackled, chained and otherwise humiliated on Battlestar Galactica ("Battlestar's Shackles Offend Viewer"), I had to think a minute before I remembered the scene. When I did, I got mad. Not at the scene, but at the person who got mad at the scene. Yes, it was a black man who was shackled and chained. Yes, for some reason that hasn't been adequately explained, black people play only a minor role in the series. Yes, in the original, Col. Tigh was a black man. But the person who was shackled and chained was not portraying a black man: He was portraying a Cylon, a member of the genocidal race that had killed all but less than 50,000 members of the human race. Even though this particular Cylon was dying of an unknown disease, these humans have every right to be scared to death of its potential capabilities. The portrayal, while crude, and yes, objectional, was potentially and dramatically accurate.

If you're going to tune out due to this one scene, then you obviously didn't like the show to begin with and only needed an excuse, not a reason, to leave the show behind.

Galactica's strongest point is that it portrays many objectional scenes in a realistic light, whether it be torture, battle or humiliation. The show has nearly as many detractors as supporters, and I have no problem with that, but don't attack the show and stop watching it because of a misperception!

Then again, maybe the producers knew that it would elicit exactly this reaction and filmed it for exactly this reason.

I expect I've angered at least several people, but it won't be the first time. The last time I took a stand like this, I was accused of being an Internet Thug, which I most certainly am NOT! I am just a passionate person with very strong views of my own.

Of course, that's what "Letter to the Editor" is all about, right?

Keith Kitchen
boyoklaatu AT yahoo DOT com

Capsule Review: Battlestar: Galactica 3.6

Source: Live Journal

Coming on the heels of a relatively controversial episode, this installment focuses squarely on the viral infection of the Cylons and the moral consequences of using it against the enemy. There’s also more than a little torture and manipulation along the way. The result is a fairly strong episode that continues to turn the season arc in a more complicated direction.

The least effective element of the episode is the description and execution of the virus afflicting the Cylons. Making it a biological virus is an interesting touch, because it reveals that the Cylons are at least partially biological and that the biology is sufficiently close to human biology for a contagion designed to affect humans to affect the Cylons. (This also helps explain how Helo and Sharon were biologically capable.)

At the same time, the idea of a virus replicating itself through the resurrection process is hard to swallow. How does a human-based virus mutate into something that has a data-based component? It’s far more likely that the Cylons are assuming that the virus could kill them all, and the Colonials just run with the ball. After all, they assume that the infection of one resurrection ship will somehow equate with the infection of the entire Cylon race, when there’s no reason to assume that at all.

The sum total of all those assumptions, however, is a compelling moral dilemma. Should the Colonials employ a genocidal biological weapon against the Cylons, even given the fact that they are fighting for their own survival? As Sharon/Athena put it in “Resurrection Ship: Part II”, would the human race be worthy of survival if they were to make that choice? Roslin’s decision is perfectly in keeping with her previous characterization, and it’s interesting to see how Adama’s mindset has shifted, largely because of his relationship to Athena.

Baltar’s place among the Cylon will likely shift now, because he brings a new and frightening perspective to their faith. At least, that’s how it appears by the end of the torture session. Will Baltar become some kind of prophet among the Cylon? As machines, the Cylons could be searching for the true meaning of faith, and Baltar could end up becoming something of a teacher, despite his flaws. Considering how this would bring Baltar into a position not unlike his role in the original series, it would be an intriguing turn of events.

Overall, there are still a number of questions to be answered about the Cylons and their nature, and Baltar’s presence on the Basestar is the logical means of exploring that ground. However, these two most recent episodes have introduced some seemingly contradictory elements that need better resolution, especially in terms of this new search for Earth and the five unseen models.

(As a sidenote: I also have a podcast associated with my various reviews called “Dispatches from Tuzenor”. Current episodes cover “Battlestar: Galactica”, so it might be something of interest. Go to if you want to listen!)

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 1/4

Final Rating: 7/10

Sunday, November 12

Harlan Ellison Interviews Ronald D. Moore on Why "Battlestar Galactica" is So Damn Good

Source: Tom's Hardware Guide


When science fiction author Harlan Ellison introduced Ronald D. Moore at the recent Screenwriting Expo 5 in Los Angeles, Moore received a standing ovation. It was a testament to the success, critical acclaim and passionate following of "Battlestar Galactica," which has become the reigning champion of science fiction.

Ellison, dressed in a black suit with an orange tie and orange shoes, gave Moore the Screenwriting Expo's award for Television Writer of the Year. "You were given swine and you made pearls out of them," Ellison said. "This award is for the astonishing job of making one of the worst television series ever made into one of the best television series ever made."

Moore humbly accepted the award, thanking his many writing partners over the years for helping him become a better writer. "The truly best part about writing for television is something called the writer's room, where you get to sit in a room with other very talented people and write stories day after day and hour after to hour," Moore said. "They become your family. It's a very singular experience. And if I'm here for a reason, it's because I've sat in writer's rooms for 13 years, and 'Battlestar Galactica' is in many ways a result of that process."

Moore dedicated the award to the dozens of writers who helped him, especially the late Michael Piller, who worked with Moore on Star Trek before dying last year after succumbing to cancer. Moore discussed Piller and his fellow writing partners at Star Trek, and how those experiences influenced his work on "Battlestar." Moore and Ellison also discussed the real world parallels of the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the Iraq War in the science fiction show.

Ellison: Tell us what kind of trepidation you had [about "Battlestar"].

Moore: I didn't have much trepidation by the time they made the offer. I got this phone call where someone asked, "would you be interested in doing 'Galactica'?" And I wasn't sure at first. I hadn't seen the original show in a long time, since its original run, and I had done a very long time at Star Trek. So I had a lot of years out in space and I didn't know that I wanted to keep doing it.

I took a weekend to think about it, and went out and found the pilot of the original show, which I hadn't seen in 20 years. I brought it home and watched it, and you can certainly pick apart the pilot 50 different ways. It doesn't work on a lot of levels, and there's some really bad stuff in it. But I was really intrigued by the premise. At the heart of that show was a really interesting idea.

The original show has the same premise that ours does, which opens with an apocalyptic attack on the human colonies; it opens with the genocide of man. And then the show is about the survivors, who are not fighting back, but running away from their enemies perpetually into the night. And I thought that was an intriguing place to be.

When I was looking at the pilot, it was January or February of 2002, so this was just a few months after the 9-11 attacks. I realized there was no way you could do this project without the audience bringing to the party their feelings, memories and emotions from that event on some level. And I thought that it would be an interesting series if you treated that idea truthfully, and tried to go to what really happens to people in those circumstances, and tried to tell an honest story about what happens when an unthinkable event like that occurs to everyday people. When they're not the crew of the Enterprise, when they're not the best of the best, but rather people on a broken down ship that nobody cares about anymore, crewed by a bunch of screw-ups, and that's humanity's last best hope. And I jumped at it after that, because I realized it was an opportunity. Since then, I've always thought that what we do on the show is to take the premise of the original series more seriously than they did.

Reality And Science Fiction

Ellison: The parallels to current events are obvious; in particular, I think that the analogies to the Iraqi War are very clear. Did the parallels come from you or from some Sci-Fi [Channel] exec?

Moore: Fundamentally, they came from me. I felt, in that first week of thinking about it, that, okay, this is going to deal with 9-11 and a lot of the things we were going through as a society at that moment. It was just part of the premise. It was always going to be in the show, and once we were on that path, it just felt like we were going to keep doing this and we're going to deal with things that are happening in our contemporary reality, but we were going to view them through a different prism.

The show was never going to be a direct allegory; Laura Roslin was not going to be George W. Bush, and the Cylons were not going to be al-Qaeda. But they were going to share elements. And part of the opportunity of doing a show like this was the opportunity to sort of move the pieces around the game board a little bit and say: "Well, we've all experienced this set of events. What if I move this piece over here, and put you over there? How would you feel about it then?"

There was a Sci-Fi [Channel] exec that had a key impact on the show, surprisingly enough. His name is Michael Jackson (no relation to the singer.) He worked for the network, and while I was working on the script for the miniseries, he read a line from Number Six, the blonde Cylon played by Tricia Helfer. She had a conversation with Baltar, and at one point she says, "God is love." It was just something that I found on the page as I was writing it. And I wrote, and I was struck by it because it's an odd thing for a robot to say. I liked it, but didn't really know what it meant, and it wasn't a focal point of the script.

But when Michael read the script, one of his notes was: "That's fascinating. You already have elements of al-Qaeda and religious fanaticism hovering around the edges of what you're doing. Why don't you embrace that and go for that element because they don't typically do that in Sci-Fi." And my first reaction was: "Oh my God! Nobody ever gives you that kind of note, especially not an executive."

So I just ran with it, and it became one of foundational elements of the show: the religious conflict between the two civilizations; the monotheism of the Cylons and the polytheism of the Colonials; what is God, what is human, and what does it mean to be alive. All of these metaphysical ideas and religious concepts sort of groove from that one line in the teleplay.

Religion, Superstition, And Heroes

Ellison: My next question is about religion. The Cylons are the monotheists; they believe in God and are good Christian folk. And the crew, who are our heroes, are polytheists like the ancient Egyptians or Greeks. It was always interesting, but until recently there was never a third element; now the venue has changed and there's a supernatural quality. A spiritual force is at work. Can you codify that?

Moore: I sort of felt that as the religious aspects of the show were becoming more common and started to dominate plot lines and certain character attributes, you sort of had to make a choice at some level about whether that was all bullshit or not. Does it mean something? Is all this worship just about talk and about made up religions that don't mean anything? Or is there the possibility of something greater? These are the existential questions. Is this all that I am? Is there something more? Why am I here?

If all the characters on the show are asking themselves those questions, I felt that on some level I wanted to give a hint that maybe they're not all fools. That maybe there's some greater truth that they're all struggling toward, that none of them can see perfectly. So I started to feather in ideas that could not be explained by rational means. While never really coming out and saying that God is behind the curtain, I wanted to have elements of it.

One of the things that I had noticed working on Star Trek, and in science fiction in general, was that mainstream science fiction tended to shy away from this as a subject. Gene Roddenberry felt very strongly that in the future of Star Trek, religions were all gone; that in 300 to 400 years mankind had evolved beyond it; that religions were all superstitions and were things of the past. It was a very secular humanist idea, which I don't have a problem with philosophically, but I didn't believe as a storyteller that in just a few centuries we would discard this fundamental thing that had informed our societies for so long.

So, I just felt that in this world in Galactica, which had nomenclature like Apollo and Athena and all these names of the Greek gods, it beggared the imagination to say that they didn't really believe in it. And if they did believe it in, I wanted to give it some validity and show that there is something out there.

Ellison: Apart from your awe and wonderstruck admiration for me and my work, who were your heroes when you were a kid?

Moore: This is a facile answer, but my hero as a kid was James T. Kirk. I grew up watching the original Star Trek series, and that character meant a lot to me.

Ellison: Not William Shatner.

Moore: No, not William Shatner. Jim Kirk. There was something about that show and what it stood for, and what he in particular stood for. The time I was becoming fascinated by T.V. Star Trek was also within the decade of JFK and the Kennedy assassination. I was sort of raised in the culture that was still imbued with that myth of the martyred president, and the two sort of merged a bit in my world.

And they're very similar: there are certainly things about Kirk that are very "new frontier" and very much in the spirit of what John Kennedy was all about, at least in my opinion. So those were my two big heroes as I was growing up: Kirk and Kennedy.

Influences And Broken Hearts

Ellison: Who has broken your heart? Someone in your life, someone in the business has broken your heart.

Moore: I've known people and worked with people that -

Ellison: Betrayed you.

Moore: Yeah...I've had partnerships with some writers that on some fundamental level I thought I knew. It's the same old story. You never think it's going to happen to you. You establish friendships and trust and loyalty, and there comes a point where that doesn't matter. It becomes about something else, and that's painful. I think that it's hard, in my experience, especially with a writing partner.

When you're writing with somebody, it's almost like a marriage. That's a very special bond. You sit in that room where you write separately and then you argue and work on the page and you slave many hours and you expose yourself - you're vulnerable. And I think the mistake that gets made - that I made - is that sometimes you let that professional intimacy cross over into a personal intimacy. And it's like a marriage, and there's an expectation that [the relationship] is going to transcend that profession. You know, "No matter what, I've got your back and you've got mine and that's the bond we have." But that's not always the case, because on some level it is still a professional relationship.

And so I had a writing partner and it did break my heart. But at the same time, I look back on it now and think I probably should have known better, and I probably should have been smarter at the time. And if I had to do it over again, I might have made the same mistakes all over again because it's in my nature to extend that trust. But I don't think I would have been quite as surprised the second time around.

[Editor's Note: Moore doesn't name names here, but it's clear to any knowledgeable Star Trek fan that the writing partner in question is Brannon Braga. Moore and Braga had written a number of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episodes, including the final episode "All Good Things...," as well as the feature film "Star Trek: First Contact." Following his work on TNG, and after writing a number of episodes for "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," Moore began to work on "Star Trek: Voyager" during its sixth season, reuniting with Braga, who was the show's executive producer. But the reunion was short-lived and Moore left the show, later stating that the working relationship between himself and Braga had broken down.]

Ellison: There's got to be something in us that speaks to naiveté. And when it goes sour, it's worse than just some network executive cutting you off at the hips.

Moore: Yeah. During my first year at "Star Trek: The Next Generation," that first writer's room I was in was really important to me - personally and professionally. There was something about sitting with that group of men and women day after day. And we really told each other and felt that we were in the trenches together; that this was a bond that mattered and that transcended everything else; that we were writers and we were going to protect each other. There is a mindset to the writer's room that it is a bunker, and there are people out there that are trying to screw up your story, and they're either production people trying to cut your budget or they're network executives that don't understand -

Ellison: Actors...

Moore: And actors who don't want to say your lines. It's like everyone who's not in that room is the enemy on some level, and you're all banding together to fight them. That's really the mentality. But you're all just people, and it's a transitory thing. You get on these projects and for that moment, for that season, and for that show, these people will be the most intimate people in your life, and they will matter to you almost as much as your family. And you'll sweat with them and bleed with them and cry with them. But then it will end, and then you'll go on to the next project.

That first writing staff I was connected to at Star Trek is still very much in my bones, but there are other writers that I've worked with that I've never seen again.

Ellison: Do you still see the people from that original writer's room?

Moore: I do see them periodically, all except one, whom I've lost contact with. The original room was Ira Steven Behr, Michael Piller, Hans Beimler, Richard Manning, and Melinda Snodgrass. And I haven't seen Melinda in years.

Before "Battlestar"

Ellison: At some point you have walked away from productions - as I have - just saying that it doesn't matter how much money they're paying me, the money doesn't matter. Where did you get those stones? What in your upbringing, your background and your life experience gave you the stones?

Moore: A few different sources. My father, most of all. He's a man of tremendous strength, and there's a certain iron integrity to my dad that I grew up with. You [Ellison] as well. I've written about this on my blog, which I'm sure all of you read.

There were two incidents with Harlan that honestly imprinted on me. The first time I saw him I was at the first science fiction convention I went to, when I was in college. It was up in Stony Brook, New York. And I remember sitting up in the balcony thinking to myself, "Oh my God, this is what a convention is like. This is strange..."

I was looking down and Harlan was one of the guest speakers. And he came out and started to read this piece. [To Ellison] I don't know if you remember this piece. You read it to the audience. There was an incident in the early-to-mid-'80s. Some of you might recall it. On the Washington, D.C. mall, a man in a van had driven up to the Washington Monument and claimed that it was full of dynamite or explosives some kind, and he was going to blow up the monument as part of a protest. It was national news, and there were police everywhere. Eventually the man was shot and killed [by police snipers]. And Harlan was reading this piece about him. The tenor of the piece was essentially defending the man, or at least trying to have empathy for him, and understanding what he was trying to protest, while making the point that the police had overreacted.

But the thing that struck me was that the crowd turned. The crowd turned on him and was starting to boo and yell things back at the stage. And I was standing up there on the balcony thinking, "Wow". I didn't know if I agreed with what he was reading, but it was the way he just went at it. He refused to bow down. He just said: "Be quiet, I'm not done. You can boo when I'm finished." And he just plowed through it, and he was just unwilling to back off. And I admired that. There was something suicidal about it. He had this belief and this piece and he was going to read it, dammit, and he was going to say every word.

So many years later, while I was working at "Roswell," I was developing a show called "Dragonriders of Pern," based on the novels by Anne McCaffrey. We were trying to get the pilot made and we were very, very close to the pilot actually being shot. It was at the network which is now dead, the WB. The network was essentially going to rewrite the entire thing, and we were like five days away from shooting. And I was reaching this flash point. Harlan and I, J. Michael Straczynski (of "Babylon 5" fame) and a couple of other gentlemen whom I can't recall were on a panel at the Museum of Television and Radio in Hollywood. And I was sitting on this panel, and I knew that the next day I was going t have to have a conference call with the network. I was going to have this dreaded, nightmarish showdown with the network. Was I going to let them rewrite ["Dragonriders"] with some other writer, or was I going to stick by my guns and they could pull the plug on it? This was my first pilot, and it was a big thing.

There came a point at the end of the panel where the moderator asked each of us what our advice was to aspiring screenwriters. And we all went down the line and I had my little answer that I always give and I gave it. And then I sort of tuned out and thought "Well, I've got problems." Then it was Harlan's turn, and he seized the microphone and said: "Don't be a whore! Whatever you do in this business, don't do it for the money. Don't be a whore, it has to matter, have integrity, stand up for what you believe."

And he just went on this jag, and it really struck me. It was like a scripted T.V. moment. So the next day I got on the phone and I refused to rewrite the script and they pulled the plug and the pilot died. And I never regretted that for a moment. And those are the two Harlan moments I recall.

Ellison: [pause] You never know what pebble you're going to throw into the pond that actually kills a fish.

Moore: Well, you'll be happy to know that there was an entire cast and crew that was furloughed because of that little pebble you threw out there, not to mention the hopes of millions of Anne's readers who were crushed.

Ellison: First of all, I'm tearing up. And as you can probably tell, I'm not a...whatever.

Ellison: Who pulled the plug on ["Dragonriders of Pern"]?

Moore: It was the WB.

Ellison: But who?

Moore: The name? To be honest, I don't remember. It was a conference call with a half dozen people. And I remember the moment. I said "I'm sorry, I can't do this script. I'd be happy to rewrite, but I'm not going to do this script. It had to be the one we started with. That's the show." And they said, "Well, let us think about that for a moment. Can we put you on hold?" Okay. So we sat there on hold - me and representatives from the studio - we all sat on hold for a good two minutes, twiddling our thumbs and starting to talk to one another. But then somebody said, "No, they could be listening!"

So we were all afraid to say something but trying to make small talk, and then suddenly they came back on the line. They said, "Well, if that's the way you feel, why don't we all just say goodbye and say it's over with?" And there was a silence. And I said, "Okay." We all said goodbye, thanks, no hard feelings, and hung up the phone. And then all hell broke loose. There was screaming, phone calls and people just couldn't believe it.

Ellison: You had to have taken something from personal experience that's iconic.

Moore: I don't know what this says, but it says something. I was at Cornell and I was in the Navy ROTC. I wanted to be a U.S. Naval officer, but that all fell apart for me in my senior year. It didn't work out and I was asked to leave.

Ellison: Why? What did you do?

Moore: Nothing, really. I just stopped going to class for, like, two months. And I was not asked back, and I left and went to Los Angeles and started my life over. I was living in L.A. maybe four or five years later and I went back to Cornell to the place that I had lived. I still had some suitcases and boxes up in the attic, and I went to go find them. I was digging through a trunk and found the shoulder boards that I used to wear on my [ROTC] uniform. They were stuck in the corner of the box, and one almost had a corner bent.

There was something important about them. Even though I hadn't completed ROTC and didn't actually become an officer, there was something important that they represented, and something strange about the fact that they were forgotten and were lying in this trunk. They represented this greater ideal that I believed in, something that was larger than myself, something that was symbolic of many men and women that had done many things. I couldn't leave them there, and I couldn't throw them away.

So I put them in an envelope and I wrote a note that said: "These used to mean something to me. They still mean something to many people. Please take care of them." And I left them at the door of the ROTC building. And when I did, I felt...better. I felt like I had closed the door on something.


Later on, during the discussions, Ellison opened up the chat to audience members. Moore talked about story development, the natural lifespan of a show, and the importance of knowing when to leave the stage. He also talked about how much longer "Battlestar" may run, and where the journey will finally conclude.

Audience Member: How do you keep your story arcs from dragging on too long?

Moore: There's no easy answer to that, because it's sort of an instinctive kind of feeling of when you think a story has run its course, or how long you think it can go. And you just hope for a reasonably high batting average.

There was a story arc that worked out over the course of the first season [of "Battlestar"] and we hoped it was going to run all season long, which was Helo and Sharon down on Cylon-occupied Caprica. And I was determined that we were going to run that all year. There were a couple of times where we felt like it was treading water, but overall, that arc carried us all the way to the end of the journey. Other arcs just get started and stopped because you think there's something there to say or a story to be told and then they run out of gas. So you're really doing it by instinct.

Ellison: Do stories have their own natural length?

Moore: They do. Shows, certainly. In my experience, shows definitely have a natural life. I think "Star Trek: The Next Generation" stayed on one year too long; that was kind of the consensus among the writing staff. We really liked our sixth year; we felt proud of it, and pushed the envelope in a lot of ways in terms of what Star Trek could be. But when we came back in the seventh season, there was just this sense of profound fatigue, creatively. We sat in that writer's room and thought, "well, we haven't met Geordi's mother yet so let's bring her out." We were bringing out all this random stuff, and we all just knew that we had been on stage too long. We had passed the point of the show's natural length.

Ellison: Do you have a specific destination for the show in mind, and if so, can you just tell us what it is?

Moore: I do actually know how I want the series to end, but I didn't know at the beginning. It was as we started into the second year that the show had matured to a certain point, and I sort of understood what all of the themes were about; now I do have an idea of where it should end. Right now the challenge is about judging that correctly. Know when to leave the stage.

Hopefully, you bring it to a close perfectly. It's just about if you can line up all of those pieces at the exact right moment. I have an idea of where it's going to go, and I've started the season with fear that I didn't have enough stories to get to the end. So right now my gut says that we've got a couple of more years to do it. I could see two more seasons. Next year you can ask me the same question and maybe I'll say two more seasons again. So yeah, I don't know.