Tuesday, October 31

Interview with Stefanie von Pfetten

Source: Caprica City

Among the dozens of guest stars on the new "Battlestar Galactica", Canadian actress Stefanie von Pfetten is probably the only one of German heritage. Although she appeared in only one episode - as Pegasus Viper pilot Captain Marcia „Showboat“ Case – her character has been subject to a remarkable amount of enthusiasm in the web fandom.

During the last years, von Pfetten appeared in numerous made-for-TV movies and episodes of several TV shows, many of which belongend to the sci fi/fantasy genre. In her interview with Caprica City, the actress talks about the early days of her career, her experiences on the set of "Battlestar Galactica", and about Germany.

Caprica City: Hello Stefanie. We're happy to talk to you. Let's start with some basic information. Sadly, there is not much information about you on the Internet. Please tell us something about yourself. Where were you born and raised?

Stefanie von Pfetten: I was born in Vancouver, Canada and both my parents are from Munich. When I graduated from highschool I moved to Vienna and then Munich where I studied art history and did an internship at Sotheby's. It was after that that I moved back to Vancouver and persued acting.

CC: Can you remember your first acting role?

SvP: I do remember my first acting role and being very nervous. My hands wouldn't stop shaking in the casting and the papers I was holding were making so much noise. It was awful but I got the role.

CC: Do you watch the shows and movies you're in?

SvP: I do watch the movies or TV shows that I am in sometimes. I get curious to see what the end result of my work is. That being said it is hard to remain objective...

CC: I watched your movie "Decoys" (2004). Was that your first role in a science fiction production?

SvP: "Decoys" was not my first contact with Sci-Fi genre, I had done many roles on various TV series in that genre.

CC: Did you know "Battlestar Galactica" before you got the role as "Showboat"?

SvP: I was very familiar with "Battlestar Galactica" when I got the role. I have been a fan of both the original and the current series.

CC: Please tell us something about your work on "Battlestar". Did you meet some of the actors?

SvP: Many of the actors on the show are friends of mine and I think they are great on the show. My experience on the set was great! Everyone was very professional and friendly. Jamie Bamber and Katee Sackhoff (my scenes are with them) are very focused actors.

CC: Is there any chance to see "Showboat" again? Maybe as a recurring character?

SvP: I would love to play a recurring role on „Battlestar“ but I have not heard anything yet. My character did not die so technically anything could happen... :)

CC: You played a part in "Seven Days", a show where the hero goes back in time to change things. If you could do that, what would you do?

SvP: If I could go back for seven days in life (like the show I did) I would spend time with my father on a camping trip.

CC: Which actors do you look up to?

SvP: My role models in acting are Jessica Lange and Kate Blanchet. I refer to them as actors who are seethrough.

CC: You just shot a movie with one of Germany's most famous actors, Til Schweiger. Would you like to do more work in German productions?

SvP: I would love to play in a German movie or telenovela. I was discussing this with Til recently about acting in Germany. The movie I did with Til [„Blaze“] just screened at the Hollywood Film Festival and will be premiering in Germany end of January in Essen.

CC: Our last one: What comes to your mind when you think of Germany?

SvP: When I think of Germany I think of family.

CC: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope to see you again on our favorite show. Keep up the good work, and good luck with your career.

SvP: Thank you so much for your interest.

Submitted by: Caprica City

David Eick and Life after New Caprica Part 1

Source: If Magazine

Starting the new season of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA in the most desperate place that the human race has been thus far on the series was a stroke of inspired genius for series creators David Eick and Ron Moore. This season is proving to be the most stirring and dramatic the series has ever been, and this is only the beginning of what lies ahead for the now greatly lessened survivors of the human race. Eick is a hard man to pin down, considering they are filming the three part season finale right now, but iF MAGAZINE managed to catch up to him and get the dish on the rest of Season 3.

iF: How did the actors react when you told them what was going to be happening in Season 3?

DAVID EICK: The reaction is what it normally is. They read the scripts and they tell us that they are excited and can’t believe it and they’re shocked. I wish I could give you a good juicy story, but they’re very supportive and enthusiastic and excited. They get ready and raring to go. I wish I could give you a good story about someone freaking out, but none of that happened.

iF: As far as future stories are you planning to return to New Caprica for the people left behind?

EICK: No. No not at all.

iF: Where did the idea for the Season 3 opening arc come from?

EICK: Ron and I always get together for dinner and a few drinks in between seasons and talk about what we want to do. This year my friend, Breck Eisner, was kind enough to get us into Club 33 in Disneyland, which is the only place in Disneyland that serves scotch. We figured what better way to break Season 3 , than to go drink scotch, ride space mountain, and then watch Monday Night Football at the ESPN Zone? That’s how we break a season, we go entertain ourselves and then we take our own fears and blinders off and see what we come up with. We came up with a number of things, one of which was wanting to do an opening trilogy, and what we came up with was four hours (but still only three episodes) dealing with the occupation of New Caprica. We wanted to flash forward a chunk of time to when the occupation had gotten awry in terms of any detent between the humans and the Cylons. Any evidence we would begin to see evidence of that manifesting itself in acts of insurgency, suicide bombings. I believe a lot of that was discussed and then into the escape and basically by episode 4 everyone that was left would be back on Galactica and we would pick it up from there. That was how that came about.

iF: Had you decided to do the RESISTANCE Web episodes before or did SCI FI approach you?

EICK: That was something that SCI FI approached us about. We knew about them while were going to be shooting episode eight, which we front loaded and shot about a third of while we shooting the opening trilogy. About a third of episode eight (or more than a third) takes place in the minds of the main characters as they are flashing back to their time on New Caprica. So, because we were going to be spending more time on those locations, we took advantage of that and use a second unit crew to shoot those webisode scenes.

iF: Any particular reason the shooting of Caprica Six in the Season opener was left out of the press kit?

EICK: No, I don’t know about that. We had some debate creatively about whether or not that rhythmically was a good end to the scene, but that was all that was about.

iF: Is Lucy Lawless going to be in the second half of Season 3 at all?

EICK: No, not the second half of Season Three. Although, the door is always open for some justification to bring her back down the road.

iF: Well, she is a Cylon so she can’t necessarily die.

EICK: Ahh, well yes and no. [Laughs]

iF: Was it always a plan to destroy Pegasus and put everyone back on the Galactica?

EICK: I’m not sure when that came about. That might have been in Ron and mine’s initial break of the new season.

iF: Where does that leave certain characters that had been promoted to be part of the Pegasus crew?

EICK: Well, basically they’re going back to a situation where they are demoted. One of the issues we deal with in the subsequent episodes is that there is no room to stand on ceremony. People basically have to suck it up and do a job and they’re lives are not about being on a career path, it’s about survival.

iF: Does Baltar ever get to come back to the fleet?

EICK: Batlar does come back to the fleet, but not in the same capacity and not under the same conditions that he might prefer.

iF: Are we still going to be seeing a new model Cylon this season?

EICK: Yes. There is the introduction of another model of Cylon called a hybrid and that will be introduced in episode five.

Monday, October 30

Battlestar Galactica to NBC Rumors Persist

Source: Buddy TV

Several weeks back a rumor circulated that NBC was considering calling in its substantial ownership of the Battlestar Galactica franchise as a potential mid-season replacement for Studio 60, coupling it as a logical lead-out for Heroes. NBC was quick to respond to the rumor, calling hogwash. Well, It’s back.

Season Pass holders for Battlestar Galactica received word that the season would be cut by five episodes, and they would be credited appropriately. Why would Battlestar Galactica get cut by five episodes? The answer may be that rumors of a late season shift to NBC aren’t so bogus after all.

Battlestar goes on hiatus from Sci-Fi channel in December which would normally leave fourteen episodes to round out its season when it returns in February. However, network schedules are decidedly different from Cable. Where cable does a smaller upfront run to help justifying the longer second half, networks tend to do the opposite leaving nervous show-runners to worry about the "back-nine", the second segment of a networks full run.

By cutting five episodes off Battlestar Galactica's run, it is all the more safer a bet that the series is being considered as a mid-season replacement for something. Of course, another possibility would include Sci-Fi’s crop of six new shows set to begin spawning around the same time. There is a possibility Sci Fi is weighing the performance of these newer -- therefore less-expensive -- shows against the increasingly budget intensive Battlestar Galactica.

Fans of the space opera either cheer the decision, for the promise of HDTV broadcasts that it so richly deserves, or dread the inevitably toning down of the programs obvious political stance.

While the official line is still "don’t bank on it", both sides of the debate over whether a move to NBC would be a good thing, or a bad thing, can do nothing but wait.

Sunday, October 29

Trial and Airlock

Source: Entertainment weekly

Sorry, Jammer. Nice knowing you.

Excuse me while I drop some 18th-century philosophy: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. But what happens when good men do the wrong thing for the right reasons? Do you really believe that Jammer was acting with malicious intent when he joined the New Caprica police force? Do you blame him for being the kind of guy who can't really make decisions in a vacuum, who can't operate in a morally ambiguous atmosphere? He actually thought he was doing the right thing, the only thing he could to help his fellow man. It was only after he followed that decision down the primrose path that he found it led to hell. But questions remain: Did he deserve to die? When does justice become vengeance?

I was talking to a friend who loathed the New Caprica story line because he didn't like seeing characters he loves do things he hates. While I don't agree with him, I understand where he was coming from, because I don't like where the Adama-Tigh relationship is heading. It's perfectly logical that they'll head toward a blowout — Tigh unwilling to let go of what happened during the occupation, Adama trying to get on with the business of keeping the fleet together — and it'll make for great drama. But I just want them to be friends again, for Tigh to be Adama's resolute ally.

And props to Gaeta for taking the Tigh-rade like a man. There's nothing you can say in the face of all that hate. So you gird your loins and ride out the storm.

Gaeta is the reason the exodus happened. If he hadn't done what he did, funneled info to the resistance, the insurgents wouldn't have had the frequencies they used to contact the Raptors in orbit. They never would've spoken to Galactica and coordinated the escape. If you remove him from the equation, no freedom. People oughta be carrying him up on their shoulders, not shunning him in the caf.

How do you feel about the Circle, the organized, sanctioned group of vigilantes. Are their actions warranted? Ethical? Are they motivated by rage, by a hunger for a revenge they can never get, or by the letter of the law, looking to deliver swift but measured justice? Personally, I don't know how I feel. I'd like to think that I'm Anders, unwilling to continue executing people against whom there is sometimes no hard evidence. But if I lost a kid the way Connor did, perhaps my blood thirst would need some serious quenching.

Poor Anders. I guess they don't have the equivalent of Vietnam movies in these colonies or he'd know — the way we do — that Kara's got a little posttraumatic-stress disorder going on. And while Anders certainly had his share of battle and death and loss, Kara's experience during the occupation was far different, and the scars she carries are much deeper. But you just feel for the guy, trying to get his life back together, like so many others on Galactica, and having this person whom he fought so hard to find turn away.

As for the biggest collaborator of all, of course Baltar was dreaming. Wouldn't you have freaky-ass dreams if you were sleeping in a giant Cylon helmet? (What exactly did original Battlestar executive producer Glen A. Larson love about the back-and-forth red beam so much? First on the Cylons, then on KITT.) And of course Baltar was dreaming of being forgiven by Adama and Tigh; his delusions of grandeur make him expect their understanding and respect. But what does it say about him that he dreams of macking on Laura Roslin? I mean, yes, she is the hottest public servant ever (and that's also counting Ilona Staller, the porn actress who won herself a seat in Italy's Parliament), but one would've thought that maybe he got that ''women with power'' thing out of his system on New Caprica. At least he had the stones to resist the Marilyn Monroe-like advances of Xena the Warrior Cylon. But the fact that the Sixes don't know if he should live or die is interesting. (Even more interesting is that the voting was deadlocked, three models for Baltar and three against. But if there are 12 Cylon models, don't the rest of them get votes, too? If not, why not?)

Baltar is brilliant, sometimes, but not when he's desperately trying to persuade. If you are in what is, essentially, an interracial relationship, the way to keep someone in love with you is not to tell her that she's better than her race and she's just like you. ''You are much, much more than a machine. You're a person, a real person, a woman.'' That argument springs from an assumption that she is, by nature, inferior. And the whole ''you need me'' ploy never works, even if you are the same species.

Thoughts? Will Roslin's amnesty agenda really work throughout the fleet? If Tigh and Adama get into it, who will be Galactica's new XO? And when will Lee be able to squeeze his ass back into a Viper?

Saturday, October 28


Source: TV Squad

Finally, we're back on Galactica for good ... or at least it seems that way. The episode wastes no time getting right into the thick of things, showing us why it's titled 'Collaborators'. You can tell Tigh doesn't exactly feel comfortable with the methods used to deal with those who they feel betrayed the human race on New Caprica, and Chief feels even more opposed, though still only really in the back of his mind. Everyone just wants to see someone get hurt back for what happened.

You can't help but feel for Jammer right away. I mean, we know a lot more about him than the others do. We know for a fact that he let Callie go, but the others are only able to take Jammer's word with a grain of salt and wonder if that much is even worth his life. You just want to reach into the TV and yell "Jammer really let Cally go!" But instead we have to sit and watch it all play out before us.

Oh, and just because Jammer's spacebound doesn't mean he can't still be a Cylon. I'm just sayin'.

What I'd actually like to know is how Chief and the others knew who was on the police force. Who blabbed? Why didn't they know earlier? I can only imagine that they found just one guilty person, then made that person give up the others before doing him in.

I love the dream Baltar had. I will admit there was an initial shock at that scene but then it became obvious very quickly that this was all a dream before Baltar even realizes it himself.

Someone got it 100% right in a previous comment, that Roslin would eventually get the presidency pretty much handed to her by Zarek. So did Zarek really take a turn for the better while on New Caprica?

So it seems there are definitely seven Cylon models there on the ships with Baltar, as the Number Three model tells him. So, where are the other models? I guess this seems to say it's very possible that the others are true sleeper agents, ones even the Cylon models we know don't know about.

What I said about Jammer earlier pales in comparison to what we see of Gaeta. Starbuck stands there knowing all about what, to her, is some weird dog bowl speech. All she'd need to do is just make one mention of it and everything would be known. And just as Chief is almost out of earshot, she does, and just in the nick of time. The look on Chief's face of how close they were to killing someone who's basically a hero tells it all.

And the closing scene is priceless.

The Circle of Death

Source: TVGuide

Oh. My. Gods. Those were the words that came out of my mouth as I saw the little two second preview (in the opening credits – more on that topic later) of Laura Roslin leaning in to kiss (Yes, Kiss!) Gaius Baltar. I sat jaw agape and at the end of another mind-blowing episode am still sitting here with my mouth wide open in utter amazement.

Thank those same gods for letting that unholy union of all that is good and all that is evil and selfish in this world just be a fantasy on the part of the most selfish human being left in the universe. That said, there are only slightly over 40 thousand humans left on the planet and the Cylons have decided to spare this one, and even give him fresh clothing. This wimpy bit of flesh must have some value in this world. His silly babbling at Number Six in order to get her to spare his life (this after he'd been pleading for death on New Caprica) was just plain pathetic. "You need me…. And I need you too. Maybe I should have started with that." Um, yeah. He's completely clueless about how to treat a woman or machine or really whatever she is. The best part of his confinement aboard the Cylon base ship (aside from that disturbingly eerie pulsing red light which I sort of hope will drive him even madder) was hearing the way that D'Anna said the word "controversy." I love a Cylon with an accent!

But while I've grown accustomed to think of the Cylons as bad and the humans as good, it is becoming more and more evident that on this show there are many shades of gray. That line blurred a lot tonight with the creation of "The Circle" by the acting President Tom Zarek. Baltar may be easily manipulated and completely unfit for the office, but it is nearly as dangerous to have someone as opinionated and uncontrollable in such a position of power. Judging people based on their acts of survival, which may have cost human's lives is a touchy and sensitive subject indeed. It's fairly clear that there isn't a "right" answer, but tossing people out the airlock without a proper trial isn't necessarily the humane way to go. Watching Jammer beg for his life through the soundproof glass, knowing that he had indeed tried to help Callie at the very least, was almost as difficult to watch as Ellen's poisoning last week. Those who watched the webisodes know that Jammer was in an emotional state when he began working for the Cylons. It is hard to know what many people would have done in a similar situation. I thought the new/old president Laura's decision, while it will ruffle many feathers, was somewhat sensible. I just can't help but wonder if she'll keep her promise to name Zarek as her second-in-command. Sometimes it is best to keep those troublesome sorts close. At least that's what Adama does with Tigh. He's able to keep a watchful eye on him when he gets too far out of line.

Speaking of Adama, he had the best line of the night hands down. Apollo slyly tried to slip in the fact he taking his dad's advice and exercising into their conversation, "I have a date with a jump rope." [Adama's deadpan patented deadpan stare.] "Hey, I dropped half a stone." Adama's response? "Keep jumping." I (and probably the makeup department) will be glad to have "normal" Apollo back. He was the reason that I started watching this show in the first place.

That said, the reasons for sticking around are many, but chief among them was my adoration of Kara Thrace. The easygoing trigger happy gal of the earlier seasons, who would have fit in well in the Wild West, is gone. Now my favorite little space cowgirl is filled with complex emotions and Katee Sackhoff has taken her to a completely new level. She's understandably angry and mad about being held captive and manipulated by the Cylons into thinking that she had a daughter. But she's also having a hard time accepting the fact that she's back on the ship and she has no one to take her anger out on, hence her screaming at Gaita to beg for his life. Her instant change from wanting to claw Sam's eyes out to kissing him, surely doesn't bode well for their continuing couplehood, but I think if he gives her time and space… a lot of space, she'll eventually come around.

I mentioned before the preview of the lip-lock in the opening credits, which brought my to my random question of the day: What do you think of the fact that there is a sequence before each episode that shows clips of each episode? Do you view it as a spoiler, or something to whet your appetite for the coming hour? I'm still on the fence. I used to hate them but now they've grown on me. I'd love to read what you think.

Now that I've shared my thoughts, I'm going to go back and watch that dream sequence again. I really am still having a hard time processing that one.

by Angel Cohn

Friday, October 27

The VFX Show: Battlestar Galactica

Source: VFX

Alex Lindsay, Ron Brinkmann and Mike Seymour discuss the visual effects in Battlestar Galactica.

redrain85 stumbled across this podcast - The VFX Show Episode 12 - which discusses the Visual Effects in Battlestar Galactica. The BSG discussion starts at the 06:10 mark.

The hosts of the show hadn't seen BSG until now, but even so they said they really enjoyed the episodes. And it's interesting to hear them critique the CGI. They really go into a lot of detail. For the most part, they were also impressed there too.

Click the link to download and listen to the podcast

TV Review: -''Collaborators'

Source: IF Magazine

After the amazing and exciting emotional roller-coaster of last week’s final part of the four part opening of BSG season 3 … the question becomes where do we go from here?

We’re back to square one. There is only one Battlestar and a fleet of civilian ships trudging across the galaxy to find Earth. But now after everything that happened on New Caprica, nothing is going to be the same. This episode is just the first of many that will deal with the repercussions of all of the events and losses both physical and emotional on the planet’s surface.

I think that this episode is as close to the Salem Witch trials or Communist Red Hearings of the past that we’ve had on BSG since the season one episode, “Litmus”. This is a much harsher, darker episode with a group of ship members (with every right to be pissed and bitter) on board of Galactica passing judgment on their fellow humans who were New Caprica Police or viewed as conspirators with the Cylons. This tribunal acts not only as judge, but also jury and executioner of those they are hunting. Expect a few more familiar faces to go bye-bye in this episode.

I like GALACTICA because it is an ever changing and shifting creature. The show always has unexpected turns and twists, and in the post-Sept. 11 world that is supposed to be a mirror of, it really asks the question of who are the betrayed and who are the betrayers. GALACTICA gets to ask hard questions without attracting too much attention because of its Science Fiction format, but this is still the best most brilliantly written and executed program on TV.

One of the most interesting things to watch this season will be Starbuck’s decline. She’s been pushed to the brink before, but not like this. The emotional, physical and mental abuse that Doral the Cylon heaped onto her for four months in a detention camp are going to eat their way through to the outside of her personality. This is an ugly thing to watch, but its like a car wreck that you can’t quite look away from. Interestingly enough when I interviewed Sackhoff at the end of last season she said she wanted to “have a hot love affair with a Cylon, and have Starbuck really go through something.” I guess she got her wish!

It’ll also be really cool to continue to see the interior of the Cylon Baseship since Baltar is being held captive there. I know there’s some pretty heavy torture ahead for him this season, and I honestly can’t wait. Its kind of time that he gets some payback for almost wiping out humanity for a good lay.

Hera, the Cylon/human hybrid will also be an intriguing plot to watch develop, but there isn’t much new about that on this episode, nor is there very much with Lucy Lawless, who I really can’t get enough of on BSG.

Again this show stays in my A rating bracket and really probably will never waiver. So until Baltar disguises himself in drag as 6 to escape the Cylons, I’ll keep watching and you should too!

Senior Editor

New Book - "Unity" By Steven Harper - April 3, 2007

Source: Amazon

Readers who like the TV series, along with fans of the old show and anyone who just likes a rousing space adventure story, will be entranced by Steven Harpers fast-paced, gripping new novel. After a skirmish in which a Cylon craft is destroyed, a colonial-issue escape pod is found floating in space. Aboard Galactica, the crew discover in the pod a survivor, colonial singer Peter Atti, and his Cylon captor. Soon after his liberation, people begin babbling incoherently and dropping into comas. Unwittingly, Peter has been spreading a nerve-deteriorating Cylon weaponand he just performed for half the fleet. As Dr. Gaius Baltar works on a vaccine, a sect of fanatics begins to hail Peter as the religious leader who will save humanity. Like the Cylons, they worship one god, and they believe this virus is the path to salvation. They will do anything to keep the antidote from being distributed. But their salvation could mean the destruction of humankind. Readers will be hooked by the explosive chain of events that unfolds.

Product Details

* Hardcover: 320 pages
* Publisher: Tor Books (April 3, 2007)
* Language: English
* ISBN: 0765316064

Newshound: Caprica City

Thursday, October 26

Did Ellen know? Battlestar Galactica's Ron Moore speaks

Source: TV Squad
Over in my review of the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica there's quite a bit of brouhaha going on amongst the commenters about whether or not Saul Tigh's wife, Ellen, knew she was being poisoned. I will admit, to the casual observer it sure seems like she doesn't know. Though once the debate started, it did create need for pause.

In Ron Moore's most recent podcast, the Battlestar Galactica executive producer only managed to fuel the fire by saying: "Does she know? I think she might know." Might? Did? I had to get to the bottom of this, so I asked the man himself. See what he had to say after the jump.

"We intentionally blurred this point so as to be somewhat ambiguous here. It's not entirely clear in the scene whether she knows or not and I liked leaving it for the audience to decide for themselves ultimately whether Ellen participates in her own punishment or dies as Saul wants her to -- peacefully, and unaware of what's happening to her."

So, there you have it -- it's simply up to you to decide. Now stop your biting and scratching and play nice.

In Galactica, It's Politics as Usual. Or Is It?

Source: New York Times

With its attention to suicide bombings, insurgencies and the tenability and ethics of long-term military occupation, this "Battlestar Galactica" season looks suspiciously like an allegory for Middle East politics. And that infuriates people.

But it's not ideologues who get mad at "Battlestar." It's critics. For critics, allegories are a huge bummer. Who wants to be a translator of pig Latin? If - in a novel, say - there's a gang of hoods who stand for the world's disenfranchised, and a character who equals Jesus, and a nightclub that's the garden of Gethsemane, where's the pleasure in analysis? Reading becomes an umb-day ritual of cracking rote codes.

This notion of allegories as static and dull - an idea derived from 17th-century works of moral instruction like "Pilgrim's Progress" that featured characters with names like Everyman and Sloth - turned 20th-century critics against them. For many of them allegory was a lesser genre, didactic and prim, and lacking sophisticated literary features like ambiguity, irony, dissonance, verisimilitude. Readers, on the other hand, continued to embrace allegory in all kinds of popular fiction by writers as disparate as Ayn Rand and George Orwell.

Ultimately, genre discrimination is not good for anyone. And it has been particularly hard on science fiction like the newest "Battlestar," which has been snubbed by some critics who fear its didacticism and (scarier still) the ardor of its fans. The earliest practitioners of science fiction in literature, especially H. G. Wells, were known for clunky parables. With that as a partial excuse, many critics, including this one, have nervously dismissed the proselytizers who buttonhole them to rave about the importance of "Battlestar Galactica."

Still, it has to be granted that this latest "Battlestar" is a quantum-leap improvement of the campy franchise that began in 1978. The recent series, with its unexpected seriousness, first appeared on the SciFi Channel two years ago, having already had its world premiere in Britain. There, Sky One's confidence in the show, which had begun as an American mini-series in 2003, far outstripped that of SciFi's parent company, which waited until American fans had downloaded the show from sharing sites like BitTorrent (bittorrent.com) in huge numbers before committing to broadcasting it. Now it appears on Fridays, and the premiere of this third season, on Oct. 6, set ratings records for the SciFi Channel.

So what's it all about, this fancy "Battlestar"? The short answer is politics, whatever that means: genocide, abortion, torture, the clash of civilizations. In a deft opening move, "Battlestar" defined a race of genocidal creatures who are decidedly other: in this case, robots called Cylons who look all-too-human but are certainly not part of the brotherhood of man. These figures can't love, or die; in any case, they're definitely Not Us. Which in some sense is a relief: unlike races and ethnicities in the real world, the Cylons can be deprived of their rights without a second thought. They can be attacked and tormented because they're not even human. Or can they? Sound familiar?

"Battlestar," which is forever recapping its own plot, is somewhat anxious about getting into the tortured farragoes for which science fiction is infamous, so the plot has been reduced to a simple recitable creed. It's this: "The Cylons were created by man. They rebelled. They evolved. There are many copies. And they have a plan."

Having wiped out most of humanity and chased the remaining men and women through space, the Cylons have followed them through to their temporary safe haven, a habitable planet called New Caprica. The Cylons now occupy this makeshift civilization, interacting with humans in all kinds of morally dubious ways: seducing them, recruiting them, torturing them, befriending them. The humans, for their part, both collude and rebel.

A faction of insurgents, led by a Weather Underground-type, Col. Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan), has become increasingly bloodthirsty. Initially the insurgents enjoyed the backing of the leader of the humans - a onetime cabinet member named Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) who rose to the office of president when those ahead of her in the line of succession were wiped out - but lately she has found their suicide tactics insupportable.

A recent exchange between Laura and Gaius Baltar (James Callis), an oily human recruited by the Cylons to be their puppet dictator, was like a punch in the stomach. Audience sympathies are generally with Laura, a middle-aged woman and a seeming softie who may be a stand-in for the new sci-fi viewers, who are increasingly women; she's human, for one, and she's generally liberal, sympathetic to underdogs, a former teacher. But talking to Gaius, who is furious at the insurgents for their attack on the Cylon-collaborating human police, she becomes an extremist in defense of suicide bombing by humans. "Desperate people use desperate measures," she says.

Gaius then challenges Laura to say she supports suicide bombing in public places and, thus, the murder of civilians by naïve soldiers strapped with explosives. She cannot in good faith defend the practice, and she folds. Is she an American who might have supported the tactics of suicide bombers in the Middle East? Is the show's argument that resisting colonization is not only futile, but sometimes immoral? Should the Iraqis - that is, the humans - just yield to occupation?

Fortunately, it's not crystal clear. And that's what makes "Battlestar," week after week, riveting. The truth is, allegories don't really exist. Characters who initially seem to "stand for" figures in myth or current events eventually take on their own dimensions and - with any luck - subvert the symbolic system that was supposed to confine them.

That has happened in extraordinary ways with "Battlestar Galactica"; the exchange between Gaius and Laura is only the most remarkable recent example. The other characters - the morally bewildered leaders, lovers and warriors - have also outgrown their simple roles as Terrorist or Hawk or Diplomat, and their every action now has its own strange, engrossing logic.


Newshound: SciFi

Wednesday, October 25

'Galactica' Is Edgier Than Ever Before

Source: SyFy Portal

The following review contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the fourth episode of the third season of "Battlestar Galactica."

With a breathtaking and completely astounding space-battle and what has to be the most emotionally packed hour of television yet, the Galactica and the civilian fleet have taken flight once again, continuing their search for the thirteenth tribe of planet Earth.

After watching the second part of "Exodus," it's hard to believe that this series has any connection at all to its 1970's predecessor. Exchanging camp-looking tights and bad hair cuts for intense drama and what has to be the most talented cast on television, the new "Battlestar Galactica" is now a force to be reckoned with by proving just how good science fiction can be.

That is exactly the point I have been trying to make to a friend of mine all summer, and over the last few months I was been able to share the series with him thanks to the DVD releases. But although he hasn't been able to watch all of the episodes, he did manage to see the important ones that build on the larger story in time for the launch of the third season.

This is the first time he has been able to sit down and watch the story unfold an episode at the time and he can't believe what he's been missing for the last two years. So when I asked him what he thought of "Exodus," I wasn't at all surprised with his response. "Beyond spectacular," he said. "The Pegasus taking out three Cylon ships is the best damn thing I've seen this year."

I couldn't have said it better myself. But for me, the greatest moment is not the dramatic destruction of the Pegasus. Instead, picture this: Tyrol (Aaron Douglas) and his fellow resisters are pinned down, Cylon raiders are everywhere with Centurions tearing through the settlement, and there is virtually no hope of turning the tide on the ground assault. Enter the Battlestar Galactica in free-fall launching every viper it has before it hits the ground. The special effects were groundbreaking, the directing absolutely tremendous and the ensuing battle the most gripping the series has produced.

From that moment, right through the epic battle that claimed the life of Pegasus I had goose bumps. Everyone outdone themselves on "Exodus," but there is someone who deserves a special mention. With so much attention falling on Ronald D. Moore for re-imagining the series, the writers for their constant innovative scripting and the actors for bringing this show to life, I consider him something of an unsung hero: Bear McCreary. McCreary's score for this episode is perhaps the best he's devised, with each note striking a chord with the unfolding action.

His score was particularly potent during Colonel Tigh's (Michael Hogan) tough decision and also his homecoming aboard Galactica's flight deck. Tigh now has very humanizing influence on the series as the leader for the human resistance on New Caprica, and normally such a role will bring about the utmost respect and admiration. But after watching him eliminate the traitor to the resistance, you can't help but feel a deep pang of sorrow for the old man. The woman he loves, traitor though she was, is dead, and he is only half the man he was yesterday. Not even the momentous victory over the Cylons gives him cause for celebration ... to Saul, this victory tastes just as bitter as defeat.

Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) is also dealt a similar blow as she learns that her half Cylon child, the daughter she worked so hard to love, turns out to be a lie perpetrated by the Cylons for their own twisted plans.

So although the fleet has returned to space in search of their home and despite the overwhelming sense of optimism at the very end, the series will be living with the consequences of what happened on New Caprica for a long while to come.

"Battlestar Galactica" stars Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff and Jamie Bamber. "Exodus, Part 2" was written by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle and directed by Felix Alcala.

by Alan Stanley Blair
October 24 2006

Newshound: SciFi

This Week's Galactica Complaint by an idiot

Source: ESPN

Viewers love the new "reimagined" "Battlestar Galactica," the highest-rated sci-fi series on TV. Critics love "Galactica" too, the Chicago Tribune recently calling it "the best show on television." Viewers seem to like that "Galactica" isn't formulaic sci-fi where justice always prevails and incredibly complex devices can be invented in minutes. Critics seem to like that "Galactica" is dark and depressing, depicting optimism as futile and life as barely worth living. That life is barely worth living is certainly the regnant worldview of modern academia -- strange that a sci-fi series about space battles should be this trendy view's main expression in popular culture.

TMQ's core problem with "Battlestar Galactica" is that the people of the show's imaginary space society are incredibly stupid. True, there are lots of stupid people on Earth, so presumably there would be stupid people on the opposite side of the galaxy. And folly is, inarguably, a grand theme of history. But practically everyone in "Galactica" is so astonishingly falling-down dumb, it's hard to care about their fates: And this is setting aside how, if they're so stupid, they were able to construct enormous faster-than-light starcruisers.

In the pilot for "Galactica," a society spanning 12 planets is threatened by a race of living machines called Cylons. The machines are known to sabotage computer systems. Yet all defense systems on all 12 worlds, along with all military spacecraft, have a common password. A human scientist named Baltar unwittingly gives the password to a Cylon; the Cylons transmit a computer virus containing the code; all humanity's military systems stop working; the planets are helpless against the attack that follows. Now, do you suppose there is one single password that controls every device in the American military? We'd be idiots to engineer such a code, exactly because it might fall into the wrong hands. Yet on "Galactica" not only can every defensive system built by humanity be remotely deactivated, the information necessary to do this has been placed in the hands of a mentally unstable scientist. This is one stupid society we've got here. (Two gigantic space battleships did not receive the deactivation transmission and are protecting humanity's survivors, creating the premise of the series.)

The author James Blish has said that much of sci-fi relies on Idiot Plots, defined as stories "kept in motion solely by virtue of the fact that everybody involved is an idiot." (See the entry on Idiot Plots in the 2005 edition of the "Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy," said entry by Official Brother Neil Easterbrook of Texas Christian University.) Consider a brief rundown of "Galactica" stupidity as exemplified by the character Baltar, named after the traitor of the original 1970s series. Baltar escapes the Cylon invasion and becomes a trusted science advisor to the remaining human leadership. No one in military intelligence seems struck by the fact that all the defensive systems turned themselves off precisely at the moment of the attack, nor wonders whether this might have had something to do with Baltar, who possessed the code. Baltar rises to become vice president in the survivors' government. He obtains high position though he often speaks, aloud, to a Cylon avatar that manifests in his consciousness. That is -- the other characters hear Baltar talking to a Cylon, yet are too stupid to think anything of it.

In the final few episodes of the recently concluded season, Idiot Plots drove the action. Baltar is assigned to interrogate a Cylon spy and instead helps her escape, killing a guard in the process. No one suspects Baltar, though he and the guard were the sole people with the Cylon and though, presumably, faster-than-light starcruisers would have video monitors in their detention cells. Baltar claims he can build a Cylon detector, but needs plutonium for the device. Rather than supply Baltar with a vial of plutonium the fleet's leader, Admiral Adama, gives him a complete working nuclear warhead, which Baltar is allowed to keep in his cabin. The dialogue reduced to its Idiot Plot essence:

SCIENTIST: I need some plutonium.

IDIOT: Here, take this complete working nuclear warhead.

Baltar hands over the nuclear warhead to the Cylon spy; she detonates the device, destroying several spaceships and killing hundreds of people. Nuclear explosions have distinctive spectral characteristics that would have allowed Galactica's technicians to determine that the bomb that just exploded was one of theirs. Yet with the fleet in turmoil owing to a nuclear explosion in its midst and one warhead missing from the armory, no one asks Baltar to prove he still has his bomb. By the end of the recently concluded season, Baltar has been elected president of the survivors' government. He orders that humanity's remnant stop fleeing the Cylons, settle on an undefended planet and essentially decommission their space warships. Everyone is too stupid to question this order, which OBVIOUSLY leaves the survivors helpless against another Cylon attack, which happens in the season finale. "Kept in motion solely by virtue of the fact that everybody involved is an idiot," indeed.

Newshound: SciFi

Ronald D. Moore on Battlestar Galactica

Source: Coming soon
At the Screenwriting Expo 5 in Los Angeles, sci-fi writer, producer and developer, Ronald D. Moore was honored and presented with the TV Writer of the Year Award by his friend and fellow writer Harlan Ellison. "This award is for an astonishing job of making one of the worst television series ever made into one of the best television series ever made," Ellison said as he gave Moore the award.

Of course he's talking about SCI FI Channel's "Battlestar Galactica," for which Moore was asked to come on board and essentially recreate the show that originally aired almost 30 years ago and cancelled shortly after it debuted. As Moore walked on stage to accept his award, the crowd stood and applauded.

"Thank you very much. It's an honor to be here. Thank you very much for this award. It's very nice. I'm often asked, you know, what's the best part of writing for television and the truth of it is it's really not about watching dailies or going down to the set or even sitting at home and watching your name up on the screen, the truly honest best part of writing for television is something called the writer's room where you get to sit in a room with a group of other talented people for the most part and you sit and break stories day after day, hour after hour," he told a cheering room of people.

"You sit there with these group of men and women who become your family for the life of that series and you argue and you laugh and you tell stories and you procrastinate and make fun of each other's bodily functions and it's a very singular experience. If I'm here for a reason, it's because I sat in writer's rooms for 13 years and "Battlestar Galactica" in many ways is a result of that process. It's a result of sitting with other writers and learning the craft through countless hours. I accept this and I dedicate this to the dozens of writers who have helped me down through the years and most especially to the late Michael Piller who found my script and gave me my start."

The colorful and entertaining Ellison served as moderator and interviewed Moore about the show and his success.

Q: Will there be an episode where Dr. Gaius Baltar doesn't wine or cry?
Ronald D. Moore: If he didn't wine or cry I'm not sure I'd know him as Baltar. There are a couple of episodes coming up to where he does something other than wine or cry, but we can always add the tears in post.

Q: Is every female character going to wind up knocked up on the show?
Moore: Well you've gotta have goals.

Q: I can't think of any other superlative shows that were made from a poor start. Tell us about when you got the offer to recreate "Galactica."
Moore: I got this phone called that said, 'would you be interested in doing "Galactica?"' And I wasn't sure. That is what I sort of had trepidation about. I hadn't seen the old show in a long time since its original run and I'd done a very long time on "Star Trek" so I'd done a lot of years out in space and I didn't know if I wanted to keep doing it. It wasn't really until I said, 'okay give me until the weekend. Let me think about it before we even keep talking about this.' I went out and I found the pilot to the original which I hadn't seen in 20 years. I brought it home and watched it and you can certainly pick the pilot apart 50 different ways. I mean 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. I thought at the heart of what that show was was a really interesting idea because the original show has the same premise that ours does which is it opens with this apocalyptic attack on human colonies. It opens with a genocide. The genocide of man and then the show is about survivors who are not fighting back. The survivors are running away from their enemies perpetually into the night. I thought that's an intriguing place to be. When I was looking at the pilot I think in January [or] February of 2002. It was just a few months after the 9/11 attacks and I realized that there was no way you could do this project with the audience on some level bringing their feeling, emotions and memories of that event. I thought well if you treated that idea as truthfully, as truthfully as you could. If you try to go to what really happens to people in those circumstances and really try to tell an honest story about what happens when an unthinkable event like that occurs to everyday people when their not the crew of The Enterprise. When they're not the elite, the best of the bests. What's happens to the people on the broken down ship that nobody cares about anymore and it's crewed by a bunch of screw ups and that's like humanity's last best hope. That's an interesting series. So I jumped at it after that because I realized it was an opportunity. Ever since I've always thought that what we do on the show is take the premise of the original show more seriously than they do. That's kind of how I think about it.

Q: The parallels to the Iraqi war I think are very clear. Did the parallel come from you or some sci-fi executive?
Moore: Fundamentally it came from me and I felt okay from that first weekend of thinking about it, okay this is going to deal with 9/11 and it's going to deal with a lot of things that we're going through in this society at that moment. It was just part of the premise. It was always going to be in the show and once you were on that path it just felt like we're just going to keep doing this. We're going to deal with things that happened in our contemporary reality, but just you go through a different prison. The show would never be a direct allegory. Laura Roslin is not going to be George W. Bush. The Cylons are not going to be al-Qaeda, but they were going to have elements of it and part of the opportunity of the show was to move pieces around the game board a little bit. Say, okay well we've all experienced this set of events, this set of emotions. What if I move this piece over here and what if I put you over there? How do you feel about it then?...One of the foundational elements of the show is the religious conflict between the two civilizations. The monotheism of the Cylons. The polytheism of the Colonies. You know what is God? What is human? What does it mean to be alive?

Q: The venue has changed and there is now a supernatural quality. Something like the force is at work. Can you talk about that?
Moore: Well, I sort of felt that as the religious aspects of the show were becoming more and more prominent and they were starting to dominate plot lines and certain character attributes, you had to sort of make a choice at some level of whether that was all bulls**t 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 possibility of something greater? It's the extensionalism question. Is this all that I am? Is there something more? Why am I here? If all the characters on the show are asking themselves that, I felt that on some level I wanted to sort of give it a hint that maybe they're not all fools. Maybe there is some greater truth that they're all struggling towards. That none of them can see perfectly and so I started to fetter in ideas that could not be explained by rational means, but to never really come out and say, God is behind the curtain, you know. But, I wanted to add elements of it. I just felt like I think one of the things that I had noticed that working in "Star Trek" and science fiction was that mainstream films science fiction tended to shy away from this subject.

Q: Who is the worst person you've ever worked for?
Moore: I worked for a crazy man once. The late great Toby Halicki. There once was a man named Toby Halicki who did two films. He did the original "Gone in 60 Seconds" and he later did a film called "The Junkman." Essentially Toby was a car thief and he told us. He stole cars like in the early 70's and then made a film about it called "Gone in 60 Seconds." He was stealing cars to finance his film. He was a guerrilla filmmaker. Toby would shut down the freeway and just shoot a stunt without asking anyone's permission. He was truly a guerrilla filmmaker. He made a mint off the original "Gone in 60 Seconds." Many years later he decided to make a sequel ... Toby was looking for someone to writer the sequel to "Gone in 60 Seconds" so I went and I helped write it and Toby said "sure you can come write it and you can also come manage my toy business." Toby was sort of insane. I mean he was very litigious. He sued people at the drop of a hat and he was a madman. He ran around screaming at the office all the time. He had this compound down in Gardena where you drove up to this big wooden fence that screened it from the road and you pressed a button and you went in and Toby had constructed a full western back lot for himself and he had never shot a western before in his entire life. Then he had this gigantic airplane hanger filled with toys from top to bottom and these exotic cars. It was a crazy crazy experience. Ultimately what happened was Toby and I went to upstate New York to scout locations for this movie. We were at this big industrial park and there was this big water tower. Toby wanted to bring the water tower down for a stunt. We had this screaming match. Toby was going to bring this water tower down with his buddies at the welding shop and I was upset about this. We had a screaming match about how insane this was and subsequently Toby fired me. I went back to Los Angeles and Toby went on his merry way. I got my "Star Trek" gig. It turns out Toby went on to shoot this film in upstate New York and Toby's brother called me said "I've got some bad news. Toby is dead." I said "what?" He said "yeah." I said, "what happened?" He said, "well we were shooting a water tower scene." His brother sent me all the video tapes of the news coverage of this accident. There is this video tape of Toby standing in front of the water tower on camera being interviewed on camera by the local news reporter. Like I said, Toby was incredibly litigious and loved to sue anybody. He was literally threatening to sue the city of Dunkirk because they had made him take out a 10 million insurance bond to protect the city in case there was an accident on one of his sets. He was literally looking into the camera saying, "I have never had an accident on any of my pictures and I'm going to sue the city of Dunkirk when this is all over because they made me waste all this money on a stupid insurance." In the background you could see his buddies, the welders were on the thing and there were sparks coming off and like 10 minutes later the tower just came down. He was the only guy to get hurt in the accident. The tower did not fall directly on him. What he had done was there was this water tower and there were these two telephone poles because it was this abandoned factory and Toby wanted it to look real so what he did was he strung wires between the telephones poles so it looked like they were active poles and when the tower came down, it caught the wires which pulled down the telephone pole which fell on Toby's head. It was essentially God said, "don't fire Ron Moore."

Ellison then opened it up to the audience to ask Moore questions.

Q: Do you read the message boards and chat with fans?
Moore: I read message boards and I'm always interested in what fans are saying about my show and other shows. I remember what it was like to watch these things and to care about them to an obsessive point and so I have a certain amount of sympathy for people who feel that way about what I do. At the same time, it's not a democracy. At the same time it's like okay I've got an idea of what I want to present to you and I really hope that you like it. But, if you don't like it, I still like it. When I was approaching "Galactica" it was the same thing. I knew it was going to be controversial about reinventing the show. Going back and casting and making it much darker. A different sort of idea and that was going to upset a lot of the fans. I read a lot of those comments and I was intrigued to see what people respond to week after week. My job is to give you what I think is a good script. My job is to give you the best TV show that I think I can give you and then it's up to you about whether you like it.

Q: Do you have a specific destination for the show 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. At the beginning, I wasn't sure where it was going to end. It was sort of 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 and now I do have an end point 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 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. Like, oh my God maybe we should just end it this year because I don't how I'm going to fill another 20 of these and then you're always filled up and the end of the season there's always more stories than we ever got around to doing. So right now my gut says we've got a couple 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. So yeah, I don't know.

Q: How do you avoid using the show to express some of your own personal views like on the war in Iraq.
Moore: The show isn't a polemic you know. I don't approach it that r30; I don't like a lot of moralizing television. A lot of story is sort of structured in TV to sort of teach you a lesson. To tell you this is the right answer to a given set of circumstances. This show is dealing with a lot of complicated ideas, a lot of complicated notions ... What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to be safe? I don't know the answers to a lot of those things. I have opinions and I have feelings and I have a political point of view and I'm not naive enough to think that doesn't influence what I do. But, I don't look at the show primarily as a vehicle show ... A lot of people draw parallels to the war in Iraq and there's an insurgency and suicide bombers and so on. But, the crafting of that story was less about okay here's a political statement about the war in Iraq than it was okay what happens to my people in those circumstances? What happens to these characters that we've created and I throw them into this mess and I move some of the puzzle pieces around so that it's not a direct allegory. So it's not so clear as to who the good guys and the bad guys are and just see what happens. I want to see what happens. I want to see who's going to collaborate, who's going to fight back, who's going to be trapped in the middle, who's going to be questioning their own moral judgments, who's going to become a suicide bomber, who's going to slap somebody because of that. It's like dealing with things that are contemporary and you're dealing with things that are important, but I just try very hard not to make the show a vehicle for that idea. That said, there are fundamental things that I do believe come out in the show. There was a point where I had Laura Roslin saying "every person gets a trial and it's not an option that the president gets to dismiss it their way." I want her to say that because I believe that. But, it wasn't a show that was all about that. This wasn't the lesson of the episode. It's just what that character would say in that circumstance so I had them say it.

Q: Do you think you could have done "Galactica" eight years ago because in terms of what was going on in the world was so much different and do you ever think about unfortunately as things get worse in the real world, it works out better for the show?
Moore: No, I don't really go there. It's a good question of whether I could have done the show eight years ago. I don't know because I think certainly the relevance of the show and the way it grabs you viscerally because of what we've all gone through. It's just a very different piece and I don't know if it would have been quite as attractive all those years ago. I know that when the original "Galactica" came out, yeah they had an apocalypse too. They had a genocide and all these sort of dark ideas, but when you watched it in 1978 it's a very different thing than when you watch it in 2002. The show just sort of came to life because it was of the moment and it's hard to say if you could have even done it or approached it eight years ago.

"Battlestar Galactica" airs Friday nights at 9/8c on SCI FI Channel.

Newshound: SciFi

Tuesday, October 24

I'll be Adama-ed

Source: Huston Chronicle

It's on the road again as Admiral Adama - with a little help from friends and family - gets the captured humans off New Caprica and back on the journey to Earth (personally, I don't believe it exists).

The eight month cliff-hanger paid off with both exciting action and powerful human -- and Cylon -- drama. And some big changes.

Not everyone we've been traveling with these past two years is back on board.

The biggest surprise jolt of the episode came early on. You did have to wonder last week, as it was revealed to the human insurgents that Ellen Tigh had sold them out to save the life of Saul Tigh, leader of the insurgents, how would they, and most of all Col Tigh, handle the treason?

As Ellen sank deeper into dangerous darkness by revealing to one-eyed Tigh how she had secured his freedom from prison, we wondered how xenophobic, not to mention sexually and emotionally jealous, Tigh would react. His patch and grizzled look made him appear even more stunned than one would expect, yet his response seemed strangely muted. Until we found out what he was already doing -- "You just go to sleep" -- as Ellen slumped over, and a grieving Tigh vented his grief.

Talk about a bitter pill. For both.

It was one of several wrenching moments in an episode that, while built around more action than the show has seen in ages, never lost sight of what makes us care about the action, the human drama.

OK, I admit, there were many times in early episodes when I thought, somebody please send Ellen out an airlock. But with her out of the picture apparently permanently and with Gaius Baltar seemingly sidetripped for the time-being, who will be the outrageous baddies?

Oh, yeah, the Cylons.

So many stories going on at once:

Starbuck had to deal with rape, emotional and physical -- it may not have been intercourse, but it was rape -- by her adoring Cylon captor, Leoben, in order to take Kasey, her recently revealed child, with her. If only she could have dispatched him permanently. Yech.

Leoben's treatment of Starbuck would prove even more devastating when she learns who Kasey really is -- a revelation that left Starbuck shaken and her return to Galactica almost as bitter as Saul's.

We saw Gaius actually ask to die, we saw the mystery baby had survived (rescued first by Gaius and Number Six, then by D'Anna).

There was Apollo and Adama reunited. And Apollo seemingly restored to fighting fervor, if not fighting weight (that shouldn't take long either). And Sharon finally having proven herself.

It was a battle-heavy show, with some spectacular effects, even if half the time I was having trouble telling what was going down. I could tell the Galactica was going down as Adama used unconventional tactics, jumping into the atmosphere and launching vipers as the ship fell, and then -- last moment -- jumping back to space.

Still, things were grim for one and all, so much so that Adama actually gave up, saying adieu to his crew, as the alien battlestars proved overwhelming. But then, once more the cavalry arrived.

"I never could read your handwriting," Apollo tells him, regarding his orders to leave and keep the civilian fleet safe.

One more final surprise. Adama shaves. And no one seems to notice.

And now a scene from next week's show, Collaborators. Or as they say: Next on Battlestar Galactica.

Interesting? Is D'Anna trying to beat Number Six time?

By the way, Lucy Lawless (D'Anna) was re-signed by B.G. for a 10-story arc before this season began, so she's going to be around a bit longer.

by Louis B. Parks

A Wistful Look at the Current Season of BSG

Source: Blog critics

Currently I find myself in wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for, or return to or of, some past period or irrecoverable condition, namely October 2, 2006. That was the day I published In Defense of the Best Show on Television, about my favorite show, Battlestar Galactica.

Four episodes into season three, I find myself shrieking to the writers of Battlestar Galactica like George Jetson trapped upon the perpetual sidewalk from Hell to please, for the love of the Lords of Kobol, stop this crazy thing! It's still my favorite show, and I believe the bones of the best show on television are still there, but, keee-rike guys. Every hour of the show this season has managed to end like a bad magic trick. The magician grabs the table cloth, yanks, and all the dishes go flying everywhere. You think, Holy Zeus, how will they fix that unholy mess, and then the next hour begins at a brand new table, dishes and candelabra magically restored to wholeness.

Don't worry. I'll be using lots of wretched metaphors in this article today. One thing I'm perpetually reminded of watching BG this season is what I like to call Aaron Sorkin Syndrome, or ASS. This is the practice of casually discarding seemingly vital plot or character points in the service of the next seemingly vital plot or character point. The country is thrown into turmoil and Bartlet hands the reins of the government over to Walter Sobchak because Zoe Bartlet has been kidnapped by unidentified but probably shifty and foreign A-Rab terrorists? Oops, here she is in this abandoned trailer park off the Leesville Highway. A-rab terrorists or sorority hazing gone awry? Will we ever learn? Why no, because it's on to the next season.

The BG writers have been showing us an awful lot of ASS this season, so much that I barely know where to begin. If the Cylon skin jobs are trying to create a utopian human-ville, why don't they plant some flowers, give them all stackable washer/dryer units, or, you know, something? Conversely, if they're not trying to create hu-topia, why don't they just kill them all? Yeah, I get that they're arguing amongst themselves, but there's a really quick solution to the argument. An anti-human skin job can just nuke the lot of them. End argument.

Two hundred people dragged off to be executed Russian pogrom style ... here comes an army of tin cans over the horizon, an army which can apparently be easily taken out by two sharpshooters on a ridge? If the detainees have that kind of firepower at their disposal, why don't they use it? Tin cans drag Laura Roslin off, but then apparently don't notice that she's come back into the city. That's Kara's baby? How old is she? Three? Is that right? Adama's going to create a distraction while the people are evacuated to the same spaceship impound lot - that's not going to be a traffic jam - and where the hell are the tin cans with guns trying to stop them? Gaius is trying to stop Xena from setting off a nuke. Why? All the people are gone. What does it matter if she nukes the place? I'm just so FRAKKING CONFUSED!

They managed to answer one of these puzzlements on Friday's episode, the question about Kara's child, and quite cleverly, too. But this is the problem with ASS. You don't know which puzzling things to invest yourself in answering, and which are going to be magically erased by next episode. Admittedly, they gave us one hell of a season ender last year, and they certainly cannot be accused of giving us a boring season this year. The action is gripping. The acting is fine. The drama is delightfully melo. (Kara eats steak covered in the blood of the skin job she just murdered ... SNAP, I love this show. Ty poisons his treasonous tramp of a wife ... SNAP, again I say ... with tears and everthing ... DAMN, you guys are good.)

I'm just asking, please guys, now that everyone is back on their ships, could we please have a little more of those tight, wonderful, suspenseful storylines of yore, and a little less ASS?

'Battlestar Galactica' Launches the Iraqwar into Outer Space

Source: New York post

THE best show on television about Iraq takes place hundreds of light years away, with starships, alien worlds and robots that look like humans.

It's "Battlestar Galactica," which has managed through science fiction to do what no other drama does - provide a primetime allegory for terrorism, occupation and religious conflict.

In the opening episodes of the show's third season, the last survivors of humanity revolt against the Cylons, robots that hope to "tame" the polytheistic homo sapiens by teaching them about a one true God. The occupation turns ugly, people are tortured, and in the end, humans turn to suicide bombings as a method of resistance.

"It was really hard for a lot of people to understand," says Katee Sackhoff, who plays the tough, tomboyish military officer Kara "Starbuck" Thrace. "The show always takes on issues that aren't politically acceptable. It's a heavy weight to carry around sometimes."

It's also what makes "Battlestar" your atypical offering from the Sci-Fi Channel, which usually traffics in killer crocodiles and laser swords. Called "the next great cult hit" by Entertainment Weekly, the show has drawn critical acclaim and non-sci-fi fans for its excellent acting ensemble and shocking noir twists.

The 35,000 human survivors of a Cylon attack aren't consistently heroic - or even likeable - and the robots that chase them are conflicted about their motivations. Formerly enslaved by humans, the machines crave revenge, but fear for their morality (in one scene, a Cylon admits they worry how God will judge them).

"You never quite know who the good guys are," Sackhoff says.

Which is partly why Sackhoff campaigned hard for the role of Starbuck, a character played by a man in the shlocky '70s show on which "Battlestar" is based. Impressed by the writing, she insisted to producers she could take on the cigar-chomping fighter pilot, even if they thought she was "too young and too sweet."

"Someone asked the actors who they thought was the most different from their character, and they said me," Sackhoff says. "I show up to work in high heels and a skirt."

But to get the role, the 26-year-old worked out for four hours a day, chopped off her hair and bulked up until "I looked like someone who could kick a guy's ass."

And kick ass she did, especially in an early episode in which she tortured a Cylon prisoner. It was Sackhoff's first taste of the show's immediacy - and the problems it sometimes causes. "By the time it went through the network and rewrites, it was different," she says. "It was so close to [Abu Ghraib], they said, 'we can't have the hero character doing all these things.' "

Not that "Battlestar" backed down too much - in the end, the Cylon was killed, shot out an airlock into space.

And even though the humans have escaped Cylon confinement this season, Sackhoff says viewers shouldn't expect the allegories to end. "There's some stuff coming up that will ruffle some feathers."

One thing, for sure: Starbuck's hair. The writers originally wanted Sackhoff to shave her head at the end of last season, but relented because she was making the film "White Noise 2" during the hiatus. But it won't be long before Starbuck goes under the knife, literally.

"That was the deal," Sackhoff says. "At any point, they could do it to me."


Friday, 10 p.m., Scifi

Armchair Anthropologist: Dropping the Bombshell

Source: Pop Matters

I can't begin to enumerate the many ways that I find Battlestar Galactica to be televised genius. In it's third season, the Battlestar crew have landed on New Caprica, an icy rock in space. It's the place where the human survivors of the Cylon attack have chosen to host their resettlement. They've even named it for their now destroyed home. Just when they thought everything was safe, their God-fearing robot oppressors found the colony and began an occupation awkwardly reminiscent of America's current involvement in Iraq. The only way the humans have to fight back is through terrorism, including suicide bombings.

Among the many brilliant contributions of Battlestar Galactica, (perhaps the most vital protestor of the current war on television) is something that many would consider small. But to me, it means the world. Captain Kara Thrace, a.k.a. Starbuck, is many things: brave, intelligent, lushy, brazen, obstinate, and aggressive. She also happens to be blonde, but her hair color is not a character trait. She's not exaggeratedly powerful despite her towhead, nor is she a ditz or a slut. She's just blonde.

Buffy, of vampire slaying fame, was not just blonde. Her staking finesse was phrased as contradictory to her flaxen mop flitting about as she saved the world. Veronica Mars' genius lies is making a mark think she's merely a dumb blonde while slipping a bug in his briefcase. Niki and Claire, two of the titular Heroes in NBC's new drama are not just blondes, either. While only two of the seven superpowered principles revealed so far are female, against all odds, both are blonde. This is crucial when you consider that only about five percent of all adult Americans are natural blondes.

On the series, Claire is a high school cheerleader who wants nothing more than a quarterback to cuddle. Her invincibility, most vividly manifested by sticking her hand into a garbage disposal only to have her fingers grow back in a matter of minutes, is a burden, and her power is something to hide, lest she discourage suitors. Niki, on the other hand, is a single mother and an Internet peep show model with an obliquely defined ability to split her personality, or possibly even her physical body, in order to achieve violent acts of revenge for her sexual subjugation. Both heroines are presented as blonde stock characters whose hair color is intended to foil their impressive superpowers.

Thanks in part to starlets' affinity for bleach, blonde women are vastly over-represented on television, while blonde men are relatively rare. Flaxen fellows get typecast as surfers, Nazis, or wusses, while the ladies get the comparative wide breath of playing characters that are stupid, ironically powerful, or loose. Perhaps I'm especially testy because I'm a natural blonde and while it's fun to surprise people by not being a stupid whore, I'm tired of my personality being perceived as contradictory to my coiffure.

"Did you here the one about the blonde..." asks a jackass, expecting me to find jokes about fellow towheads hilarious. I interrupt, "Are you wearing a cup? No? Then shut up while you still have balls." Most people these days wouldn't tell a Polish joke or a black joke, so why are blonde jokes okay? And why are so many actresses more than pleased to oblige? I'm looking at you Goldie Hawn, and you Suzanne Somers, and especially you, Pamela ****ing Anderson.

The dumb blonde stereotype existed before World War II, possibly because the bleach used was so toxic that it really did render the newly platinum woman stupid, but it didn't take off, however, until Marilyn Monroe dug for gold in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I suspect that the rise of blonde as a derogatory state arose, not from jealousy because of the alleged increase in "fun", but as a manifestation of collective guilt and horror after Hitler dubbed blonde the hair color of choice. I didn't mean to be born a poster girl for the Aryan Nation, but I also don't feel obliged to counteract the obviously retarded supposition of white supremacy by acting like a ditz.

Only a fool would rank the damage done by blonde jokes in the same ballpark as racial profiling or hate crimes, but it's odd that so many feel comfortable making assumptions on the basis of hair color. Lots of women have chosen blondeness, but I didn't and I am far too lazy to dye my hair a smart chestnut or henna hue. There's no genetic linkage between natural hair color and personality traits, and a willingness to associate hair with inherent inferiority is only a few steps removed from linking it with supremacy.

Perhaps more insidious than the dumb stereotype is the way that blonde is often used as shorthand for writers to convey "character has issues with sex". After only three episodes of Heroes both female characters have endured rape attempts. Niki, much to the credit of her alter-ego / superpower, chopped her attackers into kibbles and bits. When Claire finally got to neck with the hunky quarterback, he tried to rape her and she was impaled through the neck with a branch and died, albeit temporarily.

On Grey's Anatomy's two female blondes, the good doctors McSlutty and McPorny don't fare much better. Meredith can't seem to help herself when a dick is in the room and Izzie is penalized for being a hot blonde that's done some soft-core modeling with rounds of ridicule from her peers. Shannon on Lost got killed right after she boned Barbara Hershey's boyfriend and poor Claire's premarital sex resulted in a possibly demonic baby and an abduction by the others.

Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica escapes the stereotyping because she's an extraordinarily well-written character on the best-written show on television. I don't expect for blonde characters to always be noble and complicated, but I do expect characters to be characters, not functions of their hair color. While I'm making wishes for better television, can TV get over this whole fetish for killing women who have sex, both blonde and otherwise? Just as blonde does not equal slutty, female desire does not equal death. TV viewers can handle complicated, morally ambiguous television without color-coding the hos, dumbasses, and victims.

by Jodie Janella Horn
23 October 2006

How to create a Cylon-o-lantern in 80,000 easy steps

Source: TVSquad

I wish I was bored patient skilled enough to create an awesome pumpkin like the one the guys over at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories created. They have a step-by-step guide to carving your very own Cylon-O-Lantern, a la Battlestar Galactica. The actual carving part is easy, but, of course, there are also electronics involved. The evil geniuses recommend fashioning a KITT (as in Knight Rider) scanning circuit to create your Cylon pumpkin. And be sure to use a giant pumpkin for better results. I wonder if they're also sporting blonde wigs and tight red dresses this Halloween?

[Thanks, Justin!]

The Universal Appeal of 'Battlestar Galactica

Source: NPR

Weekend Edition Saturday, October 21, 2006 · Battlestar Galactica is a hit TV show on the Sci-Fi channel. But it's popular with an audience that goes beyond traditional borders of the science fiction audience. Elvis Mitchell and Andrea Seabrook discuss what makes the show so enjoyable.

Click the NPR link to listen

When sci-fi is more reality TV

Source: The Oregonian

The most intriguing aspect of the sleeper hit "Battlestar Galactica," back for its third season on the Sci Fi Channel, is that aside from a handful of mock-news comedy shows, it's the only thing on TV that tackles the issues surrounding the Iraq war. These are curious times: only in a geeky science-fiction series on basic cable are the most difficult questions of the day openly entertained.

At the risk of sounding like a contestant in Monty Python's Summarize Proust competition, I will attempt a recap of the first two seasons: a far-flung race of humans has been living peacefully on Caprica, one of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, until the Cylons, the race of robots created by humans to do life's boring work, "evolved" -- how a machine evolves is best glossed over -- from a cross between C3PO and a praying mantis, to "models" indistinguishable from humans.

Meanwhile, Gaius Baltar (James Callis), a mad scientist with greasy hair and a posh British accent, is engaged in a torrid affair with a beautiful blonde who extracts from him top-secret information she then uses to destroy Caprica and the colonies. The beautiful blonde turns out not to be the love of his life (well, actually she is, but that's another story, or actually, it's a key, if lesser, plot point, but, well, never mind . . .), but a Cylon, model Number Six (Tricia Helfer).

The near-genocide reduces the human race to 55,000 souls, who become space refugees living on a fleet of funky spaceships under the protection of the Galactica, commandeered by the Homeric and soulful William Adama (Edward James Olmos).

But the evil, relentless Cylons are not content with conquering Caprica. The human race must be destroyed. Over the course of the first two seasons the Cylons chase the fleet all over the universe. They're formidable enemies. They easily infiltrate the fleet and endless cuticle-chewing fun is had trying to figure out which of the main characters are "toasters" and which are human.

Also, they don't die; when a Cylon is killed his consciousness is uploaded into a computer and then downloaded into a new version of the same model. This makes fighting them a tad tricky.

To further complicate complicated matters, some of the Cylon models don't know they're Cylons until their programming kicks in. Sharon "Boomer" Valerii (Grace Park) was one of the fleet's top- notch pilots, until her internal Cylon switch flipped on and she tried to assassinate Admiral Adama at the end of season one.

Tormented second season

There's a lot of tortured love and romance during season two, during which a hybrid Cylon/human baby is born, which seems to fulfill some Cylon prophecy or other. Then, during an embattled presidential election between Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), she of the tough political policies and excellent hair-colorist, and the nefarious Baltar, a habitable planet is discovered "hidden" in a pocket of space where the Cylons could never find it. (So excited is the human race by the idea of solid ground, they temporarily forget that one of the Cylons in their midst could easily phone Cylon headquarters with the new address.) Baltar dubs the planet New Caprica, and wins the election by promising immediate evacuation to the surface. The entire race hops in the handbasket.

Life on New Caprica is bleak. People live in tents. The feeling of the new human settlement is Renaissance Faire on the Russian steppes, without the jugglers or funnel cakes. For some reason, humans have become the sartorial descendents of Nirvana. It's all work boots, flannel shirts and, if I'm not imagining things, fingerless gloves for the good guys, who lived in primitive peace for one year, before the Cylons invade and President Baltar surrenders.

As the third season opens, the Cylons ineptly occupy the planet. It's of note that even creatures that are intelligent enough to solve the mortality problem still can't effectively occupy a nation.

Humans are routinely arrested and tortured, but a strong resistance movement has sprung up, under the zealous guidance of Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan), Adama's former executive officer, who's had an eyeball plucked out during one nasty interrogation session, and believes that no action taken against the Cylons or their human collaborators is beyond consideration.

Which brings us to the infamous suicide bombing scene; a member of the insurgency, a hot-button word used with great regularity in the show, explodes himself during the police academy graduation ceremony that President Baltar is scheduled to attend. The president cancels at the last minute, but the bombing goes off without a hitch. What to make of the good guys resorting unapologetically to bad tactics?

Named best show of 2005

Time magazine named "Battlestar Galactica" the best show of 2005, and the hallowed New Yorker praised its complexity. Both magazines seemed sheepish in their praise, knowing that most of their readers would associate the show with the chintzy late-'70s "Star Wars" knockoff of the same name, in which the Cylons were lumbering machines descended from Rockem Sockem robots and Adama was played by Lorne Greene.

The new "BSG" is billed by executive producers David Eick and Ronald D. Moore as a "reimagining," a word too fey to describe the massive reconstruction that has taken place. Eick and Moore are devilish experts at keeping viewers off balance. The villains are imbued with recognizable qualities guaranteed to garner our empathy, and the good guys mess up in ways that make us wince.

Consider, for example, the matter of religion; the Cylons practice a brand of monotheism akin to both Christianity and Islam. They believe in the love of one true god who has a plan (that includes intergalactic domination, but you get the point). Humans, on the other hand, are polytheists who worship Zeus and pray to figurines you can buy in bulk at Cost Plus.

When the humans were scampering across the galaxy in their fleet of mismatched spaceships, BSG's political allegories were more sub-textual. Our attention was distracted by sci-fi flotsam -- the card games played with strange decks of cards, the elaborate battles between ships that looked like models stolen from a 9-year-old boy's bedroom.

There was a lot of wondering who was a Cylon, and did he or she know it, and was that Number Six the same Number Six, or a different Number Six?

Real-life comparisons

Now that the show is New Caprica-bound, and humans are being cuffed and loaded into heavy transport trucks and taken out to be shot, it's harder to escape comparisons with our current dilemma. Fundamentalism lurks around every corner in both Cylon and human camps, and the correlation with real life is impossible to ignore.

In an essay titled "Iraqtica" Slate.com recently fretted that season three of BSG brazenly supports the insurgency, since the humans with whom we identify have become terrorists. But this is reductionist thinking -- the same as saying that disagreeing with current policy means you're not a patriot. To understand another point of view doesn't mean condoning it. To create sympathy for desperate people doesn't necessarily change our thinking on cause and effect.

What is clear, however, is that a relatively low budget remake of a silly '70s sci-fi series appears to be a safe venue to speculate on the toughest questions of the day.

"Exodus, Part II" They don't get any bigger than this!

Source: Bear McCreary's Blog

"Exodus, Part II" is epic enough to be a season finale. Hell, even a SERIES finale would be lucky to get an episode this jam-packed with frantic battle sequences and powerful story resolutions. But no, on Battlestar Galactica, we'll do it on episode FOUR just to keep you on your toes.

The score for "Exodus, Part II" needed to not only measure up to the extremely high standards set by the writing, acting, visual and sound effects and directing, but also needed to shape and guide the drama towards the emotional pay off at the end. This score was the culmination of the first three shows of season three, and had to surpass them all in dramatic impact and scope.

Even before scoring "Occupation" and "Precipice," I knew this episode was coming down the pipe. I decided very early that I wanted to take the action music into new territory. After all, the New Caprica storyline itself served as a way to shake things up and re-invent the elements of the show we are so familiar with. Why should the music remain unchanged?

Knowing that a big battle episode was on the horizon, I spent the early part of last summer researching traditional Chinese and Japanese music. I recently began to feel that my action cues, while always exciting, still retained a military, almost classical form that rooted them in traditional Western styles ("Prelude to War" from the Season 2 soundtrack being a prime example). I virtually discarded all of the rhythmic ideas that I had developed up to this point in favor of a more frantic and energetic taiko sound.

The carefully calculated "military" beats gave way to bombastic asian rhythms, with more personality and character than my previous percussion work. I also threw in the Great Highland Pipes (a reference back to "Hand of God" where I first introduced bagpipes during a battle sequence) and the full string orchestra we recorded at the Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage. The result is, in my admittedly biased opinion, the most kick ass action cue I've ever written.

However, out of dramatic necessity, Daniel Colman's outstanding sound design elements take the foreground for the majority of the battle scenes. But the drums are there, helping to propel the action forward... and you guys will love it on the album!

Thankfully, not every scene was a bombastic aerial combat sequence (though it sure felt like it at times), and there were some places that the music could really shine. Two cues in particular stood out as remarkably rewarding creative challenges.

The first was the death scene in act one. This was easily the most difficult cue for me to compose in the entire series thus far. Every time I thought I had it, I'd come back and listen to it a half hour later and hate it. The music had to walk a fine line of moving the drama forward without banging you over the head. At the same time, I had to hold back with simple repetitious phrases to maintain the awkward tension throughout.

If I had to pick a personal favorite cue that I've done for Battlestar it would be in the fourth act of this episode when the refugees return to Galactica. Scored for string orchestra, this piece plays against the jubilant celebration of the hangar deck and instead underscores the dark transformation of Col. Tigh and Starbuck. Their bodies have returned, but their souls may have been left behind on the planet. This scene is among the most powerful in the series and it was a thrill to have the live orchestra for this moving piece.

The cue continues into the next scene with Roslin, and a Japanese bansuri sneaks in playing her theme. Keen listeners will notice that this theme is an instrumental version of the melody sung in Armenian at the very beginning of "Occupation." I wrote this as a way to bookend the New Caprica story line, in the same spirit as when "Allegro" from "Home, Part II" bookended the Kobol storyline.

Rest assured that the fault lines of the New Caprica storyline run deep and will have a major impact on the rest of Season 3. Likewise, the themes and musical ideas I developed in these four episodes will be coming back as well.

So Say We All,