Thursday, December 21
Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell explore the line between sci-fi settings and real-life pathos
By Sarah Kuhn
Battlestar Galactica, Sci Fi Channel's gritty reimagining of the 1970s classic, is known for sinking its teeth into big, soul-altering issues -- life, death, religion, war -- and exploring the darkest corners of the human heart. The show somehow manages to rip our guts out each and every week, and yet none of it would work if it weren't anchored by two of the most deliciously complex performances currently gracing the small screen.
As Admiral William Adama and President Laura Roslin, Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell are the series' tent-poles, leading humanity's dwindling band of survivors in the quest for Earth.
Both actors were, of course, well-known before their turns on Galactica, which is currently in its third season. Olmos' credits range from his scene-stealing, Emmy-winning role on Miami Vice to films such as Blade Runner and Stand and Deliver, for which he received an Oscar nomination. As a director, he recently helmed the critically acclaimed HBO movie Walkout. McDonnell, meanwhile, has been nominated for two Academy Awards: for her breakout role in 1990's Dances With Wolves and for her searing, prickly performance as a wheelchair-bound soap star in John Sayles' Passion Fish. Her wide array of credits ranges from Independence Day and Donnie Darko to an Emmy-nominated recurring turn on ER.
Recently the duo chatted with Back Stage about chemistry, close-ups, and leaving the intense world of Galactica behind at the end of the day.
Back Stage: Were either of you familiar with the original Battlestar Galactica when you heard about the new series?
Mary McDonnell: I was not familiar with it; I was only familiar by name, because it was airing during a time when I lived in New York without a television. I was doing plays at night, and I never saw it. Certainly I was familiar with the cult of it. Edward James Olmos: I was in the same [boat]. I was doing theatre. I was doing Zoot Suit, and I did it for three straight years. We were onstage six nights a week, only off on Mondays, and I don't think it was on on Mondays. [Laughs]
McDonnell: I've still never seen an episode. I've decided not to look, because my character didn't exist in the last one. I felt it would really be more beneficial to my character and her perception to have every single one of these ideas new to her. I didn't want to have any ideas of Adama and Starbuck [characters featured in both series], because [Roslin] didn't have any connection to them at all. They sent [the first script] to me, and they told me that Eddie was reading it. I heard about it at Sardi's at lunch, that they had sent me it, and it just made me giggle. I didn't put myself together with it at all.
Olmos: I didn't either.
McDonnell: But I always read an offer. And I read it that night, and I went, "Oh, dear. I have to do this." I found it so compelling. And I eventually found out Ed was agreeing to do it, so that made a huge difference to me.
Olmos: I was the same, basically. There was a story that drew me in, especially with the mindset that one has after 9/11. You had a whole different perspective on the end of the world, that whole philosophy. What [Galactica executive producer Ronald D. Moore] did before you read the piece, he put three pages at the beginning. It was like a mission statement, kind of. It told you a little bit about how it was going to be shot. The script was very powerful. It was completely different. It was very much in the realm of Blade Runner, rather than in the realm of the kind of Star Wars, Star Trek opera that I was used to seeing in the genre, that had really permeated the genre since the early '70s. So when I talked to Ron and [executive producer David Eick], we talked about Blade Runner, and I said, "There was a door that was opened there that nobody ever walked in. Everybody walked through the door of Star Wars, but nobody walked through the door of Blade Runner." I said, "If you really want to do that, then I'm game to join up, but I'm going to be very honest: The first four-eyed creature I see, I'll faint. I will faint on camera, and I will be off the show." I just didn't want to go that route. I didn't want to act against those kind of situations; I didn't have the time to do that. So we went into this with a 9/11 perspective and mindset with a very strong understanding of Blade Runner.
This third season has been truly the best television I've ever been involved with in my life, to date. I can't even compare it to anything I've ever done. The closest thing is American Family, actually. Miami Vice doesn't even compare. It's a whole different intent; there's no way of comparing the drama of Miami Vice and the drama that we're trying here. This is closer to, say, West Wing or ER or NYPD Blue, where the human drama is so intense that you're just sucked into the story. This one, it's even more poignant than that because the stakes are so much higher. I've never seen a show like this in my life, ever.
Back Stage: I love the chemistry between your characters, not just romantically but as colleagues and friends. Is that something that happened naturally between the two of you?
Olmos: I think that the chemistry is natural, of course. You're supposed to be professional enough and have the technique to induce any kind of feeling that needs to be worked on. But you better have some kind of a feeling for the person you're working with because inevitably it's going to come out in your performance.
McDonnell: Good or bad.
Olmos: Good or bad, it comes out, and you can feel it. In this case, I was very, very grateful that they got Mary and that Mary allowed herself to do this kind of program. We both went outside of ourselves to do it. I mean, her [and I coming] together under the banner of Battlestar Galactica makes no sense at all. You don't associate Mary McDonnell or Edward James Olmos with Battlestar Galactica. The chemistry that I felt being involved with Mary and then watching her work, it was beautiful. It was so easy to get real with this whole scene and just lock into what I do, the kind of work that I like to do and I find myself most effective in, and that's a real strong sincerity and a commitment that's 100 percent. It happened in Miami Vice; that was a crazy cop show, and they allowed me to create this character. And here they did the same thing, they gave me artistic control of the character, so that's been pretty nice. And Mary has total control of her [character], too.
McDonnell: Well, I take control. [Laughs] I think one of the things I enjoy about this chemistry is that Ed is powerful enough for me. But given the character I had to play, there had to be somebody opposite me who allowed me to be interested in them on every level in order to have this relationship and these power plays that go on. So I'm really deeply grateful that it's Ed, because he's a powerhouse. I would not be able to maximize this situation if I wasn't playing opposite someone that powerful. For me, it's been a real gift.
Back Stage: Do either of you have a favorite scene from the series so far?
McDonnell: I have arcs that are favorites. I don't really have favorite scenes. Except, in terms of scenes with Ed, I do have a favorite scene, and that was the last scene we had together at the end of last season [in which Roslin confesses to rigging the presidential election]. We sat there, the two of us, with everything that had happened up until that point, in the room. I could feel the whole two years leading to that moment, sitting there in the room. I just felt the reality of the series in that scene. So I'm particularly tickled by that. To me, they're all so interesting a lot of the time, but when the story, the big story, somehow plunks itself into the chemistry of the scene and this whole thing starts to vibe, that's when I get very excited.
Olmos: I would agree. I've had some extraordinary scenes, real human, dramatic scenes that I've never experienced before in any show. Scenes with Mary have always been very rewarding, very fulfilling in all respects. I don't care if it's just me coming in and asking her for something; it's always very interesting, what happens. Because we bring along everything. As seasoned artists, you bring in all that you've learned and everything you're experiencing right at the moment. The [scenes] that I think have been most difficult for me have been a couple of major deaths that have happened. There's some very tragic, tragic things happening [on the show], you just can't get around it. I think one of the strongest emotional experiences I've had has been with Katee [Sackhoff, who plays Starbuck], when she decided to tell me that she had actually put my son Zak into the pilot's seat without him being really ready for that, that she's responsible for his death, and I just couldn't take it. I lost it. I came within inches of literally tearing her apart myself from anger. And you see it. She didn't expect that. She expected something more fatherly than that kind of a knee-jerk reaction. It was very difficult to do.
Back Stage: Who didn't expect it -- Katee or Starbuck?
Olmos: Starbuck. Well, Katee didn't either, because we only did it once. In scenes like that, we shoot all of our close-ups first, and that's sometimes opposite of how most people like to work, but I don't see us being able to do this for 10 takes or 20 takes. I just don't know anybody that wants to go there that many times.
McDonnell: You know who does that? John Sayles shoots his close-ups first. It's a great way to work, but you have to be a director who knows what you're doing because you've got to know what your final shot is.
Olmos: It becomes difficult, but emotionally it's very rewarding. I've gotta tell ya, this is like nothing I've ever experienced before. You're not ready for what's happening on this show. You're on [Episode] 7, so we're just finishing 19. You're not ready for where you're going to go. I hated this year. It was so good, but…
McDonnell: [The cast] all had a hard time this year, because as opposed to the two previous years, we were isolated from each other a great deal and we were in positions we didn't want to be in. We weren't seeing each other; the cast wasn't hanging out together, the ensemble was a bit estranged this year, and it was very hard on everyone emotionally [to be separated] in order to do the storytelling that was being asked of us. Someone would come in for two days, they'd be gone. Someone would have to come in for a day, they'd be gone. That feeling that we had the first two years that gave us security was kind of taken away. We all griped quite a bit about it, but then we started seeing the dailies, and we said, "Oh, well. Too bad. It works; we'll do it." [Laughs]
Back Stage: This show explores such dark territory. How do you leave that behind at the end of the day -- or do you?
McDonnell: Well, sometimes these people are easy to leave behind because they are so intense and the situation is so awful. So by the time you jump in the car, you're so happy to be free. And quite often, he and I are dashing to the airport, so within an hour, we're on a plane on phones, doing our home lives, being back as parents. Fortunately we're both parents, and we're lucky that we are. We both have beautiful, beautiful families that are very much alive and well in Los Angeles [the show shoots in Vancouver] and very much need us. It would be awful to be playing these people without that. I get back into my family life so fast, and I don't think about [Roslin] again unless I have to read a script while I'm at home. The first year, though, I have to say, she permeated my dreams. The apocalyptic nature of the situation got into my dreams. I had a very hard time. I went to therapy a little bit and just did a little bit of work on it to figure out how to let her get stronger while I got further away from her. It's easier now, for me.
Olmos: It's never easy [for me], because once you've opened that emotion, you've opened up a can of worms. You went there. It's in the now; you've done it. As much as you want to say, "It's an act," really, the whole reason for doing this is to be in the now. Moment to moment, it's all there and you're really there. I've found this year extremely hard to leave behind. I'm on the verge of emotional breakdown. I'll be watching my daughter or I'll be watching my sons or whatever, I'll be talking to somebody, I'll be watching a film, [and] boom, my emotions just come pouring; I just can't keep them down. Because I'm so in need of that to do the work that we're doing that I can't just turn it off and then walk away from it and then have to regroup to have to get back into that feeling. So I stay there. Not that I stay thinking about it, but emotionally I'm as vulnerable right now as I am when I'm working. It's not easy, because you're constantly emotionally taken aback by these feelings. I can't walk away from it anymore, so I don't try.
McDonnell: You know, I think it's very interesting to listen to you. Because your emotional reality is so appropriate to your character and mine to mine. It's so wonderful to watch actors do their things.
Wednesday, December 20
Writer Jane Espenson, who is known to genre fans for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Tru Calling, told SCI FI Wire that she welcomed a chance to write scripts for the third season of SCI FI Channel's original series Battlestar Galactica. In addition to the Dec. 8 episode, "The Passage," Espenson has co-written the upcoming episode "Dirty Hands" with Anne Cofell Saunders (24).
Espenson, who is currently a staff writer for the upcoming midseason NBC sitcom Andy Barker P.I., said that she was asked back after writing the freelance episode "The Passage." "The writing team, they were so bright, helpful and invested," she said. "I love them! There was a real sense that they cared about every beat of every story they were telling. Any time I needed help or advice, they were all there, acting as if it was their own name going on it, that level of attention. Wonderful."
Espenson has been well-known among fans of genre television for her scripts for Buffy and other series, including The CW's Gilmore Girls. She's also attracted a following of fans interested in the art and business of TV writing on her blog, Jane in Progress.
Despite her other gigs, Espenson said she was able to spend some time getting caught up with the Battlestar writers in order to prep for "Dirty Hands." "I was in the room for the breaking of the story this time, although the general parameters of it had already been decided: the theme and rough shape of it," she explained. "I was very excited to jump back in and tackle some main characters who didn't happen to appear in 'The Passage.'"
Espenson admitted that writing for the acclaimed series was initially "daunting," but added that the second script was easier. "I felt more relaxed about improvising," she said. "This story was less fully broken, and so it was even more obvious that I could move some stuff around and make some decisions on my own. I guess I felt like I'd learned to swim."
Teasing the tone and content of the episode, Espenson said: "It wasn't a story that lent itself to enormous comedy, but it's got its moments, and lots of great emotion. It's one of those stories—always my faves—that looks at the underpinnings of the series, at the supporting players in the fleet. The way my Buffy episodes 'Storyteller' and 'Superstar' both moved a tertiary character to center stage, this episode does that with a whole slice of the surviving human population. I'm very pleased about that."
"Dirty Hands" will air in February 2007. Battlestar Galactica will begin airing on SCI FI on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT, starting Jan. 21. —Tara DiLullo
This week, Michael, Summer and Joe talk to James Callis, Gaius Baltar from SciFi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica. James tells us all about Baltar’s recent stressful adventures on the Cylon basestar after the misfortunes on New Caprica, and we talk about the theories about the true nature of Baltar’s motives and psyche, as well as the freedom that comes from playing a character who might truly be a sociopath because he defies definition.
Slice of SciFi #88: Interview with James Callis [55:36m]: Download
The third installment of the Starbuck Interview Trilogy, co-starring her brother Eric.
Sackhoff discusses some key Battlestar behind the scenes moments: Bamber Merkins, Olmos asking the cast to starve, and Katee lets fly a couple unintended spoilers—including what man haunts Gaeta’s sexual fantasies, What’s happening with Laura’s cancer, and whether or not Starbuck buys it at the end of this season.
Plus—fistfights with Kat, calls to mommy from Tyrol, Lesbian verbal assaults, the strange power of Road Rules/Real World, and an unfortunate running joke centering on the juggling of balls.
That’s Katee and her Brother Eric demonstrating said juggling techniques.
The interview seriously lasts almost exactly as long as an episode of Battlestar sans commercials, so if you need something to watch in the background, there you go.
WARNING: you’ll hear Cort talk about it at the beginning, but we’re not in our familiar studio and the computer we were recording to had a faulty sound-card, so there are some unavoidable audio artifacts in this. But if you’re a battlestar fan, it’s still better quality than the offical episode podcasts they’re giving you, so I hope this doesn’t put you off too much.
Listen now! (42:05min / 19.3MB)
Monday, December 18
Matt Roush's Top 10
My pulse races just thinking about this Fox hit's fifth and finest season, with its scarily high body count (President Palmer! Michelle! Tony! EDGAR!), its evil president, its ferocious First Lady and its hero, Jack Bauer, once again saving the day — with Kiefer Sutherland finally winning his Emmy. No wonder everyone wants to copy this serial-thriller format. But nothing else even comes close. 24 is 24-carat brilliance.
2) The Wire
HBO's devastating urban epic of Baltimore is the opposite of a standard TV crime drama (of which there are too many). More like literature in its realism, depth and honesty, The Wire reveals breathtaking flaws in city politics, law enforcement and, this year, the school system, where four eighth-grade boys face a violent, uncertain future.
3) Friday Night Lights
This show breaks, and lifts, my heart. A ratings underdog about a high-school football team in a vividly authentic Texas town, NBC's beautifully crafted drama scores one emotional touchdown after another. A tremendous young cast is guided by Kyle Chandler's career-high performance as the Panthers' stalwart coach.
4) Grey's Anatomy
The libidinous temperature's always on the rise in this fantastically entertaining romantic medical drama's breakthrough year. Grey's soared in the explosive post-Super Bowl episode, shocked us with Denny's death in the season finale and triumphed in the risky move to Thursdays. We'd follow Grey's anywhere.
5) Battlestar Galactica
Sci Fi Channel's bracingly adult fantasy adventure is less about outer space than inner space, as it looks deep into humanity's heart of darkness. This electrifying saga of survival took on disturbing new colors as it became a provocative war allegory. Subplots involving terrorism and genocide asked us to reconsider the very notion of heroism.
6) NBC's Thursday comedies return
When the network was still No. 1, I could only dream of a two-hour block of consecutive winners this smart, funny and innovative. (No The Single Guy or Jesse here.) And these winners are all so blissfully different: the sweetly wacky My Name Is Earl, the painfully satirical The Office (the year's most improved comedy), the hilariously manic and eternally underrated Scrubs and Tina Fey's uproarious 30 Rock, with Alec Baldwin's sly send-up of a network suit the breakthrough comedy performance of the year. Though Thursday's ratings no longer shout "Must-see!," these gems shouldn't be missed.
7) Ugly Betty
Simply adorable and adorably simple, ABC's fairy-tale charmer about a gawky princess from Queens (America Ferrera's irresistibly lovable Betty) crackles with the garish colors and exaggerated stylings of a telenovela — but with much more heart. Paired with Grey's and Men in Trees on Thursdays, Betty is a romantic's dream come true.
8) The Shield
There's always a place for FX's bold dramas on my list. In 2006, this scorching police drama was the most consistently riveting, dominated by the cat-and-mouse dynamic of Michael Chiklis' dirty cop sparring with Internal Affairs snoop Forest Whitaker. The climactic tragedy of Shane killing his buddy Lem has left us nervously anticipating what is bound to be a vicious aftermath.
My top pick the last two years barely made the cut this time, after the fall's frustrating six-week curtain-raiser that kept the tribe apart and forced us to watch favorite characters caged and beaten. (Free Sawyer!) With its gorgeous look and provocative character-based mysteries, Lost still dazzles. But lately I also want better. Still, I'm not giving up yet.
In a banner year for Showtime (Brotherhood, Weeds, Sleeper Cell: American Terror), this twisted spin on the crime procedural stands out. Michael C. Hall is a revelation as serial-killer Dexter, an emotionally numb sociopath who slaughters bad guys by night and works crime scenes for Miami cops by day. Macabre and mesmerizing.
Canadian actor Tahmoh Penikett (pictured) gave Fango the lowdown on the Warner Bros. horror anthology TRICK ‘R TREAT, in which he co-stars. Written and directed by X2 and SUPERMAN RETURNS co-scribe Michael Dougherty with those film’s director on board as a producer, the movie is currently filming in Vancouver for October 5 release next year. Penikett (best-known for his portrayal of Helo on the Sci Fi Channel series BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) tells us from the set of TRICK ‘R TREAT that he plays “Henry, husband to the lovely Emma, played by the beautiful and talented actress Leslie Bibb.”
Penikett says of Dougherty’s TRICK ‘R TREAT script, “It's very witty, with all of these different stories and characters interwoven on Halloween night.” The four tales involve a high-school principal who moonlights as an All Hallow’s serial killer, a wife who despises the holiday and her husband’s obsession with it, a virgin on the lookout for that special guy and a group of tweens who orchestrate a sadistic prank. While he’s certainly enthusiastic regarding the ensuing mayhem, Penikett notes, “The coolest thing about this project is all the people on board: Bryan Singer and actors Brian [RED EYE] Cox, Dylan [FIDO] Baker, Anna [DARKNESS] Paquin and Leslie!”
Penikett is equally impressed by his writer/director, who just so happens to be “a big fan of the [GALACTICA] series,” which led to the actor being called in to audition for his TRICK ‘R TREAT role. “I was amazed at his résumé,” the flattered Penikett says of Dougherty’s previous work. “He’s an incredibly talented and intelligent individual.”
As for the number of days he’s scheduled for, “I believe it’ll end up being eight, [due to] all of the days we had to cancel because of some surprise snow.” Regardless of the frigid conditions, the Vancouver native says he’s having a good time. “Mike’s awesome to work with, but you have to watch your back on set because he’s the ultimate prankster! We’ve been in stitches most of the shoot, because he’s constantly trying to get Leslie.”
Despite the youthful orientation of the majority of the movie’s storylines, the actor says that not only is TRICK ‘R TREAT aiming for an adult demographic, but that the production has brought in some big guns to realize its more horrific elements. “Bill [FREDDY VS. JASON] Terezakis and Patrick [UNDERWORLD] Tatopoulos are doing the creatures,” Penikett reveals, with “visual effects by Rainmaker [Animation].” As for how much onscreen splatter Penikett, who also appears in another forthcoming horror anthology, TRAPPED ASHES, has endured, the actor concludes, “Without giving away too much, I can definitely say that one of the scenes I’m in is gory!” —Sean Decker
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is now officially in hiatus, but we only have to wait a matter of weeks until we can get our fix again. Shooting is completed on the three part finale for this fourth season, a lot of the people involved with production can breathe easier for a little bit. David Eick is not one of those people. Eick and producer/creator partner are always working, and Eick himself has more projects getting ready to head into production. In this final part of our interview series with Eick we squeeze out a few more details about BSG and find out what’s just over the horizon for the talented producer.
iF MAGAZINE: Is it as fun to collaborate with Lucy Lawless again after so many years?
DAVID EICK: It’s really great and I’m really happy with her. She came to the show to do and she’s such a pro because she understands that means sometimes she’s in a lot of the episodes, some times she’s a little of the episodes; sometimes she is the focus of a scene and sometimes she is in the background. You’d be surprised, a lot of actors, particularly actors show have had their own shows and been title characters on shows that were big hits; it doesn’t work that way. If you want them you better build a whole story around them and when they show up on set you better have scheduled your day in such a way that they are the centerpiece and focus of what’s being done. She’s got kind of a theatre actor’s soul. She has a consummate professional attitude and she is all about the work; and yet she has all of the intangible qualities of a true star. I think it’s a really amazing and unusual combination.
iF: Judging from everything I’ve ever read, she has to be fun to work with.
EICK: She is a lot of fun. The crew adores her. The directors adore her. She is sort of like how I would imagine people working with in the 1940’s in old Hollywood. There’s a real irreverence to her, she gets the joke, and she doesn’t take it all that seriously at all and yet she is a complete professional. She doesn’t have the failing that accompany people who have had such huge successes early in their careers. She’s been the centerpiece of a hurricane television sensation and yet there were days on BATTLESTAR where I know she spent hours and hours on the set to say one word. You just don’t find that kind of dedication in people. On top of everything else to have the work be so good, and to have it stretching her in ways that people haven’t seen or haven’t seen as much as other things she has done has been a real joy. It’s a shame, and I wish we had known and been able to coerce her into making a linger commitment because it’s one of those situations where it didn’t go as well and I thought it would it actually went better.
iF: How far do you foresee BATTLESTAR going?
EICK: I don’t know is the honest answer. Ron has told stories of other shows he has worked on where they got to seasons where it was a chore for them or it was clear that it was more of struggle than it had been in the past to keep things going. I haven’t had that experience, so I don’t know what that’s like, but if we found ourselves feeling that way … We’re all making a good living doing the show and we have families and mortgages so its nice to have a job, so that’s a factor, but if it were a chore to comet o work everyday, or we felt were bullsh**ing each other with each subsequent story and it was a drag, then maybe we’d say “they all blow up at the end of this one and lets call it a day.” Until I feel that way it’s hard for me to say if it’ll be another one, or two, or even five years. We had always intended for this to be a series and that’s why we ended the mini-series on a cliffhanger. I was standing on set a the end of the min-series with Michael Rhymer and I said to him, “ I can’t imagine doing this as a series, I don’t have a single idea in my head as to where this could possibly go as I stand here on day 37 this 45 day shoot.” He said, “Are you crazy? This thing could go on for years and years. I don’t even know where you’d draw the line. There are so many directions this thing could go with the depth to this idea.”
Click the IF Magazine link to read the rest of the article
Saturday, December 16
The reason people like the American Film Institute keep calling ‘Battlestar Galactica’ one of the best shows on television is that it does something almost none of its competition is able to manage. When the show is at its best, it works on at least two levels. Every great episode has at least two separate conflicts working against and with each other. The first is action and story oriented, with the crew finding one of the keys to the next step in their journey to Earth, or in some cases simply fighting for survival. The second is personal, with personalities and relationships colliding, pulling people apart from each other or bringing them together in times of stress. What’s brilliant about this is that ‘BSG’ develops both conflicts all at once. Other science fiction shows like ‘Stagate SG-1’ might manage great action sequences, but if they bother with more personal conflict at all it’s only as a break in between bits of action. Other dramas may nail down personal conflict, but if they bother with action at all, it’s only as break from all the he-said-she-said soap opera they already have going on. ‘Battlestar’ does both in concert with one another and because of that it’s completely brilliant. Never has this proof of the show’s brilliance been more evident than it was this week, in the finale to the first half of season 3.
“They Eye Of Jupiter” begins where last week’s episode left off; with the fleet still in orbit around the “Algae Planet” collecting foodstuffs needed to save themselves for starvation. One small thing though: Kat seems all but forgotten. If there’s any criticism to be leveled at this installment, it’s that after making such a big deal over the sacrifice of a well known character last week, this week it’s as if she never existed. The crew has gotten over Kat pretty quickly, but with all the tension flying around in this episode let’s face it, there’s no room for grief.
Though the show picks up where last week left off, thematically this is more of a direct follow up to the episode before last, ‘Unfinished Business’. The Galactica’s young couples are all down on the surface supervising the civilian efforts at algae collection. Apollo and Starbuck made up two episodes ago, and apparently there’s something sexy about beating each other up because it’s only minutes before they start making out in a shuttle, with Dualla and Anders working unawares just outside the door. Riddled with guilt Apollo suggests they both get divorces. Starbuck, though she’s happy to cheat, refuses to ditch her husband. Apollo refuses to continue cheating on Dualla. They’re stuck.
Neither has much time to dwell on this difficult development in their affair, since right about then four Cylon base stars show up. On board the lead Cylon ship, Baltar is grappling with relationship problems of his own. The threesome between Baltar, Caprica, and D’Anna has apparently developed from a roll in the hay into a full blown relationship. Except D’Anna and Baltar have slipped off on their own to explore their grand destiny, while Caprica is left out in the cold.
Meanwhile on the planet, the Chief has stumbled on to an ancient temple containing the Eye of Jupiter, an artifact discussed in the prophecies and according to the texts, their next marker pointing to Earth. This is of course, what the Cylons are doing there. The coincidence of both groups converging on this same place at the same time is almost too much to dismiss, leaving Adama and Roslyn to again question their lack of faith in religious mumbo jumbo.
The Cylons are there for the Eye, and since Galactica stands between them and the planet, they send over a group to negotiate for it’s surrender. While there, one of the Boomers tells Galactica’s model the truth: Her baby is alive. They’ve bring Baltar with them, and it’s not long before the Brother Cavill is offering him up in exchange for the planet-bound artifact. Gaius is surprised. To him, the Galactica is still home, but one he can never go back to. He knows that if he’s lucky, this will be the last time he sees any of his own kind, and the thought of that, tears him up inside.
Adama throws the Cylons off his ship, threatening to nuke the entire planet rather than let them have it. The first half of the season ends in one of the most intense and incredibly complex standoffs seen in the series so far. Cylons are raiding Apollo’s camp on the ground below. Starbuck has been shot down by Cylon Centurions. Anders reveals that he knows what Apollo and Starbuck are up to, and ends up screaming at Apollo to send a rescue mission into the hills for his wife. Dualla is somewhere near Starbuck’s crash, scouting Cylons. The Chief is somewhere in the temple trying to come to grips with his dislike for religion while trying to figure out the puzzle of the Eye of Jupiter before they all get fracked. Baltar and D’Anna declare their love to Caprica only to ditcher and take off for the planet to meet what they think is their destiny. Boomer and Helo have just found out the truth about what Rosalyn did with their child. Adama has his nukes pointed at the planet prepared to launch and everything, and I mean everything, is about to go straight to hell.
See you on January 21st.
Friday, December 15
One of the central themes of "Battlestar Galactica," which has its midseason finale at 8 p.m. Friday on Sci Fi, is sacrifice. What are people willing to give up in order to survive, the series asks, and is it always worth it? Are people willing to die, or even kill their own kind, for the greater good?
This season, we've seen the Galactica's second in command, Saul Tigh, sacrifice his own wife on discovery of her treason with the Cylons, who are bent on subduing and destroying humanity. Other lives have been lost along the way, but in Friday's episode, Admiral Adama entertains the idea of a pretty stunning sacrifice. (Don't read further if you don't want to see spoilers for Friday's episode and beyond).
The Galactica and her rag-tag fleet find a planet that has a sacred relic, the Eye of Jupiter, that could tell the remnants of humanity how to find Earth. The catch is, there's a good chance the Cylons might locate the artifact first. The thought of the Cylons finding Earth is more than Adama can stand, and he considers nuking the planet -- despite what, or who, is at stake.
"Several of [Galactica's] people are down on the ground in `Eye of Jupiter' -- [Adama's son] Apollo, Starbuck, Dualla and Anders -- who all happen to have very conflicted relationships these days," executive producer Ron Moore said in a recent interview. "A lot of the drama down on the surface has to do with [the fact that], as they are forced to work and fight side by side, the Cylons try to make a play for the artifact."
Adama is determined that the Cylons should not "get the key to Earth," Moore said. "When faced with the idea that not only might he lose this battle but the Cylons might actually get to Earth . . . he's willing to sacrifice people as well," Moore says.
Friday's episode is the first half of a two-parter that concludes Jan. 21, when "Battlestar Galactica" returns and moves to Sundays. And speaking of sacrifice, Moore warns that when the show comes back in January, "there are more losses still to come."
"There's a pretty big loss coming midway through the second half of the season," Moore said. "You'll be pretty shocked about what happens to somebody."
That somebody, he hinted, would be a lead character. But wouldn't the death of a major character alter the nature of the show?
"It would," Moore replied. "And I'm not really saying that we're doing that. I'm just saying that there's a fairly significant loss that will happen" before the third season ends.
The next batch of episodes also "has a couple more stand-alone episodes that delve more into the civilian aspects of the fleet more than we've done in awhile," Moore adds. We'll find out about the five human-looking Cylon models that we haven't seen yet, the half-human, half-Cylon child Hera will come into play, and the wily Gaius Baltar will find a way to survive yet again. We'll even get a glimpse of Adama's ex-wife.
That all sounds quite intriguing, but once Moore mentioned the big "loss" that's coming, it was difficult to contemplate anything else.
Then again, nothing is certain in the world of "Battlestar Galactica." And sacrifice is part of the deal.
"There are things that you could do to the show that would fundamentally alter it," Moore said. "The question for us is, we want to play the loss and the mortality of all the characters without completely disrupting the fabric of the show, and that's sort of the challenge of it."
Season 3.0 of "Battlestar Galactica" ends tonight, and when season 3.5 begins next month it will be on a new night.
The show moves to Sundays on Jan. 21.
As has become common operating procedure for "Galactica," it's taking a midseason break after tonight's episode (7 and 9 p.m., Sci Fi Channel). So ... we're going to get a big cliffhanger!
There is, of course, continuing conflict between the humans and the Cylons. On the algae planet, the humans have found the Temple of Five. And, according to legend, that's the home of the Eye of Jupiter. And, according to legend, the Eye of Jupiter contains the key to finding the lost planet Earth.
But the Cylons have found out that the humans have found the Temple of Five. And they want the key to Earth themselves. Which sets up a cliffhanging conflict between humans and Cylons.
And that's not all. Baltar (James Callis) and D'Anna (Lucy Lawless) are stirring up trouble inside the Cylon fleet. And — gasp! — Sharon (Grace Park ) has discovered that the half-Cylon, half-human baby she gave birth to didn't die, as she was told.
It's great stuff.
"Battlestar Galactica" remains one of the best shows on TV. And — stop me if you've heard this before — it's not just for sci-fi geeks. This is great drama set against a sci-fi background, but it's by no means a special-effects show.
It's not unusual for TV critics to get review copies of episodes that aren't quite completed — that don't have the special effects yet. And that affects, oh, maybe a couple of minutes of a "Galactica" episode.
The unfortunate thing is that the ratings haven't been really good this season. Which is prompting the move to Sundays.
Hopefully, the move will work. There are few shows on any network that deserve an audience more than "Battlestar Galactica."
IN THE WAKE OF my most recent column gushing over the wonderful-ness of "Heroes," a bunch of readers want to know how they can catch up with the series.
OK, if you've never watched an episode, the Sci Fi Channel is repeating the pilot today at 5 p.m. (Sci Fi airs repeats every Friday at 5 p.m. On Dec. 22, it will air Episode 9, "Homecoming.")
And next month NBC will repeat five of the 11 episodes that have aired to date.
On Monday, Jan. 1, on Ch. 5, you can see Episode 5 ("Hiros") at 7 p.m.; Episode 6 ("Better Halves") at 8 p.m.; and Episode 7 ("Nothing to Hide") at 9 p.m.
On Monday, Jan. 8, on Ch. 5, you can see Episode 9 ("Homecoming") at 8 p.m.; and Episode 11 ("Fallout") at 9 p.m.
Or you can go on the Internet and see any or all of the 11 episodes at nbc.com.
If you haven't gotten hooked on "Heroes" yet, it's not too late!
Thursday, December 14
Now that Battlestar Galactica has won over gay sci-fi fans with its gender-blind universe, will the cult hit put gays in space? Jamie Bamber, one of the show’s stars, is ready.
Tight yellow tunic, broad chest, and a slightly manic, hungry look in his eye: There’s little argument that Star Trek’s Captain Kirk cut a dashing figure, at least by the TV standards of 1966. Yet despite Kirk’s legendary status as the most capable ladies’ man in space, adept at wooing and bedding both human and alien females, Battlestar Galactica’s resident sexpot, Jamie Bamber (Lee “Apollo” Adama), has already seen more bedspring action than Kirk got in the full run of his show.
The new, sexier incarnation of Battlestar began in 2003 when the Sci Fi Channel produced a miniseries “reimagining” the 1978-1980 series. The new show retains many of the same basic elements, most notably the plotline: After the 12 planets of a distant colony of humans are decimated by a race of cybernetic beings called Cylons, the few surviving humans set off into space searching for a lost mythic planet called Earth.
The show has been widely acclaimed as superior to the very popular original series, due in large part to its creators’ rejecting many of the well-worn sci-fi TV tropes made into virtual guiding principles of the genre by Star Trek. In addition to Battlestar’s other revolutionary elements—including handheld camera, bullets instead of energy beam weapons, and a primitive-sounding drum score rather than the more familiar orchestral bombast—the show also features some of the most appealing forms in outer space, including burgeoning lesbian icon Katee Sackhoff (“Starbuck”), hunky Tahmoh Penikett (“Helo”), and, of course, Bamber.
The Sci Fi Channel’s runaway hit is emblematic of a new trend in science fiction television toward more fully realized, complex characters, many of whom even have sex lives. And if the sexing of sci-fi TV is a trend, then gay fans are thanking their lucky stars for sexy Bamber, whose body-conscious tank tops and revealing sex scenes turn the more common objectification of sci-fi women (think Princess Leia in the golden bikini) on its ear. Bamber’s season 2 scene in a unisex locker room in which he wears only a towel (and not for long) was no less than a queer blogosphere sensation.
As hunky as Bamber is, he’s the show’s accidental heartthrob. During casting, the 5-foot-9 Bamber says, he was dwarfed by the competition: “There were several other hunks in the room that were a lot hunkier than me. They were huge! The overall average physical body type in Los Angeles is completely different [than] in the U.K. So I’m not used to being in a room with a bunch of guys that look like they play college football—and yet they were obviously good actors as well. They didn’t want the archetypal sort of jock hero. They wanted someone a bit more, I guess, cerebral.”
Battlestar executive producer and writer David Eick says he and director Michael Rymer decided against casting the beefcake actors vying for the role: “I just thought it was a mistake to go in that direction because it felt more traditional, more the archetype of the genre.” Eick initially thought of Bamber as “sort of a small, retreating, very nice English guy… That was before I saw how he looked on film. The camera really likes Jamie. He cuts the light, as they say, in a very arresting way, and I can certainly see why gay men and straight women find him attractive.”
Despite the fact that sci-fi TV has been an almost categorically hetero medium, depictions of worlds in which homophobia, racism, and sexism were artifacts of a less sophisticated era (ours) are appealing to anyone regularly on the wrong end of an epithet. Nevertheless, the genre has been tediously ham-fisted when it comes to depictions of romance. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s edict for all the spin-off shows was that in the future, human society would be more enlightened. While the concept was rosily utopian, it presented a dilemma for writers. “There was little opportunity for conflict between characters because it was written in stone that they all get along and are highly professional and much more evolved than we are,” notes Bryan Fuller, a gay former writer on the Star Trek series Deep Space Nine and Voyager. “With that came a sort of sexual sterility.”
“When you look at Battlestar Galactica, they’re fucking all the time—because they’re playing people,” says Fuller. “Every [Star Trek character] was this one-line description for a character, which really isn’t the most fertile ground to write from. The sexuality was always a little more removed.”
“Sexuality in the show is one of the ingredients that turns it from a kids’ show into more of an adult thing,” says Bamber. And we’re not talking hyperflowers and space chocolates here; there’s not much wooing going on. “There are people in very confined spaces that have to live in close proximity to one another. So it makes sense that sex is a much more aggressive, confined act. And this world is a kind of gender-blind world. Men and women are called ‘sir,’ there are coeducational facilities, the shower and everything, and they bunk and they sleep and live and eat and do everything together. In that regard, I guess what we’ve created is a world in which sex is not as much of a taboo as it is in our world.”
This genre has blazed trails before: The famous first televised interracial kiss was between Uhura and Kirk on Star Trek. The international cast was a veritable United Colors of Benetton, plus a Vulcan. Various Star Trek series created episodes that metaphorically dealt with sexism, racism, and even AIDS, yet they never once created a gay character of any significance.
For the most progressive and groundbreaking show in the genre, Battlestar’s lack of gay characters is acute. “Well, as far as you know you haven’t seen any gay characters,” says Eick, claiming that because the characters are still dealing with the annihilation of civilization, there’s not much room for gay story lines yet. “As we evolve through the series and get further away from that cataclysm, we may feel like it’s less of a stretch to start showing people getting involved with each other. Who’s to say who won’t turn out gay?”
Bamber champions the prospect: “There’s no reason, in a world that is gender-blind, on the Battlestars and across this fleet, that we haven’t had an overtly gay relationship come to fruition. It should be there, and it should be as unabashedly honest as the heterosexual relationships.”
While Battlestar may be late to the game in this respect (assuming the show’s creators do enter the game at all), others have already begun to take up the mantle of depicting characters more reflective of their queer audiences. NBC’s upcoming fall drama Heroes, created by Crossing Jordan exec producer Tim Kring, features a diverse international cast and depicts the fallout in ordinary people’s lives when, due to an evolutionary leap, they discover they have extraordinary unexplained abilities. Heroes will feature a gay character, according to Kring and Fuller, who is now writing for the show. In the pilot a popular high school cheerleader with superhuman invulnerability selects a loner from her class to divulge her secret to—though he’s not revealed as gay in that episode. Kring admits, “I’m feeling a little odd about it, because I literally haven’t even discussed it with the actor yet.”
On the network that brought us Will & Grace, there’s still resistance even to peripheral queer characters. Fuller says, “There was a moment on the set where [Kring] was with an NBC executive, who shall remain nameless, and the exec said, ‘Hmm, you need to watch [the cheerleader’s friend] because that character could be interpreted as gay.’ And Tim said, ‘Why do we need to watch that?’ ”
Kring hints that there may be queers in the second wave of rotating characters. “I am intrigued by a gay character front and center, and we are openly discussing it in the studio and in the writers’ room now,” says Kring, undaunted by network resistance. “It doesn’t scare me at all to do that, and it’s always been a battle with networks on that sort of thing. There’s a subversiveness that you’re forced to think about these things with. You try to come in through a side door.”
The queerest rebellion in sci-fi TV is doubtlessly the latest incarnation of the British classic Doctor Who, which recently aired its first season on the Sci Fi Channel, starring Christopher Eccleston and written by out Queer as Folk creator Russell T. Davies. The third season of the show is now in production in Wales.
“There’s very classically and traditionally a strong gay fan base for Doctor Who, ” Davies told The New York Times recently. In the first season of the new Who, the Doctor and his assistant, Rose (played by Billie Piper), join forces with Captain Jack Harkness, a 51st-century bisexual time traveler played by out actor John Barrowman. Handsome and debonair, and as comfortable with his clothes off as with them on, Jack is at ease seducing both male and female characters.
As a sort of omnisexual James Bond of the future, Captain Jack is getting his own spin-off series created by Davies. Called Torchwood (an anagram of “Doctor Who”), the show is billed as sci-fi for adults, and it promises not to shy away from the sex as Jack and company explore alien phenomena in modern-day Britain.
On this side of the pond, look for a Battlestar prequel series called Caprica, now in the early stages of development. Though it takes place on a distant planet, Eick says it will be “more like Dallas than it is like Star Trek.” And in Battlestar’s upcoming third season, Xena star Lucy Lawless, a bona fide lesbian icon, returns as a Cylon for 10 episodes.
Jamie Bamber’s character, who begins the season married and 30 pounds heavier (thanks to prosthetic makeup), will no doubt return to his fighting form in no time. But Eick issues a warning: “It is a war show first and foremost. The audience should never get too attached to any single character because you never know when they may not be around anymore.”
This is the third part of a three part Q&A with Luciana Carro, the actress who portrays Lt. Louanne 'Kat' Katraine in Battlestar Galactica. The questions come directly from Luciana's fans, they were sent to her and she kindly took time out of her schedule to answer them. The staff of Galactica BS would like to thank Luciana and her agent Adam Levine, without who's help this would not have happened.
15. In "Thirst", the fifth episode of "Smallville's" fifth season, your character Kayrin has some English lines, but also one line in Italian or Spanish. Unfortunately, none of the usually reliable transcribers got it. Would you please solve this mystery?
You know, I never saw that episode. I think basically I was calling her a drunken idiot in Italian.
16. I'm told the Al Pacino movies "Casino" and "Godfather" rank among your favorites. Is there a connection to your role on Pacino's "Two for the Money"? I mean, did you become an Al Pacino fan after that film or did you specifically ask your agent to search for a role in a production featuring Pacino?
There is no connection. It was sheer luck that I got to work with an actor whose work I admire so much. A dream come true. I have always been a huge Pacino fan and have loved every one of his movies.
17. When I read your interview in David Bassom's official companion to the second season of "Battlestar Galactica", I was surprised to learn that you auditioned with the help of your Xbox joystick. Funny story, btw!
Oh, the question. Right.
Well, would you please tell us what kind of games you play? Do you invite other people for gaming sessions?
Oh my gosh! That’s funny! I don’t play games. The reason I had a XBOX was because my DVD player had broken. I was pretty broke so a friend of mine lent me his XBOX so I could watch movies. Two weeks later I bought myself a new DVD player. Thanks Battlestar!!
18. Which do you find more satisfying, modeling or acting?
LOL. Oh you’re talking about the Dorinha photo shoot. I really wouldn’t call myself a model although modeling is a lot of fun. Actually Dorinha, the designer for Dorhina Jeans, is a very close friend of mine. I met her on the set of White Chicks. Her clothing line is really popular across Canada. They are pretty much all I wear! She asked me if Id be interested in doing some modeling for her. To answer your question acting is my passion.
19. How do you rank you Battlestar Galactica experience with your other projects? I know you have pushed away some other projects because of your commitment to BSG. How many episodes will you be in Season 3 and which one do you like the best so far?
Ya its true I have had to turn down a considerable amount of projects this year because they have conflicted with my BSG shooting schedule but I don’t regret it at all. I love the show I’m on. I love all the people that are associated with BSG.
I had to turn down something like 2 or 3 BSG episodes in season 2 because it conflicted with my Dr. Dolittle 3 shooting schedule. I was so heart broken. Than they offered me the Final Cut episode and when I read the script I told my agent “YOU GOTTA MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!” And she did. Dolittle gave me one day off. I shot all my scenes in Final Cut in one day. That day was pretty intense let me tell u! But it was worth it.
20. What was the most remarkable encounter with a fan of yours you had so far? I know you've been to VCON 30 together with two other great BSG ladies, Jen Halley and Leah Cairns. Can you tell us about this experience?
Ooooh yes VCON. That was my first convention. Actually it’s the only convention that I’ve been to. I was sooooo nervous! It was a great learning experience though. I had a lot of fun! Gave me a chance to meet and talk to the fans of the show. What’s really remarkable to me is the amount of Kat fans out there! This show has such a strong fan base. It’s amazing but not surprising.
Some of my fans create these really cool cartoons of my characters and these cool banners and websites. They blow my mind!
I’ve been receiving a ton of fan mail; I do read all of it.
I get stopped in the airport a lot. The custom and immigration officials are big fans. They always want autographed photos and spoilers! Now when I travel I make sure to bring some autographed pictures. It makes them happy.
21. Would you attend other conventions?
Yes I would love to. There is nothing that I would love more than to meet my fans in person.
22. I've seen you on "Everwood". What was it like to join a cast when every one else is pretty much occupied with wrapping up? What can you tell us about your time on the set?
I got hired on the show with the intention of being Ephram’s (Gregory Smith) new love interest. I was hoping the series would get picked up for another season but WB decided to go with 7th Heaven instead. We actually shot two different ending for the season finale. One if we got picked up for season 5 and another if we didn’t. Well unfortunately we didn’t get picked up so Ephram got back together with Amy. BOOO!! Working on Everwood was a great experience! I had so much fun. It was really refreshing for me to play a character like Stephanie. What I loved most about playing her was that she was a lovable character. She was cool and free of bullshit.
ABC's hit SF series Lost got two 2007 nominations for Writers Guild of America television awards, and SCI FI Channel's Battlestar Galactica received one.
Lost received a nomination for best dramatic series, and the episode "Two for the Road," written by Elizabeth Sarnoff and Christina M. Kim, received a separate nomination for episodic drama. Lost is written by JJ Abrams, Monica Owusu-Breen, Carlton Cuse, Leonard Dick, Drew Goddard, Javier Grillo-Marxauch, Adam Horowitz, Dawn Lambersten Kelly, Christina Kim, Edward Kitsis, Damon Lindelof, Steven Maeda, Jeff Pinkner, Matt Ragghianti, Elizabeth Sarnoff and Alison Schapker.
The two-part Battlestar Galactica episode "Occupation/Precipice," written by Ronald D. Moore, got a nod for best episodic drama.
NBC's Heroes, meanwhile, received a nomination for best new series for its writing staff, which includes Jesse Alexander, Adam Armus, Natalie Chaidez, Aron Eli Coleite, Kay Foster, Bryan Fuller, Michael J. Green, Tim Kring, Jeph Loeb and Joe Pokaski.
Among the other nominations, "The End of the Whole Mess," an episode of TNT's Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King limited series, got a nod for best episodic drama; the teleplay was by Lawrence D. Cohen, based on the short story by King.
Wednesday, December 13
One of the central themes of “Battlestar Galactica,” which has its mid-season finale at 8 p.m. Friday on Sci Fi, is sacrifice. What are people willing to give up in order to survive, the series asks, and is it always worth it? Are people willing to die, or even kill their own kind, for the greater good?
This season, we’ve seen the Galactica’s second in command, Saul Tigh, sacrifice his own wife on discovery of her treason with the Cylons, who are bent on subduing and destroying humanity. Other lives have been lost along the way, but in Friday’s episode, Admiral Adama entertains the idea of a pretty stunning sacrifice.
(Don’t read further if you don’t want to see spoilers for Friday’s episode and beyond).
The Galactica and her rag-tag fleet find a planet that has a sacred relic, the Eye of Jupiter, that could tell the remnants of humanity how to find Earth. The catch is, there’s a good chance the Cylons might locate the artifact first. The thought of the Cylons finding Earth is more than Adama can stand, and he considers nuking the planet - despite what, or who, is at stake.
“Several of [Galactica’s] people are down on the ground in `Eye of Jupiter’ - [Adama’s son] Apollo, Starbuck, Dualla and Anders - who all happen to have very conflicted relationships these days,” executive producer Ron Moore said in a recent interview. “A lot of the drama down on the surface has to do with [the fact that], as they are forced to work and fight side by side, the Cylons try to make a play for the artifact.”
Adama is determined that the Cylons should not “get the key to Earth,” Moore said. “When faced with the idea that not only might he lose this battle but the Cylons might actually get to Earth… he’s willing to sacrifice people as well,” Moore says.
Friday’s episode is the first half of a two-parter that concludes Jan. 21, when “Battlestar Galactica” returns and moves to Sundays. And speaking of sacrifice, Moore warns that when the show comes back in January, “there are more losses still to come.”
“There’s a pretty big loss coming midway through the second half of the season,” Moore said. “You’ll be pretty shocked about what happens to somebody.”
That somebody, he hinted, would be a lead character. But wouldn’t the death of a major character alter the nature of the show?
“It would,” Moore replied. “And I’m not really saying that we’re doing that. I’m just saying that there’s a fairly significant loss that will happen” before the third season ends.
The next batch of episodes also “has a couple more stand-alone episodes that delve more into the civilian aspects of the fleet more than we’ve done in awhile,” Moore adds. We’ll find out about the five human-looking Cylon models that we haven’t seen yet, the half-human, half-Cylon child Hera will come into play, and the wily Gaius Baltar will find a way to survive yet again. We’ll even get a glimpse of Adama’s ex-wife.
That all sounds quite intriguing, but once Moore mentioned the big “loss” that’s coming, it was difficult to contemplate anything else. Then again, nothing is certain in the world of “Battlestar Galactica.” And sacrifice is part of the deal.
“There are things that you could do to the show that would fundamentally alter it,” Moore said. “The question for us is, we want to play the loss and the mortality of all the characters without completely disrupting the fabric of the show, and that’s sort of the challenge of it.”
The following is a transcript of my Tuesday interview with Ron Moore. We began by talking about "Eye of Jupiter," the episode that airs Friday, Dec. 14.
The situation at the algae planet, with the [artifact named the] Eye of Jupiter in play, is it a do or die moment with the Cylons? Is someone going to lose that confrontation, and lose badly?
“Have you seen ‘Eye of Jupiter’?”
I have not. I’m going by the episode summary the network sent out.
“I don’t know that I would say it’s do or die. Both sides have arrived at the same planet, as it turns out, [and it emerges that] it’s for different reasons. Galactica ends up there because they were looking for foodstuffs in Episode 9, and unbeknownst to them, the Cylons are heading to the same planet.
“And the Cylons actually know that there’s an artifact on the planet that helps point the way to Earth. They get there and assume that Galactica has already taken it, and that sparks the standoff. Galactica and company realize, ‘Gee, there’s something on this planet. We better find it in case the Cylons want it.’ And then there’s a standoff.
“Galactica is in a position to destroy [the Eye] if they’ve got it, the Cylons don’t want it destroyed. The terms of the standoff sort of bridge the two episodes. ['Eye of Jupiter' is Part 1 of a two-parter.]
“Several of our people are down on the ground in ‘Eye of Jupiter,’ Apollo, Starbuck, Dualla and Anders, who all happen to have very conflicted relationships these days. A lot of the drama down on the surface has to do with [the fact that], as they are forced to work and fight side by side, the Cylons try to make a play for the artifact.
“The second part of that episode [which airs Jan. 21] essentially resolves those plotlines, and also with the added benefit of ending the Cylon base ship story that we’ve been following for quite a while, and moving closer to a revelation of the final five Cylons models [that viewers have not seen] are. And Baltar ends up back on Galactica by the end of ‘Rapture,’ which is the second part [of the two-parter, which airs Jan. 21].”
That guy. You just can’t kill him.
“You can’t kill him. [laughs] What are you gonna do?”
This is just a shot in the dark, but if the Cylons have Sharon’s baby, Hera, and if the Galactica fleet had the Eye of Jupiter, could there some kind of trade?
“No. It doesn’t actually work like that. There’s not an explicit trade like that. [But] the baby also ends up back on Galactica by the end [of the two-parter].”
Presumably Sharon is mad that they hid Hera from her.
“Yeah, Sharon is not happy. This week is when she finds out for the first time that the baby’s even alive.”
And wasn’t it Adama and Roslin that made that call, to hide Hera?
“It was really just Roslin. Adama doesn’t even know.”
That’s right, sorry.
“Yeah, it was just Roslin and Cottle that knew.”
Does Sharon think that Adama was complicit in hiding Hera, or does she find out he was not?
“He goes and he tells her. In [‘Eye of Jupiter’], as soon as Adama finds out the truth, he immediately goes and tells Sharon.”
Is he mad as well that the baby was hidden, or does he think, “Well, that is what had to be done”?
“We play a lot of his reaction off camera. He actually reacts [as if to say], ‘I can’t believe this. Now I gotta deal with this crap.’ Roslin tries to explain and he basically gets up and walks out on her.”
That’s one character who has really surprised me. I’m not even sure it’s accurate to say she’s done a 180 on a lot of her former beliefs. I mean, in one episode, she’s advocating genocide of the Cylons, and she’s pretty calm about it.
“Yeah, it seems to me that she’s been on a fairly straight trajectory, in a lot of ways, since she ascended to the presidency. I had always intended that the character, with the weight, literally, of the human race on her shoulders, would be forced into making harsher and harsher decisions because of that.
“And it would get to a point where, yeah, the enemies of mankind are chasing them eternally and seem to be implacable and are bent on their destruction. And if she suddenly had a weapon in her hands that would wipe them out as a race, she would do it.”
It’s just such a change from who this character was in the miniseries and in much of the first season. She has changed a lot.
“She has. I think that’s one of the interesting things about it, to see how that character would evolved, and what it would do to a person in that situation. What happens to someone who sits in that chair and deal with things on that kind of cosmic level?”
And the line that you drew in the sand maybe isn’t there any more, or because your perspective is so skewed by the survival factor, you just don’t see it any more.
“Yeah, that’s very true. We talk about that internally a lot. I think the Laura Roslin of the miniseries would be shocked by the idea of where she ended up. In a lot of ways it’s easy to make these kind of judgments, ‘Oh, that’s clearly wrong and that’s immoral and you should never do that,’ until you’re the one in the hot seat, and faced with that scenario. And you’re thinking about what it means if you’re wrong.”
Right. Because, from her perspective, there’s no plan B. Plan B is that humanity is finished.
So based on the episode summary I have, is it the case that Adama is essentially willing to nuke some of his own people down on the planet to make sure the Cylons don’t get the Eye of Jupiter?
“It gets to a place where [he’s not going to let] the Cylons get the key to Earth. That puts him in an analogous position to Laura Roslin – that when faced with idea that not only might he lose this battle but the Cylons might actually get to Earth, and do whatever they’re going to do when they get there – he’s willing to sacrifice people as well.”
And the surviving humans, in the course of this season, have had to sacrifice people already. As you said there would be, there have been deaths.
Michael Hogan has been blowing me away with his work [as Saul Tigh, who killed his wife for passing secrets to the Cylons].
“Oh yeah. You know, Michael Hogan is one of the unsung heroes of the cast. And Michael, bless his soul, doesn’t really like to do publicity. As a consequence, Michael doesn’t get a lot of play out there.”
He got a mention on Entertainment Weekly’s Must List recently.
“Oh really? Oh good. Well he absolutely deserves it, he deserves the recognition. He’s a mainstay of the show. And that character, he’s just fearless in what he’s willing to do with that character.”
Yeah. He’s willing to show the man at his absolute worst. It’s wrenching stuff.
“It’s wrenching. He’s really emotionally naked, that character. The death of his wife really shattered him. Michael really played that to the hilt.”
What I’m really seeing with him, in microcosm sort of, is one of the themes of the show -- what are people willing to give up to survive? And is it worth it to sacrifice that -- something incredibly precious to you -- or do you lose part of your soul?
“Yeah. I think you’re right.”
We talked a couple months ago about losing characters this season, and we lost Kat, we lost Ellen Tigh. Is there going to be more death in the second half of the season?
“Yeah. There are more losses still to come. There’s a pretty big loss coming midway through the second half of the season.”
Is it a major, lead character?
“It’s somebody -- you’ll be pretty shocked about what happens to somebody.”
Uh oh. I’m nervous now.
“You should be.”
Don’t kill Adama. Any of the Adamas.
“You’re begging now?”
Yes. [laughs] Well, you’ve thrown me now. I honestly can’t picture the cast without one of the lead characters. All of the characters are in this closely woven web, and to take one out would really alter the dynamic.
“It’s true. There are things that you could do to the show that would fundamentally alter it. The question for us a lot is, we want to play the loss and the mortality of all the characters in the show without completely disrupting the fabric of the show, and that’s sort of the challenge of it.”
But getting rid of a major, lead character will change the show, don’t you think?
“It would. And I’m not really saying that we’re doing that. I’m just saying that there’s a fairly significant loss that will happen midway [through the second half of Season 3].”
Well, all the “Battlestar” sites are going to light up over that statement.
“Something’s going to happen. I don’t want to oversell it because I don’t want people to see it and then go, ‘Oh, well, that’s not what we were expecting. We were expecting something even bigger.’ But there’s definitely a pivotal episode coming up.”
A lot of the first half of the third season has been kind of character studies, like ‘Unfinished Business.’
“I love that episode, it’s one of my favorites of the series. It’s in the top tier of everything we’ve done.”
Absolutely. And there weren’t any Cylons in it. But we’ve had the history of these people and how they got to this place, and that’s what made it so rich.
“Yes, there’s a lot of texture and emotion and feeling, and a lot of had to be informed by back story of how you knew these characters, and how we’ve seen these characters for a couple of years now and what all these little tiny moments meant.”
I don’t know that I need it spelled out for me, but I’ll just go ahead and ask -- are Adama and Roslin in a relationship? A romantic relationship, in an undefinable relationship?
“I think it’s sort of an undefinable relationship. There’s something there, hovering around the edges. But I think they’re both, in a way, they’re both sort of trapped by the positions they have. And unwilling to sort of complicate their professional roles by a layer of something personal.
"But, that said, in the missing year [on New Caprica], when we flashed back, we saw, briefly, they at least looked at each other and thought about it. Once she wasn’t president, once he was just the captain of the ship, punching holes in the air, day after day, with nothing really to do, they let their guard down. They can hang out and smoke pot together. They can be sort of intimate and relaxed.
“But it seems that even in that circumstance, they did not choose to pursue a romantic relationship. But it was at least around in the ether. And I think probably it was in the ether for both of them all the time. Each looks at the other as the only logical person that they sort of have, on an emotional, personal level, as a potential candidate for one another. Given the parameters of humanity, who else do they really have?
“So I think there’s a sense of, you can’t imagine either one starting to date someone new, and yet there is no formal or informal understanding between the two of them that there is a relationship. It’s definitely something that hovers more in the margins than in the text.
“And a lot of it quite frankly is informed by the performances, especially the way Eddie [Edward James Olmos, who plays Admiral Adama] and Mary [Mary McDonnell, who plays President Laura Roslin] play it. There was the episode we did last season, when she was still dying of cancer and she got up and he just kissed her, impulsively, he ad-libbed it. And her reaction was in character, but also ad-libbed. And we kept it in the show, and just said, that’s who they are and we continue to find that the way they deal with each other as actors on set, that’s just the way they play the characters.”
Is Lee still with Dualla? Does she know the extent of what went on between Lee and Kara? Is she going to find out?
“We actually played that a lot of different ways in various drafts. I think where it ultimately shakes out is that Dualla seems to be nobody’s fool, and kind of knows something and has decided not to know too much. [She’s] sort of building a resentment in her heart, but at the same time, [she] knew what she was getting when she married Lee. She knew how much Kara meant to him, whether he said it out loud or not, she sort of always thought she was on a bit of borrowed time in the relationship and chose to accept it anyway.”
But it seems to me, it could be a situation where she could walk away, and let him work out whatever he needs to with Kara.
“There was a big speech for her that got cut from ‘Unfinished Business.’ She and Lee were in the Raptor, on the way back to Galactica, after Starbuck had jilted him and married Anders and all that.
“He impulsively asked her to marry him, and she had this lovely speech about the fact that she just knew that eventually Kara Thrace was coming back into his life, but they’re all on borrowed time -- she was going to be echoing what Laura said in the same episode, ‘Who knows what tomorrow’s going to bring.’ But right now, today, she wanted to marry him, she’ll accept [the proposal]. She’ll take whatever she can get, because everything has been taken from these people so many times, they have to grab on to what they have in the moment.”
It sounds like a big bunch of self-justification to me.
“And it is. [laughs] It absolutely is.”
Just on a different topic, do we find out more in “Eye of Jupiter” about the Temple of the Five?
“Yeah, that starts to come up in these two episodes.”
Are we meant to understand that the Temple of Five has something to do with the five Cylon models we have not seen?
“Essentially the Temple of the Five is directly connected to the five Cylons we have not seen.”
Just looking generally at the second half of the season, if you had to sum it up, where would you say is it going?
“Well, the second half of the season, it has a couple more standalone episodes that delve more into the civilian aspects of the fleet more than we’ve done in a while, which is kind of nice. We kind of get away from the larger, overarching mythology for a couple of episodes and do a little less serialization in episodes 14, 15 and 16, make them a little more standalone and concentrate on particular characters a little more.
“And yeah, we’ll do some stuff with the civilians, sort of their culture and society. We get to meet Adama’s dead wife and sort of understand who she was, in not quite a flashback kind of episode but one that deals with who Lee and Zack’s mother was, and why did she and Adama divorce and why does he still have baggage about that in his life today.
“We have an episode about [Chief] Tyrol and the aftermath of the union experience on New Caprica and what that means today in terms of labor and class. There’s an episode that deals with Helo and racial and cultural tensions within the fleet.
“And then the episodes kind of crescendo into the end. There’s almost like a three-part [ending], it’s not formally a three-part ending to the season, but it’s kind of a three-parter. It’s formally a two-parter. But it crescendos into the culmination of a lot of the plot threads we’ve set up since the beginning of the season -- the Baltar line, the final five Cylons line, stuff with Lee and his father and the family Adama and who they’re all about, things with Hera.
“The finale this season is sort of more interconnected with the entire season than last year’s was, or even before. This finale brings together a lot of plot threads and it has startling revelations.”
And I assume you’ll leave us on a major cliffhanger.
Well, then you need a fourth season.
“Yes, I would really like a fourth season of the show.”
When’s that going to be decided?
“We’re moving to Sunday nights [as of Jan. 21], which is a major thing that we want everyone to know, and they’re going to see how the ratings are on Sunday night. We’re not expecting [to find out about] a pickup [for a fourth season] until late January or beginning of February, somewhere in that ballpark.”
It’s been an interesting roller coaster ride for Jamie Bamber who plays the role of Lee “Apollo” Adama on SCI FI Channel’s hit series BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. First he had to grasp and grapple with the familial relationship between his character and Edward James Olmos’ Admiral Adama, then came the on again off again love affair with Katee Sackhoff’s Starbuck character. Following that there has been a marriage, fat suit, and a lost command for Lee Adama, but Bamber takes all of these changes in stride and tells iF MAGAZINE how he looks forward to the more challenging things the series has given him to do over the years and in up coming episodes.
iF MAGAZINE: What have been the most interesting things they have thrown at you over three seasons?
JAMIE BAMBER: My character has always been about his relationships. I supposed the most interesting things have been the characters that he has had the relationships with; the arguments are similar and yet they keep being fresh and realistic and they cease to boor. A relationship between a father and son in real life tends to re-iterate itself constantly because all such relationships are formed during a childhood of some sort and your stuck in a repeating circle. The interesting thing for me is that the stakes don’t diminish and we don’t get bored with it. Every season there is something new to play with, especially with Starbuck and Adama, and this season has raised the bar. I was talking to Grace Park yesterday and she asked, “ How can you do the same thing every year? You almost get with this girl [Starbuck] and you almost get on with your dad and then you break up.” [Laughs] That’s kind of true and I find that informative about life. I think that’s very much how we are. I think it’s very hard for people to change and to move on in a relationship whether it’s with your dad or would-be mistress/lover/whatever she is.
Click the IF Magazine link to see the rest of the article
TV Guide announced today that the company was joining forces with SCI FI Channel and Landmark Theatres to host a free, exclusive in-theater screening of the mid-season finale of the hit series Battlestar Galactica. The program will be shown on Thursday, December 14, 2006 in Landmark Theatres in Los Angeles, New York City, Dallas, Chicago, Atlanta and St. Louis.
TV Guide is promoting these special multi-city screenings across all of its platforms including, TV Guide magazine, TV Guide Channel and TVGuide.com. SCI FI is also promoting the screening on its Web site and in its weekly newsletter. Fans of the program interested in signing up to attend Thursday's event can get further information at www.tvguide.com/screening.
"We're excited about this screening which will turn the mid-season finale of Battlestar Galactica into a true community event," said Rich Battista, chief executive officer at TV Guide. "Given the popularity of so many of today's television programs, we believe there is great potential for us to host future events like this where we can help build buzz for a show and create interesting sponsorship opportunities, both for TV Guide and for our partners."
"We are delighted to be working with TV Guide and SCI FI Channel on the screening of Battlestar Galactica in our Landmark Theatres," said Mark Cuban, owner of Landmark Theatres. "Our theatres provide an ideal community venue for audiences and fan groups to share in a unique TV viewing experience."
"We are proud to partner with TV Guide and Landmark Theatres on this unique consumer outreach," said Dave Howe, executive vice president and general manager of SCI FI Channel. "Battlestar Galactica's intensive drama, award-winning special effects and overwhelming critical acclaim will make SCI FI's popular series an incredibly thrilling big screen experience."
Runnemede, NJ –DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT released images and information today regarding the final issue of the all-new mini-series BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: ZAREK. The fourth issue of Battlestar Galactica: Zarek features powerful covers by the Stjepan Sejic and Adriano Batista!
Dynamite’s Zarek mini-series is receiving national attention with a feature in the December 11th cover dated issue of TV Guide. Also the third issue of Dynamite’s regular ongoing Battlestar series sold out at Diamond Comic Distributors.
About his work the mini-series series and Dynamite’s Battlestar series, Zarek writer Brandon Jerwa exclaimed: "I think one of the best things about the Dynamite Galactica initiative is the way that all of these books will ultimately come together to tell one gigantic story, but each series still retains its individuality. As for 'Zarek' in specific, I've had a great time; the story is strangely personal to me and I'm really happy with the end result. I've been pretty careful to design the story in such a way as to reward long-time fans, but it's also the kind of book that someone who's never even seen the TV show can read, understand and hopefully appreciate."
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?
NEW BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: ZAREK #4-(DEC06 3484) WRITTEN BY BRANDON JERWA, ART BY ADRIANO BATISTA (w/ARIES MENDOSA); COVER ART BY: STJEPAN SEJIC (50%) AND ADRIANO BATISTA (50%)!
From Dynamite Entertainment comes a new Battlestar Galactica mini-series starring Tom Zarek, the loyalty-testing revolutionary played by original series actor Richard Hatch. Our four issue mini-series concludes here as we take Tom Zarek up to the events of the New Battlestar Galactica episode "Bastille Day"!
As the colonies are thrown into turmoil, the Cylon attack allows Zarek and the others a chance to escape from their captors. After using his fighting skills to rally guards and prisoners alike to repel a Cylon attack on the Astral Queen, Zarek discovers that his beloved Sagittaron is never going to be his home again... All the New Battlestar action and intrigue is brought to you by writer Brandon Jerwa and artist Adriano Batista!
Former LOST Supervising Producer and Lead Writer Javi Grillo-Marxuach is venturing into Cylon territory with his new project: Battlestar Galactica Apocalypse.
For 'Apocalypse' Grillo-Marxuach has left the tv set for the drawing room, creating a four-part miniseries for Dyanamite entertainment that resurrects the old-school Battlestar Galactica characters to face a contemporary threat.
As the Cylon Basestar crashes into an ocean-covered world, Adama and Starbuck discover a bizarre creature that appears to be a Cylon Centurion engulfed by diseased flesh. The Cylons are sick and the apocalypse has begun!
Battlestar Galactica Apocalypse debuts in February.
The possible discovery of the Eye of Jupiter on the algae planet leads to a deadly stand-off, as the Cylons and humans risk all for a chance to find the way to Earth.
EPISODE 10, THE EYE OF JUPITER, written by Mark Verheiden and directed by Michael Rymer airs this Friday, December 15th on the SCI FI Channel.
You will not want to miss this episode. Is the way to Earth found? If so, by whom, the Cylons or the humans. To what extreme measures are both parties willing to go to secure that pathway?
Is the secret fate of Sharon and Helo’s baby as secure as Laura and Adama had hoped? What ace-in-the-hole are the Cylon Seven willing to play to ensure their success?
Just where is Lee and Kara heading? And finally, will the budding relationship between D’Anna and Balatar and the mysterious connection he has with the Oracle cause dissension within the loosening bonds of the Cylon 7?
The only way to know for sure is to tune in to “The Eye of Jupiter” on Battlestar Galactica this Friday, only on the SCI FI Channel.
Tuesday, December 12
Before you get all... angry... that I didn't include your favorite character on this list, know that this is my list of favorite television characters. You can make your list in the comments.
When I look back at the 2006 television landscape, a few key characters come to mind. This year, I discovered some new characters that have my adoration and I've stuck close to the ones I loved from 2005. Here's my list of the Best Characters of 2006:
5. Michael Scott, The Office While it's no secret that I adore a certain member of the supporting cast, the best character on The Office is definitely Michael. He sucks the fun out of any situation by making everybody uncomfortable, but at least you know what his true colors are. He tries, and does a poor job of covering up his non-P.C. thoughts such as, "How queer! (sees camera) Queer Eye for the Straight Guy-- that's a great show!" He just tries so hard to get people to like him and to be a buddy rather than a boss that you can't help but love/pity the guy. And Jim's right, Michael is the most loyal guy at Dunder Mifflin.
4. Stephen Colbert , The Colbert Report Yes, Stephen Colbert is a character. He uses his real name but on television, he plays a pompous, right-wing nut job. 2006 was really Colbert's year. Fans of The Daily Show all knew how awesome he was after watching his deadpan interviews with clueless subjects... but it took a little thing called the White House Correspondents' Association dinner for the rest of America to understand his awesome-ness. While I am often negligent in my duties to watch him every night, I still adore the Colbert and what he has done for sarcasm.
3. Dep. Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, The Closer The awful JC Penney wardrobe. The sweets. The drawling "Thank You" all make for a terrific character. Brenda doesn't exactly have her personal life together, but damn(!) she's good at getting confessions. This summer, season two for The Closer, showed us that Brenda strives to have traditional, Southern values. She went to great lengths to hide from her mother the fact that she is living with a man outside of wedlock (gasp!). I look forward to the personal challenges that lie ahead for Brenda during season three.
2. Tommy Gavin, Rescue Me How can I like a character who raped his wife?!? I keep asking myself that question. I realize that I don't necessarily like Tommy, so much as I appreciate him. He is one hell of a complex character. He's a bad dude with a gigantic chip on his shoulder and overblown sense of entitlement. He's seriously screwed up because of the job (firefighting) and because of September 11, 2001. He's an alcoholic with anger issues, who hallucinates, and treats women like dirt. Why do I like this guy? I guess it's because there's non-stop tragedy in his life and it's intriguing to watch him try to survive it all.
1. Kara "Starbuck" Thrace, Battlestar Galactica This woman rocks. Starbuck is the best female character on television right now. She drinks. She smokes (not so much anymore). She has a terrible knack for self destruction. And she is tough as hell. She is so frakkin' flawed. A few episodes ago, she was an equal match to Apollo in the boxing ring and she laid some other loser flat in the first round. Her mouth runs unchecked and it gets her into a lot of trouble, but she has the respect of everyone on Galactica because they know she's not all talk. Her scenes with the Cylon on New Caprica were astounding. She just kept killing the guy- she wouldn't give up! And, of course, every so often we get a glimpse of her softer side just to remind us that Kara is human. I both fear her and admire her at the same time.
*Honorable mentions: Randy on My Name is Earl, Jordan on Scrubs, Marin Frist on Men in Trees, Barney on How I Met Your Mother.