Saturday, June 28

'Battlestar Galactica' Cast and Crew Move On to New Pilots

Source: BuddyTV
Though we won't see the remainder of Battlestar Galactica's fourth season until early 2009, the cast and crew are currently wrapping up the final episodes of the series. With BSG soon to be a thing of the past, it's time for the ridiculously talented folks behind the show to move on to new projects. We've already announced that Tahmoh Penikett (Lt. 'Helo' Agathon) will be starring in Joss Whedon's Dollhouse next year, while Katee Sackhoff (Kara Thrace) is moving on to a multi-episode stint on Nip/Tuck. Now we have word on a few new pilots going into production that will feature the work of other Battlestar Galactica actors and producers.

The most exciting news involves an upcoming FOX pilot from BSG executive producer Ronald D. Moore. The mastermind behind Battlestar Galactica and its upcoming Caprica spin-off is currently casting his new series, Virtuality. The show takes place aboard a spaceship that's on a ten year journey to explore a distant solar system. To help the crew members endure the long trip and keep their minds occupied, NASA equips the ship with advanced virtual reality modules, allowing them to assume adventurous identities and go to any place they want. The plan works until a mysterious "bug" is found in the system that puts everyone in peril.

With filming on the two-hour pilot set to begin soon, Moore has started putting his cast together. According to The Hollywood Reporter, British actor James D'Arcy has signed on as the psych officer in charge of producing the virtual reality shows. Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who viewers might remember as the lead in FOX's short-lived New Amsterdam, has also joined the series as mission commander Frank Pike. The pilot episode, written by Moore and fellow BSG scribe Michael Taylor, is set to be directed by Peter Berg. Berg is the creator of NBC's Friday Night Lights, and has also directed such films as The Kingdom and Hancock.

Another Battlestar Galactica executive producer, David Eick, will be taking over showrunning duties for the new NBC series The Philanthropist. The show revolves around a billionaire who uses his wealth to help the less fortunate. Let's hope that the series turns out better than the reboot of Bionic Woman, which Eick also oversaw.

Fans of the seductive Number Six can soon see actress Tricia Helfer when she begins a recurring stint on season 2 of USA's Burn Notice, which kicks off July 10. She's also found a permanent gig as the female lead in ABC's Inseparable, a new drama pilot from Shaun Cassidy (Invasion). The series is about a partially paralyzed forensic psychiatrist, played by Lloyd Owen of Viva Laughlin infamy, who has a Jekyll-and-Hyde-type split personality. His other personality just happens to be a master criminal. Helfer will play a shrink who evaluates suspects for the police, which means she'll likely catch on to the psychiatrist's strange extra-curricular activities.

There's no word yet on when any of these pilots will air, though they'll likely arrive sometime in 2009. Until then, I suggest breaking out the Battlestar Galactica DVD sets and having a marathon.

Thursday, June 26

Tricia Helfer is Inseparable from our televisions

Source: TV Squad

Remember when FOX signed that holding deal for Battlestar Galactica's Tricia Helfer? Well, now they're using it. The former model, best known as every fanboy's synthetic fantasy via her portrayal of sympathetic Cylon "Number 6" on Sci Fi's reimagined Battlestar Galactica, Tricia Helfer has been cast in FOX's Inseparable. As it turns out she won't be playing a hot figment of anyone's imagination, though that would be a good use for the title.

Instead, she's been cast as a psychiatrist who works for the police department. How that will relate to Lloyd Owen's split personality hero/villain lead hasn't been made clear, but I'm guessing she'll be his psychiatrist. Would she find it weird that all of her male patients would only want to talk about their sexual fantasies with her?

"Here let me show you what I'm talking about, doctor. Why don't you get down on your knees and face me ... What do you mean that wouldn't be professional? I want to know what these yearnings mean. And can you undo that top button."

Helfer has shown surprising acting range on BSG, so I expect she could really add some depth to the role. If Owen plays his role anything like James Nesbitt played a similar one in BBC One's brilliant Jekyll, then she'd definitely have her hands full. In fact, that whole show was put together in such a sinister manner, they should definitely be taking a look at it for a model of how to up the tension with a Jekyll-Hyde show. Inseperable is currently slated as a mid-season show for FOX, which means that it should be canceled by late February.

Saturday, June 21

It's Friday and there's no Galactica. What will we do?!

Get ready for many, many Friday nights of having to find something better to do than sit in front of television to watch Battlestar Galactica. You could always dig into your past-season DVDs to reminisce on what's happened before ("and will happen again?") or simply watch BSG online. There's also the unimaginable: spending time with friends and loved ones, stepping out of the house or, gods forbid, getting some extra sleep.

While we all think of what to do with that extra hour we have every week, let's go over a few things going on since last week's mid-season finale.

Ron D. Moore is once again quite behind on his podcasts. The official site shows the latest published podcast as 'Faith', though the link there is broken and it does not appear in my iTunes subscription. I'll continue to post "recaps" of the podcasts as they come out (and as I make time to listen to them). In the meantime, you can catch up on what I've already recapped or go give them a listen for yourself.

Many commenters believe that the devastated planet we saw at the end of the 'Revelations' episode was not Earth. The letter I received from Jane Espenson gave this theory more support, as did a recent interview ComicMix did with Mark Verheiden. In essence, nobody associated with the show is talking.

If you're familiar with how Ron Moore answers these sorts of questions, you'll know he'd most likely answer the question "is that Earth?" with a definitive answer of "yes" if it is, in fact, Earth.

What about the "dying leader" that was prophesied to never see Earth? Is the prophecy false? And could it be that Lee is that dying leader, now that he's acting president?

It looks like most signs are pointing to the commenters being right: that is not Earth the humans and Cylons landed on.

If that's not Earth, then what is it? Some commenters say it's "Terra," which, as far as I know, is just another name for Earth. Is it perhaps a colonized Mars, far in our future, which would account for the constellation matches?

Thursday, June 19

Six and Starbuck Speak

Source: Buddy TV

Last week, Los Angeles's Cinerama Dome movie theater was host to a screening of Battlestar Galactica's mid-season finale and a Q&A session with some of the actors. Though we weren't able to attend, IGN got to sit down with Six (Tricia Helfer) and Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) to discuss the impending Battlestar Galactica series finale and what their plans are now that the show is finishing up.

It's not surprising that both of the talented actresses are in high demand, and both discussed their new roles on Nip/Tuck, for Sackhoff, and Burn Notice, for Helfer. They also revealed their reactions to reading the finale script for the first time – and what they have to say may surprise you

“You know, it's funny because everybody had talked about our reactions and some people started crying,” Tricia Helfer told IGN. “I didn't start crying. I just felt like somebody had punched me in the stomach . . . You know the feeling when you come out of a heavy movie and nobody moves? It was like that. I just felt like I couldn't move. And none of that means anything to be read into what happens in the script. It was just really realizing, ‘Oh wow, this is the last Battlestar script I'm reading.' And it hit me in that way.”

Katee Sackhoff's reaction was at first quite a bit different – a reaction that might scare some diehard Battlestar Galactica fans.

“You know, at first I was a little disappointed,” she told IGN. “I was like, ‘Really? That's what you're gonna do? Okay…' But then the more I thought about it, I was like, ‘Oh… this makes so much sense. That's fantastic!' And I realized that if the fans do what I did, they'll be happy. If they take it for what it is on camera, they'll be like, ‘Excuse me?!'”

Reflecting on the series, both actresses revealed that they encountered whole new aspects of acting and fandom while working on Battlestar Galactica.

When asked by IGN if she paid attention to online fan chatter, Katee Sackhoff said, “Yeah, in a sense. I mean they have online porn about us! Which is weird… That's weird . . . Yeah, the world of fan porn is a terrifying thing. But it is always interesting and nice to have the fans care about your work so much that they talk about it after it's over. That's nice.”

Tricia Helfer meanwhile got to learn how to correctly die by portraying the many deaths of the various Six models.

“You know, I remember the first time I had a death scene I think -- besides obviously the nuclear blast in the miniseries -- was being shot in the back, that white-coated Six,” Helfer told IGN. “And I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know anything. And now I'm like, ‘Okay! Which way am I dying? Where is the squib coming out?' Yeah, you definitely learn a lot on the show.”

After Battlestar Galactica, Katee Sackhoff will be shedding the role of Starbuck and taking on a new anaestheologist character on the wild and sleazy FX drama Nip/Tuck.

“It's going great,” Sackhoff said of the role. “Dylan Walsh is fantastic. He makes the awkward moments bearable. And it's fun, it's fun. It was a nice break from Starbuck, which is what I wanted.”

When asked by IGN if her new Nip/Tuck character was going to be trouble, Sackhoff responded with, “Aren't all the women on Nip/Tuck? Come on!”

Tricia Helfer meanwhile has been filming a role on USA's Burn Notice, a light hearted spy dramedy starring Jeffrey Donovan and Bruce Campbell.

“I think the show is really fun,” Helfer said when asked about her new role. “It's a really unique take and something that's fresh and new, not unlike Battlestar in a way. Battlestar was fresh and new in the sci-fi genre and I feel Burn Notice is fresh and new in the spy genre. And it's fun to be able to just smile every once in awhile too and laugh and have the levity that the show has.”

Katee Sackhoff will be seen in a multi-episode arc on Nip/Tuck when the series returns sometime before the end of this year, while Tricia Helfer can be watched on Burn Notice when it begins airing its second season this July. Both actresses will be back for the remaining half of Battlestar Galactica's fourth and final season in early 2009.

Wednesday, June 18

Paste Magazine’s Top 10 Sci-fi TV Shows

Source: Paste Magazine

Paste Magazine, an online source for what’s happening in music, film and culture has just unleashed their pick for the Top 10 Sci-fi Television Shows

1. Battlestar Galactica
2. Star Trek: The Next Generation
3. Lost
4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
5. The X-Files
6. Firefly
7. Farscape
8. Stargate SG-1
9. Doctor Who
10. Mystery Science Theater 3000

Tuesday, June 17

Galactica Station's Review of Sine Qua Non

Captain Kickass escapes the tedium of unpacking to bring you the long awaited, very late review of Sine Qua Non (My apologies). This was an extremely ambitious episode that aimed to explore several issues, but the execution was somewhat disappointing.

The episode began with Natalie being rushed into surgery soon followed by a segment in which Adama demands an explanation from Athena. Clearly the Admiral fully sees Athena as a member of the Colonial fleet, but hasn’t forgotten that she’s a Cylon. It also appears that he’s noticed that Athena doesn’t stick up for her kind very much. It’s even more intriguing that although many others see her as Athena and differentiate her from other 8s, it’s not immediately certain that Athena distinguishes certain models of one cylon for others of the same model. We see that her vision implies that it is Caprica Six, not Natalie, who scoops Hera up along with Baltar. So, why does Athena shoot Natalie? My guess is Athena was in Mama Lion mode and she reacted before she gave thought to her actions. She looked at Natalie and in her panic, saw a Six, and shot her. On one end, I was sympathetic as Sharon was trying to protect her child, but on the other, it did strike me that Sharon appeared to do to Natalie (dismiss her as a Six) what she had been fighting for others NOT to do to her. Hmmm.

The heart of this episode was its exploration of roles that the various characters are supposed to fulfill. At the beginning of the episode, Adama is the Admiral, Tigh is the XO, Zarek is Vice-President of the Colonies, Lee is a member of the Quorum of Twelve, and Starbuck’s status is uncertain. By the end of Sine Qua Non, all these roles are turned inside out. Adama’s fears for Roslin causes him to get into a raptor and wait for her, Tigh becomes Interim Admiral despite his misgivings, Zarek unhappily stays VP, Lee Adama suddenly becomes the Interim President and Starbuck is a pilot again. In many respects, these revolving roles are uniquely tied to the idea that everyone has something that they live and fight for and in this view, these role changes are mostly understandable. However, just a few episodes ago, Starbuck was sent off to prove herself and suddenly she’s just reinstated? No explanation scene at all? We can assume all manner of things, but in my view, the Starbuck angle was pushed conveniently out of the way. Yes, of course those in charge are busy with the new alliance and plans for the resurrection hub, but a line from Tigh or Zarek reminding Starbuck she was not off the hook yet would have made more sense.

Zarek was also puzzling in this episode. Now, while I think that Lee Adama is a fabulous character who has undergone great growth in four years, my issue is not so much with him as with the way he got his new position. Lee and Romo decided to search for a new Interim President because Adama would never accept Zarek as President. Excuse me, but why does Admiral Adama get to decide who runs the Colonial Government? Zarek was rightfully in line for the Presidency, and Roslin had been physically ill for a long time. Adama must have known that Zarek would take the Presidency, so why the protest? Part of the reason may be that Adama was so consumed with worry for Roslin that he was not thinking straight. However, Zarek was correct, the VP position gave him the power to become President in Roslin’s absence, and Roslin kept him as her VP to legitimize things. However, for reasons that are unclear, Zarek did back down to let Lee handle things. As Lee said, there exists the ideal and the real (in different words, of course). Maybe Zarek had to accept it. However, it kind of made Zarek a wimp in my eyes. He spoke out about the presidency on the radio, but he was the one who acquiesced to Lee. Why did Zarek not get the Quorum to back him up?

On to Adama and Tigh. Olmos and Hogan were amazing in this scene. When he realized that Tigh had been having “secret meetings” with Caprica Six and had gotten her pregnant, Adama was furious. Tigh then made the colossal mistake of retorting to Adama that he was blindly going after Roslin and this led the two old friends to throw punches at one another for a few minutes. The scene was reminiscent of Unfinished Business, in that while the two men had a long and true friendship, they had several unresolved resentments between them. The end of the scene implied a renewed understanding and acceptance between Adama and Tigh. I think this scene was possibly my favorite because it implied that all people are emotionally affected by others, even when they may not want to be. I did find myself wishing that that the pregnancy had been discussed further, but maybe they tried to convey that there were no words for the situation.

Ok, let’s go to Romo. As highly anticipated as Romo Lampkin’s return was, some of his scenes with Lee and Adama seemed rushed and forced. He spent much of the episode telling Lee that the search was pointless and a lost cause, and ultimately manipulated Lee into the position of Interim President. I did enjoy the short scene with Adama in which Romo and Adama discussed “sine qua non” or “that without which [life wouldn’t be worth living]. It is in this scene that we first got an idea of Romo having lost someone in his past.

Later, Romo held Lee at gunpoint and ultimately forced him to the realization that he, Lee, would be the best choice for Interim President. During the scene, Romo revealed that he had terrible guilt from leaving his family during the attacks and pretended to want to doom humanity. This scene would have played better if we had seen bits and pieces of Romo’s guilt or memories beforehand. We did have a brief snippet with Adama, but Romo’s confession of guilt out of the blue, his gun, and the mysterious dead cat made it seem as if Romo put on an act and used his past simply in order to force Lee to take the presidency. Lee fell hook, line, and sinker and took the bait. Additionally, Lee Adama had real qualifications, but he had to be convinced of them. The presidency appeared to be no more his choice than Roslin’s the first time around, and maybe this isn’t such a good thing for a growing, maturing society. Romo may have been right about repressed desire for power and fixed outcomes, but it made Lee look like the sacrificial lamb. We know he’s a good candidate, but what stopped Lee from nominating himself? Is someone who accepts a position for the good of society automatically better than one with ambition and vision? I don’t know.

All in all, I liked the focus on roles and circumstances that may change roles that was shown in Sine Qua Non. I also liked the focus on emotional bonds as evidenced by Tigh and Adama and Roslin and Adama. On the other hand, several storylines seemed rushed and glossed over, resulting in missed opportunities and plot holes. Overall, I rate Sine Qua Non a 6 out of 10.

Monday, June 16

Galactica Station's Review of Revelations

Boomergirl gives us her thoughts on tonight's "mid-season finale," ep. 4.12 "Revelations."

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons…ain’t no mystical energy field that controls my destiny.”

Sorry, couldn’t resist. This episode begged for a couple of quotes from some iconic science fiction movies. And another zinger I’m really dying to release will come later in this review.

But to start: after last week’s ending where Adama and Roslin were reunited, a sweetly rendered scene that could satisfy the romantic itch in any Adama/Roslin shipper, the show just couldn’t let happy last too long, could they? Let us not forget they’re on board a Cylon base ship and the Cylons are apparently now lead by a somewhat scary resurrected Three.

Deanna lays out her demands. She wants, not the Final Five, but the four who are in the fleet. Of course, this leads us to question what’s the deal with the fifth one? And how does Deanna know, without even having set foot on Galactica, that only four are on board the ship? Is one of the Final Five on the base star with them? Had one of them died, perhaps during the disastrous exodus from New Caprica? Clearly, this is a question that will not be answered for some time, but something worth pondering. Deanna tells Adama that they’ll be going to Galactica together, but she’ll hold his crewmembers aboard the base star hostage until the Final Four come back to them. Leoben tries to convince Deanna that they have a common goal and must work together, but having missed a few crucial events in the Cylon civil war, Deanna still adheres to the old party line. “We cooperated on New Caprica, brother. It didn’t work out well.”

When the Cylon raptor reaches Galactica, Tigh, Tory, Anders and Tyrol are all present, watching the arrival. Deanna scans the deck and smirks, satisfied that she’s seen the Four, and that they know she knows. Without naming names, she invites the Four to join her, assuring them that they will be loved. Tory takes advantage of the situation to say that she must be at Roslin’s side and that the president needs her medication. She insists on returning with Deanna to the base star.

Of all the four that were revealed in the Season Three finale, Tory has seemed to me to be the most enigmatic and creepy. We know very little about her past and the bits of screen time she had before she learned she was a Cylon showed us that she was capable of being secretive and manipulative, helping Roslin try to steal the election, helping Roslin steal Hera, helping Roslin’s covert activities on New Caprica. Throughout, she had appeared to be a loyal lieutenant, but this new self awareness of her true nature seems to have brought out her Machiavellian, self-aggrandizing, and calculating self to its fullest. Using sex for information, the cold-blooded murder of Cally Tyrol, and now, finally, as she steps aboard the Cylon base star and sees the reverence the other Cylons offer her, it appears that she has moved into her own final transformation. “I’m through taking orders from you,” she says to Roslin, after she reveals her true nature to her former boss.

While those on board Galactica determine what to do about the situation with the Final Four and how they can save their captured comrades, Deanna decides she’s tired of waiting. One of the humans is shown the airlock, and Deanna promises Adama that she will space more unless she gets the Final Four.

The music starts again, the same crackly radio signal that so plagued the Final Four at the end of Season Three when they discovered their true identities. Unable to resist the call, Tigh, Tyrol and Anders convene on the hangar deck where Kara’s inexplicably shiny, mint-condition Viper sits, all convinced that the Viper holds some vital information that eludes them. Tigh orders Anders and Tyrol to find Kara who might be able to help, while he goes to the Old Man and makes the confession that he is one of the Five.

Understandably, Adama has a hard time believing this. He points out that he knew Tigh since the Colonel had hair. How is it possible that Tigh could be a Cylon? Tigh points out that there was plenty they didn’t know about the Cylons, and reminds Adama of what’s at stake. He can be used as leverage against Deanna and her demands.

The knowledge that his oldest and best friend, his most loyal XO has been hiding such a momentous secret is too much for Adama. Not for Laura Roslin, for Kara Thrace’s supposed death, or even for the supposed death of Lee back in the miniseries had Adama ever broken down the way he does when he discovers that the last man in the universe he would have suspected has turned out to be one of Them. Lee tries to comfort his father, promises he’ll make things right, and then proceeds to the airlock to interrogate Tigh, demanding the names of the other three Cylons.

On the hangar deck, Anders and Tyrol try to convince Kara that there’s something different about the Viper she flew back, but are interrupted by a squad of Marines who take Anders and Tyrol away, informing Kara that, like the XO, these two are Cylons. (I may be in a minority here, but I thought Michael Trucco deserved an Emmy for the expression on his face when his character realized the game was up, and that his worst fears had come to pass). Too shocked upon learning that her husband is a Cylon, Kara can say nothing, but she has the wits to remember that she was summoned to the hangar deck for a reason. She decides to investigate the Viper.

Back at the airlock, Lee and Deanna proceed to play a dangerous game of poker. Deanna had herded her hostages to the base star airlock, and called to demand the remaining Cylons. Lee responded by threatening to space Tigh, putting both sides into détente. Once Anders and Tyrol join Tigh in the airlock, Lee calls Deanna to let her know that the game is up. He has all the remaining Cylons. Still unwilling to back down, Deanna responds by putting a weapons lock on the civilian fleet.

Kara discovers the Viper’s secret and races through the Galactica toward the airlock, stopping Lee just as he is about to turn the key to space Tigh. Breathlessly, she announces that the Four have given them Earth. (Just as an aside, Kara believes that ‘something or someone’ wants them to find Earth. But who? Is Earth sending out the signal, or does it come from something or someone else? What mystical energy field controls their des—oops, sorry, wrong story.)

Lee investigates the signal on the Viper, and then makes a revolutionary decision. He invites Deanna aboard to share the information. He reminds her that the fleet could have jumped away to find Earth on their own, leaving the Cylons behind but that this would only have lead to another confrontation. “All this has happened before,” Deanna says. “But it doesn’t have to happen again,” Lee responds, stepping forward to offer a truce to the Cylons.

And Deanna shakes his hand.

With this first true cooperation between human and Cylon in place, the pieces seem to have come together, and it appears the puzzle of Earth is almost solved. The coordinates are set for the final jump, and Adama offers Roslin the chance to give the historic order. Shades of the Roslin who was once so full of hope á la “33” appear as her voice quavers and she says, “Take us to Earth.”

The jump is accomplished and Gaeta confirms that the constellations line up. Adama makes the jubilant announcement to the fleet that after three turbulent years, they have finally found Earth. A joyful montage of celebrations across the fleet appears, a sense of relief and hope rising like mist before the sun.

But wait, my clock shows a few minutes left to go. Which leads me to my next quote:

“You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!”

Yes. The “Earth” they find is a radioactive wasteland. The soil sends the Geiger counters clicking away, and all around, in the gray filtered light, humans and Cylons alike wander shell shocked through the devastated landscape they’ve discovered. The wreckage shows evidence of a civilization destroyed through some nuclear catastrophe. But where are they? Is this the Earth of the present? Earth of the future? A parallel Earth? Or perhaps a planet that isn’t really Earth at all? Where are they and what has happened?

We’ll find out in 2009.

Saturday, June 14

TV Recap: Battlestar Galactica - Revelations

Cinema Blend

Tonight's episode of Battlestar Galatica seemed to come to a boil right around the halfway point. We haven't seen Kara take a jog through Galactica like she did tonight since the miniseries. But before we get to all of that, let's talk about the random moments. Like Gaeta looking totally washed out and trying to get around the CIC sans half a leg. Add that to the looks of concern on Dualla's face (hey D, where've you been?!). Just filler or is this the start of something? And what about Kara talking to the picture of Kat on the memorial wall? Was that just a reminder of what was lost or is there a specific reason we're being reminded of Kat? And that brings me to one of the few things left unrevealed to us in this episode, appropriately titled, "Revelations."

"Four. There are four in your fleet." – D'Anna

"Four? Where's the fifth?" - Roslin

Good question, Laura! Where is the fifth? D'Anna could be lying but what if she's not? If the fifth Cylon isn't with the fleet, then who is it and where are they? At present Adama, Baltar, Helo and Roslin are on the baseship so it could technically be one of them. Or perhaps it's someone who died already. In addition to Kat, there's Billy, Cain, Kendra Shaw… The list goes on. My only question there would be how could D'Anna know this person is dead and thus, not with the fleet? Ok, that's not my only question and we have months to go over this stuff until we've shredded every possible scenario so let's just get on with it.

The episode starts up with the rebel Cylons breaking up Adama and Roslin's hug. D'Anna's clearly running the show here. She talks about her vision, tells them that there are four cylons in the fleet and she wants them. Leoben suggests they (the cylons) cooperate. D'Anna says they tried cooperating on New Caprica and it didn't work. Seriously? Does she really think what happened on New Caprica was a valid attempt at a peaceful coexistence?

D'Anna's plan is to keep Roslin hostage on the baseship along with the rest of the humans that were unfortunate enough to be there (including Baltar), bring Adama back to Galactica and tell the fleet that they can't have their president back unless they get the final four. And if they take too long giving up the final four, they'll start offing people. Adama only agrees to go along with it after Roslin gives him another hug and whispers to him that the final four are the way to earth and not to give them up, even if it means nuking the baseship with her in it.

When D'Anna and Adama arrive on Galactica, D'Anna gets down to business. She tells everyone on the crowded hanger, which includes all four of the final-fivers as well as Lee and Kara that all she and her fellow rebel cylons want are the final four. She doesn't out her cylon brethren, though. Instead, she exchanges lots of eye contact with Tory and Tigh, both of which are feet away from her. They could tell by the look she gave them that she knows. She knows that they know and they know she knows they know. Anders and Tyrol weren't a part of the brief eye-contact exchange as they were up in the rafters watching the scene from above but they had things pretty much figured out.

Tory uses Roslin's illness as an excuse to get on the baseship. She's got Roslin's pills and it's true that the president does need them but we all know Tory's done with this act and ready to come out of the cylon closet. Tigh knows what's up and tries to stop her. There's people around, including Adama and he can't say anything too obvious so she gets past him and boards the ship. Once D'Anna gets Tory into the basestar, all pretenses are dropped. The Cylons on board seem surprised to learn that Tory is one of them. There's a buzz of what seems like a mix of excitement and shock among the Cylons but no one really says much. Instead, Tory just smiles in a forced, awkward way. Or maybe I'm just not used to her smiling.

I'm done taking orders from you

Elsewhere on the baseship, Roslin's helping re-bandage Baltar. He thanks her for not murdering him, which is a surprising acknowledgement of his little confession last episode about his role in the attack on the colonies. For some reason I half-expected Baltar to try and pretend it never happened. I think Roslin might've thought the same thing, considering she didn't try to bring it up before he did. Baltar tells her that he loves living and thanks her for saving his life.

Tory comes in to see Roslin. Laura's so relieved to see her and to have her medicine that she barely has the chance to express her gratitude before Tory tells her she's here to be with her people. Baltar realizes right away that Tory's one of the five. He says he knew it. Well, not really knew it on a conscious level but he says he always knew there was something. Maybe it was the way her spine glowed when they were doing it? Tory acts coldly to both Roslin and Baltar and goes to leave. Roslin quickly recovers from the shock and tries to stop her, asking if she might try to convince D'Anna to back down and not kill the hostages. Tory's response, "I'm done taking orders from you." Way to be a bitch about it, Tor.

Meanwhile, back on Galactica they're trying to figure out a way to save the president and the other humans being held hostage. They need to have their vipers out there with their nukes "cocked and locked," according to Kara. It's weird hearing Adama calling Lee "Mr. President." While Adama seems worn out and unsure, Tigh looks pensive. Then we see him, Anders, Tyrol and Tory all responding to a sound no one else seems to hear. It's happening again. This time the sound is like feedback with some music. Tory's on the baseship so she doesn't follow it but Anders, Tigh and Tyrol do and it takes them to the viper that Kara returned in.

I'm one of the final five

The three know something is up with the viper and it's important but they don't know what. Tigh tells Anders and Tyrol to get Kara. Maybe she knows something or can figure it out since she's the one that brought the thing back from wherever she was. Tigh leaves the two of them and goes to Adama to confess his deepest, darkest secret. He starts with the "frakkin' music," explaining that what he heard back at the nebula was a signal. It switched him on, like Boomer. "I'm one of the five." You can practically see Adama's heartbeat speeding up. There's a mix of subdued anger and fear on his face but he's not ready to believe it yet.

Adama stands up and points out what many of us questioned when we learned that Tigh's a Cylon. He says, "When I met you, you had hair. I never heard of a Cylon aging." Tigh says, "Doesn't mean they don't. Before the attack on the colonies, we didn't know skinjobs existed. Turns out there's another kind of Cylon we didn't know about and I'm one of them." Adama theorizes that the Cylons might've done something to him on New Caprica to make him think he's a Cylon. Tigh assures him this is for real and says that if he had the guts he would've airlocked himself. He then goes on to say that being one of the final five, D'Anna would be willing to back down if he threatens to flush him out of an airlock. Whether it's because he doesn't want to be used by the Cylons, because he's sick of lying or because now that D'Anna's back, he knows it's a matter of time before he's called out, Tigh has admitted who/what he is to Adama and is willing to die. There's no turning back now.

Adama has Tigh taken away and once alone, he proceeds to have a total breakdown. The scene showing Adama being upset over Kara's death last season was nothing compared to this. He screams, trashes his office, smashes a mirror and chugs a bottle of liquor. Lee shows up and, finding his father on the floor, pulls Adama into a sitting position, then holds him the way a father would hold a hysterical child (except in this case, that's obviously reversed). Adama cries and continues to fall apart, saying there's no earth, it's a frakkin' joke and that he can't kill Tigh. Finding out that his best and oldest friend is and has always been a Cylon is just too much, on top of everything else that's happened. Lee says he'll take care of it and leaves.

He finds Tigh cuffed and standing near the hanger door, ready to be airlocked. He punches Tigh in the face and demands to know who the others are. D'Anna gets on the radio and Lee tells her that they'll flush Tigh out the airlock if she doesn't give them back the president. The power has shifted but D'Anna's not ready to give up.

Meanwhile, Kara's with Tyrol and Anders near the mystery-viper. She doesn't get why they want her to examine the thing. While she's arguing with them, a bunch of military people show up and arrest Anders and Tyrol. They tell Kara that they're both Cylons. Kara eyes bulge and her brow crinkles in that "what the frak is going on" expression. Anders tells Kara that it's true and she doesn't get the chance to respond before they get dragged off to the airlock to stand with Tigh. Once the three are standing together, Tigh tells them they should've confessed when they first found out. All three seem resigned to their fate. No begging or threats. They seem ready to die. Not happy about it, but ready.

Kara shelves her shock over finding out her husband is a Cylon for the moment and climbs into the viper. She turns it on and notices something strange on one of the screens. While this is going on, Baltar and Roslin, still on the baseship, realize something is happening. Leoben comes in and tells them people are going to be executed. He seems concerned for their safety. Baltar goes to talk to D'Anna. He and she got pretty close (to put it mildly) prior to her being boxed and he was with her when she discovered who the final five were.

This is where things get crazy. Lee and D'Anna have another argument over the radio and it's time to take action. D'Anna now knows that Anders, Tigh and Tyrol are outed, so she orders the baseship's nukes be pointed at the fleet. Lee orders everyone out of the tube besides Tigh. Tigh looks up at Lee, who is viewing the tube area from the window above. He gives him the kind of "what the frak are you lookin' at" stink-eye that only a man like Tigh could pull off with one eye. As the gate closes, Tyrol gives Tigh a nod of respect. Meanwhile, Baltar's doing his best to appeal to D'Anna. He reminds her that blunt force didn't work for her on New Caprica or the Algae planet, so why does she think it's going to work now.

Kara's running through Galactica for what seems like an eternity. Never did the ship seem so big. Tigh's ready to die and barks at Lee to just get on with it already. Lee is about to push the button when Kara bursts through the door and tells him the Cylons gave them the way earth. Now I'm not going to lie. For a second there, I thought there was a chance that Tigh might get sucked out of the airlock. Why? Well, there are three other final-fivers so it's not like they couldn't continue that arc without him.

Baltar apparently got through to D'Anna because just as Lee doesn't airlock Tigh, D'Anna doesn't nuke the fleet. Everyone's still alive. Kara shows Lee the viper and points out that it's picking up a signal on an empty channel. This is the way to earth. She goes on to say that everything's happening the way the hybrid said it would and maybe there's some higher power guiding them. Maybe the cylons and the humans are supposed to find earth together.

All this has happened before… but it doesn't have to happen again

Lee calls an impromptu meeting in Galactica's hanger. He, Kara, the final-four (including Tory) and D'Anna are all present. Lee shares the information they have about the Viper openly with D'Anna and they talk of re-allying and going to earth together. D'Anna realizes this is the only way and agrees to release the crew. The final four have been granted amnesty. Lee and D'Anna shake hands. Everyone's friends again (right.).

Lee sits with a robed Adama and goes over the plan to head to earth. Adama is sober but tired. Roslin approaches him from behind and for a minute I wondered if she was a head-Roslin (like the Six Baltar sometimes sees). There's something about the affectionate way she's behaving towards him and the soothing way she talks to him that seems off. Maybe it's just unfamiliar. She's real though and her words are just what he needs to hear to get him up and off to get dressed. When Roslin has a minute alone with Lee she expresses admiration for how he handled the crisis and tells him the fleet is going to need that kind of leadership in the future. Adama returns, suited up and mostly back to normal now. He says they can't take their time getting to earth. They can't afford for the alliance with the Cylons to fall apart again. It's time to roll the hard six. Earth or bust.

Take us to Earth

In the CIC, they spool up the FTL drive and prepare to make the big jump to earth. Roslin gives the order and off they go. They jump and Gaeta confirms that the constellations are a match. We see the fleet (and one banged-up looking baseship) hovering outside earth's atmosphere. Adama informs the fleet that they've arrived at earth. Everyone cheers. Hugs are exchanged. Lee jumps up onto a table, tears off his jacket and screams in joy. Crew members are hugging and clapping. Tyrol is in his room with Nicky. Tigh's by himself staring at a bottle, looking sad. Athena and Helo are with Hera and they all hug. Baltar and his cult join hands and look like they're thanking God. Kara is at the memorial wall. She looks at the picture of Kat and says, "We made it kid." Anders walks up behind her and just looks at her. After hugging Adama, Roslin cries.


The celebration doesn't last though. They get down to earth and what do they find? A welcoming parade? A high-tech world filled with cloud-cities and flying cars? A bunch of people sit around singing "All along the Watchtower?" No. They find nothing. Earth appears to be deserted. It looks like everything has been destroyed as there's charred looking debris scattered all about.

Some things to note from this final scene. Pretty much all of the key characters are present. They're all standing around, staring at what's become of this planet that was/is supposed to be their new home. Tory walks up to Anders and reaches out to touch his arm or take his hand but he moves away from her. A Six (I'm assuming it's Caprica) walks up behind Tigh and touches him, he doesn't respond. Others like Dualla, Kara, Leoben, Baltar and Lee are either standing or otherwise wandering aimlessly.

Where do we go from here?

So they found earth and it sucks – now what? Where are all the humans? Is earth even habitable anymore? The weather wasn't looking too good there. It looked even worse there than it did on New Caprica. Was there some kind of nuclear war that wiped everyone out? Was the debris they were standing near once the Temple of Aurora?

In addition to the new question of "what now?" we also have a number of old questions still yet to be answered. We still don't know who the fifth is. And we haven't been told what the deal is with Hera. Where are the rest of the Cylons? The hub was destroyed but there are surely still plenty of non-rebels out there, including Boomer (who as far as we know, isn't confirmed dead). As for the drama: Will Kara and Anders reconcile? What about Adama and Tigh? Will Adama and Roslin have time to enjoy their budding romance before Roslin's cancer gets worse? And a few people showed their cards tonight. While Leoben expressed genuine concern for Roslin and Baltar's wellbeing, Tory proved that if she had to choose a side, her loyalty lies with "her people."

Friday, June 13

Galactica Station's review of The Hub

Gooby Rastor spends his first week of summer vacation reflecting on episode 4.11, "The Hub."

An interesting experiment these days would have been to record the Google hits for “Mary McDonnell” and “Emmy” for the week following the airdate of “The Hub.” I have come to feel, over the past five years, (has it really been so long?) that while Battlestar Galactica’s leading man, Edward Olmos, does an exceptional job of leading the show’s cast, for which he is justly praised, the real standout is Ms. McDonnell, whose character is so complicated, so seemingly contradictory at times, that in the hands of a lesser actress, it would strain belief. McDonnell’s Roslin is given such nuance however, that the audience never fails to believe in her. In a phenomenal cast, filled with veterans as well as breakout talents, she’s top of the heap, no question in my mind.

What brings on this observation is a tour-de-force in this episode; Laura Roslin finally confronts the deeper consequences of her growing ruthlessness and isolation, and the results are not over-the-top, but rather subtle, though certainly real and maybe even profound. A welcome guest star in Roslin’s journey is Lorena Gale as Elosha, whom we haven’t seen since she was blown up on Kobol. While we all remember Billy as Roslin’s conscience, it’s a nice reminder that she’s been robbed of another human connection since Elosha’s death. Tangentially, what does Elosha’s appearance mean? Is it actually Laura’s subconscious, or something more, a supernatural reflection of the dead? The show’s starting to get more spiritual, which would suggest the latter, but Virtual Six did tell Baltar that those who die on Kobol simply cease. I wonder if the show will explore this question.

Back to Roslin’s reaction. By the end of the episode, Roslin has not changed appreciably when it comes to her ability to ruthlessly pursue what she sees as right; Helo still has to bring D’anna to Laura, who never questions her own decision to go back on her word towards the Cylons. It’s nice that for all of Roslin’s self-reflection, she doesn’t do a 180˚ in the space of a single episode. All too often, because of the limitations of the television medium, show writers seem compelled to introduce sudden character changes, as the only way of making those characters dynamic. In this case at least, BSG resisted the urge to have a single epiphany reverse the course of a character arc. Good on them, I say.

“The Hub” is at its strongest when focusing on Laura Roslin; other characterization is a little hit-or-miss, I’m sorry to say. To wit: Helo encounters a situation that the more prurient among us have been wondering about for a while: What happens if he finds himself alone with an Eight, other than Sharon? He also faces a decision not unlike the one he encountered in “A Measure of Salvation,” where his morals conflict with his orders. The latter problem generates a fairly interesting situation, where Helo decides (this time) that his duty requires him to follow Roslin’s orders and betray the trust of their erstwhile allies. Regarding the faux-Sharon, however, the episode bafflingly keeps Helo emotionally flat. I’m not sure how much of this is due to Tahmoh Penikett’s acting and how much is writing related; but it seems more like the latter: Instead of exploring the more creepy implications of Helo encountering someone with not only his wife’s body but her memories, they dismiss them with a throwaway line (“I know this must feel like a violation of trust, or something”). It’s a poor choice for the character, who hasn’t had much movement on the show for a long time, and remains static here.

Meanwhile, one character does goes through a change in this episode, though I find it a rather unwelcome one. For some reason, the Gaius Baltar of season four does not appear for the first half of this episode. Instead, we get a reappearance by his earlier self. I was unimpressed by the spectacle of Baltar screaming at the Hybrid and then congratulating himself on getting a reaction from her. It just didn’t seem like it came from the place that Baltar’s in these days. And can someone please explain why Baltar was trying to incite disloyalty in that Centurion? Was he just scheming for its own sake? Who knows. It’s a good thing that Baltar gets caught in that explosion, because it seems to jog his memory, restore him to his current personality, and remind him of his new philosophy of redemption.

On the lines of redemption, when we do finally see our season four Gaius, when he plays a critical role in what movement Roslin’s character does make, it was a well-earned moment for the show. While Roslin has been moving further away from her own humanity, further from loving people, as Elosha would say, she has never descended to the level she almost did tonight, actively killing a man. I liked the entire exchange, really. From Baltar’s original sin finally coming out into the open, to the way he pleads with Laura, “don’t do this to me,” and to her horrified reaction, after tearing off his bandage, when she realizes what she’s done. The understated power of this scene goes a long way towards making up for the earlier Baltar inconsistencies.

But it wasn’t all character work this time around, by any means. One of the reasons I was a bit excited about the chance to review this episode was the promise of another great space battle, which have been true high points of the season so far. Tonight’s fire-fight was fairly run-of-the-mill, however. Perhaps what was missing from it was a perspective. Looking back on them, most of the battles in BSG’s history have had at least one main character’s point-of-view central to the story of the fight; from the initial destruction of Galactica’s Viper wing (Boomer and Helo), to when they took out the Cylons’ Tylium operation (Apollo), to the Ionian Nebula this year (Anders). Perhaps it was the fact that so much of this battle was Cylon-on-Cylon violence (and not the good kind, like Six knocking the stuffing out of Sharon), that kept me from locking onto the battle emotionally. It wasn’t a bad sequence, really, but not really stellar either. A step down, in other words.

The show’s one MacGuffin relating to the prior ep, the dead Pike’s raptor jumping back to the Fleet (how’d he know how to get back to them anyway?), wound up being fairly meaningless, didn’t it? Guy freaks out, bugs out, gets shot, and jumps anyway, apparently for no better reason than to let the good folks on Galactica know that he’s dead now. Like I say, sort of pointless to my eyes.

Let’s end the review where the show ends: With Bill and Laura. The end of “The Hub” finally pairs up Adama and Roslin, romantically. This is one scene that, I don’t mind saying, my review of may be completely useless to some of you out there in Web-land. I’m not against an Adama/Roslin pairing, per se, in fact I rather like the way they’ve danced with the idea in the past. Maybe what leeriness I’m feeling about this current turn of events lies in the fact that I was such a fan of the easy chemistry the two of them had back on New Caprica, or how they interacted when Adama was in the boxing ring in “Unfinished Business.” I liked the way they were doing things and am not sure that changing the dynamic in this way will be good. On the other hand, I have to admit, it’s possible that the reason I’m not 100% satisfied with this development is that I have a cold, cold heart that rejects any hint of happiness in life. YMMV. Let’s wrap things up.

Something seems a bit odd about my ability to review lately: When I come back to episodes I’ve seen, I seem to remember the show being much better or worse than they appear after a day or two of reflection. “Escape Velocity” and “The Ties That Bind” suffered for this phenomenon... I’d thought on initial viewing that the shows worked, but my brain slowly picked them apart after time. “The Hub,” in contrast, seems to benefit with distance. I’m not quite sure why, but I feel more favorably inclined toward it than I did right after watching. Maybe it’s that the show’s missteps deal with characters whom I’m invested in, but in hindsight, they’re pretty small next to the success of the episode’s exploration of Laura Roslin. I was expecting the plot aspects of the episode to be a bit more interesting than they wound up being, but the quality of the characterization lead me to give “The Hub” a respectable B. 8.5/10.

P.S.: Points to those of you who guessed that Lucy’ Lawless’ line about the Final Five would turn out to be a red herring.

'Battlestar's' final season expands; TV movie looking good

Source: Maureen Ryan, Chicago Tribune

As "Battlestar Galactica" gets ready to air its mid-season finale on Friday, there are two bits of good news to share regarding the show.

According to well-informed sources, it’s almost certain that at least one “Battlestar Galactica” TV movie will be made this year.

Here’s even better news: Up to two hours may be added to “Battlestar’s” final run of episodes.

You heard that right: The last leg of the show’s final season could expand to 12 hours, instead of the originally planned 10 hours.

As he discussed here, the show’s executive producer, Ronald D. Moore, wrote "Battlestar's" final episode, which could be up to three hours long (a wild guess here: Sci Fi probably wouldn’t air the whole thing in one night). Mary McDonnell described her reaction to the script this way: It filled her with "an incredible feeling of adrenaline,” she told Ain't It Cool News. “It made me understand the entire saga, and made me excited for all of you.”

As for when the final part of Season 4 will air, Moore has told TV Guide that it’s probably going to be in 2009. (Update: reports that the president of Sci Fi has said the last episodes will begin airing in the "first quarter" of 2009.)

Regarding the “Battlestar” TV movie, as "Razor" did, it will probably air on Sci Fi first then be released on DVD within days (the preceding sentence was updated with new information from a Sci Fi rep). There’s no word on who will be in the movie, what it will be about and when it will air. All of that is still to be determined.

In a previous story, I’d reported that up to three films were being considered. Whether the other two “Battlestar” TV movies will get made is an open question at this point, but it is possible, according to my sources and according to Galactica Sitrep (which also has wall-to-wall coverage of Wednesday’s screening of the mid-season finale at Los Angeles’ Cinerama Dome).

Stay tuned for more “Battlestar” thoughts: I’ll have a blog post up on Friday’s mid-season finale, “Revelations,” this weekend. (The photo above is of Katee Sackhoff as Kara "Starbuck" Thrace in "Revelations.")

No New Galactica Until 2009

SCI FI wants you to get your wait on.
by Travis Fickett

Source: IGN

Want to know who the final Cylon is? Do you want to know really, really badly? Well, punk, I have news for you: you have to wait until next frakking year. TV Guide is reporting that Executive Producer Ron Moore broke the news Wednesday night at a special screening in Los Angeles.

The series won't be returning until "the first of the year," he said. This is due to the realities of post production, as well as competition from new fall shows and sports. Perhaps understanding how this will play with the fans, Moore added, in what TV Guide refers to as an apologetic tone, "Realistically, there's no way to get back on the air faster." TV Guide also points out that Moore told them the final scenes of the series were being shot now. This gives the internet about 6 good months to leak the end of the show…

IGN TV's Eric Goldman was at the same event as TV Guide and spoke with NBC Universal exec Bonnie Hammer. "We don't have a locked in schedule yet," she said in response to the question of when the show will return. "We just know that it's always better to leave the fans just titillated a little bit, but it will definitely be back." Most fans will likely agree that titillated is one thing, and waiting until next year is something else entirely.

Thursday, June 12

Battlestar Galactica's James Callis

Source: AV Club

To tackle the most complicated character on one of the most complicated shows on TV, James Callis used an old weapon: humor. Callis plays Gaius Baltar, the brilliant, cowardly, and possibly crazy scientist who was tricked into destroying practically the entire human race. While Baltar struggles with the guilt he feels and the friction he endures with his fellow survivors, he brings a sly wit to the job, making some of his most craven moments feel human. Callis came to the role after several years of film and television in Britain, including parts in Bridget Jones's Diary and its sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason. He spoke with The A.V. Club during production of Battlestar Galactica's final episodes, and discussed how he broke into acting, Baltar's religious beliefs, and what the whole cast thought when they learned the identity of the as-yet-unrevealed final Cylon.

The A.V. Club: You went to college at the University Of York and studied English, and then went on to study at the London Academy Of Music & Dramatic Art. How did you get involved in acting?

JC: I've been acting for years and years, at prep school—you know, school plays, that kind of thing. That was always very high on my agenda. I went to study English for two reasons. Principally because when I was in university, studying drama wasn't considered an option. You couldn't get a degree course for it. And so many plays and things that I was interested in landed themselves in a broader spectrum of literature.

From university, I tried to get into the profession almost immediately, and just got kind of kicked back in London, by lots of people saying, "Well, you know, we'll need to see you in something. And the easiest way for you to get seen in something is drama school. That is the best way to get an agent."

You know, film and television as a medium has only very recently begun to be taught at the great drama schools in the UK. When I was at drama school in the UK, I was there for two and a half years, and we did one week of television and film. It's right before you leave. It's like, "We've taught you Chekhov and Shakespeare, you are likely to be in a washing-up soap-liquid commercial."

AVC: When you got out of school, were you planning to do more TV and film?

JC: I was desperate to do more TV and film. Because I considered myself to be a theater creature. A theater animal. I was convinced that I was going to be onstage for the rest of my life. Because it's something I can really do. I thought I was pretty good at it, and it's kind of stupid, but I was concerned that people would go, "Oh yeah, he's very good onstage, I'm not sure he can do television."

AVC: How did you get the audition for Battlestar?

JC: I went to Los Angeles, because I have a manager, and—I can't remember when, but we met in London maybe six months or a year beforehand, and he said, "Listen, if you really want to get a job out of L.A., you really need to come." And I was like, "Well, can't I send a tape or something?" And he was like, "No, no, you need to come." [Laughs.] There wasn't very much going on in London about five years ago, and I just took a ticket on spec and went to Los Angeles. I think it was in my second week that I auditioned for Battlestar.

I got the script, and initially, I was not delighted that anybody could consider me to be the part of Baltar. And I was very "Oh gosh, I want to be in television, I want to be in something, but I don't know if I want to be in this."

I suppose I did play up, even in the very early auditions, the humor. At least I found it very funny. The bits that I was doing, or rehearsing for, were funny. He's caught in bed with a woman, there's another woman—I'm like, "That's hysterical."

Gaius is perhaps a very big reason why so many other things happened in the show, but in the miniseries, I think the directors, the writers, the powers that be very much had a picture of the whole, and the whole was a tragedy. And so this kind of little bit in the middle—me, this anomaly—I think initially people were slightly unsure of. It was like, "Yeah, I'm not sure it's supposed to be funny."

AVC: You said you were uncomfortable at first—was it because of the character, or the genre?

JC: I think both, to be honest. I did worry about being in a science-fiction show. The bits that I was reading, I felt were funny, and I felt the man was childish, [so] I really did ask initially, "Is this for kids?" [Laughs.] And the thing that came back immediately was like, "Hey, take a look at this whole thing again. This is definitely not for children. How can you think that?"

AVC: You start out with a pretty logical role in season one: You're a scientist, so you become the scientific expert for the fleet. And then as you go on, you become the vice-president, the president, a prisoner on the Cylon baseship, and Saddam Hussein. And now you're this kind of messiah figure. Do you think it's been an easy transition to each new role, or did any of them seem like a stretch? JC: The thing about transitions is that the closer you look to pinpoint something on an electron microscope, the more difficult it is to pinpoint. You can't find that moment when you became somebody else, because everything is in flux. So as it were, the torturous period where you are changing, you are transforming—I think that can be very hard on somebody's system. You don't necessarily realize that is what's happening. So have these transitions been easy? No, not necessarily. But they've been totally organic. [They're] the result of so many factors. And I think that some of the transitions have been extreme.

The trial [in season three] was perhaps the best thing that ever happened to him. It's all out in the open, you can't run away from it any more. Which is terribly helpful to him. I think the most important thing—and something I have been saying to the writers—is that if Gaius had the opportunity, he would kill himself. He doesn't want to live. We had some stuff written this season, and perhaps beforehand, "Well, you know, Baltar's the weasel, and he's gonna plead for his own life and everything—" and I just said, Listen, he's not in that place. He tried to kill himself in his cell. If somebody wants to take him out, fantastic. He's not about saving his own skin like that any more."

I don't know if you've seen this, but in the newspaper, did you read this thing about this guy in China? I think that there should be a Gaius Baltar Award for Moral Cowardice given out to people every year. And this man—it's just, seriously, reading it, I was like, "Christ, this guy is Gaius Baltar!" He's a schoolteacher. The earthquake hits. And he said, "Stay still, everybody, you'll be fine," and just ran! He ran for his life, without any of the kids who he's supposed to be looking after. And the miracle of it is that the earthquake didn't touch his school in the same way. He went back to the class, and they're all alive, thank God. And they were like, "But teacher, why did you run away?" And his replies are just extraordinary. It's like, "I'm not a brave man. I am a coward. And in situations like this, it's every man for himself. I don't really feel very guilty, because I didn't cause the earthquake, and quite frankly, if it had been my own mother sat next to me, I would have left her as well."

AVC: What is your take on the religion that Baltar preaches?

JC: On a personal note, I have difficulty with this as a performer. Because this season, I say one thing, and then I say something totally different. It's what I've been saying to the writers and the directors. "How do I say this?" For example, one moment, "There [are no gods]! It's all rubbish! They can't help you because they don't exist!" And then the next minute, "There is a God, and He's our salvation, He loves you." I'm like, "Which one of these is it?"

Then the writing staff and the directors come back to me and go, "But James, that's what all of these horseshit people talk about! One minute they're talking Latin, and then they change their mind! Just look at some of these people—" And the name that comes up again and again is Jim Jones. [But] Gaius is not Jim Jones.

To be honest, I don't believe it. I don't believe it as James Callis, and I don't believe that Gaius believes it either. Because he couldn't. And I think a lot of it comes out of, "Well, you've set yourself up on a dais, and you've got a microphone, now fucking have you got something to say?" And actually, he doesn't have something to say. He's constantly treading water with the most woolly—I mean, it's terribly woolly. And the thing about that is, the more you say about anything, the more explanation there is to an idea, the more complex an idea is, and the more it's not really going to be encapsulated by the thing you're talking about.

On a personal note, myself, I find religion—I can understand it, I can understand why we have it, as a kind of force on the planet. And I also at the same time think it's ludicrous. My Latin education teaches me that religion comes from religio, which means, "to bind." To bind with rope. And that's all it means. So whenever I hear somebody go, "I feel so religious right now!" I'm like, "Well, you're tying yourself up in knots, are you?" There's no spiritual connotation to that word whatsoever. And while it binds you to a rope, because it's about belonging, it alienates you to others. That can't be part of God's plan, if there is a God.

So I do find all of those things really tough, to be honest. Belief is everything when you're performing something. If you don't have the belief behind it, then that actually puts a shunt on the character. It's like, "Does the character believe this for a minute?"

AVC: Well, do you think he believes it? Is he really coming to believe that Head Six is the angel of God, that there's really something speaking to him?

JC: You know, I don't think he will ever believe that. On some level, I think Gaius thinks he's crazy. He can't believe that she's an angel, but doesn't know what that is. I think Gaius, like so many of us, like myself, wants to believe in something. You're stuck in a spaceship, and you've been there for four years, and you're just sitting here in a tin can, you would really hope that there was something else. And that sustained hope might actually keep you alive. Because depression is an illness. And if it gets too bad, then you're irrevocably damaged and there's nothing to live for, and there's nothing to hope for.

AVC: There's always been a mystical component to the show, and things that just can't be coincidences, affecting Baltar, Roslin, the whole fleet. There are definitely weird, unexplained things going on, and right now, it seems like the explanation is going to be supernatural.

JC: Yes, I think that everybody's going to be pleasantly surprised by the way things tie up. And I think that's got to be a question in people's minds, actually, right up until the end. No one sentence, and no one prose little paragraph is going to explain away so many things that have happened in our show. It works itself out, and there are conclusions, but they're open-ended. And the audience will get to decide.

AVC: A lot of things happening in the real world, in politics or the war on terror, find their way into the series. Do you think it's important that these dilemmas are portrayed here—that you guys effectively remade the trial of Saddam Hussein, for example?

JC: I think it's terribly important. Sorry to quote a boring Shakespeare, but we are holding a mirror up to nature. And that was one of the reasons for me having a beard and long hair [in season three], was like, "I want to look like the guy who's been taken out of his foxhole."

I think [the parallels] are brilliant and very, very clever, because—well, it's like looking at an argument in a slightly removed situation. And that then calls into question all of your own allegiances. Like in the real world, I think this. Now I watch this show, which is like the real world, and I don't think the same thing. That's going to have to make me think about the real world.

AVC: Do you think the show's attitude to current events is more experimental, or missionary? Is it more to say, "What if this happened?" Or do you think there are messages behind these stories?

JC: I think knowing [producers] Ron [Moore] and David [Eick], I would say it's a bit more academic. These guys are some of the smartest people I've ever had the good fortune to sit down with. And you know, if they're on a mission, the mission is to experiment. To play around with it. There's some phrase, I think it's in Chaucer, about how everything that's written is didactic. As soon as you write something down, as long as it's not a shopping list, it's some idea about the world. It's Michel de Montaigne writing his essays, it's Plato writing The Republic, it's Ron writing Battlestar. All of these things concern human beings, and somebody's idea about them. Everything that we write is to teach ourselves in some way to behave better, to think more, or to think differently. And if the thing you're doing doesn't actually address any of those, then maybe you are writing a shopping list.

AVC: Baltar is very intelligent, and strong-willed in a lot of ways. But he seems to be guided by some unseen thing that puts him in the right positions, makes some of the decisions for him, and saves his butt when he can't do it. In some sense, do you think he's a fool?

JC: I've certainly tried to play upon that, definitely. But the things that happen to him, the supernatural experiences—to his mind, he's talking to a blonde woman who appears in his head. I've pointed to this bit on the map, but it didn't feel correct, but then it turns out that it's right. So he doesn't feel touched by the hand of God. It just is like, it can't be anything else. It's a bit like being in The Truman Show. If I move left or right, it doesn't really matter.

But on another level… I think this was one of my problems with [science fiction]. It's like, everybody's all heroic, and "Press this button now," and, "I've got to go and do this." Everyone's quite determined. The baddies are determined, the goodies are determined. And I was like, "What if we have a character in this mix who's not determined at all?" And to bring up all of the things in somebody's personality that irk you, that get you. Rather than, as an actor, I want the audience to like me, I'm going to smile beautifully and I've got everybody's sympathy—what about showing the moments when somebody is unbelievably petty? Or really selfish? The faults, the little things, those are the things that interested me about playing the character.

AVC: Viewers right now are speculating about who will be the final Cylon. I know they didn't tell the cast until pretty near the end. Has it been a crazy guessing game with you guys, too?

JC: It has. Of course it has! Of course it has. And not that we've put bets on it or anything, but… all I can say is, shocking. Shocking. [We were] shocked, and excited. I can't really blow the surprise. I think it's fair to say that you know, the repercussions of this thing is like, it could be anybody.

AVC: What do you have planned next?

JC: I'm talking to two people about two films, [but] I never talk about what it is until I'm actually on the set and I've got the job, because otherwise—"Oh yeah, I'm going to be so busy," and then you're going to see me in McDonald's in two months.

Those films could be happening quite quickly. Otherwise, I don't have any long-term plans, but this show has been so amazing, and personally incredible for me. I really want to think hard about what I would do next, because I've worked with the most incredible people on the most incredible material. What is going to match this kind of a thing?

What would I like? Some very silly comedy where I don't have to think about anything, but it could be a lot of fun. And if it's not that, then I'll want to be involved in something where it's like, you're really dredged up to the neck in emotion, where it's as exciting as the premise of Battlestar.

But I think on that level as well, I've got to take a bit of a break from science fiction. As much as I've loved this stuff, [I'm ready for] a different century or a different time period as an actor, as an individual. Something that's, what's the word, something that's not involved with spaceships.

AVC: Something on Earth?

JC: I was going to say—if Galactica ever flipping lands and we do find a place to stay, either Gaius is going to be put out of his misery and shot before he gets there, or when we touch down on Earth, maybe he'll find an agent and get another job.

Saturday, June 7

"Revelations" Trailer

Friday, June 6

Let's get back to base-ics

Source: Sun Times News Group

Is anyone else as bored and disillusioned as I am by this leaden final season of Sci Fi's "Battlestar Galactica"?

It pains me to write such things, given how the show's first two seasons were so exciting and refreshing. But after Season Three's confusing ending (Tyrol's a Cylon? So why no fuss about his baby?), this fourth and final season has been one long, bleak dud, lacking the common-cause heroism and universal Odyssean storyline that made this retooled drama so compelling.

Last Friday's episode, "Sine Qua Non" — the eighth in the 10-episode first half of the final season (whether we'll see the second half in the fall or next spring, who knows) — was one massive coitus interuptus. When last we saw our valiant crew of refugees, Roslin and company had plugged in the Cylon hybrid, which immediately screamed, "Jump!" and sent the commandeered base ship vanishing to gods-know-where. Finally, a supremely dramatic moment in a season that feels like nothing but marked time! So what happened Friday night on the base ship? Good question. The entire episode never went back to that storyline. All we got was more parental griping from Adama and some creepy old leech revelations about Col. Tigh.

Also, we plumbed the dragged-out depths of the Lee Adama subplot, getting to the heart of why the writers made the thus-far dreadful error of hanging up that hottie's flight suit. His utterly dreary life thus far as a diplomat seems to be leading now to a run for president in Roslin's absence — a plan crafted by ye olde Scottish lawyer Romo Lampkin. I can't help but agree with another reviewer who wrote, "I think the 'Galactica' writers like Romo a lot more than the guy deserves, as he's less a character than a collection of colorful tics." With our surround sound cranked to neighbor-annoying levels, we still couldn't understand half of what that dead-cat-carting weirdo was yakking about in his burbly brogue, and from what we can tell now he wasn't saying anything of real consequence anyway.

The ending, in which the elder Adama turns over the Galactica to Tigh so he can sit in a raptor and wait for his true love Roslin to return — well, in a word, ridiculous. We've been given plenty of clues thus far that a romantic bond was sublimating between them, but nothing whatsoever to suggest it had boiled to the degree that would make Adama give up his ship and sit alone in space waiting for Godot. Uncharacteristic, unrealistic, unfortunate.

Looks like we're back to the base ship — and Roslin is beginning to get a better idea of her destiny. Deanna's "unboxed" — and apparently talks to someone who is our last mystery Cylon. The road signs have been pointing to Starbuck as this shadowy figure, but I'd probably lay money on Roslin.

Even the cinematographer admits, now that Deanna's back "it's coming alive again" ...

Sunday, June 1

'Battlestar Galactica' music takes off

"Crescendo into bar 46. Much more dramatic -- get to the forte in 45. Bar 34, subito piano on beat two."

It may be musical gibberish to most of us. Fortunately, the 30 string players on this date can make sense of the direction from the man on the podium. He's Bear McCreary, conducting cue 4m21 of episode 10 of this season'sBattlestar Galactica at Henson Recording Studios in Hollywood on a recent Monday afternoon.

"Galactica" offers some of the most innovative music on TV today. A glance at the score for 4m21 shows why: Chinese membrane flute, Indian bansuri flute, duduk (a soulful Armenian woodwind), erhu (Chinese violin), yialli tanbur (a Turkish lute), dumbek (Middle Eastern drum), Japanese taiko drums -- plus four brass players, those 30 strings and a 12-voice choir.

Yet this is not some trendy "world music" potpourri throwing together unusual ethnic instruments just to make strange sounds. Faced not only with a tiny cable budget but a unique concept -- survivors of a devastated civilization, fleeing their pursuers while searching for their long-lost human relatives on a legendary planet called Earth -- McCreary decided to link the world of "Galactica" with our own world.

"This show needed to set itself apart from all other science-fiction operas, especially the old version of the show," he says. "So traditional orchestral writing was out. The other idea was that there are all these hints that our histories are somehow connected, that we are related. So I wanted to use very ancient, earthly sounds."

Hence the percussion, ranging from massive Japanese taiko drums to the Indian tabla; the use of the human voice, singing texts in Latin, Samoan, Armenian, Italian and Sinhalese (the Sri Lankan language); unusual strings, from electric violin to Japanese zhonghu; and ethnic wind-blown instruments from duduk to Celtic pipes.

"The percussion element is very aggressive, tribal and primitive. The drums add a sense of urgency and desperation," explains the composer, "and the melodic instruments help tie in the history of their universe with ours."

Four seasons and more than 70 episodes into the series, McCreary says he's still excited about the job. "Musically, 'Galactica' pushes me. I am constantly being asked to develop and change. That is against the instincts of a lot of television music, which is to set up a sound and stick with it. I'm being asked to take risks and make daring musical decisions that, on another show, would get you fired."

McCreary, 29, is a graduate of USC's Scoring for Motion Pictures and TV program. Soon after graduation in 2002, he took a job assisting Richard Gibbs ("Big Momma's House"), who scored the four-hour "Galactica" miniseries in 2003. When the series launched in 2004, Gibbs did two episodes and handed off the baton to McCreary.

"He's an amazingly innovative talent," says supervising producer David Weddle. "He understands when not to use music, which is just as important. He doesn't score wall-to-wall. He also uses counterpoint to bring out an emotional undercurrent -- it might be a rough, abrasive scene and he'll find a poetic element that might not be readily apparent. That's very smart. We all really trust him."

In April, more than 1,000 "Galactica" fans attended two sold-out shows at L.A.'s Roxy on Sunset Boulevard, where a 15-piece band (mostly "Galactica" regulars) played excerpts from McCreary's second- and third-season scores. Some fans flew in from as far as England and Australia.

James Callis (who plays Gaius Baltar on the series) hosted and seemed delighted to participate. "I've got a very strange character in the show, by twists and turns idiotic and then tragic," he said backstage before the first show. "Bear's music gives you a sense of tragic empathy. Without it, you wouldn't feel for my character in the same way. We in the cast love the music. It's never extraneous. It is integral, woven into the fabric of our show."

A few weeks after the shows, McCreary was in Vancouver, on the set for the final episodes of "Galactica." Sworn to secrecy about details, he allowed only that he was supervising a "musically intensive" sequence that involved the actors and his music being performed on-camera. "It's the most daring use of music in a TV show that, maybe, has ever been tried. It's going to redefine the role that a score can play."

In addition to "Galactica," McCreary composes the music for Fox's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (mostly electronic, with metallic sounds and oddly recorded string quartet) and Sci Fi's "Eureka" (a wacky sound that McCreary describes as "bluegrass-zydeco-country meets '80s new-wave and 8-bit videogames"). But "Galactica," it appears, may be McCreary's calling card for some time to come.