Thursday, February 23, 2006

Nowplaying Previews Downloaded & Interviews Ron Moore

Nowplaying Magazine has posted up a nice, detailed look at tomorrow's episode, Downloaded. It's got some spoilers and things like that, and is worth reading.

The Cylons Take Over Galactica

Written by Scott Collura
Thursday, 23 February 2006
It’s hard to believe we’re almost done with the second season of the Sci Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica already. But if it seems as though these episodes are coming and going so quickly, it’s largely because of the quality of each installment of the hit show. Things never get boring on the good ship Galactica (or the not-so-good ship Pegasus for that matter), and that mandate has never been more true than in this Friday’s episode, the long-anticipated “Cylon POV” segment.
“Downloaded” finally presents us the world of Galactica as seen by the Cylon androids, the enemies of the human Colonials who are typically our series leads. It’s an idea that’s been brewing for some time, says executive producer Ron Moore, and it will feature some familiar yet nonetheless surprising faces.
“The episode is essentially following two Cylon characters,” he explains. “It’s going to follow the character we’re calling Caprica Six, who is the Six that Baltar was involved with in the beginning of the miniseries, and she’s the Six that was killed when his house was destroyed. She wakes up and is reborn. And then we’re also following Boomer, the Cylon that was shot on Galactica by Cally. And it’s the same thing. We follow her and she is reborn. And it’s essentially the story of those two characters. … I don’t think all the main cast is in the show. The A-story takes place primarily on Cylon-occupied Caprica, and there is a B-story on Galactica.”
It makes complete sense, of course, that both Caprica Six and the Galactica Boomer (or Sharon) would be reborn into new bodies – even though audiences have generally taken it that both characters were dead and gone. But they’re also changed creatures as a result of the experiences they had in their former bodies, with Six still lamenting the loss of her love Baltar, and Sharon refusing to give up on the life she had when she was conditioned to believe that she was human. Hailed as heroes of the Cylon for their part in the Colonial holocaust, the two meet on Caprica and take a path by episode’s end that certainly isn’t expected of them. And “Downloaded” itself perhaps takes an unexpected path too, as many fans have always believed that the “Cylon” episode would take place on the heretofore unseen mysterious Cylon homeworld rather than on plain old Caprica. Moore warns, though, that we won’t be seeing that particular planet any time soon.
“That episode will not have that, and we still don’t have any plans to do that,” he says. “My instinct is kind of not to go there. I feel like I don’t have a great clear vision of it; at this point if we tried to do something there it would look very familiar and not as interesting as it is in your imagination.”
Afterall, the Cylon world must be fairly similar to a Caprica or Kobol, right? The Cylons are, more or less, humanoid. “It still has to be a place where bipedal creatures can walk around and do things,” laughs Moore. And that makes sense, too. How disappointing would it be to go to the Cylon homeworld and find that it looks a lot like the outside of a Canadian shopping mall? Or that the Imperious Leader still sits in that really high chair in that really dark room, where the production budget really can’t afford props? Besides, fans thought they weren’t getting this episode at all up until a few weeks ago.
“In fact, it was never off track,” says Moore. “I’d seen that speculation and I was wondering, ‘Why do they keep saying that?’ There was probably some confusion because we were talking about doing a clip show at one point for budgetary reasons. They’re much cheaper to produce and we were having huge cost overruns, but when we split “Resurrection Ship” into two pieces and got another episode out of it, we didn’t need to do a clip show. So that was the episode that got kicked out, and “Downloaded” just moved down the line sequentially because there was an extra episode before it.”
The mention of a clip show (a “greatest hits” sort of segment that relies largely on footage from past episodes) sounds abhorrent, but Moore sees it as a viable option – and in fact he sites several current successful shows that have made the idea respectable again.
“It was a possibility,” he says. “The lion’s share of the reason was that it was strictly money [and] budget. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Part of it was also seeing the success clip shows have had. Desperate Housewives and Lost have been able to have entire clip shows, and they don’t even have the pretext of some kind of framing device where characters think back or whatever. They just put up a whole bunch of [past scenes] and get really good ratings for it! For a show like this that has so many serialized elements to it and complicated stories, there is value to at least considering the idea of putting up a show that does nothing but catch up audiences. There’s still costs because whenever you use a clip you have to pay the actor and director and the writer of that particular episode. So it’s not a freebie, but it’s certainly substantially less than a full-blown episode.”
Click here to read the second part of our interview with Ron Moore about Battlestar Galactica, where he discusses reviving the Battlestar Pegasus (without blowing it up an episode later) and… curing cancer!

The interview mentioned is here:

Galactica: Curing Cancer and Saving Battlestars!

Written by Scott Collura
Thursday, 23 February 2006
In the first part of our new interview with Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ron Moore (
click here to read it), we discussed tomorrow’s “Cylon POV” episode “Downloaded.” As we continue our discussion here with the showrunner, we take a look back at some of the plot threads that took place earlier this season. First up: President Laura Roslin’s recovery from terminal cancer.
“The question was how do we deal with her ongoing illness and resolve that storyline,” recalls Moore of the episode “Epiphanies.” “Baltar finds this connection between certain Cylon cells and how that can be used to cure Laura’s cancer. It [doesn’t] necessarily take off the table the possibility of the cancer coming back. It’s essentially gone, but I’m sort of holding it on the table that it could recur, it could come back. It’s cancer and sometimes you feel like you’re clean and it can come back at some future point.”
For a standard sci-fi TV show it wouldn’t be so surprising for a character to be cured with a script-writer’s snap of the fingers, but for Galactica, which depends greatly on its “realism” (albeit in a sci-fi world), it’s a far trickier plot twist to pull off.
“This particular storyline just really couldn’t drag on indefinitely,” continues Moore. “There was a point where it starts to become false, because you realize, ‘Is she dying or isn’t she?’ It was a terminal prognosis and she’s either going to die or they have to do something about it. And I didn’t want it to be [a cure] from within Colonial science, or some new alien who would show up, or some sort of deus ex machina device. And there was a nice symmetry to the fact that the unborn Cylon child, which is where the blood comes from, that there was something in that that would then be used to help Laura. And that Baltar would be the one to figure that out. All the puzzle pieces seemed to play out pretty well, so I like the way that worked itself into the storyline.”
The episode is interesting because it can also play on a couple of other levels. For one, it’s Moore and Co.’s stab at addressing the stem cell issue debate – “In fact, in the early stages of the script we were using the term stem cells,” he says – but it also ties into Laura Roslin’s religious side. She is seen by many of the Colonials as a sort of religious prophet, and her recovery from the near-death experience of cancer is a second coming, if you will.
“There’s a lot of weight in terms of people saying part of Laura’s authority comes from the idea that she might well be the prophet that is talked about in some of their scriptural references,” says Moore. “And if she’s dying that sort of cements the idea, and if she’s not dying that raises more questions about her legitimacy, about whether they should listen to her in the first place. So it does put things into a different light.”
Playing the “religious card,” as Laura herself would call it, has also allowed the Galactica writing staff to shine a not-always-pleasant light on the religious right of our real world. Take last week’s episode, ‘The Captain’s Hand,’ which saw a debate break out among the Galactica fleet over the topic of abortion – that’s about as real-world an issue as it gets, and it’s something the Colonials must deal with just as us Earth-folk do.
“We’ve established that people from the colony of Geminon tend to be religious, and they have a sort of fundamentalist agenda,” says Moore. “And that sort of political fallout [will be seen in] future episodes. In episode 17, which is “The Captain’s Hand,” a significant B-story is going on that has to do with abortion has to do with the [Geminon people] applying political pressure because they supported Laura as a religious leader and now they want their agenda to be moved forward.”
Moving forward here, as well, Moore also touched on a more fanboy-centric topic during our talk. The topic of the Battlestar Pegasus came up, a throwback to the original Galactica series that has been handled in a much different manner on the modern show. For starters, the Pegasus has actually lasted on the new series for more than two episodes!
“Yeah, I sort of felt that one of the safe assumptions that the audience would have going into that episode was, ‘Well, obviously by the end of this they’re going to destroy the Pegasus or get rid of it in some way,’” laughs Moore. “And I just thought we’d definitely subvert expectations and go in a different direction. So right from the get-go it was, ‘We’re gonna keep the Pegasus around.’”
The same cannot be said for that Battlestar’s commander, however, Admiral Cain.
“She was doomed from the get-go!” Moore laughs again. “Which is interesting: There was never any serious discussion of any other way to go. It wasn’t until we cut it all together and watched it that we really realized what a great job [Cain actress] Michelle Forbes had done. We all kind of went, ‘Gosh, it’s a shame we killed her.’”
Since the Admiral’s untimely passing, the Pegasus has had several replacement commanders in a short spate of time. “The Pegasus sort of has a string of bad luck in terms of its commanders,” chuckles Moore. But so far it’s the hard-ass Cain who’s been most interesting to explore as a character for the writing staff (well, with the exception of the newest CO, Apollo, that is).
“I see [Cain] as a very complicated person who had a very different take down the road that Adama went down,” Moore offers. “But at the same time she was faced with a very different set of circumstances than Adama was faced with. She was literally on her own and she made some hard choices that she felt had to be made, and they were all in service of the same idea that Adama was dealing with, which is survival and striking back at the Cylons. And I think some of the things that she sanctioned were horrific and morally questionable, to say the least, but I don’t think she was a mustache-twirling villain. I just think she was someone who made a different call.”
Rest in peace, Admiral Cain. And Commander Fisk. And Commander Garner… and check back here soon for more from our Ron Moore interview.

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