Q&A with "Battlestar" Showrunner Ron Moore
On the Return of Starbuck, Falling Ratings and 'Caprica' Prequel
By James Hibberd
Last week Sci Fi Channel announced the pickup of nine more episodes of its Peabody Award-winning series "Battlestar Galactica."
The pickup completes a partial fourth-season order that left the show's fans in suspense over the fate of the show. A third-season storyline drawing parallels to the war in Iraq won critical raves, yet ratings have slipped, leaving some comparing the show to another serialized cult program struggling in its third season, ABC's "Lost."
Developer and executive producer Ron Moore spoke to TelevisionWeek about the show's future, its ratings, the long-planned "Caprica" prequel and the return of fan favorite Starbuck.
TelevisionWeek: You've said the show is going into its third act. How many seasons do you want that act to be, and, if this is a different answer, how many do you anticipate that it will be?
Ron Moore: It's a hard question and something I'm grappling with right now. It's going into the third act and there's a couple chapters left, and they could be 10 episode chapters, 20-episode or 30. We're moving toward the climax of the series and resolution of storylines. We're just in the process of sitting down and mapping out the fourth season. We're excited about having those decisions in-house. So far, the network has very much been saying, "We'll take our cues from you."
TVWeek: "Battlestar" was one of several NBC Universal shows that produced webisodes last year, until the Writers Guild of America ordered members to cease writing short-form content due to a lack of separate compensation for the work. Were you happy with the first round of webisodes?
Mr. Moore: I thought we did a good job with them. It was a big learning curve. We had to piggyback on the existing production. There was no money to build a new set or even go to a different set -- we had to shoot it right on the same sets we were using that same day. That said, the story we came up with ... it was an interesting story.
TVWeek: After "killing" one of the most popular characters on the show, Starbuck, she reappears in the last scene in the March 25 finale. Does that mean she'll be back for season four?
Mr. Moore: Yes, definitely.
TVWeek: Katie Sackhoff [who plays Starbuck] made it sound in media interviews as if she's off the show and getting new jobs. Was that part of the ruse?
Mr. Moore: We were trying to walk a very fine line. She was very careful how she phrased it. We wanted people to feel the loss. We didn't want to put Katie in the position of lying to people. She did look for other work and is getting other work -- just other work that won't interfere with her "Battlestar" commitments.
TVWeek: Sci Fi also announced a two-hour "Galactica" movie to air this fall. Will that pick up where season three leaves off, or will it be something different?
Mr. Moore: It will be completely different. It didn't feel right to try and resolve the cliffhanger with a single airing and DVD release. It didn't make any sense. We told a story that takes place in the past in the "Galactica" universe but relates to events in the fourth season.
There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief: "Battlestar Galactica's" (Frakked Up) Season Finale
Ronald D. Moore and David Eick know how to handle pain. "Battlestar's" executive producers are skilled at inflicting it on their characters, and aren't above sharing a little with viewers. Adama, Sam, Starbuck, Apollo, Tigh, Tyrol, Cally and Baltar all went through the emotional wringer this season, transforming from revolutionaries and war heroes to criminals, traitors and psychological wrecks. Personal rifts and betrayals severed ties and created unusual alliances, a few between humans and Cylons.
But I believe a friend of mine spoke for many a "BSG" viewer when she wrote in an e-mail:
You know what those letters stand for. You probably even said the words out loud, only in your living room, that "F" probably didn't stand for "Frak."
Don't let anyone tell you you're not entitled to a little swearing. Many mourned ace Viper pilot Kara Thrace's shocking demise only to find out that she isn't really dead. Three episodes after her apparent death, Starbuck rose again, appearing to a confused Lee Adama to be very much alive and ready to lead Galactica and its battered fleet to Earth. (Happy Easter, folks! The coincidental messianic symbolism should not be lost on you.) She told Lee she's been there and made it back – in the very same ship he saw storm winds crush to smithereens.
BSGwatch: The Road to the Final Five
Posted by James Poniewozik
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't watched Battlestar Galactica yet, stop. I will not talk falsely now; the hour is getting late.
So that was kind of a big one, yes? The makers of BSG had promised that the end of this season would be shocking and would entirely change the direction of the show, which on the one hand is true and on the other hand not at all so. Certainly turning four characters into Cylons and bringing Earth into our sights is a big deal. On the other hand--a change in direction? Most of the season has focused on getting ever closer to Earth and to the revelation of the Final Five, so maybe the bigger shock would have been if none of it had happened. And didn't you start suspecting the Cylon reveal once Tigh, Anders, Tyrol and Foster started picking up those signals from what, apparently, was Bob Dylan's XM show? (Also, seriously: who thought Kara was dead, like totally, never-appearing-on-the-show-again dead? Did you think Grey's Anatomy was going to kill off Meredith, too?)
I have to give the producers credit for going for the bold ending, in a way that courted risibility, and often got it. I mean, I'm sorry, when you have a character look at herself in the mirror and seriously intone "I can't get no relief," that's going to be hilarious even if the destruction of the human race is at stake. But I'll still be eagerly looking forward to season 4, and I'm sure plenty of BSG fans will spend the rest of the year anxiously parsing "All Along the Watchtower"'s lyrics.