Ron Moore Q & A on SciFi.com Board from 3/26/07:
Question #1: How difficult is it to make something as original as BSG in an industry that, as you described it accurately, is dominated by 'fear'.
We've seen the fan backlash - do you deal with the same thing on the other side with Sci-Fi and NBC?
It seems they have been very supportive, but when it's something as highly regarded as BSG, they aren't going to say otherwise.
RDM: It's a challenge at times, but in all honesty, I've had a pretty good run of it with BSG on this network and with this studio. We have our arguments -- and a few were doozies -- but by, and large, the political side of this hasn't been that difficult. We butt heads, we get passionate on occasion, but I can't say that I haven't been allowed to do the show that I wanted to do on this network and that's really all that I can ask.
Question #2: Regarding the return of Pegasus this fall; which characters from the Pegasus can we expect to see? I'm pretty sure Cain is coming back, but how about Fisk, Garner, Thorne, Gina, Laird, Hoshi, Stinger, Showboat, Narcho, Gage, and Vireem? Do you have any candidates in mind to play the role of Cain's XO?
RDM: Virtually all of the above have been discussed and we've worked in most -- if not all -- into at least the first draft, but it's way too early to say who might make it into the final show.
Question #3: Next time Helo pulls some traitorous crap could Adama please shoot him in the head? It would really mean a lot to me.
RDM: I was already going to give him the Colonial Cross for Gallantry, but just for that he'll get the Presidential Medal of Freedom too.
Question #4: I would love to ask about your inspiration and motivations, but I just have to know.
Did Michael Hogan (Saul) know he was a cylon since the miniseries? How did you tell him and did his reaction change your interpretation of the character?
RDM: He did not know, and frankly, neither did I.
David Eick and I called each of the actors to tell them they were, in fact, Cylons and their reactions were all very similar in that everyone wanted to know what it meant in terms of changing their characters and what our plans were for the future. I told them about the hows and whys of their new-found heritage and a rough outline of where it was going in the future and in the end, they were all pretty enthusiast -- if scared -- about going in this direction. The same could be said for all of us when we first committed to this story, but by the time it was ready for air, we were all pretty gung-ho about what we'd done and felt eager to show the episode to the audience.
Question #5: Do you already know who the fifth cylon of the final five is? If so, have you already left us some clues?
RDM: Yes and yes.
Question #6: Quote:
"Battlestar Galactica broke the mold of standard science fiction story telling via a TV medium.
From the beginning the show has been surrounded by controversy and negativity. The diehard fans from the original series were furious over Ron D. Moore's choice to cast Starbuck and Boomer as women. They were furious that the Cylons looked human and were hot. There was controversy surrounding the parallells to our own story and in particular 9/11 and the aftermath of such a tragedy as well as the correlation between Cylons and terrorism.
Since day one people have complained, protested and utterly despised this retelling of an old tale.
"But then the mini-series aired. The story instantly garnered a loyal fanbase and after the story went to a series many people were hooked. They were mesmerized by this show that was gritty, dark, emotional and real. People could identify with the characters as well as the stories. The personal relationships were wrought with drama and pain (much like real life). Survivors of a holocaust fled from their homeworlds in search of a mythical planet called Earth.
It was the beginning of what seemed to be an amazing journey and one helluva ride.
"As the shows story began to unfold new fans came and went, but the core fanbase grew and people start to take notice of this science fiction show on the sci-fi channel (known primarily for it's cheesy made-for-tv movies and typical sci-fi schlock) that was taking the world by storm. People fell in love with the characters. They felt a deep connection - a connection some probably didn't think was possible for 'just a tv show'. And so the story progressed. And soon people realized once again that this show was taking them on a ride. An unknown destination of drama, action and suspense wrapped tightly around a core of science fiction.
"Battlestar Galactica did the unthinkable week after week. Main characters went from good guy to bad guy overnight - relationships ended just as abruptly as new ones started. By the end of the first season everything you had loved in the miniseries and first few episodes had been turned on it's head and to top it off the main character - Commander Adama - the backbone of the entire story in both versions - was shot! And so this new show telling an old story nearly killed off it's main character in the first season.
"People were shocked. Outraged. Mesmerized.
And then season 2 began. Suddenly everything changed once again. What we thought was the truth turned out to be lies. Things we were led to believe were one way had been ripped out from under us and replaced with new concepts and ideas. A tumultuous brand of storytelling to say the least. And the core fan base kept growing while many came and went. And the anger continued and it grew. A rumble that began in season 1 turned into a roar by the end of season 2 with a one year leap into the future.
"Once again everything was turned on it's ear as what seemed like an end to a great story was shocked back to life with a cliffhanger that left everybody talking. And of course the naysayers and the haters came out in droves to protest. How dare this show pull the rug out from under them yet again. How dare these people tell a story the way they want to tell it with blatant disregard for generic story telling. Growing pains ensued as both the show and the fanbase emerged renewed and refreshed at the start of season 3.
"More people complained about a sci-fi show taking place on the ground. Blindly scolding everyone from the actors to the writers to Ronald D. Moore and David Eick themselves for destroying their perfect concepts and preconceived notions of what THEY wanted Battlestar Galactica to be. More and more people began to complain throughout season 3 as they felt lost. Abandoned. Disoriented. Much like the survivors of New Caprica. Where was this show going? What was it's destination and how would it ever get there?
"And because Battlestar Galactica challenged a lot of those people, they stopped watching. Disgusted that 'their' precious story could take such an ugly turn. Upset that the characters they had fallen in love with could suddenly change and become people they didn't like. All the while ignoring the simple fact that the more and more they complained and revolted against this constantly changing story, the more they advocated a stale, stagnant and generic television show.
"Battlestar Galactica broke molds almost every episode. And sometimes it even broke it's own mold and took you in a new and different direction. And then it happened - David Eick and Ronald D. Moore killed one of the main characters. Mind you it had been done before, but not like this. Not such a prominent individual that had been there from day one. Not one of the icons of the old series. My god, not Starbuck! And thus near the middle of season 3 this show once again spun you around and sucker punched you before you knew what had happened. Starbuck was gone. People went nuts.
"The show's fanbase lessened with season 3 because people just couldn't handle it. They didn't want to watch a show that they couldn't rely on. A show that flipped their world upside down every week. No stability. No security blanket. No guide rails. They didn't want to feel how the characters in the show felt. They didn't want to feel lost and disoriented. They wanted nice and neat little packages wrapped in pretty bows every week. They wanted Star Trek. They wanted constant closure and reassurance.
"But they didn't get it. And so they left or they rebelled. And suddenly the fanbase for Battlestar Galactica was divided by two factions. Those who loved the show and those who hated it and despised it. Thus two warring groups that reflected almost exactly what the show itself had created. But the show carried on. And still loyal fans followed every turn, every dip, every jarring bump as the creators continued to tell their story the way they wanted to tell it. And those who opposed the show continued to cry in protest. And just when things had come to a head the season 3 finale ended and the line in the sand had been drawn.
"Starbuck had returned. Earth was looming in the horizon. Characters we loved and hated were now Cylons. The confusion was larger than ever and as the credits rolled we picked our sides. Thus with season 4 far off in the distance Battlestar Galactica prepares to take it's viewers on another ride. And some will buy the ticket while others will not. And then there are those that will take the ride only to complain about it. And once again the best show on television will tell its story on its own terms, in its own way and you will either love it or you will hate it. But in the end you'll look back and realize how much fun you really had. How emotionally involved you were. And you will miss it after its gone.
"Some day you will understand."
Darling, would you please comment on this most excellent (IMO), post?
RDM: At the risk of sounding self-serving, I'd say this is a very well-written post that reflects a lot of my own personal feelings about the show. I part company in terms of his theory as to the reason that the show's ratings were soft in the third season, in that I'm not sure there's a single, rational, coherent explanation for the drop-off. We talk about this internally quite a bit and there are myriad factors involved determining audience share on any given night. To me, the bottom-line is we're still on the air and I've got a fourth season -- that's really all I care about, that and the fact that I'm being allowed to do the show I want to do. If people show up to watch it, I'm grateful and if they don't, I wish they had, but beyond that I don't spend too much time in analyzing the reasons behind the ratings, in all honesty.
Question #7: What was the significance of Chief Tyrol going to that room with the fan? Is there something hidden behind the fan that will be used later on?
RDM: The fan was actually something of a widow, i.e. a remnant in the script of something cut from a previous draft. Early drafts had Tyrol walking the corridors late at night to find some way of getting his son to go to sleep. In his nocturnal wanderings, he found that there was a specific resonant hum in the ship on a particular neck that seemed to lull Nicky to sleep in the way that driving around a child will sometimes help them to fall asleep (a truly southern California way of parenting, I'm sure). Tyrol himself later found that this was the place where he heard the odd strains of music that would later turn out to be the song heard by all four Cylons. Through the rewrite process, the walking of Nicky was dropped, but Tyrol was still drawn to a specific place that had been originally designed with a fan in order to visualize what was creating the "hum" that was putting Nicky to sleep.
Question #8: There is a long discussion in what has become known as the "women's thread" about the "touch ups" done to the promo and other photos of the actors before they are released or put on the web. In particular, the significant airbrushing of Mary McDonnell's photos. We know this doesn't come from BSG's producers -- but who makes these decisions? And why? It's an interesting dilemma, I suppose, for a network looking for a "young" demographic. How do you market "older" actors -- especially female actors. Has this type of thing been an issue at all, since you've created a character in Roslin that simply doesn't exist on other programs and is, therefore, charting new territory?
RDM: There are two issues here to me. The first is my utter contempt and loathing for the industry-wide practice of airbrushing (or whatever we're calling the digital equivalent these days) the images of all actors and actresses for publicity campaigns. It's absurd and ridiculous to alter the images of these people to the point where they look as if a trowel had been taken to their faces, all in the name of making them "more attractive." Mary McDonnell is a beautiful woman and anyone who would look at a photo of her and decide that she needs digital "help" is a philistine and a moron in my book. It's also a complete and cynical lie that the marketing people foist on the audience, who will then see the film or television program being sold with these plastic images and see for themselves that yes, Richard Gere's face has actually aged since 1984 and yet somehow I haven't run screaming from my seat.
Second, I think that while the marketing of "older" actors is still something that gives industry professionals the hives, it has gotten better in my opnion in recent years. With the much-heralded aging of the baby boomers has come a sudden willingness to view stories featuring someone old enough to remember when MTV actually showed music television. I think that the audience acceptance -- and outright embrace of -- both Mary and Eddie in a genre that's been living on young actors in leading roles for quite some time is a welcome change and one I hope continues.
Question #9: will the burgeoning Cult of Baltar in the show fulfill an important, positive role in events to come or should i distance myself from said cult before i have to eat my own hat?
RDM: Important? Definitely.
Positive? Like everything else in this show, it depends on how you look at it.
Question #10: Ginger or Mary Ann?
RDM: Is the universe so unfair and unfeeling that it would really present such choices as a zero sum game?
Question #11: do you feel guilty about the environmental damage caused by
fossil fuels that must be burned in order to produce the show?
RDM: I feel guilty about the damage my species does to the planet on a regular basis.
But I manage.
Question #12: I have been a huge champion of this show and have frequently and patiently counseled friends that sometimes didn't embrace the way the show challenges us and keeps us on our toes. Those are the reasons I believe this is one the best science fiction shows I have ever seen and a breakthrough television drama.
Therefore, I was surprised when "Maelstrom" aired. It felt like sheer exploitation for no reason. I felt that you took your pen and stabbed us in the eye, because you could (and maybe part of you wanted to). I really felt like it was passive aggressive.
How do you like me now?
RDM: I don't look at "Maelstrom" like that and I'm sorry you do.
"... if you print that in your paper, our relationship will be terminated."
"Sir, we don't have a relationship..."
-- All the President's Men
Question #13: If the 7 Cylons aren't aware of the Final Five, just who is it that Caprica Six saw on Caprica before the attack? Will this ever get brought up again or is it basically a dropped plot line?
RDM: While reserving the right to change my mind later, this is most likely a plot element we're not going to be revisiting.
Question #14: All right, Here's my question: I enjoy the show very much and have been trying to get my friends to watch it also. However they are daunted by the complexity of the story and many do not really have the time to sit and watch all of the episodes since they have families and other responsibilities. Usually the next thing I get asked after telling them the series is available on DVD "Are there novels which tell the story?"
I have noticed the mountain of Fan Fiction being written by us fans(including myself) and that seems to indicate, in my mind anyway, an interest in seeing this marvelous story in a printed format. I also feel it would make the story more accessible to newcomers to the show. Why has this not been done yet? I think it would've brought even more viewers to the show(so the ratings would not be so low)...........
RDM: To be honest, I don't know why they haven't commissioned more novels of the show. I can only assume that the people in licensing and marketing know their business and if they felt they could sell them that they would and if they're not, it's because they don't think there's enough of a market there. Hope they're wrong and hope they decide to do it someday.
Question #15: Ron, are you aware of the major discontinuity created by the episode "Hero"? The timeline estabilshed for Adama's military service on Valkyrie doesn't mesh at all with previous statements in the show about how long he's served on Galactica. According to many other episodes, such as Act of Contrition, Adama was on Galactica for at least two years before the attacks. But in Hero, he was commanding Valkyrie one year before.
Did you guys just mess up on this one? Any explanation for how Adama was serving on two different ships? Was he transferred to Valkyrie just for that one mission?
RDM: I've actually been curious as to the discontinuity people keep talking about in regards to this episode and the timeline, but I've never gotten a clear explanation of how our chronology is off. I do recall having extended conversations with the writers and our script supervisors about the chronology of events, the timeline as actually established in the show and how the "Hero" backstory fit into it all. I'd be curious to read a detailed explanation of the discontinuity and see where our internal calculations vary from those being bandied about on-line. All I can tell you is that it made sense to us in-house and if there's an error present in the show it's not for lack of trying.
Question #16: Have you worked out how Tigh's status as a cylon will be reconciled with the fact that he served during the first cylon war?
RDM: Yes, we have. A lot of time and effort has gone into the rationale behind this revelation as well as the other four. Trust me, it works out in the end.
Question #17: t seems that one of the major drives of the show in recent times has been to have the audience see the cylons as more than machines... to see them as real people. if cylons are people, why aren't they included in the survivor count at the beginning of the episodes?
RDM: The audience has always seen them as people by virtue of the fact that we made them look human in the mini-series. However, the drive of the show is not to validate this assumption, but to challenge it each week and force the audience to ask themselves over and over again the question as to whether the Cylons are truly people and what is the definition of that term.
Question #18: Seriously does BSG really ever have to end?? I mean I am getting hives thinking about it. Jamie and Katee have such incredible chemistry together the K/L shippers were hoping for a Kara Lee spin off once they find earth....ala.....LA Law meets The X files or something....I mean come on....we're dying here....any chances of this? If it is set on Earth even slightly in the future you wouldn't need a huge budget for SFX....how about it?
RDM: I think our show has a definite beginning, middle and end. There's a story to be told here that moves toward a definite conclusion and I think our biggest mistake would be to just try and continue to churn out episodes for as long as we could get them on the air. Certain stories need an ending, and this is one of them. I'll miss it more than you can know, but you gotta be true to the tale you're telling.
Question #19: do you ever indugle yourself by thinking up of side stories and histories for the BSG universe, such as thinking up stories about rivalries between certain colonies in the distant past, fake political crisis, the rise and fall of regimes in the 12 colonies, or stories revolving on characters from periods of time that will never even make a blip in cannon? not necessarily related to the founding of the colonies, kobol, earth or anything crucial, just the bits and pieces that fill in the world, making it more vibrant in your mind.you know, just for the fun of it.
RDM: I do think about a lot of these things as I work on the show, but most are never developed in my head beyond references that imply certain major events or sociological movements. For instance, when I had Laura mention sending the Marines in to quell the rioting on Aerilon, it suggested to me a significant political moment in the recent history of the Colonies wherein the President essentially sent in "federal" troops for the first time on the soil of a sovereign Colony since the ratification of the Articles of Colonization. In my mind, this had set a tone for a strengthened federal role for the president of the Colonies, but at the same time had produced increased tension among the Colonies themselves, exacerbating the feeling that poorer worlds like Aerilon were treated one way which richer planets like Caprica were dealt with another way. This later fed into Baltar's manifesto and his observation of the class system emerging in the rag-tag fleet and how it mirrored the social structure of the pre-attack Colonies.
Question #20: Sure, I'll take a shot. When, exactly, in the creative process did you decide that the story need not be bound by any of the elements that it had previously established?
RDM: I take the continuity of the show and the consistancy of the universe we've created quite seriously, but I don't feel that one must be a puritan in this regard. We have a covenant with the audience to keep as regards honoring the history we've established and we all strive mightily to keep it week after week. However, I will not be hamstrung by an off-hand reference to an event being on a Tuesday if later I need that event to take place on a Wednesday -- if the initial reference has no real bearing on the show. If Captain Kirk says that he's from the United Earth Space Probe Agency one week and calls it the United Federation of Planets another week, I'm willing to grant him that license in pursuit of constructing a better and stronger series universe. I won't consider changes that I think change the fundamentals of what's important to me in the series, but I am willing to make compromises around the margins. The difficulty comes when you, the audience, feel that I've changed something important and that it has a destructive impact on the show and damages your viewing experience. In that instance, I'm sorry you feel that way, but I simply look at the show from a different perspective than you do and I guess your mileage does indeed, vary.
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