Interesting article about how the new Battlestar Galactica came about: "Ron Moore's Deep Space Journey".

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20 Responses:

  1. drstein says:

    That was a pretty good article. Interesting to note that a lot of the people that discounted the show before it aired changed their minds after seeing it.

    I've greatly enjoyed the new show so far. I've seen all of the original episodes and while they're great for nostalgia, I prefer the newer episodes. Sci-fi is great, and I don't mind the blending of some drama with it.

    • rpkrajewski says:

      Interesting to note that a lot of the people that discounted the show before it aired changed their minds after seeing it.

      Yeah, seeing that a lot of SF fans operate the opposite way, acknowledging that at a series is mediocre but insisting on watching it anyway, vainly holding out hope for it to improve.

  2. dougo says:

    Nice article, but I'm a little disappointed that it didn't mention "Firefly" or Serenity in the context of "naturalistic science fiction". The new "Battlestar Galactica" seems to owe at least a small debt to the visual style of "Firefly", particularly in the "handheld camera in deep space" effects. (I wish they had kept the "space is silent" part too, but I guess it's just too hard to resist making explosions sound like explosions.)

    • violentbloom says:

      I like the new battlestar better than the original...
      did you notice they're playing the firefly episodes again starting next week as a "premiere"?
      wish there had been more than one season.

      • jwz says:

        Yeah, that's pretty hokey. It's only a "premiere" in that it used to be on Fox, and now it's on Scifi. But, it'll probably get 5x the audience this time around.

        The original Galactica sucked. Especially the second season when they landed on Earth, and, I don't know, had crossover episodes with CHiPs or The Love Boat or whatever it was they did.

      • dougo says:

        Yep. I like that they're starting with the original pilot (2-parter) rather than the episode that first aired. I wonder if they'll show the 3 episodes that never aired on Fox.

        I really enjoyed the reruns of the original Battlestar Galactica, cheesy as it was. I hope the second season of the new series brings back "felgercarb"!

    • amcmillan says:

      I'm tired of hearing this Battlestar Galactica ripped off Firefly nonsense.

      • December 2001 - Sci-Fi approach David Eick.
      • Dunno 200x - David Eick approaches Ron Moore.
      • Dunno 200x - Moore writes "naturalistic science fiction" memo.
      • Dunno 200x - Sci-Fi green-light mini-series production.
      • April 2002 - Sci-Fi announce mini-series production.
      • September 2002 - Firefly starts airing.

      Putting aside the possibility of time travel for the moment, how could Moore's "naturalistic science fiction" ideas have been inspired by Firefly?

      • dougo says:

        I don't think they got the ideas from "Firefly", just some specific visual effects. The other similarities are probably parallel evolution. I just think it deserved a mention in the Times article—with two examples they could call it a movement! (Is there a third example?)

        • amcmillan says:

          But the visual effects you are talking about, basically simulating the use of hand-held cameras in visual effects shots, were outlined in the memo which pre-dates the airing of Firefly.

          Visual. The first thing that will leap out at viewers is the dynamic use of the documentary or cinema verite style. Through the extensive use of hand-held cameras, practical lighting, and functional set design, the battlestar Galactica will feel on every level like a real place.

          Perhaps nowhere will this be more surprising than in our visual effects shots. Our ships will be treated like real ships that someone had to go out and film with a real camera. That means no 3-D "hero" shots panning and zooming wildly with the touch of a mousepad. The questions we will ask before every VFX shot are things like: "How did we get this shot? Where is the camera? Who's holding it? Is the cameraman in another spacecraft? Is the camera mounted on the wing?" This philosophy will generate images that will present an audience jaded and bored with the same old "Wow -- it's a CGI shot!" with a different texture and a different cinematic language that will force them to re-evaluate their notions of science fiction.

          • dougo says:

            Huh. So I guess Firefly ripped off Battlestar Galactica. Thanks for the pointer, I didn't realize the full memo was online.

            I see they planned for space to be silent too, wonder what happened there. And to stay under the speed of light, although maybe jumping isn't considered FTL. I don't think they've explained the artificial gravity yet either, or even acknowledged its existence. And, sadly, the computers are still the standard cliched movie-style computers. And ooh, don't network them together, or the Cylons will hack in!

            • sherbooke says:

              TV/movies rarely get computers right. None of the Star Trek series ever got it right. I liked the ST episode where they effectively *rebooted* the ship. Even Alien didn't get it right - the central monolith. The madness of Independance Day where the Mac communicates with the alien ship with no modification at all.

              To take a real-live parallel, the standard sea-going cargo-ship or naval destroyer. These ships have multiple systems, some independant, some networked. Not all of them can be programmed. None of them speak. None of them have personalities - unless you're an engineer who's listened to the bytes for too long. None of them have control of the ship. Doesn't the Shuttle have 5 computers which work on a voting system?

              On long voyages, quite a few systems break down and have to be repaired. Years ago I read an article about the Nimitz which said that the lash-ups needed to keep it going for a years continous independant non-Continental USA duty would render it inoperative. All modern sea-borne ships require huge supply and maintenance chains; they're like small children which need to continually nursed, particularly the higher tech ships operating in a hostile marine environment. This is the bit that Alien got right in a big way. Compare and contrast with Voyager. I agree with Moore that the Voyager series was pants.

              Come to think of it, wasn't it Crimson Tide which had a neat scene about programming the analysis computers for the sonar. The operator had to go away and do some work on it; he had to re-program it. It wasn't shown but at least it was acknowledged. Another good example was an early episode of Blake's 7 which featured a power-mad sysadmin denying people access to the mainframe.

              Programming or computers don't make good drama. Proactive maintenance schedules even less.

            • amcmillan says:

              I don't think either series ripped the other off. I think they were both just reacting against the "staid" visual effects shots of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager.

      • phs says:

        Well, I don't think they "ripped off" Firefly, but they certainly paid it homage. In the miniseries, as the camera is panning down to soon-to-be-President Roslin receiving the bad news about her health, look closely at the ships in the sky. You'll see the Serenity coming in for a landing.

    • hafnir says:

      Sure I've heard the "space is silent" argument before, but I've always just considered it sound displaced from the visuals. In the same sense that Kirk goes "Kahn!" but the visual is of the planet Kirk's on. So you're hearing the sound of one location and seeing the visual of another location. Same with the sounds of weapons firing, you see what's going on outside the ship but hear what you might hear from inside the ship, and likewise with explosions (i.e. the sounds you might hear if you were in the ship that's exploding). So I say again, Kahn! :)

  3. usufructer says:

    Thanks for the bokmarklet mention, I never noticed that it was there.

  4. cyeh says:

    'Maybe I'm stubborn and pigheaded, but . . . '

    Gee, a stubborn, pigheaded science-fiction fan that refuses to let go. What a complete shock.