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October 14, 2005
Blog: The Return

Yes, it's been too frakking long.

A few random things, then I'll answer some questions:

Today is something of a notable day, in that we're putting out first drafts on the final three episodes of Season Two, which means that we're now officially in the endgame. There's a sense of relief, coupled with sadness, now that the last first drafts are being published, because it means that the heavy-lifting (in terms of writing) has come to a close, and that the final stories have been laid before us. When I was at Trek, and doing 26 hours a year, the end of the season was more an occasion for the bleary-eyed and nearly brain-dead staff to plan their escapes from the Hart Building and grab a few blissful days of drunken vacation before returning to plan out the next season than it had a taste of the bittersweet. With Galactica, while the end does bring with it the happy thoughts of not having to start with a blank page again this year and the reward of time spent thinking about something besides Kara's missing ovaries ("Now, where did I leave those ovaries? They were right here a minute ago...") it's also a reminder of just how fast this trip is going. Two seasons and a miniseries nearly under our belt at this point. How is that possible? I can't decide if I'm just getting old or if the special quality of this experience is truly making it all seem like it's roaring past me at an impossibly fast pace.

One thing that has become apparent in recent days is just how committed we are around here to maintaining the quality of the show and our incredible dissatisfaction when those goals are not met. I found myself not only dissatisfied last night, but positively angry with myself at something I knew in my bones had fallen well below the bar I set for myself and for the show in general. I won't go into it now (maybe later) but it was one of those situations where I looked at something and had to listen to the voice inside my head say "You screwed this one up." Nothing pisses me off more than not making a show the best I think it can be and in this case, there was no one to blame but myself. The only solace I take from it is the knowledge that it does still piss me off and therefore I am still doing something I'm passionately engaged in. Far too many writers, producers, directors and actors I've known have been stuck doing things that they either didn't care about or actually loathed, and I've been extremely fortunate in always being emotionally engaged in the projects I've worked on.

Okay. Enough navel-gazing.

Oh, I thought I'd mention that while I was working up in Vancouver a couple days ago, the original Galactica series was on Space TV (the Canadian version of SciFi) and I kept it on in the background while I was working on a script rewrite. There was something interesting and fun about writing the words "Starbuck" and "Apollo" and "Adama" and "Baltar" while their predecessors were carrying on within earshot. There was a connectivity to it, a sense-memory of sitting in my parents' living room in Chowchilla watching that very episode back in the '70s on our console TV that gave me pleasure and made me feel that what I was doing in the moment of writing the new adventures of this ship and its crew had a direct linkage to what had gone before.

Enough already. Questions:

"In the episode the Farm, Kara gets captured by the cylons, only they do not want her to know they are cylons. In order to get her to trust them, Dr. Simon tells Kara that she was brought in by Anders and that Anders has died. Later on, Dr. Simon makes a mistake when he calls Kara Starbuck, a name that Kara never used when talking to Dr. Simon.

My questions:

1. Did the cylons really just get lucky when they attacked or was it an ambush?

2. I realize that Dr. Simon would know who Starbuck is from cylon intelligence. What I do not understand is this: how did Dr. Simon know Anders' name?"

1. It was just an ambush, but the idea was that they had been tracking and planning to come down hard on Anders' resistance cell for a while.

2. They knew who Anders was, knew that he was a resistance leader in the area, and knew enough about his relationship with Starbuck to realize they were important to one another. Internally, we talked about the idea that Anders' cell might've been infiltrated by a Cylon agent, who provided this information, but it never made it into the script.


"I must say that even though I'm in my 30s, Mary McDonnell is my fave actress/Roslin is fave character. I love how she combines femininity with strength. I also love the reaction her character provokes in those who watch -- you can see it here on the boards. For some reason, the overly testosteroned crowd hates that "this woman" has the gall to demand to be treated as an equal by Adama. I don't know why her character, as opposed to Starbuck's or Sharon's, for example, provokes such anger (I remember most of all the "Roslin must die!," and "Roslin's Nasty Comments" threads - where she was called a "hag," and "total bitch," as well as the claims from some during the Home Part 2 discussion that Adama was "weak" and "wussified" by reuniting with the president).

I wonder, are you aware of this reaction of some to Roslin, and what is your view?"

I am aware of it and I tend to shrug it off like I do a lot of comments about the show and the characters. I like Laura and I like the way we've played her as President. I think the comments about her say more about the people making them, than it does about the character itself, frankly. I've found it interesting that there's a school of thought out there which claims that Laura should've been completely sidelined from the very beginning, that Adama should've declared martial law from the outset and ignored civilian government altogether. It probably says something about me that I found that very notion to be antithetical to the underpinnings of a decent and democratic society, and I remember the very conscious choice I made in the early stages of this project that while Colonial society was going to be flawed and riddled with problems, that at its base, it was going to be a fundamentally decent and democratic one. It was not going to toss its principles over the side in a time of crisis. It was not going to turn itself into a security-above-all state. There were certain things that mattered more than survival, certain things that mattered more than safety. They were going to hang on to their government and their rights as citizens as best they could under the situation, and would give up those rights and freedoms only grudgingly. Laura Roslin is the personification of that idea. She wasn't elected, she wasn't chosen, she arguably wasn't even ready for the role, but she represented continuity to the traditions and principles undergirding their society, and she would stand for them until she died.


"Having watched Star Trek for many years, and now an avid Galactica watcher; I have noticed unlike the Star Trek shows of the past...we know little about how Galactica works. We don't know much about her engines at all, what powers the ship..weapons. Is this an intentional effort to steer Battlestar Galactica away from the technobabble Star Trek would often be muddled in and focus time exclusively on the characters of the show? Will we learn and see more of Galactica in the future?"

I did want to stay away from the technobabble that I felt sometimes swamped the characters in Trek, and so I have intentionally avoided discussion of the technical workings of Galactica. Bit by bit, however, small windows into the inner workings do come to light and I'm sure will continue to do so in the future. Also, in all honesty, the writing staff often felt that the technological detail of the Enterprise was as limiting on Trek as it was helpful. We'd established so much about the way the engines worked and didn't work that we sometimes found ourselves discarding perfectly good story ideas or scenes because it contradicted some bit of jargon we'd tossed out two seasons before. There was always the option to write around those kind of details, of course, but inevitably, the thought of yet more tech-talk to justify doing what we wanted to do became a real irritant and we'd usually just try a different approach.

"I never felt the need to post a question before, because the show has been so airtight, but the Tomb element "Home II" leaves me a little bewildered, and the podcast didn't answer my questions. How did it end? I mean, how did Adama et. all get out of the projection, or whatever it was? Did it just fade off after a certain amount of time? Can it be replayed? Why can't the fleet send a bunch of astronomy experts or math whizes down to Kobol to view the Tomb a few times and get some pictures and calculations?"

There was an original ending where the Cylons attacked the Tomb at the last minute, blotting out the information and preventing us from gathering more, but we lost that mostly due to budget constraints and to a sense that the show was over dramatically and another battle was unnecessary. I assume that Adama et al, simply walked out of the chamber once the projection was over (I also assume it was a holographic projection of some sort). We set up in the script that the Scriptures predicted a "price in blood" would be paid by anyone visiting Kobol, so that would presumably keep Adama from inviting yet more people down to the surface for work inside the Tomb. It's a fair question and very logical, but I think that my assumption is that the ground team got enough accurate information from the projection before they left in order to have a decent idea of the general location of Earth -- or at least as much information as was available.