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Drew interviews Battlestar Galactica's Ron Moore
Posted by Drew at 2008-03-18 9:09:12 AM, edited 2008-03-18 1:29:45 PM (205 comments) | Permalink
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7014 clicks; posted to Main » on 18 Mar 2008 at 1:20 PM (9 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



I don't watch a lot of TV. Hardly any in fact. Mainly because I don't have a lot of spare time. I tend to pass on shows that most people like because they're not great.

I follow very few shows, and Battlestar Galactica is one of them. Its fourth and final season starts on April 4th.

The original BSG was a campy sci-fi show from the late 70s described as a wagon train in space. 12 human planetary colonies are destroyed in an attack by robots (cylons), forcing the survivors head off into space in search of a mythical 13th colony called Earth. Some (most) of the plot elements were highly questionable. For example, in the pilot the survivors decide to go gambling on a vegas-like planet complete with lounge-singing alien women who have too many eyes/lips/ears/etc but still only two boobs.

I loved the show as a kid but like most old sci-fi it doesn't stand up to the test of time. And by not stand up I mean it blew ass.

There was a companion series called Galactical 1980 that tried to address Galactica's arrival at Earth, but it was just more nonsense. There were flying motorcycles, disputes with ranchers in California, and time travel adventures to fight Hitler. I didn't make any of that up.

20 years passed.

I'm not sure when it started but at some point Hollywood realized all you had to do to garner an instant audience was to resurrect an old TV show or movie and "re-imagine" it. This led to a flood of remakes that still continues to this day, and some even stranger derivatives such as Hasbro landing a four-movie deal based on its board games.

It was bound to happen that a questionable show would be remade into something better. Enter Ron Moore.

Rather than attempting to sound like an expert on material I just now looked up on Wikipedia, here's what I know about Ron Moore without doing any research. His credits include:
Star Trek: TNG - didn't watch much of this
Star Trek: Deep Space 9 - didn't watch much of this either
Some other stuff - didn't watch any of it
Carnivale on HBO - pretty freakin good although the plot started to drag when it got popular, which I suspect was not a coincidence. (Actually I did finally look this up, the plot started to drag right around the time Moore left the show, probably not a coincidence either).

Most of what I know about Moore stems from my friend and Fark Mod Emeritus Wil Wheaton who worked with him on multiple occasions and who once told me (paraphrased) "Ron wrote all the good episodes of Star Trek". Of which there were apparently many, regardless of the fact that Ashley Judd remained clothed in her episode. I don't think Moore had anything to do with this, however.

Moore decided to strip out all the dumb stuff from the 70s version of BSG and remake it into a much darker, dystopian vision. Without going into a long description of how it's different, I can sum up thusly: comparing old BSG to new BSG is like comparing Gilligan's Island to Lost. Although you have to also pretend that Lost got better as it went on, because BSG certainly did. Lost, not so much. It's plot resembles its name.

The reason BSG is good is simple: Moore decided to make a show that was a drama first, sci-fi second. Emphasis was placed on character development, not special effects. This is probably why the show works for me, I take a dim view of science fiction shows. I come into a new scifi show assuming they'll rely too heavily on crappy ubiquitous special effects, and 99% of the time that's exactly what happens. Not so with BSG.

BSG challenges viewers to consider what they would do in a similar situation. For example, say you're against torture, something not many people are in favor of outside of the current administration. What about torturing a machine that looked human? What if it was capable of feeling pain, even severe pain? What level of abuse would be profoundly disturbing? And finally, what if this machine belonged to a group responsible for the recent murder of your entire family, all your friends, and for that matter everyone you ever met?

To give you an idea of how far this show can spin your moral compass, during Season 3 I actually caught myself at one point rooting for a character to commit genocide. BSG uses its science fiction setting to highlight the other side of issues you previously thought were settled in your own mind. It does so just enough without becoming preachy or belaboring the point. And it will never tell you which side of the argument is right or not. In BSG, oftentimes characters when make the right choices it turns out to be the wrong decision.

A few months back, someone from the sci-fi channel sent me an updated image tag for our database. I mentioned to them offhand that I was a fan of BSG and wouldn't mind helping with the Season 4 launch. They asked what I wanted to do, I randomly said "interview Ron Moore." One thing led to another, and it actually happened.

I recently had a chance to catch up with Moore, who was kind enough to oblige an interview.

-----

Drew Curtis: Thanks for agreeing to do this. I appreciate it.

Ron Moore: Sure.

Drew Curtis: Just so you know where I'm coming from, I'm actually a pretty big fan of the show and that's saying something because I pretty much hate about 99.9% of all TV out there.

Ron Moore: (laughing)

Drew Curtis: I just don't have enough time to waste on it honestly. Luckily my wife does so I can kind of watch over her shoulder and she'll check out pretty much anything. Me, I'm a little pickier. There's only about two shows I'll watch. Battlestar Galactica is one of them. I've been enjoying it since the beginning.

First question for you - what's your favorite show on TV right now?

Ron Moore: That's a good question. I don't watch a lot of TV either in terms of fiction programming. I tend to watch a lot of news and political coverage, so I watch Charlie Rose a lot, and I watch Situation Room on CNN obsessively. Probably the thing I watch more than anything else are tapes of Seinfeld.

Drew Curtis: (laughing) No kidding?

Ron Moore: Yeah, I have four episodes of Seinfeld on my Tivo at any given time and every night I sit down to watch a couple more.

Drew Curtis: my wife has our Tivo looking for Scrubs, that thing's getting like 20 episodes a day.

Ron Moore: Yeah, you just pile them up. I also watch Project Runway, and Top Chef, that's the only reality programming I watch. I'm watching Breaking Bad, that's probably my favorite series right now. I'm really impressed with that show.

Drew Curtis: Since I run a news and entertainment site, a lot of the stuff that we're using is being used as material for the Daily Show and whatnot. I loved the Daily Show but now I can't watch it. Not because it's bad, but because I've heard all the punch lines already by the time the shows air. Is that why you don't watch much in the way of fiction programming?

Ron Moore: Yeah, it's kind of distracting. As much as I like Breaking Bad, there's a part of my brain that's looking at it going "Okay, well that's interesting. I wonder how many sets they have here and that's the guest star and now what's the act break going to be...?"

Drew Curtis: Have you read any of the fan sites for BSG at all?

Ron Moore: A few, but nothing recent. I've traveled to the Battlestar wiki periodically. I've surfed in and out of other sites over time, but I generally tend to not to. When the show is on the air I'll occasionally surf through maybe four or five message board sites to see what reaction is to last night's episode. That kind of a thing.

Drew Curtis: How was it generally received? We've noticed on Fark that if people hate something they'll talk about it all day long, and if they like something they generally don't speak up.

Ron Moore: Yeah, that's pretty much par for the course.

Drew Curtis: Keeps you honest though.

Ron Moore: I'll read a comment like "This is the best episode ever in the series" and I go "Okay, next." The ones that start off with "I hate this episode so much, it betrays everything that is Battlestar Galactica...," then I sit there and read the whole thing.

Drew Curtis: Along those same lines, have you read much online of what people think Season 4 is going to be about?

Ron Moore: I've seen some of it. It's interesting to see what the speculation is and what the rumor mill is saying. I usually try to find out if actual insider information is working its way out there. There are some things that do end up out on the internet, but fortunately they're usually buried with so much bad information that it's not giving anything.

Drew Curtis: Have you ever seen any theories by people who don't know any insider information but yet still got it right?

Ron Moore: Not for the 4th Season - but I can recall in previous years where there were people that were clearly just speculating said "Well, I think it should be this or that, or I hope they do this" and I'd think "Wow, nailed it."

Drew Curtis: I remember reading an interview with J.M.S from Babylon 5 where he was talking about how he was at some kind of a convention and somebody walked up, told him exactly how the five year arc of Babylon 5 was going to end and then just walked off. And (he) absolutely nailed it. J.M.S wrote that he was floored. That would be a little freaky, I'd think. But I guess it's that whole infinite monkeys / infinite typewriters deal. Given enough people and enough time somebody's bound to get it right.

Ron Moore: Absolutely. And we're not curing cancer here, there are certain things that we're obviously not going to do. If you're smart and you're really in the show there's probably some things you can figure out in advance.

Drew Curtis: Along those lines, is there a refresher episode online that people who haven't watched the previous three seasons can check out? I know about the one on Sci-Fi.com, but as a test I had my brother in law who doesn't watch BSG go check it out. It just confused the living hell out of him.

Ron Moore: Which one did he watch, the Battlestar in 8 Minutes thing? That one's not really one for anybody to catch up on the show as much as it is for amusing people who are already familiar with it.

Drew Curtis: That was it. For what it's worth, I laughed.

Ron Moore: As far as summaries go, there is a half hour refresher David Eick and I did but I don't think that one's out yet. I think they're going to broadcast that first, and then it will be online (here). So there's a true catch up show coming soon. I think they're also going to do a marathon on Sci-Fi leading up to the fourth season premiere.

Drew Curtis: From watching some of the earlier shows, one of the things I noticed was that the younger actors would really bring their A-game whenever they were in a scene with Olmos or McDonnell. Which of the young actors has progressed the most in their craft over the course of the series in your opinion?

Ron Moore: I'm not sure if I could pick out any of them in particular. They have all matured and changed as performers. Tricia Helfer was a model before the show and hadn't done much acting at all, now she plays multiple characters in the series. Katee Sackhoff had done one series and a couple of feature things previous to BSG, and the curve her chops is remarkable too.

Eddie and Mary really set the bar high from the very beginning with the ensemble. They're like mom and dad, they lead the ensemble. They're true professionals, Oscar-caliber actors. Every member of the cast always lifted themselves when challenged by Eddie and Mary.

Drew Curtis: Regarding writing and plot lines, I've noticed that I've seen a couple websites debating whether or not you guys had an overall vision for where the show was going to finish plot-wise at the end of Season 4. Did you have some idea of where you were taking this series from the very beginning or did it evolve over time, and if so, how much?

Ron Moore: It certainly evolved over time. When the series started I didn't know where I was going to be by the end. I decided to worry about that later, and to try to just take 10 episodes at a time. I'd finish those then starting working on the direction of the next 10 shows, and so on.

As we got into mid-way through Season 3, I started to really feel that the 4th Season should be the last year. By the time we got to the end of the 3rd Season, I definitely felt like "Okay, next year's it. We're in the third act of the story, we should end the show while we're strong."

Going into the 4th Season, we had various meetings with the writing staff, big sort of conclaves where we said "Okay, what is the end of the series? Let's really break it down and talk about it." We had 3 or 4 of those kind of gatherings where we reevaluated what we wanted to do, tore it apart, put it back together again, and kept refining exactly what the shape of the 4th Season was going to be. To answer your question, all of this year we've had an idea of where we're going and how it's going to end. We really didn't start focusing on the end of the series until it was time.

Drew Curtis: Excellent. Well, thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it.

Ron Moore: Absolutely. Thank you.
· · ·

205 Comments     (+0 »)
 


Oldest | « | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | » | Newest | Show all

 
2008-03-18 12:42:03 PM  
Drew is a cylon.
 
2008-03-18 01:12:47 PM  
Moore seems like a really cool guy though, I don't usually listen to the podcast commentary, but I do listen to it on DVD, brother usually has good scotch in hand, and has a very informal and laid back delivery. I just hope that we don't have to wait till April 09 for the last 10 episodes.
 
2008-03-18 01:23:49 PM  
God I cannot wait for Season 4. What actually happened to Starbuck? What will the known four of the final five do?
 
2008-03-18 01:24:38 PM  
Paryb: Drew is a cylon.

Bah, he doesn't have the boobs for it.
 
2008-03-18 01:26:09 PM  
Drew, why didn't you try to tease out any spoilers? You should have.
 
2008-03-18 01:26:10 PM  
REPEAT.
 
2008-03-18 01:26:15 PM  
Why?

Seriously...why?

No no...I'm being serious....why?
 
2008-03-18 01:27:23 PM  
Now I'm sleepy, and it's only 10:30.
 
2008-03-18 01:28:09 PM  
DO THEY FIND EARTH??? Oh gawd, tell us, please!!!!
 
2008-03-18 01:28:37 PM  
But does anyone get naked?
 
2008-03-18 01:29:47 PM  
That Drew guy isn't doing that bad a job on the Price is Right. But why did he stay in Cleveland as long as he did?
 
2008-03-18 01:30:58 PM  
i248.photobucket.com
 
2008-03-18 01:33:44 PM  
"I tend to pass on shows that most people like because they're not great."

Meditate on the meaning of that for a while.
 
2008-03-18 01:34:29 PM  
Goofball_Jones: Why?

Seriously...why?

No no...I'm being serious....why?


Why not? Drew's site...Drew's features.

I find it interesting that he had no idea how the series would end. That may explain some of the "filler" episodes towards the mid-to-end points of Seasons 2 and 3, which have generated pretty much the entirety of the downside of neo-BSG. I look forward to the end of the story.
 
2008-03-18 01:35:10 PM  
Picture of cylon Drew and breeding repository. Notice the strained smiles on their faces. Almost human looking, but not quite.

evilbeetgossip.film.com
 
2008-03-18 01:35:37 PM  
WTFAWESOME
 
2008-03-18 01:35:49 PM  
moops: Drew, why didn't you try to tease out any spoilers? You should have.

Why? I f*&^#@g hate spoilers. They spoil! Do you eat spoiled food? Do you like spoiled children?

I'm doing my best to avoid any preview at all. Why not just wait for the show so that you can be entertained?
 
2008-03-18 01:35:53 PM  
Who?
 
2008-03-18 01:35:53 PM  
...And why is Fark doing interviews now?

...And which one is Ron Moore? I skimmed the article but my eye didn't alight on the information I was looking for.
 
2008-03-18 01:37:05 PM  
lostcat: "I tend to pass on shows that most people like because they're not great."

Meditate on the meaning of that for a while.

i248.photobucket.com

/has trouble meditating
 
2008-03-18 01:37:07 PM  
I find the whole "Didn't know where we were going until the end of the 3rd season" part.
One thing that makes a good show for me is that it's cohesive all the way through, just like a good book or movie. Unless you're an absolute literary genius, the only way to achieve that is to go back and insert stuff in the beginning after you're done. Either way, you have to know the end so that you can slip stuff in near the beginning.
One thing that makes a bad show for me is when I find myself watching a few episodes that all tie together, wondering about the complicated plot... and asking myself if even the writer knows what any of it means or if he was just making crap up as he went that he'll have to try to reconcile later.
 
2008-03-18 01:37:32 PM  
If Ron Moore is reading this (and I can only assume he is), I would very much appreciate it if he would get in touch with me so that I can explain my truly brilliant theory as to who the final cylon should be. I have already blown my own mind with how clever this is (even if none of my friends agree with me), and I think it's only right that others should be able to share the splendor of my insight.

Problem: I'm damn sure I'm not posting my e-mail address on Fark. Hmmmm. Anyway, Mr. Moore, if you would like to hear my idea please give me some indication.
 
2008-03-18 01:37:39 PM  
lostcat: ..And why is Fark doing interviews now?

Drew's becoming the very media that he mocks?
 
2008-03-18 01:37:39 PM  
lostcat: "I tend to pass on shows that most people like because they're not great."

Meditate on the meaning of that for a while.


Popular shows tend to either be mindless drivel (*insert Reality TV show of choice here*) or complicated and pseudo-'deep'. Who needs to meditate?
 
2008-03-18 01:38:16 PM  
moops: Drew, why didn't you try to tease out any spoilers? You should have.

I've got a list of spoiler questions out to Moore to answer in his own time, haven't got it back yet. If I get it I'll post it
 
2008-03-18 01:38:29 PM  
That would have been a little better if it wasn't Drew interviewing himself for the first part.
 
2008-03-18 01:38:29 PM  
moops: Drew, why didn't you try to tease out any spoilers? You should have.

****SPOILERZ!****

*** DONOT READ IF U DONT LIKE SPOILERZ***
*** LIEK SRSLY! ***

.
.
.
.
.
.
.

THEY FIND EARTH!

/Emostar Crylactica, come back on TV plz!
 
2008-03-18 01:38:42 PM  
wh0mprat: DO THEY FIND EARTH??? Oh gawd, tell us, please!!!!

No, but in Soviet Galactica, Earth Finds You!
 
2008-03-18 01:39:20 PM  
I'm still trying to figure out whether I'm excited about season 4 or dreading it like mad. It still irritates that Sci-Fi seemed to do everything within its power to strain and kill this series.

My opinion of how it all ends will sadly probably hinge on how things are left with Kara.
 
2008-03-18 01:40:43 PM  
LordJiro: lostcat: "I tend to pass on shows that most people like because they're not great."

Meditate on the meaning of that for a while.

Popular shows tend to either be mindless drivel (*insert Reality TV show of choice here*) or complicated and pseudo-'deep'. Who needs to meditate?


By that I mean the show better be pretty top notch otherwise there's no time for it (regardless of how many people watch it). It has to be great not good.
 
2008-03-18 01:41:46 PM  
Love BSG Drew, but don't knock LOST. It has really improved over the last season and a half - now its the most compelling show on TV. Hope BSG season 4 raises the bar.
 
2008-03-18 01:42:29 PM  
Drew: For example, in the pilot the survivors decide to go gambling on a vegas-like planet complete with lounge-singing alien women who have too many eyes/lips/ears/etc but still only two boobs.

home.planet.nl

/Hawter women than Star Trek is why I watched it
 
2008-03-18 01:42:57 PM  
Wow, I am concerned I'll never be able to listen to DEVO.
That's Ren-alisicious.

"BSG" - OMG.

Right now I'm dialing my mother to thank her for tossing my D&D game.
 
2008-03-18 01:43:35 PM  
Drew: moops: Drew, why didn't you try to tease out any spoilers? You should have.

I've got a list of spoiler questions out to Moore to answer in his own time, haven't got it back yet. If I get it I'll post it


I hope he not reading this then, or you probably won't get it back
 
2008-03-18 01:44:49 PM  
I'm so psyched! Going to watch all the previous episodes in a drunken haze before the new season starts.

/BATTLESCOTCH GALACTICA!
 
2008-03-18 01:45:25 PM  
There are really 13 cylons.
 
2008-03-18 01:46:03 PM  
Gigglecream: I'm so psyched! Going to watch all the previous episodes in a drunken haze before the new season starts.

/BATTLESCOTCH GALACTICA!


Drink every time Dualla does something that makes it seem like she's more in love with Bill than Lee. Or drink every time Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos knock the entire episode out with one awesome scene.
 
2008-03-18 01:46:17 PM  
Drew: I've got a list of spoiler questions out to Moore to answer in his own time, haven't got it back yet. If I get it I'll post it

Drew, if you host a BSG Season 4 party, I'll go - I don't care where in the country it is.

You should seriously consider this.
 
2008-03-18 01:46:30 PM  
Question? What kind of bear is best?

False! Black bear.

Fact. Bears eat beets. Bears beets battlestar galactica.

i9.photobucket.com

Link (new window)
 
2008-03-18 01:46:32 PM  
What makes me giggle are the people that hate something like BSG so much, they've got to descend into threads to cry about it. I mean, geez, SciFi channel is way up in the hundreds, you can't even accidently flip across it when you are jumping between the biggest loser, beauty and the geek, and America's next top model.
 
2008-03-18 01:48:14 PM  
I liked it all except the part where Drew reveals his contempt for Lost :(
 
2008-03-18 01:48:26 PM  
I wasn't aware that Drew was doing things like interviews and blogging. Not bad. Not great, but not at all bad. I like where this is going. Just don't hire a staffroom of writers (without hiring me first).
 
2008-03-18 01:48:32 PM  
Finally picked up season 3 on DVD today!

I don't know if it was just Canada that seemed to lag behind or if it took this long elsewhere for it to finally be released, but I'm glad I have it!

Can't wait to re-watch it and get ready for season 4!
 
2008-03-18 01:49:20 PM  
where_is_truth: My opinion of how it all ends will sadly probably hinge on how things are left with Kara.

Kara is like the uber Messiah of the series, with the best Viper pilot with sniper training & all that.

She's like Gandalf, but sluttier and blonde.

So she comes back in Season 4 with a total reset of the series, and we find out there's some other Cylon faction who wants to cook FOR humans. Perhaps Kara is the FINAL Cylon... the ultimate backstory of her uber-Gandalfness.

And then the frakking emostar love triangle will "heat up" again, but ultimately she'll shack up with the Cylon guy... and maybe a special Cylon wedding episode, and Cylon babymaking via another Cylon will finish the series (as mystical proof that Cylons are also God's creation in the Emostar cosmology).

/DS9 had Dax & Worf's wedding, so I am fully prepared for the worst.
 
2008-03-18 01:50:02 PM  
Drew is a cyclone
 
2008-03-18 01:50:04 PM  
I think it would be cool if they found Earth and discovered the 13 colonies where made of cylons who had rebelled against there original human creators on Earth and then set out into space to find there own home. It would explain a lot about the show and about the secret five.
 
2008-03-18 01:52:08 PM  
legion_of_doo: where_is_truth: My opinion of how it all ends will sadly probably hinge on how things are left with Kara.

Kara is like the uber Messiah of the series, with the best Viper pilot with sniper training & all that.

She's like Gandalf, but sluttier and blonde.

So she comes back in Season 4 with a total reset of the series, and we find out there's some other Cylon faction who wants to cook FOR humans. Perhaps Kara is the FINAL Cylon... the ultimate backstory of her uber-Gandalfness.

And then the frakking emostar love triangle will "heat up" again, but ultimately she'll shack up with the Cylon guy... and maybe a special Cylon wedding episode, and Cylon babymaking via another Cylon will finish the series (as mystical proof that Cylons are also God's creation in the Emostar cosmology).

/DS9 had Dax & Worf's wedding, so I am fully prepared for the worst.


I'm really not so down with the weird, semi-abusive, steeped in their own issues relationship between Kara and Lee, because I really think there's more between them than that, but that's just what's gotten continually pushed-- I'd guess to keep continual drama going, etc.

Katee really has grown into a hell of an actress, so I hope the last season takes advantage of that and ignores that she did something as heinous as Bionic Woman.
 
2008-03-18 01:54:14 PM  
Ron Moore or Moore Ron?

/get a brain
 
2008-03-18 01:56:05 PM  
FightDirector:

Why not? Drew's site...Drew's features.


No, it's OUR site. Drew just pays the bills.

/get it right
 
2008-03-18 01:56:22 PM  
Battlestar is such a mixed bag for me. I love it so much for a string of episodes, then something happens and I just sigh and shake my head.

Starbuck flying the raider by pulling out the brain and fiddling with tendons and squishy things, I wanted to throttle my computer. The end of season 2 made me wince (haven't seen any of S3 yet, I'm behind the times catching up on DVDs).

I wish they had kept the pace of the initial mini-series, or put it together into multiple strings of mini-series style action. Compartmentalized sub-plots lasting for parts of an episode or over the course of an episode or two, longer running plots that last for the entire mini-series segment, etc. I think a lot of the storylining would have been cleaner if it hadn't been written episodically and had instead been stretched out longer.

Maybe things get better in Season 3.
 
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