TelevisionWeek's Blink page is an industry must-read, taking a sardonic look at happenings across the television business. This wry coverage is extended online and updated throughout the week.



Double the ‘Battlestar’ Blink, Double the Fun!

June 12, 2008 4:12 PM

Battlestar Cast

A Scene From "Battlestar": (From Left) Rekha Sharma, Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, and Michael Hogan.

TelevisionWeek sent a two-person Blink team to cover the premiere of “Battlestar Galactica’s” midseason finale June 11 at Hollywood’s ArcLight Cinema. The screening, hosted by the Los Angeles Times, was part of Sci Fi Channel’s “For Your Consideration” campaign for the show.

For the purposes of clarity and impartiality, the premiere was Blinked by a die-hard fan of the show and an observer seeing it for the first time.

After the jump, the newcomer’s segments are the ones in italics, in case you couldn’t figure that out...

First thoughts: Whoa, line around the block at ArcLight!? Man, “Battlestar” fans are a passionate bunch. Are those gothy grungey space costumes we spy?

Premiere of “Battlestar Galactica’s” midseason finale June 11 at Hollywood’s ArcLight Cinema

The “Battlestar” virgin half of Blink arrived at the ArcLight to find a sellout crowd (in all likelihood, just regular virgins) lined up around the block and behind the theater. Fans at the event included Anthrax frontman Scott Ian, director Kevin Smith and a mix of Gen X and Y types got up in their finest Renaissance-Faire-in-Space outfits. From their patter, the uninitiated could cull a few important basics:

--”Battlestar Galactica” is a show with a sexy character named Starbuck, who has “crossover” appeal for male and female fans. (“Like Angelina Jolie, or, uh, Jackie from ‘Workout’!”)

Battlestar Red Carpet

--”Battlestar Galactica” is a show that uses mysterious numbers, literary references and mythological allusions (a la “Lost”) that may or may not be completely irrelevant.

--”Battlestar Galactica” is show where people have sex with robots.

Entering the theatre was like walking up the ramp of some some futuristic spaceship

Seeing Ron Moore up on stage, with three of his dazzling female leads all glammed up, Blink was reminded of when this “Battlestar” redux launched its first season on Sci Fi and was being marketed as a bunch of “hot (albeit empowered) chicks in space.”

Ron Moore Takes the Stage

Moore later recounted his first pitch meeting with then-network head Bonnie Hammer, via teleconference, in which “Hammer was this giant floating disembodied head on a screen” [BLINK: How sci-fi is that?!?]. Ron said he wanted to “lose the Spandex” that has represented previous space operas and have a cast of characters that were very flawed and struggling with very human problems. Moore went on to call this new direction “naturalistic science fiction”—Blink says bring it on. We hope to see more of this method at work in the new backdoor pilot/prequel “Caprica,” set in the same world as “Battlestar,” and Moore’s new space saga “Virtuosity,” in development at Fox.

Battlestar Q&A with Ron Moore and cast following the premiere

Creator Moore and showbabes Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff and Tricia Helfer were on hand for an interview and audience Q&A. When the floor was opened, eventgoers addressed the panel with the casual entitlement characteristic of sci-fi enthusiasts—Mr. Moore was addressed unanimously as “Ron” and liberally ribbed.

Blink loves Mary McDonnell, who plays President Laura Roslin—she gets our vote for best female president on a starship ever, and is definitely one to watch come Emmy nominations. When an audience member asked if she would ever run for president for real, she joked, “Only if I can have Hillary as my VP.”

McDonnell also admitted she snuck away from the “Battlestar” set last week to watch filming on the “Caprica” pilot on the set next door and was blown away by the appreciation and adoration the new cast has for her and the “Galactica” cast. “They all treat us like parents,” she joked of the young cast, making Blink wonder if the prequel might go the direction of the new “Star Trek” and pull a Starfleet Academy, younger cast, kids-in-space kind of deal, going for a wider, younger demographic.

Mr. Moore revealed that “Caprica,” starring Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales, is filming in Vancouver. Blink surmises they’re the veterans of the crew.

Little was revealed at the event about the upcoming “Galactica” finale. The screening portion of the evening began with a plea on behalf of Mr. Moore and Sci Fi Channel President Dave Howe that those in attendance to preserve the big reveals of the night for the rest of the fan base. Judging from the gasps, titters and random bursts of applause heard throughout the episode, it’s safe to say it’s a big one.

An audience member asks Moore if he feels has accomplished what he set out to create from the beginning, and whether he was ever frustrated with “Battlestar” not gaining wider appreciation outside its hard-core cult fan base. Moore described his incredible satisfaction with the show’s end result. Despite remaining a cult favorite that never really achieved “Star Trek” ratings, he said the show is everything he could ever hope for and an incredible achievement with being able to really “go there” and explore complex relationships, scenes of brutal intensity and a complex exploration of various religious ideologies he could never have achieve on a broadcast network. He said a network exec left notes on the early draft of the “Battlestar” pilot asking for “more religion,” adding he was pleasantly surprised by that, but took the feedback and ran with it—which eventually became the show’s unique theme of spiritual exploration.

At the after-party, Blink approached Sci Fi Channel President Dave Howe and Bonnie Hammer, president of NBCU Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios, and asked if Hammer’s recent promotion meant there would be more sci-fi programming on the way for the NBCU networks. Howe looked very excited and, turning to Hammer, said, “It’s all up to her.” Hammer paused and gave a very sly, knowing look, as if they already have some new sci-fi franchises in development that they are not ready to announce. “It’s something we are looking at,” she said. “The sci-fi genre definitely becomes more affordable with international distribution, ancillary products and licensing to offset the costs.”

A Cylon watches over the after-party in the Arclight lobby

The event may not have converted any “Battlestar” novices, but it may encourage them to spend a Saturday catching up with the show on Hulu. With the blinds safely drawn, naturally.

—Chad Rooney and Julieanne Smolinski


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Post a comment