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Sci Fi Executives Weigh 'Battlestar Galactica' Options

September 18, 2007 7:53 AM

The Sci Fi Channel is wrestling with a pair of key decisions for its acclaimed “Battlestar Galactica” series: whether to break the highly anticipated final chapter into two 10-episode seasons, and deciding whether to greenlight a two-hour pilot for the long-gestating “Caprica” spinoff.

Sci Fi executives attending the NBC Universal pre-Emmy party at Spago in Beverly Hills Saturday said the decision whether to split the final season was an ongoing discussion, but at least one network programmer was firmly against the idea.

As is often the case with the lavishly produced series, the issue is “the money people,” as one executive put it. Since “Battlestar” eats a considerable portion of the Sci Fi programming budget, the network might be forced to spread the resulting product across two seasons.

Showrunner Ron Moore shrugged off the issue. “It doesn’t affect my job either way, since we’re shooting it straight through,” he says. “It might be better to get it all done [in the same year] for the fans so they don’t have to wait.”

Ideally, the programming department prefers to stick to its original game plan to wrap up the series in the first half of next year. HBO broke up the final season of “The Sopranos” across two years – which makes more sense for a popular series on a premium network that’s seeking to retain subscribers – but still managed to antagonize fans and lost some viewership.

With “Battlestar” fans already waiting about a year for the return of the series -- not counting the two-hour “Razor” stand-alone movie coming this fall -- returning with only 10 episodes could spark a revolt.

Moore’s storyline also could make fans demand rapid closure, one person close to the project says, since “when people see the ending of the 10th episode, they’re gonna freak out.”

The final decision might not come until January. A key factor is what new shows are in the pipeline that could be paired with “Galactica” – and how much those shows will cost.

One such title is the oft-discussed “Caprica” spinoff series. Most recently presumed a dead project, Sci Fi executives seem to have renewed enthusiasm for the idea, especially with the looming prospect of losing Moore following the conclusion of “Battlestar.” Moore has about four projects in development at NBC and a flurry of theatrical deals (more on that in a moment), and the network wants to find a way to keep the talented showrunner in-house.

Plus, executives say “Caprica” has the potential to retain and expand the passionate “Battlestar” audience. The tone is lighter and more of a character-driven drama than an action series. The network is considering ordering a two-hour pilot that could serve as a stand-alone event – just like the miniseries that launched Moore’s “Battlestar” remake. The movie would be accompanied by a consecutive DVD release.

Especially if the similarly conceived stand-alone “Razor” performs strongly, the thinking seems to be that a two-hour “Caprica” pilot could justify its expense. Worst-case scenario: The pilot is aired and sold as a DVD, recouping some costs. If the pilot is strong, then the network has a new series.

Either way, by the time “Battlestar” returns next year, Sci Fi Channel will have launched its high-definition simulcast channel, allowing viewers to finally see the show in HD during its premiere run.

As for Moore’s other anticipated sci-fi project, he says he just turned in his script for Universal's motion picture update of John Carpenter’s 1982 version of “The Thing.”

“I’m happy with it,” Moore says, and described the script as “a companion piece” rather than a remake of the Carpenter version. “That film doesn’t need to be remade,” he says. Moore’s script includes segments set long before the modern discovery of the shape-shifting alien in the Arctic, including an encounter with the Inuit natives.

Moore was Emmy-nominated for writing in a drama series, but he wasn’t very optimistic about winning. Up against the “Sopranos” finale, Moore wrestled with whether to write a speech.

“I’m very prepared to hear David Chase’s name float across the auditorium,” he said.

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Comments (27)

Does nobody learn the lessons of Jericho?

Don't split the season. Will someone at NBC-Uni just throw some money at this non-problem and make it go away?

Thanks.

dfergie:

Please do not alienate the fans more than you already have by delaying Battlestar Galactica Season 4 to January... then have the gall to split the last season...

De:

Battlestar what? I vaguely remember a show with a title like that from long ago. Hmmm. Wasn't it a remake or something of a show from even longer ago?

I guess it has been long enough already. Please don't make us wait 2 years to tell a 22 hour story.

Taki:

I pray they don't delay it further. It's hard enough waiting for the DVDs. If Sci-Fi doesn't air it, SkyOne probably will. Which means people torenting it, and lost DVD sales/advertising!

I live in Australia, and the only legal way to watch it is DVD, so this could push the DVDs back years. Not acceptable!

John M:

Splitting the season will only cause bad feelings for the people who watch SCI-FI, not for the creators of BSG.

The SCIFI Channel has the best drama on TV, and they canceled it. Fine (your loss and ours), but don't prolong the death. Send it on its way, be proud to be associated with it, and then move on. Don't prolong the agony.

Pascal:

Well, what did we expect. When things are firmly in the hands of accountants and marketing people, nothing good can come from it. These people only care about and understand numbers. It's a cliché, sure, but unfortunately, it happens to be true.

Timelord:

Taki!! Thanks for reminding me that SkyOne is not bound by this "gotta make as much money as possible!" mentality! Thank the gods for torrents!! Now I don't feel so bad if they split it up.

Nick:

Heck! If it's money they are concerned about, then why not divert the money that is being wasted on Flash Gordon over to BSG?

daveinboca:

I'm a big fan but cannot find BG in our Comcast lineup for the Sci-Fi channel. When does BG normally air? Been looking in lazy fashion for it on the TV Guide lineup to no avail.

Irrelevence:

SciFi is rather known for making decisions that upset the loyal fans, but the fact that they're agonizing over this one gives me a good feeling. One item of correction though, someone referenced SciFi canceling BSG, that's not what occurred. The conclusion of BSG was Moore's choice not SciFi, ending the show is the last thing they want and why they want to prolong the final 22 hrs as best they can.

This isn't a case of FarScape cancellation where they killed an expensive show so that they could fund three new pieces of crap, and still have money left over to entice Richard Dean Anderson to stay on SG-1 for another season or 2.

TonyB:

Ron Moore did NOT decide to end the series, SciFi did. When he & David Eicks met with SciFi and requested two more seasons, SciFi refused. They then decided to end the show this year on their own terms rather than risk getting canceled without having a proper resolution to the series.

Tony V:

AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!
NBC-Uni...

FIENDS!!!

Captain Magestic:

Splitting the show into two 10 episode seasons? Are those Sci-Fi Channels Execs on crack? It's the best show they've got and now they're considering pissing off fans even more with 10 fraking episodes a season? What they need to do is get rid of that lame-ass Flash Gordon series and stop spending money on 3rd rate "Sci-Fi Channel movie originals" and bring on bold innovative shows like Battlestar Galactica. Hell, we've waited long enough for season 4 to begin! If season 4 is truly to be the last season, then the Sci-Fi Channel should let it fly as ONE COMPLETE SEASON and greenlight "Caprica".

Marc:

If the Sci-fi channel is breaking season 4 into 2 seasons then why could thay have approved a season 4 and 5 like the creators wanted? Makes no sense.

Marc:

If the Sci-fi channel is breaking season 4 into 2 seasons then why could thay have approved a season 4 and 5 like the creators wanted? Makes no sense.

I gotta say...I'm pleased to hear Moore say about "The Thing" that it does not need to be remade. That's the kind of thinking that's too often lacking. With so many existing stories to expand upon, and so many stories yet to be filmed, there's no need to remake something that's already as good as it needs to be. Rob Zombie and Sam Raimi could learn from this guy.

CynicalCritic:

The least SciFi channel can do is air BSG reruns other times. Do we really need reruns of Enterprise (aka The Death of Trek)? Do we need ECW or horrible weekend movies?

Nay!

Instead they air 1 rerun episode of BSG a week (if that) at 2ish in the morning.

Obey Wann:

BSG is truly the flagship show if Sci Fi. While the Stargate shows are great, and Eureka is funny, NOTHING else comes close to the quality of BSG.

Everything else that the Sci-Fi channel produces is pure CRAP and not worth watching. Especially the creature/disaster-of-the-week garbage. The programming directors and accountants should all be sacked for their craptastic decisions.

Instead of continuing to fund garbage, they should use BSG as the model --good writing, good directing, great special effects and a great story. Throw Flash Gordon and the creature- or disater- of-the-week shows & movies out the frakking airlock!!! Try airing real science fiction, not garbage.

As it is, I will continue to only watch SF for the few good shows and ignore everything else they have on. It's not worth my time.

Chris:

Now I was among those not thrilled with the past season, but even I am unhappy with the year wait for new episodes and the prospect of waiting 2 more years to finish the series (especially when we know they have them in the can) would make me consider not watching any episodes until they are all available. Let Sci-Fi stick that in their Raptor and Frak it.

Cathy:

OMG Sci Fi the fact that you kept Stargate on for 10 years leaves you with NO excuse to not just fund Battlestar for a normal series rollout for the next 7 years so stop being cheap - It is a great show with great acting and writing, so its your duty as a good producer to keep it alive with all the crap on TV. NBC should back that up

Need Money?? Put it on Blue Ray with extended episodes and make a frikken movie to recoup your losses like X-Files / Firefly did for the love of coin.

Katie Sackoff and Tricia Helfer can hold the show on their own - Throw Lucy Lawless in there and fire everyone else :+) if you need to.

I agree with Chris "Let Sci-Fi & NBC stick that in their Raptor and Frak it"

Michael:

The Friday night line up of Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, and Battlestar Galatica use to be the highlight of my entertainment week.

I actually dubbed it, 'Sci-Fi Friday!'

I was disappointed to see SG-1 get a hastily written-off story line to end the series. I understand that after ten years that it indeed had it's time in the lime-light. I'm anxiously awaiting the DVD movies to be released so I can see the final chapters for the show.

Stargate Atlantis...let's hope your story can carry for a long time as well.

Now, Battlestar Galactica...I watched it in it's original version - I was a kid and it was around with the space race so was a great inspiration for the time. Since the 'New' Battlestar is a remake of the original series, the goal of reaching Earth ultimately will decide the end of the series.

The remake has been the geatest addition to the entertainment industry, where I'm actually drawn to my TV every night that it's on to get my weekly fix!

Splitting the next season into two halves would definitely be a mistake. Concerned about money? I'm inclined to agree with many of the other people who made comments about Flash Gordon and the Saturday night Creature fest thing. My television doesn't even get turned on when either one of those is airing.

So, here's my suggestion: Let Battlestar complete it's story line like it did before. Take the lessons learned from how the show was written / created / produced, and create a whole new show getting away from the Battlestar 'universe'. Sticking to the Battlestar Universe can be seen as a creative restriction. Babylon 5 had it's original story/universe... Now it's time to create a series that has the down - and - dirty - realistic feel of Battlestar.

Having a Sci-Fi drama has been the greatest idea...Now it's time to build on that because Battlestar has become the leader in what Sci-Fi should be...

Nikki:

If money is an issue with the network, get rid of the incredibly bad horror, disaster movies Sci-Fi runs on the weekends as well as Flash Gordon (which I did have high hopes for) and the wrestling thing. Give us our last season of Battlestar without all the delays.

Gina:

If money's the problem, I'll take one of the executive's jobs for half the pay and give BSG their two year contract along with opening the door for Caprica. How's that? Does it sound like I may be able to do the job a little better than the guy over it right now. Oh yeah, how about adding some advertising of the two shows on NBC. Now can I have the job. ; )

Phil K:

I think it is good that they are doing that Razor movie about the Pegasus, and am definitely looking forward to the final BSG season as well.
Now I think they should also do a stand-alone movie set in the "original" Battlestar Galactica universe to satisfy the fans of that series (recasting as the new Star Trek movie is doing) . Many fans have wanted this for some time.
This way, we get the conclusion of the new series, possibly a spin-off as well, and closure for fans of the original, and SciFi and NBC make even more money.
Sounds good to me.

Derek:

PLEASE do not split the season. It's bad enough that you guys don't get it that people watch this show. A LOT of people...pretty much everybody I know - from all walks of life. Seriously.

I'm not a trekkie, I'm not a star wars geek...I just want this show to keep going.

Wake up and get this show going. It's been a LONG time and I am growing impatient enough to just drop the whole thing if you split the season.

Also, Caprica. ugh. Since you have money, just keep BSG going.

Do not beleive for a scond that the network will not split BSG into two halves. They do not care about the fans and they beleive that we'll come back to the show no matter what they do.
There is a site tp protest the splitting of the final season of BSG in half.
Go to:

http://www.bsgsosayweall.com

and let Sci-Fi and NBC/Universal know that we will not be shafted by them!

Big Unit:

Sad thing is - none of what we say in these postings will have any effect on the show whatsoever..
Then why do I write? Simple. For an hour a week, I was lost in that world. The experience was like watching the Beatles. BANG - Here it is. Knock you off your feet. Nothing else like it. bang - it's gone. Jim Brown.
The reality is that although some say they will quit watching the show if they split next season - they'll watch. It really p*s**s me off having to wait so long for the next season, but guess what? I'll wait. And I will watch. And I WILL watch even if they split season 4 up into the next 3 years. My wife likes it and she hates scifi. My daughter likes it and she's eleven. We all will watch no matter what they decide.
When I first heard this was the last season, I had no problems. I was already getting disappointed with some of the episodes. Come on - would a Commander of all the human military forces in the universe really get into the ring and box with a young-buck subordinate? Roslyn (sp) being cured of cancer in the span of an hour? Happens all the time, right.? Jump the shark for krise sake.
When the said they were ending the show because of "creative brain-drain", I was both disappointed and relieved. I hate to see the show stop; my brothers and I are NUTZ about it. It’s a weekly event. But I'd rather they quit on top. I don't want the show to get so watered down that it fades into mediocrity.
Hopefully, “Caprica” will be equally intriguing. Kirk was my hero, but the Enterprise was even better when Picard was driving. Hope lightening strikes twice.

Out of Tullamore.

bye
BU

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