In December 2002, Edward Havens of Filmjerk.com published the character outlines and mission statement of the new Battlestar Galactica miniseries. Both are incldued below. Also included is Ron Moore's reaction to the public posting of the character outlines, which Ken Thomson reprinted at the SciFi Battlestar Galactica bulletin board on December 12, as well as descriptions of the characters as derived from a copy of an early draft that surfaced on the Internet in early 2003. Also included is an email Ron Moore sent to Michael Faries of BattlestarPegasus.com and posted on the SciFi bulletin board, the famous "popcorn" letter of introduction, and the "On the Eve" post on the SciFi Galactica bulletin board.
President Laura Roslin?
In her 40s to 60s, handsome and confident, with an innate intelligence bordering on the brilliant, she'll begin the series as the Education Secretary, 43rd in the line of succession to be President. Toughly decisive when she needs to be, but not in a bitchy way, Laura will be a woman whose intellect is informed by her emotions (The quality the producer would like to strike us most strongly about Laura is that she has class). She is in essence a school teacher, a cabinet member who comes out of education. There will be a warmth to her but she'll also has what is takes to play with the big guys. After being diagnosed as suffering from malignant breast cancer, she will go on a routine flight to Battlestar Galactica that will turn out to be far from routine. While en route back, the Cylons attack and destroy her home planet, leaving a swathe of devastation that Laura will barely escape, one which leaves her President of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol. Intent on preserving a nucleus of humanity from the near-total destruction that has already killed billions, Laura returns to Battlestar Galactica and asserts her authority, ordering Adama (much against his will) to cut and run. She orders him not to fight the Cylons, but to find a quiet corner of the universe for humanity to rebuild itself over the course of time. Intelligent, tough-minded, and worried about her own mortality, Laura succeeds in forging a working relationship with Adama, to their mutual surprise.
In his late 50s to early 60s, Adama is the commander of the Battlestar Galactica. He wears the weight of commander easily, like a suit of clothing. He wears a simple day uniform with a minimum of insignia, and his clothes have a well-used, rumpled look. He is a bit of a relic who operates from the gut. Estranged from his son Lee, who blames Adama for the death of his brother Zak, he is a solitary man who knows the burden of command. Adama is old enough to have fought in the first war against the Cylons, robots created for humans who turned against their masters and who now live in distant exile, but he is about to retire after long dull years spent in the peacetime military. But when the Cylons launch a massive sneak attack against the humans, wiping out all the other Battlestars and destroying virtually all life on the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, Adama is the last man standing, in charge of the Colonial defenses, and hungry to avenge the deaths of billions. But after a verbal battle with the new President of the Twelve Colonies, Adama reluctantly bows to civilian rule and agrees to abandon Kobol and transport a pitifully small remnant of humanity to a distant star system, hoping to cut and run and escape the pursuing Cylons' murderous fury. A thoughtful, insightful military leader, Adama bitterly drinks from the cup of surrender and tries to lead the Galactica's rag-tag fugitive fleet back to their legendary, possibly nonexistent homeworld, known as Earth.
Lee " Apollo" Adama, in his late 20s to early 30s, is a handsome hotshot fighter pilot who is briefly assigned to the Galactica. He is more emotional than his father. A man with a long-simmering bitterness against his famous and respected father, Lee believes that his brother Zak was forced into military service by their father, and that Zak's death was due to Commander Adama's demands upon his son. Barely civil to his father when they meet formally, Lee regards visits to the Galactica as incidents to be endured. Friends with Kara, and possibly attracted to her, Lee is something of a local hero, and is forced to prove himself when the Cylons attack. Flying his father's old fighter, Lee is able to launch a few meager volleys against the overwhelming offensive of the Cylons, but is believed to have been killed in the battle. After landing on a distant moon, he's found and ordered to escort a transport ship filled with survivors to Galactica, where President Roslin hopes to escape the Cylons. Stunned by his father's emotion when they reunite, Lee begins to revise his low opinion of his father, as he begins the difficult task of protecting Galactica and its precious cargo of humanity against the Cylons.
Kara "Starbuck" Thrace, in her late 20s to early 30s, is a loner, which makes her an oddity among the Galactica's tight-knit crew of pilots. She's tough and ballsy with a certain worldliness. She's as undisciplined and rebellious out of the cockpit as she is calculating and precise in it. Her mouth has definitely held back her career. Not fond of Colonel Paul Tigh, the ship's Executive Officer, she enjoys both taunting him and beating him at cards. A take-charge woman who runs around the ship in a jogging bra and shorts, who might be attracted to Lee Adama, Kara is a warrior spoiling for a fight, and she gets her chance at battle when the Cylons attack. Forced to fly an antiquated fighter, Kara soon learns that the "modern" spacecraft have been infiltrated by a Cylon computer virus, and that only older fighters can survive in combat. Lucky, smart, and tough, Kara soon finds herself the point woman in Adama's efforts to fight back against the Cylons. But when Adama and President Roslin agree to make a run for it, Kara must use her battle-honed skills not to fight the enemy, but to defend the fragile nucleus of humanity carried aboard the Galactica to an unknown future.
And in the red corner, the forces of evil...
Gaius Baltar is a literal genius. Elegantly dressed and aesthetically handsome, with the affected humility of the truly arrogant, Baltar is a computer technology designer who has won three Magnate Prizes, and who has designed the defense systems for the Colonies of Kobol. He has a tremendous ego, but is deeply flawed. Somewhere beneath the ability (the genius) is the pathological weakness of character. Self-absorbed, sly, guileful, and utterly dedicated to his self-preservation, Baltar has carried on a two-year affair with a woman he believes to be a spy for a private firm, and has allowed her access to his nation's most vital technology. When the Cylons launch their attack, featuring a computer virus that annihilates Baltar's programs, he realizes that the seductive Number Six is no woman at all, but a Cylon spy in humanoid form. Appalled by the fact that his sexual folly has led billions to their deaths, Baltar is determined to avoid exposure as a feckless traitor, and is pleased to find himself treated with the same esteem he previously enjoyed. Still atop the pinnacle of what's left of society, Baltar is placed in charge of Galactica's research facilities, only to find that Number Six now appears to him in uncontrollable visions, the result of a computer chip secretly implanted in his brain. Teased mercilessly by the ever-present Number Six, Baltar tries to find a way to fight back against the Cylons without exposing his secret source of knowledge about their homicidal civilization.
Number Six, with drop-dead looks and a perfect body, she is a humanoid Cylon, number six of their twelve models of human-appearing robots. Her every move and every gesture is smooth and precise; her eyes are keenly intelligent. Able to be coldly intellectual or coquettishly sexy, Number Six has seduced Gaius Baltar, and over the two years of their affair, she has pretended to be an industrial spy, copying his files for her " company." But in fact she has used Baltar to probe every facet of the humans' defensive network, the better to destroy their military capability in a single blow. Having implanted her image in Baltar's brain via a memory chip, the seductive, sardonic, witty and merciless Number Six toys and teases Baltar, even after he escapes with his life to Battlestar Galactica. Amused by the twists and turns of Baltar's amoral, survival-obsessed mind, she remains visible to him only, a constant reminder of his unwitting treachery.
You have been warned.
Executive Producers: Ronald D. Moore & David Eick
Writer: Ronald D. Moore
Casting Director: Eric Dawson
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Start Date: March 2003
Network: The Sci-Fi Channel
It's a jumble of things and was never meant to represent the script as a whole. It's like saying:
HAMLET -- twenties. Prince of Denmark. Broods and sulks. Has close relationship with crazy sister and possible romance with mother. Father's ghost tells him uncle is a killer, and Hamlet puts on a play. Wears tights and dies in botched swordfight after extended self-analysis regarding nature of life.
Is that accurate? Yes. Does it convey the depth and complexities of the play or the relationships? Of course not.
A few misconceptions from the breakdown: There are, in fact, non-humanoid classic silver-suited Cylons in the piece. Apollo is not Lee Adama's middle name, it is his radio call sign. Kara Thrace does not "run around Galactica in her bra" she takes her morning run through the passageways of the ship in a jogging top and shorts just like sailors aboard submarines and aircraft carriers do today. Laura Roslin's mortality plays directly into the overall themes of the show, and on and on...
I've said it before and I'll say it again -- The Galactica miniseries is a good piece of work and yes, you will recognize it as Galactica. I've always said that many things have changed and many things are the same. The underlying structure of the original pilot is still intact, and the family and character relationships are still present. I've said in the past that I'd changed the relationship of the Cylons to the Colonials and that I was making the fundamental character relationships more complicated and complex. And that's exactly what I've done. Sure, I knew some of this was going to be controversial. Did I know that making Starbuck a woman was going to catch flack? You bet. I also think it's one of the best decisions I made and I'll be more than happy to debate that choice with anyone who feels different.
Bottom line here is to relax and wait for more information. I wasn't planning on releasing plot points and character descriptions so soon, but the leak has probably forced my hand. Chances are, someone's going to get their hot little mitts on the script itself before too long and you'll all be able to judge for yourselves anyway.
Laura is in her late forties, handsome, confident, with an innate intelligence bordering on the brilliant. But the quality that strikes us most strongly about Laura is that she has class.
Kara [Starbuck] (30s) is a loner, which makes her an oddity among the tight-knit pilots. She's as undisciplined and rebellious out of the cockpit as she is calculating and precise in it. Her mouth has definitely held back her career. And she dislikes Tigh.
Lee Adama [Apollo]... is ruggedly handsome, with a lean frame and rangy looks.
BALTAR (40s) is a literal genius. Elegantly dressed and aesthetically handsome.
[Number Six on Armistice Station] looks to be in her twenties, with long flowing raven-black hair, drop-dead looks and a perfect body. Her every move, every gesture is smooth and precise. Her eyes are keenly intelligent... [Number Six on Caprica] is in her twenties with short, Carrie Moss Matrix hair, wearing a perfectly tailored business suit. And if we looked really closely, we might see that she looks eerily similar to the same woman who destroyed the Armistice Station.
Sharon is in her early twenties and not long out of flight school. She's the squadron rookie, and it shows -- she's less sure of herself than the other pilots, more vulnerable. Helo is a couple years older, with a perpetual tan and athletic build.
Tigh (40s) [is] the ship's executive officer (or XO). He's tightly wound, moody, prone to outbursts of temper. And he dislikes Kara.
Tyrol is in his late thirties, rugged, with the worn look of a man who's spent a lifetime working in and around big machines. The crew would do anything for him and the officers respect him.
BILLY is young (19), eager to please, very smart and very polite. He's one of those rare people who's usually smarter than the room, but never lets anyone know it. He'll make a great diplomat someday.
DORAL (30s) -- one of those picture-perfect PR types who never seems to have a hair out of place.
LEOBEN CONOY [is] about six feet tall, ruggedly handsome, early 30's, a classic looking hero if ever there was one, but at the moment, he doesn't look like he's in the best of shape.
Our goal is nothing less than the reinvention of the science fiction television series. We take as a given the idea that the traditional space opera, with its stock characters, techno-double-talk, bumpy-headed aliens, thespian histrionics, and empty heroics has run its course and a new approach is required. That approach is to introduce realism into what has heretofore been an aggressively unrealistic genre.
Call it " Naturalistic Science Fiction."
This idea, the presentation of a fantastical situation in naturalistic terms, will permeate every aspect of our series:
The first thing that will leap out at viewers is the dynamic use of the documentary or cinéma verité 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.
This shift in tone and look cannot be overemphasized. It is our intention to deliver a show that does not look like any other science fiction series ever produced. A casual viewer should for a moment feel like he or she has accidentally surfed onto a "60 Minutes" documentary piece about life aboard an aircraft carrier until someone starts talking about Cylons and battlestars.
That is not to say we're shooting on videotape under fluorescent lights, but we will be striving for a verisimilitude that is sorely lacking in virtually every other science fiction series ever attempted. We're looking for filmic truth, not manufactured " pretty pictures" or the "way cool" factor.
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.
Another way to challenge the audience visually will be our extensive use of the multi-split screen format. By combining multiple angles during dogfights, for example, we will be able to present an entirely new take on what has become a tired and familiar sequence that has not changed materially since George Lucas established it in the mid 1970s.
Finally, our visual style will also capitalize on the possibilities inherent in the series concept itself to deliver unusual imagery not typically seen in this genre. That is, the inclusion of a variety of civilian ships each of which will have unique properties and visual references that can be in stark contrast to the military life aboard Galactica. For example, we have a vessel in our rag-tag fleet which was designed to be a space-going marketplace or "City Walk" environment. The juxtaposition of this high-gloss, sexy atmosphere against the gritty reality of a story for survival will give us more textures and levels to play than in typical genre fare.
Our style will avoid the now clichéd MTV fast-cutting while at the same time foregoing Star Trek's somewhat ponderous and lugubrious "master, two-shot, close-up, close-up, two-shot, back to master" pattern. If there is a model here, it would be vaguely Hitchcockian -- that is, a sense of building suspense and dramatic tension through the use of extending takes and long masters which pull the audience into the reality of the action rather than the distract through the use of ostentatious cutting patterns.
We will eschew the usual stories about parallel universes, time-travel, mind-control, evil twins, God-like powers and all the other clichés of the genre. Our show is first and foremost a drama. It is about people. Real people that the audience can identify with and become engaged in. It is not a show about hardware or bizarre alien cultures. It is a show about us. It is an allegory for our own society, our own people and it should be immediately recognizable to any member of the audience.
Our spaceships don't make noise because there is no noise in space. Sound will be provided from sources inside the ships -- the whine of an engine audible to the pilot for instance. Our fighters are not airplanes and they will not be shackled by the conventions of WWII dogfights. The speed of light is a law and there will be no moving violations.
This is perhaps, the biggest departure from the science fiction norm. We do not have "the cocky guy" "the fast-talker" "the brain" "the wacky alien sidekick" or any of the other usual characters who populate a space series. Our characters are living, breathing people with all the emotional complexity and contradictions present in quality dramas like "The West Wing" or "The Sopranos." In this way, we hope to challenge our audience in ways that other genre pieces do not. We want the audience to connect with the characters of Galactica as people. Our characters are not super-heroes. They are not an elite. They are everyday people caught up in a enormous cataclysm and trying to survive it as best they can.
They are you and me.
On 1 May 2002, I received an e-mail communication from Ronald D. Moore, producer/writer for the planned, "re-imagined" Battlestar Galactica production for the SCI-FI Channel. Mr. Moore was kind to respond to an e-mail which I sent him directly a few days prior.
From our communications, I'm reprinting the following. It was sent by Mr. Moore. No edits were made to the quotes below.
re: the open letter I wrote on BattlestarGalactica.com/BattlestarPegasus.com:
"I read your open letter, and yes, I would like to keep open the lines of communication with the BG fans out there. I'm aware of the controversy in the fan community regarding the new series, and I'm sympathetic to it. I can completely understand the reaction of people who had been hoping for a particular vision of the show and are now faced with a different project. If I'd had my heart set on something, only to learn that it was not to be, I'd be upset too.
"That said, I hope that you and the other fans of BG will be willing to give this new series a chance and that you'll at least accept my word that I approach this material with nothing but the best intentions to produce a show that does speak to the heart of the "Galactica" mythos and one that all of us can come to love and enjoy. I truly believe this is a great project and I think that it'll be a lot of fun to both produce and watch."
re: fans concerns about the "re-imagining":
"I'd be happy to discuss my reasoning for doing a remake instead of a sequel, but I'm afraid that many of the details that fans will want to know will have to remain confidential for now. I can tell you that the script has not yet been written and no final decisions on casting, budget, design, etc. have yet been made.
"As someone who has dealt with genre fans for many years, I can tell you that I do respect the passion and committment of the fan community, and that while I always reserve the right to respectfully disagree and make my own decisions regarding the content f the show, I do try to listen to what the fans say and give it a fair hearing.
"People forget it sometimes, but I was a fan before I was a writer."
February 24, 2003
Dear SCIFI.COM and Battlestar Galactica fans,
Here lies a slumbering giant, its name known to many, its voice remembered by but a few. For a brief moment, it strode the Earth, telling tall tales of things that never were, then stumbled over a rating point and fell into a deep sleep.
I think there's life in that old giant. But I think that just poking him with a stick and expecting him to leap to his feet and resume his journey as if no time had passed would serve only to hasten his final death throes. He needs a makeover. Especially that '70s hair.
So we've set out to bring the old boy back to life and give him a new look and a new outlook on life. And we're going to ask him to tell his stories again, from the beginning. Tell them again, but this time go deeper. See, we were young once and when the old guy spun his tales of Apollo and Starbuck, we were satisfied with clear-cut heroes and nakedly evil villains. But we're older now. We've eaten a lot of popcorn over the years. We're ready for a bigger meal. Make the story more complicated. Make the people less black and white. Challenge us, provoke us, grab us by the throat with those massive hands and dare us to invest ourselves in flawed characters who face ambiguous choices in an imperfect world. Dare us to root for heroes with all-too-human weaknesses. See if we'll still embrace them if they fall prey to their imperfections.
Ask us to care for human beings instead of caricatures.
"Our goal is nothing less than the reinvention of the science-fiction television series."
With those words leading the way, I turned in the final draft of Battlestar Galactica. Bold words, perhaps. Arrogant even. But they accurately describe the ambition driving this project:
We believe you can explore adult themes with adult characters and still tell a ripping good yarn.
We believe that to portray human beings as flawed creations does not weaken them, it strengthens them.
We believe that bringing realism to science fiction is neither contradictory nor a fool's errand.
We believe that science fiction provides an opportunity to explore our own society, to provoke debate and to challenge our perceptions of ourselves and our fellow Man. We believe science fiction can still be relevant.
We believe all these things and more.
If you agree with us, then this is the show for you. If not, then thanks for coming, but the popcorn is in a different aisle.
Over the course of the next year, this site will bring you news and updates on the Battlestar Galactica miniseries as it is shot and produced. Our aim is to provide you with unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to photos, storyboards, early story outlines, script pages, conceptual artwork, interviews, live Webcasts from the set, even preliminary cuts of scenes. You'll get to see things that are normally kept under tight lock and key - we're going to do this in an open, inclusive way. Let you see the process. See the mistakes and hopefully see the triumphs as well.
Stick around, it's going to be a helluva ride.
Ronald D. Moore
Executive Producer / Screenwriter
In a June 2003 Cylon Alliance interview, Moore addressed those who took offence to the popcorn and 70's hair references.
I think people who want to get pissed off are going to get pissed off. Come on -- we can't all at least chuckle at those 70's do's? I mean, I'm a huge Trek fan and even I can laugh at the space hippies in "Way to Eden" -- get a sense of humor, folks. The popcorn reference wasn't meant as a insult, by the way. There's nothing wrong with popcorn, either as a food or a film reference. "Star Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" may well be the ultimate popcorn films and I happen to love them both. However, we're not making escapist "popcorn" fare with the new Galactica, we're aiming for something different and I just wanted to make that clear. If that pissed someone off, sorry, but lighten up already.
So here we are.
In a little less than three days, the science fiction television series known as Battlestar Galactica will begin again.
To those of us who watched the original broadcast and loyally followed every episode through the end of the first (and only) season and even came rushing back again for the abomination known as Galactica: 1980, this is a bit of memory come suddenly, surprisingly to life.
I have followed, with varying degrees of interest, the debate and discussion as Galactica fans, young and old, retro and neo, Moore and Anti-Moore (the former appreciated for their passion and faith and the later saluted for their intelligence and committment) thrashed, hashed, and slashed the idea of the remake which begins filming this coming week. In all candor, I found it both frustrating and gratifying at times, but always found it worth reading and worth considering not only for the strength of the arguments posed but for the depth of feeling displayed.
I said once on this board that your voices had been heard and that they did matter and that is never more true than today. An admission: while I did remember the original show with a fondness born of adolescence, I did not truly appreciate what some of you found most worthy and most admirable about it when I began this project. However, I would say, that after reading your comments over the course of a year, that I have seen deeper into the material and appreciated more the gift I was handed when I was given a chance to develop this project.
For that, I am grateful.
I am also more certain and more proud than ever that I took the course I did in bringing your franchise back to life. I truly and sincerely believe, despite what many of you may suspect, that this is a genuinely good piece of work, that it carries on the spirit of the original show, and that it provides the very best opportunity for the ideas that made Galactica shine in memory for almost three decades, to be introduced to a new generation of viewers, for those ideas to be expanded upon and for new writers to take the concept of a ragtag fugitive fleet defended by Adama, Apollo, Starbuck, and threatened by a man named Baltar, to an all new level. It is not a statement I make lightly or with glib intent. I put my name on this and I stand by it. Whatever you may think of me, let it be influenced and judged by the quality of this work.
Some of you -- many of you -- have read the script and judged it to be poor at best, loathsome at worst. You're entitled to your opinion and I won't quibble with it. However, I think that when you see the final product, when you actually watch the film we produce, you will have to at least admit that this was done with class, it was done with style and it was done with every intention of honoring the original.
It was also done in the spirit of making it better. I won't shy away from that. I think the original Galactica left some serious room for improvement. I thought so at the time it was first broadcast and I think it lo' these many years later. So sue me. We, that is David Eick, Michael Rymer, Studios USA, Sci-Fi Channel, and myself, have worked long and hard to make this series better. Whether we have succeeded or not is for you to decide. But know, at least, that our goal, from the very begining, was to make a better Galactica for you to enjoy.
It hasn't been easy and the challenges of production, post-production, and the all-important final presentation to you, the audience, still lies ahead of us. But now, here on the eve of a childhood memory about to spring anew into the morning sun, I can feel only a warm easy glow and a heartfelt wish that more of you would join us for the ride.
C'mon, it's going to be fun.
Yes, there are the bitter tears of wishes that were not to be, but there rising before you, if you will only see it, is the very Phoenix herself, the battlestar Galactica.
There are Vipers to be launched and Cylons to be defeated.
Is that not worth at least an evening of watching?
I hope you'll join us.
Peace to all,
Ronald D. Moore