In 2004, Syfy had the idea to reboot a lesser known science fiction show from the 70s, Battlestar Galactica, which originally ran for just one installment for the 1978-79 season. Yet, the reboot was far more successful, intertwining storylines that would make the new version much more compelling. The rebooted Battlestar Galactica even spawned a number of made-for-TV movies and a short-lived spin-off. For the first time since the series ended its five year run, key members of the cast and crew have reunited to discuss what made the reboot such a beloved and unexpected hit.
Battlestar Galactica Showrunner Ronald D. Moore Almost Turned Down The Reboot
The Hollywood Reporter shares that the ATX Television Festival closed off this year’s event with a gift to Battlestar Galactica fans. The cast and crew of the popular science fiction series reunited for a short panel discussion about what made the reimagined series such a phenomenal hit, earning the series Peabody and Television Critics Association awards.
Included among the panel members were Ronald D. Moore, Battlestar Galactica showrunner and veteran sci-fi writer and producer. Recalling early conversations in which Syfy executives were eager to bring Ronald in on the Battlestar Galactica reboot, the producer says he was hesitant to commit for a number of reasons.
First of all, Moore reveals that he wasn’t a huge fan of the original Battlestar Galactica. Unlike Star Trek and, later, Star Wars, that first version of the story didn’t grab his attention the same way. While he did catch every Battlestar Galactica episode, Ronald recalls that the show didn’t capture his imagination in the same way that Star Trek and Star Wars had done.
“I wasn’t sure if I want to go back into space again,” says Moore, referring to the 10 years he had just devoted to Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
Ultimately, Mr. Moore took the job and briefed himself by rewatching the original series. As he thought about the project, Ronald realized that a new Battlestar Galactica had immense potential for social commentary.
“It had completely different resonance,” Moore said of watching the original series in the context of a post-9/11 climate.
“I just sort of immediately thought if you did that show now, it was an opportunity to talk about the thing that were happening in the world.”
Battlestar Galactica Stars Weigh In
According to TV Insider, Ronald D. Moore was joined by Edward James Olmos, who played Commander/Admiral William Adama on Battlestar Galactica. Olmos says the show’s entire cast was frequently floored by the “brilliant” writing in each week’s script, making sure fans understood that it wasn’t just the acting that gave the Syfy reboot such compelling scenes.
Meanwhile, Katee Sackhoff had become such an integral part of Battlestar Galactica as a female version of the classic Starbuck character that her Season 3 death raised an uproar among fans. Fortunately, this was before social media had gained speed as the driving force it is today, or that particular deception might not have worked as well.
“I got this cryptic phone call from Ron and [executive producer] David [Eick] in my trailer, and they were like, ‘We want to talk to you about something. You’ve done nothing wrong.’ In my mind I’m thinking, ‘I’ve totally done something wrong,'” Sackhoff recalled with a laugh.
“[They said,] ‘We’re going to kill you. But we’re going to bring you back, so don’t worry. You’re not going to be you. But don’t worry. Everyone is going to think you’re dead—we’re going to take your name out of the credits, you’re going to go home. And don’t tell anyone.’ And I said, ‘Okay.’ And I went to Mexico for a couple of episodes. The problem was I was lying to everyone.”
Ultimately, Moore reveals that the secret was outed among the cast and crew, which turned out to be a good thing. Everyone on the Battlestar Galactica set had been having morale problems because they were so upset that Katee Sackhoff’s character had been killed off. Ultimately, the Battlestar Galactica bosses were forced to reveal their plans for Starbuck’s future.
That kind of bond on a scripted series is rare and even Olmos says it’s unlikely that he’ll ever be involved in a project as infectious and as compelling as Battlestar Galactica.
Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin) says the series was relevant to the time in which it was created but is quick to add that Battlestar Galactica may be even more relevant today than it was in 2004.
“We’re living in a time where the powers that be are trying to create as much difference between us as their pockets books will allow. With Battlestar, we have a reminder that it could go away,” McDonnell said.
“We’re unfortunately living on the edge at the moment of the planet. Perhaps we can stop dividing each other and seeing each other as the other.”
[Featured Image by Rick Kern/Getty Images]