In an informal phone conversation, I spoke to Ron Moore about some of the things that he is trying to do with ‘Battlestar Galactica’, Ron was actually somewhat indisposed at the time, but thankfully his gracious assistant Cameron was able to get me 30 minutes with him. 30 Minutes in which we managed to ramble through the murky landscape of Naturalistic Space Drama Vs Sci Fi Space Opera.
One of the big criticisms that a lot of fans have about Sci Fi in general, is it is all getting a little bit comfortable. So when Moore was initially approached about producing the Galactica mini series, he was looking to shake things up a little and throw down the gauntlet somewhat, Sci Fi has always been a medium that challenges peoples perceptions of themselves, and with that In mind Ron wanted to take Galactica a little further in order to keep things real. Give the characters extra dimensions, in order to show them as flawed anti hero types and not the superheroes that we the audience have become so accustomed too.
“Ok lets take Sci Fi somewhere it has not gone before. Lets see if we can make an adult Sci Fi drama where the characters have flaws. The problem I had was the original show was very tight and sort of candy coated. I wanted to bring a sense of humanity to the series whilst at the same time trying to play true to the premise and keep it recognisable as ‘Battlestar Galactica’.”
One of the ways that Ron has done this is by changing certain characteristics of the classic show. Such as Kara Thrace (Starbuck) and the Adama and Lee (Apollo) relationship as well as the additional new character of Laura Roslin who finds herself leading the civilian population while fighting a deadly terminal illness, the irony of which is how one who is fighting off ones own death, can still come forth and help humanity fight for survival against seemingly impossible odds.
The keyword when speaking to Ron Moore is ambiguity. Although many recognise what Ron is trying to do, there are a number of elements loaded against him, via the Galactica fan base and those who believe that Galactica should remain deep seated in it’s spiritually uplifting idealistic world. A source revealed to me recently that there is a possible Traitor in the fleet who is like a replica human being, the twist being he or she does not know about it, so it’s a case of are they or aren’t they?
“I love to write in such a way that you leave an audience asking more questions. Leave a twist here and there. The Cylon character, or for arguments sake should we say ambiguous character, is my way of doing this. I like to leave things open to keep the audience thinking, and asking more questions about those characters motives. Are they or aren’t they a traitor. This character is also a starting point from which I can work should the mini series go into a full series. I like to steer clear of writing characters in black and white. There have to be some shades of grey there in order to keep the balance there.”
One topic that has been very hotly debated on the Galactica bulletin boards in the past is where the Klingons got their honour code. Some think that they were lifted from the Barrellian Noman from the Classic Galactica series, however Ron Moore who did a lot of work on fleshing out the Klingons during his time with ‘Star Trek’ does not share this view, but would admit that there are a few similarities.
“When we did ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’, we had a problem because it was the very first time you saw a Klingon on the bridge of a Starfleet vessel. So we had to start asking questions, what motivates him? Why is he in Starfleet and not with his own kind? In order to do this we had to show the Klingon Culture in a whole new light and not make them the one-dimensional ‘villains of the week’, like they were in Classic Trek. So when we looked into the Klingon Traditions, we looked at the middle ages and the Japanese Samari for their sense of honour and duty, and looked at the Viking berserker attitudes of lets get down and party, in order to give the Klingon people more of a three dimensional quality. So in effect we had to explain Worf’s origins in order to justify him being on the bridge.”
It would also be fair to say that Moore and the other writers looked into Norse Mythology as well in order to come up with such things as the Klingon religion and their rites of passage.
Rumours have been running wild over the last year, pertaining to what work Ron is doing, One such rumour was posted a number of months ago on Trekweb, which stated Moore was working on the Michael Piller produced ‘The Dead Zone’.
“I did some work on ‘The Dead Zone’ for three weeks, but then I was offered ‘Carnivale’ which in a way has forced me to take a little bit of a back seat while producing Galactica, which is why David Eick is doing a lot of the running with it right now. The main reason that I try to post on the boards about Galactica though, is because I am really excited about the prospects of the show, and some of the surprises that we have in store.”
About ‘Carnival’, would it be fair to say that it is like a horror series, “No ‘Carnivale’ takes place in a travelling freak show in the Oklahoma Dustbowl. It is set in the 1930’s, and does have some supernatural elements.” So the look of that show would be more in vein of the opening segment of ‘The Elephant Man’ where the principal character starts off as a member of a freak show, “That would be a pretty accurate description of the look we are trying for.”
At this point Ron had to run off to a meeting with some production people in order to nail a few things down before the Christmas break. Ron was friendly and understanding, as well as easy to talk too. So we said are goodbyes and moved on with our respective journeys on the path of