When I last spoke to Richard Hatch, he like many fans was shocked to hear about the Battlestar Galactica remake, at that time very little was known about the production. Late last year the plot of the new mini series was revealed courtesy of numerous websites and media publications, which had somehow obtained a copy of the script. Richard who with the support of many fans around the world had championed a continuation of Battlestar Galactica was as shocked and appalled as anyone when he read about some of the changes, which had been made to the story.
“I think the re-imagining of Battlestar is the result of a Network that does not truly understand its core audience. What Bonnie Hammer seems to be trying to do is go for a much younger and much broader audience by mixing things like Horror, reality shows and other media with what I and many other fans consider watered down Science Fiction. This has left many in the Sci-fi community angry, frustrated and starving for quality Science Fiction programming. The Sci-fi channel is unfortunately becoming anything but the Sci-fi channel. Due to the fact that the Science Fiction demographic is 18 to 49 not 12 to 24, I would think that they would be trying to appeal to a slightly older and more sophisticated audience.
“I’m sure that Bonnie Hammer is a talented and very capable executive, but it would seem by their current programming that the Sci Fi Channel does not truly understand the SF Audience or the SF Genre they are supposed to be serving. I know the commercial agenda is to reach the youngest market possible, but in catering so specifically to the advertisers they are at risk of losing the very audience that will determine their ultimate success or failure.
“How can they justify changing two of Galactica’s most popular characters into women, that is just a slap in the face to fans. In fact Battlestar already had several strong female characters to draw from, but they chose instead to leave them out and dramatically alter the remaining male ones. I am aware of the fact that Bonnie Hammer wants to see stronger female role models on Television screens and I agree with her, but giving two very popular characters who by their own right have become male role models to the now three generations of fans of the original Battlestar Galactica series is not the way to go about it. Why couldn’t they have just created some new female characters as apposed to messing with existing ones? It surprises me that they did not give Captain Apollo a sex change as well.
“Ron Moore has some very good ideas concerning Science Fiction in general and I can see where he is going by trying to make his characters more conflicted; by blurring the lines between good and bad. That’s a very plausible direction to go in when dealing with new and unfamiliar characters, but you can’t take well- established characters from a Sci-fi classic and dramatically alter them without alienating your core fan base. What angers me is the fact that they have disregarded the polls and most if not all of what fans have said they liked about Galactica. They should not really call this remake ‘Battlestar Galactica’, because it goes completely against the spirit and the original premise of the show. A spin-off, or an entirely different title would be more appropriate.
“This epic series was about three generations of family: heroic characters struggling to survive and find a new homeland against impossible odds. The characters were flawed but endearing, and they always pulled together when the chips were down. We always cared and rooted for them and their heroic struggle to survive against the unknown darkness. What the Sci Fi Channel is doing is exactly the same as what Brannon Braga and Rick Berman are doing to Star Trek; they’re completely disregarding those aspects that made the show a success to begin with by ignoring Star Trek’s past history, and re writing the show in their own image.
“Gene Roddenberry would be turning in his grave. This is why you have so many fans that feel alienated and disenfranchised by the show. It’s as if the Networks are Mother and Father, and the fans are just children who do not know what’s good for them. The fact is the Science Fiction community is highly intelligent, visionary and loyal. They deserve to be listened to and treated with the respect they are due. What most fans cannot understand is why the Sci-fi channel chose to re-imagine this series instead of going for a continuation with the original characters and actors. All they had to do is add a new generation born in space and evolve the Cylons, along with updating the technology and adding a few new characters and they would have had exactly what the audience is crying for. For nearly 25 years the fans have passionately communicated this message to the network, but to no avail. Had the Sci-fi channel simply given the audience what they desired they would have had a very grateful fan base that would have been very open and receptive to exploring any new ideas or spin-off concepts the Sci-fi channel could have come up with. That’s exactly why the Star Trek formula was so successful. They honoured and listened to their fans and they in turn rewarded Paramount with one of the most successful franchises in history. I sincerely hope the Sci-fi channel finds a way to reach out to the fans and give them what they truly desire. This wonderful under-rated and un-appreciated series deserves a real second chance to succeed!”
When I asked Richard about Edward James Olmos comments on the remake Richard gave me his views on the actor’s honesty.
“I think that Olmos is a pretty decent and honest human being, and he is trying to do the right thing by telling the fan base that the new Battlestar series will not be recognisable as the show three other Generations of fans have grown up on. The problem with the ‘Sci Fi Channel’ and the ‘Galactica remake’ is demographics; they are aiming their remake at a completely new and much younger audience, they’re not really interested in the existing audience and never have been. The audience that they want to go after is in the 12 to 24-age range, where a true Science Fiction Television series would be aimed at ages 18 to 49. Simply put the industry tends to dumb things down a lot in order to reach a broader audience. Consequently your real Science Fiction fans are left looking for a television show or movie that is more cerebral, plot and character oriented with intelligent action sequences. This is obviously completely different from the usual diet of tried and tested formula’s that television and cinema is feeding them.” Thank God there are a few networks and producers that are beginning to really understand the genre and give the audience what it is starving for.”
In spite of all that has happened with Galactica, Richard has been keeping himself very busy, over the last six months and not only has he penned a new Battlestar Galactica Book titled Paradis he has also worked alongside Galactica Co -Star Dirk Benedict on several new projects designed to celebrate the shows 25 anniversary.
“I have been involved with two terrific Battlestar Galactica products this year, and was given the wonderful opportunity to work with Dirk Benedict and Glen Larson on some of the wrap around and documentary footage for the Battlestar Galactica DVD box set, which will be released later this year. The DVD is a state of the art product with 5.1 Dolby digital sound and re-mastered from original source materials. It is not a cheap direct to DVD like the movie version was. The new DVD boxed set also has 15 minutes worth of never before seen footage. It is a wonderful product, which I know in my heart fans will want to have in their DVD collection.”
Hatch has also thrown his voice and image into the world of video gaming and has a prominent role in the pending Battlestar Galactica game, which is due out for both the X Box and Playstation 2.
“Another project that I got to work on with Dirk was the new Battlestar Galactica CD rom game. Both Dirk and I get to reprise our original roles in the game, plus I get to play another role as well. The story of the game is set 40 years before the events that occurred in the TV series and follows a young Ensign Adama and Cain through their viper combat training and into the very early days of their careers. I play Captain Paulus who is Adama and Cain’s Squadron leader in the games story. The game has a time warp twist in it which allows Captain Apollo and Starbuck to make somewhat of a recurring cameo appearance in the games subplot, it also boasts some special wrap around features which Dirk and I had a lot of fun doing.”
In fact Richard’s duties as an ambassador for the true series of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ do not end with video games and DVD’s. During are call Richard was interrupted ever so slightly by someone involved in one of his productions, when he came back to the phone he was ecstatic to share the following information with me.
“This weekend the Egyptian Theatre, which is right across the road from the famous Hollywood Chinese theatre, will be showing the movie version of Battlestar Galactica. I will be there along with Anne Lockhart, Glen Larson and several other actors from the show. By the way Glen Larson still owns the theatrical rights to Galactica and is looking at the possibilities of making a Movie of Battlestar Galactica along with Tom Desanto, the producer on “X Men”who is also interested in the doing the same.”
As many will know Richard has been hard at work on his own Science Fiction project, ‘The Great War Of Magellan’ which is set in the Magellantic Cloud, an actual Star system that is very close to us. While touring Hatch has only really been able to show a behind the scenes documentary about the new series proposal, however all this is soon to change.
“I’m just finishing Gwom and it will be premiering at Dragon Con in Atlanta towards the end of this month. I will also be taking Gwom to Galacticon 2003, the 25th Battlestar Galactica anniversary convention, which I am co- producing. Galacticon 2003 is going to be the biggest Battlestar Galactica convention ever. We are planning the largest gathering of BG fans, actors, producers and crew in history. We have all manner of fun things lined up, including a laser tag game between blue and red squadrons, a disco dance party, karaoke and a big BG mega show/cabaret on Saturday evening. We are hoping to get everyone who was involved in Galactica to come along and join in the fun. We’re also doing special tributes to Glen Larson, Lorne Greene, Lloyd Bridges and John Colicos. Patrick Macnee (Count Iblis/Voice of the Imperious Leader) will be there, Anne Lockhart, Dirk Benedict and hopefully Herb Jefferson Jr will also be there. To be fair we have also invited Ron Moore and company, but we haven’t heard anything from them as of yet. This was a difficult choice for me but I felt that everyone in the BG universe should be invited and given a chance to dialogue and fairly present their point of view.”
It has been revealed recently that Richard will be bringing some of the 25 anniversary celebrations for Battlestar Galactica here to England. On the weekend of the 10 -13 October he will be a guest at the 10th Annual Cult TV Festival, and the actor is really looking foreword to touching base with the UK fan base.
“Obviously I’m really looking foreword to my visit to England, which I consider to be a second home. I am really looking foreword to interacting and mixing with the UK fan base, which has given all the BG actors so much love and support over the years. I love to do Sci Fi conventions basically because the Sci Fi audience is so giving and appreciative. In truth I actually love the Sci Fi genre as much as the fans that I get to mix with. As an actor from a Science Fiction show, doing conventions is one of the most rewarding parts of having done a Science Fiction Show.”
Also on the horizon for Richard is another project, which will again involve his Galactica Co – Star Dirk Benedict. Recently Hatch and Benedict were approached about a new independent movie called ‘The Protectors’.
“‘Protectors’ is kind of similar to Galaxy Quest and in a way mirrors what has been happening with Battlestar Galactica over the last 25 years. The movie is basically about two diehard fans who seek out their two favourite actors from a 25 year old Science fiction show and attempt to coax them into helping them wage war on the studio. The studio is planning a sequel and have hired to very young actors to play their roles. It is very early days on this project at present but we are hoping to get Tanya Roberts involved in the production. The movie will be a black comedy with a lot of heart and like all good comedies the laughs will come from the situations that the two actors and two younger fans find themselves in as they desperately try to convince the studio to go with the original stars.”
Also Richard feels that Sci Fi shows such as Farscape have been unduly cancelled by the networks, and passes on these comments.
“Basically much like Battlestar Galactica Farscape was the top rated show for Sci Fi Channel and because it was expensive to make the channel tried to make cuts and ended up pulling the series off the air because they felt that the investment did not justify the returns. Which is a shame because there is a huge audience out there for programs like Farscape. We have had a few successes with shows such as Babylon 5, but sadly even those shows ended up being irreparably damaged by the Networks interference and lack of support. I am actually exploring new ways and creative options to bring quality Science fiction to the fans. What’s the use of bringing your show to a network if they either change it too drastically or don’t stay with it long enough to build your core audience. That’s why I created MerlinQuest Entertainment. My team and I have been working very hard to create a provocative new Sci-fi series and a receptive home to place it. My new series is called “The Great War Of Magellan” Please check out greatwarofmagellan.com for updates and news on this epic new series.
“By the way there is a very good chance that we could be seeing joint Sci Fi Conventions for both Farscape and Galactica in the future. You see after Farscape got the axe, many of the fans came over to the cause of Galactica, and as fate would have it many fans of Farscape are also fans of the original Galactica.”
Over the course of the last few years, there has always been speculation about the relationship between Richard and Glen Larson, and some of the media websites and tabloids have in the past suggested that both Hatch and Larson were feuding over the franchise.
“Were still friends, in fact I have been spending a lot of time on the phone to Glen lately. We were never really involved in a personal feud or anything like that. Basically what happened is we all wanted to do something different with Galactica. I championed a continuation of the series, and obviously Glen wanted to pursue his idea of doing a new television series or IMAX movie based around the adventures of the Pegasus crew. However I believe that he still wanted to find a way to have a few of the original actors join his new crew. My point though was that a continuation could well lead to a couple of spin off shows and that it made a lot more sense to bring back the original show and actors first and than proceed to a spin-off. Glen is a really great guy and I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for his work and relations are really good between us now.”
At this point Hatch was called away to take off in his viper for a very important meeting, as to how many Cylons he had to frag during his long journey through the Magellantic Cloud we shall perhaps never know. However what I do know is although Hatch is very focused on his many projects, he still passionately loves Galactica and all that has come with it, and shall continue to do so for many years to come.
You can keep on top of all the latest news to do with Richard Hatch at his official website Richardhatch.com, you can also follow the developments of Richard’s new Sci-fi project “The Great War Of Magellan” at the official website, and to keep up to date with all the new developments about
Battlestar Galactica and Galacticon 2003, the 25th BG anniversary convention Oct 24 at the Universal Sheraton hotel in Hollywood California, you can always take a look at battlestargalactica.com or galacticonevents.com as well as the many other websites which deal with the series.
Finally if you are a fan of Galactica and would like to learn more about the Galacticon 2003, you can do so by clicking here.