During our roundtable interview at the San Diego Comic Con with Battlestar Galactica’s executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, Eick recalled that it’s because of Moore that he transitioned from just a producer to a writer/producer. Eick used to give Moore so many notes about episodes of the series that Moore finally told him to try his hand at writing. Eick’s grateful for the little push by Moore, and it’s obvious the two remain close even all these years after the series wrapped up its short run.
Moore and Eick also talked about getting back together for Battlestar Galactica reunions and how proud they are their sci-fi series remains relevant today. And Ronald D. Moore answered a couple of questions about season three of another one of his shows, Outlander, during our roundtable interview at Comic Con.
Is there another spinoff or anything else you’d still like to do in this universe?
Ronald D. Moore: “We pretty much told the story that we wanted to tell. We’re proud of it and I don’t know that it requires another sequel. It is what it is. Some things you just shouldn’t try to keep topping yourself. You have to know when to get off the stage, and I think we left at the right time. I’m proud of what it is.”
David Eick: “When they’ve come to us with ideas for spinoffs, we’ve always been open. Caprica was an example of that where the studio had met with somebody where they had a pitch that they thought applied to areas that Ron and I had been talking about. That kind of came to us as an idea. If someone came to us with an idea and said, ‘What if Baltar split the atom?’ we would listen and think about it. But I don’t know that that’s going to happen. I don’t know that we’re holding our breath for that to happen. It seems like it’s been done.”
What questions are you surprised to still be getting from fans of the series?
Ronald D. Moore: “What was Starbuck in the end? I still get that which I always said at the time, ‘What do you think she is?’ because we deliberately left it as an open question. There is no definitive answer. […] You know what I love is that people actually still care. They’re still caught up in that. I think that’s a big tribute to us.”
Are you surprised that Battlestar Galactica‘s still so relevant?
Ronald D. Moore: “A little bit, but a little bit not. You have hopes and dreams when you set out to do one of these shows that it will last, that you’ll be coming back and doing reunions. This doesn’t usually happen, so it is surprising in essence. But, we really believed in the show. Like, ‘This is really good,’ so this is gratifying.”
It’s been eight years since the series ended and it seems that we’re not getting many sci-fi series set in space. Why is that?
David Eick: “Well, they tend to come with a lot of a clichés and stereotypes that frighten networks. It was in Ron’s manifesto, a lot of this stuff they’re afraid of. Time travel, evil robot twins, pick your poison – there’s a lot of tropes that sci-fi tends to drift to and network executives are concerned about that. Most of them were brought up on cop, doc, and lawyer, and when you come in and you pitch something science fiction, it takes them a while to get their heads around it and for them to themselves not expect you to do the stereotypes. On some level, they don’t like it but they still expect you to do it. So, for example when we say, ‘Commander Adama hates his son and won’t look at him. Despises him,’ they’re like, ‘But why? Why can’t they like each other?’ ‘No. Let them really hate each other and let’s spend five years building that relationship.’”
Ronald D. Moore: “And they’re expensive. They’re expensive shows to mount because you can’t just go down the block and shoot a scene, and you can’t just rent all the costumes. Everything has to be created in one way, shape, or form. So, you’re challenging them creatively and you’re also asking for a lot of money to do it, so it’s a difficult thing to sell.”
You recently admitted the Cylons didn’t have a plan. Did you mean to admit that?
Ronald D. Moore: “Yeah, it was like, ‘We’re saying this every week. Okay, they don’t really have a plan, but we’ll say it anyway.’”
David Eick: “The plan kept shifting; it’s not that they didn’t have a plan. (Laughing) Okay, here’s the real story behind that. We get done with season two of Battlestar. It’s 20 episodes and season one was 13. 20 episodes mowed his ass, exhausted, ‘F*ck the show, I don’t care. I’m tired.’ We go to Disneyland…and so we’re standing in line at Space Mountain at like 11 in the morning, but we got tickets to Club 33 which is the only place in Disneyland where you can drink. And we’re like, ‘Hey, it’s 11am. F*ck Space Mountain, let’s go up and get a drink.’
So, we go up, we sit down, we start pouring martinis, we get the buffet, and Ron’s just like, ‘Look, I’m just not going to do it. I’m done. I can’t do it anymore. It’s 20 episodes again – I’m not doing it.’ Then we start talking about, ‘What if we went on the Cylon ships and did a whole season three from the Cylon perspective? What do their ships look like?’ Another martini and before you know it…”
Ronald D. Moore: “…we had a plan.”
David Eick: “We had season three. So that’s what I mean by there was a plan but we just didn’t always know what it was.”
Can you tell us anything on Outlander?
Ronald D. Moore: “We’re in prep on season four. We wrapped production a month and a half ago, something like that. We’re on the air in the fall. I think it’s a really strong season. I think it’s a really good season. It was a good book; it adapted much more easily than season two did. It’s a cleaner story in a lot of ways. It’s a lot of fun. We embroidered some things in terms of in the book you don’t see too much of what happened to Claire and Frank during the 20 years the characters were separated. We embroidered on that so you can have a little bit more of a journey into that. We went and shot in South Africa for about three months on the Black Sails set and used their ships and their locations, so season three has this whole other look and feel because they’re going to go to sea. They’re going to end up in the Caribbean and Jamaica. It’s a pivot season, a transitional season for the show because after this point, the show kind of lives in the colonies. It’ll be in North Carolina. So, it’s a big movement away from Scotland and into North America.”
It’s a massive project to take from page to the screen.
Ronald D. Moore: “It’s a very complicated show to do logistically in terms of production because it doesn’t have standing sets. The story is like a traveling show, so every episode you’re basically whatever lessons you learned last week don’t really help you because now you should create a new reality in a new place. Characters that you love – they’re gone and now we’ve moved forward in time. It’s a very complicated show to produce. It’s a huge production. It’s a great team of people we have together.”
Watch the full Ronald. D. Moore and David Eick Battlestar Galactica interview:
(Interview by Alice Balagia. Article by Rebecca Murray.)