Podcast:Frak Party Q and A
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- 1 Introduction
- 2 Act 4 of "Crossroads, Part II"
- 3 Discussion
- 3.1 Reactions
- 3.2 Choosing the Final Five
- 3.3 All Along the Watchtower
- 3.4 Hybrid children
- 3.5 Earth
- 3.6 Writing "Crossroads, Part II"
- 3.7 The Final Cylon
- 3.8 Incorporating "All Along the Watchtower"
- 3.9 Actors' reactions to the four revealed Cylons
- 3.10 Reactions to Starbuck's death and return
- 3.11 Taking risks with the finale
- 3.12 Moving towards the end
- 3.13 Stand-alone episodes
- 3.14 Happier episodes
- 3.15 Moore's favorite TV shows
- 3.16 Influence of the fans
RDM: It's on.
OK, welcome to a very special podcast, this is not the official podcast, there'll be another one that'll narrate through the course of the episode. I'm doing this one in Berkeley, California with a group of friends at a frak party. Say hello, everybody.
RDM: We're at the home of?
Terry: Madelyn and Scott
RDM: Madelyn and Scott, thank you very much for hosting this. And essentially we're gonna record Act 4 here, of the season finale, "Crossroads, Part II", and you'll hear their— the show, and the reactions live on this podcast, and immediately thereafter we'll just start talking about the episode.
Terry: It's the fans' voice.
RDM: It's the voice of the fans. So we'll pause right here...
Act 4 of "Crossroads, Part II"
RDM: OK, here we go.
Woman: ...occasionally Torrent it. You didn't you hear that.
Terry: That's OK, we know.
(The Dresden Files commercial plays)
(Episode starts playing)
(The piece is which Gaius Baltar is taken by a group of protectors is heard)
Woman: He's been kidnapped by women, this is, like, his wet dream. (laughs)
(Episode plays for a while)
Woman: So are those the five remaining Cylons?
Man: The Final Five.
(Episode plays for a while)
(Saul Tigh says: "Said the Joker to the thief")
Another man: What?!
Woman: It's a reference to the song called earlier in the episode again.
Man: The what?
Woman: It's a song from Dylan.
(Episode plays for a while)
(Tory Foster says: "I can't get no relief")
(One audience member screams, some others are laughing)
Woman: They did the whole song!
(Episode plays for a while)
Someone: It's on.
(Galen Tyrol says: "So that's it. After all this time, a switch goes off, just like that.")
(Tigh enters. Whoooah.)
(Audience erupts in laughter.)
Someone: Oh my God.
(Episode plays for a while)
(Tyrol: "It's true. We're Cylons. And we have been from the start.")
Man: Bet you'd wish you'd stood up for Boomer now.
(Episode plays for a while)
(Adama: "It's good to see you, Colonel.")
(Tigh: "Good to be here, Admiral. You can count on me.")
Someone: Oh, no!
(Episode plays for a while)
Someone: I knew she wasn't dead!
Woman: That was righteous.
RDM: And that's the show, boys and girls.
Man: I'm ready for the zombie season.
Man: Yeah, I do.
Man: Because it shows hope, it shows Kara's final— her— y'know, what her destiny is, so it's like the two book ends, and like now you're saying on your podcast about Act 3, now, per se, so that's why I actually like this a lot better.
RDM: Why didn't you like the end of epis— the end of Season 2?
Man: No, I did, I liked the end of Season 2, but I'm saying I actually like this even just a lot better.
Man: Yeah, because also— I kinda— I mean I also liked what the guys did for all the graphics, they— 'cause it's the season finale, so I really appreciate all this— the flying part 'cause I'm a pilot myself, so I really like that part. I like how she just came in and just surprised them, and all that kind of stuff, it was a really good job.
Other man: Well the first two seasons also had been more and more bad news, basically— y'know, increasingly dire situations, and it was something that we liked— was the fact that on New Caprica, basically, seeing as the very last things— everything was worse than you could possibly imagine. I mean you could've done that again this time around, but now we basically have no clue of what's going of, except that there's a lot going on, and even we have our first (unintelligible) of how Earth plays into the series. So I think that's a reason to like it so much, and even better just because it's a completely different kind of cliffhanger—
Man: —it's not just the usual tragedy.
Woman: I know that this wasn't entirely your choice, but at the end of Season 2, it felt as though we were kind of cheated, of that time, seeing them develop on New Caprica.
Woman: And this— there's nothing that we're cheated, we're just waiting for what's going to happen. We don't have to worry about what has already happened that we have to figure out.
Choosing the Final Five
Man: Last time you gambled with our perception of how character develop and- leave a big gap, but now, right now I think the biggest gap is how do you explain Tigh. He's been there for so long—
RDM: That's a good question, isn't it?
Man: —you're gambling with the plot.
RDM: I can only tell you that when we t— some of this will be repeated on the other podcast, so forgive the listeners at home, but— the idea for turning four of them into Cylons was something that I came up [with] in the room. We were talking about the season finale, and the trial of Gaius Baltar and how it was going to end, and we had various things about the ending, that— y'know, the surprises in the trial and so on, and I had this sense of dissatisfaction, I remember saying to the writers: "I just wish— y'know, I've had this recurring thought of four of our characters walking into a room on Galactica, just drawn— just cutting them walking into a room. And they all walk in, and they shut the doors, and they look at each other and they say: 'OK, we're Cylons.' And it would just click, it just suddenly happens. And we just re- four people that we've known." And as we started talking about who would those four be, and we narrowed the parameters down quickly. [15:57]It was apparent that we didn't want Eddie to be one, we didn't want Adama, that'd seem like it robbed something from the show, so did Mary. And so when you took those two off, then it became, OK Lee didn't— wasn't sure what Lee gave you, we talked about Tyrol, well, Tyrol seemed kind of natural. He had a certain affinity for the Cylons, he was in love with a Cylon, he had started— something was happening to him on the algae planet, where he was drawn towards the temple—
Terry: He's married to a human—
RDM: —he's married to a human. I mean, there were various things that made sense for Tyrol. Anders seemed interesting 'cause he was drawn to Kara, why had he survived in two resistances so far, if Kara had a special destiny, where did Anders fit into that pantheon. Tory was interesting because she was a wildcard, we didn't know anything about her, but she'd been in the show long enough to justify it. And then it became "Well, you know what, and the real one would be Tigh." If Tigh was a Cylon, that would be the scariest one of all because he's the most human character. And Tigh was the one, truthfully enough, that I wrestled with the most. And right up until the point we were shooting it, I was— I wasn't sure, and I just committed, and said "Let's just go for it." Because Tigh— you were losing something and gaining something. You were losing something in that he is the most human of all the characters other than Gaius Baltar, in my opinion, because he's the alcoholic. He's so deeply flawed, he had killed his wife, he had lost an eye, he had suffered so tremendously, and had such a human connection to Adama, that if you turn him into a Cylon, you lost part of that. But at the same time, you gain this enormous thing because it was those very things that made it an amazing revelation to feel the—
Terry: It is, in a weird way, the season two questions: "but what about?"—
RDM: —"but what about?"—
Terry: What ha— how has this happened all along?
Woman: I like that there was a personal choice based on themselves, versus where Sharon, where her choice to conform, or to integrate, had to deal with her child, these are four people who had a look at each other and make a snap decision right then and there. Do we— what are we su— do we do what we're programmed to do, or do we do what we feel we should do, considering we just woke up from being sleepers.
RDM: And that's an important point, because it was also— it was very important in the show to say that these four don't know what this means. All they know at this moment is that, like Tyrol said, a switch goes off and they just have an innate knowledge that they are Cylons. And they don't know what it means, and they don't know what their agenda is, and they don't know what they're supposed to do, and they have that moment to figure out how they're gonna react to this knowledge that they just have, and what do they do. And Tigh's immediate reaction is "I don't care, I'm Saul Tigh, and I'll be that man until the day I die." And Tyrol's a little bit more lost, and Anders is just angry, and Tory isn't quite sure which way she's gonna jump. But to answer your question, we did talk, in the writers' room, at length about the backstories of everybody, and we do have a backstory that works for Saul Tigh, and how this all works, and in laying out everything that we did. And we s— we angsted long and hard about making sure that this all did make sense in the mythos of the show, and how it all makes a certain sense. [19:05]I can tell you only that they are different Cylons than the other Cylons. And we have built that over the course of the third season, that the Final Five were not like the [19:14]Significant Seven, as we call them in-house—
Man: One kind of alien species versus another thing?
RDM: Not— well, I can't get— it's— this is a frustrating conversation in a certain way, because I have to preserve a lot of this for Season Three [Four], and we're working out those storylines, so I can only tell you that they are different, and the differences will be part of their journey of self-discovery. What does it mean to be a Cylon—?
Man: What's the last one, too—
RDM: Yeah, what is it all about.
Other man: There's been a constant lingering ambiguity on the relation and difference between humans and Cylons, and between recent and ancient history, so I'm glad to see that that is still— I felt like this played that out, and we're getting more from that.
All Along the Watchtower
Another man: I gotta ask: why "All Along the Watchtower"?—
RDM: Yes, well, that's a long story. "All Along the Watchtower" has been a personal obsession of mine for a while. When I was working on a show called Roswell, I had an episode that I wanted to do entirely about "All Along the Watchtower", that all the aliens that were on Roswell had a significance to "All Along the Watchtower", and I wanted to bring in five or ten different people to come in and play different versions of "All Along the Watchtower" for a plotline— it was a plotline that took place entirely in a music studio, and there was meaning within the song, and blah blah blah, and at the end I wanted a cameo for Bob Dylan showing up and just saying "It doesn't mean anything, it's just song, man."
Woman: Bob Dylan's the last Cylon.
RDM: Yeah, Bob Dylan's the last—
RDM: And then that stuck with me, and I've— as early as Season One, I wanted to use "All Along the Watchtower" playing in a jukebox, in the background, not in the familiar Hendrix version, but just a Galactica version of "Watchtower", as a way of saying to the audience that there is a tie between this show and our reality. That, essentially— y'know, you've heard us say, over and over again throughout the series, that "all this has happened before, and all of it will happen again", and there's a sense of the cycle of time, that certain of these events are preordained, and that there's a cycle, there's truly a cycle. If you remember, in the episode "Flesh and Bone" in Season One, Leoben, the Cylon, is talking to Kara and he says that "there's a cycle of time. And maybe the next time through the cycle, I'll be the interrogator and you'll be the prisoner", and that the story is the same, but the players swap positions. And the idea that there was a song or verse that transcended that cycle, that certain things repeated themselves— I mean why do they wear ties, why do they speak English, why are there certain phrases— there are phrases from Shakespeare sprinkled throughout the series. And there's a certain idea that all these things repeat themselves in certain ways for certain reasons, and so I wanted to use "All Along the Watchtower", something that would grab the audience to go: "Wait a minute, how the fuck could that be?! How could they possibly know what that is? Does that mean the show takes place in the distant future? Does it take place in the distant past? And what are the connections of that?" So it is a clue towards the larger explanation of what Galactica says the cosmology is, and so—
RDM: It is different than— Nicholas's story is different than Hera's, but closely related, yes. [22:41]But yes, Nicholas is also a half— Hybrid child.
Woman: Of course we're all dying to know, when they get to Earth, what they're gonna find. Are they gonna find our world, are they gonna—
RDM: That's an interesting question, now, isn't it?
RDM: On to the next question.
Woman: I don't expect you—
RDM: I can't give that away—
Woman: Of course not, but—
RDM: —because that about— yes, ultimately, the show is about what they find when they get to Earth.
Man: A way to put that ques— as a question, actually, is: when— even, when did you start forming your idea, relative to the lifespan of the show, of what Earth would actually be in this.
RDM: A couple of years ago. When I started the series, I didn't really know what the end of the show was, but as the ser— over the course of Season One I started to develop this idea of the cycle of time, and [23:28]"all this has happened before, and all of it will happen again", which is the first line of the Disney version of Peter Pan (laughter), many may wonder. And Sebastion Cabot comes on and says "now, all of this has happened before, and all of this has happened again— will happen again, but this time it happened in London, and dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah."
RDM: That's because this show is about America—
RDM: —and if you— if I showed you Africa, you know how many members of the audience would not even recognize this planet?
RDM: That is completely ethnocentric .
Woman: That's so sad—
RDM: That is sad, but that is what is- does to do American television, boys and girls.
Woman: I taught freshman history, I know exactly what you mean.
RDM: You know what I thought for a moment? For a while, I thought "You know what, when we go to Earth in that final shot, we should not just see the tip of Africa, but we should be upside down, in the orientation that we normally see." If you look at that, you have no idea what you're looking at. And I needed it to read immediately, 'cause it's less than two seconds on the screen, you needed to just know (snaps) that's Earth. And that's the quickest way to tell, our folks here in North America where we are.
Writing "Crossroads, Part II"
Man: You said that the four of the final five— they wake up and they don't know what their agenda is, they don't know what's going on. How much of that have you already broken?
RDM: At this moment as we speak, we've broken quite a bit of it. Because the writers have been in the writing— in the writers' room for a while, for several weeks, and we've talked at length about, OK, what is the course of the fourth season, where are we going ultimately, what's the series about, what's the end of the show? We've—
Man: How much did you break when you were writing this episode?
RDM: Well when we— this episode went through quite a transition, we— it was all about the trial of Gaius Baltar, then as I said, I was in the room, we were breaking the show, it became about the trial of Gaius Baltar and the revelation of the final four. When it got to draft teleplay, it was a lot like this, but there was a whole other story that had to do with the Sagittarons, and a long plotline that we'd developed over the course of the sec— the third season that had to do with the Sagittaron colony and their people. And actually, Baltar was involved in a massacre on New Caprica, involving the Sagittarons, and— a long, intricate thing. And it just wasn't working. And when I— in some episodes more than others, I take a pass at the final draft myself, and on this one, on the finale, I took a pass at it, and as I was writing it, I just said "You know what, the Sagittaron thing doesn't work." And I just tossed it, which meant we had to go back and reedit subseq— the earlier episodes and reshoot some things to edit all that out. And I just winnowed it down to— closer to what this was. The things that were added in my pass at the very end were things like Laura getting cancer, "Watchtower" was in it, but actually, I think in Michael Taylor's draft of the fir— of "Crossroads, Part I", in the teaser Michael was actually intercutting them at Woodstock—
RDM: listening to "All Along the Watctower." Which I— which was not something that we broke. It was completely insane, and I loved it when I read it, because, as a showrunner I'm one of those guys that loves it when my writers come back and give me something that surprises me in the read. And as I was reading it, it was like cut to— close on Tigh, sitting in the grass, and pull back and he's at Woodstock. (Laughter) And I was just like: "Oh that's so fucking great, but I don't know what it means."
RDM: It was just so— OK, I tossed it out because because it was unproducible, and I didn't know how to make sense of it. But there were various rifts along the way. The teaser of this episode was not the teaser originally. In— "Crossroads, Part I" actually ended at the point where Laura said "I have cancer", that was the out of part one. And everything that was in Act 4 of part one was actually the beginning of part two. But both episodes were really long, part two was 20 minutes over, part one was 10 minutes over, and we had a lot of footage to have to play around with and figure out, and I opted to just pull up more of "Crossroads, Part II" and play that more strongly into part one, to save more of the material for the episode.
Woman: Can you talk about some of the things that you had to cut from these last two hours?
RDM: Ah, there was more of Tory and Anders, and fleshing out them— they're eying each other and starting to get it on. There was more of Tigh going slowly mad. There was much more of the trial, the Gaeta thing went on a little bit longer, everybody had longer pieces on the stand. Gaeta's went on quite a bit more, so did Laura's, so did Tigh's. A lot of it was trimming with in-scenes, a lot of the scenes were just significantly longer than they are on camera. In terms of actual plots and scenes I can't remember too much else that was actually cut, that didn't survive in some form. The final walk with all four of them walking towards that room went on quite a bit longer, there was actually a lot more than the battle stations and getting ready to go. In early drafts there were scenes of Adama and the other judges on the tribunal—
Terry: There was more Gaius Baltar after the trial.
RDM: There was more— yeah, there was— hell, yeah, that's right, there was much more Gaius Baltar after the trial. He walks down the corridor, at one point he was chased, there were men who were at the trial, who sat in the audience, that were actually coming at him and hold out knives, and were going to try to kill him, and that's who he was running away from when he was actually saved by the woman, his small little (unintelligible) cult.
Woman: Did you cut any scenes where the four judges were deliberating?
RDM: Not that were shot. There were scenes that were written, but that were cut as we went through the pre-production process, that we dealt with the judges a bit more— a bit— ultimately, it felt like it was more dramatic to not know what the verdict was, or not know what any of their positions were, and just come in cold on the judges and the tribunal.
The Final Cylon
Other woman: Are you gonna reveal who the fifth— final—
RDM: We are gonna reveal who the fifth Cylon is—
Woman: Next season?
RDM: probably next season.
Man: (unintelligible) 22 episodes—
RDM: We have 22—
Woman: Can we start placing bets on it?
RDM: Yes, you can start a pool. You can start a pool on who is the fifth Cylon.
RDM: [29:54]I do, I do know, actually.
Woman: You do know?
RDM: I do know who the fifth Cylon is.
Woman: Last time I asked him, he said he didn't know.
RDM: I didn't know, but now I do.
Man: Someone we've seen or not seen?
RDM: I can't tell you.
Incorporating "All Along the Watchtower"
Other man: How did the actors respond— I'm sorry— to the Bob Dylan lyrics when they saw their—
RDM: They just wanted to know what it all meant.
RDM: (unintelligible) like: "OK, do I really have to sing this?" "Yeah, you have to at least say it or hum it to get to the (unintelligible)." It was interesting as I was— as we were going through the draft, the question was: "How soon would the audience pick up on all this? And what's the most recognizable lyric of all?" And actually, it's seeded in very early, there were lines about "There's too much confusion", "There must be some kind of way out of here", it's seeded pretty early in the show. And it takes a while for it to build up, when you start to get to: "Well, OK, how many of those lyrics add up to All Along the Watchtower, that you finally start—"
Woman: I caught it the first time, but I've actually performed (unintelligible), so—
RDM: Yeah, which— when did you (unintelligible)?
Woman: The first w— of "There must be some way out of here", the way he delivered the line.
RDM: Really? You said "All Along the Watchtower"?
Various people: Yeah.
Other woman: I almost (unintelligible), "Said the joker to the thief", and then I was like "No, no way!".
RDM: Really? Oh, did you?
Man: There were murmurs around the room the first time—
RDM: Oh, that's interesting, there was a question: "OK, if we'd bury this, just buried in dialog, how long until the au— what's the most recognizable line?"
Woman: "The joker to the thief", obviously.
RDM: "The joker to the thief" he can't say, you just can't, so he never quite said that—
Man: —gives it away—
RDM: —that totally gives it away.
Other woman: I think it was the delivery that made it clear to me.
Another woman: The delivery— he said it in the exact same rhythm.
Woman: Yeah. (sings) "There must be some way outta here."
Man: And with the crazy.
Woman: Yes, the crazy always helps.
Other woman: And it isn't normal type of speech, that definitely (unintelligible).
Actors' reactions to the four revealed Cylons
RDM: Well, it— that's an interesting question. We called them all up individually, and said— and we went through great lengths to hide all of this. In fact, we published fake pages for the end of the show, which we had never done. We published a whole alternate ending to the show that didn't reveal them as Cylons, but that made sense. I think that the idea was, in the fake pages, that there really— The Music really was some kind of techno thing that was related to the power surge on Galactica, and they all were— y'know, they were some danger to the ship that had some very Star Trek techno sci-fi problem at the end. And we called those four individual actors separately and said: "Here's the plan, and this is what we're gonna do." And they were all a bit shocked, Aaron was the one that actually, ahead of time, was saying: "I just don't wanna be a Cylon."
(laughter, compassionate "Ooh"s)
RDM: Aaron was very— y'know, "As long as I'm not a Cylon, that's all I care about." And I was like: "OK, well, Aaron, guess what, you are a Cylon."
RDM: "And you'll just have to (unintelligible) it, that's where it is." And we talked to him— he was OK, Aaron was most concerned about whether we were gonna lose his individuality as a character in that— y'know, he is— the role of Tyrol was very much the common man, the blue collar guy, the guy down the hangar deck, and what's he gonna become? An arch villain? Is he gonna suddenly transform into a different person? And I said "Well, no, that's not really the idea, the idea is you don't even know what your agenda is, you just suddenly know you're a Cylon, that's all you know." And he was cool with that, once I said so.
RDM: And Tigh, Michael Hogan, was: (imitates Hogan's Canadian accent) "Whoa. (unintelligible). How's that gonna work?"
RDM: And Tory was just very happy, and Anders was very happy, and they all went for it.
Reactions to Starbuck's death and return
RDM: And the biggest stir was about Katee, about Kara's return to the show at the very end. That took a whole, long, difficult— because when Katee— we called Katee at— when we did— before we published "Maelstrom", episode 16, where she died. And we called her up and said: "OK. We're about to put out a script where you're dead. You're not really dead, and this is the plan. It means we're gonna take you out of the next four episodes, and we're gonna take you out of the main credit title, but we're gonna bring you back at the end, and this is how it's gonna work, and dadadada." And she was: "Oh, this is so cool, what do we do?" And I said: "Well, we're gonna try the whole business as close as we can, we're gonna try to be very tight with this information, so don't tell anybody, we're gonna pretend that you're really dead on the show, 'cause that's the only way that this is gonna work—"
Woman: Actors too, (unintelligible)?
RDM: Actors too. Well, that's what happened. Then the script was published, and the crew and the cast just flipped.
RDM: There were just very upset, they were—
Terry: Eddie was—
RDM: —Eddie was very up— emotional, they were almost in a state of mutiny, that we were killing off Starbuck. And it was very touching, and they were very connected. But it got so bad, that this— I got a call from the studio early one morning, and they said: "OK, we hear that the set is a real tumult out there, and that they're really upset about this, and you'd better do something." And David and I said: "Oh. Really? Oh shit!" And so we called up and heard: "Oh yeah, everyone's really pissed at you, you'd better not come up here for a while, 'cause they're really angry that you killed Starbuck." And I'm like: "Oh, God." So we called Eddie and Mary, and we explained ourselves and said: "OK, this is what we're doing, and this is why." And they were relieved— they were angry, then they were relieved, and then they were OK. And then they got off on it, they were like: "Oh, this is gonna be so cool." And Katee hadn't told them, and what Eddie told me was that they were all planning to take Katee out to a farewell dinner that night.
RDM: And he was gonna play it for all it was worth, and take her out to dinner, and be crying about her leaving the show, and than say: "AND WE KNOW THAT YOU'RE COMING BACK!" And just do some horrible practical joke on Katee, so—
Woman: I guess it's like one of your co-workers has been fired.
RDM: Yeah. And we—
Terry: And they're a family.
RDM: They're very much a family.
Terry: They are very much a family.
RDM: And so when we shot the scenes of the Cylons being revealed, and the scenes of Kara coming back, it was a close set, and it was after the wrap party, and it was completely after the show had wrapped. And we shot these scenes separately, with just our key people that we trusted, and said: "Here's what's really going on." And we brought them in. And we held the secret pretty well, until just a couple of weeks ago, when we sent out press screeners, 'cause we had to send out press screeners, to get— 'cause that's the balance you do, it's secrecy versus getting the favor of the press. As soon as we sent out the press screeners, somebody'd gotten hold of one, and put it— everything out on the internet, so blew all the secrets for some people, just a couple of weeks before the actual broadcast.
Man: I gotta say I did not believe for a moment that she was going (unintelligible).
RDM: Well that was— y'know, I knew it'd be a tough thing, I mean we took her out of the main title credit, which I thought was pretty slick, then actually give people (unintelligible). But err, yeah, we knew that that was gonna be a tough sell all the way to the end.
Terry: Nobody (unintelligible) did.
Taking risks with the finale
Other woman: Do you guys have any (unintelligible) as to (unintelligible) anybody (unintelligible) problems with, or—?
Man: What part?
RDM & Woman: Any of it.
Man: For me—
RDM: I (unintelligible) some work.
Man: I meant that for me— now you've already told us that you've worked this out, that— y'know, you've (unintelligible) Tigh's backstory, whereas it was a moment that for me— the other ones I could believe, but with Tigh was— I was feeling my credibility, what— y'know, my suspension of disbelief, being stretched. And so I actually was sitting here wondering in myself— I mean, you're sitting with a lot of fans who have reacted positively to seeing a lot of what they thought they knew about the show being completely up-ended. Which is what you like to do a lot of the time.
Man: So I end up wondering. I guess we'll come back to this after we hear other people saying "what the heck" about other things, like how satisfied you feel with how the end of the season has turned out, and also, I don't know, towards the end of Season 2, on the podcast you were expressing misgivings of "I hope we've done something that people—
RDM: Well, I do hope— y'know, it's a risk, commence to throw the dice— y'know, it's— we thought about it long and hard, and I had moments where I had second thoughts about this, "Is this really the right thing to do, are we sure this is gonna work?", and I just felt like you have to take risk, you have to willing to press the show forward. And I think there's a natural resistance in TV about change. I think that you watch a TV series, and there is an underlying tension between— you want it to be the same every week, you're tuning in because you like the show in the way it is, and you wanna see a repetition of that, you wanna see the familiar family, you wanna see them all the same reas— the same way, because that's why you're tuning in. And there's a tension between that and the desire to evolve them, change them, and surprise you and do things you haven't thought of before, which also keeps you tuned in, because you're also going: "I can't wait to see what they're gonna do this week" and "Oh my God, I didn't expect that", and that's also— so you're— there's a push and a pull between those two things, and I think as the showrunner, you're always trying to ride that line, you're trying to give the audience what they want, and then pull away from them what they don't— what they want, and give them something they didn't think they wanted. And in this situation, I just felt like "Better be bold and be— y'know, you get no points for half measures", and "Don't play it safe"—
Woman: —and piss everybody off—
RDM: —and piss people off—
Woman: —at the end of another season.
Moving towards the end
RDM: And just go for it. Just go for the story, and that the story— that the way the story was going to work, because I— we only talked about doing this in the context of "OK, what's the end of the show? What's the third act of Battlestar Galactica, if Galactica has a beginning, middle and end, what's the end?" And this episode, to me, pushes us to the end. This is now— we're now moving into the final chapters of what the show is, what's the climax, where is it all going. And in that context, I can say: yes, Tigh is a Cylon. These four people are Cylons. 'Cause it's gonna tie in to where we're ultimately going.
Woman: So if this was—
RDM: If this was the midway through the run, then it's random and it doesn't mean anything.
Other woman: So this is the beginning of the end, what are you gonna do if you end up getting renewed for (unintelligible) seasons?
RDM: I don't think we're gonna get renewed for (unintelligible) seasons—
Woman: (unintelligible) wanna be renewed?
RDM: I don't think we should, I don't think this is a show that should go indefinitely. I think this is a show that has a specific arc to it, and I think that there are series, like, say, Law & Order, that will go on in perpetuity, because they're not tied to any particular narrative. This show, has a promise that we tell you each week in the main title, it's the search for Earth. And ultimately, if we don't get there on some sort of realistic agenda, I think you stop believing what we're doing every week.
Woman: I'm not suggesting that you wouldn't get there, you don't see that there would be another story arc, maybe, after that?
RDM: Ahm, no, I feel like once you get to Earth, that's it. I feel like the end of the show is you get to Earth, and— but now, when you get to Earth, that may take more than an episode, you might get to Earth and that could take multiple episodes—
Other woman: I'm just thinking, we just saw Earth.
RDM: Right. I think you get to Earth, and that's a story in and of itself, of what (unintelligible) means. But I think that the show has a certain narrative arc to it, and I think that— y'know, you just— it's a gut instinct, some series are meant to last a very long time, and some are not. And I think you wanna leave strong, and you wanna leave on your own terms, and you wanna leave the audience wanting more, frankly. You don't wanna get to the point where you run it too long, I mean I love M*A*S*H, M*A*S*H was one of my favorite series growing up, and I loved it, and that show ran, I think, eleven years? Ten years? And I don't know that any true fan of M*A*S*H could tell you that that show shouldn't've left like it— in Season 7 (unintelligible). I mean it went on just to keep going on. And there's a point where your show stops being satisfying, and you're just doing it to keep the ratings, and to do whatever. And I don't think we get that, I think our me— our ratings are kind of soft and OK, and they're good for cable <1-- 42:00 -->and they're good for this network, but it's an expensive show to do, and I think if you balance out the risks, I would rather in the show on my own terms— when I know that I can end it, rather than try to get one more season more, and then get a cut off, and not be able to do it in the series.
Man: So now Ron Moore versus Galactica 1980?
RDM: I didn't say that, I didn't say I'm not willing to do flying motorcycles.
Woman: It sounds as though you're talking about maybe two more seasons. If that's the case, have you already started thinking about what you wanna do next, or are you just concentrating on those two more seasons?
RDM: The thing about doing television now is that you're always developing other things, in a way it's just— it's built into the process, that as you do— once you get a show on the air, the very next conversation is about the next show you're gonna get in the air. So I've been developing other things for the last three years, in various forms, and I've got a pilot that's been developing in effects for a while, and I've got other features, and there's other things I'm always doing, but— I mean this is what's the most important, this is the primary, this is where my heart is, so—
Woman: Galactica's not a (unintelligible)
Other woman: I had a— speaking of the arc, I was curious, because these last two episodes I love, I felt like I was getting towards the end, and very satisfying in moving me towards that, but I was wondering about what the writers were thinking about— mid-season, these last couple of episodes before these last two, felt very internal, talking about all the characters and all not really— not so much with the Cylons. So I was wondering about how you guys were thinking about how that felt— fit in with the arc, and—
RDM: Not that— we weren't that satisfied with it, I think what happens is there's several competing pressures as you're doing a show, and one of the pressures is the network's desire to not make it a completely serialized show. There's an ongoing conversation with the network about— "Well, if the show's too serialized, you're keeping out new viewers completely, and you're punishing people who don't watch the show week-to-week. So can you do more stand-alone episodes that you can just tune in to, and not know very much about Galactica to sort of check it out?" So to answer that pressure you then do things— y'know, where you're doing a one-off episode, where— OK, you can watch— y'know, the show about labor relations, the show where Tyrol gets the union back, that's pretty much a stand-alone episode. I happen to like that episode. I don't like the Adama meets his— y'know, dreams about his wife episode as much, although I liked it in concept a lot. I was very— a strong advocate for doing it. Ultimately, it didn't feel like you really (unintelligible) to very much, but both of those were a result of trying to deal with the pressure "OK, don't do 'em completely serialized, do some shows that are just about characters, that you can do internally." Also, in a practical sense, as a producer, we burned up a lot of money early in the season. And the New Caprica storyline was extraordinarily expensive, and—
RDM: Explosions, and special effects—
Man: Oh my God, this ship is jumping into the atmosphere with such a—
RDM: And the location of New Caprica was extraordinarily expensive. So what happened was, we had burned up a lot of money in the first four episodes of the season, and we knew we that had to pay the pipe at some point, then— that later on in the season we had to do shows that were very much internal, which we call "bottle shows", which means it's a show that takes place entirely on the standing sets, almost no visual effects, virtually no guest cast, nothing else, it's just like (snaps fingers) do a show that's two characters caught in the elevator.
Woman: And it's not just Battlestar Galactica, watch 24 some times, see— look for that show where there's that episode where they never leave the office. That's—
RDM: Some times— at some point you're just trying to save money, and those episodes are money-saving— and it's also the difference between doing a 13-episode order and a 20-episode order. When you're doing 13, you just craft them differently, and you have more energy, you have more passion, you can develop more time to each individual episode and really craft it and make it a perfect little movie. And we're doing 20, so we're just going to slip past the goalie. And that just happens, and you do your best, and some times they don't work as well, and I think in the second half of Season 2 and the second half of Season 3, you could see that there were just episodes where we were tired, where we had to do shows that were more cheaply done, and we were trying to deal with the fact that the network is always saying "Can't we do some more stand-alone shows?", and so those add up to episodes that aren't satisfying.
Woman: At least you don't do the obligatory silly episode after something with a lot of tension, that a lot of shows do, which I hate.
RDM: We do get— we have been told— everyone's— I mean, the first season I got the note a lot, about "can't we just do some happier episodes—
RDM: —can't we just do a birthday party on Galactica?"
Woman: Basketball games!
RDM: "Can't we just go and do some basketball games?" And when I got that note, I just being who I am, I said "OK, I'll give you a birthday party", and that's how the beginning of "Act of Contrition" started, because the beginning of that episode is the one where they're celebrating Flattop's fourth— one thousanth landing, and they're all happy, and they're gonna celebrate, and then I killed like twenty people—
RDM: —immediately, and I literally got the— y'know, I got a phone call later saying "OK, we're never gonna ask you for a party ever again, 'cause this is what happens otherwise".
Woman: But aren't there some times where you can do something that can have a comedic twist to it, like for example, it just seems that when everyone wants to have sex, they quickly just get rid of the combat boots. I would like one scene where they're trying to get these combat boots off, and they just can't— y'know? As many of us have— y'know, like my brother and sister in law were in the military, I mean it took them forever to take off those boots. And you guys have a (unintelligible) of science where they're like flipping them off, I mean—
RDM: Yeah, we haven't done much in the way— I mean, the small, little bons mots that we have in the show really ring out, because you're s— they relieve the tension so well.
Woman: Yeah, I like that.
RDM: We don't do enough comedy, certainly.
Woman: This one had a lot of funny bits in it.
Man: Yeah, Baltar's—
Woman: Yeah, that's one thing—
RDM: Well, Callis– y'know, James Callis, he's brilliant for that. He really sells the comedy of the show. And none of that was on the page— I mean, in the Miniseries— I always saw Gaius Baltar in the Miniseries as a very complicated, very morally ambiguous character that I really liked, but I didn't think it was funny. And James came in, and just came with a sense of humor to it all, that just made the whole character really sing, so that was a big contribution into this.
Moore's favorite TV shows
Woman: So what are some of your other favorite TV shows?
RDM: I love "The Sopranos", I think "The Sopranos" may be the greatest TV show of all time, I just think it's such an amazingly morally ambiguous and really deep and rich universe that they've created with those characters, and I just— I'm in awe there, and I wish I could write that well. That's a really great show. I watch Bill Maher, we watch "Project Runway"—
RDM: —we watch "Boon Docks" , and "Robot Chicken", and err—
Terry: And hours and hours and hours of "Seinfeld".
RDM: Hours of "Seinfeld", I watch at least two episodes of "Seinfeld" a day, just to keep me sane.
Terry: He knows— he can recite the lives of (unintelligible).
RDM: Paul (unintelligible) report.
Terry: We watch Paul (unintelligible) report and all the morning— Sunday morning local shows.
RDM: With Press and—
Terry: —Washing Week and—
RDM: —Situation Room every day.
Terry: Situation Room every day. We have lunch over Situation Room. We meet in the TV room.
RDM: I've seen Wolf Blitzer (unintelligible).
Man: I thought you'd like speculative fiction shows.
RDM: I don't— y'know, and I don't watch a lot of hour dramas because with sci fi or speculative fiction and hour dramas in general, I have trouble sinking into them because I've become very analytical with them: I watch them and a part of my brain is literally thinking "well, OK, this is the act 2 break, and they've gotten this far in the story, and OK, I've seen this many sets, this many guest cast", and I wonder how ma— how they're gonna do this location and about how many pages— and I just— I'm analyzing it as a showrunner, and it's hard to just—
Terry: You don't wanna watch with him.
RDM: No. Yeah, 'cause there's certain shows I used to have one—
Woman: I used to always watch it, (unintelligible), before I met Ron, and I just gave up on it.
RDM: Yeah, you don't wanna watch "Walker" with me.
RDM: I'll be like "OK, and now Walker is gonna come out of the building, and watch, he's gonna hit him. Yeah, see, he hit him."
Terry: Whose instinct is that there's a lot of lawyers watching those last few quorums. And what's your new favorite show, honey? Is it the really— the seediest show ever on television?
RDM: Oh, "Cheaters"!
RDM: "Cheaters" is so bad, it's a work of art, it's just so—
Woman: It's a sad thing, isn't it?
RDM: That is the lowest of the low.
Man: Did you see when he was stabbed on the boat? Did you see that one?
RDM: No I did— I missed that. Really?
Man: Yeah, it was about a week ago.
RDM: That is just— they are such bottom feeders, I have to watch it. But I will love "Showgirls", so, y'know—
Terry: If Ron has a— y'know, how bad a show is, and there are times when I just (unintelligible) in front of the TV and people sometimes just do the most ghastly things. It's like three eras into a Jacklin Smith lifetime that we live in, and I just can't do this!
Influence of the fans
Woman: And, so, what about all the fan community, what's— TV's so interesting now, the way— it's so expensive to watch, we don't watch the commercials, so I feel like we pay nothing for this television show. And yet, just tonight, we watched this— essentially a feature film, tonight, that's extraordinarily expensive and it's hard to keep it on the air because there's so many channels for people to watch. So how does that all work? How do the fans play into it? And I— even though I was one of the co-founders of Frak Party, I would say "I watch it every Sunday night, and I really like it, and then I go to work". So I don't spend anytime on any of the other fan sites or anything like that, yet I know they have a role in keeping the shows on the air, and— how does that all work for you?
RDM: Well, I guess there's two answers. There's the larger, corporate answer and there's personally. In the larger, corporate sense, I think it's kind of vague. They're aware of fan culture, sort of, and they sort of pay attention to it but they really don't. I mean, on a corporate level—
Woman: Well they don't understand it. And they marginalize it.
RDM: On the corporate level, what they care about are the ratings, hard and fast. And they don't even care about if you TiVo it. Because it's all about Nielsen ratings and they actually break out people that timeshifted, that recorded and watched it later, as a separate number. And our show was getting up to a third of its audience timeshifting it. But we don't have those— those do not count to our ratings. Because all the Nielsen and the advertisers care about are the people that watch it live, on the air, at that moment, because when you watch TiVo, like we did, you zip through the commercials. So the advertisers aren't gonna pay for that viewership. So we're at this odd, transitional time in TV. But on the corporate level, all they really, really care about is— are the ratings and the critical press. The critical press on it has been so strong, and it's given them such prestige within the business and in the larger mainstream press, that that really matters to them. That's a way of attracting other talent to the show, it's a way of positioning the network, it really matters to them that the show has garnered all these awards.
Terry: Yeah, if the show hadn't gotten the critical claim that it has, it hadn't had the ratings that it has.
RDM: Yeah, it wouldn't be around. On a personal level, I— Terry and I surf through the fan sites, I read everyone's (unintelligible), I will read the SciFi.com board, I read Television Without Pity, I read Media Boulevard, there's a couple others that I have bookmarked but I can't remember what they are, but I just hit them, there's a Battlestar's— there's the CIC or something that I go to, I actually go to Cylon.org every once in a while, who are the people that hate us the most. See, you always have to go to the place that hates you the most, because how can you not pick up the scab, y'know—
Woman: (unintelligible) do is go to FrakParty.com, you found all— we were trying to promote it, we found all of these people that said "we will promote it, but we're purists, we only believe in the first "Battlestar Galactica". And we always reacted like "so you only believe in the first?", I mean, there's somebody who said "even in life it seems too—"
RDM: Hear, hear.
(Crosstalk, train passing)
Terry: I read the Moist Board
RDM: The Moi— she reads the Moist Board. There's a very small group of them I read, and essentially I read them just to see what people say. I mean, as a TV writer, I don't get to go into the back of the theater and watch an audience react to the show. And if you're a play writer, you're a feature writer, that's part of the process, you get to see what the audience as well, on TV I don't get that. And the internet is the closest that I can come to doing it.
Terry: But it's also tricky because there is a sense in this new age of people who watch the show all the time, get invested in it, and get invested in what the outcome is, and where is Ron going with the story, and why isn't he doing it this way, and he should go over here, and he should— y'know, and you always have this thing about you're doing the show you wanna do— I mean, he—
RDM: Yeah, it's not a democracy. Ultimately, it's not a democracy, I mean it's— I'm interested in what the feedback is, but it doesn't really change my opinion of it. I mean, there are episodes that I love that people don't like. And there are episodes that I don't like that people love. And I still have my opinion about them, I mean you really have to trust in your take on the show.
Man: Do they ever influence the way you take the show?
RDM: They do in some— I'm sure they do. I mean, there are definitely times in the writers' room where we're talking about the fans hated this, or liked that, and we— that will come up in discussion. And it influences it both ways, 'cause sometimes we'll take that in consideration and say "yeah, you know what, they really didn't like this, and we should probably go another direction", other times we'll say "yeah, they're really gonna hate this, oh let's do that". Because everybody will hate it, it'll drive you to do it just because you're gonna stick a finger in their arse.
Woman: So what's a show that you— they didn't like that you liked?
Terry: "Unfinished Business".
RDM: I love "Unfinished Business", that's the boxing show, that's one of my favorites of the whole series. And there were a lot of people that really disliked that show. And I just love it.
Other woman: It was— because of the relationship.
Man: I started disliking it, but ended up liking it in the end. It didn't feel right to me in the beginning, until you got to the end and realized what was going on. It was very awkward at the beginning.
Woman: —so many comments about that show, because I do a lot of different fandoms, I'm on LiveJournal and in a lot of fan culture. The thing is, a lot of people in fan culture, they don't want the corporate to read what they're saying, because they've got their fan fiction, they've got their icons and their layouts and their graphics and their— and y'know, they don't want to see "Synthesis Clark" , they don't want people to be aware that they write slash.
RDM: I mean, my personal take on fan culture is, all that matters is that they're passionate about it. Because I worked at "Star Trek" for a very long time, and my interaction with fans at conventions, and then at the dawn of the internet, as it was all happening, told me that ultimately, all that mattered was that they were passionate about it. Because we can never satisfy the fans of "Star Trek". If you went back and read some of those ancient postings about "Trek", both Next Gen and Deep Space, in its hay day, when everyone who now looks back and (chants) about the glory days, people were ripping us apart week after week after week, much like they are now on "Galactica". But what mattered was that they were people that swore that they hated the show, that it was the worst piece of crap that was on TV, who would say "and I watched this episode four times and it's getting worse, every time I watch it I hate it more".
Terry: "And here's my review".
RDM: Yeah. "Here's my detailed review and breakdown of the entire thing", and you just realize at some point we're all— that's just another expression of love—
Woman: You're cool about that, but J.K. Rowling gets really mad if you do that.
RDM: Yeah, you got— personally, you just have to detach from it, it's— I feel— I like the show, and I'm gonna like the show whether you like it or not, and I'm gonna dislike it, whether you like it or not, and I— you have to be comfortable with that and just say "I'm making the show, this is what I want it to be, and this is what my vision of it is, and I hope that other people agree, but if they don't, I'm—" you have to be OK with that too.
Woman: Do you think that the new age of television and the internet is going to— at some point, people are gonna say the Nielsen rating is no longer a valid. Because there are many of us, for example, who have satellite dish, many of us do TiVo, many of us— but we— y'know, because of life we've missed like two episodes already, we mentally go "OK, (unintelligible). I mean, it's— is there gonna be a point where corporate America's gonna have to say "Look, this is the way it is, and we've got to not kill the show 'cause we think no one's watching it or not count this, but somehow— embrace it somehow".
Other woman: It's interesting that— y'know, an industry that can produce the kind of CGI and special effects that they do— they're just such a dinosaur when it comes to technology. It's extraordinary, iTunes, things like that, they just are not on board with them.
RDM: It's an industry in great transition, because I— in the not so distant future, I think there will be multiple ways that you will choose to watch our— to watch programs. You will have an option to watch it with commercials, because that's free, and I there's so much money in advertisers, and there's so much money in advertising revenue, that that model's not really gonna go away. There's always gonna be a way to watch a show for free, and there's always gonna be a section of the audience that doesn't wanna pay for it. And they'll sit through the commercials, week after week, and the advertisers will get their money, however that's defined, whether it's banners or something that you have to sit through that you can't fast-forward or whatever, there will always be a free version of content. And then there will be pay-per-view. And then there will be subscription (unintelligible). So there will be multiple ways to watch a show, and I that the technology will be such that you'll all be one thing, your TV, your computer, your cellphone, your car, will all share content and would have just one home address. And you'll get it and you'll share it between all these devices however you want. And essentially, they will be able to track you as an individual much closer than they do now. The Nielsens— there was a time in— say the last ten years, ten years ago or so, where music was— the Billboard Top Ten— Top 40 was tracked by a company calling individual music stores and saying "Hey, what did you sell this week?". They would do a sample— they really did this, they would do a sample and the music store managers would call back and say "Oh, well, we sold this many Justin Timberlakes and so and so". And that determined the Billboard Top Ten. And then they did this thing called Sh— I think it's Showscan, which literally— SoundScan?— which literally tracks every single CD, and suddenly the Billboard was upended and country music was huge, and they had no idea how big it was. And I think you're gonna see the same thing with the Nielsens.