24 September 2009

Studio 22: The Once and Future Battlestar Galactica

In a statement issued just before five a.m. PST this morning, producers from two of television's most popular science fiction series broke the news that the next time audiences see Star Trek's U.S.S. Enterprise on the silver screen, it will be pitted in battle against none other than the Battlestar Galactica.
While all sources close to this ambitious project are keeping mum, already the internet has become home to rumors that may well be more than speculation. Worth noting is that longtime Star Trek "baddies" The Klingons will return to Trek's newly altered time line...and they won't be alone! It seems they'll have a warship that's "more than a match for Kirk and crew," thanks to some nasty Cylon tech!
Isn't that like the absolute most amazingly best news you could ever possibly hope to wake up to -- ever?!?!??!!
Well, it's not true.... But if it makes you feel any better, I had me going there for a minute, too.
The Big Question
You're probably reading my blog today for one of two reasons: (a) you really find anything I write to be engaging and worthy of attention or (b) you freakin' love Battlestar Galactica.
If I was in your shoes, I'd pick (b). You did? I knew we had a lot in common.
For example, I know you think Syfy's Battlestar re-imagination of Glen A. Larson's 1970's TV drama was and still is the epitome of quality television programming. We truly are less of a nation without her airwaves.
Or take last spring, when you were watching Galactica's final episodes and you started to feel like President of the Colonies Laura Roselyn (Mary McDonnell) when she'd cry just a little each time she returned to her dry erase board to lower the Fleet's headcount while the Cylons were kicking serious human butt in 33? Well, I felt more like Apollo. But I won't make fun of you for pulling a Laura.
In retrospect, BSG's series finale really did a great job of tying up all the show's loose ends. They answered all the looming questions -- except for the one that mattered most:
What the frak are we gonna do now?
A Plan (sort of) Comes Together
Even before BSG went off the air in March, word was already out that fans could expect more new Galactica come the fall, thanks to series executive producer Ron Moore and the Syfy Channel. And that's still true -- for the most part.
Caprica, the BSG spin-off prequel starring Esai Morales and Eric Stolz, will finally make it to prime time when it takes over Battlestar's former Friday time-slot in January. Most BSG devotees, however, won't find anything new at first, as Caprica's two-hour pilot episode was already released as a DVD last April. Nine months to wait for new Caprica is a bitch, Syfy!
Apparently, Caprica's DVD debut was a sci-fi success -- successful enough, even, to make Syfy Channel president David Howe eat his own words.
Howe in June, and the network itself several times since Battlestar's finale, have advertised that fans could look to Syfy for an early November premiere of The Plan -- BSG's follow-up film of Galactica's early battles against the Cylons, now re-told from the Cylons' perspective. With Edward James Olmos in the director's chair, The Plan's promise of Cylon fun is more than enticing. But Syfy sent word early last week that the two-hour movie won't be airing on the network.
Instead, Syfy will release The Plan onto DVD /Blu-Ray October 27th, as scheduled. Presumably, The Plan will make it to cable sometime in 2010. But
But so far, Syfy's not saying. I say, Who cares? Especially when you can check out a very cool video trailer here, get the scoop on the DVD here, and pre-order your very own copy of The Plan today, courtesy of PM Comics and Amazon.com!
Universal Appeal
Glance back up the page at my False Breaking News for a second. What fanboy or fan girl among us wouldn't be overcome by excitement if Galactica Vs Enterprise was slated as next summer's blockbuster? Sure, the fundamentalists among us would get their panties in a bunch, maybe we all find our panties up and over our heads. A movie like that would certainly ruin everything, wouldn't it? Then again, it might be frakkin' awesome.
From where I'm sitting, Universal Studios could be fixin' to put Battlestar fans into a doomsday scenario a lot like the one I concocted. While not new news, the fact that Universal picked up the movie rights (from original series creator Glen A. Larson) to bring Battlestar Galactica to the Big Screen definitely came in under the radar. The deal was signed while every Battlestar fan on the planet was glued to their small screen, watching Richard Hatch sow mutinous seeds throughout the rag-tag fleet. You've gotta hand it to Universal: they struck while that iron was hot!
They've kept on striking ever since, too. On August 13th, when Universal officially signed one of my favorites, Bryan Singer (X2: X-Men United, Superman Returns, The Usual Suspects), to direct and produce a big-budget Galactica, they effectively hyper-jumped the films status nearly into pre-production.
One thing that I'd never heard (although one of the main Battlestar fan news sites has apparently had the info posted for years) was that Singer, back in the 2001 heyday of his first X-Men years, was actively co-developing (with Larson and partner Tom DeSanto) a Battlestar series at Universal for Fox TV. Although the specific reasons why Singer's show, which was intended to actually pick-up where Larson's series left off, have never fully been explained, multiple sources I've come across suggest the show's production came to a grinding halt due to the chaos which followed the September 11th World Trade Center attacks. The show, I guess, never recovered from those delays.
While no other names or writers or producers or talent other than Singer's have been attached to Universal's new Battlestar, the Studio, Larson, and Singer have all stated that their BSG will be yet another re-imagining of the franchise, completely self-sufficient science fiction that won't have anything to do with the canon Ronald Moore established over on Syfy.
Past is Prologue
And there you have it. All in all, there's Battlestar aplenty ahead for everyone. The Colonial Fleet sails from Ron Moore's safe Syfy harbor into the very capable awaiting hands of Bryan Singer.
Singer, I read somewhere, sees Battlestar as a white-hot property right now, one that definitely resonates with audiences and that has plenty of story left to tell those audiences. It's a Concept show that's not weighed down with the concerns of, say, Star Trek. BSG's characters of Adama, Apollo, and Starbuck don't come close to being the pop cultural icons that are Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.
The stuff that shapes Galactica is much more malleable, and in the right hands, its already proven its potential.

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