Ronald Moore says This isn’t your old Battlestar Galactica

To me, the original “Battlestar Galactica” show was pseudo-“Star Wars” junk. Felgercarb, if you will. I tried my best to watch, but I could never get into it the way my fellow fifth graders did. The show may have attracted some incredible guest stars for its day, including Fred Astaire, Lew Ayres, Lloyd Bridges, Anne Lockhart, Ray Milland and Rick Springfield, I don’t think I noticed when it was cancelled after one fairly low-rated season. Or was it two? Regardless, fans it made. Lifelong fans, who have been anxiously awaiting for the further adventures of Commander Adama, Apollo and Starbuck in their (otherwise) never ending battle against the Cylons for twenty two yahrens now. They’ve been teased by series star Richard Hatch’s trailer for his proposed film version. They’ve been taunted with series creator Glen A. Larson’s proposed film version. They’ve been told “X Men” director Bryan Singer was going to make a version for TV along with his partner Tom De Santo. And they’ve mocked former “Star Trek” producer Ronald Moore’s ‘re-imagining’ of their beloved series.

During a Q&A at a convention in October 2002, Moore hinted that there was going to be some activity on the horizon. And this time, it looks to be legitimate. USA Cable Entertainment has finally given Moore the greenlight to begin active preproduction on the planned four-hour miniseries-cum-series-pilot, which will begin production in Vancouver this coming March. The new storyline does read much like the storyline for the original series: After decades of peace with the Cylons (robots built by humans but with enough intelligence to turn against their designers), the humans of Kobol are virtually annihilated in a sneak attack. With a small remnant of humanity surviving aboard the last remaining Battlestar, Commander Adama and President Laura Roslin opt to make a run for it in the Galactica, hoping to reach the humans’ legendary homeworld of Earth, while pursued through space by the fanatical, now humanoid Cylons

President Laura Roslin?

In her 40s to 60s, handsome and confident, with an innate intelligence bordering on the brilliant, she’ll begin the series as the Education Secretary, 43rd in the line of succession to be President. Toughly decisive when she needs to be, but not in a bitchy way, Laura will be a woman whose intellect is informed by her emotions (The quality the producer would like to strike us most strongly about Laura is that she has class). She is in essence a school teacher, a cabinet member who comes out of education. There will be a warmth to her but she’ll also has what is takes to play with the big guys. After being diagnosed as suffering from malignant breast cancer, she will go on a routine flight to Battlestar Galactica that will turn out to be far from routine. While en route back, the Cylons attack and destroy her home planet, leaving a swathe of devastation that Laura will barely escape, one which leaves her President of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol. Intent on preserving a nucleus of humanity from the near-total destruction that has already killed billions, Laura returns to Battlestar Galactica and asserts her authority, ordering Adama (much against his will) to cut and run. She orders him not to fight the Cylons, but to find a quiet corner of the universe for humanity to rebuild itself over the course of time. Intelligent, tough-minded, and worried about her own mortality, Laura succeeds in forging a working relationship with Adama, to their mutual surprise.

In his late 50s to early 60s, Adama is the commander of the Battlestar Galactica. He wears the weight of commander easily, like a suit of clothing. He wears a simple day uniform with a minimum of insignia, and his clothes have a well-used, rumpled look. He is a bit of a relic who operates from the gut. Estranged from his son Lee, who blames Adama for the death of his brother Zak, he is a solitary man who knows the burden of command. Adama is old enough to have fought in the first war against the Cylons, robots created for humans who turned against their masters and who now live in distant exile, but he is about to retire after long dull years spent in the peacetime military. But when the Cylons launch a massive sneak attack against the humans, wiping out all the other Battlestars and destroying virtually all life on the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, Adama is the last man standing, in charge of the Colonial defenses, and hungry to avenge the deaths of billions. But after a verbal battle with the new President of the Twelve Colonies, Adama reluctantly bows to civilian rule and agrees to abandon Kobol and transport a pitifully small remnant of humanity to a distant star system, hoping to cut and run and escape the pursuing Cylons’ murderous fury. A thoughtful, insightful military leader, Adama bitterly drinks from the cup of surrender and tries to lead the Galactica’s rag-tag fugitive fleet back to their legendary, possibly nonexistent homeworld, known as Earth.

Lee “Apollo” Adama, in his late 20s to early 30s, is a handsome hotshot fighter pilot who is briefly assigned to the Galactica. He is more emotional than his father. A man with a long-simmering bitterness against his famous and respected father, Lee believes that his brother Zak was forced into military service by their father, and that Zak’s death was due to Commander Adama’s demands upon his son. Barely civil to his father when they meet formally, Lee regards visits to the Galactica as incidents to be endured. Friends with Kara, and possibly attracted to her, Lee is something of a local hero, and is forced to prove himself when the Cylons attack. Flying his father’s old fighter, Lee is able to launch a few meager volleys against the overwhelming offensive of the Cylons, but is believed to have been killed in the battle. After landing on a distant moon, he’s found and ordered to escort a transport ship filled with survivors to Galactica, where President Roslin hopes to escape the Cylons. Stunned by his father’s emotion when they reunite, Lee begins to revise his low opinion of his father, as he begins the difficult task of protecting Galactica and its precious cargo of humanity against the Cylons.

Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, in her late 20s to early 30s, is a loner, which makes her an oddity among the Galactica’s tight-knit crew of pilots. She’s tough and ballsy with a certain worldliness. She’s as undisciplined and rebellious out of the cockpit as she is calculating and precise in it. Her mouth has definitely held back her career. Not fond of Colonel Paul Tigh, the ship’s Executive Officer, she enjoys both taunting him and beating him at cards. A take-charge woman who runs around the ship in a jogging bra and shorts, who might be attracted to Lee Adama, Kara is a warrior spoiling for a fight, and she gets her chance at battle when the Cylons attack. Forced to fly an antiquated fighter, Kara soon learns that the “modern” spacecraft have been infiltrated by a Cylon computer virus, and that only older fighters can survive in combat. Lucky, smart, and tough, Kara soon finds herself the point woman in Adama’s efforts to fight back against the Cylons. But when Adama and President Roslin agree to make a run for it, Kara must use her battle-honed skills not to fight the enemy, but to defend the fragile nucleus of humanity carried aboard the Galactica to an unknown future.

And in the red corner, the forces of evil…

Gaius Baltar is a literal genius. Elegantly dressed and aesthetically handsome, with the affected humility of the truly arrogant, Baltar is a computer technology designer who has won three Magnate Prizes, and who has designed the defense systems for the Colonies of Kobol. He has a tremendous ego, but is deeply flawed. Somewhere beneath the ability (the genius) is the pathological weakness of character. Self-absorbed, sly, guileful, and utterly dedicated to his self-preservation, Baltar has carried on a two-year affair with a woman he believes to be a spy for a private firm, and has allowed her access to his nation’s most vital technology. When the Cylons launch their attack, featuring a computer virus that annihilates Baltar’s programs, he realizes that the seductive Number Six is no woman at all, but a Cylon spy in humanoid form. Appalled by the fact that his sexual folly has led billions to their deaths, Baltar is determined to avoid exposure as a feckless traitor, and is pleased to find himself treated with the same esteem he previously enjoyed. Still atop the pinnacle of what’s left of society, Baltar is placed in charge of Galactica’s research facilities, only to find that Number Six now appears to him in uncontrollable visions, the result of a computer chip secretly implanted in his brain. Teased mercilessly by the ever-present Number Six, Baltar tries to find a way to fight back against the Cylons without exposing his secret source of knowledge about their homicidal civilization.

Number Six, with drop-dead looks and a perfect body, she is a humanoid Cylon, number six of their twelve models of human-appearing robots. Her every move and every gesture is smooth and precise; her eyes are keenly intelligent. Able to be coldly intellectual or coquettishly sexy, Number Six has seduced Gaius Baltar, and over the two years of their affair, she has pretended to be an industrial spy, copying his files for her “company.” But in fact she has used Baltar to probe every facet of the humans’ defensive network, the better to destroy their military capability in a single blow. Having implanted her image in Baltar’s brain via a memory chip, the seductive, sardonic, witty and merciless Number Six toys and teases Baltar, even after he escapes with his life to Battlestar Galactica. Amused by the twists and turns of Baltar’s amoral, survival-obsessed mind, she remains visible to him only, a constant reminder of his unwitting treachery.

You have been warned.

The Scorecard
Executive Producers: Ronald D. Moore & David Eick
Directors: TBA
Writer: Ronald D. Moore
Casting Director: Eric Dawson
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Start Date: March 2003
Network: The Sci-Fi Channel

Related articles:
December 8, 2002: Followup to this article, including a mission statement created by Ronald D. Moore which states his aim to reinvent the Sci-Fi television series with this miniseries.
December 28, 2002: Review of Ron Moore’s two part screenplay for “Battlestar Galactica.”