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maryann johanson, ruining movies since 1997

‘Battlestar Galactica’ kaput: Season 4 will be the last

You’ve probably already heard, but here is the bittersweet news: Battlestar Galactica will end after Season 4, which will air in early 2008.

I call it bittersweet not just cuz I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the show for a while (though it was back to love by the Season 3 finale a few months ago) but because as much I hate to see a show I enjoy end, this is the way to do it. BSG has not been cancelled by the Sci Fi Channel — the producers realized the show was approaching its final act and knew it was time to wrap things up. That is far, far preferrable to watching a beloved series wallow in years of decline long after everyone involved stopped caring, and long after the natural course of the story had reached an organic conclusion.
Lots of folks are upset, which is perfectly understandable. But for me, far worse than seeing a show end is seeing a show lose all the originality and cleverness that made it special in the first place. Now we know that that won’t happen with BSG… or at least we can be pretty sure of that.

On Friday, I participated in a hastily convened phone press conference with BSG producers Ron Moore and David Eick. (“Kristin” at E! Online says she’s offering you “the full exchange that just went down between reporters and” Moore and Eick, but she isn’t. There was lots more. But a lot of it had to do with icky, boring geopolitics and stuff. Ewww.) They didn’t have a lot to say that was terribly surprising, but here are some highlights:

• According to Ron Moore, before Season 4 starts we’ll be treated to two one-hour episodes not connected to the cliffhanger at end of Season 3. It will go back in time to Season 2 to tell a story revolving around the Battlestar Pegasus that will connect in some way to events that will transpire in Season 4. It will air in the autumn on Sci Fi, before the early-2008 debut of Season 4, and then appear almost immediately on DVD.

• The Sci Fi Channel has not settled on a definitive schedule yet for Season 4, so it remains unknown whether we’ll get 22 episodes in a row with no reruns, or whether there will be a break between blocks of episodes, or what. But, Moore insists, “Sci Fi has been good about not letting the show fall into the hiatus trap of losing viewers like Lost and Jericho.” (Eick, by the way, jokingly said, “We often refer to them as thieves,” they meaning the producers of ‘Lost’.)

• The producers were under pressure to “drag out” the show, because it’s so highly rated, but, said Moore, “the storyline is compelling us toward a conclusion,” and Sci Fi was “sensitive” to what they wanted to do with the show. Why the announcement about the series’ end now? “It was time to be definitive about” ending the show, said Moore.

• Is there any chance for more BSG beyond the end of Season 4? “The plan is to end the show, to bring us to a definitive conclusion,” according to Moore. But they’ll “never say never.” And what’s more, said Moore, “I don’t know if we’ll resolve every single thing about every single relationship. It would be tantalyzing to leaving some things open to the imagination.”

• Moore has known since the middle of Season 2 where he wanted the show to end; the “algae planet” episode of Season 3 “triggered the realization that we were starting to wrap things up.” Moore assures us that “we have enough time” to get to that finale and that “the endpoint of the series has not really changed all that much since I first started thinking about it.” Will we see the Earth of the BSG universe? “To end the series without getting to Earth — or someone at least saying ‘Earth’ — would be unsatisfying.” (Which sounds to me rather noncommittal, or that Moore might be setting up an ending we don’t see coming.) Will there be any flying motorcycles? “We’ve been doing a lot of R&D on that,” Moore joked. The overall intention for Season 4? “We’d like to bring the mythology all together and find out what it really means.”

• How is the cast reacting? Moore said: “There’s a sense of everyone sinking their teeth into it and making the most of it.” Eick likened the atmosphere on the set — Season 4 is now shooting in Vancouver — to “senior year,” with everyone realizing that this was the last time they’d all be together as a team.

• Eick deems his cast “the greatest collections of actors I’ve ever worked with.” Katie “Starbuck” Sakoff may appear in the new Bionic Woman series Eick created for NBC.

• What’s up with Caprica, the proposed spinoff series BSG fans have been buzzing about? “It’s a tremendously arresting idea,” said Eick, and they’re “looking for any opportunity to pursue it.”

• I asked about how contemporary global politics impacts the show, and whether Moore and Eick are ever frustrated by how fans interpret the show politically. Eick responded that “the politics of the world around us continue to inform the discussion in the writers’ room,” and that they’ve always taken “a certain satisifaction in how some viewers see a liberal bias, and some viewers see it as pro-military.” (I’m not sure that the two are mutually exclusive, but Eick’s point is taken.) They also like that often, as Eick said, “the audience is asking themselves if they’re rooting for the right side.” (One of the things I’ve appreciated the most about BSG is that it challenges us to look at our usually political biases as they are reflected through alien situations.)

• Any regrets about things they haven’t been able to do with the show? Eick joked, “We never got Starbuck and No. 6 together.” But more seriously, when it comes to gender issues, Eick revealed that the writers have been spectacularly unconcerned with conforming to gender stereotypes. He revealed that more than once, the writers have conceived a character as one gender but then changed that gender later without changing anything else. (I’m not at all surprised, but I am seriously delighted.) “You write a great character,” Eick said, “and let the best actor win the job” regardless of what kind of sexual organs he or she has between the legs.

• What’s up while we wait for 2008? Moore will try to do some podcasts this summer. “It’ll be a while before we’re back on the air, so it’d be nice to kinda fill that time.”

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