Following the recent Battlestar Galactica reunion panel at Comic-Con, writer and producer Ronald D. Moore gave a little insight into how the reboot was originally pitched nearly 15 years ago. What he describes sounds like a very different show than the mythology-rich sci-fi serial that practically invented binge watching.
“Part of the pitch was, ‘Here’s this whole civilian fleet,’ and TV was much more episodic than it is now,” said Moore, who got his start writing for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, both of which primarily consisted of episodic, stand-alone stories but dabbled in longer story arcs towards the end of their runs (particularly DS9). “So part of the way to sell the network on what we were doing was, ‘Don’t worry, there will be all of these individual stories. This week we’ll go to the school ship, then we’ll have a murder mystery over there.’ We kind of thought that the fleet gave you an opportunity to bounce around and do different stories.”
However, Moore and the rest of the producers quickly realized that moving the show each week from the titular Galactica to another ship in the fleet was going to be incredibly expensive due to all the various sets that would have to be built. So instead, they refocused the story on the flagship and dove into building the mythology that fans have come to love.
“In some ways it shortened the length of the show, because if we’d had the opportunity to bounce around, we probably could have teased it out for a few more years,” Moore added, giving Battlestar fans everywhere a twinge of pain at the thought of missing out on more episodes.
By having its roots in episodic storytelling while purposefully evolving into a serialized format, Battlestar was able to give its audience engaging, action-packed weekly episodes while laying the groundwork for a complex, long-term narrative. As Moore notes, part of the danger of the recent move to exclusively serialized shows tailor-made for streaming services “is that you almost get into a monotone, where they all have the same beat and pace and it’s all one long thing— and when you can kind of do this interesting mixture of episodic and serialization, you can kind of take the audience on a more interesting journey.” He’s certainly got the track record to back it up.
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