Ballroom 20 was packed by an enthusiastic crowd last month for the Comic-Con presentation of two separate but related upcoming shows from the SyFy network: “Caprica” and “Battlestar Galactica: The Plan.”
As seen in clips from “The Plan,” the miniseries will take on the perspective of the Cylons. With some dark humor, Dean Stockwell is seen reprising his role as Brother Cavil, stating, “Let’s get this genocide started!” Scenes were shown from the prior four seasons of BSG, though often from a different perspective, and sometimes from entirely different locations. The miniseries will depict the formulation of a master plan to destroy humans, the convincing of Lt. Sharon “Boomer” Valerii, played by Grace Park, to assassinate Admiral Adama, and the beginning of things going wrong with that master plan.
On hand for the panel were Edward James Olmos, Executive Producers Ronald D. Moore, David Eick, and Jane Espenson, and from “Caprica,” star Esai Morales.
Directed by Edward James Olmos, “The Plan” was a difficult, unique, “but wonderful” creative process, said Olmos. Being tied to what came before, while also piecing together the flow of what was happening behind the scenes with the Cylons, was a complex process. As writer/producer, Jane Espenson explained that she did not start with the footage, but “I actually went back through the prior scripts and then asked if that scene were actually filmed like that, and then watched the footage.”
“Once you see [‘The Plan’], you’re going to want to go back and rewatch the entire thing,” Olmos said. “This is going to blow your mind. You’ll want to see it all consecutively, and then side-by-side [with the other show]. There’s enough here to keep you busy for three years! And you’ll want to see it on Blu-Ray!”
Later, as a surprise guest, Grace Park joined the panel discussion to chime in on “The Plan.” Asked how it was to be directed by Olmos, who she had a daughter-father relationship with on the prior BSG show, she said, “Well, I shoot him on the show pretty early on, so that sort of levels the playing field!” to laughter from Olmos and the audience.
Asked about the dark humor on “Battlestar Galactica,” particularly with Dean Stockwell’s character, Espenson and David Eick agreed, “It’s like nobody told him it’s a drama.”
Further elaborating on Stockwell’s character, Espenson said, “He uses humor when he’s nervous. So you know if it’s funny, something dangerous is happening.”
Olmos was asked if he knew what happened to his character after the end of the final episode of “Battlestar Galactica.” “Yes, I sort of wrote an [unofficial] script for him,” Olmos said. “It starts with Adama in a log cabin he built, and there’s a knock on his door, and it’s his old friend Colonel Saul Tigh, and he says, ‘There’s a problem,’ and that’s how that adventure starts.”
As to what else could appear in the future, Olmos said, “Well, I had only ever done one other sci-fi related project before, and that was ‘Blade Runner.’ If you rewatch the BSG show, it ends in sort of now, in 2006 or 2007. And Tricia’s character says something like ‘All this has happened before, and will happen again,’ and Dean’s character says, ‘Maybe not.’ And then if you picture [a couple of decades] pass, and you insert right there ‘Blade Runner,’ you can see that it does happen again! And there is a descendant of Adama, [my character] Gaff, is there fighting Replicants. And it’s like ‘Blade Runner’ fits ‘Battlestar’ like a glove.”
As for whether any new movies or other episodes might ever occur with the “regular” BSG show and cast, David Eick was fairly noncommittal. But Olmos was less so: “Yes. Because I think ‘The Plan’ will blow them away so much, and will be so successful, that they won’t be able to help but do some more.”
Turning to “Caprica,” Esai Morales was introduced. Playing the role of Joseph Adama: Admiral Adama’s father, 58 years in the past. Asked how it was to play the father to Olmos, while he had also played the son of Olmos in a prior unrelated movie, Morales joked, “My baby, my son!” while grabbing Olmos and planting a kiss on his forehead.
As to how he studied for his role, and whether he rewatched all of Olmos’s scenes in BSG, Morales explained that he was given permission by Ron Moore to not be exactly like Admiral Adama from BSG. “During casting there was this other actor, who shall remain nameless — but he’s a great actor — and he came in and sat down next to me, and I was like damn, there goes this role, that guy looks just like Olmos. But they cast me instead, and I think it’s because it’s about spirit, not looks.”
The audience was given the opportunity to see a clip of the upcoming show, which premiers January 22, 2010. During the clip, some of the character struggles are portrayed. What happens when a father is given the opportunity to revive his daughter? What are the ethics behind such a creation, and how will society struggle with that issue? All this while moving through a culture that looks similar to a 1940s earth. People were smoking and wearing fedoras while remaining futuristic.
Speaking to the conflicts of the show, Moore said, “It’s a more organized society than BSG, more stylized and subtle, less chaotic. It’s supposed to be the past, and it’s sort of a period piece because of that.”
As to the organization of the colonies, the writers explained that the various colonies are not organized under a President, and there is no equivalent of President Roslyn on “Caprica.” There is a sort of loose federation, but there have been conflicts and wars between the colonies.
Focusing on those colonial differences, Morales described one scene that came to mind. “My character is Tauruan, and he comes to Caprica and sees a field of flowers and he’s never seen a field of flowers because it’s frowned on in Tauraun society. And he’s stunned. And I think that’s something you can do with the sci-fi genre best, portray sort of what makes us human with scenes like that.”
Asked about additional differences between the colonies, Morales said that Taurauns speak Ancient Greek, and to that end the series hired an Ancient Greek translator. Asked by the female moderator if he, Morales, knew any Greek, Morales grinned and spoke a sentence, which translated as “Shut up, old woman!” as he burst into laughter. “I learned it about my mother-in-law,” he said, to which the moderator laughed and replied, “That’s okay, I’ve been called worse, and in other languages as well.”
Speaking to the differences between “Caprica” and “Battlestar Galactica,” Ron Moore said, “This is much more a character show.” He went on to explain that when he was young, he watched “Star Trek” to see what Kirk and Bones would do next week, not what new adventure they would encounter, and he feels sci-fi is the perfect genre to develop characters rather than adventures.
Asked if “Caprica” is entirely separate from BSG, Eick and Espenson both agreed there were some Easter Eggs and little references here and there that fans of the BSG show would appreciate, having seen the future of the “Caprica” world. But they stressed the show would be generally new and different from BSG. “So if you know people who took a pass on BSG, or who maybe started it and stopped it, saying ‘This isn’t for me,’ tell them and recruit them because they will like ‘Caprica.'” He went on to say that there is more love and drama in the new show, but that it’s still sci-fi, and it’s still about building robots and humanizing them. “There is plenty for the hard sci-fi fan to like in this show.”
Moore concluded his comments with a thank you to the actors, who he felt were robbed of awards during the run of “Galactica,” and a thank you to the loyal fans of the show. As part of that thank you, the moderator gave out a few BSG PSP devices, and much of the panel threw Hershey’s kisses into the crowd.