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Richard Hatch, star of both incarnations of “Battlestar Galactica,” kicked off the “Caprica, Battlestar and Beyond” panel Thursday at Comic-Con International in San Diego. An enthusiastic crowd welcomed Hatch, producer/writer Michael Tayler, composer Bear McCreary, science consultant Kevin Grazier and late-arriving actor Aaron Douglas, who played Chief Galen Tyrol on “BSG.”
Hatch explained that McCreary has been performing his “BSG” music live, including a a concert last year at the House of Blues. That performance was recorded, with portions available on McCreary’s website (BearMcCreary.com). Hatch introduced a short clip of the House of Blues show, giving the audience a view McCreary’s orchestra and vocalists on-stage.
Hatch dived right in to the question-and-answer portion of the panel, as an audience member asked McCreary whether he planned to continue performing “BSG” music in front of live audiences.
“As long as you guys keep coming out, we’re going to keep playing … keep watching my blog for bookings,” McCreary said. As for specific venues he’d like to do, McCreary said, “I’d love to play Comic-Con again. What I’d really like to do is go to Vancouver and do ‘The Face of Things to Come’ in the opera house there. Wouldn’t that be cool?”
When the panelists were asked whether they anticipate any additional movies, Douglas quipped, “There is a plan called ‘The Chief,’ or ‘The Chief’s Plan’,” to audience laughter.
Tayler added on a more serious note: “There well may be something in the future … it ain’t over!”
Asked whether there is anything more for the Starbuck character, Hatch seemed to get into Douglas’ humorous mood, and jumped in with, “I hear she’s coming back as a man!”
McCreary pondered the effect the Kara Thrace character had on his compositions. “She had no one theme,” he said. “People are dynamic, and change, they do good things and bad things, and ‘Battlestar’ allowed me to break away from that idea that every character has one theme. … Starbuck had four themes, associated with different parts of her personality … and you hear all four near the end of the show.”
On the topic of McCreary’s music and its effect on fans, McCreary was asked how he feels about his music being used or remixed for fan-produced films. “We live in an era where music is very collaborative,” he said. “At first I was like, ‘Hey, man, you can’t take my music and use it in your movie’ … but then I really appreciated it, and it’s something I really embraced. There’s all these spins on my music now, and people can always come to my blog and hear how I originally did it. The score was only written to function in the show … but it’s exciting that the music can live on. That’s a fun part of being a musician.”
Commenting on the collaborative nature of television and these sci-fi series, Tayler said, “I came into a thing that was already largely created. But within that every writer had the opportunity to change the world. … You get to tell stories that are meaningful to you. … But, for people thinking of moving into this creative world, you do have to grapple with the idea that you will ultimately be alone in a room, contributing a piece that is your own.”
Douglas added his own take on the collaborative nature of “BSG”: “As an actor on the show, this group of writers were the best to work with. … I could say, you know, ‘I really don’t think I’d say that’ … These guys really were absolutely open to allowing it to change on the set, and it was such a gift … it was a real testament to their understanding of the creative process.”
Douglas also touched upon his current series, “The Bridge,” which was pulled this week by CBS after just three episodes. “My show just got canceled — a cop show Saturdays in the afternoon, gee,” he said. “It’s doing really well overseas and continues there … but maybe someone else will pick it up here.”
Turning to the science of the BSG universe, Grazier was asked about the most common questions he receives. “We had a lot of complaints about the biology of the Cylons,” he said.
Asked whether he ever butted heads with a producer or writer about something on “BSG,” Grazier answered, “Even when they didn’t use something I suggested, I never felt like I wasn’t listened to on ‘Galactica.’ … There wasn’t really any head -utting going on. Sorry it’s not more dramatic.”
The panel was then asked if there would be cameos of “BSG” characters on “Caprica,” beyond what viewers have already seen. Specifically, would there ever be something like a scene of Hatch’s “BSG” character, Tom Zareck, as a child in daycare?
Grazier laughed, saying, “What, like leading an uprising to take over the daycare? Can you imagine him standing at the bars of his crib looking really angry?” Tayler added, “I can’t promise. … We did want [‘Caprica’] to stand on its own legs. But down the road, who knows?”
Questioned about the possibility of a “BSG/Pegasus” series, or anything more on Admiral Cain, Tayler said ,”Well, she’s dead, we killed her twice now. … She’s a great character and it was great to have the chance to tell her side of the story in ‘Razor.’ And again, if you get far enough down the road in this series, who knows? But for now, I can say there are any immediate plans with Admiral Cain.”
Addressing the previous half-season of “Caprica,” Tayler said, “The first half of the season, we did a lot to … set the scenes for what’s to come, the development of artificial intelligence, a 16-year-old girl as a robot, the creation of virtual reality. … How are we going to make our way through this technological future?”
Although the second half of the season won’t debut until January, Tayler said, “I think it will be worth waiting for. The second half of the season we’re going to see a lot more action … it opens with a bang … a big explosion, literally.”
Graizer added, “I am not on ‘Caprica,’ but … I spoke with Jane [Espenson, co-executive producer], and worked on some of the layout for the 12 colonies. … It’s in a multiple-star system, kind of alluded to in ‘The Plan.’ Jane used that to lay out the 12 colonies, and she did a masterful job.”
Douglas was asked how emotional it was to work on the show, and got personal with the audience: “The writing was so great … most of the work was getting to that emotional place. … I had some difficult times. While we were shooting, I lost my wife. My wife died between season one and season two, and I didn’t tell anyone. Season two starts with all these people dying left and right … and I hadn’t dealt with the loss of my wife, and I kind of dealt with it through the death of all these characters on the show. … I’d just go home emotionally exhausted.”
Finally, the panelists were asked what they’re working on now.
Douglas: “Season two of ‘The Bridge,’ in November … and I am this close to a brand-spanking-new show, that you guys will all know … they are this close to having it done. Hopefully we can announce it today or tomorrow. I will tweet it, how about that?” (As of the writing of this article, Douglas tweeted that he just signed the new show, but has not announced the name.)
Grazer: “‘Eureka.’ This season is fantastic. And if you watch ‘Eureka,’ you can tell your friends we just did a bit of a reboot, so now is the time to start watching. Also, I worked on a pilot for a new series called ‘The Event’.”
McCreary: “I just scored the last episode of ‘Caprica’. I am working on ‘Eureka’ with Kevin. And I just did a new show called ‘The Cape’; it’s going to be great. I am also working on this super-cool thing that I cannot talk about for another 28 hours. I will also tweet it. And I am also working on a triple-CD release for ‘Human Target’. It’s a really fun album. And keep an eye on my blog. I hope by the end of the year we can release the whole live album of the ‘BSG’ show.”
Tayler: “I am working on a new pilot for Syfy. It has a very different from ‘Battlestar,’ very contemporary, but it’s trying to tap into that same issue of questionable philosophy. At the moment it’s titled ‘Watchers’.”
Hatch: “I have an online game coming out on Facebook. … I’m directing, writing and producing a film called ‘Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying’.”