Ron Moore Confirms the Obvious: NBC Decision to Pull from iTunes Sucks

There is an extended interview with Ron Moore, writer/creator of the new Battlestar Galactica, on Wired.  Definitely worth reading.

One fun snippet:

Wired: You mentioned TiVo. Do you think you benefited from DVD box sets, TiVo timeshifting, the ability for people to go watch all of season one?

Moore: Absolutely. It’s a totally different world, and it plays to our audience. The fans of this genre traditionally lead all these technologies. The early adopters, the people who are very facile with computers and tech, and they will find the show in all these different formats. It absolutely has helped us.

Wired: Even being able to tell the non-fans, look, just go get the box set?

Moore: It’s great. That phenomenon has definitely occurred, too, where people who would not sample the show, who wouldn’t tune into something on Sci Fi Channel, much less called Battlestar Galactica, people would then press on them a DVD. They became fans. That happened a lot. People just put it on their iTunes. I bemoan the loss of NBC Universals relationship with iTunes for this show.

NBC’s decision to basically thumb their nose at their customers, their fans, around a theoretical strategic positioning on digital delivery is doomed to failure.  Not sure if the current management at NBC will get it, or whether they’ll have to be replaced (ala Disney/Pixar) to heal this one.  They have forgotten that the alternative to Apple’s rich ecosystem is widespread, DRM-free piracy.

They’ll figure it out soon enough.

Starbuck is NOT the Fifth Cylon

This is the problem with getting busy and not posting for two weeks.  What was an insightful and debatable claim is now fairly obvious.

Still, I felt I had to write this post, given all the excitement two weeks ago about someone “cracking” the Entertainment Weekly “Last Supper” photo from earlier in the year.  You can read about the detailed analysis here (which would actually make Dan Brown proud ala “The Da Vinci Code”), but at the end of the day, the conclusion is wrong.

Starbuck is not the final Cylon.

True, she’s the “Harbinger of Doom” and she will lead the humans “to their end”, but she’s not a cylon.  Sorry, not dice.  Fact is, she doesn’t fit any of the known clues left about the fifth cylon, and Moore has basically gone on record stating that she is not a cylon, but something else.

Since, I’m on the topic, let’s cover what I’ve been pondering lately: the comments from the “First Hybrid” in the Razor movie, and the recent episode from Friday, “Faith”:

  • From the episode “Faith” that aired on Friday:

    It’s at this moment that the Hybrid grabs Kara and communicates a semi-vague, yet straightforward message:

    – The dying leader will discover the truth about the Opera House.
    – The missing 3 will be used to find the Final 5.
    – The final 5 come from the home of the 13th tribe.
    – Starbuck is the harbinger of death that will take them all to their end.

  • From the movie, “Razor”:

    At last, they’ve come for me. I feel their lives, their destinies spilling out before me. The denial of the one true path, played out on a world not their own, will end soon enough. Soon there will be four, glorious in awakening, struggling with the knowledge of their true selves, the pain of revelation bringing new clarity, and in the midst of confusion, he will find her. Enemies brought together by impossible longing, enemies now joined as one. The way forward at once unthinkable, yet inevitable. And the fifth, still in shadow, will claw toward the light, hungering for redemption that will only come in the howl of terrible suffering. I can see them all. The seven, now six, self-described machines who believe themselves without sin, but in time, it is sin that will consume them. They will know enmity, bitterness, the wrenching agony of the one splintering into the many, and then they will join the promised-land, gathered on the wings of an angel. Not an end, but a beginning.

So this brings me to my current thinking – everything the First Hybrid said is coming true, so there are likely more clues there.  Note the reference to “the wings of an angel”, which Kara Thrace was described as in this last episode.

The hardest part for me to rationalize in the current “four cylons” is Colonel Tigh.  Adama has known him for 40 years, since his youth.  That means Tigh got old… I didn’t know cylons could age.  But humanoid cylons didn’t come into being until well after the first Cylon war, so he can’t actually be a cylon… unless he either pre-dates the Cylons.  The quote from the hybrid suggests he is not a cylon per se, but from Earth.  Thats confirmation that cylons were not invented by the colonies recently, but may have existed long before.

That ties in with the them that “all of this has happened before, and all this will happen again”.

My favorite comment on my blog posts has been the ones that theorize that this is all some sort of elaborate simulation… somewhat like in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  The Cylons killed their human masters long ago, and they repeatedly seed and build the colonies to repeat history and try to learn from it.

I doubt that will be the answer, but there is definitely a strong theme here that says that the Cylon/human issue has dated back well before cylons were “theoretically created” by the colonies.

The only non-linear hint here is that “Adama is a Cylon”.  Given the recently leaked backstory for the new series “Caprica”, it seems that a humanoid Cylon was made for the Adama family to replace Bill Adama’s lost sister… if his sister was Cylon, is it possible he is also?  Or that he had a model made to replace Zak?

We’ll see.

Battlestar Galactica: Episode 4.3 “The Ties that Bind”

If you don’t like spoilers, stop reading now.  Seriously.  I don’t want any whiny complaints.  You are lucky I didn’t put more in my title.

There is a very good write-up on BuddyTV.  It’s worth reading.

Let’s summarize what was great about the third episode of this season:

  1. Cylon civil war heats up. This could be going in a couple directions.  Pretty obvious issue with giving the Centurion’s access to higher-level thinking.  Hello?  Rebellion against the humanoid cylons.  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  Like the rebellion 40 years ago against the human colonists?  Also having the Cylons self-destruct helps lead us towards some sort of human victory – there has to be some form of Cylon destruction – right now, the Cylons are too powerful and eventually they will crush the humans unless they either (1) find help or (2) self-destruct.  Not sure which it will be yet, but the current thread opens up (2) as an options.  Last note: are we going to see the emergence of true individual behavior in the Cylons, as a virus?  Happened with Baltar’s 6, now the Boomer 8.  Not good for the robots.  Not good at all.
  2. Some of the “final four” are definitely acting Cylon.  Tory is starting to act like the new Number 6, before she went soft.   Sex with Baltar, flirt with Tyrol, kill Callie?  Not bad for three episodes.
  3. Cally dies. Nice to see that Battlestar hasn’t lost its guts yet.  Of course, they could wuss out and make Callie the final cylon…  of course, they’d have to explain the Tyrol-Callie baby at that point, since it would be Cylon/Cylon.  Let’s hope they don’t.  Let’s hope they had the guts to kill an empathetic character, cruelly, and without remorse.   Battlestar has to stay dark to stay true to its roots.

Other cool stuff, of course, but had to comment.   Add yours below.  I’ve really been enjoying the comment stream on the previous fifth cylon posts here and here.  Check them out, I’m getting two or three new comments there every day.

Can’t wait until Friday…

Welcome Back to Battlestar Galactica. Now About That Fifth Cylon…

It’s just so great to have Battlestar Galactica back again. The first episode of the fourth and final season aired on Friday. Lots of fun too, since it picked up immediately on the two biggest character developments of the end of season three: the return of Starbuck, seemingly from the dead, and the continued realization of the outed “four” who are coming to terms with not being human.

It’s a little sad too, the way that this last season of “The Wire” was sad. Sad because yet another great TV show is ending, and it’s tough to see what might take it’s place.

If you haven’t been reading the spoilers and potential plot summaries about the upcoming BSG spinoff “Caprica”, another one is up on SyFy Portal. Check out this portion of the plot concept:

William Adama, who will be 9 years old in the series, actually had a sister. But both his mother and sister are killed in a suicide bombing that also took out Zoe, the daughter of Daniel Graystone, a wealthy computer engineer and designer who is trying to build an “intelligent robot.” The terrorist attack bring together Daniel and Joseph, but Daniel grieves in a different way. He discovers that Zoe had a far better understanding of robotics and computers than even he did, and uses that technology to help build the first Cylon … with Zoe’s personality.

Joseph ends up helping Daniel to create robotic versions of not just Zoe, but of his own daughter, Tamara, as well. Unlike Daniel Graystone, however, Joseph changes his mind about having Tamara created in robot form, and eventually reveals to his son William that their name is not Adams, but instead is Adama.

Now remember, this new series is being created by the people who know exactly who the fifth cylon is, and largely how BSG is going to wrap up. In some ways, this is like the Monty Hall problem in statistics – Monty knows which door has the Cadillac behind it, so his choice is not truly independent.

There are some who think the fifth cylon is Roslin, Baltar, or even Admiral Adama. All of these possibilities are contradicted by the clue from the Entertainment Weekly article – none of the humans in the picture is a cylon. There are others who vote for Gaeta, since he’s been suspiciously close to the action the entire series… kind of like Wedge Antilles in Star Wars. I’ve seen votes for the Tom Zarak, Dee, or even Starbuck.

It’s hard to be certain, of course, but I’d say that the plot summary for Caprica raises some questions… like whether or not humanoid cylons actually pre-date the Cylon war. The idea that there effectively was a proto-Cylon “Adama” raises some possibilities.

I just wonder if we’re going to start seeing more references to Zak Adama in this fourth season…  there was that statement that, “Adama is a Cylon”.

Anyway, we’ve got at least eight or nine weeks of great TV ahead of us. Actually, right now, with “John Adams” on HBO, it’s promising to be a good April.

Update (4/22/2008): New post on Episode 3 of the 4th Season: Ties That Bind.

Update (11/26/2008): New post on Final Five Candidates for the Fifth Cylon (Possible Spoilers).

Battlestar Galactica, Season 4, Caprica, and the Movie

Can you hear it….?  That distant rumbling….?  That’s the sound of the best show on television coming in for a new season.

April 4th.  10:00PM.  Sci-Fi Channel.

Some news tidbits from Buddy TV, which covered the Battlestar Galactica news conference:

  • We get 10 episodes.  The last 10 episodes will likely be in 2009.  (Writer’s strike)
  • Shows will be on at noon that day for early viewing.  Nothing specific on iTunes.
  • Greenlight to the prequel TV series pilot, “Caprica”, which will focus on a time, 50 years before the show, before the first Cylon war.  Will be a 2-hour movie in the fall.
  • No vote on the movie of Battlestar Galactica post-season 4.

As the article closes:

The cast just received their first post-strike script and will resume production next week. Moore stated that, in writing the final season, his primary goal is simply to bring everything home and do justice to the series he has created. When asked about possibly expanding to a Battlestar Galactica film after it’s over, Moore’s answer was a definite “No,” claiming the series would not translate well to the big screen.

Can’t wait.

Star Wars Trivia: Darth Talon

I am slightly embarrassed to admit that over the New Years holiday, I flipped through a copy of Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force.  Yes, I just admitted that.  No, I’m not sure why I did it.

In any case, I now know a few new things:

  1. There is an endless supply of almost meaningless detail about timelines, people, and battles that are sometimes self-contradictory and totally separate from the movies.
  2. There is a very cool Wikia site called “Wookiepedia” that has an almost endless supply of Star Wars information, and it’s free.
  3. There is a new comic book series called “Star Wars Legacy” that takes place 137 years after the Death Star was blown up, in a bleak future where the Republic & Jedi have fallen to a new order of the Sith.

As an interesting trivia item based on (3), I also discovered what I imagine it would look like if Darth Maul and Angelina Jolie had a baby: her name is Darth Talon.  Enjoy.

Battlestar Galactica: The Fifth & Last Cylon (possible spoilers)

So, I’m confused. Is the last Cylon the fifth cylon (of the final 5) or the twelfth (since there are 12 models).


Great article today in SyFy Portal. (similar coverage on BuddyTV.) It’s a teardown from the recent Entertainment Weekly coverage of Season 4. They are very clever, and managed to squeeze some hints out of the 2-page spread which is designed to mimic Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”, except with a silhouette of the last, unknown Cylon.

The trick is, of course, that anyone else featured in picture CAN’T be the final cylon.  You definitely want to click through here to the EW article & interactive picture.

So where does that leave us? From the article (now’s the time to stop reading…):

The photo spread, which can be viewed here shows 12 different characters from “Battlestar Galactica,” and an obviously empty location. That spot, says executive producer Ronald D. Moore, is being held for the final Cylon.

“We have not yet revealed the final Cylon,” Moore told the magazine. When the writers asked if that means everyone else sitting at the table is definitely not that last Cylon, Moore was probably the most direct he’s ever been on potential show spoilers.

“You ferreted that out pretty slyly,” Moore said. “I didn’t want to give that away.”

So who is a Cylon and who isn’t? The table features six already revealed Cylons: Michael Hogan’s Col. Tigh; a new Cylon model of Number Six played by Tricia Helfer named Natalie; Number Six (possibly Head Six thanks to the red dress and Moore’s description) herself; Michael Trucco’s Anders; Aaron Douglas’ Chief Tyrol; and Athena, played by Grace Park. Those who aren’t Cylons, and probably won’t be Cylons at all, include President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber), Gaius Baltar (James Callis), Kara Thrace (Katee Sackhoff), Karl “Helo” Agathon (Tahmoh Penikett), and William Adama (Edward James Olmos).

Strangely, my original post on spoilers for the Final Five is still one of the top posts on this blog.

Things get moving again in March.  Enjoy.

Update (4/6/2008): New post online about “Caprica” and implications for the possible fifth cylon.

Update (4/22/2008): New post on Episode 3 of the 4th Season: Ties That Bind.

Update (11/26/2008): New post on Final Five Candidates for the Fifth Cylon (Possible Spoilers).

Goodbye, Journeyman. How I Would Have Liked The Series to Go.

I’m getting a little tired of this.

Is it just me, or is the failure rate of new series going up?  I’m not sure, but I’m getting a little tired of investing hours into a new series, only to find out that it’s cut off before it really gets somewhere.  Maybe I should bag the whole thing and move to purely watching good series on DVD or iTunes (once NBC realizes they are completely off-base taking their content off iTunes).

Well, I had been meaning to post this all season, and now, I catch this article on BuddyTV, which indicates that NBC has passed on filling the last 9 episodes of Journeyman this year, basically putting the nail in the coffin for the series.

So this Wednesday, December 19th, the show is basically over:

The series suffered from low ratings and the network allowed its option for a full season order to lapse by the December 11 deadline for renewal.  While there has been no official announcement from NBC, such an action effectively implies that the series has been cancelled.

So, before the sun sets on this series, let me explain, with two days of potential relevance, how I would have liked to have seen the series evolve.

The rationale for Dan’s time travel that I would have liked is as follows:

  • Dan, Livia, and other time travelers are all linked in some sort of master plan to alter the time line, or rectify it, for some reason.
  • Each “mission” that they take are a set of carefully orchestrated minor changes that each feed on each other to create bigger and bigger effects.
  • We’d start to see people or changes that Dan and/or Livia have made snowballing – the boy saved doesn’t just create a technology to help the blind see, but a blind man helped by the technology becomes Governor, etc.
  • In the end, there is a major, world-ending catastrophe, like in Heroes, that all these micro-changes compound to avoid.

I care less about the exact “orchestrator” of these micro-changes, and how it ties in with Dan, Livia, and other potential travelers.  It could be the scientist found a way to project the future, saw the disaster, and orchestrated this exact path to prevent it.  Why micro-changes?  To limit collateral damage from butterfly effect issues.  I’m thinking of something like Asimov’s time managers from End of Eternity.

Here is what would have made me shut off the show immediately:

  • Anything that indicated they were taking a Quantum Leap direction, with good & evil orchestrators of time travel
  • Anything that indicated this was a mystical or magical phenomena vs. science-based (got close tonight on this, by the way, with the psychic)
  • Anything that sounded like Dan was there to “just do good” and “fix things that went wrong”.  I’ll take my karma from “My Name is Earl”, thank you very much.

HBO better get moving on some new series.  I just don’t trust the major networks to do any of this well, ever.

If you are one of the few people also watching the show, let me know what you think.

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5)

On Tuesday night, I did something I haven’t done since high school.  I stayed up to see a midnight premiere of a movie at Century 16 on Shoreline.  In fact, the last time I did this, it was Century 10 on Shoreline, because they hadn’t added on the last 6 theaters yet.

I wasn’t planning on it, but I was offered free tickets by my Mom, a Harry Potter fan, and I couldn’t let her stay up that late and wait out in the cold.   So, after arriving at the theater at 10:30pm, and getting into the theater at 11:15pm, watching trailers start at 12:15am, at 12:35am, we began watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Overall rating: B+.  It was a good movie, and I’m fairly sure I will watch it several more times when it comes out on cable and DVD.

In fact, the only problem with the movie really is the problem with the last two Harry Potter movies… the books have become so large that there is no reasonable way to capture them in a 2-hour movie.  I feel like they keep getting trapped in the middle:  too long and with too little context for a viewer who hasn’t read the books, but too short and with too little detail for someone who has.

I really wish they would learn from the Lord of the Rings success, and make an extended 4-hour version of the movie, mini-series length, for DVD.  Tens of millions of Harry Potter fans would buy it, and it would be a better movie to stand the test of time 10 or 20 years from now.

In any case, it was worth seeing, and I’m glad I’ve re-read the fifth and sixth books in the series.  I’m all fresh and ready for the infamous Book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, due to arrive in less than 10 days.

Battlestar Galactica: Ronald Moore Talks about Earth

Very long and detailed interview with Ron Moore on Crave Online about Battlestar Galactica, including a lot of his thoughts about season 4.

Battlestar Galactica: Ronald Moore Talks About Earth

One of the questions I like has Moore reflecting on what he believes is the most interesting about science fiction:

CRAVE ONLINE: A lot of viewers see very specific metaphors in the show for what’s going on in the world today. Do you ever feel like fans get too literal in their own interpretations, and do you ever wish that people would just relax and enjoy the show on its own merits?

RONALD MOORE: Part of the point of science fiction, at least in its roots, was always to give the audience an allegory to present a metaphor for what was taking place in the culture. I think we’ve always enjoyed, and taken a certain satisfaction in, the fact that there are those who watch the show and assume that there is a liberal bias and those who watch the show and assume there’s a pro-military bias, and that’s how it’s supposed to work. You’re supposed to bring your own point of view to it, and then be able to extrapolate out whatever messages you want. The show tends to not be terribly definitive. We were pretty clear from the outset that this wasn’t going to be about protagonists espousing lessons and rules, and arriving at the end to save the day and tell everyone what was right and what was wrong. The line separating the protagonists and antagonists would often blur with the audience often asking themselves if they’re rooting for the right side. There’s always going to be a question mark of sorts at the end of most stories, and I think that applies to the political element as well. There really isn’t a definitive answer to anything that’s being espoused by any given story. It’s more just about the idea that there are two sides to every equation.

This is interesting to me, in particular, because this is why I’ve always been drawn to science fiction. So much of political and moral debate can unwittingly be shaped by assumptions about technology. It’s always fascinating to see how different assumptions about what is and isn’t possible can shape debate about very real human issues.

Supergirl to Join Smallville in Season 7

Is this worth blogging about? I don’t know.

Supergirl will indeed be a new character in Smallville when it returns for Season 7. More on this at SyFy Portal.

Clark’s cousin Kara “was sent to Earth in a ship that arrived at the same time as baby Kal-El’s,” executive producer Al Gough told TV Guide. “But there was a problem and she’s been in suspended animation for the last 16 years. We’ll find out in the season premiere that the big dam break in last season’s finale is the reason she’s finally awoken.”

I have a special place in my heart for truly awful movies… and the Supergirl movie from 1984 is one of the worst ever. Unbelievably bad.

Battlestar Galactica: Season 4 is the End

Earth or bust.

There has been a lot of coverage of this, so I’ll just point to the best article on the topic that I’ve read on SyFy Portal. The 22 episodes that will begin in January 2008 will be the last of the series.

Kudos to the producers and writers for capping this series off with a game plan and a strong finish. With these serial dramas, I’m beginning to have more and more respect for the teams that have the sense to not draw them out endlessly. Check out this quote from Ronald Moore:

“The temple gave D’Ann (Lucy Lawless) the glimpse of the Final Five that triggers the beacon that points the way to Earth,” Moore said. “At that point, you’re promising the audience that you were moving toward revelation. By the end of the season, we had taken that moment to decide that we were going to reveal four of the Final Five, and one of the characters had been to Earth and seen it.

“That’s probably the moment when we started feeling it. If we don’t start moving in that direction, you get to a place where you just feel like you’re jerking off the audience or treading water instead of just moving forward and pushing limits. We didn’t want to be in that position.”

Another interesting tidbit was some additional detail on “Razor”, the BSG made-for-TV movie airing this fall.

Battlestar Galactica: Some Season 4 Details Emerge

OK, OK, I give up.

The demand for new posts on Battlestar Galactica has been relentless.  I had sworn off them for the time being, because the new season doesn’t start until January 2008, and the TV movie doesn’t air until this Fall.

Some interesting articles this week on BuddyTV and on SyFy Portal have some emerging tidbits on Season 4, which began shooting this week.  Go ahead and dig in if you are interested.  Basically, it sounds like a couple of new characters from Pegasus are going to play a role in Season 4.  Kendra Taggert is apparently one of the names to know.

Interestingly, the movie this Fall will be based on Pegasus, and its story between the attack on the colonies and its rendezvous with Galactica.   This is one of the advantages of the series – there are a lot of potential stories to be told, even within the known timeline.