Image Credit: Theo Wargo/WireImage.com; Carole Segal/SyFyYesterday, Syfy cancelled its promising-if-struggling drama Caprica, pulling the final five episodes of the Battlestar Galactica prequel series from its regular timeslot to re-air “at a to-be-announced time in the first quarter of 2011.” As luck would have it, the day before yesterday, I spoke with Caprica executive producer David Eick about his new BSG spin-off, tentatively titled Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, which Syfy has greenlit as a two-hour pilot with an eye for a full series. Two days ago, Eick insisted that the new show — about the exploits of a 20-something William Adama (played in the original series by Edward James Olmos, pictured) as he enters the First Cylon War — would not effect Caprica‘s chances at the network either way. Today, Eick sent EW the following statement about Caprica‘s cancellation and rescheduling:
“It was unfortunate — though not surprising — to learn yesterday of Caprica‘s cancellation. What was a surprise was the fact that the remaining episodes won’t air until next year. Having spent some time at this network as an executive, I understand that these are rarely simple decisions and I know the current leadership at Syfy genuinely loved the show and were hell-bent on protecting it and seeing it succeed. Hopefully with Blood & Chrome we can carry on the legacy of Battlestar Galactica in a fresh and exciting way, but Caprica was an extremely smart, unique show and it’ll take quite some time for me to get used to the idea that it’s really gone.”
So as one BSG spin-off dies, another rises — you could almost say “is resurrected” — in its wake. But what will Blood & Chrome be like? How did it come together? Will Battlestar and/or Caprica characters show up? Will BSG guru Ron Moore be involved? Eick gladly answered these questions, and more:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you first divine on the idea of further exploring William Adama’s formative years?
DAVID EICK: Primarily, it was the opportunity presented by the network, Syfy. I was approached, I think it might have been at Comic-Con, by [network executive] Mark Stern. He started talking about the possibility of another [Battlestar] prequel that might begin as a home-video project, or begin a project that applies to other media. And [he asked me if there] was there any interest in revisiting the mythology in the way that we did with Caprica. I felt that Battlestar Galactica, the mothership show, had existed on two planes at once. On the one hand, it was this contemplative meditation on philosophical questions on what it means to be human. And on the other hand, it was a visceral, authentically presented combat drama that depicted war in a way we hadn’t seen done in a sci-fi milieu. If Caprica was more or less a study of the first side of Battlestar — some of those philosophical musings — this might be an opportunity to do a spin-off or a prequel that was a little more slanted in the second side of Battlestar. Which is not to suggest that Caprica doesn’t have visceral action and life-or-death stakes, nor does it suggest Blood & Chrome doesn’t have sophisticated musings on the nature of what it means to be human. But I thought there might be an opportunity to do a drama that harkened back to that more white-knuckle sensibility of Battlestar: People in combat, man vs. Cylon, woman vs. Cylon, where betrayal is not just personal, but an act of treason.
So how did the new show come together?
I proposed a story that involved Adama just out of cadet school, tasting his first conflict as a member of the Colonial Fleet. The network was very responsive to that, and I went immediately to Michael Taylor, who’s one of our most dependable, reliable and really talented writers on the Battlestar staff, to break the story with me and write the teleplay. To our great fortune, we were able to get Bradley Thomson and David Weddle, another writing team from the Battlestar days who were really expert at all things concerning war games, war strategy, the nature of conflict. The four of us sat in room and broke the story, and Michael went off to write the script. The network read it, was over the moon, and gave us a greenlight.
Why focus on Adama, as opposed to any of the other Battlestar characters? Did you want continuity with Caprica?
Not at all. It was because we’d investigated this idea of Adama as a young cadet in the two-hour straight-to-DVD special that we did in between seasons three and four of Battlestar Galactica, which was called Razor. There was something really compelling about this idea of seeing this very confident, well-tread war veteran before he had gained all those experience points, before he’d learned all the invaluable lessons he would have to learn in order to command a battlestar. That just stuck in my mind as a great vehicle [for a show], in the spirit of great, classic war stories: Platoon, Apocalypse Now, Saving Private Ryan. Just this idea of people who are forced into circumstances far beyond the limits of their training or expertise, and yet somehow through their own intestinal fortitude, are able to emerge victorious.
When specifically will this take place? How old will Adama be?
Well [clears throat] the exact year it takes place is still under some debate. Suffice it to say at this point we’re going to say he’s in his early 20s. There’s a domino effect to every decision in terms to certain points in history that we’d referred to in the show Battlestar Galactica must remain consistent. So the year that we choose to begin this drama, and the age we then say Adama is, is going to leave certain doors open and close others. In the script that exists right now, he’s just referred to as in his early 20s, and we’re in a period after the commencement of the first Cylon war, which fans of Battlestar know ended more than 40 years before the reappearance of the Cylons and the destruction of the 12 colonies. That’s where it rests in the mythos.
But it does sound this will be well before he marries and has his two sons.
Do you expect any characters from the original Battlestar, or from Caprica for that matter, to play a role in this new story?
Well, they’re not scripted as yet, but I’m definitely open to that possibility. Whether it’s ancestors of characters we’d come to know in Battlestar, or descendants of characters we’d come to know on Caprica, or there’s some way of depicting literal characters, the door is open to those possibilities. However, at no point in time will those decisions be made in such a way that one has to know the mythology or been a fan of Battlestar or of Caprica in order to follow the storyline. I’m not interested in dramas that turn on the revelation of some character that we’ve come to know from one of the other shows. This has to exist on its own and it has to be accessible to a new audience. And there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.
So let’s talk casting: Are you actively looking now for your new Adama?
We are. We’ve begun interviewing and talking to agents and looking at film [reels]. It’s a great casting opportunity for a young actor, as is the [brand-new] character of Becca Kelly. Becca is this phenom software genius who winds up involved with Bill Adama in an unexpected way, and is in the spirit of Caprica and Battlestar Galactica, another uniquely strong, challenging female character. There are other characters as well, but in the initial going, those are the two we’re most keenly focused on.
Ron Moore was so integral to Battlestar Galactica and Caprica. What’s his involvement with this show?
Well Ron and I are spiritually connected at the hip. I don’t know that he orders dinner without calling me first. But he’s on a deal with Sony at this time, and this is a Universal-Syfy project. We’re in that wedge right now. But it would be impossible for Ron’s imprimatur to not be on anything associated with Battlestar Galactica.
But as far as right now, he’s not formally involved?
And about the title: Will the show be called Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, or just Blood & Chrome?
I don’t know the answer to that. I think for sure it’s a shared lesson amongst all of us involved in Caprica that we may have been a little too reluctant to reference Battlestar Galactica in the promotion of that show when it first came about. That was just for the fact that we wanted Caprica to stand on its own and to not exclude audiences that may have not seen Battlestar Galactica. The other way of looking at it is perhaps there were Battlestar Galactica fans or devotees who may have not been aware of Caprica or not understood that Caprica was a descendant of sorts from Battlestar and from the mythology of that show, and perhaps we left money on the table, so to speak, by not being a little bit more overt with that association. Whether or not that translates into a decision about the title [of Blood & Chrome] and how the show is marketed for Blood & Chrome, I don’t know. But if I were guessing, I would suspect we’d be a little less reluctant to allow this show’s affiliation with Battlestar to be part of its campaign or how it’s talked about.