Ever since “Battlestar Galactica” aired its deeply divisive series finale in March, which quite a few people liked but just as many people hated and they ALL posted angry reactions about it on their blogs, the series feels as though it’s sort of slipped under-the-radar in the collective consciousness. You still hear about it every once in a while, but for the most part, people seem to have moved on. The Comic-Con panel for the show’s immediate future – as made-for-TV movie “The Plan” and spinoff series “Caprica” – then was one part victory lap and one part attempt to keep the fan base’s appetite whetted. By midway through the panel, the spacious Ballroom 20 was standing room only, as the series’ fans packed the room to listen to series mastermind Ronald D. Moore discuss the intricacies of Caprican politics, Caprica showrunner Jane Espenson compare the series to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Battlestar” star Edward James Olmos shill for the complete series set on BluRay.
It was all more fun that that sounds, actually. There was very little looking back, outside of a few moments when all involved thanked the fans for making the show what it was. For the most part, the panel and its members (which included producer David Eick, “Caprica” star Esai Morales and “Battlestar” star Grace Park – a special surprise guest) were focused on “The Plan” and “Caprica.” The main highlight insofar as unreleased material was a newer, longer trailer for “The Plan,” which started from the already released trailer and added on footage from the rest of it, showing how the film (which tells the events of the series from the point-of-view of the Cylons) hooks its storyline into the main series storyline and showing off Olmos’ talent for finding cool images as a director. It also featured lots and lots of Dean Stockwell as Cavil, the angry, angry Number One, who cracks wise and wanders the galaxy, trying to pull off the genocide of the human race. It was a short trailer, but it got a rousing ovation, and it looked cool. (The footage shown for “Caprica” was just stuff from the pilot, which has already been released on DVD, so everyone in the room had seen it anyway.)
The real meat of the panel came in the moderated discussion, as moderator Faith Salie spent less time going to the audience for fan questions and more time asking questions of her own. The theme that emerged is that “The Plan” is for the dedicated “Battlestar” fan, a way to reward them for sticking with the show by showing them the same events through new lenses, while “Caprica” is for both the dedicated fan and people who maybe never got into the parent show. The continuity of the show (which takes place 58 years before “Battlestar” in a world much more like our own) is different enough that all involved hope that it can draw new fans. “If for every fan of Battlestar, we could get another two people to watch Caprica, we could run for another couple years,” said Eick in one of those best-case scenario things.
“The relationship between the two shows is very tangential. I think there are Easter eggs for fans along the way,” Eick said earlier, when suggesting that the spinoff will appeal to a broader audience but still have hooks for fans.
Moore, for his part, is into the idea that “Caprica” can deepen the relationships between the 12 Colonies of the original series, something that “Battlestar” commented on but never had much time to delve into. You’ll spend time on other colonies and learn how they differ from each other (for one thing, the Taurons speak ancient Greek, and for another, the “Caprica” universe has no presidential office yet, as the “Battlestar” universe did). Also, because it’s not set in space, Moore can more directly address his concerns about scientific advances like artificial intelligence springing upon us without a lot of forethought. “We can really play more direct correlations between what’s going on in their world and ours,” he said.
Even the look of “Caprica” is going to be substantially different from the original series, as it steps back into a period heavily influenced by ’40s period pieces and other sundry bits of human culture. “Photographically, it’s not as wild or as verite,” Eick said. “It’s a little bit more elegant. A little bit more subtle.”
Or, barring that, the producers, who attempted to deflect comparisons of the show to a soap opera, just appealed to the geek sensibility. “We’ve got ourselves an angry teenage girl and a robot. I think the ‘Buffy’ fans will find something there to love,” said Espenson, who worked on the earlier series.
Most of the fun on the panel, however, came from Olmos’ interplay with everyone else on it, from when Morales (whose playing Olmos’ character’s father) hugged and kissed Olmos, calling him, “my baby” to when Olmos suggested that once you see “The Plan,” you’ll want to watch the entire series all over again to compare the two side by side. And then, he suggested, at the end of all of that, you can pop in something else that he starred in. Pop in “Blade Runner,” he said, and “you will see a direct descendent of Adama take on the replicants.”
The question then becomes whether or not “The Plan” is the end of the line for “Battlestar” or whether there will be more to come. While Moore and Eick were cagey in this regard (Moore jokingly suggested it would help if the fans all built replicas of the original sets), Olmos seemed fairly certain of the success of the movie, suggesting that its performance would impress Universal execs. “I can guarantee that this will not be the last movie of Battlestar Galactica,” Olmos said. “It’s gonna be so successful it will rock their pants off.”