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October 13, 2015

The 2008 Sci Fi Channel Upfront: A report

by Brad Trechak, posted Mar 19th 2008 12:20AM
Battlestar Galactica castI have just got back from the Sci Fi Channel's 2008 Upfront and the new year looks very exciting. Upon arrival, the press was treated to an interview with the cast of Battlestar Galactica along with co-producers Ronald Moore and David Eick. They were introduced onstage by Mark Stern, the Sci Fi Channel's executive vice president of original programming.

A few announcements were made regarding the upcoming season throughout the night. I tried to keep things spoiler-free, but stuff might leak through. You have been warned.
  • The new season begins April 4th, if you didn't already know.
  • A streaming version of the season premiere will be available on scifi.com that day at noon if you can't wait until that night.

  • This season will have its own set of webisodes available online (similar to last season), probably between the two sets of 10 episodes.
  • The prequel series Caprica has been given the greenlight for a backdoor pilot, which will be filmed this spring and shown sometime in the fall.
During the Q and A, a few more tidbits were revealed, most of it from the co-producers. Ronald Moore stated that the strike stopped production of the show at the 11th episode. He also stated that he will be directing the first show to return after the break. He wasn't sure exactly when the final ten episodes would be aired. He said it might be the fall or as late as January 2009.

He and David Eick also stated that when developing the show, they try to let the show's storylines progress naturally and try not to do a "ripped from the headlines" routine, despite the topical nature of the show. Moore also mentioned that he tended to think about the storyline "about ten episodes ahead".

When asked if the show would move to a potential movie franchise, Moore didn't think so. He described it as more of an ensemble television piece that wouldn't translate well to the theater (he gave the example of all the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies being mostly about Picard and Data).

When asked about the defining moments of their character, Katee Sackhoff (Kara "Starbuck" Thrace) stated that for her it was in the pilot when Tigh calls her a chicken and she hit him as a result.

Michael Hogan (Saul Tigh) was asked if learning he was a Cylon changed the way he approached the character. He replied that it didn't really change his definition of the character. Aaron Douglas (Galen Tyrol), when asked the same question, said that he made a conscious decision on how to approach the fact that his character was a Cylon.

There was a funny moment when the entire cast was asked if anybody was hoping to be a Cylon that wasn't. They answered with a resounding "no". Michael Hogan even joked that in the beginning of the show he said "I'm glad I'm not a Cylon". Olmos later said "In my contract: no Cylon."

Mary McDonnell (Laura Roslin) said a few words about her character. She came across as very deep and very passionate about her craft.

When asked if the declining dollar would change the filming location of Caprica, the answer was "no". Caprica would be filmed in Vancouver just as Battlestar Galactica is now.

(I did get to ask a question at this point. I asked if there would be any character-defining flashbacks in the fourth season as there were in Razor. The answer was a negative.)

When asked if the show would be experimenting with any other types of new content, one of the cast joked and said "Smellovision".

Ronald Moore was asked which writers influenced his career. He answered Michael Pillar from Star Trek: The Next Generation, from whom he learned structure, Ira Stephen Behr of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, from whom he learned character, dialogue and finding the truth behind the character and Jason Katims from Roswell, where he learned how to run a show "without being an asshole".

Moore also defined the prequel series as a science-fiction version of Dallas.

The press conference was wrapping up at this stage. I can only reiterate Edward James Olmos (William Adama) when he said "It's been a hell of a ride".

But wait. There's more...

The cast of Eureka was there as well. I don't really watch the show and didn't get a chance to talk to them, but it was exciting that they were there.

Some general announcements were made to the crowd about the new things happening at the Sci Fi Channel. Among them was the re-launch of their technology website dvice.com (formerly Sci Fi Tech).

Also, after talking for a moment with Mark Stern, he described the new Sci Fi series called Sanctuary. It stars Amanda Tapping and is done entirely with a green screen virtual set (such as with the movie Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow). It's their first attempt (or indeed, any major networks first attempt) at a television-quality series done specifically for the web. It sounds like a great experiment. If it works, it could be the gateway to more affordable science-fiction entertainment.

To wrap up, a lot of exciting stuff is happening on the Sci Fi Channel (including the fourth and final season of Battlestar Galactica) and I'm very much looking forward to it.

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There is some good news coming out of SciFi but not nearly enough. Most of the pregramming is garbage. Fans may as well write-off Saturday and Sunday not too mention Tuesday at 10pm.

... and they should stop trying to stuff technology down our throat. dvice shouldn't be relaunch as much as launched into the sun.

March 21 2008 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didn't say she was a bad actress. Simply that she can't carry a show. Nothing wrong with that. 95% of actors don't have that ability. There's a name for that - character actors. Tapping is simply a character actress. She is good enough at what she does, but she can not be the focal point of a show because she is not a leading actress. Some of the greatest actors were simply character actors and some of our worst actors ended up as leading men/women. Look at Burt Reynolds or John Wayne - some of the worst acting you'll ever see, but they were leading men and they carried their respective movies. Now look at say Joshua Molina or John Turturro or Richard Schiff or Laura Innes. All great actors who have no business having shows of their own. There's a reason the Ropers was a horrible show. However great Jeffrey Tambor is, he is not a leading man, like John Ritter was.

My comments weren't personal, simply my opinion of the show.

And can you defend that she does not have a dreadful accent? If you listen to 5 seconds of her speaking on that show it's like nails on chalkboard. It sounds not like an accent, but like a poor american impersonation of the queen in some joke ... in some cheap comedy club by a comedian who has been on stage twice in his life.

I have nothing against Tapping personally, I enjoyed her work on SG-1, nothing against the show, it's just that I don't happen to like it.

March 20 2008 at 3:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought covering a network upfront presentation meant you were suppose to report on ALL series that were presented, not just the reporter's favorite. Why call this article, "The 2008 Sci Fi Channel Upfront: A report"? All you wrote about, or 3/4 of it, was on BSG. Just because you don't watch Eureka you don't think its fans want to know about their presentation?

March 19 2008 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So they're putting the season premiere ep online eh? That's cool...I wonder what other ways (besides the Mac-unfriendly Amazon Unbox) they'll be serving up eps of this season after first airing...is that Pando deal on?

March 19 2008 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The first season of Sanctuary actually aired already ... it was meh. As an online series it wasn't that bad, but if you compare it to most TV series or even to movies it was dreadful. Tapping does an absurdly awful Victorian English accent, the storyline is convoluted and bizarre, the characters are shallow. The two rewarding qualities of the show are the special effects, which are periodically pretty good , considering the budget, and there's a hot blond chick in leather shooting guns which is always a nice combination. But Tapping is really dreadful here, I like her on SG-1, but without Shanks or Anderson to carry the show, it's apparent that she is nothing more than a supporting actor without the charisma or talent to be a main player.

March 19 2008 at 2:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Willmore's comment

How absolutely absurd, this kind of comment could be potentially damaging to a show. Sanctuary has not aired as a TV series, only as a web experiement. Obviously it has been re-shot and reworked for TV. As for the comments about Tapping ,that her accent is dreadful and and the show needs the other cast of Stargate SG-1 to support her. This is cruel, totally unwarranted and quite frankly ridiculous. Amanda Tapping is a fine actress who has proven herself time and time again over her 12 years with the Stargate franchise, as well as her other TV and movie credits.

March 19 2008 at 3:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Morjana Coffman

Thank you so much, Brad, for your report and your photos.


March 19 2008 at 1:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Streaming at noon - Excellent.

March 19 2008 at 1:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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