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Feature: Battlestar Galactica (2000s)

Trouble in store

With writing partner David Weddle, Bradley Thompson is helping lead the rag-tag fleet headed by Galactica to a new home…

Having spent two years as writers/executive story editors on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Bradley Thompson and his longtime friend/writing partner David Weddle not only gained valuable insight into the Trek universe but also into how to craft Sci-Fi adventures for television. Such experience came in handy when he and Weddle accepted an offer from the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica’s creator/executive producer Ronald D Moore to come and work on that series.

“David and I had worked with Ron back on DS-Nine and subsequently heard he was doing Galactica,” says Thompson. “We hadn’t seen him for a year or so when we got an invitation to a screening of the 2003 Galactica mini-series at the Directors Guild in Hollywood. We went and were totally blown away by what we saw. While we were there, David and I met up with Ron and told him how much we enjoyed ourselves. He suggested we get together for lunch, and on that day we continued to talk about the show and what we’d seen.

“Halfway through lunch, Ron said to us, ‘You could write the character of Boxey’. David and I envisioned Boxey as this Dickensian, Artful Dodger-type individual and thought, ‘That would be great’. That then turned into Ron offering us the chance to come on board Galactica starting in Season One [as story editors/co-producers], which we both jumped at. Suddenly, we weren’t only talking about shaping a character but also helping build an entirely new universe from just the Galactica mini-series. From there, the questions were, ‘Is the show going to fly? Will it be fun to write? Will such a series speak to what’s happening in today’s real world?’ The last one was, perhaps, Ron’s highest priority. In what you’d call the show’s ‘mission statement’ he stated something like, ‘This is about us [Human beings] and who we are at this point in time’.”

Thompson and Weddle made their writing début on Galactica with Season’s One’s Act of Contrition, in which Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) reveals a secret she has been keeping from Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos). “One of the big things not dealt with in the mini-series was Starbuck’s relationship with Adama’s son Zak [Tobias Mehler] and how her feelings for him contributed to his death,” explains Thompson. “She’s confessed this to Apollo [Jamie Bamber], Adama’s other son, but not the commander. David and I thought the best way to get Starbuck to do that was to have an episode where we’re losing Viper pilots in battle and she’s forced to go back to training new ones. This would reawaken all her memories of Zak and what happened. That’s how this story came about.”

World War II’s The Battle of Midway was the writers’ inspiration for their other first season script, The Hand of God. “In this episode Adama turns on his pursuers, the Cylons, and figuratively speaking punches them in the nose,” says Thompson. “With this story we were essentially hinging on the concept of how fate changes things, and for that we looked to The Battle of Midway. If you’re up on your history, you’ll recall that in a matter of something like 30 seconds, the whole tide of World War II shifted, largely because the Japanese miscalculated. So we were playing with that idea, which we described to Ron Moore as ‘the hand of God,’ and he asked us, ‘So how does the story end?’ David and I had come up with an idea for this tactical plan about how our heroes were going to destroy a Cylon base star, but Ron felt that wasn’t quite enough. We really needed something more.”

by Steven Eramo

Read the full interview in
Cult Times #128

Photo © Sci-Fi
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #128
May 2006
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