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Remembering 'Blood & Chrome,' the 'Battlestar Galactica' prequel you may have forgotten
What about the BSG spinoff? No, not Caprica - the other one.
There’s no denying SYFY’s Battlestar Galactica is one of the seminal science fiction shows of the modern era — so not surprisingly — once the flagship series wrapped up its run in 2009 there was hope to mine the franchise for more stories.
First came Caprica, a cerebral drama set decades before the events of Battlestar Galactica that chronicled the creation of cutting edge technology that would eventually pave the way for the Cylon uprising and war to come. Despite fairly universal acclaim, the show ran for just one season in 2010 and ended due to low ratings.
So then attention turned to a prequel concept more in line with the gritty space war action fans had come to know and love from BSG’s original run: Blood & Chrome. This project was ordered in 2010, with former BSG executive producer David Eick attached creatively. The show told a story much more in the vein of the original show, and followed eventual Galactica admiral William Adama (with Luke Pasqualino playing a younger version of the role Edward James Olmos originated) decades before the original series, when he was just a young pilot fighting in the first Cylon War. Blood & Chrome picked up in the 10th year of the first Cylon War, and tracked a secret mission that could turn the tide for humanity — if they can survive. Eick said the through-line for the story came with tracking those lost years of Adama's burgeoning military career.
“I thought it might be interesting for an audience to see what that character might have been like when he was Lee Adama’s age. Where did this hatred of Cylons come from? Why was this man that we will later meet, as Edward James Olmos in Battlestar Galactica, so uniformly and uncompromisingly committed to the utter eradication and disillusion of this race of robot people? Where did that come from?,” Eick said in a 2012 interview with Collider. “For me, it seemed like maybe the most interesting answer might be that it was because of a broken heart, and that it came from a very personal place where he’d been betrayed by someone he loved, and that through that experience came to feel that the Cylons were an unforgivable race of creatures responsible for our genocide and for attacking us, so they needed to be gotten rid of. But beyond that, there was something much more deep and personal driving him, and that was the nucleus of the genesis of it.”
It was a fun pitch, and right in the zone for Battlestar fans missing Viper dog fights and toaster battles. The network ordered a 2-hour pilot and work was underway. The pilot utilized digital scans of the original Battlestar Galactica sets, which were recreated digitally. The 2010 era special effects were a bit uncanny valley-ish at times with way too much lens flare, but it still looked cool and different, yet evocative of the visual style fans were familiar with.
The production process to bring Blood & Chrome to life reportedly proved more intensive than anticipated, and the final product came in later than expected to SYFY (nee Sci-Fi Channel). Eventually, the network decided not to move forward with a traditional series order — so this being the wild early days of digital media and streaming — the network teamed with Machinima Prime to stream the project in webisode form, broken up into 10 installments. It dropped in late 2012, and was re-cut into a TV movie in early 2013 and aired on SYFY and released to DVD and VOD.
In an archived interview from 2012, Eick explained the production process was planned early on with the assumption the project would be released digitally and was “never intended to be a traditional pilot,” to the point they conceived the 10-ish minute chapters while shooting and cutting Blood & Chrome from the jump.
“[I]t was never any kind of rejection or failure that it didn’t wind up as another SYFY pilot,” Eick explained. “It was always designed to be something much more unique and special than that, and I’m thrilled that it’s finally reaching its distribution and it’s going to be seen by the people it was intended for.”
Despite hopes for a second batch of episodes among some fans and the creative team, Blood & Chrome ended after its initial pilot-turned-webisode-turned TV movie. The ending thankfully did provide a complete story, though there were plenty of threads left that could’ve been unraveled if the show had continued. Eick revealed they had actually mapped out a “next mission” if the show had proven a resounding hit and was picked up for more.
“[A]s an exercise which is not uncommon with these things, we’ve hatched a next mission for what the next leg of this character study would involve, should we be fortunate enough to go forward,” he said. “It’s very organic evolution of where we leave the characters, at the end of this story, and what we would pursue as our next tale.”
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome is available to rent online, while fans will be able to relive all of the Battlestar Galactica series from the beginning as part of SYFY REWIND, a throwback marathon that includes fan favorites Battlestar Galactica, Quantum Leap, and Xena: Warrior Princess — with full series all running from the beginning. SYFY REWIND marathons will air Fridays from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Check out the SYFY schedule for more details.