We got to sit in on a roundtable discussion with Ron Moore, the man behind the re-imagined Battestar Galactica, to talk about its prequel, Caprica, at Comic-Con on Friday, and he offered us some info about the challenges of the new show, why science fiction makes it easier to deal with touchy issues without repercussions and whether he'll continue with his famous podcast.
Moore was asked about how both shows deal with racism, Battlestar having the Cylons as the "others" and Caprica pitting the planets against one another. "The 'others' are others within their own culture already, which is really sort of a mirror of our own," Moore said. "So we're able to place it as a closer template to our society than we were, really, even in Battlestar, because everything in Battlestar was predicated on the idea of a post-apocalyptic world. And in Caprica it's still a thriving community, and their problems are with each other. In the deep backstory of the show, at this point in time, the 12 colonies actually war with one another periodically. And the cultural differences will be our standards in the show for racism and sort of our own cultural problems."
Asked if he was ever afraid he would go too far, Moore said, "No. I mean, the really great thing about science fiction is that we really do get a pass on all of this. We're really able to deal with this stuff thematically and really deal with it in ways that contemporary dramas are not. Everyone else has to tiptoe around these issues, ... 'What's politically correct today?' And 'Are we going to get phone calls from this group or that group?' Or 'If we call them Republicans or Democrats or Al Qaeda or if we deal with NAACP or whoever ... ?' We don't have to deal with that stuff. And people who are overly sensitive to those issues don't take our genre seriously enough to care, so we can just go full-force into it and just play the drama and really deal with the concepts."
He talked about the different challenges that Caprica poses, as opposed to Battlestar. "Well, they really are different animals," Moore said. "From the word go, we decided on a creative level to make it as different from Battlestar as we could, and, as a result, the production, the physical production, is very, very different. Battlestar was mostly shot on our main standing sets on soundstages, with one or two days on location for each episode. ... In Caprica we're really out in the world a lot more. We're going and shooting on streets, and we're shooting in homes and people's yards and in parks. And so the whole physical production is very different. ... Our biggest problem is the budget. It's how much money we have. It's a healthy budget for Syfy ... and basic cable. ... It's very difficult to do this show that we like to do on this kind of budget in seven days. It's a big challenge."
But Moore added that he felt like he had a tremendous amount of freedom with Caprica, as opposed to Battlestar, which had already existed as a show. "It's a wide-open field," he said. "We could have started anywhere. We could have done whatever we wanted. We've chosen to do it in this method. Where we go from here is really up to us."
We will see a Battlestar ancestor here and there, but Moore said that he isn't going to overdo that gimmick. "You can overplay that and the audience kind of gets sick of it," he said.
Finally, I had to know if he still plans to do Battlestar-style podcasts with alcohol and cigars for the new show. "I think I'll keep doing the podcasts, yeah," Moore said. "I might split the dues and let [executive producer] Jane [Espenson] take some of them. She'll probably do a more sober podcast than I do." Caprica debuts Jan. 22, 2010.