‘Battlestar’ cast gathers to watch the final episode

March 21, 2009 | 2:04 p.m.

UPDATED
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The stars of "Battlestar Galactica" traveled for hours from London, New York and Canada or, even worse, Malibu, to attend a very special screening Friday night at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; the final episode of their late, great series was an occasion that felt at times like an Irish wake but was for most of the night more like a retirement party for an old friend who was leaving at the top of the game.

There was a lot emotion (and wine) in the lobby before the screening, and it was great to catch up with so many people that I had met on the set in Vancouver and interviewed through the years. I was surprised to see Jamie Bamber (Lee "Apollo" Adama) there since he’s been working overseas and he seemed a bit surprised himself. "I just flew in from London. I was working but I finished up, we wrapped yesterday, and I thought to myself, ‘Why not go?’ So we flew in. I can’t wait to see it. I haven’t seen it yet. I think it’s going to be pretty emotional for us."

Katee Sackhoff, who walks through a room like a gunslinger in a miniskirt, was rarely sentimental in her role as Starbuck and scoffed when I asked if she might get misty during the final act of the bleak broadcast epic that stretches back to December 2003. "Cry? Nah. I got other stuff, I’m working on the next thing. Well, all right, maybe I will get a little emotional at certain parts."

The old admiral, Edward James Olmos, strode through the crowded room like a proud father at his daughter’s wedding, shaking hands, slapping backs and kissing cheeks; I caught up to him by the food table and he shook his head. "Can you believe it? These young actors, I’m not sure they really know yet how special this show was. I do." I told him that he now can say he was in the best science fiction film ever made, "Blade Runner," and the best science fiction television show with "Battlestar," and he winked at me. "That’s a pretty good batting average, isn’t it?"

Bsg2091069_2Tahmoh Penikett, tall in a town where most stars aren’t, is only 33, but he seemed well aware of the historical resonance of "Battlestar." The actor who played the heartfelt (and heartsick) pilot Karl ”Helo” Agathon brought his father to the event and took great pride in circling the room to introduce him to his "Battlestar" peerage. He also seemed to be fretting about the fate of his new show, "Dollhouse." "We’re waiting to see how it all goes," he told me. "We’re hoping to get the numbers up…."

Michael Nankin, one of the stand-out directors from the show’s run, said, like most people in the room, that he had been avoiding all reports and reviews of the final epsiode so he could enjoy it on the big screen and with the impeccable sound — as well as the very special audience. "This is going to be very special for us," said Nankin (who is pictured on the right with cast members on the set of the show in Vancouver). "Battlestar" fans take note: Nankin has an episode of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" coming up in April that has a sci-fi fan plot and some familiar faces, including Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh) and Ronald D. Moore, the "Battlestar" executive producer.   

Mary McDonnell’s work on the show as President Laura Roslin was a mix of Earth Mother and FDR as she followed her faith and struggled with her personal health crisis during the darkest days of war. She was fresh from the unusual "Battlestar" discussion hosted by the United Nations and still clearly caught up in everything it represented. "I feel there was the energy and this belief that there are things we can do to carry these ideas forward," she said. "There’s more to do. It was an amazing thing."

Inside the screening room (which, by the way, is a wonderful place to see and hear a film) Sci Fi executive Mark Stern read some of the amazing reviews for "Battlestar" and introduced Dave Eick, the show’s co-executive producer, who talked about the pressures on most television shows to "lighten it up and brighten it up," and how "Battlestar" became so special by bucking those conventions. Eick also praised Michael Rymer, the director of more than three dozen "Battlestar" episodes (including the final one) as "the unsung hero of ‘Battlestar,’ " and compared Rymer to brash former NFL star Michael Irvin, a guy who never got the credit he deserved for his work ethic and emotional value to his teammates.

Then it was time for Ron Moore, the architect of "Battlestar" and the man who wrote a manifesto of sorts that set the show on its path of political, religious and ethical explorations when, really, it could have just been a show about killer robots. Moore struggled to keep his voice steady. "I don’t want this day to happen. I want it to be rescheduled, rethought, removed and recalled…. All I know is that today there is a show called ‘Battlestar Galactica’ and tomorrow there was." He also said that he and all his compatriots on the show will never forget the series. "I was part of ‘Battlestar’…. It was an honor to be your storyteller."

The lights went dark, the music started and the show absolutely delivered. Afterward, McDonnell was the first out of her seat for the standing ovation. Olmos yanked a reluctant Moore back onstage and jammed a microphone in his hand. The producer didn’t have a written statement ready this time, but he found just the right words: "It was a helluva show. So say we all!"

So say we all….

– Geoff Boucher

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PHOTO GALLERY: What’s next for the "Battlestar" cast?

Kate Vernon on her life as Ellen Tigh, the Cylon cougar

"Caprica": The trailer for the new show

Photos: Michael Nankin

UPDATE: YES I know Tahmoh is 33, not 23! I mistyped. Sorry. It was wrong in earlier version it’s corrected now. We all frak up once in a while…

More in: Uncategorized, Battlestar Galactica

Comments


12 Responses to ‘Battlestar’ cast gathers to watch the final episode

  1. Stella Cadente says:

    Em, Tahmoh Penikett is 33. Like the name of the first episode. If he was only 23, he would have been a teenager when the miniseries was filmed.

  2. ProTip says:

    London, New York, Malibu …. and the amorphous geographical monolith with no cities – just a great, white hinterland, from which people manage to emerge … if they are lucky … called Canada.
    And maps and such as …

  3. Murray says:

    Simply the most epic show of all time. So sad to see it go but it went out with an amazing bang. I dont think we will ever see the likes of this show ever again…
    aw well, back to soaps and canned laughter I guess, how sad.

  4. You better believe you Gods Damn ass I am going to miss this Frackin' show! It was an awesome trip….

  5. A Scanner Darkly says:

    Show attaches 2 G.P. lab tattler 2 fail & detracted 2 hedonists.

  6. RScott says:

    One heck of a ride…quite an understatement. And, quite a year! We've lost Stargate SG1 after 10 amazing years. We've lost Stargate Atlantis after about half that number of years. And now we come to the end of Gallactica. An Annus Horibilis if ever there was one. Thank goodness for video recorders. Long live Gallactica. So say we All.

  7. Mark T says:

    We can bask in the afterglow, knowing that talented writers and directors like Mr. Moore – who was involved in the works of another great Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek, but was given license for science fiction show with religious overtones, by JM Stracsinscky called Babylon 5 and the result of course Battlestar Galactica – which owes a big debt not just to the original series – for a theme to work from, but to these other shows for increasingly making them relevant and sometimes a little too much so.

  8. Robert E says:

    While I appreciated the technical excellence of the show, I think it sent the wrong message in the wrong manner. It is one thing for this depiction to tend dark, bleak, brooding and pessimistic, but BSGv2 took it to inhuman extremes (and I'm not referring to the cylons). I also never cared for the overwhelming self-absorption of ALL the principle characters – reminded me too much of so-called "reality-tv". The final anti-tech message was way off the mark. The conflict behind this series was not, as Lee Adama stated, "our brains racing far ahead of our hearts", it was about being inconsistent in our application of both. In other words, it wasn't necessarily evil to create the artificial consciousness of the cylons (progressive and visionary). It was evil to ENSLAVE it (backward, heartless, brutal, and selfish). I'm also not a big fan of the message that the BSGv2 god was somehow "beyond good and evil". That's a cop-out and a justification for attrocity done in the name of religion. We've learned from bitter experience that ALL must be held to a standard of good and evil and that nobody and nothing is beyond judgement. While I'm sure that true believers (pick your favorite monothestic religion) were terribly pleased with this finale, better-minded folk were not. (Yes, I say that with all implied contempt for any belief in any god.)

  9. walter j says:

    to robert e,i believe the point about god was that god doesn't take sides…. but that's not my comment here. i loved the series but the finale for me was a letdown mainly because it was touted as explaining everything and it didn't explain plenty. there were still a lot of things that made no sense or had no explanation and it's because the writers were making it up as they went along. they didn't have a 'bible' so to speak detailing the entire storyline from beginning to end; i thought they did until i saw the show with the writer discussing how they came up with the final five…they didn't explain starbuck being a ghost or whatever she was. they didn't explain how caprica and gaius survive the nuclear blast. she couldn't save him by cloaking him with her body. she was not immortal. she died like anybody and then got resurrected. so she couldn't save him. i remember some episode where they had adama's spine lighting up or his nose lighting up red, something to make us think he was a cylon…. and why they had to have lee's wife blow her brains out, that bothered me. all that being said, fantastic show and will be sadly missed….

  10. Robert E says:

    While I appreciated the technical excellence of the show, I think it sent the wrong message in the wrong manner. It is one thing for this depiction to tend dark, bleak, brooding and pessimistic, but BSGv2 took it to inhuman extremes (and I’m not referring to the cylons). I also never cared for the overwhelming self-absorption of ALL the principle characters – reminded me too much of so-called “reality-tv”. The final anti-tech message was way off the mark. The conflict behind this series was not, as Lee Adama stated, “our brains racing far ahead of our hearts”, it was about being inconsistent in our application of both. In other words, it wasn’t necessarily evil to create the artificial consciousness of the cylons (progressive and visionary). It was evil to ENSLAVE it (backward, heartless, brutal, and selfish). I’m also not a big fan of the message that the BSGv2 god was somehow “beyond good and evil”. That’s a cop-out and a justification for attrocity done in the name of religion. We’ve learned from bitter experience that ALL must be held to a standard of good and evil and that nobody and nothing is beyond judgement. While I’m sure that true believers (pick your favorite monothestic religion) were terribly pleased with this finale, better-minded folk were not. (Yes, I say that with all implied contempt for any belief in any god.)

  11. Stephanie says:

    I *heart* Katee Sackhoff. Looking forward to her next projects. I also loved the point about Olmos being in the best sci-fi film AND television series. It's true!

  12. Vincent L. Diaz says:

    I have been reading, hopefully, good quality written Science Fiction for years. The gap between the great SF writers of the past and the present and the usual junk that passes for TV scripts, is well known.
    I did find BG interesting and entertaining. The series ending, however, was disappointing to the say the least. To coin a phrase it was “not logical”. The fate for the main characters and the survivors of the colonies was clearly naive and had more to do with the Producers ideological and philosophical leaning against technology and science than a realistic rendering of could have happened had the situation been real.
    I found it ridiculous that the script had Adama deciding to deliberately scatter his remaining population all over their new virgin world like so many petri dishes, cut off from help and support, to supposedly better their chances of survival.
    When a character suggested an ideal site, next to a flowing river, for their new city, it was “decided” that they would not simply repeat their past. Really? And do what? As it turned out they began to fragment.
    The new President of the Colonies leading a line of people clearing carrying only what they could carry; Gaius Baltar, despite his many flaws, an irreplaceable source of science and technology, wonders toward the horizon with his #6 girl friend, literally crying that he’s a Physicist , not a farmer. They’re not equipped for a camping trip, let alone surviving. It might have been poetic to imagine them all scattering across their new Eden, but it was childish for the scripts writers to even consider how their beloved characters could possibly survive.
    Although it was lovely to see the child Herra frolicking in the grass. It was later revealed that our present world discovered that she was a key genetic source for humanity. Did they also find teeth marks where the nearest hungry predator bit into her neck? After all the script mentioned they discovered her remains in Tanzania.
    These increasing scattering bands were in the middle of a Savanna, for Chirst’s sake. Were they armed? Assuming they survived their descendants would have no knowledge of modern weapons or how to build them; no history to guide them in farming and animal husbandry; many would perish due to their ignorance of the simplest elements of medical science.
    No, common sense dictates that such a group would stay together, build their city, build schools for their children and industries for their sheer survival, and more importantly, remember their history so they would not make the same mistakes.
    Instead the script had the “Angels of a Higher Power” lamenting our modern society looking painfully familiar, finally hoping that the “chaos of modern complex systems” might somehow prevent everything from happening again.
    The script, no matter how artfully done only showed that the writers had no feel for real people who only wanted to live, to love, and to survive and prosper.
    Any comment? If so, write to Vincent L. Diaz @ vldiaz@san.rr.com

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