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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The BSG That Almost Was

Last fall, SFX revealed that X-Men director Bryan Singer's planned version of Excalibur was shelved.  Warner Brothers dropped the project because another King Arthur movie was further along.  This means Singer could plow ahead with development on a Battlestar Galactica feature with original series creator and producer Glen A. Larson, as announced back in 2009.  (Didn't happen, though.  Singer moved on to the X-Men: First Class sequel and the project has stalled, likely thanks to Larson's lawsuit, in part.)

That same week, Deadline reported that Universal Pictures made a deal with John Orloff to write the script.  Orloff was nominated for an Emmy thanks to his work on the acclaimed HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, and he also wrote Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole.  He is a fan of the show, telling Deadline he built a model Galactica out of cardboard and balsa wood and also saying, "I love BSG, and I would pass on the job rather than frak it up."

"That's swell, Trey," you're mumbling.  You do know that this feature film will have nothing to do with Ronald D. Moore & David Eick's 2003-2009 series and would likely be a complete reboot of Larson's original show, possibly a new version of the pilot, Saga of a Star World, right?

Felgercarb, indeed.

Or maybe not.  Orloff told Hitfix, "I'm a huge fan of the original series and of the second show, too. But I always thought the first show was a little too heavily reliant on 'Star Wars,' you know? Whereas I think the second show was really original and really cool. And I think I've come up with a way to write this movie that won't (frak) any of that up. I'm not sure how much they want me to talk about it. Let's just say it's not what you expect. It will all work in the universe that exists. It will not conflict with anything Ron Moore has done. I don't think you can compete with what he's done."

That sounds nice, taking a cue from '09's Star Trek and all.

All of this big screen BSG aside, did you know that there was a version of new-BSG before the Moore & Eick BSG we all love?  And it was being produced by the aforementioned Bryan Singer?

Yes.  That's a new Cylon.

So, what's the deal?  Why haven't I ever heard about this?

In 2000, Singer and producer Tom DeSanto began negotiating with Universal and by 2001, they were hard at work on a new Galactica series that would have aired on Fox.

This series would have been a direct continuation of the 1978 show, set twenty years into that series' future and ignoring Galactica 1980.  Deals were in place for original cast members such as Dirk Benedict (Starbuck) and Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Boomer).  Sets and props were at least partially built and designs were well-fleshed out, including that of the above Cylons.

All pics and show info from the website Tombs of Kobol:

(That's a half-built Cylon suit.)
Viper helmets

Hiding Basestar

Advanced Cylon Raider

Raider cockpit

Galactica hangar

Galactica briefing room or chamber for the Council of Twelve

President Mara's ship (yes, a female president)

Commander Orin's room

Galactica bridge

Bridge set
The famous revolving center console

Aliens ... maybe the Imperious Leader in the center?

Now, story-wise, we know what was up.  I guess I'll say spoiler alert, but since this is a show from twelve years ago that never got made and whatever movie we get will likely be radically different, ... I can't imagine that you really need a spoiler alert.  But still.  Oh, and you might be a bit surprised how much sounds like the Moore & Eick BSG.

Two years after the episode "Hand of God," Galactica's fleet finds Admiral Cain and the Battlestar Pegasus, leading to a mammoth battle that destroys their Cylon pursuers once and for all.  Unfortunately, Cain, Pegasus and Apollo were all lost in the engagement.  Some years later, Adama passes away and Commander Tigh and the fleet weary of their search for Earth and decide to settle upon habitable asteroids abundant with resources which they called New Caprica.  Elsewhere, the Cylons engaged in a civil war between two factions: those who embraced their free will and those who believed it should be eliminated.  In the end, the mechanical Cylons decided to incorporate many facets of humanity, thanks to their assimilation of Baltar and became all the more deadly for it.

That's just the backstory.

So, in the main story of the show, the commander of Galactica is Boxey, now called Orin (and not Troy).  The president, Mara, and the council decide that after so many years of peace, Galactica should be deactivated.  It is and, of course, this is when the Cylons strike.  As the Galactica is about to be destroyed once and for all, the Cylon Central Controller orders a retreat.  They then communicate with the Colonials and order them to surrender.

Orin refuses, of course, and launches a bunch of new Vipers.  They fight well, but the new Cylons are too strong.  In the battle, a water ship is damaged and a large chunk of ice forms.  The Colonials push it into the Basestar and it's destroyed.  Their cover blown, the Colonials again gather up a ragtag fleet and search for Earth.
Cylon Homeworld

Epilogue: on the Cylon homeworld, we see their mechanized might and then we see their Central Controller: Richard Frakkin' Hatch!  And his eyes glow Cylon red!  Da-da-dummmm!

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Bryan Singer departed the production to work on X2: X-Men United and Fox passed on the series in favor of Joss Whedon's Firefly.  They felt the story of a sneak attack was a bit too close to home.  This iteration of Battlestar Galactica was, for all intents and purposes, dead and all of those sets you see above were trashed.  Literally.

And that's it.  A BSG show we'll never see, I guess.


Thanks to Daniel on my Facebook page for reminding me about Richard Hatch's nearly one-man effort in the late '90s to get a new series on the air.  I saw the concept trailer he made a while back and had trouble finding it online for some time.  But, hey!  A new search turned it up quickly.  Check out all the OG BSG glory:


  1. I remember back when I went to Vulcon back in the 90's that Richard Hatch was one of the guests and he was signing autographs, all the while trying to revive BG in his project. Based on the above video, I think it would have made a great big screen movie. I certainly would have watched it, would have been fun to see some of the old actors in their characters again. But I sill love the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. If your books ever make it to the screen, I definitely would love to see them.

    1. > If your books ever make it to the screen, I definitely would love to see them.

      You and me both.