THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

'Battlestar' writer is focused on prequel

James Callis and Tricia Helfer in the ''Battlestar'' finale. James Callis and Tricia Helfer in the ''Battlestar'' finale. (Carole Segal)
By Joann Weiss
Globe Staff / March 26, 2009
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Globe staff writer Joanna Weiss and Boston.com readers chatted with "Battlestar Galactica" writer Jane Espenson this week about the show's final episode, her experiences on the series, and what comes next. Espenson has also written for "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," "Gilmore Girls," and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and is currently working on the "Battlestar" prequel series "Caprica." Here are excerpts from the chat:

Q. Loved the "BSG" finale - but I think it could have ended with the last shot of Adama looking out over the plains. Why did the production team decide to include the "150,000 years later" jump to the future?

A. That final ending was an image that [series creator] Ron [Moore] had in his head since Season One, which amazes me. He always felt that the show ended with a Six and a Baltar walking through Times Square.

Q. The preview for "Caprica" didn't really tell us how it relates, if at all, to "BSG" other than the fact that it takes place on Caprica. Will the two series have more of a connection than that?

A. It takes place on Caprica 58 years before the fall, so there isn't much of an opportunity for character crossover. And it's very different in some fundamental ways - not a space-based show. It's about families in conflict, domestic disorder, domestic terrorism, the rise of a new religion, organized crime, corporate sabotage, racism of a colony-vs.-colony sort, drugs, sex, murder and, of course, ROBOTS. It's got elements of "Rome," of "The Sopranos," and still it's recognizably the "BSG" world!

Q. Joanna Weiss from the Globe here. I'd love to hear your thoughts on what it's like to write a show knowing how much the audience will analyze it and pick it apart, and perhaps read more into certain lines or scenes than you intended. . . . How much - if at all - did you guys think about fan reaction as you were writing?

A. We try not to thing about fan reaction too much. If you stop writing what YOU find interesting, you end up with weak soup, because then you're aiming in the dark - I THINK this is what they want, instead of, oh, this is perfect, I love this. It can be helpful when the fan opinions tell you where you've been unclear.

Q. What character did you enjoy writing for the most?

A. Baltar is wonderful to write for, except that [actor James] Callis executes so many beautiful ad libs that you always end up being given credit for lines you didn't write! I think Colonel Tigh was really fun to write for - you always knew when you hit his voice perfectly.

Q. "BSG" did a remarkable job with female characters, especially for the sci-fi genre. How many women were on the writing staff? Were the male writers more attuned to the female point of view than usual? Who drove that?

A. In year one, the staff was at least half women. There were staff changes along the way. In my year, I was the only woman writer, but the show was lucky enough to have very intelligent writers. If I believed only women can write women well, then I might have to believe that I can't write male characters well. (Which I don't believe.) Besides, the proof is on the screen - Starbuck and Laura . . . wow. These guys wrote great women.

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