It certainly shouldn’t be a surprise since news outlets have been writing its obituary since August, but Syfy has made it almost official: There will be no “Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome” series.
At least not on television.
Deadline.com is reporting that Syfy is moving “Blood & Chrome” back to its original home, online, in hopes that a scaled-down version of the show would be far more economical for the cable channel. That’s bad news for Battlestar fans, who were offered “Blood & Chrome” as a full-fledged series pilot in late 2010 just before Syfy pulled the plug on another Battlestar spinoff, “Caprica.” The pilot had originally meant to be a multi-part online miniseries written by Michael Taylor and David Eick, two very familiar names among BSG fandom.
Unlike the last two series, “Blood & Chrome” was planned from the start to be a green-screen-style series, similar to what Syfy already airs in the form of “Sanctuary,” starring Amanda Tapping and Robin Dunne. Before the “Battlestar Galactica” sets were dismantled in 2009, high-quality photographs and scans were taken of the background pieces so that they could be used in future productions without requiring the high-cost of rebuilding key sets like the Galactica’s CIC.
Yet, from the start “Blood & Chrome” ran into problems. Set decades before “Battlestar Galactica,” but at least 20 years after “Caprica,” “Blood & Chrome” was set to explore William Adama’s first assignment to the Galactica as a Viper pilot. This, of course, was similar to flashback scenes filmed for the Battlestar telemovie “Razor,” which featured actor Nico Cortez in the role of Adama.
While Cortez actively campaigned to reprise his role as Adama, Syfy instead decided to go with a fresh batch of actors, leading off with “Skins” star Luke Pasqualino as Adama.
But then special effects took a lot longer than anticipated. That has led to significant cost concerns — the same kind that plagued the original 1978 series on ABC, and would later almost cost the reboot its chance to move to series before British Sky Broadcasting Group stepped in and helped fund a 13-episode first season. The show became a success, and would last three more seasons before ending its run in 2009.
“Though the vision for ‘Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome’ has evolved over the course of the past year, our enthusiasm for this ambitious project has not waned,” Syfy original programming president Mark Stern told Deadline.com in a statement. “We are actively pursuing it as was originally intended: a groundbreaking digital series that will launch to audiences beyond the scope of a television screen. The 90-minute pilot movie will air on Syfy in its entirety at a future date.”
Late last year, Stern told news outlets that he was concerned about the long production lead-time producing “Blood & Chrome” would need, saying that it could take a year from a pickup order for the first episodes to air. That meant if a series were to come to Syfy, it wouldn’t be until 2013 at the earliest, and likely many months after the airing of the pilot. Syfy did a similar move with “Caprica,” releasing the pilot on DVD several months before continuing on with more episodes. “Caprica” would end up lasting just one season.
There has always been a big question mark on whether Syfy would be able to fulfill its goal to make “Blood & Chrome” a television series. Syfy’s most popular shows are reality programming like “Ghost Hunters” and “Destination Truth” as well as “grounded” programs like “Warehouse 13” and “Alphas.” Those shows are not only big with viewers, but also much less expensive to make than special effects-heavy programming like just about anything set in space.
An unofficial trailer for “Blood & Chrome” was shown at Anaheim’s WonderCon this past weekend, set to the same music and style as a trailer for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” It generated interest from thousands of people who flocked to YouTube to see unauthorized copies of the trailer, which NBC Universal pulled down since it had not cleared the music nor the trailer itself for release. Initial feedback on that trailer has been generally positive by media and viewers alike.
“Blood & Chrome” could air as Syfy’s December movie event, similar to what “Battlestar Galactica” did in 2003. A move to the Web as a regular series, if that does indeed happen, likely wouldn’t take place until mid-2013 at the earliest.