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SciFriday: The Hodge-Podge Of A Genre

This edition of SciFriday contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the “Battlestar Galactica” telemovie “Razor.” I really hate taking time off from this column, only because by the time I get back, there is so much to talk about, and my mailbox is overflowing. I was really hoping that with a writer’s strike and all, as well […]

This edition of SciFriday contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the “Battlestar Galactica” telemovie “Razor.”

I really hate taking time off from this column, only because by the time I get back, there is so much to talk about, and my mailbox is overflowing.

I was really hoping that with a writer’s strike and all, as well as Thanksgiving here in the United States, it would be rather quiet. Yeah, right.

It hasn’t been. Strike rhetoric has made an uptick. The “Battlestar Galactica” telemovie “Razor” aired. I dared call an actor who was virtually unknown to the masses prior to 2004 a virtually unknown actor prior to 2004. And I got to see hypocrisy.

Let me start with the hypocrisy, because we all know that’s piqued your interest. So as we head through the final month of 2007, let me award the hypocrisy trophy to Mr. Ronald D. Moore. Yes, the man behind “Battlestar Galactica.”

I have to be honest, I don’t get this guy anymore. I mean, he’s definitely a genius, and I will always respect that, but I think Ron Moore has really, really changed … and not for the good.

When he was on Star Trek — even during his days as a producer on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” — this guy was amazing with the fans. When he tried to move over to “Star Trek: Voyager,” only to have it spit in his face, fans everywhere felt his pain. When he worked on “G vs. E,” we all endured it because Ron was there. The same with “Roswell” and “Carnivale” (although the HBO series was definitely worth watching).

But something happened when he moved over to “Battlestar Galactica,” We didn’t see it at first, but I can’t put my finger on whether or not he is just so busy and has someone else less experienced doing the talking for him, or if maybe some of this has gone to his head … but I miss the old Ron Moore. I hope he comes back.

A couple months ago, SciFi Channel released screeners of “Razor” to news organizations with “long lead times,” meaning those who were print organizations that would have to publish ahead of people like me, who can post his words instantly on the Internet. At the same time, Ron Moore’s wife, Terry, was fighting a battle on the SciFi Channel message boards about how all spoilers were bad, and used words her husband wrote in response to full scripts being posted online as the same as him striking against regular, run-of-the-mill spoilers.

Soon after receiving the screener, one print publication used its Web site to release major spoilers. I mean, so great, that there was really no need to watch the telemovie. I mean, the most we released about the episode ahead of time was that Adm. Cain was a lesbian. For those of you who saw that telemovie, you realized how minor of a spoiler that was. This other Web site, however, released the entire conversation between Kendra Shaw and the hybrid, the big reveal about one of the main characters leading into the fourth season. So who did Terry Moore attack? Was it the lesbian spoiler? Or was it the people who released an entire climax of a film?

If you guessed me, you get a star.

We got it, by the way. Ron Moore hates spoilers. Media outlets who didn’t respect the screener rules would have privileges taken away, we were told. In fact, once we received the screener, we stopped providing spoilers at all, as we didn’t want to even create the appearance that we were pulling spoilers off a screener and using it for a benefit that SciFi Channel would rather us not do.

What kind of consequences do you levy against a media outlet for disrespecting the embargo rules of a screener? Is it A. Stop sending them screener? B. Remove them from mailing lists? C. Treat them like the plague. Or D. Grant them one of the only interviews Ron Moore is giving right now.

If you guessed A, B or C, then you definitely have a very logical mind, but apparently forgot that we are dealing with a network that likes to schedule high-profile programs against major events, like Super Bowls and World Cup soccer or the O.J. Simpson trial.

I just don’t get it. If Ron Moore hates spoilers so much, why talk to an outlet that propagated them more than anyone else?

I know, I sound smitten that we didn’t get a chance to talk to him, too. And of course we are. We’re in a competitive business, and I can’t name a single other site that has covered the Ron Moore version of BSG since Day One.

But what are you going to do?

I guess it’s better that we didn’t talk to him anyway, because it seems that when Ron Moore does talk, it’s strike propaganda. Don’t get me wrong, I support the Writers Guild of America strike, but if I have to read one more regurgitation of the “Ron Moore says that BSG may never get finished” story, I’m going to regurgitate my lunch.

We live in a world where anything is possible, but trust me when I say there is really only one realistic way (and I say that loosely) that “Battlestar Galactica” will never get finished … and that is if the WGA strike never ends. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like not just an extreme, but an absolute. To say that the strike will never end is to claim that the sun will never rise again.

Yes, Ron Moore is trying to rally the fanbase, and I’m all for it. But don’t lose too much sleep over claims — even from Ron himself — that the only way we’ll see the ending of “Battlestar Galactica” is on the back of a napkin in some bar in northern Fargo.

I wanted to talk about the unknown actor, but darn it, I ran out of space. I guess we’ll have to hit it in letters then, eh?

SyBits

OK, fine. Let’s talk about Michael Gambon then.

In your recent article on Ian McKellen and the Harry Potter films, you referred to Michael Gambon as an “unknown actor.” This is an untrue statement. He is “very known” in the United Kingdom, Canada, Europe and the United States before Harry Potter.

His work is equal to Richard Harris in many aspects. He is not a contemporary of Harris, but his credits are extensive. The only difference is that Gambon is not a leading man like Harris was — that’s true. Gambon is more of a character actor but not unknown. Not by a long-shot.

— Forrest Glenn Spencer

Forrest, this was the best letter out of about 40 or so I received on this topic, and thanks for writing it. But first, let me say that being “known” or “unknown” is a subjective description, and cannot be “true” or “untrue.”

Now, could you “agree” or “disagree” with my subjective statement? Sure. And you definitely disagree.

The thing about being “known” is that people on the street should know who you are. If I randomly walk up to five people and ask them if they know who Michael Gambon is (and even show them their picture), at least two of them should say yes. Do you honestly feel that if I did that prior to 2004, like say on the streets of New York, that I would be able to find two people? One?

Patrick Stewart had an extensive credit list prior to 1987, hell, he was even in “Dune.” But I doubt few people would argue with me that prior to joining “Star Trek: The Next Generation” that Stewart was, in fact, a virtual unknown.

Anyway, I hit just about everything, except for one last thing. There has been a lot of speculation that SciFi Channel aired a commercial from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation league, or GLAAD, because they were avoiding potential issues of how Tricia Helfer’s bisexual Gina was treated once it was revealed she was a Cylon.

Well, GLAAD wouldn’t respond before the special aired because they hadn’t seen it yet. But they have seen it since, and they released this statement to Airlock Alpha:

“‘Battlestar Galactica’ is morally complex, and ‘Razor’ was no exception,” said Damon Romine, entertainment media director for GLAAD. “The character of Gina is not tortured because of her sexual orientation; the reasons for that violence are far more complex. What is clear is that the writers intended for this violence — even against someone who was an enemy agent, a saboteur, and directly responsible for the deaths of many people — to be not only intensely disturbing to viewers, but also an event that causes other characters in Season 2 to question their treatment of the enemy.”

I don’t know what’s more impressive … the fact that GLAAD really has a logical approach to what is offensive and what isn’t, or the fact that people at GLAAD actually watch “Battlestar Galactica.”

Outside of the fact that I felt Adm. Adama being so sure that the Cylons they were facing in this episode were the same ones he encountered as a young Viper pilot, I absolutely loved “Razor” and can’t wait to see it on DVD. Michael Taylor wrote an amazing story, and Felix Alcala showed why he was nominated for an Emmy.

Send your letters to mhinman@airlockalpha.com, and if you’re lucky, they may end up right here.

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Have a great week, and don’t be a stranger!

Michael Hinman, a 22-time winner of the British lottery and heir to three Nigerian fortunes, is the founder and site coordinator for Airlock Alpha, writing out of Tampa, Fla. He can be reached at mhinman@airlockalpha.com

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