The writers of Battlestar Galactica are gathering at their offices at the Universal lot to break the stories they are planning to tell in season 4. I’m sure they receive regular memos from the executives of the Sci-Fi Channel.
So, I decided to write my own open memo to the season 4 writers' room:
Dear Ronald D. Moore, David Eick, Mark Verheiden, Michael Angeli, Michael Taylor, Bradley Thompson, David Weddle, Anne Cofell, Jane Espenson, et all. I want to thank you for a very successful season 3.
And thanks for allowing Bear McCreary to create genius scores. His music for the first four hours of the season, as well as for Hero, and the Baseship piano music introduced in Torn, and finally his arrangement of All Along the Watchtower in the finale, added up to a truly great year of BSG music.
(You should consider having Bear create a brand new opening theme for season 4’s opening credits. It might be time for something new, dramatic, innovative, and stunning. Perhaps even borrowing from his version of All Along the Watchtower would work. Of course, it would have to fit in with the drum-roll for the Space 1999/Mission Impossible montage showing what’s in each episode as well.)
But, even with the highlights at the start of the season with the occupation of New Caprica, and the stunning ending of the season, there were a few lull spots worth noting. They should be noted so they can be avoided season 4. Even though the biggest lull was after Rapture and before Maelstrom, even before then there seemed to be drift away from the key relationships in the series. There especially seemed to be a lack of scenes between Adama and Kara, which has always been a source of great drama.
The key relationships in the series is of the family Adama. Papadma, his son Lee, his daughter Kara, and the step mother, Laura Roslin. (We’ll leave out crazy uncles Cottle, and Tigh for now, as well as the cousins Athena and Helo.)
Season 3 started to drift when the stories drifted away from those central characters. (The less said about The Woman King, and A Day in the Life the better, though there were other episodes like Hero, The Passage, and A Measure of Salvation which also had flaws, they were not as bad as the 4 episode lull that came before Maelstrom.)
But, by far the biggest misstep of the season had to be the love-square-soap-opera. That dragged on far, far too long. And it never worked as a square, but actually would have been better as a triangle. Meaning, Lee and Kara make sense. And Kara and Anders made sense. But, Lee and Dee has never made any sense at all. The Lee/Dee relationship is a weak link. It’s no fault of the two fine actors. It’s just a relationship that doesn’t seem likely. End it. Dee took steps to end it at the end of season 3. Let’s hope it stays ended. That whole relationship never seemed to gel.
Looking forward to season 4, lets have less diversions with ancillary stories and characters, and focus once again on The Adama Family. Some of the best scenes in the series have been between Adama and Lee, and Adama and Starbuck. That chemistry is there, and needs to be expanded upon.
Lets have less stand alone episodes, and instead more arc episodes. It should be all arc eps if possible. Especially if the 4th season is shaping up as the last. (Notwithstanding future potential telefilms, new mini series, or direct to DVD films.) I know Sci-Fi wants stand alone eps to get “new viewers”. But, the show is going into it’s 4th season. How many new viewers are there going to be for a show going into it’s 4th year? The answer might be some, and only from people who buy all the DVDs to catch up. And people who catch up want to see arc stories anyway. Not stories about Hotdog and Dee joining forces to solve a crime in Dogsville, or whatever.
Stick to the arc.
The reveal of the 4 of the final 5 Cylons sets up exciting potential for season 4. The last scene of Crossroads 2 sets up all kinds of great possibilities as well.
I also think there should be more stories focused on the military SF aspects of the series, as shown in excellent Bradley and David episodes like Scar, and The Hand of God, as well as the emotional content of Act of Contrition and You Can’t Go Home Again.
So, in summary, avoid soap opera love squares. Avoid secondary side stories and characters. (Except for Romo Lamkin, whom we need to see much more of. Romo fits in quite well with the family. Especially because of his connection to Joseph Adama, and his relationship with Lee.)
To summarize, season 4 was an awesome season. From starting out with the dark and gritty realism of New Caprica, the first five episodes out of the gate were all amazing. The first lull in the season was A Measure of Salvation which didn’t work so well. However, Hero was an above average stand alone episode, as compared to other single story episodes. Unfinished Business filled in many blanks about New Caprica. The Passage was a noble send off for Kat. (Even though it was a stand alone, and side story, Kat was a character deserving of a good send off.) Eye of Jupiter and Rapture worked well, and set up the quest for the final five, and wrapped up Baltar’s interesting journey on the baseship. (And the Baltar piano music was a great score.) Taking A Break... was half good, and half annoying soap opera. The Woman King, and A Day in the Life were excellent cures for insomnia. I think I even dozed off during A Day in the Life. That whole story was incredibly dull, and moved at a crawl. Bascially Woman King and Day in the Life added up to nothing, didn't say anything new or important, didn't reveal anything important, and didn't have any tie to the series arcs at all. Dirty Hands was somewhat uneven, but addressing labor issues was an interesting insight into the fleet. It was probably a necessary excursion. It always nice to venture on to other ships in the fleet and see what’s going on in them, at least a little bit. But, from where we leave Chief off in season 3, it was nice to see Chief in that capacity, as union leader once again.
Maelstrom, The Son Also Rises, Crossroads One and Two, were perhaps among the finest four hours of BSG ever. I’m sure those 4 hours will launch the story into exciting places in season 4.
So, going into season 4, be aware of the pitfalls and what to avoid. But as a whole, keep up the good work.
And that would be my memo to the writers of Battlestar Galactica.