Wow, I really feel like an anthro major right now. I’m currently listening to “The Battlestar Roundtable“, a podcast available on the Battlestar Galactica web site, and sitting back amazed and delighted that such a window on the personalities and process of artistic creation has been opened to me. The voices of Jamie Bamber (Apollo), James Callis (Baltar), Tahmoh Penikett (Helo), Ron Moore (creator and director), Terry Dresbach (wife of same), Mark Sheppard (ha ha ha, so familiar to me from The X-Files and Firefly, he plays a character coming up in season 3), and some school friend of Bamber’s named Henry are coming out of my computer speakers talking with animation about characters, the experience of working with different directors, the gossip and early views of scripts available in the Hair and Makeup Department, and their individual effects on the finished product we all see on TV. Early in the podcast, Bamber mentioned he was drinking “a fine Scotch”, and at intervals since I’ve heard the cork squeaking in and out of the whisky bottle as various people get refills. This podcast is three hours long! And it is SO GOOD!
Special features and commentaries on DVDs are now an established tradition, and I’ve experienced plenty of them. This is a different from most in a couple of ways: 1) it’s coming out in close proximity to the air dates of the shows they’re talking about, not months or years later; 2) this is a group of intelligent people who are so excited and invested in their work that it’s truly inspiring. They’re not phoning it in or doing it just for the money or the obligation. I don’t even know how many commentaries I’ve heard in which the actors or directors seem impatient or bored because they’re there for contractual reasons. This commentary is nothing like that. These people are so excited to talk about their show that they often raise their voices in a crazy babble, talking over each other in their eagerness to express themselves. It can be a challenge to decipher, but it’s well worth it. And now that I’m near the end, I think some of the ideas that came up in this roundtable might bear fruit in later episodes. (Jamie Bamber’s thoughts about better dramatic treatment of the Cylon clones are particularly good.)
One of my favorite comments came from James Callis, who seems to have read some Virginia Woolf in his time. He was responding to Tahmoh Penikett’s complaint about a clueless director telling him how to play his character in a way that he thought alien to the role.
People […] are wedded — […] they are hidebound — to their personality, and for me, looking at things in the context of the show and in the context of the world… anything that comes left field that you weren’t quite prepared for changes you in some fashion […] and makes you something else and something new. […] As individuals on the planet, we are infinitely more transient. We change around, and I find every episode that we’re in and the show that we’re in… characters kind of break the mold of the thing that you think that they are necessarily because something happens to them as it would happen to you in real life.
I’ve often had difficulty with the directions individual characters have taken in the show, but such an apologia makes me feel better about it. And I can’t help laughing at the fact that Callis seems to have fallen into inebriated slumber by the end of the podcast.
Random trivia learned this evening: Ron met Terry on the set of Carnivàle, a show I was a fan of in its first season. Cool!
I’ll have more comments about the recent episodes soon. But now it’s time for bed.