BSG: New School

Speaking of Battlestar Galactica, I just found out via Film Fodder that BSG won't be finished, at least the universe. A new series, Caprica, is apparently in pre-production. The premise (via Wiki):
    The series will revolve around two families: the Adamas and the Graystones. Joseph Adama, father of future Battlestar commander William Adama, is a renowned civil liberties lawyer who becomes an opponent of the artificial intelligence/Cylon experiments wrought by the Graystones, owners of a large computer corporation that builds the first Cylons. According to Mark Stern, Sci-Fi Channel's Executive Vice President of Original Programming, the script for the two-hour pilot episode concluded with an explanation for how the name "Cylon" was coined.[2] On September 20, 2007, Battlestar Galactica writer and producer Bradley Thompson revealed that Ron D. Moore's script for Caprica has a character coin the term, saying, "A cybernetic life-form node, a Cylon."
Titillating! And comforting, like a warm blanket. Even more interesting is the details about how NBC started tinkering with the series:
    According to a statement by Ron Moore in the Season 3 Companion book, the proposed Caprica prequel series will have a story-arc-heavy format like its predecessor; a large reason why the network is reluctant to greenlight the series is because story-arc-heavy series notoriously have difficulty in picking up new viewers, as compared to a series composed of mostly standalone episodes. This was already the cause of friction between Moore and the Sci-Fi Channel at Caprica's parent series — the first two seasons of Battlestar Galactica were arc-intensive, with detailed attention to internal continuity, but were not pulling in the Nielsen ratings that the network wanted, so the Sci-Fi Channel pressured Moore into retooling the third season of BSG to consist of largely standalone episodes. This measure actually backfired, as it resulted in negative criticism from both fans and critics, and Moore revealed in the Season 3 finale podcast that the network finally grudgingly admitted that standalone episodes simply do not work in the format of story he is trying to tell.
Complex and thought-provoking shows inevitably need to have story arcs to sustain viewers, which will alienate new viewers, but I think that misses the real reason some shows don't get more viewers: the shows are smart, and the masses are not. BSG has a couple of other things going against it that will never get it CSI ratings: First, it is a science-fiction show. Second, and way more importantly, its religious themes would drive your average mid-westerner batshit crazy. Humans with a polytheistic belief. Cylons with a monotheistic belief. Bam! That was the sound of some viewer's head in Kansas tuning in for the first time. So really, BSG is a liberal weapon of mass destruction. Mmm, genius.

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