For die-hard fans of the Syfy drama “Battlestar Galactica,” the closing night reunion panel at the ATX Television Festival was a treat-filled trip down memory lane.
Seven key cast members — Edward James Olmos (Admiral Adama), Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin), Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck), James Callis (Gaius Baltar), Tricia Helfer (Number Six), Grace Park (Boomer/Number Eight) and Michael Trucco (Sam Anders) — and executive producer Ronald D. Moore came together to celebrate the groundbreaking series that was as much post-9/11 allegory as it was grand space adventure.
The “BSG” gang still clearly enjoy each other’s company and had both the audience and each other cracking up throughout the nearly two-hour Q&A session at Austin’s Paramount Theatre.
From awkward sex scenes (Callis and Helfer) to uncontrollable giggles (McDonnell and Sackhoff) to Olmos’s Adama-like leadership qualities, the cast mates and Moore fondly recalled funny and touching moments from their time on the series, which ran from 2004 to 2009.
Here are a few highlights from the lively reunion:
Local hospitals sometimes got a surprise
Callis recalled a scene in which he fell and hit his head requiring a trip to an emergency room. The injury itself, he said, “wasn’t too dreadful, but at the time I was covered in blood and stuff — fake blood— and I looked like a total mess ... and they wheeled me in and when [the hospital staff] saw me they were like ‘What the …. is happening?’”
Helfer also recalled trying to explain one of her injuries via the show’s elaborate story lines. “You go to the emergency room and they ask ‘What were you doing?’”
“’Well, I was dying, I was in an underground parking garage and I was killing somebody because she wanted me to kill myself and download but I didn’t want to...’ How do you explain that?”
The cast remains a tight-knit group
The bond of “BSG” extended off the set and across the years as the actors described hanging with each other’s families. Sackhoff joked, “I live by the airport, so I get the stop-bys.”
There was no “plan”
The show’s opening pre-credit sequence describing the Cylon revolution stated that the humanoid robots had a “plan.” Moore said this was, essentially, just something co-executive producer David Eick thought sounded cool, that audiences would love and that they could figure out later. They never did and, said Moore, “For the next 14 years of my life people have asked me ‘What was the plan?’” In short, “There was no … plan.”
Blockbuster video stores played a helpful role at the start of the series
Although as a kid Moore had watched the original 1978 series from which the show was being rebooted, he rented the original pilot at the video chain to reacquaint himself.
“I was very struck by the idea of doing that show at that moment in time,” he said. “Because when I watched that pilot three months after 9/11, it had completely different resonance. … an apocalyptic attack, out of the blue, that devastated these worlds … I immediately thought, if you did that show now, it was an opportunity to talk about things that were happening in the world.”
After Sackhoff told her father she had been cast as wild card fighter pilot Starbuck, he advised her to check out the original show. So she trooped down to the video store and learned that her character had originally been played by a man (Dirk Benedict). She then went to an Internet cafe to hear what fans had to say. When she learned about the online uproar over the gender flip, she said, “I learned in that moment … ’em.”
The show may have featured snazzy technology, but in 2017, glitches still happen
As a surprise, Jamie Bamber (Lee “Apollo” Adama) put in a special appearance via Skype from France, where he was enjoying a beer at 3 a.m.
Although multiple technical difficulties made much of his contribution unintelligible, both the onstage cast and a game Bamber made the most of it, joking with one another while trying to communicate. (At one point Olmos tried to call him.) As the connection ended, each member ran over to the camera and blew Bamber a kiss.
At the panel’s conclusion, the cast stood and joined hands as Olmos intoned the show’s famous phrase, to which the audience resoundingly responded “So say we all!”