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Jane Espenson

Jane Espenson - "Battlestar Galactica" Tv Series - Cityofangel.com Interview

Kristy Bratton

Saturday 1 July 2006, by Webmaster

From Slayers to Cylons

When we last left Battlestar Galactica, Six and Sharon Valerii had persuaded the Cylon leadership that destroying the humans was an error. The two civilizations would now live apart, in peace. But as President Baltar was sworn in, his Cylon lover, Gina detonates a nuclear warhead. Colonization of the planet dubbed New Caprica goes ahead over Adama’s objections. A year later, his fears are realized as a Cylon invasion force jumps into the system. Overpowered, Adama orders their battlestars out of the system leaving the civilian colony defenseless as a Cylon occupying force arrives to announce the dawn of a new era.... But here’s where it really gets exciting, producer/writer Jane Espenson - best known by her Buffy and Angel fans but whose credits also include The Inside, Gilmore Girls, Jake in Progress, Tru Calling and Firefly - joins an illustrious group of writers in Bradley Thompson and David Weddle ("Scar"), Anne Cofell Saunders ("Sacrifices"), and Mark Verheiden. She’s penned an episode for the upcoming third season and CoA got a chance to chat with Jane about her involvement with BSG, the lure to the Sci-fi of it, and its inspiring cast and crew.


At the end of Season 2 the BSG crew had stepped slightly into their own future and although Jane can’t say much about how her episode will fit into the new season - now that the Cylons have returned - she does humorously confess, "I cannot say. Super top-secret, vault-inside-the-vault, swearing on copies of the show bible kind of thing. But it’s cool. And I will tell you there’re no tricks, no one is going to stand up and yell, ’This isn’t what we saw last week! He didn’t get out of the cock-a-doodie car!’"

Since most fans think of Jane as a writer who leans towards the comedy side she admits she really didn’t find it too challenging to write for a series slightly darker and sci-fi heavy. "Well, I got my start pitching ideas to Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was the show I wanted to write for more than anything in the world," she clarifies. "So I have always wanted to write sci-fi. To me, it’s like the logical extension of anyone’s desire to write fiction. ’You want to create a world? Great, then go ahead and create everything about it’. Neat! Writing something darker? I don’t know. Strangely, I never think of BSG as dark. Sure, it opened with nuclear apocalypse and near-genocide. And my episode is certainly not the "Trouble with Tribbles" of BSG. Not at all. And yet, because the characters are so very real — because they react with such a wonderfully real sense of irony and humor to the things that happen to them, because the show is built around a core of solid shining hope..." she pauses, "I think of it as a show with a light touch. I welcome even its darkest turns, because the more I see these people struggle though, the more glee I have in my heart for all of them. And Baltar is hilarious," Jane states, "You have to love the perceptiveness of a show with a villain who is also comedic, because the things that make someone truly dangerous really are the same things that make someone ridiculous: vanity, cowardice, greed, etc. The seven dwarfs of the apocalypse."



If wanting to write for one of the most inspiring Sci-fi series wasn’t enough, certainly gifted actors, engaging stories and a wonderful creator as executive producer/writer Ron Moore (Roswell, Star Trek: Voyager, Deep Space Nine, Next Generation) were a good reason for Jane to want to participate in BSG. "When I was pitching story ideas to Star Trek: The Next Generation, the guy across the desk was a young writer named Ron Moore. So I was always interested in working with Ron. But that wouldn’t have mattered if the show was bad. It was the amazing show that hooked me." Jane remembers, "My jaw dropped from the very beginning. ’33,’ early on, was so incredibly tense and exciting and real! And then the episode ’You Can’t Go Home Again’ came along and my jaw actually detached, such good solid classic sci-fi. I felt like I was reading a short story. Then there was ’The Farm’ and ’Scar’ — ooh! ’Scar.’ So good. Downloaded... wow. And the arc-filled developments were pulling me along like a rope at the same time... there’re how many Cylon models? And he’s one? And she’s one too? And you never get the sense that it’s just being randomly concocted. This is a show that knows itself," she affirms.

"Oh, and then that genius time jump happened. And," Jane continues, "here’s the coolest thing — it wasn’t just played for the shock of it. You got the shock and the furtherance of the story. Beautiful. Plus, I have to say, the cast is stunning. I actually had to try really hard not to think about that as I was writing my episode. If you start thinking about the fact that ’Eddie’ or ’Mary’ will say this, you lock up. Just think about Adama and Laura. And all the others too — a fantastic cast. Finally, I didn’t know this for sure when I started lobbying to write an episode, but the writing staff manages to be both warm and cool. So welcoming to me, and completely generous to hand me a story they’d already been working on. That means someone else was expecting to write it, but was willing to hand over all the work they’d done so far. Holy cow. That’s incredibly generous. And they’ve continued to be helpful throughout the process, and genuinely funny and smart and nice. And you know what? These characters are just as real to them as they are to the viewers. That doesn’t always happen." Jane finished our conversation recalling, in true Jane fashion, "I wrote a line in my episode at one point, and then I cut it later because the script was way too long. But I had someone say something that I would love to be able to say myself: ’See you ’round the battlestar!’"