When Battlestar Galactica launched in 2004 on SyFy, it defined the concept of “binge-watching” television for millions of Americans (to the point that the concept was parodied in a sketch on Portlandia). But producers Ron Moore and David Eick, who were on-hand for the Battlestar Galactica reunion panel at San Diego Comic Con, aren’t sure the show would have thrived in the same way in newer streaming models that encourage binge-watching.
“The discipline of having to follow a story that could be accessible to a brand new audience… I think that helped bulletproof the show in the first season,” Eick said. “Because we couldn’t get that indulgent. We couldn’t sit and stroke ourselves about ‘Oh, this character is having a nervous breakdown because her stepfather raped her.’ No, we need ammo, how do we get gasoline, what about the water. There were practical things. So by the 4th season, when we were able to be as serialized as we wanted it, we had earned it… I wonder if some early, young shows rely so much on serialization and the comfort of that that, they don’t build some of this foundational structure that we’re talking about that a non-serialized show forces you to do.”
Moore added that the rhythm of the season varies more with an episodic format. “We’ll do this one that’s more procedural, we’ll do this one that’s more about character. The danger of serialization is you almost get monotone, where you get into this similar beat and pace, and it’s all one long thing. When you can do this interesting mixture of episodic and serialization, you can take the audience on a more interesting journey.”
Actor Tamoh Penikett, who played Captain Helo on the show, saw advantages to the streaming model and parallels to what Battlestar Galactica has accomplished.
“You see projects from all over the world now,” He said. “Netflix is incredible with what they’re doing. They’re bringing stuff from all over the planet. That’s what we need right now. We need to see stories from different cultures all over the world. That’s what will bring us together. That’s what will encourage peace and discourse and dialogue, and that’s what Battlestar did back in the day.”