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09 May 2009 @ 03:34 pm
BSG (7): Battlestar Galactica @ FedCon XVIII  
What can I say? Every single one of those guys - Edward James Olmos, Michael Hogan, James Callis, Richard Hatch, Mark Sheppard - rocked. Big time.

Random Thoughts on why that is...

On Sunday night I talked to a friend who has only seen the mini series and even she has noticed that, somehow, they're different. So far, all of them - and that includes Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber, Nicki Clyne, Leah Cairns and Michelle Forbes from last year's con - gave the very distinct impression that BSG was not just another show for them. That they cared deeply for it. And that those same feelings extended to their fans. You ask them a question about some scene, they know what you're talking about. Don't get me wrong. There are actors like that on many shows. But never before have I gotten that feeling from so many people on the same show.

Why the frak is that?

Maybe it's because all of them get to do their part within those great stories. Stories, that without any doubt aren't without flaws, some of them quite serious. But stories nevertheless that always are deeply human, thought-provoking and one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. Whatever problems BSG's writing may have (I really do understand everyone who's been disappointed by the very apparent lack of foreplanning and its consequences), the character scenes aren't it. Actors, for obvious reasons, love that, quite possibly more so than thoroughly planned out arcs. I'm pretty sure the same goes for the extensive use of all kinds of shades of grey for the characters that BSG is so very fond of. Plus, and here we get back to the first sentence of this paragraph, whatever small parts they may have to play, they're all part of the big story. BSG - with very few exceptions - doesn't do one off episodes that feature one character and are forgotten by next week. Characters like Racetrack may not get much screentime but whatever time they do get is part of the story, not just an aside.

Compare that to parts like Robert Beltran's Chakotay, just to take one (not so random) example. Can you really expect him to swell with pride for the work he did on that show? There's been some debate on that topic in the fandom, but I'm definitely with the people answering 'no' to that.

Last but not least, most of BSG's cast still is very new to conventions. In a sense they - including such heavy hitters as Olmos, who was only doing his third con ever - are even greener in that regard than people from new Star Trek shows are when they start out. The latter are already part of this big, decade old franchise, even if they only got hired yesterday. People on BSG aren't, they're the new kids on the block. Guess it helps with not perceiving an event as routine. (And yes, there's the old show. But that's so not the same situation as with Star Trek.)

On to actually talking about FedCon itself

Be aware that this is only going to be fairly random stuff. I know, I know - what else is new? ;)

James Callis (aka Gaius Baltar) was only there on Friday night and Saturday so I didn't get to see much of him. He seems to be a very sweet guy though, who has thought a lot about his part on the show. But then, they all have - see above...

My favorite bit of trivia to take away from his panel was about one of Baltar's dream sequences right after he escaped from New Caprica with the Cylons. That dream involves Roslin, Adama, Tigh and Head Six, the former three anxious to declare him absolutely innocent on everything that happened during his presidency. Roslin then kisses him and he wakes up. According to Callis the script called out for her to shoot him at first, but he thought that was being far too conventional. So he suggested the kiss. Sneaky bastard ;)

Richard Hatch (aka Tom Zarek) - all around nice guy.

He talked about his character's motivation quite a bit. I don't remember all of it, but I think the gist of it was, that he wasn't completely happy with his final actions or rather the way they were shown. Too much bad guy, not enough explanation for his actions. My feelings exactly. Which also is why I may remember that wrong, I'll have to check the DVD when it's out.

Also, if anyone else was curious about that - the leather jacket he was wearing was not the one Zarek wore on the show. He owns that one too though.

During the Olmos-Hogan-Hatch panel on Sunday, Olmos was asked for his thoughts on when exactly Adama fell in love with Roslin (when she was dying, and a bit before she did) at which point Hatch chimed in with: "Well, I fell in love with Mary..." Get in line ;)

Apparently, he's also involved with Eve Online in some way, he promoted that quite a bit. Which I didn't mind as I actually buy him playing the game.

Mark Sheppard (aka Romo Lampkin) - as Batch so aptly put it: is there any show this guy hasn't been on? He's got tons to talk about, he talks openly and he happens to be a SciFi fan himself. Which, strangely enough, opens up about a gazillion topics to talk about.

His more or less serious attempts to avoid spoilers for anyone who hasn't seen S4 of Galactica yet, were hilarious even though probably not really all that helpful. It's not as if people unhear things just because he wildly flails around his arms gesturing to put your fingers in your ears after something came up. (Absolutely no complaint whatsoever btw. - IMO it's more than just a bit optimistic to go to those talks and expect not to be spoilered...) He took great delight in stressing his proper title.

He already was a huge fan when he came on the show, which first happened in the episode after the one where Kara dies, i.e. 3x18 The Son Also Rises. When he got on the set he had seen everything that had aired so far (up to 3x07), but of course had no idea what else they had been shooting. And somehow people seemed to be a tad depressed. Enter Eddie Olmos handing him a stack of DVDs containing the episodes up to that point. Cut to Mark Sheppard sitting in a Chinese restaurant, staring at his iPod, crying like a baby. The next time he was on set Eddie came right up to him, put on a huge smile and asked (imagine Mark doing an imitation here...): "Isn't it great?!"

And yes, he was nervous. Especially since he only just shown up - and then got all of these really long scenes right away. So, everyone shows up to see who this new guy is and what he's doing. The first scene he did is the one that also introduces Lampkin in the show, when Roslin hires him as Baltar's attorney. He's got this big audience already and Eddie thinks it'd be cool if Adama seated himself in a chair behind Romo to stare holes into his back. (And what a very nice back it is, isn't it Ms You Know Who You Are?)

Also, about that same scene, Romo originally had a two minute speech there about fear and what it does the men an so on... which was cut. But which explains why Roslin looks at him the way she does before she says "Well, it's so comforting to know that you're not afraid."

Some more non-BSG bits and pieces:

He urged us to watch

He is definitely not fond of his work on
Bionic Woman, the non-fondness relating to both the work itself and the working conditions. "They didn't spend money on anything worthwhile. Like decent food. Or scripts." (All quotes are actually paraphrased.) He thinks he got his scene with Katee Sackhoff near the end of BSG to make up for that particular shared experience.

And, on Voyager: "I made good friends with Jeri Ryan. Which meant the other one didn't talk to me at all."

Michael Hogan (aka Saul Tigh) looks at least a decade younger when he's not being grumpy. Which is exactly what I told him during the autograph session. To which he answered: "And when I'm not being drunk! ... Today I'm just hung-over." Really, he's actually a very nice, funny, relaxed man, very much not the way we know Tigh. He was kind enough to do grumpy Tigh voice a few times during the panels though, he even did "It's in the frakking ship!!", a line I just happen to love, mainly because of the way he delivers it. At that point the tech guys had the brilliant idea to start playing "All Along the Watchtower" to which he reacted by asking: "You're all hearing this, right?!" No, of course we didn't ;)

I particularly liked what Eddie Olmos told us - that Michael just refused to be a Cylon. "To this day he will tell you that he's not. So, don't tell him something like 'You're the best Cylon ever!', he won't like that." Which, of course, is exactly how he played the character and why he's my personal favorite out of the Final Four. This cylon-shmylon attitude just totally fits the character.

Edward Jame Olmos (aka William Adama). Wow. He impressed the hell out of me. I'm not the only one either, he's currently topping the "Your favorite Guest at FedCon XVIII."-survey, which is quite unusual for one of the big names. Most of them, even the really nice ones, are just too distant to win against the "small" ones mingling with the fans, or against crazy nuts like John Billingsley. He wasn't. He was warm, obviously totally in awe of the show, gave interesting talks and didn't just sign autographs, but write small novels.

The fact that I actually got to talk (as in, really talk, not just some equivalent of "have a nice time" or "great to have you here", probably the most common autograph session lines) to him a bit, didn't hurt either.

He tried really hard to avoid spoilers for season 4 (they all did, most of the time - which, in all honesty, frustrated me quite a bit. C'mon guys, I'm not here to enjoy the scenery, I want to hear your thoughts on the show). When he talked about the finale that netted us the following gem (if you have any sense of story-telling whatsoever, you can read this even if you haven't seen it - it's so not what I'd call a surprise) - anyway, he's talking about the final scene he and Mary McDonnell (Roslin) did. Apparently that one was quite hard to do. It was 3 am and "Mary couldn't move because ... of the situation that we were in." Subtle, man, subtle ;) I've heard about that scene from other people and apparently Mary kept screwing things up because she kept crying even though she really wasn't supposed to do so. Awww...

Olmos and Hogan also had a great scene when they were asked to impersonate each other's characters. Which resulted in Olmos lolling his head, snoring - and Hogan doing a very bad impression of someone bawling his eyes out. Yes, it was so funny I got a tiny fit of laughter. And yes, that was when I got aimed at with the floodlight to ask my question. Great timing that.

I also totally loved his appearance at the closing ceremonies. He got out, very grumpy face, and very unenthusiastically said something like: "I hate all of this. I had a horrible weekend. You are all terrible. I'm only doing this for the money. This is why I only sign my initials."

(It's surprisingly hard to shoot a decent photo of a photo btw...)

I like to believe he actually noticed my Starbuck dogtag and chose the cat line based on this. We all need our little delusions.

He then thanked all of us for the great weekend and particularly mentioned that he had actually been able to walk throught the bar, just like that. Which he can't normally do, especially not with people being drunk.

Last but not least - same as last year - it is one hell of a treat to have a whole, very big room full of people yell "So say we all." :D

And - that's what Hogan told us - it's actually thanks to Eddie that the phrase got used that way. The original script for the miniseries (in that pep talk about Earth Adama gives to his crew, actually the first scene they were shooting) only had him say it once, and then for the main characters (the ones with a script that is, not the extras) to echo it. But Olmos said it again, louder. And they were a bit confused about where he was going with it, but did the same. And again. And again. Some fifteen times, or so, Till he had even the extras join in. Love the story, love the scene, love Eddie, love the show. Absolutely and totally loved BSG@FedCon :)

(Anonymous) on May 11th, 2009 09:49 am (UTC)
Aww, girl, wonderful report! I am still way behind, only got the pics online so far. But you managed to capture the atmosphere really well in your lines and all the little asides were wonderful to read.

And I wish I could have been sitting behind Mark Sheppard and stare holes in his back ... as it was, I at least got him to smile into the camera with his arms around me. But his back was nice all the same :D