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Q&A: Ron Moore on 'Battlestar' series finale

MooreRon Moore is on the verge of joining a rarefied group of showrunners who have successfully pulled off the most ambitious of TV formats: the heavily serialized drama. Part 1 of the series finale of his Peabody Award-winning reimagination of "Battlestar Galactica" on Sci Fi Channel airs tonight.

As with "The Sopranos" and "The Shield," fans are eagerly anticipating the finale and fretting whether it can live up to their expectations.

Below, Moore talks about the last episode, networks shying away from serials, J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" remake and the one genre he'd like to tackle next.

THR: How do you think fans will react to the "Battlestar" finale?

Moore: I don’t know. I’m sure there will be a lot of discussion. They have a lot of different expectations for what they think it’s going to be, and a lot of opinions about how it should be. All of us who worked on the finale feel good about it, that this is the ending of the story we wanted to make.

THR: Is there any chance of doing something with these same characters that takes place either before or after this series finale? Or is this It?

Moore: We did a standalone movie called "The Plan." But there’s no plans to do anything else with the "Galactica" cast.

THR: You constantly have to make creative decisions on the fly on a show. Can you name one thing that – time machine available – you would have done differently?

Moore: There’s a bunch of things here and there. Plot lines and subplots, that’s the cost of doing business. You take risks and go on instinct and you look back and say that paid off and that didn’t.

THR: Anything specific?

Moore: Probably we rushed into the Lee and Duala romance too quickly and didn’t lay the groundwork for that. "Black Market" was an episode I wish I had a second crack at. We probably played around with Lee’s character and his direction a little bit before settling into a good track with him. On the other hand, I don’t know that’s entirely a bad thing, because it added to his quest and trying to figure out his own place on the show.

THR: Watching the recent episode where Ellen and Anders explained the show’s mythology, I wondered about the choice to make four characters cylons. Have you been satisfied with the way that’s played out?

Moore: Yeah, I’ve been satisfied with that.

THR: Universal is developing a "Battlestar" movie with original series creator Glen Larson. How do you feel about that?

Moore: More power to them. I don’t know anything about it; they didn’t talk to me about it. I’ve always said if somebody wanted to do a continuation of the original, that’s fine by me. It doesn’t have anything to do with what we’ve done.

THR: You also have the pilot "Virtuality" at Fox. Last we heard it was being recut. How’s it looking?

Moore: They haven’t officially turned it down, they haven’t officially moved it forward. We’ll just have to wait and see.

THR: Any update on the theatrical remake of "The Thing" you’re writing?

Moore: It’s in development. I’ve done my drafts, they’ve hired a director and we’re just waiting to see if Universal will greenlight it.

THR: As a person who used to write for "Star Trek" shows, what do you think of the new movie, from what you’ve seen?

Moore: I’m very encouraged. I salute them for going back to the beginning and revitalizing it. I think that’s exactly what the franchise needed.

THR: You’re also working on the "Battlestar" prequel series "Caprica," which you’ve described as a more terrestrial-based drama. Are you concerned "Battlestar" fans will be like, "Where are the space battles?"

Moore: I’m sure there will be a contingent of fans that won’t appreciate it because it doesn’t have those elements, but that’s OK. It was a calculated risk, and we’re hoping to gather fans who don’t traditionally come to this genre as well. There’s a chunk of people out there who hold sci-fi at arm’s length, and this is an opportunity to bring them in. And I think most people who enjoyed "Battlestar" watched it for the character interactions and the stories with the action-adventure components as icing on the cake. They
probably didn’t show up every week hoping something will blow up.

THR: There’s a push among broadcast networks toward close-ended, non-serialized shows -- like crime procedurals -- the idea being that serialized dramas are increasingly high-risk.

Moore: I think they’ve always been high-risk and networks have always had an aversion to it. Network executives generally live in fear, and their fear is always that (the viewer is) going to be confused. It’s unfortunate because some of the greatest shows have been serialized and featured continuing
characters. Audiences of serialized shows tend to become avid and dedicated viewers interested in exploring the show’s universe online and consumers of additional merchandising. I think network executives are somewhat myopic because they go for the easiest answer. "Let's make it tidy and all wrapped-up so the audience doesn't have to remember what happened last week." The audience is smart. They like catching up on things. They have a wide menu of ways at this point to catch up on shows. It just doesn’t seem like it's the big scary monster a lot of networks would have you believe.

THR: Is there a type of TV show that you haven’t done that you’ve always wanted to do?

Moore: Yeah. I’ve always wanted to do a Western.

THR: A lot of TV showrunners, when asked their favorite shows, list "Battlestar." What shows are you watching right now?

I tend to watch a lot of "Seinfeld," news programming, "Mad Men" -- and I’m looking forward to "Breaking Bad." I watch Bill Maher, Charlie Rose, "Project Runway" and "Top Chef." I don’t watch a lot of [dramas] other than what I just named, mostly because there’s a part of my brain going ‘how many sets have they used?’ It’s not as entertaining; I get analytical and it becomes work.

THR: Legacy question: Is there anything about sci-fi shows that you think "Galactica" has changed?

Moore: One of the goals going into it (was) we wanted to make a sci-fi show that was relevant and spoke to our times and dealt with real issues that approached the drama in a naturalistic way and made it "real." If we’re able to define a legacy of asking other shows to do the same in the genre and keep sci fi going in a way that tackles meaningful ideas and challenge audience expectations, I think that would be a great thing.

NEW 3/21: Tearful goodbyes at final 'Battlestar' screening

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Finale trailer: