TV SCOOP! ‘Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome’ Preliminary Concept Art Released!

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This isn't one of the pics released, we just found it on the Internets, thought it was cool and created a title for it.

***UPDATE: DOUG DREXLER HAS CONFIRMED WITH THE THE ‘TASTIC TODAY THAT HE IS ATTACHED TO THE BLOOD & CHROME PROJECT AS WELL***

“Happy New Year Shawn! Yes! [VFX Supervisor]Gary [Hutzel] drags my bleeding corpse with him everywhere he goes!”

Check out Doug’s blog at the Drexfiles, right here on WordPress.  LOTS of fun stuff there.

Well, Battlestar Galactica fans, it looks like the highly anticipated prequel, Blood & Chrome is quickly becoming a reality.  Last month, we reported to you in our Caprica post-mortem that the pilot for the series had been green-lit and what the premise was.  Blastr.com has obtained exclusive concept art from the show’s producers (scroll down to the bottom for the slideshow) and the word is that principle shooting is to begin in late January, 2011.

Galactica SITREP did a brief interview with writer and executive producer, Michael Taylor who provides a bit of insight into these images and into the pilot:

“Those pics were just the first of the many concept art sketches we’ve been creating. They don’t necessarily reflect any particular incidents in the script; as “concept” drawings they’re helping us flesh out the new world of Blood & Chrome. And it is a new world, one that owes much to the BSG series of the past but at the same time uses CGI to open up that world in ways that we hope fans will find fresh and exciting.

As for the show’s status, SyFy has officially green-lit a two-hour pilot, and we have begun pre-production, with filming expected to begin at the end of January, or very shortly thereafter. This is the fun part for me: seeing the script take tangible shape (or “virtually tangible” shape, since practically all of the pilot will be shot on green screen) as our director (Jonas Pate), DP (Lukas Ettlin), VFX supervisor (Gary Hutzel) and a host of artists — and of course the cast that we’ll soon be gathering — bring it to life.”

We have just a few observations about this latest news:

First, it seems to us that all of this is coming together amazingly quick which means either one of two things:  SyFy is incredibly eager to wash the taste of Caprica out of its mouth and breathe life back into the most successful franchise in its history or this is a lot of wishful thinking on the producers’ part as to how fast this is all coming together.

We’d like to hope it’s the former, but this whole process seems to be going at FTL speed for us.  Goodness, the project just got green-lit it in November and the casting hasn’t even been made public on IMDb.  Then again, this is Hollywood and if, as Taylor notes, virtually all of the two-hour pilot will be shot on green-screen then you don’t have to do a whole lot as far as set dressing is concerned and we suppose it could be done that quickly.  It’s the post-production and visual effects that will take a lot longer than usual.

Which brings us to another concern, not necessarily a criticism, but a concern nonetheless:  Virtually all of the two-hour pilot is going to be shot on green screen?  Really? Are we talking Phantom Menace here?  One of the more appealing aspects of BSG was the ability to effectively mix practical sets with digital elements to the point where it was generally seamless (at least in the interior scenes) and it always makes us cringe a little when we hear about such a dramatic shift in production (especially THIS shift because we are very much opposed to the over-reliance on CG) to a franchise known for high-quality visual effects.  That being said, Gary Hutzel is in charge of visual effects again and he is a master at combining practical filming and CG effectively (see: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and, of course, Battlestar Galactica).  So, at this point we will remain less skeptical than we normally would be.

We also need to correct the Blastr.com piece we alluded to earlier.  Despite what the piece says, Blood & Chrome will not be a “two-hour pilot movie,” it will simply be a two-hour pilot episode.  The distinction needs to be made because calling it a “movie” implies by its nature that it is a “backdoor  pilot.”  A “backdoor pilot” is a made for television movie that is produced with the intention of the movie acting as a pilot episode for a potential series but is written as a standalone, self-contained story if the series isn’t picked up.  This is an important distinction because if the indications were that a project was to be a “movie,”that would mean that the network would be waiting to see how the “movie” does in the ratings before ordering episodes for the series.  That means that if it doesn’t do well in the ratings, you’ll never see a regular series episode.  If it does do well, however, it will be several months before you’ll see new episodes.

If, on the other hand, a show is planned as a conventional pilot, that means that the network heads will watch the pilot, decide if it’s good enough to order additional episodes, and then proceed from that point.  They will then air the two-hour pilot episode and shortly thereafter, air the new series episodes.  If the network heads don’t like the pilot, don’t worry about the series being canceled because you’ll never even see the pilot.  There has been absolutely no indication whatsoever that the two-hour pilot for Blood & Chrome is anything but a two-hour pilot episode and in this case that’s absolutely a good thing.  SyFy isn’t going to wait around to see how the pilot does in the ratings when they already have the established BSG audience built-in, just as they did with Caprica, so if it airs (which we are sure it will) expect that the series will follow.

Yes, we are certainly aware that Blastr.com is a SyFy Channel project, but they got this wrong and it happened for one of two reasons:

1. It was completely intentional in order to hype the pilot. This is a well-known practice in genre.  The Star Trek franchise was notorious for calling two-hour episodes “movies” or “movie-events” in the mid-to-late 90’s and in more recent years, 24 did the same thing with their two-hour episode Redemption, and in fact, they are still clinging to this notion that Redemption is a “film.”  Nah… it was just the season seven primer that aired two months prior to the season premiere to make up for the fact that the series had gone 18 months without an original episode because of the writer’s strike and they wanted to spark interest in it again.  So, again, this practice isn’t unheard of, but it’s misleading for the average audience who thinks that “movie” implies that they will be watching an original feature film on basic cable.

2.  It was just a mistake, typical of an over-exuberant blogger. We freely admit that we’ve made similar mistakes based on our excitement for a particular project.  Simply look at our rating of The Event for evidence of that.  Blastr.com is a professional site but it’s still a blog.

Finally, we are very excited about the choices in writers for Blood & Chrome if what’s reported on IMDb is accurate.  Ignore the references to Ron Moore because he has nothing to do with the new series (and we doubt Glen Larson does either), he’s simply listed as the developer as a courtesy and because he is responsible for developing the franchise and tacking his name onto the project gives it credibility.

On the other side of the coin, though, it is being Executive Produced by David Eick (and that is confirmed, it’s not just a courtesy title) and Michael Taylor as well as being written by Taylor, David Weddle, and Bradley Thompson.  This trifecta of writers was not only part of the major core of writers for BSG but they are also responsible for some of the absolute best episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as well, which has been hailed by critics as the best series of that franchise, and it revolved around an intergalactic war so these gentlemen certainly have credentials in that department.

The ‘Tastic will keep you up to date as we find out more about Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome.

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‘Boardwalk Empire’ (HBO – Sundays, 9:00 p.m.)

From Terence Winter, Emmy Award-winning writer of ‘The Sopranos,’ and Academy Award Winning Director Martin Scorsese, ‘Boardwalk Empire’ is set in Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition, when the sale of alcohol became illegal throughout the United States.

America in 1920. The Great War is over, Wall Street is about to boom and everything is for sale, even the World Series. It is a time of change when women are getting the vote, broadcast radio is introduced, and young people rule the world.

On the beach in southern New Jersey sits Atlantic City, a spectacular resort known as “The World’s Playground,” a place where rules don’t apply. Massive hotels line its famous Boardwalk, along with nightclubs, amusement piers and entertainment to rival Broadway. For a few dollars, a working man can get away and live like a king — legally or illegally.

The undisputed ruler of Atlantic City is the town’s Treasurer, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, (Steve Buscemi) a political fixer and backroom dealer who is equal parts politician and gangster and equally comfortable in either role. Because of its strategic location on the seaboard, the town is a hub of activity for rum-runners, minutes from Philadelphia, hours from New York City and less than a day’s drive from Chicago. And Nucky Thompson takes full advantage.

Along with his brother Elias (Shea Whigham), the town’s Sheriff, and a crew of Ward Bosses and local thugs, Nucky carves out a niche for himself as the man to see for any illegal alcohol. He is an equal opportunity gangster, doing business with Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), Big Jim Colosimo (Frank Crudele), Lucky Luciano, (Vincent Piazza) and Al Capone (Stephen Graham).

As the series begins, Nucky’s former protégé and driver Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) returns home from the Great War, eager to get ahead and reclaim his rightful place in Nucky’s organization. But when Jimmy feels things aren’t moving quickly enough, he takes matters into his own hands, forming a deadly alliance with some associates of Nucky’s that set the Feds, led by Agent Van Alden (Michael Shannon) on his mentor’s tail. Complicating matters further is Nucky’s burgeoning relationship with Margaret Schroeder, (Kelly Macdonald) a local woman in an abusive marriage whom he tries to help out. – HBO

10 out of 10

Apparently HBO has decided that they are sick of playing second fiddle to Showtime for having the best drama on premium cable. After watching the pilot episode of Boardwalk Empire I feel rather ashamed. I feel like a crook, in fact. I feel like I robbed HBO of the $10.50 that I should have paid them to see this show in the theater. Because it’s not a TV show, it’s a Martin Scorcese Academy Award winning film that comes into your living room once every seven days for twelve weeks. There is only word to describe this monumental television excellence: Epic.

The grand scale and visually stunning aesthetics are like nothing that’s been on TV since 2001’s Band of Brothers. The pilot alone cost $50 million and it’s perhaps the best $50 million spent on a television series ever. The sets are absolutely amazing and the level of detail is like none I’ve ever seen for a period piece outside of Titanic. There really is no question that you are in Atlantic City circa 1920 and this show does what I’ve pointed out that other quality dramas do and that is make the city as integral of a character as the politicians and gangsters.

The story and depth of characters are rich and engaging and you’re hooked from the opening scene and the role of “Nucky” Thompson… well, let’s just say the Steve Buscemi was born to play him.

Thompson is the epitome of the corrupt community leader for the prohibition era. He’s an institutionalized pillar of the community and gangster rolled into one. He’s the city treasurer who has built his power through graft and payoffs and is the most powerful man in town, controlling the police department and mayor’s office who hang on his every order. Like most crooked politicians in bed with organized crime he views as himself as morally superior to the gangsters he regularly does business with and he does his best to keep them at arm’s length. This is very interesting to note about his personal character because unlike most corrupt politicians, he truly does care for the citizens of his community and goes out of his way to help those who need it the most with no ulterior motives and his magnanimous attitude and tenderness isn’t out of guilt. As crooked as his empire his, he truly is a man of the people and believes in the virtue of public service. This dichotomy presents itself often as there appears to be a perpetual internal conflict between the noble and the nefarious going on inside of Nucky.

One of the more notable exchanges is between Nucky and his protégé, Jimmy, where he tells Jimmy, “You’d be very foolish to underestimate me, James.  I could have you killed,” right after he lectures him as a father would about going back to school and making something of himself for his wife and son. But, it’s how he says it that’s interesting… it’s kind of like that he has to convince himself that he could have Jimmy killed and he isn’t really comfortable with the idea even though we all know it’s true, he could, but still, we don’t buy it. Jimmy doesn’t buy it either as his classic response indicates while at the same time serving to polarize Nucky’s internal conflict.  “Yeah, but you won’t. Look… you can’t be half a gangster Nucky… not anymore,” and THAT is what Boardwalk Empire is all about.

It’s about how Prohibition changed this country during an era of excess. It’s about our own good and dark sides squaring off.  We see the likes of Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano and Al Capone as small time hoods, who we all know will become kings over the next ten years and rule their particular kingdoms through violence and terrorism but what’s often forgotten is that it was the average citizen that made that reign possible.  It’s a part of our collective history as Americans that hasn’t been told before and Boardwalk Empire shines a spotlight on it.

Boardwalk Empire is going to be one helluva journey. This is the best show on television… period, and yes, it only took one episode to figure it out.

Official Boardwalk Empire show site, here.