A few months ago, the Syfy network commissioned an online series called 'Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome,' a chronicle of the war experiences of young William Adama.
The network liked Michael Taylor's script for the project so much that Syfy will air 'Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome' on the network as the pilot for a possible young Adama TV series.
Mark Stern, Syfy's executive vice president of original programming and the co-head of original content for Universal Cable Productions, said the network hoped to begin production on the pilot in Vancouver in early 2011.
"When we read Michael's script, it was so clearly a full-blown pilot for a series," Stern said in a Thursday interview. "The scope is fantastic and bigger, I think, than anticipated, so we said, 'Let's do it as a 2-hour backdoor pilot.' ... We're trying to get up and running as soon as possible."
Read on for more on 'Blood & Chrome' as well as a bit of news on 'Caprica,' another 'Battlestar Galactica' spinoff.
'Blood & Chrome' won't air until the fourth quarter of 2011 at the earliest, Stern said, but an early 2012 debut sounds more likely, especially if the network decides to go forward with a full series. Given the project's origins as an online project, expect lots of Web extras as well.
Fans missing the Battlestar Galactica itself -- the valiant old ship that housed Adama, Starbuck, Apollo and the rest -- will get to see it once again, or a version of it, in the new show. High-resolution digital scans were made of all the 'Battlestar Galactica' sets before they were torn down, and those scans will be used in the new project, which, like Syfy's 'Sanctuary,' will employ cutting-edge computer effects to supply virtual sets.
"It's an opportunity to 'see them before they were famous,'" Stern said of 'Blood & Chrome,' which takes place roughly 20 years after the events of 'Caprica' and about 40 years before the events of 'BSG.' "Here's the Battlestar Galactica as a brand-new, shiny ship -- well, not shiny, but as a new ship that had just been commissioned. What was that like?"
The Adama of 'Battlestar Galactica,' as so memorably played by Edward James Olmos, was a capable military commander leading the fight against the Cylon race under almost impossible conditions. Ensign William Adama of 'Blood & Chrome' is newly minted Viper pilot, one who goes through a challenging experiences on a difficult mission.
"This is very much an action-adventure, war series," Stern said. "This is definitely dealing with people who are fighting the fight. ... As you hope 'Battlestar' would do, it kind of comments on that process a little bit... but not in a preachy way, not in an issues-oriented way, not in a hitting-you-over-the-head way. Really, the fabric and the canvas of the series are people in the fight and what they grapple with when it comes to each other and what they grapple with when it comes to the enemy they're fighting."
"Your way into the story is a young William Adama who is not the grizzled old veteran we have come to love in 'BSG,'" Stern noted. "This is someone who is more like us, in terms of coming into this with certain preconceptions and learning as you go. ... It's very much about relationships along the way. I think ultimately the arc of the pilot and of the series is about getting Adama to be who you came to know in 'BSG,' but it's also about the deep relationships he forms. And I don't think there are any deeper relationships than the ones you form in life-or-death situations."
In a July interview, Taylor, a 'Battlestar Galactica' and 'Caprica' co-executive producer, said 'Blood & Chrome' was about "a young man's initiation into war: both the realities of war as fought by soldiers on the ground (and in Battlestars and Vipers), and the somewhat less real version portrayed in the media."
Ronald D. Moore, 'BSG's' executive producer, was "in the room" when the 'Blood & Chrome' story was conceived; Stern called him the "godfather" of the project. However at this time, Moore, who has a deal with Sony and is developing projects like 'The Wild, Wild West' there, has no official role on 'Blood & Chrome.'
Given that a full-blown series, if one is ordered, might not go into production for a year, Stern said the hope is that Moore might be able to come on board if 'Blood & Chrome' goes forward beyond the pilot. David Eick and Taylor are executive producers and Bradley Thompson and David Weddle are producers on 'Blood & Chrome'; all are veterans of 'BSG.'
Stern said actor Nico Cortez was "great" as young Adama in the 'BSG' movie 'Razor,' but it is not certain that he will take the lead in 'Blood & Chrome.' "I'm assuming there will be a full casting process for this pilot, but with Nico at the top of the list," Stern said. There's also a chance that we'll meet younger versions of other 'Battlestar' characters or people connected to either that world or to 'Caprica,' but the new project would try to do those things with "a light touch," Stern said.
Asked if 'BSG' composer Bear McCreary would do the music for 'Blood & Chrome,' Stern said no deal had been struck but he "couldn't imagine" the project without a McCreary score.
For 'Caprica' fans wondering what all this means for their show, Stern noted that 'Blood & Chrome' was developed separately from the other 'Battlestar' spinoff, which is in the midst of airing season 1 episodes now.
"To be really categorical about it, this is not about finding something else so we can get rid of 'Caprica," Stern said. "I don't know the fate of 'Caprica' yet, but, if anything, 'Blood & Chrome' going to series would only be a great opportunity to pair it with something.'
Stern said the decision on whether to give 'Caprica' a second season would be made no later than Nov. 15.
A few more clues about the 'Blood & Chrome' story follow. Look away if you'd rather not know them.
'Blood & Chrome,' which takes place in the tenth year of the Cylon War, follows Adama, a recent Academy graduate, as he and a rookie pilot take a female character on an important mission. There's a potential love interest for Adama in the story, but the pilot is basically about that mission, which, if successful, could turn the tide of the war.