Battlestar Galactica: Sam Esmail Discusses Approach to Peacock Series

The last time we checked in with Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot, Homecoming) and Peacock's upcoming take on the Battlestar Galactica franchise, we learned that Michael Lesslie (The Little Drummer Girl) had been tapped to create, write, and executive produce the reboot project for the streaming service- but that was around the middle of last year. Since that time, things have been pretty quiet but on Friday, Collider posted an extended interview with Esmail where he takes readers on a deep-dive into how they're approaching the series.

Battlestar Galactica: Sam Esmail updates Peacock reboot series. (Image: NBCU)
Battlestar Galactica: Sam Esmail updates Peacock reboot series. (Image: NBCU)

Here's a look at some of the highlights:

Esmail Spoke to Ronald D. Moore to Get His Blessing: "We're still working on the pilot. Look, it's a big universe, it's a big world, I want to respect the Ronald Moore 'Battlestar.' I spoke to him before I even took on the project to make sure that it's all kosher with him, because the last thing I want to do is step on his toes, and the one thing we both agreed on is that it won't be a reboot of what he did. Which I think we both wanted.:

The Pilot Will Help Shape the Show's World: "It's still in the early phases of trying to figure out the world via the pilot. I think we've got the basic construction of the type of story we want to tell, the part of mythology that we're gonna explore – because Battlestar does have a rich mythology and again I have to give Ron a lot of credit for that – and so now we're sort of closing in on what that pilot's gonna look like."

The Ensemble Series May Not Have and Ending When It Begins: "The expansion of [Mr. Robot] into a series feels easier than when you take a concept like Battlestar, which is inherently an ensemble cast of characters, where you're not telling just one story but you're kind of jumping into the lives of multiple characters and their arcs. So there's a bigger canvas that you're playing with. I think what we're doing is we're gonna work out some of the construction of where, thematically and sort of the mythology, of what type of story within that time span and within that part of the mythology we're gonna tackle, what we're gonna explore in this series. But I don't know specifically – and again we're still early – I don't know specifically if we're gonna work out every beat of how it's going to end in the same way that I did with Mr. Robot. It's very different because of how personal and singular Mr. Robot was in its story."

A cast scene for Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica, courtesy of SYFY.
A casting scene for Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica, courtesy of SYFY.

Will the Series Drop Weekly or Be a Binge-Drop? Yes- and Esmail's Excited About It: "When I spoke to Peacock about it, and Mike Lesslie who's an amazing writer – he's the one who's showrunning and writing the pilot – the one thing we got excited by is do we release an episode a week, [release all at once]? For me, it was like let's get in there and tell the right story and it will tell us how many episodes. We may dump three episodes in a row because it's a three-episode-long battle sequence that needs to be dropped in a row even though they're three signifying chapters, and maybe each chapter is switching a point of view within that battle sequence. There may be a 20-minute episode that's the backstory of one of the characters that gets dropped right after that.

So I can't tell you the number of episodes, but it's also kind of a little meaningless because I think we're gonna look at it as sort of like a spider web where we can plot and point and say, 'Well this isn't chronologically after Episode 1 or Episode 2, it's the backstory of someone, but let's release that so audiences can check that out if they want or they can just jump into the battle sequence'. We're really gonna experiment with form in that way, and again I think with a property like Battlestar it lends to that."

Esmail Wants "Battlestar Galactica" for 2021 But…: "I want to shoot later this year. Again a lot of that is up in the air given COVID and just the lay of the land in terms of where the world is and where we can even shoot it. The other thing is this is gonna require a big production just to even start up production and build the sets and start getting the VFX fine-tuned. One of the things I always attribute to the Ron Moore Battlestar is the VFX is just outstanding and pretty groundbreaking… it will be tough to get it off the ground this year, but that's my goal. I'm pretty impatient, again I'm a fan of this show so I want to see it as soon as possible, so I'm gonna push for 2021."

To learn why Esmail isn't helming the series, additional thoughts about the series' release, and more, check out the full interview here.

NBCU's Universal produced the original Glen A. Larson series for ABC, which ran for one season (1978-1979) and starred Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, and Lorne Greene – eventually spinning-off a sequel series in 1980 that last 10 episodes. Similar to the original Star Trek, the franchise would gain cult status over the years – and do pretty well in the merchandising department, too. Moore's 2003 Sci-Fi Channel miniseries was produced by Universal TV and starred Edward James Olmos, Mary McConnell, Katee Sackoff, and Grace Park. The miniseries would spawn the critically-acclaimed series that went on to run for four seasons and continue on through prequel spinoff series Caprica and several television movies. Esmail, Lesslie, and Chad Hamilton (Briarpatch, Mr. Robot) will executive produce the new version of the series, with Universal Content Productions (UCP) serving as the studio.

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About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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