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Battlestar Galactica Interview

We are thrilled to offer readers of Concurring Opinions an interview with Ron Moore and David Eick, creators of the hit television show Battlestar Galactica. Daniel Solove, Deven Desai, and David Hoffman ask the questions. We would like to thank Professor John Ip for suggesting some of the torture questions. Our interview lasts a little over an hour, and we’ll be providing it to you in several parts over the next few days.

Our goal was to explore some of the themes of the show in a deeper manner than many traditional interviews. Ron and David graciously agreed to give us an hour of their time, and we had a fascinating conversation with them.

Our interview is structured in three parts. Part I, available in two files (see the end of this post to download), focuses on the issues of legal systems and morality. It examines the lawyers and trials in the show. It also examines how torture is depicted, as well as how the humans must balance civil liberties and security.

Part II examines politics and commerce. It explores how the cylon attack affected the humans’ political system, and it examines how commerce works in the fleet.

Part III examines issues related to cylons, such as the humans’ treatment of cylons, how robots should be treated by the law, how the cylons govern themselves politically. Additionally, Part III will explore the religious issues involved in the show.

The new Battlestar Galactica, which premiered initially as a miniseries in 2003 on the SciFi Network, is only loosely based on the earlier show by the same name during 1978 and 1980. The new Battlestar Galactica is breathtaking science fiction, and it has widespread appeal beyond science fiction fans. Numerous critics have hailed it as one of the best shows on television. Time Magazine, for example, listed it as one of the top television shows and described it as “a ripping sci-fi allegory of the war on terror, complete with religious fundamentalists (here, genocidal robots called Cylons), sleeper cells, civil-liberties crackdowns and even a prisoner-torture scandal.”

The show chronicles the struggle for survival of a small band of humans who escaped a devastating genocidal attack by intelligent robots called cylons. The humans created the cylons for use as slaves. The cylons rebelled and a war erupted between the humans and cylons. But a truce was reached, and the cylons disappeared. But forty years later, the cylons launched a massive surprise attack, destroying the human society (called the Twelve Colonies) with nuclear missiles. Only a small group of humans aboard spaceships survived.

The show depicts the humans’ difficult fight for survival and the tough choices they must make along the way. The cylons have developed technology to allow them to take human form, and some of the humans within the group of survivors are really cylons. More information about the show is here.

The show is heavily influenced by modern events, especially terrorism, war, and torture. In a time of emergency, how should we balance security and liberty? How do we deal with enemies who may be burrowed in among us? How does a society decimated in a war reconstitute its political, economic, and legal systems?

Battlestar Galactica was honored with a prestigious Peabody Award and twice as an official selection of the American Film Institute top television programs for 2005 and 2006.

Because the show explores so many interesting issues so deftly, it has attracted a large group of fans in the legal academy. We know of many law professors who count Battlestar Galactica as one of their favorite shows, and this is why we thought it would be fascinating to speak with the creators and writers of the show — Ron Moore and David Eick.

Ron Moore is a co-creator, executive producer, and writer of Battlestar Galactica. Previously, Ron wrote or co-wrote 27 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, including the two-hour series finale “All Good Things,” for which he won a Hugo Award in 1994. That same year, Ron was honored with an Emmy Award nomination and was eventually promoted to producer. In 1994, Ron joined the writing staff of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as supervising producer and was elevated to co-executive producer the following year. Ron spent five seasons on the series until the end of its successful run in 1999. In the fall of 2002, he was named show-runner and executive producer of HBO’s critically-acclaimed one-hour drama Carnivale. In 2006 Ron was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Writing in a Dramatic Series for his work on Battlestar Galactica. Ron studied political science at Cornell University, and he lives in California with his wife and three children. He has a blog, which he started during the Writer’s Guild Strike.

David Eick is also a co-creator, executive producer, and writer of Battlestar Galactica. Prior to his involvement in Battlestar Galactica, David was Executive Vice President of USA Cable Entertainment (USACE), where he was the company’s point person to the creative community and oversaw all aspects of the division, which developed, financed and acquired product for initial exhibition on USA Network and SCI FI Channel. While there, the studio produced USA Network’s critically lauded drama series Touching Evil, as well as the hit series Monk. Prior to his network experience, David spent six years at Renaissance Pictures, where he held a variety of positions and produced the hugely successful syndicated series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. David also co-developed and launched its successful spinoff, Xena: Warrior Princess. Additionally, David also produced many others shows. He recently developed The Bionic Woman for NBC. David graduated from the University of Redlands in California with a BA in political science. He resides in Los Angeles with his wife and three children.

For readers unfamiliar the show, you should catch up by watching the DVDs of the first few seasons. Currently, the show is about to start its fourth and final season on Friday, April 4th at 10PM Eastern.

Season 1 on DVD

Season 2.0 on DVD (episodes 1-10)

Season 2.5 on DVD (episodes 11-20)

Season 3 on DVD (not yet available, but coming soon)

Additionally, you can watch the movie Battlestar Galactica: Razor, a made-for-TV movie that premiered in fall 2007.

In this interview, we explore the legal, political, economic, and social ideas raised by the show. Our interview is structured as follows:

PART I-A: LEGAL SYSTEMS

Topics: The legal system, lawyers, trials, and tribunals.

Length: 11 minutes, 51 seconds

File Size: Approximately 11 MB

PART I-B: TORTURE, NECESSITY, AND MORALITY

Topics: Torture, necessity vs. moral principles, deference to the military

Length: 18 minutes, 1 second

File Size: Approximately 16.5 MB

PART II: POLITICS AND ECONOMY

Topics: Politics and commerce

Length: 13 minutes, 57 seconds

File Size: Approximately 13 MB

PART III: CYLONS

Topics: Cylons and humans, cylon rights, cylon society and governance, religion

Length: 16 minutes, 15 seconds

File Size: Approximately 15 MB

Read the Transcripts — The interview has now been transcribed. You can read Part I here, and Parts II and III here.

Originally Posted at Concurring Opinions

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This post was authored by Professor Daniel J. Solove, who through TeachPrivacy develops computer-based privacy training, data security training, HIPAA training, and many other forms of awareness training on privacy and security topics. Professor Solove also posts at his blog at LinkedIn. His blog has more than 1 million followers.

Professor Solove is the organizer, along with Paul Schwartz, of the Privacy + Security Forum and International Privacy + Security Forum, annual events designed for seasoned professionals.

If you are interested in privacy and data security issues, there are many great ways Professor Solove can help you stay informed:
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