Asta 2

Podcast for 'Razor'

Before Season 4 begins, I figured I should start wrapping up the posts on Razor. Somewhere on my hard drive are thoughts about the extended cut and deleted scenes, but, for now, here is a recap of the podcast.

The film/two hour episode began life with a phone call from the home video department at Universal. There proposition was a one time showing of Razor on SciFi and then release it shortly thereafter on DVD.

The Initial focus was to be on Pegasus, but they also wanted to include *their* characters.

Originally, (before the entire film was re-edited and became less linear) the Lee and Kendra meeting did not take place until the third act. And at some point the conversation between Kendra and Kara (in the extended cut, but not in the broadcast version) was used as a framing device. We wouldn’t meet up with their people until the last third of the show.

In Felix Alcala’s cut, he altered the story to open with a visual effects shot that included a debris field (And a Door’s song playing. Thankfully, too cost prohibitive.) and we were taken back to the original Cylon war. It was beautiful and full of technical wizardry, but it took too long to get back to the present day and they needed to energize the story. Ron spun various ideas with the editors. Michael Rymer’s sent a note to Ron (even if he’s not directly involved, he watches all the episodes) saying that he felt it should start with Lee getting command of Pegasus, establish the characters first, then raise the mystery of who Kendra is and tell the rest of the show as flashbacks from her POV.

Cain looking after Kendra and laughing at her as she walks of CIC while joking about being a “Morning Snack” was adlibbed by Michelle.

They wanted the opportunity to go back and humanize Cain a bit and show who she was as a person before the attacks. They talked a bit about the ‘Pegasus’ arc and how they wanted to give a sense that she regretted some of what she had done - that she and Adama had turned a corner and could work together – but Razor reinforces that she could have turned on Adama and Roslin at any time.

The Pegasus had to be recreated at a different studio in Vancouver which caused cast and crew to be separated at various times during the shoot.

Originally, they envisioned having a Rocky-like montage with snippets of Kendra and Lee whipping the ship into shape and being watched by Adama, but it got whittled down to one scene of Kendra being a hard ass.

The DVD release needed to have ten to fifteen minutes of extra footage. Ron didn’t think it would be a problem since they usually run 20 minutes over, but Felix brought it in close to time. There is not a gigantic treasure trove of deleted scenes like they usually have. They were told they could have more sex and violence, but they wrote and filmed as they usually do without constraints and an eye towards arguing with the network later.

They referred to a scene that was cut (and hopefully we will never see) as the ‘Passion of the Six’. Gina is whipped in slow motion by Lt Thorne, blood spraying off her body. Ron and Michael both said they embarrassed themselves with the scene and took it out.

There were a couple of montages involving Kendra, Kara, and Cain with voiceovers that were cut down. The scene of Cain kneeling over bodies is all that remains of one. There are occasional moments where they can still hear the voiceovers in there heads.

Ron and Michael discussed how cut scenes influence the actors. The scenes don’t live on camera, but lived for the actor on stage and influenced their performance there and potentially in subsequent episodes. (I thought that was interesting to think about and very true.)

The ‘So Say We All’ scene became an unexpected problem. Extras can’t talk and can’t be directed individually. Usually the union gives them permission if it’s the entire group saying the same thing, but they were denied permission this time. It turned out that Bionic Woman had had a major confrontation with the union over something and so they (BSG) had to eat humble pie to obtain the needed permission.

They thought about overlapping Cain’s ‘So Say We All’ scene with Adama’s from the mini.

At some point there was a scene in a corridor between Cain and Gina in which Kendra witnesses them kissing. There was never a love scene written for the two. Since the story is through Kendra’s eyes they didn’t want to film something she couldn’t have seen. At no point did they “chicken out”.

Terry Moore agrees with some of you on my FList. ;) She expressed her concerns to Ron that the it was the first time that they were having a gay relationship, acknowledging any such thing in the Galactica universe, and it’s Cain and she’s essentially the bad guy within the show and a negative character. Ron felt it was a legitimate question and one he never resolved in his mind. He just felt it was right for the story and the relationship. The issue never occurred to Taylor – making a villain out of a gay character – though it’s unfortunate since it’s the first time it’s happened on the show…“as far as we know”.

Ron doesn’t feel that Razor feels like a movie. It still feels like an episode because of act breaks and the expectation of commercial breaks.

Using the video camera to reveal Gina is a Cylon was the most efficient way to tell the story. However, Ron never wanted to do video or view screens on the Galactica. He wanted to differentiate the show from Star Trek and have it rooted in a reality we understand. We still don’t talk to people on view screens, we use phones. But he didn’t want Kendra to have to give a long speech and it wouldn’t have been as convincing as Cain seeing the image of Six/Gina on the screen.

They mentioned the collar on Sharon and how they were sweating the details to make sure this meshed with the end of Season 2.

In line with the show bible, Young Adama only got into the war at the very end of it. He only saw the last couple days of combat before armistice was declared.

The effects people created the revenge sequence (Adama’s ship being shot down and the fight with the Cylon in the air), it wasn't written. The bird emblem on his helmet is a nod to the original series. They tried to put in as many little touches as possible honoring the original series. The shoulder pads on Adama's flight suit would be another.

Beating the Cylon to death was meant to parallel Adama beating Leoben in the mini. They weren’t happy with the cut away. It’s hard to tell that Adama crashes into a building and then makes his way to the ship that will eventually take off. Ron feels the whole scene is a little opaque. He explained the original concept, that this was the first hybrid the Cylons had come up with. They were groping towards technology, creating a hybrid to run their ships. Their experiments were the first steps to making themselves look human and they were reverse engineering human beings to do it. With the baseship escaping it was still dangerous in that they were still doing these experiments. Their hybrid had evolved. At the same time, Young Adama’s experiences were to be intercut with Young Helena’s. As he is told on the phone that the “war is over” they were to crosscut to the shot of the centurion walking away from Young Helena. (Again, in the extended cut.)

Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen asked if she could use her own accent and Ron immediately agreed. Not only does it help make her character more distinctive, he’s a bit tired of actors being asked to adapt and drop their accents fir U.S. TV. Which did lead to a discussion of Jamie having to drop his accent (or as Jamie informed Michael shortly after they met, he didn’t have the accent, we did ;). Ron said he already wasn’t Hispanic, they thought it would be too weird if he also had a British accent.

Kendra’s drug addiction just came to Michael during the writing process. He figured they had all been through so much.

In slowly revealing in the flashbacks that Kendra had initiated the shooting, they were showing that she was lying in her own flashbacks, lying to herself, and she used the drugs to help with that.

They discussed the differences between the old and new centurion models. Cylons were originally created by humans to act like them, to ape them. They were created as soldiers and, therefore, they need to have more fluid movements. Things got out of hand, they became self-aware, and turned against the humans. After the war they started evolving and these Cylons then chose to hold back the new Cylon centurions. Their brains and self awareness were held at a lower threshold. They were more robotic. So the original Cylons were more human in their attitudes and movement and the current centurions are dumbed down some. They toyed with having old Cylons speaking more and even tracked down the guy who constructed the original voice coder.

The hybrid babbling stuff, dropping hints about Season 4, was intended to be an extra – one asked for by the home video department. But then they insisted they put it in the movie. “Kara Thrace is the harbinger of death.” - Michael regrets using the word harbinger now since he has had to hear it repeatedly. Ron likes what it all could mean since when we last saw Kara at the end of Season 3 she says she has found earth, will lead them there, and everything will be OK.

The original opening shot was to be the rescue mission and Kendra shooting the guy in the head. It was a mystery set up. They are already in the midst of an action sequence. Old style Cylons are shooting at them. What is happening? Why is this person such a hard ass? All that would be revealed through the rest of the movie. Having that scene come late in the film Ron feels is not as effective, but was necessary. Michael thinks it would have been a very different movie if they came at it originally the way it ended up. Also as part of this framing device, Kara asks Kendra (somewhat bizarre timing if you ask me) how she got to be such a badass. Kendra states she think it all started before she was even born. At that point they cut to Young Helena and Young Adama. Ron felt it was hard to make that jump since she wasn’t there herself and he’s quite literal about POV, though he thinks the audience could probably blow past those sorts of things.

There was an insistence early on that this also had to be Lee’s story. He’s *our* character. As they were developing the story they found that that’s not what this story is about, it’s Kendra’s story and he’s going to be the number two guy. There was more interaction between them in early drafts and early shooting. They also had Kendra unburdening herself to Kara in their final scene together. But people don’t necessarily connect, don’t have heart to heart talks. The viewer just understands how their experiences are similar and inform each other, we can make those connections. It’s more realistic then putting them in a room and having them unburden each other. How often do people really do that? Only on TV.

There was more footage of the marines gunning down the people Cain orders shot, but they decided that it was…overkill.
  • Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
Thanks for posting this up - I want to respond in detail when I get the chance, but I'm not sure when that'll be so I thought I could embrace brevity for once, put down a few thoughts and then return like a ghost in the night later ;)

It sounds as if this podcast wasn't as rage-inducing as some have been. I no longer listen to them, on the principle that RDM annoys me more often than I learn things of interest. This one actually sounds informative, particularly all the comments about how the editing and shooting changed; it sounds as if they spent a lot of time trying to get things right, although it also sounds as if they were a tad confused about what it was they were really trying to make the focus of the story. Some of the changes sound like they really were for the better; I particularly like that they didn't go for Kendra unburdening herself to Kara, because that would've felt lame and exposition orientated. Having her go out the way she was spoke a lot more about the nature of BSG, and the price you pay for survival; while Kendra may have wanted forgiveness, it felt truer to the character and the lessons she'd learned to have her going out knowing what she'd done and not whining about it. Ok, maybe I'm being a bit strong there :P

I love the Jamie comment about accents ;)

Interesting comment about union politics and lines for extras. Sometimes, I want to shake my head at what goes on with the unions, but at the same time the WGA strike is highlighting that unions do serve a purpose - particularly as it's the unions for all the below the line staff who are also getting shafted over things like residuals. Although... is it really bad that I don't mind the idea of TPTB having to eat humble pie over something occasionally, just to keep a sense of perspective?

It sounds like Rymer's influence was very positive, although I want to see those debris and special effects shots badly, geekboy that I am.

How typical is it that they were told they could have "more sex and violence?" Forget the plot, just throw in some skin and blood, it's all gooooood. Shades of S3 there, where every possible opportunity to grab some cheesecake time with Katee and Tricia was taken, enthusiastically, with both hands, and repeated if at all possible.

I like the nods to the old series, particularly as most were done rather subtly for a modern show, but I do occasionally have "WTF?" moments about the gay character aguments that went on. I saw Cain as an autocractic and ruthless dictator who happened to either be gay or swing both ways, and didn't have a problem with it. I don't get how some people can immediately jump to the conclusion that they were making a huge issue out of someone being gay AND a villain - what does your orientation have to do with whether you're a villain or not? Although I have spotted that a huge chunk of the online fandom seem to be on the verge of begging RDM to make Kara bi :P *shrugs* Cain makes for an interesting villain, but actually made a less interesting villain in Razor because they didn't soften her character much in the theatrical edition - they dumped her straight into ruthless mode and kept her there, which seems a shame. The shades of grey are more fun to explore than the absolutes.

Anyway, thanks again for posting this :)
Definitely not rage inducing this time. ;) I'm glad to see my recap made sense. I listened to about half the podcast weeks ago and then the rest last night and when I looked back at my notes for the first half I went "Huh?" a couple of times. In fairness to me ;), they weren't always clear. For instance, they stated early on that a conversation between Kara and Kendra would bookend the film and later said that the film would open in the middle of the rescue mission aboard the Cylon ship. Then there was a mention of the Lee/Adama scenes on the Pegasus serving as a second set of bookends and at that point I gave up keeping track of what could have been. Basically, I think they had a clear idea of what they wanted to do when they were breaking the story, but once they needed to restructure the film they struggled with how to rearrange the scenes and are probably confused as to how the changes came about and in what order. It did seem that this was more Michale Taylor's baby then Ron's. Interestingly, Ron never met the actor who played Young Adama.

It sounds like Rymer's influence was very positive, although I want to see those debris and special effects shots badly, geekboy that I am.

I personally feel that Michael Rymer is the unsung hero of BSG. Countless times I have heard or read about Michael's suggestions and, I think with the exception of one suggestion I can't recall, have always agreed with his thoughts and felt they made the episode far better. Plus, he's a Lee Adama fan. ;)

I saw Cain as an autocractic and ruthless dictator who happened to either be gay or swing both ways, and didn't have a problem with it.

That's the way I saw it too. And like Ron and Michael I didn't stop to think how making the villain a lesbian could come off as a cliche or negative stereotype. On the flip side, it is a stereotype because so many filmmakers and TV producers have, over the years, decided to reveal at some point that the murderer and/or manipulative bitch likes women instead of men and somehow that has something to do with the way she is. So, yeah, I get that there is a concern of how this aspect of Cain and her relationship of Gina could be perceived, but I think if you are a fan of the show you know the writers weren't intentionally going there.
This sounds like a great discussion. It's amazing how little they seem to have known about what the story was when they started, but I think they absolutlely made the right choices making this Kendra's story and sticking to that.
It definitely was one of the better podcasts. I think part of it had to do with the fact he had someone to discuss the film with instead of just trying to fill the time himself, and part of it was the awareness that this was for a DVD release rather than just for download on the SciFi site. (Though those podcasts do eventually end up on the discs.)

I didn't note this, but numerous times during the commentary they made references to how drastically the film changed from the planning stages. They even specifically referred to the writers meeting that was recorded where they broke the story. I think when they were breaking the story they had a fairly good sense of beginning, middle, and end, but when they discovered things weren't working in editing and they had to drastically change the structure - going from linear storytelling to a series of flashbacks and flashforwards - is when they began to flail a bit. This restructuring was far more successful than 'A Day in the Life' though. Maybe they learned from that experience?
thanx for posting this. i'm still waiting for my dvd and kicking myself for not having amazon send it to me. oh well... live and learn.

while i always understood while we didn't see more of the cain/gina relationship, i still feel a little bummed. i liked them as an item. ;)
I wish they had shown a bit more of the Gina/Cain relationship, even if it was just a scene where they were alone together talking. I do feel it was the right choice not to have some big love seem because, given the story they were trying to tell, it would have seemed out of place.
Thanks for typing this up. I don't really have too many detailed comments except that, in general, I'm surprised at the amount of perspecacity they're showing, especially realising how embarassing that "passion of the Six," scene would have been and that those "confiding in each other" scenes between Kendra and Kara (with the exception of when they accidentally met in the galley) are really pretty forced. Aaah, if only they'd admitted that Young!Helena was a bad idea, I'd be happy. Still, they did cut it from the shorter version.

It's definitely interesting that they came in close to time with this one and that that meant they were scraping for extra material; I think I could tell. I like the aired version much better than the DVD.

Also you're right - very interesting points about how the cut material will affect the actors not only within the episode but also in future episodes. The most glaringly hilarious example of this I've seen so far is when they cut the Tory doing Bad Things subplot from Collaborators but kept her massive heartfelt apology for...pretty much nothing. (See icon).
They seemed to like the Young Helena idea to the point that they sounded as if they were unaware that it wasn't in the version aired on SciFi. However, I did get the feeling that they may have actually learned from the mistakes of season 3 - opting to not focus on a romantic relationship, cutting back on the exposition, showing instead of telling, limiting the personal drama unless it's tied to the overall plot.

However, I did get the feeling that they may have actually learned from the mistakes of season 3 - opting to not focus on a romantic relationship, cutting back on the exposition, showing instead of telling, limiting the personal drama unless it's tied to the overall plot.

Oh, I want to hug you for saying that! And wow, I never though I'd be in the position of arguing against inclusion of personal drama but you're really right. Because that's what made S1 so awesome. There was boatloads of personal drama and relationships, but it was always organically driven by whatever plot was going on. Sometimes that seems the opposite way around now.

Unless, of course, they want to focus on one particular relationship. Then I'd be fine. Reeeeeeal fine.
::virtual hugs::

Unless, of course, they want to focus on one particular relationship. Then I'd be fine. Reeeeeeal fine.

Hee! Yes. :) Of course, I think it would naturally be tied to the plot since theirs has never been nor ever could be simply a romantic relationship since she was (and hopefully still is!) grooming him to succeed her.