At 1PM on Friday, Dragon*Con began with a full capacity crowd. Nearly a quarter of the powerhouse panel’s time was spent introducing panelists Jamie Bamber, Aaron Douglas, Jonathan Frakes, Kevin R. Grazier, Richard Hatch, Gates McFadden, Carlos Pedraza, Charles Root, Mark A. Sheppard, Brent Spiner, and Lee Stringer.
Battlestar Galactica enthusiasm overshadowed that of Star Trek, until it was suggested that Data might be revealed as the final cylon! The question of popularity segued into the depth and complexity of new SF shows like BSG. Mark Sheppard, who played “Romo Lampkin” on BSG and “Leucon” on Voyager, suggested that shows like Star Trek paved the way for innovation.
“Twenty-five years is a long time to forget and start again; everything had to be reinvented from the ground up,” said Jamie Bamber about BSG. He added that the world has changed since the original Star Trek aired, allowing shows like BSG to explore political and social aspects of society. The opportunity to paint the future in crisis is more true to what we’ve done here on Earth than the optimistic world painted in series like TNG.
Aaron Douglas then quipped, “I didn’t know you were British,” in response to Bamber’s accent.
Gates McFadden said, “If we do [TNG] again in 25 years, can I be the captain next time?” On a more serious note, she mentioned that if our world had a philosophy like the prime directive, then we probably wouldn’t have wars like the one in Iraq.
Kevin Grazier, science advisor for BSG, said, “The time frames between Star Trek series and the sequential nature of the transition from the original Trek to TNG didn’t allow much divergence. Asked about the challenges of getting the science right, Grazier said that Galactica’s simpler technology was easier to get right than the speculative far-from-real science typically found on TNG. He was particularly proud of the accuracy of the scene when Tyrol and Callie were exposed to vacuum on the show in season three.
Much was made of the depth of characters in the new BSG. Brent Spiner spoke of the tremendous response from fans when Data was allowed to grow beyond the “pure” robotic aspect of his character with the advent of his emotion chip.
Richard Hatch spoke of the changes in television viewing habits. With the advent of downloading and the DVD boxed set, viewers can choose to watch several episodes, or even the entire series, in one sitting. This flexibility frees up the opportunity to utilize longer, more complex story arcs without losing viewers who might have missed an important link in the tale.
The focus of the panel then switched to questions and comments from the audience, allowing the palpable excitement of the crowd a voice and wrapping up an exceptional event.