The Real Costs of the WGA Strike: No More BSG?

Battlestar Galactica may not have the world’s best ratings, but in Washington’s geekier circles (read: journalists and think tankers), it’s got a very devout following. Yet in conversations over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that not many people seem aware that the WGA strike is threatening not just to delay some episodes of the show, but to rob us of its final episodes entirely. For the BSG faithful, this is roughly equivalent to telling a four year old that Christmas is canceled. Forever.

Remember that showrunner Ron Moore has already said that “when people see the ending of the 10th episode [the last episode filmed], they’re gonna freak out.” Now there’s the potential that that episode — evidently one of mind-blowing awesomeness and revelation — could be the last, leaving all of us fans forever stranded. Rioting, mass suicides, an economic depression, wars and calamities of Biblical proportions, or at least lots and lots of very bitchy blogging are sure to follow.

Basically, the deal is that the show is too expensive, and given certain conditions, Sci-fi might simply decide not to fund the final episodes.

Read the full skinny below the fold.

However, the news could get worse — a lot worse — for fans of SCI FI Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica.”

According to TV Squad, should the strike linger on too long, there is a very real possibility that the final season of “Galactica” could be shortened or even cancelled entirely.

Deadline Hollywood Daily reports NBC Universal is utilizing the force majeure clause in SAG (Screen Actors Guild) agreements to suspend actors’ and actresses’ working contracts. The clause indicates studios and networks can do this if production is halted on their shows. Letters have also been sent to the cast of “The Office,” “30 Rock” and “Bionic Woman.” Should the strike linger, more letters are expected for other shows.

What exactly does this mean for Galatica?

The clause is a power-play that prevents the actors from seeking work elsewhere while the show is shut down for “hiatus.” Should an actor or actress choose, he or she can break the contract and get other work. However, when and if the show resumes production, he or she could be re-signed to the show.

So, where’s the bad news?

Should this happen, there’s a real possiblility NBC Universal would just opt out of the final episodes of “Galactica.” With a declining ratings and higher production costs, to re-start a show for ten episodes to please what is percieved as a niche audience might not make sense to the network brass. The long hiatus for “Galactica” haven’t helped things since the show has gone off the general public’s radar screen.

One of the actors invovled with Galactica told Deadline Hollywood Daily, “They are not following article 61 of the SAG agreement and are about to get a lot of calls from SAG lawyers. They say that since we have shot the minimum 13 episodes of this season, as per our contracts, that they are under no obligation to pay us or let us go. We are essentially on hiatus. To say yesterday was a tough day on set as this information was slowly presented to us would be a profound understatement.”

Fans of “Battlestar” can only hope that the series will get to finish the story in the way Ron Moore intended. However, if it isn’t allowed to do so, there could be other ways for Ron Moore and company to finish the story–from comic books to original novels to direct-to-DVD, or even a theatrical release on the order of “The X-Files.” No matter what happens, the best thing for fans is for the strike to be resolved soon and not jeopordize the last ten or so episodes of “Galactica.”