Ronald D. Moore Articles, Interviews & AOL Chats
Ronald D. Moore - Director
I don't have the dates of all the articles, but I tried to put them in roughly the correct order based on content.
(I wasn't always great with saving sources. If I know where and when the article came from it is listed)
Here is a list of the articles and interviews below
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RONALD D. MOORE - THE WB
He has explored new worlds in Star Trek - going where no one has gone before - and has helped elevate Roswell to another level. With the chance to bring Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern to television, Ronald D. Moore has become synonymous with quality science fiction. In an interview with The WB, Ron shares his vision of Pern, his year in Roswell, and what the future may hold.
The WB: How did you become interested in developing the Dragonriders of Pern as a pilot for television?
Ron: Well, I read the books in college and they stuck with me through the years. I just sort of always enjoyed them, and they were in the back of my mind. As I approached the end of my tenure at Star Trek, I thought about what I wanted to develop on my own and what could be potential science fiction franchises, and Anne McCaffrey's books came to mind.
The WB: Were the rights available?
Ron: I tracked down the rights to Eric Weimuller, who had purchases rights from Anne McCaffrey with a Canadian production company to do a first run syndication version. I started talking to them seriously about running the show and doing the pilot, but the deal just never happened and it kind of went away.
The WB: But you didn't give up?
Ron: Years later, after I had left Star Trek and I was with Roswell, I spoke with Eric Weimuller again. The original deal had come to an end and they never developed the project further. He and I decided to take it out together and the natural place to go first was where Roswell was produced - Regency and The WB. I developed relationships with those people and they responded really well to it. That's sort of how I came to do a pilot for The WB.
The WB: What are the challenges for visually transplanting Anne McCaffrey's books?
Ron: The first challenge is deciding what to include because the world being created is large - there are something on the order of 17 or 18 books that cover quite a span of time. She goes 100 years into the past and how the planet was originally colonised. The story has many different characters and all kinds of different tales scattered across the planet.
So, the challenge is to decide where to begin, and what would be the home of the series. The character that had always spoken the most strongly to me is Lessa. Lessa was in the very first book, called Dragonfight, and it was sort of her story - they journey of this girl whose family is slaughtered and who was then chosen by the Dragonriders to return with Benden Weyr.
That, to me, was the perfect place to begin because she is sort of the eye of the audience as she goes from this sort of hard place to their world. Through Lessa's world we sort of explore the world of the Dragonriders. So, that was the crucial decision. Lessa is the star of the series; it's her journey and the audience is going to view the world of Pern through her.
The WB: Has Anne McCaffrey been involved at all?
Ron: I've spoken with Anne and so has Eric. I had a conversation with Anne just a couple of months ago when the pilot was getting picked up. We certainly value her input.
The WB: What can fans of the books expect from Ron Moore's vision?
Ron: I think they will recognize it...it will definitely be an interpretation of Anne's work. Bringing it to the screen has sort of required changing some elements, translating others, and moving characters around to sort of make it comprehensible to a new television audience. In a novel form, you have the luxury to have more freedom to sort of play around with things. In television you have to have the characters speak for themselves and the audience has to click into the series a lot faster.
For the fans of the Pern books, it's not going to be the way they envisioned her, but if you watch the series you will recognize it. You'll go, "Yes, that is Pern. It's not exactly the way I envisioned it, but it's recognizable." The heart and soul of what made the book special is definitely there and the characters are there. It's a legitimate translation of the book.
The WB: How would you compare the experiences between Star Trek, Roswell and developing the Pern pilot?
Ron: They have all been very distinct experiences. The biggest thing is that you're dealing with different groups of characters because as a writer/producer, I'm telling stories about these distinct group of regulars every week and everything that I do is towards this goal. So, because the characters and the settings and the shows are so different, that's what makes it so unique and exciting.
It has never been dull and it has never been the same challenge twice. To produce a show I've learned a lot and those skills translate from show to show. The challenges of writing the characters and delivering the episodes each week is very different for each of the shows because they have different rhythms and they have different styles of story telling and the characters themselves were distinct.
The WB: Jason Katims (Executive Producer, Roswell) has said you've "brought a kind of fearlessness with [you] about the science fiction aspects of Roswell. It's been a wonderful working relationship between us because I think our strengths really complement each other..." Could you speak to what he said?
Ron: It's been a wonderful working relationship. It has been one of the best working relationships I've ever had. Jason had tremendous writing talent and is an exceptional writer. He has great insight into the characters and he loves telling stories. Sitting in a room with him and just talking about characters and what we can do has just been an amazing and wonderful experience and it has been one of the highlights of my career.
The WB: Then in both Pern and Roswell get picked up, would you consider writing and producing for both shows?
Ron: I would love to do both in some capacity. Pern would be my primary - I'd be the show runner and essentially that would be my job. But, I would also like very much to still be involved with Roswell in some capacity. I think Jason has expressed some desire for me to do that too - God willing both shows are picked up and on the air. I love Roswell. I love the characters, the cast, the crew, the production team and the writers. I would love to keep my hand in there in some way.
Fandom-Ron Moore Interview
The STAR TREK alumni talks about the first episode of his new gig, airing Monday October 9th.
Author: Anna L. Kaplan
Ronald D. Moore, speaking from his new office where he works as co-executive producer on ROSWELL, is happy to talk about his job. After leaving STAR TREK and working for a stint on the short-lived series GOOD VS. EVIL, Moore was approached to see whether he was interested in joining the ROSWELL team. "My agents called me," recalls Moore. "I knew that Jonathan Frakes was working on it, but I had never actually seen the show. So I said, 'Why don't you send me some episodes?' They sent over about a half dozen from the first year. I watched, and I started to really like it. I found it to be endearing and smart. Then I met with [executive producer] Jason Katims. He asked what I wanted to do and what was important to me on a show. It was very important to me that I worked on something that I could be proud of, and that I felt that I could do good work on, and that was what I really liked about working at STAR TREK.
I wanted a close writing staff. Those were my two primary objectives. That dovetailed pretty nicely into what he was looking for. At that point I hadn't seen the last couple of episodes of the season, and he said, 'You should definitely watch them, because the show changed in tone and direction towards the end of the year.' They sent those to me. I saw where they were going, and I liked the direction. Then it was just a matter of making the deal."
Moore joined the staff in May of 2000. He was back at the Paramount lot where ROSWELL is filmed, although not in the same building as the STAR TREK offices. For the second season, Katims assembled a new team. Moore says, "There is a brand new writing staff. Jason obviously created the show and he is back. Toni Graphia, who is a consulting producer this is year, is also back, but she is just on a consulting basis. I am co-executive producer, the number two guy. The rest of the writing staff is all new. There's Fred Golan, a co-producer. Then there is a team, Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, and they are co-producers. They used to be on 90210. There is Breen Frazier, who is a staff writer. He was the script coordinator last season. It was all of us getting together, and getting to know each other, and establishing a working relationship. It was a very promising beginning to the season."
As Moore explains, the writers have settled on a direction for season two, following the finale of season one. He says, "There is a balance between the relationship aspect of the show and the science fiction elements, and when those elements are in balance, the show really has hit its stride. If you watch the first season, you can see them, like any show in its first year, feeling their way and deciding what direction the series is going to go. Eventually, they realized that they needed to bring more science fiction into the series. Where we are right now is just in a really good place, where the heart and soul of the show is still the relationships among the characters, and especially the relationship between Max [Jason Behr] and Liz [Shiri Appleby]. But now the stakes are higher. There is a stronger alien presence going on. There's a bigger canvas to tell stories upon, and it just makes everything, all the relationships, even more important and more crucial. It's like there is this little group of teenagers in Roswell that share a secret, and they are thrust into these situations. Because only they know the secret, it strengthens the bonds between them, and it makes those relationships more complicated when things aren't working out."
Ronald Moore On Roswell
Expect Roswell to return to the character drama that marked its first year while maintaining its sci fi elements that have surfaced recently.
"The network had wanted a stronger sci-fi component, and had made that clear in the middle of last season, ... but we never really wanted ... to lose contact with the human elements of the show, which is what, I think, attracts everyone to the series," Moore told Sci Fi Wire. "Even though the sci-fi plot lines have moved to the forefront, ... you see that all the emotional storylines are still there, and that we`re playing on a lot of the character development from last season.
Look for "big surprises" centered on the regular cast, Moore told Sci Fi Wire. There’ll be revelations about their origins and more development in the Max-Liz-Tess relationship. There will also be a new enemy late in the season, he said.
Moore - The Merrier
BY JIM SWALLOW
SFX #74 February 2001
In the increasingly cut-throat, ratings-hungry world of network television, it is a rare combination that makes the grade and survives past its initial season. Roswell (shown here under the title Roswell High) skated close to that line of cancellation during its first 22 shows, but rather than take the easy route of becoming "Dawson's Creek with aliens" as it was first labelled, the show took the more chancy direction of upping its sci-fi content. As the series begins its second season, writer/producer Jason Katims and executive producer Jonathan Frakes have brought a new narrative voice to the mix, veteran Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine scribe Ron Moore; For Moore, the challenge is to take Roswell from teen soap, through X-Files territory and to the new ground beyond.
Moore is probably best known by genre fans for his role as Star Trek's "Klingon Guy", penning many of the scripts for TNG and DS9 that expanded upon the culture of that series' lumpy-headed warrior race. Joining TNG at the start of its third season with "The Bonding", Ron is a fan-turned-pro success story with many scripts to his name including movies like Star Trek: Generations and Mission: Impossible 2; After DS9's closure and his somewhat acrimonious departure from a brief stint on Star Trek: Voyager, Moore worked on the short-lived Good Vs Evil before taking on this alien soap. "I started watching episodes of Roswell and I really grew to like the characters," he says. "I found that the cast was very endearing and I just really liked the humanity of what the series was about. I sat down with Jason Katims and talked to him about what he wanted to do in the upcoming season and I found we were very much in tune - it was a really good match."
Year one of Roswell ended with a series of unfolding events that changed the landscape around the central alien characters of Max (Jason Behr), Isabel (Katherine Heigl) and Michael (Brendan Fehr), introducing a new extraterrestrial teen in the form of Tess (Emilie De Ravin) and placing Max in jeopardy between the villainous Agent Pierce (David Conrad) from the FBI's Special Unit and the shapeshifter Nasedo (Jim Ortleib). By the close of the season finale, "Destiny", the dynamics of the characters' alien natures and romantic attachments were shaken up, and hints at a series of major revelations were sprinkled across the portentous dialogue. "At the end of that year, they added more science fiction to the show and so this year, that was the direction they wanted to jump off from," notes Moore. He adds that the trick of a show like this is to "maintain a balance" between the diverse elements, and affirms his intent to do just that, while cranking up the SF content. As co-executive producer, Ron is essentially the "number two man" on Roswell. "Jason is the creator and he runs the show, while I run the writing staff, the post-production and editing - I'm sort of involved in everything, he's involved in everything, and between the two of us we share the burden (of making the show)." After watching his way through the first season's stories, Moore was up to speed on the Roswell mythos. "It was a lot easier coming in on the second season, because there were only 22 shows to catch up on! There was a bit of a learning curve early on, but I got it because the characters are so clearly delineated. They have their own little world and their own rules. The science fiction aspects of the show are interesting, but what makes Roswell unique is the way the characters are drawn."
Ron notes that it was the relationship between Max and his all-too-human girlfriend Liz (played by Shiri Appleby) that hooked him. "From the opening scene of the pilot, the show is about that, when he saves her life after she is shot in the café. Just the way that Shiri and Jason play those two kids - there was something very real about it, something mature without being too mature. I liked the fact that the three aliens were together in this odd little family group of co-conspirators live in their own little world." He sees the Max-Liz dynamic as "the heart and soul" of the series. "That relationship doesn't have to be front and centre all the time, but it's really what drives the show and it's always going to be there. As the series goes on, the changing nature of that relationship is what we will always come back to. In the first half-dozen episodes, we've done a lot with that and sent it in some unexpected directions." Given their similar audiences, Moore takes note of the inevitable comparisons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "I respect Buffy and like it, but they play things a little tongue-in-cheek and Roswell is more serious - and I think, better. I like to play humour within the character scenes."
Coming from the funky, stylised nature of Good Vs Evil to the cleaner lines of Roswell was an interesting transition for the writer-producer. "Good Vs Evil was a great in-between step between Star Trek and this show because it was such a different series. It had completely different sensibilities, a completely different way of storytelling and the production budget was less than half of what Star Trek was made for! Star Trek was a very well-funded, big-budget, glossy Hollywood production and Good Vs Evil was made on a shoestring for almost nothing…" Produced by Jonas and Josh Pate, the series followed the misadventures of Chandler Smythe (Clayton Rohner) and Harry McNeill (Richard Brooks) as they hunted down demons in Los Angeles. "I think the world of the Pate Brothers is great," Moor smiles. "They're really funny, creative guys. To write for that show was really a kick that let me break free of Star Trek's conventions. You could curse, you could do anything you wanted! It was great! The Sci-Fi Channel are idiots for not picking that up!" Moving on to Roswell meant coming back to a studio-based, pattern-budgeted show, even though it was "two steps removed from Star Trek." That said, Roswell still keeps to a small economy. "It's tight - it's budgeted for a teen drama with a couple of hand glows per week, and the show has changed to a stronger science fiction component on that same budget. That's a challenge, to deliver the goods that we know the show can give. It tells you how much room there is in science fiction and fantasy to do different kinds of storytelling, because you can't find three more dissimilar series than Star Trek, Good Vs Evil and Roswell and yet they're all in the same genre."
With that genre affiliation reaffirmed by the injection of more SF elements, Roswell's texture in season two will continue to explore the alien aspects of the lead characters. "The last half-dozen episodes of last year are a flavour of what we're going to do this year. It's not going to be quite as fast-paced, because those shows were on a very quick storyline with things happening like this!" Moore snaps his fingers "…And we have some of that, but you can burn up story if you do that too much. The idea is to maintain the balance of science fiction and relationship stories."
As well as answering some questions, Roswell's sophomore year will pose plenty of new ones and even taken an episode to address the historical context of the actual Roswell incident of 1947. Moore takes us on a quick tour of the first few weeks - spoiler shy types please look away now…
"The opening episode of season two, 'Skin & Bones', begins three months after the end of 'Destiny'," says Moore, "and the situation is that the kids have waited all summer and nothing has happened - no aliens have come looking for them and it seems like the crisis is over. Nasedo, the shape-changer has taken Pierce's form and gone back to the Special Unit and has basically disassembled the whole thing. It seems like the characters have got away with it, but then a geologist goes out into the desert and accidentally digs up the bones of the real Agent Pierce, which the kids had to bury, and brings them to the Sheriff's office. The bones of the ribcage have been fused together in this bizarre way and that re-opens the whole can of worms! So the first episode revolves around their attempts to stop the investigation of this body and dealing with the fact that they did cover up this murder, which puts Sheriff Valenti (William Sadler) in an awkward situation." In addition, Max and Liz have been split up while she spent the summer in Florida, and her return creates further complications. "She's just trying to get on with her life and do something different, she's not working at the Crashdown café any more but instead is an intern at a congresswoman's office. She's trying to hold Max at bay, but because of the investigation she's brought back into things again." The threatening trailers for this episode hint at the season opener's most dramatic moment, when the troublesome Nasedo dies with a deadly warning on his lips.
Moore's first episode as a writer on Roswell is the second show, 'Ask Not', where Nasedo's murderer is on the prowl. "The killer is still out there, and so while they are trying to figure out who it is and if they know about the kids, Max is studying the Cuban Missile Crisis in history class. Thematically, the show is about Max's journey as a leader, trying to draw lessons from President Kennedy and apply them to what's going on." The episode also introduces a new recurring personality, as Steve Hytner's character Milton Ross sells the UFO Museum where Max works to Brody Davies, a shady newcomer played by British actor Desmond Askew (of Go and Grange Hill fame). "He's a twenty-something mysterious stranger who we suspect could be the killer." Ron admits that writing 'Ask Not' was his biggest challenge on the show, working to capture the voices and essence of the characters, "to get into what Roswell was." Following on is 'Surprise', a story about Isabel. "It all happens in one night - it's her 18th birthday and she's getting these visions that Tess has been captured and is in trouble…it's all about how Isabel finds her and saves her in time." Ron adds that Isabel is set to learn a dark secret about her past in this story; this development of her character reflects an attempt across the board to open up the backstory of the whole Roswell cast. "Who are these four aliens? Something happened and they died, they were spirited away to Earth and reborn as these kids - part of the journey of this season is to learn who these four people used to be."
This episode leads into 'Summer of 47', which at last brings the Roswell cast face-to-face with the de facto UFO myth of the 20th Century and their own origins. "We actually go back and see the events of the Roswell crash of 1947 through our kids' eyes." Considering that the "real-life incident" has been retold as a feature film and in episodes of The X-Files, Dark Skies and even Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Moore is unruffled about tackling so large a piece of the Roswell backstory. "It's one of those episodes that we knew we'd have to do eventually. It was a pitch that came up a lot, but it wasn't until Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, who wrote the episode, had this take that we decided to do it. The idea is that Michael is forced to interview a World War II veteran for a class or get a failing grade - and the old guy was in Roswell during the 1947 crash. As Michael listens to him, he starts to realise that he knows something about their origins." In order to tell the tale as a flashback, the episode uses a clever stylistic concept. "As the old guy is telling Michael this story, he starts to visualise the tale, but he casts himself in the role of Hal, the old man, and he casts the rest of our characters in the roles of the other people as the events play out. It's kind cool. It's something a little different and it gives the show a certain kind of flair."
With Max, Isabel and Michael each getting a spotlight story as season two opens, the latter stories also promise to highlight the remainder of the cast, including newcomer Tess Harding. Moore notes that her untrustworthy nature will remain a major element in her characterisation. "We wanted to run with that feeling, so Tess is aware that they don't like her, that Liz hates her and Max is awkward around her - but she doesn't have a choice. We're taking Tess and Max on a journey, and by around episode six, she's in a different place that you didn't really expect. You'll start to see Tess and Max and Liz in a different light as their relationship begins changing." Future shows include a time-travel plotline ('The End of the World') and the introduction of a new alien race known as the Skins ('Harvest'). Currently, Roswell is contracted for a half-season of 13 episodes, but confidence is high that this will extend to a full 22 shows. "None of us are sweating," jokes Moore, "We feel like 'How could you not pick up this show?"'"
Moore is clearly relaxed in his role on Roswell, just a few blocks away from his old Star Trek digs on the Paramount Pictures lot, hard at work with a little light jazz playing in his office. He's quick to say that the "teen angst" label applied to the show by critics is way short of the mark. "That was my first impression of the show, and some episodes of the first season do lend themselves to that, they do play that up, but at this point, because they've brought in the science fiction element, it is this group of characters in a neat situation where they only have each other to turn to, time and time again. It makes things strong between them and more difficult at the same time, and they're in this larger tale that's going on. We've made the characters grow up a little…they're not like the other teenagers in their class anymore." He concludes: "Dawson's Creek with aliens is an easy box to put this show in, but this series has really found its own particular groove," Ron smiles. "It's not what you think."
Ron Moore Talks More ROSWELL
2nd episode info and beyond.
By: FRANK KURTZ 10/12/01
ROSWELL co-executive producer Ronald D. Moore has been talking about the coming second episode of the series.
While talking to CINESCAPE's Anna L. Kaplan, Moore gave info on the second episode, title "Michael, the Guys, and the Great Snapple Caper," which will be a comedy.
Moore says... well, what he says could be considered a spoiler of sorts. If you would rather Not know what happens, then move along to another story by using one of the story links at the bottom of the page.
You were warned.
As the title suggests, much of the episode will focus on Michael (Brendan Fehr). Moore reveals what's up, saying, "Michael looks around and realizes that he’s stuck here. He’s the one that always assumed he was going to be leaving, and never really bothered much with convention or trying to do anything with his life on Earth. Suddenly he ain’t going home, and decides, 'I have to get my act together.' He’s about to flunk out of high school. He’s got this apartment, and he can’t pay the bills. So he decides to take on a second job and start taking more responsibility in his life. He takes a job as a night watchman. The second episode is basically played for laughs. It’s Michael working as a night watchman at this place, bonding with the guys, and starting to screw around with them, and hanging out."
The episode will also touch upon ex-sheriff Jim Valenti (William Sadler) and his son, Kyle (Nick Wechsler). Moore says, "After Valenti lost his job as sheriff, he hasn’t gotten a new job yet. He’s been sitting on the couch sleeping and watching TV all day. Kyle has had to go out and get a job. You see that Kyle is now the parent, and Valenti is now the son. That’s also in the second episode. Kyle is getting sick of it, having trouble paying the bills, and telling dad to get off his ass and do something with his life."
Roswell Rolls On
From Zap2it.com, June 2001
Compliments of Zap2it.com... tv.zap2it.com/news/tvnews...html?18332 'Roswell' Rolls On Wed, Jun 6, 2001 03:30 PM PDT by Kate O'Hare
LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - "The decision wasn't made until the night before they announced their schedule," says "Roswell" producer Ronald D. Moore about his show's jump from The WB to UPN. "There were many phone calls back and forth between me and [executive producer Jason Katims] and both of our agents, who were talking to the networks."
"I got the phone call the night before the upfronts, and that was it. Then I left for vacation two days later."
Moore and his fellow producers are now back at work on their third season, which begins this fall on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. EST, right after fellow WB expatriate "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
"We're in a good place," says Moore. "'Buffy's' a tremendous lead-in for us, that's for certain. We're in the perfect slot in the schedule at the moment." One dark cloud is that the slot pits "Roswell," a show about alien teens, against The WB's "Smallville," centered on the teen years of alien Superman/Clark Kent.
"Hey," says Moore, "we're on the air. That's all that matters." In the "Roswell" season finale, the aliens (Jason Behr, Brendan Fehr, Katherine Heigl, Emilie de Ravin) were preparing to abandon Earth for their home planet. In the end, only the duplicitous Tess (de Ravin) left, carrying Max's (Behr) child. This launched a new story arc and opened the door for the reunion of Max and human love Liz (Shiri Appleby).
With the future of the show so uncertain, it would have been understandable if producers had yielded to the temptation to wrap up the story, just in case. "Jason set the tone for the rest of us," says Moore. "Early on, he said, 'I just believe this is the show you can't kill.' They've tried, and they've tried, ever since the pilot was made, and it went from Fox to The WB." "It's been down so many times, and this time he just believed, somehow, some way, it was all going to work out. He said, 'Let's just proceed on the assumption that we're going to have a third season.'"
" We sat down and plotted out the opening episodes for season three before the season was over. We just proceeded as if he was right. Until they tell us to go home, we're just going to keep doing it."
At this point, Moore doesn't anticipate any cast changes beyond the departures of Colin Hanks (whose character, Alex, was killed off to allow Hanks to pursue film opportunities) and de Ravin. As for plot, Moore promises more of the same. " The template for what we want to do is where we ended up in the last six episodes of season two. That's the groove where we want to be. [/b]The character relationships were up front.[/b] The mystery was there, but it wasn't too complicated."
Next season, the human and alien teens will be seniors in high school, except for alien Isabel (Heigl), whose brainy character has graduated early. Where she would attend college became a question toward the end of season two. "We're talking about that," says Moore. "She'll hang around. The show is 'Roswell,' so she's going to be in Roswell, by hook or by crook."
For Roswell writer Ronald D. Moore, it's all about the characters
By Kathie Huddleston
Roswell's co-executive producer Ronald D. Moore doesn't consider himself a science fiction writer. That may seem odd for someone who has spent most his career working on projects that have Star Trek in the title, especially since he won a Hugo Award in 1994 for co-writing "All Good Things," the acclaimed series finale of The Next Generation. That's one of the reasons he loves working on Roswell, an undeniably science fiction series that allows him to focus on the characters.
Moore and his series are making the big move to UPN (from that other network), and he's hoping Buffy fans come on by and check out Roswell's third season premiere on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 9 p.m. (ET) after they finish watching their favorite vampire slayer.
Moore began his career when he sold his first professional script, "The Bonding," to Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1989. After writing or co-writing 27 episodes, he joined the writing staff of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, where he went on to co-executive produce the show. Moore was also an executive consultant of the SCI FI series Good vs. Evil, before going on to join Roswell in its second season. In film, he co-wrote Star Trek: Generations and Star Trek: First Contact, and has a story credit on Mission Impossible.
Moore chatted with Science Fiction Weekly about this season's challenges, Star Trek and feeling loved at UPN.
What can you tell us about Roswell's upcoming third season?
Moore: The big thing we have to look forward to this season on Roswell is change. If you watched the end of the second season you know that we closed off a lot of storylines with the departure of Tess and the granilith and the destruction of the pod chamber. A lot of their enemies stopped chasing them by the end of the season. The three aliens are stranded here without any way of going home. With that in mind, the third season takes that concept and moves it forward. It's like starting over. The kids have always assumed there would be a day when they would go home, and they were always anticipating that in some way, shape or form. And now that option's been taken off the table.
Max is the only one left with a tie off the planet. His son is out there someplace. That need to find out if his son is OK and get back in contact with him drives Max this season. And it takes him and Liz in unexpected directions. The season opener begins with Max and Liz making out in the car outside of a convenience store. Things are kind of getting hot and heavy and then they look at each other and say, "Are you ready?" and then they pull out ski masks and a gun and they go in and hold up the convenience store. Clearly, things have changed. What you come to find out is that the convenience store is just a front and it's sitting on top of a hidden underground installation where the original ship that carried Max and the rest of them in 1947 is being stored. Max is trying to get back to the ship. And then the rest of the opening is a two-track story where Max and Liz get caught by the police and are run through the judicial system. Both sets of parents show up and it's a nightmarish event for everyone involved.
As far as the other characters are concerned, Michael is the guy who knew he was going to go home someday, so he never bothered to make much of a life for himself here on Earth. Now he suddenly looks around and says, "My God, I don't have much a life and I better make some changes." He's about to flunk out of high school, of all things. Then he realizes he's got this apartment. He can't pay the rent and he's racking up debts. So he has to take on a second job. In the second episode he gets a job as a night watchman out at Meta-Chem Pharmaceutical on the outskirts of town. That episode is mostly a Michael story with him hanging out on the night shift with a bunch of other slacker losers. It's about him learning things and realizing the value of friendship.
Isabel is the one with the biggest change coming. In the first episode we find out that she has been having a secret romance with a lawyer who works for her father named Jesse Ramirez. He's much older than her and he doesn't know she's an alien. What will happen over the course of the first six episodes is that the romance will come out in the open and will be accelerated to the point where they're going to get married. This was something we were really intrigued by when we were talking about plot points for next year. We just liked the idea of giving Isabel a steady relationship in her life, which is something she never had. And that she would take it a step further than anybody else. She's out of high school. She's more of an adult. She's trying to set down some real roots here on Earth and let go of the past. She's also passionately in love with this man and things just sort of happen. In episode three she's dreamwalking him after a hot and heavy date, and he's dreaming about proposing to her. She flips out and thinks he's going to ask her to marry him, but he doesn't know she's an alien. By the end of the episode there's a real proposal. Then we get them married.
And the sheriff and Kyle?
Moore: Since the sheriff lost his job he has been sitting on the couch watching TV a lot and sleeping. Kyle has had to go out and get a job to support the family. The roles have really reversed for father and son. Kyle is starting to get sick of trying to hold down a job and paying all the bills while his slacker dad does nothing. He pushes his dad out into the world and his dad says, "Well, I've got this thing I've always wanted to do and it's my dream and I hope you're proud of me." Then he's like, "I'm going to be a country western star." [laughs] Kyle goes berserk, but Valenti is going to pursue his dream and try and make a mark in music. We're going to play that for a while.
That's wild. How did you guys come up with the idea?
Moore: We really liked the idea of him losing his job as sheriff, because it seemed that it would just destroy the character and make him reassemble his life. Then it was, "OK, which way would he do it?" It just seemed that the Valenti you saw the whole first season, somewhere back there was this guy who really wanted to sing and play guitar and be in a band. That is an interesting character.
So there are changes for all the characters.
Moore: The kids are all growing up now. Everyone is in their senior year, except for Isabel, who graduated early. They're all starting to move out in the world. Max moves out of his parents house at the end of the first episode because of conflict with his father over what happened with the convenience store hold-up, and he winds up moving in with Michael.
They should be interesting roommates.
Moore: Yeah, already you want to write those guys. [Hums the theme to The Odd Couple.]
What's been your favorite episode so far?
Moore: I really liked the Max From The Future show ["The End of the World"]. I thought that was a really good solid story. It took Liz's character and really put her in a vise, and it was really romantic. It was the show at its best. It was a relationship show about these interesting characters with a science fiction twist. It was a show you couldn't really tell on any other series. I really liked that. I also liked the Alex Dies episode. I thought that was interesting and touching and moving. The production really came together on that episode.
It's the point where Max realizes he can't do everything. He can't bring Alex back.
Moore: Yeah, and I liked the fact that all the characters reacted differently to it. They all had their own individual ways of dealing with the death of a friend. It also was a sort of marker in the series, because up until then no one they were close to had really paid a price for the secret they were holding. There was danger in the air but it really never landed on any of them. And then it did.
How was the decision made to kill off Alex?
Moore: It was a couple of different factors. Colin Hanks (Alex) had gotten an offer to be in Band of Brothers and we were certainly eager to let him do it because it was a big opportunity. But it meant that he'd have to be out of four or five episodes in Year Two. So we sent Alex to Sweden. Then as soon as he came back and we wrote him back in, he promptly got an offer to go do a feature film. We were in a position where we all felt internally that we weren't using the character very well or being very effective with him. Which was a shame, because we really liked Colin and he did great things with the character. Everyone liked Alex but we were having trouble using him in the show. Then we were in the situation where we were going to have to write him out of another block of episodes for the remainder of the second season and then reintroduce the character all over again in Year Three. And it just became one of those situations where it made more sense to let Colin go pursue what is obviously a burgeoning career and use his exit from the show to then give us something really interesting to play. So all those factors helped us come to the decision of let's kill Alex.
And get rid of the interloper, Tess.
Moore: Yes. Jason [Katims] had always thought in the back of his mind that Tess was working against them in some way, he just didn't know how. She bonds with them. She bonds with the Valentis. She's accepted. She becomes part of the family. But there's this one thing she's still holding back somewhere in the recesses of her brain. And ultimately that was true.
It also creates the interesting dilemma, because in the Future Max episode we found out that keeping Tess as part of the group was vital to the survival of humanity.
Moore: We know that those events are in the future. They are a while in the future, so we don't really have to face that dilemma yet. But over the course of the series we'll probably have to start hinting in those directions. Everyone probably knows what happened in that episode, because Liz would have told them by now. And if things start happening they are all going to go, "What are we going to do? Tess isn't here." Which is a great place to put them.
What's your biggest challenge this year?
Moore: The biggest challenge is to balance bringing a new audience to the show while retaining the old audience. It's a new network. We're relaunching it. We want the show to be accessible to anyone who hasn't seen it yet. We would love for all the people who've been watching Buffy to stick around and watch us, even if they've never seen Roswell before. That means the show can't be so complicated and so caught up in its own backstory that it puts people off. And at the same time it has to maintain enough continuity with what's gone before to keep our fan base happy. That's the biggest challenge.
The series was canceled by The WB after two seasons and you were suddenly picked up by UPN. What was going on behind the scenes?
Moore: There was just a lot of maneuvering, and as we were closing in on the dates when the networks were going to be announcing their schedules, we didn't know where we stood. There was a three-way game going on with three different series, with Buffy and Angel and us. They are all produced by Twentieth Century Fox and were all on The WB. Buffy's very public renegotiation of its license fee and it's public spat over that license agreement didn't help anybody else affiliated with Twentieth Century Fox. So we just wanted someone to pick us up. Once it became a strong possibility that Buffy was going to go to UPN, suddenly it became a possibility for us and Angel. Then there was just a very gray period where we didn't know how things were going to shake out. We kept hearing rumors. Oh they want Roswell, they don't want Angel. Or vice versa. Or UPN won't take more than one show. Or they'll take all three shows. No, they'll only take two. We just kept hearing different things. It was a little maddening and we were trying to complete the episodes for Season Two. In the end I think this was the best option for us, because now we're on behind Buffy, which is a perfect lead in for our series. The demographics of the two shows are identical. It's the same audience. It's just that they have a bigger audience. So our task is simply to bring more of their viewers along and get them to try the show and get them to like the show.
So how has UPN been to work with?
Moore: They've been great. It's nice to be in a place where you're loved [laughs]. Right now the love us. They really want the show to succeed. They like what it is. They like what it's doing. They're promoing the s--- out of it. I see billboards and ads and on the air promos. They're getting the cast out and they're putting a real push on it. They want Tuesday night to work for them. So it's a good thing. It's a relaunch of the series. If we'd stayed at WB, we just would have gone into a third season. We weren't going to get a relaunch.
Your ratings were pretty good last year.
Moore: The ratings were solid. There was nothing wrong with the ratings as far as we could see. I think it just all got caught up in bigger politics.
It probably ended up better for you guys in the long run.
Moore: I think it did.
Does your future seem more secure now?
Moore: It does, but we won't really know until the show is actually on the air and we start seeing some numbers. Right now, it's in a good place creatively. We feel really good about where the show is. The network is happy. The studio is happy. We're very positive with what we're doing. Now we'll see if the audience agrees.
What's the one episode that you wrote, that when you saw it, it just blew you away?
Moore: I'd say it was "Max in the City." It was the second part of the Duplicates episodes last season. I liked the script and thought it was intriguing in some ways. But what I saw on the screen was much better than I anticipated. I thought the direction was outstanding. I thought the cinematography and the editing and the direction had created this whole world, this weird underground New York world that the Dups lived in. What was happening back at Roswell, the way the two stories interwove, the use of music. I just loved it. I thought it was a tremendous piece of work.
Are you planning any crossovers?
Moore: We're doing a crossover with Enterprise in episode five. We have a storyline that takes Max to Los Angeles. He's looking for a shapeshifter. There was a gag we came up with in the writer's room where we thought it would be a kick if he comes onto the Paramount lot in pursuit of something and while he's there his excuse to get on the lot is that he's going to read for a part on Enterprise. The part he's trying out for is an alien, and he doesn't get it. We've got a cameo by John Billingsley, who plays Doctor Phlox on Enterprise, and Jonathan Frakes is playing himself as the director of this Enterprise episode. The scene is Max going in and reading this part, which I took a hand in writing. It's a classic Star Trek bit with Max reading, "I am Korgan. My people are called the Bantoo. We claim this region of space." [laughs] I threw in a couple references to the original series for the true die-hard fans to pick up. It's a funny piece. It's a cool little crossover and I'm sure [UPN will] do a big promotion. But I don't want the audience to think it's a complete crossover. We're not beaming Max up to the Enterprise.
You have a long history with Star Trek. How is working on Roswell different than working on Star Trek?
Moore: It's more of an intimate show. Star Trek is space opera. It's very big. It paints on a broad canvas. It's exploration of the galaxy, about entire star systems and empires and missions of war and peace and deep psychological and sociological questions. That's what the show's bread and butter is. And Roswell is a very small show about a very small group of kids in a small town, and their relationships to each other with some science fiction mixed in. It's a much more intimate and human kind of show. It's more character-driven and it's less heavy on science fiction than Star Trek is. I really like it. It's a great change of pace.
It's interesting that it's more human considering the focus is aliens.
Moore: I know. That's the great irony.
What is your main concern when you sit down to write an episode?
Moore: I just want to make it entertaining and different. I'm always trying to find a different way to tell the story and to write the scene a little bit differently than maybe I've done in the past or than I've seen done on television. I just finished writing Isabel's wedding, which we're shooting now. How many wedding shows have you seen? Well, the challenge is to make a different one, and to do one that tells the story in a slightly different way where the issues are a little different and the relationships are a little different. That's the primary challenge to me going in.
What got you into writing science fiction television?
Moore: Star Trek did. I was a Star Trek fan growing up as a kid. I was really into the show. I still have a model of the Enterprise that I built when I was 12 years old. It sits on my shelf. Which, as a side note, ended up in Kirk's quarters in Star Trek six. But I was a big fan of the original series. When I came to Los Angeles I was trying to be a writer, and I started dating this girl who knew I was a fan of the show. She had a connection to Star Trek: The Next Generation. She knew some people over there and said [she could get me] a tour of the sets. It was going to take about four weeks before they could do it. And I just decided if I was going to get that close, I should take a shot. So I sat down and wrote an episode. I tucked it under my arm and brought it with me. I conned the guy who was giving the set tour into reading it and he liked it. He was one of Gene Roddenberry's assistants. So he put me in touch with my first agent, who then submitted it formally to the show, where it sat in the slush pile for about seven months. Then, a new executive producer named Michael Piller came aboard and he found it in the slush pile and bought it and produced it. Then he asked me to write a second, and I wrote a second one. Shortly after that he called and said they needed a staff writer the next day and could I do it. And I said, yeah. [laughs] I showed up and was there 10 years.
Can you tell us a good story about working on Star Trek?
Moore: I can tell you about the first time I met Patrick Stewart. I had sold my first script to Star Trek: The Next Generation already and I was working on a second one. I was a freelancer and I went down to the set. They were shooting my episode and I was really excited. Patrick was shooting a scene and they called him over afterward to introduce me. And he said "Oh, very nice to meet you. Wonderful script. Are you doing any more for us?" And I said yes, actually I'm working on a second one right now. "Oh, tremendous. But remember one thing. The captain does not do nearly enough screwing and shooting on this show." And then turned and walked off [laughs]. That was my introduction to the captain.
Do you think of yourself as a science fiction writer?
Moore: No, I really don't. Which is the irony of my career. I don't consider myself a science fiction writer. I just a writer who keeps getting these jobs in science fiction. This is what I'm known for now, but I'm not a scientist. I have no real background in it. I was the guy at Star Trek who, when I was writing their really technical scenes, filled in a lot of it with just blanks. It was like "Mr. La Forge, tech the tech 15 percent." And Geordi would say, "Captain the tech is overloading." "Well, tech the tech." "Captain, we can't tech the tech anymore or the warp drive will overload." I hated that stuff. I hated it. I was much more interested in what the people were doing. The interesting part of science fiction is that essentially it gives you more colors to paint with on the palette. What I like about writing is taking people and putting them in situations and seeing how those particular characters react. Well, in science fiction you have a much broader range of choices to choose from. You can't do the Future Max show in any other genre. You can't do it as a Western. You can't do it in a medical drama. It's an interesting question. A guy comes from the future and tells his girlfriend to break up with him. It's a really cool place to put a character. Science fiction allows me to do that.
Ronald D. Moore Talks ROSWELL – Part One
Co-executive producer discusses changes for the fan favorite show’s third season on new network UPN
Dateline: Tuesday, October 9, 2001
By: ANNA L. KAPLAN
As ROSWELL enters its third season, in some ways the show will be re-inventing itself. ROSWELL has a new home, moving from the WB Network to UPN. Both BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ROSWELL are making this move. It gives the show’s writers reason to believe that ROSWELL may have a longer television life than they once expected. Co-executive producer Ronald D. Moore says that executive producer Jason Katims never gives up hope.
“Last season, it looked like the writing was on the wall,” he recalls. “UPN was just sort of an idea that was getting floated out there, because BUFFY was talking to them. We were moving out of our offices. It looked like it was all over. Jason Katims said, ‘You know what? They just can’t kill this show. They’ve tried and they’ve tried and it just keeps surviving. Let’s plan next season.’ He was right, so I just have to believe it too.”
So they started to talk about a third season, which they will have, on UPN, airing after BUFFY.
“The operative word for this season on ROSWELL is change,” explains Moore. “Because of the way the second season ended, a lot of the storyline and thread we had been following came to an end.”
ROSWELL tells the story of a group of aliens who arrived on the ship that crashed in the desert in 1947. They stumbled out of their “pods” looking like human children, and were adopted by people who didn’t know of their ancestry.
In ROSWELL’s first season, teenage alien Max Evans (Jason Behr) used his powers to save the life of a human named Liz Parker (Shiri Appleby). Once she and her friends, including Maria (Majandra Delfino) got involved with Max, his sister Isabel (Katherine Heigl), and the third alien Michael (Brendan Fehr), they were all in peril. During that first season, Liz and Max fell in love as adventures befell the group. By the end of the first year, they had made an ally out of Sheriff Valenti (William Sadler) and found the fourth member of their group, Tess (Emilie de Ravin). She was aided by a shape-shifting protector who soon died, leaving them to cope without help.
In the second season of ROSWELL more complications ensued, as the group battled rival aliens, tried to maintain their secrecy, and figured out where they came from and how to get home. Tess seduced Max, and she became pregnant with a child who would die if not brought back to their home world in a device designed for one trip. At the last moment, the others realized Tess was a murderous traitor trying to sell them to the other side. As season two ended, Tess was launched back to the home planet, leaving everyone else stranded on Earth.
“Their way back home is finished,” says Moore. “Basically, most of the things that the villains were after them for is over too. With that in mind, before last season was really even over, we sat down and started thinking about what we wanted to do with the characters. It seemed like a great opportunity to wipe the slate and start again, because that’s essentially what the characters have to do. Now that they are not going home, and all of those questions have been answered for them, they are stuck here. What do they do with themselves? We were able to take the characters in all different directions.”
The first season three episode, “Busted,” which was written by Jason Katims, shows immediately how much things have already changed, first, for Max and Liz.
“The opening of the first episode is Max and Liz, sitting in a car, making out, outside of a convenience store,” Moore explains, laughing. “It’s hot and heavy for a few minutes. Then they say, ‘Are you ready?’ ‘Yeah, I’m ready.’ ‘Are you sure?’ ‘Yeah, I’m sure.’ Then they pull on ski masks and guns and go in and hold up the convenience store. So a lot has happened with Max and Liz.”
“The first episode is a two-track story,” Moore continues, “One is in the present day as they are arrested by the police in Utah and are charged with armed robbery. All the parents come, and try to get them out, so there is a legal story going on in the present. We are also flashing back over the summer to see how they got to that place, where Max and Liz are together now. The elephant in the room in their relationship is that Max slept with Tess, and has a child out there, which Max is now concerned about. Liz doesn’t want to be without Max anymore, and basically signs up to help him contact his son. The journey takes them eventually to breaking into this convenience store. Max and Liz this season, while they are together, the relationship has been made much more complicated.”
Max’s quest eventually takes him to Los Angeles. There, he must get onto the Paramount studio lot to find information in the episode “Secrets and Lies” scheduled to air October 30th. His ticket onto the lot is an audition for the television show ENTERPRISE. The director of the real ROSWELL episode, as well as the fictitious ENTERPRISE episode, is ROSWELL executive producer Jonathan Frakes, the actor who plays Commander Riker in THE NEXT GENERATION television show and feature films, who has also directed many episodes of TNG – and the last two TREK movies.
“There’s a storyline that takes Max to Los Angeles,” explains Moore. “He’s hunting for ways to contact his son. He realizes there might be another shapeshifter in Los Angeles, the other protector. Max comes to Los Angeles. Along the way, he needs to get on the Paramount lot for something, and has a way to get on the lot if he goes and auditions for this role. So the scene is him auditioning for a role on ENTERPRISE as an alien, and not getting it. Jonathan Frakes plays himself, as the director of the episode. John Billingsley, who plays Phlox [on ENTERPRISE], is reading with Max. Max is terrible. They stop him and they say, ‘No, no, no. You’ve got to believe you are an alien. You have to think you are from another planet.’ It’s a funny scene.”
So where did this idea come from?
“It came up in the writers’ room,” answers Moore. “Russel [Friend] and Garret [Lerner] wrote the episode, and I think they pitched the initial idea. We were exploring different things for Max to be doing in Los Angeles. We were already gravitating toward him doing stuff with the entertainment industry. They came up with this idea of doing a crossover. At first we thought about something much more elaborate. Then we made it a much simpler gag. Jonathan Frakes called over to [ENTERPRISE executive producer] Rick Berman and just asked him if he’d be up for it, and he was. Ultimately it was just a guest shot on our show. We don’t use any of their sets or makeup or costumes or anything. It’s John Billingsley doing a guest shot on ROSWELL.”
Be sure to check back tomorrow for part two of CINESCAPE’s exclusive Ron Moore interview.
Days & Nights of Roswell
From Starlog, December 2001
"It's back to school as Ron Moore enrolls the teen aliens in a third year of human adventure."
Despite the dramatic plot developments and behind-the-scenes uncertainty surrounding its final episodes last season, "Roswell" is back for a third year. Yet fans can hardly know what to expect this season, after "Roswell" switched gears between seasons one and two from being a teenage drama with science fiction trappings to a bona fide SF adventure with teen heroes.
Where is Roswell going this year? Pose that question to series writer and co-executive producer Ron Moore, and you get a simple, yet telling answer: "It's going to UPN."
"Roswell"'s move from the WB to UPN is significant in several ways. First, UPN gave the series a full-season order of 22 episodes, which frees the cast and crew to relax a bit while exploring new, creative roads for teen aliens, Max, Michael and Isabel and their human friends Liz, Maria, Kyle, and Valenti.
Second, UPN is allowing "Roswell"'s producers and writers to push the show more toward character relationships, while backing off last year's plethora of SF plot threads. According to Moore, "The WB had decided they wanted the show to go in a more hard-core SF direction. We began playing that note at the end of the first season, and the second season was devoted to figuring out how comfortably the show could live in that environment. That's why we tried to do so many long-running plotlines. Many more aliens came into the picture, and we had more special effects and bigger SF ideas. But ultimately, we realized last year that we prefer to do something SMALLER with "Roswell."
"So," he continues, "by the time we got to those last half-dozen episodes at the second season's end, after Alex died, "Roswell" became all about the internal workings of these characters and their relationships to each other. That's what we like to do, and that's where we think the show lives best and most comfortably. Going to UPN gives us the chance to keep it there."
The overriding theme this year, Moore says, is change. "That's what the third season is all about. Last year ended with Tess getting into the granolith and leaving Earth, and basically closing off some plotlines – not to mention the kids' way home," Moore notes. "All the evil aliens that they battled through the course of the second season have been taken care of. They don't have a reason to fight with them anymore. The kids are marooned here on Earth, and with that in mind, they must face the reality that they're actually stuck here. What will they do with their lives? This sends them all in different directions."
The change in networks also provides Moore and company with a way to unveil "Roswell" to new viewers, airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m., now following "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." "UPN is relaunching Buffy and Roswell as a night, together," Moore explains. "That gives us the opportunity to introduce the show to a whole new audience. With that in mind, our opening episode this year is almost like a new pilot. It says, 'Here are the characters, here's where they are and here's where they're going.' Then we will keep moving forward, revisiting plotlines from last year as little as possible. It's not like we'll be completely dropping things from last year, but we want to bring in a new audience and say, 'You like Buffy? Stick around!' Our demographics and Buffy's are almost identical, so that show is the perfect lead-in for us. Their audience is bigger, and hopefully if their viewers stick around, they'll enjoy our show as well."
Written by executive producer Jason Katims and entitled, "Busted!," the third season premiere begins typically enough, with Max and Liz sitting in a car outside a convenience store, making out. Then they reach into the back seat and pull out ski masks and guns, and proceed to hold up the store. The reason? Beneath the store is a secret government facility containing the original ship that the kids crashed in.
"At the end of the teaser, they're busted by the police," Moore grins, "The episode goes back and forth between the present, as they deal with the fallout of their actions, and the past, concerning what happened over the summer to bring Max and Liz to this point. They start this 'Bonnie and Clyde' storyline, where they're ripping off things and stealing clues, leading them ultimately to the convenience store robbery."
"By the episode's end," he adds, "the charges are dropped because they expose this government operation, and the government doesn't want anybody to know what was REALLY down there. But Max and Liz are forbidden to see each other by their parents. So we introduce the element of families in conflict. It's becoming more of a true 'Romeo and Juliet' thing."
Meanwhile, Michael decides he DOES want to graduate high school after all. "He's struggling because he has been a complete slacker all his life, and now he's like, 'Oh, I really have to make a life here.'"
The greatest change of all has been saved for Isabel. She has been secretly seeing a lawyer, Jesse Ramirez (new cast member Adam Rodriguez), who works in her father's firm, all summer long. Now she is engulfed in a torrid romance, which will blossom over the first six episodes, culminating in a major event for Isabel – who does NOT tell her boy friend that she's an alien. "We sort of have 'Bewitched' in reverse," Moore chuckles.
The writers had plenty of characters to choose from in deciding who should undergo the greatest development this year. Moore says they selected Isabel because "she's the one who seemed to need it the most. We had done some interesting things with Katherine Heigl's character, and we gave her a backstory on the other planet, but here in this world she wasn't developing as much as we wanted her to. We graduated her from high school early, and then it became a question of, 'What would be interesting? What would be the best thing to do for Isabel?' And at some point in a writers' meeting, someone said, 'What if she gets married?' And I replied, 'Whoa! She doesn't even have a boy friend yet!' But that's the cool part. Isabel is young and impetuous. She wants to firm up her life here on Earth, and she falls for this guy."
In the second episode, Valenti – who lost his job as sheriff last year – starts hinting that he has a new way to make money. Kyle, who can't wait to quit his job, presses his father to know what it is – and learns that Valenti has gotten his old band back together in hopes of becoming a country & western music star. "Kyle and his father are going in new directions as well," Moore reveals. "Valenti has been doing nothing, watching TV and screwing around on the Internet. Kyle's the one who has gone out and gotten a job, so it's like the roles of parent and son have been reversed."
Written by Moore himself, the episode's main focus is on Michael. He gets a second job working as night watchman at a pharmaceutical plant outside of town, and his coworkers are "a bunch of idiots," Moore describes. "They all get fired for stealing Snapple from the company, but Michael sneaks back to try to make it all right and discovers that the head of security is actually involved in corporate espionage. So, he gets the guys together and tries to bust their boss." The show is called, "Michael, the Guys and the Great Snapple Caper."
Clearly, the "Roswell" recipe for success has been modified to include more laughs this year. "Year, it'll have a better sense of humor," Moore promised. "We're going to play things a little lighter in some instances. But the relationships are still going to carry forward, because they are the heart and soul of the show. The Liz-Max relationship is front and center, right from the first episode. The Michael-Maria relationship is ongoing, and Isabel has a whole new relationship to deal with."
Fans of Colin Hanks will be treated to the actor's ghostly return, as the tries to counsel Isabel through the romantic troubles in the third episode. "The apparition of Alex appears, and Isabel talks to him as the tries to figure out what to do with her new relationship," Moore explains. "At first, Alex says, 'You can't go any further with this guy. You have to let it go, because everyone you get involved with dies!' But she's in love with Jesse." The exit of Alex and Tess at the end of last year will continue to impact the series, at least for a while. "Alex still haunts Isabel. She talks to him in her mind and in her dreams. He may make additional appearances later," Moore offers. "As for Tess, she has Max's baby, and that's DEFINITELY on Max's mind. We've talked about ways of seeing Tess before this season is over."
Although Emilie de Ravin seemed to think she would be around for the third season as Tess (Starlog #287), Moore claims that her departure was "something that came up over the course of the second season. We started talking early on about the idea that she was actually working against the others. As the season went on, we started to think more seriously about how that would work and what the circumstances would be. It was not until we started focusing on Alex's death as a catalyst for all those plotlines that we realized Max's emotional upheaval would cause him to sleep with Tess."
Viewer resentment of the Tess-Max relationship was strong, but Moore insists it was NOT a factor in the decision to part ways with Tess. "We know that people were up in arms about that relationship, and we were fine with that," he maintains. "As long as people care enough to keep watching, that's great! It wasn't like we were writing Liz out of the show. We always knew we were going to bring [the core relationship] back to Liz and Max. But we decided to give them a season apart, and give them some problems, so that when they did hook up again, it wouldn't be simple or easy. Their relationship will continue to be complicated."
The Max-Liz connection works so well, as is so popular with "Roswell"'s fans, because, in Moore's opinion, "It's very romantic in the classic sense of the word. Max is a young man from another planet, with secrets. He saved her life in the first episode, and they became soulmates across time and space. It's a classic set-up. Beyond that, the appeal of their relationship has a great deal to do with the chemistry between Shiri Appleby and Jason Behr."
Of all the episodes last year, Moore especially liked "The End of the World," in which a future Max comes to Liz with a desperate plea, and "A Roswell Christmas Carol," where Max heals a ward full of sick children. " 'The End of the World' was an outstanding show. It presented the series as best as it could be done, and in many ways. It was a great science fiction idea married to a very strong character relationship story. The Christmas episode was really sweet and nice, too." Among his own episodes, Moore feels "Cry Your Name" and "Ask Not" turned out best. "They were interesting shows," he believes, "and they came off pretty well."
One criticism leveled at "Roswell" last year was that the series became too complicated for anyone who didn't tune in every week. Miss an episode, and suddenly you were lost. Moore admits that was a concern last season, which prompted the addition of Majandra Delfino's explanatory introductions. Those won't be back this year.
"We don't want that perception to be out there, that we were too complicated," Moore reasons. "That's why we will make the episodes this season as accessible as possible to new viewers. The relationships will continue from episode to episode, because viewers expect that. On the other hand, plotlines will be more stand-alone. We will resolve them by the end of each episode."
Melinda Metz, who created the original "Roswell High" concept in her series of novels, has joined the writing staff with her partner, Laura Burns. "They give us another voice, another perspective in the room," says Moore. "They're really talented and energetic young writers, and it's nice to have them here."
[section about Moore's previous involvement with Star Trek and his pilot "The Dragonrider's of Pern" that fell through with the WB]
Given the whole Pern debacle, it's easy to see that Moore is especially glad that "Roswell" is now on UPN. "It does help," he laughs. "I wasn't really looking forward to sticking around [on the WB]."
Right now, he IS looking forward to a third year of "Roswell." "I can hardly wait to take these kids in new directions," Ron Moore enthuses. "We closed some doors at the end of last season, and that means we have to open new ones. That's an exciting thing. We have a really good, interesting show. If you tune in, you'll be drawn into "Roswell." We have a strong, likable cast, and if you give it a chance, you WILL fall in love with these kids the way we have."
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