Ronald D. Moore has had an illustrious career in sci-fi nd fantasy. He worked as a writer and producer on Star Trek TNG, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, as well as the Battlestar Galactica reboot series. Currently, Moore is best known for developing the hit Starz series Outlander, based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon. On a recent episode of Collider Connected, Moore discussed his long career in television, including his involvement in George Lucas’ unproduced live-action Star Wars television series Star Wars: Underworld.
Lucas officially began developing the show in 2004, as work on the prequels was winding down, and he assembled a team of writers to put together scripts for the entire series before a frame of footage would be shot. Moore was one of those writers:
“I was one of several, there was a bunch of international writers they assembled… we would gather up at Skywalker Ranch once every six to eight weeks, something like that. And we would break stories together, and right after we’d go off and write some drafts and bring ‘em back, and George and we would sit down and critique them, and then do another draft and break more stories… It was great! It was a ball, it was a lot of fun. It didn’t happen ultimately, we wrote I’d say somewhere in the 40-something, 48 scripts, something like that… the theory was George wanted to write all the scripts and get ‘em all done and then he was gonna go off and figure out how to produce them, because he wanted to do a lot of cutting edge technological stuff with CG and virtual sets and so on. And so he had a whole new thing he wanted to accomplish. And what happened was, you know, we wrote the scripts and then George said ‘OK, this is enough for now, and then I’ll get back to you. I want to look into all the production things.’ And then time went by and like a year or something after that is when he sold Lucasfilm to Disney.”
Normally, TV shows don’t wait for four dozen scripts to be written before entering production, but Lucas clearly had a specific vision in mind to create a truly massive series with a scope not restrained by the typical limits of the television format.
“It was an extraordinary undertaking for someone to do. I don’t know anyone else that would really take that on… At the time, George just said ‘write them as big as you want, and we’ll figure it out later.’ So we really had no [budget] constraints. We were all experienced television and feature writers, so we all kind of new what was theoretically possible on a production budget. But we just went, ‘For this pass, OK let’s just take him at his word just to make it crazy and big’ and there was lots of action, lots of sets, and huge set pieces. Just much bigger than what you would normally do in a television show.”
Details have slipped out over the years that the show was set between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and Lucas himself said there would be a heavy film noir element to the story. Moore indicates that the massive number of episodes he and his fellow writers scripted would’ve all connected to one overarching storyline.
“Yeah, I think it was pretty much one big storyline. It was one long tale with episodic things that would happen. You know, there would be certain events [that] would happen in this episode or this episode, so it was sort of an episodic quality to some of it. But it was telling a larger narrative, in terms of the story of those particular characters in that setting.”
Look for more with Ronald Moore in the coming days.