With the DVD launch of his Helix, Moore’s latest foray into the adventures on the small screen, we look back at five moments that back up his claim as King of Sci-Fi
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Yesterday’s Enterprise
Moore’s career began when he submitted a spec script for Star Trek: The Next Generation, which became season three episode, The Bonding.
Less than six months later, Moore had become one of the show’s regular writers, and was tasked with combining a half-baked idea to bring Denise Crosby back for a cameo, with a mediocre spec script that had the crew of the Enterprise D, come across the Enterprise C, after it had been thrust forward in time.
The ultimate result, Yesterday’s Enterprise, was one of the most compelling and exciting episodes of The Next Generation,showing a militarised alternate universe, with the federation losing a war against the Klingons. If Paramount ever decide to reboot The Next Generation, this episode should be the template.
Star Trek: Deep Space 9 – In The Cards
Deep Space 9 was by far the most emotionally engaging of trek series, and to be perfectly frank, was the best. And Ronald D Moore, who served as supervising producer, and eventually co-executive producer for the series, was a key part of that.
In many ways, Deep Space 9 served as a prototype of Battlestar Galactica, with a lot of ideas – strained alliances between a disparate disloyal parties, an enemy who could literally be anyone, and a deep sense of religiosity – appearing in both series.
It’s ironic, then, that one of the best episodes was much lighter in tone, when Commander Sisko’s son, Jake, and his best buddy Rom, set out to secure a baseball card as a gift for his father. Delightfully daft, the show featured a mad scientist, introduced us to Dr Bashir’s teddybear, and even had Jake and Nog quoting The Wizard of Oz.
Star Trek: Deep Space 9 – Valiant
Jake and Nog featured in another classic Ronald D Moore-scripted episode, Valiant. This one however, was much more in keeping with the overriding tone of the series, and saw the pair joining a ragged and rag-tag crew of underqualified cadets, of a ship trapped behind enemy lines.
Although it had little bearing on the overall arc of the series, it gave a great insight into the characters, while exploring the risks of ambition and hubris.
Battlestar Galactica – Occupation/Precipice
Long-dead Star Wars rip-off, Battlestar Galactica, was already a gritty and politically aware show during its first two seasons, but with the opening episodes of season three, took that idea to the logical extreme, with the Cylon occupation of New Caprica.
When they premiered as a single two-hour event, in the Autumn of 2006, the US and the UK were still heavily involved with the occupation of Iraq. The Moore-penned episodes had the Galactica crew involved in a resistance campaign that bore a lot of similarities to the actions in Iraq. To ram home the similarities, Moore even had Col Tigh organise suicide bombings.
While our sympathies remain with the resistance fighters, the second episode turned the focus on to the efforts of the Cylons and their collaborators, the New Caprica Police. Two outstanding episodes they don’t so much highlight the futility of war, as the very human compulsion to fight against what we consider wrong, even in the face of insurmountable odds.
Battlestar Galactica – Dirty Hands
Given this list is about a man who writes sci-fi shows, it might seem odd to draw it to a close with an episode about a labour dispute, that wasn’t actually written by Moore, but Dirty Hands perfectly sums up just why Battlestar Galactica was so good.
When perennial-underdog, Chief Tyrol is sent in to quash a labour dispute, he ends up siding with the workers. This leads to yet another stay in the brig, for a man who by now has spent most of the series locked up for one reason or another. More importantly, though, it forces the characters, now enjoying a slight respite from constant Cylon attack, to confront the idea that they are creating an unequal society. And by keeping both sides in the argument morally ambiguous, once again, forces the audience to focus on our own society…
The first season of Helix is out on DVD and UV right now.