Main Arc Welding Discussion

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04:40:26 AM Apr 12th 2015
Moved this item here:

  • Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) did this extensively in its second half, due to a bad case of Writing by the Seat of Your Pants which stacked up. Creator Ron D. Moore later admitted that despite the show's initial dependence on meticulously plotted storyarcs, he hadn't actually planned out anything for the show beyond the end of the second season (various ideas like "another Battlestar also survived" or "what if they find a habitable planet that isn't Earth"? had been exhausted). Half of the core writing staff also left at the end of season two (despite the fact that the show had just won a Peabody Award and was at the height of its popularity - leading to theories that they may have become frustrated at the behind-the-scenes lack of planning on Moore's part, and jumped ship while they still could). The network also meddled with the show by upping the episode order to 20 episodes in Season 2, broken into two micro-seasons (which they barely handled and resulted in the disowned episode "Black Market"), and then in Season 3 ordering 20 episodes in a continuous run, not broken into micro-seasons. This resulted in a perfect storm: Moore was out of pre-existing ideas, had insanely high production quotas, and several of his experienced core staff had left. A major point that Ron Moore kept pursuing that he later adamantly insisted that he could tie things together retroactively into functional storyarcs that fit together sensibly. After the series finale (controversial, because it really didn't explain many of the plot developments) Moore sat down at the Paley Center 2009 roundtable to discuss it (the whole thing is free on YouTube, albeit cut up into several clips). At the panel, Moore himself confirmed several points:
    • Throughout the series, Moore had insisted that all of the plot twists he added were part of a plan. At the panel, he specified that what he meant was that they were "part of a plan" - he just hadn't thought up what that plan was yet. Trying to be unbiased, but if that isn't using Exact Words, what is? Case in point, there never was a "Cylon Plan" - as the opening credits promised in the first two seasons - this was specifically a marketing gimmick that David Eick came up with to hook fans into watching.
    • Moore explained to the panel a rationalization he apparently developed in the bubble of the writers' room: he felt that he was fully capable of retroactively welding together disparate plot clues which he hadn't planned out ahead of time into an overall interconnected storyarc. He calls this "the mosaic" effect: he throws different plot elements out against a wall like paint blotches, with no planning, but eventually they fit together like a mosaic. He also compared it to freestyling "like jazz". He stressed that some shows are planned out from the beginning in full detail and that's not a style he uses, but at the other end of the spectrum, insisted that he wasn't just "making it up as we go along" - even though that's what he described the "mosaic" effect as.
    • Increasingly in Seasons 3 and 4, Moore would come up with brainstorming ideas with no thought as to how they fit into the show, and at the panel he insisted that his real skill was in being able to sit down during the series finale and weld them all together with a retroactive explanation. For example, the "mandala" image that led Starbuck to her death and rebirth? In Season 3, Starbuck claims that it's a recurring symbol in her life, and she's been doodling it since she was a child. Out of universe, it was just something the art department painted on her apartment wall in Season 2, with no input from the writers. Moore then went back and rewatched that episode looking for something, anything to pick as some thematic symbol that Starbuck had throughout her life (if the art department had dressed the set with a painting of a rabbit, the "symbol of Starbuck's destiny" would have been a rabbit). Another major one is that Moore admitted he never had any idea why the Hybrid child Hera was important at all - to the point that he thought up "she's mitochondrial Eve" as he was writing the finale itself. It was just an idea he randomly incorporated with no foresight in Season 1, but which didn't tie in with the main storyline - until he painfully tried to weld them together. In Season 1, President Roslin's visions of the ruins on Kobol as a restored grand opera house were apparently just visions of Kobol's glorious past - but in the series finale, Moore wanted to hit it over fans' heads that "See? The Hera subplot was vitally interconnected with all of the others!" by insisting that Roslin's opera house visions were a foreshadowing of a final confrontation over Hera with the Cylon leaders in Galactica's CIC (which is a multi-tiered room that sort of looks like a theater). In the panel video Moore fervently explains that Roslin's visions in Season 1 of this were "retroactive foreshadowing", even though he had no idea at the time that they would tie together. Needless to say, many critics (io9, Aint It Cool, etc.) responded to all of this by saying that Moore simply wrote himself into a corner, didn't pay attention to how his storylines were flying blind, then desperately attempted to arc weld them all together to make it look like he planned out the show much more than he ever did.

Holy Wall of Text, Batman! This needs to be cut down significantly and reformatted to comply with both How to Write an Example ("Keep It Brief") and Example Indentation in Trope Lists.

03:38:19 PM Sep 19th 2014
This trope is supposed to be about retcons, but some of the examples were obviously planned. I'm going to move the Agents Of Shield example to Continuity Creep.
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