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Battlestar Galactica alums Kandyse McClure and Aaron Douglas are reunited for the first time on the small screen in Netflix’s new horror series Hemlock Grove, although according to McClure, “if you hang out in hotel bars you’ll see us together all the time.” They team with former BSG producer and writer Mark Verheiden on the new show, and said during a roundtable interview at WonderCon Anaheim that there are a lot of similarities between the two projects.
“I saw Battlestar Galactica as a ground-floor show on how TV is made and consumed and bringing over people who weren’t traditionally sci-fi fans to the sci-fi medium,” Douglas said. “I see that this show hopefully will do the same and bring some more people over — because sci-fi is not all green and orange monsters. Netflix is doing this thing where it’s how people want to watch TV. To be on two shows in one career that are the ground floor is an incredible thing and you really couldn’t say no to that.”
In many ways Hemlock Grove is more a 13-hour movie than a 13 episode show and, because it’s being released all at once, its characters can be explored in long arcs without having to catch up an audience. That’s something McClure and Douglas feel BSG struggled with during its four-season run.
“I feel like in Battlestar they still struggled with the idea [that they need to pander],” McClure said. “They were still running up against that idea, ‘Oh, you have to include the audience, you have to fill them in on things.’ There were all these devices they started coming up with: recaps in the beginning of the show and replaying episodes, because you really had to watch it from the beginning to get involved in the story in any great depth. We weren’t given those constraints on this show.”
Douglas added, “Today’s television viewer is savvy enough to understand and you don’t have to spoon-feed them with extraneous dialogue explaining every little thing. … NBC Universal treated the sci-fi Battlestar Galactica audience like they were the regular Law & Order audience, but that’s not the case at all. Sci-fi audiences, they’re much brighter.”
That said, Douglas believes Hemlock Grove will “absolutely” challenge its audience. It’s not that he thinks the show is difficult to follow, but rather that it might make viewers uncomfortable with the subject matter it deals with.
“It’s the best thing I’ve done since Battlestar, and that’s saying a lot,” he said. “It will challenge them in terms of what they believe. It’s similar to the ‘who’s the bad guy, who’s the good guy?’ The people in Battlestar, you always switched between the humans and the Cylons.”
As Hemlock Grove is a story-based show, it remains to be seen how many seasons it will have. Producer Eli Roth told Spinoff Online during a group interview that writer Brian McGreevy has three seasons mapped out, but Verheiden said it might be too early determine how long Hemlock Grove will run.
“I worked on Battlestar and we decided to kill it with Season 4, but in hindsight we could have found a Season 5,” Verheiden said. “Those questions are hard to answer, because in the moment you think, ‘We should wrap it up,’ but then you think, ‘Well, I might add a little something.'”
Hopefully McClure’s character has a less tragic storyline in Hemlock Grove than she did in Battlestar Galactica. She and Douglas, who played Lt. Anastasia Dualla and Chief Galen Tyrol in the Syfy series, recalled Dualla’s very emotional death scene during the Hemlock Grove interview.
“People were very affected by it,” McClure remembered. Douglas added, “Wasn’t it beautiful, though? She was unbelievable.” “It was Mark Verheiden,” McClure explained of the scene. “Mark wrote that for me.”
It turns out that watching Dualla die was a bit emotional for Douglas.
“I knew it was coming but had completely forgotten because I was so lost in that scene, and then she’s humming and she’s singing and she pulls the gun out and does that and I went, ‘Gah, what?’ And it freaked me out and then I started crying. I never told you that, I started crying,” he said. “We were best friends on Battlestar. She’d come to my trailer and watch Family Guy and hang out because we never had scenes together but we were buddies. We’d go to the craft table and we’d load up on snacks and then we’d watch Family Guy and Arrested Development and cuddle.”
“I was the only one who understood him,” McClure said jokingly. “Everyone else thought he was a jerk.”
Hemlock Grove is available now on Netflix.