Ronald D. Moore Talks ROSWELL Part One -

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Ronald D. Moore Talks ROSWELL Part One

Co-executive producer discusses changes for the fan favorite show's third season on new network UPN

By Anna L. Kaplan     October 09, 2001

Max (Jason Behr) and Liz (Shiri Appleby) look like they're up to no good in the "Busted" episode of ROSWELL.
© 2001 UPN
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

ROSWELL co-executive producer Ronald D. Moore

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

The third season cast of ROSWELL

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

Max (Jason Behr) and Liz (Shiri Appleby) look like they're up to no good in the "Busted" episode of ROSWELL.

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.


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