I’d never heard of a show bible until John Herman suggested we write one for our How To Survive The Strange web series. He explained that it was a major tool for writers on an ongoing series since it establishes characters, motivations and canon that can be used to script further episodes. Lots of shows have these, but not all (Shockingly The X-Files never had one). Any show that’s heavy on continuity will have something like this: 24, LOST, Dallas, you name it. The show bible’s detail varies wildly, though. I stumbled on to this one yesterday and if you follow me on Twitter then you probably caught it when I linked to it in the morning and then subsequently ruined your productivity for the day.
Every TV show goes into production with a Point A. You know? The starting point. Very few produced in North America go in with Point B in mind. This is something that BBC does all the time since their shows tend to have very short life spans and it makes more sense on a BBC budget to tell a quick story and move on. The endless drama is a symptom of American TV, though. In a lot of cases, that endless cycle leads to TV shows that go on too long and inevitably jump the shark. This happens to even the best of American TV. Ronald D. Moore’s Battlestar Galactica, however, was a rare exception to the rule. While I’m not sure that they ever imagined when the show would end, Moore went into production knowing that the Galactica could not roam endlessly through space. They would have to reach Earth, eventually. For this purpose, Moore’s bible for Battlestar Galactica is detailed to the nines! Every single aspect of the show was carefully planned from the outset, obviously leaving room for the writing staff to take the show in dynamic dramatic directions, but the technical details of everything were hammered out ahead of time. I loved Battlestar but reading Moore’s show bible made me appreciate it even more since the show’s endgame is outlined in the first few pages of the bible as Moore describes the religious culture of the twelve planets. He also goes into painful detail on the technical workings of the ship and why the Battlestars operated like they did. It’s amazing!
I wasn’t going to post this until Tony suggested that I get it up here. He analogizes it to Wikileaks for the nerd set and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a seriously detailed look behind the scenes of a really great show.
edit: I’ve been getting inconsistent results from this upload. I never seem to have a problem downloading or viewing the PDF but others have reported problems with the download. Please let me know in the comments if something goes wrong.