Ronald D. Moore Keeps “Queer” Promise With “17th Precinct”

Ronald D. Moore

TV writer and producer Ronald D. Moore is a man of his word. When I interviewed him back in 2008 about why TV science fiction in general — and specifically Star Trek and  Battlestar Galacticahad failed so miserably when it came to including GLBT characters, Moore, the creator of BSG, was refreshingly blunt.

“We’ve just failed at it,” he told me at the time. “It’s not been something we’ve successfully done. At Star Trek
we used to have all these stock answers for why we didn’t do it. The
truth is it was not really a priority for any of us on the staff so it
wasn’t really something that was strong on anybody’s radar.”

Moore also said that failure made him feel guilty and that he would do something about it in the future. And he’s done just that ever since. While the pilot for his virtual reality series Virtuality didn’t get picked up by Fox, it did include a married gay couple that would have been unlike anything on broadcast television. And the recently canceled Syfy series Caprica also included the refreshingly different gay hitman Sam Adama (Sasha Roiz).

And Moore is continuing to queer things up with his new NBC pilot 17th Precinct, about the town of Excelsior where cops use magic to help solve crimes. Casting sides from the pilot include the character of Liam Butterfield (yet to be cast) who is a detective inspector and the immediate superior to Mira Barkley (Stockard Channing).

Liam also used to be Lisa, but has now changed genders, going from female to male. Whether this was done by magic or by more conventional methods isn’t made clear in the sides read by AfterElton, nor is it clear if Liam identifies as straight, gay or bisexual. Since magic is part of this world, it seems possible people could change genders using magic, but the pilot treats Liam’s being transgender more seriously than simply “body swapping” for an episode. The issue seems to be much more akin to how transgender people actually feel in the real world and the character seems to reflect that.

At one point Liam tells Mira, “I’m not Lisa anymore. Inside or out.”

Transgender characters are still relatively rare on network television and that is doubly so when discussing female to male transgender characters. Degrassi: The Next Generation is currently the only show including a FTM transgender character (Adam Torres played by Jordan Todosey) so the addition of Liam to the queer pop culture landscape would be a very welcome addition.

And kudos to Moore for continuing to live up to his word.