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Battlestar Galactica is one of those series you either love or hate, or else
didn't watch. I loved it. It had a great concept and, generally good
effects. The writing was a bit uneven at times, with the "homages" to other
genres and movies getting way out of hand (Magnificent Seven, Guns of
Navarone, Shane, Dirty Dozen, Perry Mason, Towering Inferno, etc.). As far
as the criticism of "rip-off" goes, Battlestar Galactica was vindicated in
court and in saga itself. The only real similarities with Star Wars are
that both are space opera, both have bad guys in armor, both had dogfights
in space, and both had John Dykstra supervising the effects. Otherwise, the
biblical story of Galactica bore little resemblance to the mythical Star
Wars. Besides, Star Wars was inspired by Flash Gordon, Kurosawa's The
Hidden Fortress, The Dam Busters, King Arthur, and the works of Joseph
Campbell. I think a series based on Exodus and Erik Von Danekan can be cut
a little slack.
The acting was generally good, although the child actors were not the most skilled (but, hey, they're kids). Lorne Greene was great as the fatherly Adama, leading his people on a search for their brethren. Richard Hatch was the mature and stoic Apollo; the cerebral hero. Dirk Bennedict is the reckless and fun-loving Starbuck, the true fighter pilot in space. John Colicos is the evil Baltar, traitor to his people; part Benedict Arnold, part Herod, part Hitler. Add a well rounded supporting cast and you have a fine ensemble.
Yes, there is much dated material here: feathered hairdo's, disco clothes, social interaction; but it doesn't detract from the better stories. The use of a unique slang was a nice idea, but a bit distracting. The music was good and the Egyptian influences were interesting in the designs. The uniforms were stylish and gave a sense of military symbol and function. The ship designs were cool (can't say it any other way).
The biggest fault in this series is the tendency to depart from the overall saga into homage episodes. "Gun on Ice Planet Zero" was a fine remake of the Guns of Navarone and the Dirty Dozen, but it also presented a threat to the fleet and a new obstacle they must overcome. Others, like "The Lost Warrior" or "The Magnificent Warriors" had little consequence for the fleet and tended to get bogged down. The series was at its best when the Galactica found a new clue to the lost tribe, or overcame the Cylons to live another day. Unfortunately, the producers didn't have a timeline in mind when they created this show, unlike Babylon 5. Had they determined how long the journey should take, they could have avoided unnecessary episodes and concentrated on the overall saga, bringing character development and drama into the story, without losing sight of their goal. As it was, we were teased with false Earths and little idea when the Lost Tribe would be found. Unfortunately, when it was found, the series took a complete nosedive.
It will be interesting to see what the future will bring for this series; but, for the present, I will continue to watch my tapes. Is it too much to ask for a DVD release for the entire series?
Yeah yeah, so it may be considered a Star Wars ripoff by some. Who cares? As a kid in the 70's, I loved nothing more than the movie and then the subsequent ABC TV series especially with all of the special effects that kids love to see after Star Wars came out. And when the Scifi Channel started to show the series again, I couldn't get enough of it. An underappreciated scifi series in my opinion.
Only in the last five years or so has "Battlestar Galactica" begun to
from the unfair stigma that was attached to it for so many years as a
Wars ripoff". Although a lot of people don't know this, based on what
written by BG bashers in their histories of sci-fi TV, George Lucas's
lawsuit against Universal was dismissed on all counts and found to be
without merit. Indeed, considering how Lucas had "borrowed" from so many
other genre stories of the past his lawsuit claiming Galactica stole from
Star Wars was the biggest case of hypocrisy ever.
For me, "Galactica" continues to age well and is even better than it was when I first experienced it as a child in 1978. Unlike the Star Wars series, which increasingly came to be about FX at the expense of characters, BG's appeal has always lied in its characters. The characters of Apollo (Richard Hatch), Starbuck (Dirk Benedict), Adama (Lorne Greene), Sheba (Anne Lockhart) and even the wicked Baltar (John Colicos) were fascinating and multi-dimensional. And unlike Star Trek, there was a semblance of continuity and character development whereas the former was entirely self-contained from week to week with no development in the characters.
Was BG flawed? Certainly. But it also attracted a larger audience in its one year on ABC than any Star Trek series ever has in syndication. What can't be forgiven is ABC's quick dismissal of this show and then insulting the intelligence of us all by bringing it back in a bastardized version known as "Galactica 1980".
Hopefully, Galactica fans will one day get the last laugh if there is a successful revival with the original cast. It's a show that deserves another chance even more than Star Trek did.
ok.. I have read all the comments about BSG... I must say I am
in many of the truly negative comments. I remember watching BSG when it
first aired... I would never miss the show when it was on. I was sad to
see it leave the airwaves when it was canceled. I did watch 'Galactica
when the series resurfaced for a brief time. The only episode I liked
that was the one featuring Starbuck when he crash landed on a planet and
a cylon as his companion for company. Yes... the show had feathered hair
styles that showed the influence of the times of the late 70's. But who
cares! I liked the friendship between Apollo, StarBuck, and I loved when
they added Sheeba into the group. BSG is a part of Sci-Fi History. I
really love to see Richard Hatch's film he made of BSG that he financed
made. but unless it was ever shown at a convention... I will never get
see it. I will watch SciFi channels 'Re-Imagined' BSG, but hate the fact
that StarBuck and Boomer will be female characters now. With StarBuck as
Female... it will kind of take away a lot of the friendship that Apollo
StarBuck had together. It's not like you will see them going to the
star or an officer's club looking for women together anymore. No daggit
Muffy either. But I'll give the newer series a chance...Just as I did for
ST:TNG(Star Trek:The Next Generation). Fans of Star Trek, and even the
original Trek cast from TOS were back handed slapping TNG when it first
out. They claimed they knew Star Trek, and the new show will fail. But
made it through a rocky 1st and 2nd season. They really came into their
as the 3rd season began. Maybe the new BSG will be Ok? We'll see what
happens when it starts in Dec.2003. I just wish people would stop
BSG in so many of the comments I have sat through for the last 15 mins.
Some of them are by people that have just seen the series for the first
on the sci-fi channel.. It's really all about right now is what the fans
the show remember from seeing it back in 78/79 and appreciating it all
again in reruns on SciFi, and buying the DVD set due out 10/2003. It's a
piece of history for SciFi. Those of you that have been slamming it.
it was your first time seeing it as a rerun someplace. Watch the newer
version coming out in Dec. 2003. SciFi has a web site up for it right
giving some background into the newer 'Re-Imagined' version.
Well all I want to say is. I love the show. It still stands up to the test of time as a great series. no matter what you others have been saying about it. Hopefully I will be around long enough to see all of the newer BSG if it does become a TV series... Seeing as I have cancer (Hodgkins disease) and have endured a long treatment in a year and 7 months among which was a really long treatment called 'Stem Cell Transplant'.... Anyhow. Enough said.
It's a very good, and very well made sci-fi classic.
It has it's own style and feel to it, and unlike most sci-fi films it doesn't stretch the boundaries of human knowledge and lend siege to a bunch of aliens or space fights or whatever. It lays down themes that although seem a million light years away, are in fact maybe closer to our time than we first thought.
With a riveting story, depth to characters and amazing memorable acting from Dirk Benedict, Richard Hatch, and Loren Greene
I think it is only suffice to say that this film is a marvel of it's genre and with criticism and technicalities aside I think you cannot argue that this film is great in all proportions.
Having enjoyed the recent reimagining of Battlestar Galatica I was
discussing it with a colleague when he brought up the original and I
realised that I had not seen it for several decades and, even then, it
was fragmented in my memory. I decided to watch it again and I was
quite surprised by how much I remember some of the episodes and how I
don't think I had ever seen some of the others. Anyway, this was reason
enough to watch it from the start to the end a decision made easier
by the fact that it was only one season long before it got cancelled.
To get the comparisons out of the way, watching both leaves me in little doubt that those that trash the remake and praise the original are probably heavily influenced by protective nostalgia when they say that, because there are few ways that this is the case. Indeed the ways that the original is "better" than the remake relates to qualities that I didn't like in the original and that the remake didn't try and have (namely a swashbuckling comedy and the clumsy aim at the family/kiddie viewing sector). With that more or less done I can concentrate on judging the original Battlestar Galatica on its own terms and not against something else. This produces a mixed feeling that I struggle to reconcile because at times this series is awful and at others times it is actually quite engaging and offers potential (that it admittedly doesn't manage to deliver on) but mostly it is a mixed bag.
The split is not total but the series does seem to go through phases where it is silly and for kids and then also more dramatic stuff that could have been a solid backbone for more. Sadly it gets into the silly stuff first. While Apollo and Starbuck were always going to be the lead characters, the first half of the season makes it their show, with a weekly "theme park" style story where we have planets that are like the Wild West or like Medieval times etc etc. Annoyingly all these stories seem to involve the Cylons who are either already on these planets or are using these planets as a trap for the Galatica. This bugged me because it felt like the Cylons were so far ahead all the time that the struggle to watch the survivors shouldn't be this hard and it minimised their presence as a real tangible threat because they were always a handful of robots laying a trap, not a race hunting another to extension. None of it is helped by the overuse of that child and also that bl00dy robot dog thing.
Happily things get a bit more "serious" in the second half of the series, where the approach appears to be more towards action and plot rather than the kiddie theme park approach. It doesn't really pull this off though. The Cylons drop off the map for many episodes while the Eastern Alliance comes into it, but then that thread isn't done particularly well either. That said though it did generally make for a much better series than the first half had been but it is still not that great. It is the contentment with the basics that hurt it, because nothing really convinces and nothing really engages or builds. The Cylons don't menace like they should, the human fleet doesn't feel like it is more than a handful of people, many, many threads are left with unsatisfying endings (and I mean mi-series, not just cause it got cancelled) while other threads just "stop" without a thought for the viewer, as if to say "well, that's that episode filled". The Pegasus episodes along with the Eastern Alliance and other specifics do offer a more grown up thread/feel that could be expanded like the remake did to great success but this never happens and it retains a very fragmented and unsatisfying feel.
There is much to enjoy about it despite this. The effects are limited but the designs are great, with the centurions, the base stars, the vipers or the Galatica herself being iconic and memorable. The comic swagger it has also works well, with Starbuck benefiting from this with some nice moments in the action. Such things as these combined with the better aspects of the second half of the series do combine to make it a solid enough piece of TV sci-fi but the "downsides" do limit it a lot and make it less than it could have been. The mix of aims, the lack of consistency in the central plot (escaping genocide) and in the tone (is it for kids, it is for adults, is it a comedy, is it all worthy and heavy??) are too big to overcome and, as a whole series it is not that great when you sit now and watch it with as little "warm nostalgic glow" as you can muster. Has good episodes and bad episodes but too many fall somewhere in the middle, showing a potential that frustratingly it never really seems to realise or do anything with.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was a tv series which at times fell back on the creators religious upbringing as a mormon. In a few epiosdes there was a falling back on Chrisitan/mormon religious concepts for the portrayal of a battle of good and evil. The series was conceptualized in 1968 or 1969 as ADAMS ARK and following the success of STAR WARS was first called STAR WORLDS then GALACTICA. There was a progression in a change from the ARK story to GALACTICA. The series became a quest show as a group fleeing persecution and carnage at the hands of a war like race of lizard cyborgs searches for a lost planet called EARTH. A city in space was changed to a fleet under the protection of a intergalactic aircraft carrier called the GALACTICA. Along the way they discover that space can be a breeding ground for the war between GOD and the devil in later episodes. One of the most costly and ambitious series ever made, the series was cancelled after one year while still a ratings blockbuster. Many of the effects/production teams that worked on STAR WARS worked on this 20 million dollar film and the series.
Battlestar Galactica had so much going for it, and so much working
against it from outside influences. That is has held up as an engaging
sci-fi epic despite its myriad off-screen problems and short network
run is a tribute to its many strengths in concept, overall production
values, cast, and presentation.
Galactica was conceived as a series of TV movies, similar in format to the Columbo-McCloud-McMillan movie series format from earlier in the 1970s. However, late in the going ABC asked for a weekly series, a contingency for which Glen Larson, Universal, and company were not prepared. As a result, the series had a very uneven quality to the scripts, most notoriously shown in the standard-western scripts of the episodes "The Lost Warrior" and "The Magnificent Warriors." The passage of time, though, has been kind even to such clichés; the standard-western format of these early episodes can be traced to the western gunslinger themes of Star Wars and other 1970s sci-fi, and the performances of the casts, primary and guest, shine through and make these scripts work.
And as the show progressed mistakes were learned from and the writing became better. "Saga Of A Star World," "Lost Planet Of The Gods Part II," "The Long Patrol," and "The Living Legend" were more-sharply written stories combining the excellence of the cast with very good twists. It was with "Living Legend" (highlighted by Lloyd Bridges' show-stealing performance as Commander Cain, for which he will always be remembered) that really got the show's writing on a truly solid base, and excellent scripts followed in "War Of The Gods" (another story highlighted by the performance of the guest star, in this case Patrick Macnee, who immortalizes himself as Count Iblis), the excellent character-driven "The Man With Nine Lives," the surprisingly sharp murder mystery "Murder On The Rising Star," "Greetings From Earth," and the show's strongest and smoothest action drama "The Hand Of God."
The cast shines through good and bad in the show, from Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, Lorne Greene, and John Colicos (my personal favorite of the show) down through Herbert Jefferson Jr., Laurette Spang, Terry Carter, Jane Seymour in her all-too-brief involvement, and mid-season addition Anne Lockhart. The underused George Murdock, Jack Stauffer, John Dullaghan as Doctor Wilker, Ed Begley Jr., Sheila DeWindt, Janet Louise Johnson, Tony Swartz, and Larry Manetti also sparkle in their appearances, as does veteran character actor Olan Soule as agro ship caretaker Carmichel.
Guest stars were used to superb effect in many episodes. In addition to Lloyd Bridges and Patrick Macnee (both as Count Iblis and the Cylon Imperious Leader - the show smartly gave Iblis an angle on the fact that his voice is the same as that of the supreme Cylon), other show-making guest performers included Lance leGault (of later "A-Team" fame), Lloyd Bochner, James Whitmore Jr., John Hoyt, Murray Matheson (in two roles, Sire Gella and the Cylon IL Specter), and Ina Balin. The interplay between the characters in the main and guest casts was always superb, and the off-screen camaraderie among the cast (most hilariously shown in Galactica's in-house gag reel film displaying series outtakes, where Macnee lampoons his opening narration and Colicos concludes by offering to sell some swampland in Florida in full Baltaresque charm, and in the closing top-hat number "We Gotta Find Earth" sung hilariously by Hatch, Benedict, and Greene) made the performances all the better.
Much has been made of how the show reused SFX shots every episode; the criticism usually ignores the reality that no sci-fi series of the time could afford not to reuse stock SFX footage - Galactica's practice was hardly unprecedented to fans of the earlier Land Of The Lost series. Made today of course the show could feature new SFX each episode given the advances in SFX technology.
The combination of concept, cast, overall production values, and presentation made for an immensely enjoyable sci-fi series. Comparisons with the new Ronald Moore Galactica series are inevitable, but both add something to a superb concept.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was based on a original concept, GLEN LARSON had at universal called ADAM'S ARK. This concept was similar to the series but about a city in space. The concept was revamped after Universal Studios regretted turning down a director named George Lucas and his film script called STAR WARS. The 3 hour pilot which premiered in September of 1978, cost 20 million dollars to produce. Each individual episode cost one million dollars a pop to make. This franchise was incredibly expensive for ABC. Galactica was envisioned as a series of tv movies, however, when ABC's top brass saw the completed pilot, they ordered a full series. This was a mistake. Due to the rigors of producing a weekly series, production values began to lag badly. Also, Leslie Stevens and John Dykstra left the series after the episode GUN ON ICE PLANET ZERO. The departure of these two men greatly hurt the creative synergy the show had. Despite all this, the show was always in the top 25, in the end it was the price tag that killed it. ABC didn't want to fork out a million dollars a episode any more and having made good on it's investment decided to pull the plug. A year later, there was a attempt by ABC to bring it back in a politically correct format called GALACTICA 1980....this was a huge disaster.
Who, having grown up at the time, can ever forget the good old days,
when TV shows like this were the ultimate scream of fashion?
I wasn't even born in the 70's, but I still remember very well that in the early 90's TV often aired TV series like this, which now looking back were made before my time but as a child I didn't know that fact nor do I cared.
'Battlestar Galactica' was created by Glen A. Larson, who also created 'Knight Rider', another TV series from my childhood.
Now, looking at it through an adult's perspective, it is lesser great than it was in the days of innocence, but still 'Battlestar Gallactica' shines in nostalgia. Although some episodes were better than others and they always had their flaws, the show really gives that feeling of nostalgia. If not perfect, at least it is authentic. It is from a time when things were real, when things had a special magic. The opening, for example, is fantastic, with those spectacular images of space and space wars. The opening music too is absolutely wonderful, and that opening quote is memorable:
«There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe, with tribes of humans who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive somewhere beyond the heavens.»
Like I said, it's by no means a perfect TV show. But the action scenes and their delicious sounds, the special effects, the space backgrounds... ahhh.... it's all so authentic and perfect (as it should be), without any of the excessive action and explosive noise seen these days.
It starred Lorne Greene as Commander Adama, Richard Hatch as Captain Apollo and Dirk Benedict as Lt. Starbuck, all of them great. Most of these episodes also had Noah Hathaway in a minor role as Boxey, Apollo's little son. Boxey is the cute little tyke. Him and his Muffit. This was a few years before he "became" Atreyu. Too bad Boxey doesn't have a bigger role.
Inevitably, this TV series resembles '2001: A Space Odyssey', 'Star Trek' and 'Star Wars'. It was even accused of plagiarism when 'Star Wars' itself heavily drank ideas from an early 70's film called 'Silent Running'.
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