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ABC's decision to cancel Battlestar Galactica after one season didn't
sit well with viewers, and the show's strong ratings (it out-rated
almost every ABC series renewed for 1979-80) easily justified
continuation. But with costs rising faster than expected ABC and
Universal Studios wanted the show for substantially less than the
per-episode costs of the original show, and at a time when SFX
technology was not as advanced as today (modern SFX technology allows
maintenance of a series' high production values at greater
affordability, as well as allowing greater production of original SFX
footage), there was no practical argument against the economics angle
that hurt the show.
Nonetheless, ABC tried to continue the Galactica mythos on a budget, and regardless of whether series creator Glen Larson was involved. Larson signed on to try and make it work, but the result, Galactica 1980, was a bitter disappointment to all.
The show's weaknesses were extensive, but by far the greatest weakness lay in the deception used in promotion before the first episode aired. Promotions used the footage of Cylon raiders blasting Los Angeles extensively and gave the impression that the Cylon empire had found Earth and was in process of slaughtering the last planet of humanity, a premise that would have given the show a much stronger punch. But this footage was merely part of a "what if?" computer simulation to illustrate why the survivors of the Twelve Colonies cannot colonize Earth - "If we land, we will bring destruction upon Earth as surely as if we'd inflicted it ourselves," as Commander Adama succinctly puts it in one of the show's best lines.
With this premise of real life Cylon predation against Earth thus vetoed, the show begins to suffer, hurt even more by the excessive juvenile angle in the platoon of children rescued from the freighter Delphi after it is ambushed by Cylon raiders and forced to land on Earth, and also in the use of the mysterious Seraph youth Doctor Zee - had Doctor Zee been a Cylon creation (like the humanoid Cylon featured in "The Night The Cylons Landed" or better yet the Cylon IL Lucifer from the original series) that had turned against its masters, this angle would have made more sense - as it was, Zee's genesis did make for the show's best episode and surprisingly one of the best sci-fi episodes of any series, "The Return Of Starbuck."
The show also suffered from several embarrassing incidents, notably the Halloween angle of "The Night The Cylons Landed" and the general incompatibility of the Kobollian survivors with the culture of Earth, leading to numerous bits of forced comedy that really aren't funny.
But despite these weaknesses, the show did have some superb moments - the Cylon attack on Los Angeles, deception or not, is compelling footage, lasting roughly ninty seconds on-screen and superbly mixing stock matte-FX footage of Cylon raiders over outtake footage from Universal's 1974 disaster film "Earthquake." The sequence thus becomes one the best SFX sequences ever done for television - I especially liked the shots of Cylon raiders blasting the Capitol Records building, Cylon raiders diving into strafing runs then cutting to the Cylon POV shot of a street being attacked, the street being strafed as seen from above then from low angle as a raider flies toward and then past the screen, and the triumphant flyover of Cylon raiders over the now-ravaged city.
The introduction of new Cylons in the human-form combat ILs in "The Night The Cylons Landed" as well as the new command-class AB raider (first seen mixed with the stock FX shot of Cylons strafing the Delphi in "The Super Scouts" but not fully explored until "Night") is also an intriguing look into the evolution of the Cylon empire; not surprisingly this idea was developed to great fruition by Ronald Moore for the 2003 version of Battlestar Galactica.
The arguments between Commander Adama and Commander Xavier (Richard Lynch) in the three-part pilot episode are well done - Lynch's Xavier gives the show as compelling a villain in his own way as John Colicos' Baltar, whose non-presence is particularly missed here. Also well done is the interaction between Troy (Kent McCord) and Dillon (Barry Van Dyke), especially early in the opening episode when we learn something of Troy's background. The presence of Boomer (Herbert Jefferson Jr.) is welcome with no other original cast members available except for Dirk Benedict's appearance in "Return Of Starbuck," and the series does tackle some moral dilemmas (notably the Nazi-Jewish angle in the three-part opening episode) generally avoided in the original series.
By no means is Galactica 1980 great television, but it does have some excellent moments, and the cast deserves credit for trying to make it work.
Galactica 1980 may not have had what the original series had, but it DID
bring closure to the series by bringing them to their final destination.
scenes on Earth weren't that great, but the segment on whatever happened
Starbuck was great.
I have great childhood memories of this series. SciFi channel just started running it again and I'm watching it more for nostalgia than as any kind of groundbreaking series. And for that, I guess I'll always love it.
After Battlestar Galactica was canceled, the network decided to try and
wring some more dollars out of the series by giving us this low budget
thing. It was incredibly childish, featuring a bunch of little kids who
could jump really high, like up into trees. I think they could turn
invisible as well. They used these powers to throw apples at bumbling cops
and stuff like that. The cops would look around, all confused, like "Where
are the apples coming from?! I can't figure it out!". You get the idea.
Then there were the two main characters who gave comically bad performances.
When they first got to earth, they couldn't figure out what a phone booth
was, and had trouble with our vocabulary. It could have been done in such a
way as to make it realistic, or perhaps even funny, but the way it was done
just came off as these two guys being idiots. And yes, they were the
Plots were very much like a Saturday morning cartoon of the '70s, like Isis or Shazam. Packed full of "educational" material (did you know that cars have internal combustion engines?) and environmentalist schlock - the same guys who didn't know what a phone was got upset that people didn't like environmentalists.
Then there was Dr. Zee, the little kid who was supposed to be really smart. But because he was so smart, he spent a lot of time staring off into space, almost as if in a coma, and spoke his lines as if reciting from a cue card. Definitely in the top 10 most laughably bad character I can remember in any TV show right now.
I have to say this thing rates extremely high on the "so bad it's good" scale. I mean, you just can't help but laugh at it.
2003 saw the re-launch of the Battlestar Galactica in the form of a cable
miniseries and the DVD release of the 1978-79 original, promoted as the
"Complete Epic Series". Amidst the fan hackles that were raised over the
mini-series, (a top-to-bottom remake, and not the continuation many fans
hoped for) Richard Hatch's 4&1/2min promo trailer The Second Coming
a new mystique. Hatch's post-series novels continued to sell and even
pre-production remnants from Tom DeSanto's aborted 2001 revival attempt
gleefully feasted upon by fans.
The one thing that didn't enjoy renewed interest was Galactica 1980, a series few remember and fewer even knew existed. Every other incarnation of Galactica can be enjoyed on multiple levels, but G80 is only good for taking the p*ss, MST3K-style. This is truly one of the worst, most hilariously misbegotten pieces of television in existance.
As with all roads to hell, G80 started out with the best of intentions, as Glen A Larson's pitch to revive the recently-canned Battlestar was seized upon by ABC, who had a gap in their Sunday night schedule. But a number of problems quickly developed to ensure utter disaster. First, the budget was severely reduced from the original (hence Galactica finding earth, which minimized sets and effects). In turn, most of the original cast were either unwilling or unable to return. This led to an abrupt rewrite, which set the show thirty years after the BSG, causing major continuity problems with BSG's final episode (which ended with footage of the Moon landing), so as to accommodate the casting of Kent McCord and Barry Van Dyke. Of the original cast, only Lorne Greene (and to a distinctly lesser extent, Herb Jefferson Jr) returned, sporting a ragged fake beard and barely concealed embarrassment. ABC demanded that "educational dialogue" be shoehorned into the scripts (in accordance with the 7pm kiddie timeslot) and that a cadre of cute kids (many played by Larson's own offspring!) and a truly loathsome kid genius (the infamous Dr Zee) be added.
Larson, aware that things were spinning out of control, wrote (and rewrote) most of the episodes himself in an attempt to minimize the damage, but to no avail. Last of all, ABC rushed the series into production, where all of the above factors collided into one hell of a train wreck.
And as they say about train wrecks, you can't take your eyes off Galactica 1980. From the eye-rolling dialogue, delivered with almost poignant sincerity, (you've really gotta feel for these actors, you really do) to the awful attempts at humor (an earthbound Cylon being mistaken for a Halloween reveler, for one) to the heavy, heavy, HEAVY reliance on stock footage from BSG (dig the opening five minutes of Space Croppers) and other sources, (Silent Running, Earthquake and I swear to god Close Encounters!) its an unmitigated campfest nearly all the way.
I say nearly because, if there is anything close to a decent episode in this series, it has to be the final one, "The Return of Starbuck". Dirk Benedict returns one last time as everyone's favorite space-hopping skirt-chaser for a flashback story with very little (thank god) of the regular cast. It's a suprisingly touching send off for the space cowboy and an indication of what Galactica 1980 could have been with the right kind of handling.
And yeah, I watched it all. It was mid 96, my parents had cable and I had no life. And here I am telling you all about it....
But honestly, I've probably piqued your curiosity by now, right? So go on, hop on Petition Online and start rallying Universal to release this "Complete Epic Series" on DVD straight away! The commentaries would be worth the price tag alone.....
PS: Believe it or not, the voice of the Imperious Leader in Space Croppers (sorry to bring that episode up again) is none other than 24's Mr President, Dennis Haysbert. Kinda prophetic, don't you think?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As a lover of good science fiction and the original Battlestar series I have to say I enjoyed this. It started off with a good pilot and explored the factions growing in the fleet regarding Earth. The time travel story was quite well done too. The series had so much room for development. But there was not nearly enough Cylon involvement. The episode The Night The Cylons Landed was pretty good, but sadly we were only to see them one more time before the series untimely demise. This episode, Space Croppers was fantastic. The Cylons damaged and or destroyed Agro ships prompting Adama to establish a farming colony on Earth. If this had been the direction the series had taken from minute one I really believe it would have worked. Doctor Mortinson's involvement with Troy and Dillon was too quickly forgotten about too. Another idea would have seen Commander Cain return in the Pegasus with his own fleet in tow and boot the Cylons across the Galaxy in a battle that would have really drawn all the non believers back! Kent McCord said clearly that if they had not been given the terrible time slot of Sunday evening the series would have done far better in the ratings. Waiting patiently for a decent DVD release with some behind the scenes footage.A potentially brilliant series gone, but not forgotten....
I have no problem at all admitting I like "Galactica 1980". I
deliberately avoided buying any bootlegs of the show because I figured
the new (and bad) Galactica show would eventually see this released.
Sure it's flawed, but it was a fun show. It actually started off with a really good three-parter, when Troy and Dillon first come to Earth to check things out for the Galactica. I liked that Apollo did appear in a photograph and that one of the main adult characters was a grown-up Boxey. And seeing Boomer again was also great.
I remember as a kid being disappointed that the Cylon attack on Los Angeles was "fake" (a "computer simulation" to see what would happen if the Cylons found Earth) because it was done so clever and well, using the "Earthquake" movie footage. The subplot with Robert Reed as the doctor who makes friends with Troy and Dillon starts off good but Reed's character is simply forgotten about after a few episodes unfortunately. Instead, an Earth woman befriends the Galactica guys and the focal point eventually becomes a bunch of bratty kids, which is where the show starts to get a bit annoying.
The plots are cool, but frankly there just were not enough Cylons in the series. Finally towards the end of the series they start to appear, but in a goofy Halloween setting.
The last episode is generally regarded as the best because it shows the return of Starbuck, who actually makes friends with a Cylon after being stranded from the fleet in flashback. It was very cool seeing Boomer behind the controls of a Viper again. Even this episode has a few problems, such as the Cylon's voice, and where DID he find that girl? The ending is downright sad. Also, there was no Troy and Dillon for this final episode (the actors must have loved that).
So yeah, it has tons of stock footage, goofy kids and thin plots. But it is a fun show, and definitely a fun watch. I for one and very glad it is on DVD, although no extras is a disappointment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In 1980.. a TV series came out that changed the face of American
theater arts. That series, of course, is "Galactica 1980: The Conquest
of the Earth". If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and see the
most magnificent television series EVER...in the history...OF THE
I was truly touched to see the deep level of commitment that the survivors of Battlestar Galactica had in regards to the anti-nuclear campaign and radical environmentalism of the early 80s. I know of no other space beings in television who ever began saving the earth from pollution while dressed as Boy Scout Troop leaders as killer robots were chasing them across the universe.
The scene featuring an intrusion of the Cylon killer robots into a children's Halloween party was quite disturbing. Only the shower scene played by Anthony Hopkins in "Psycho" could possibly come close to equaling the cinematic horror portrayed by this excellent episode.
This series is just saturated in originality which no other television production ever dared tried to copy. Galactica 1980's position at the top of television theater is seemingly forever secured.
Both are plain fun!
++++For those 1st season watchers that are fans of the new series....this is the season that introduced the "human like" cylons.
This series lasts 10 episodes and is entertaining to those who have a base knowledge of Galactica '79 or even the new series (which were both more serious). In this, Galactica has found earth during 1980 and the questions of what would happen if? are pursued. This series is in fun.
Events happen like:
-A Galactica kids' baseball team takes on a Human kids' one.
-Two Galactica motorcyclists are challenged by a "Hells Angel" type group.
-Cylons visit a Human Halloween party and take over a radio station.
-Galactican's stop hijackers from taking over a human plane.
-A "baddie" Galatican (Baltar like) tries to help the Nazi's.
I watched (and bought) this after I saw the 1st season and the new series. I thoroughly enjoyed this lighthearted take.
At least this attempt at trying to revive BG still retained the FUN of
the original series. I saw this series when it first came out, boy was
I excited! My disappointment at the time was the lack of ninety some
percent of the original cast. Other than that, as an eight year old
kid, I didn't care.
Then through the years I read about the crap that it contained. I read that BG fans the world over don't consider it canon and that it's a conspiracy. I can agree with them on that, too!
(I've said this before, I'll say it again, poor Barry Van Dyke has the dismal honor of being cast in two failed revival shows, the other being Airwolf. Both shoes were on the premise of some revival, though the 1987 Airwolf was done mostly to get the show on the syndication market, and both had writing problems, continuity errors, and very limited budgets.)
Fast forward to 2008 when IMDb started having viewable episodes on site. Despite the cheesiness, corniness and continuity errors, the show is STILL FUN TO WATCH! While I still agree the G1980 was utter crap, at least it's still watchable in my humble opinion. Other than comedy, so called "serious" shows today (whether they be SciFi or Drama) lack the fun of both BG and G1980.
This was a poor execution of the right idea: meaning that we BG fans wanted it back on the air, but got less than stellar results. Too bad bickering over the years and other factors got in the way of making it "right." It's a shame the new incarnation wasn't a continuation (I enjoy it by the way. They really put their effort into the stories and characters, even if the fun is gone and it is a dark series.) While it is a superb series in its own right, the fans were just completely ignored IMHO. It didn't really have to retain the fun, but continuation would have been nice, even if it's darker. But that's another story.
Galactica 1980, crap fest? Sure. But I give it credit for retaining the fun of the original. Makes it watchable if you don't pay too much attention to all the things against it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While Galactica 1980 was not anywhere near as good as the original series (10 out of 10 in my opinion)with it's few new but cheesy special effects shots. Come on a strobe light as a special effect? how disco. Even with the later kiddie scripts it is still better than the sci fi channel remake. This show did have some humor with it's fish out of water bits that many find fault with but I find funny, wouldn't't any alien dropped into a strange culture and trying to blend in would have that problem?. I will agree with some that the show was a pale imitation of the original but......it was far better than the political soap opera that they are trying to pawn off on us as entertainment today. If I wanted to watch a soap opera I would watch a soap opera. I for one am enjoying my new set of DVD's of Galactica 1980 and will enjoy them long after the bad taste of the new series has left my mouth. *hint I don't watch it*
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