If you know me, you know my love for Battlestar Galactica. I wrote the following piece to commemorate the show’s 35th anniversary… some 6 years ago. It’s hard to believe this show is now going on 42 years old! I don’t care if its Glen A Larson or Ron Moore, I love Galactica. I love this rag-tag fleet and the stories behind it. I love the spin-off movies and shows. And I’m looking forward to the reboots to come…
“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… that they may have been the architects of the Great Pyramids… or the lost civilizations of Lemuria… or Atlantis.
Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man… who even now fight to survive-somewhere beyond the heavens!”
Imagine, if you can, being an 11-year-old boy in 1978. The phenomenon known as STAR WARS had just hit the year previous. Our action figures from the movie had finally arrived, on playgrounds, we all became rugged smugglers or knights favoring the light or darkness. We were clamoring for more space opera, frothing at the bit for more science fiction adventures on the screen, be it large or small. Sure, we had STAR TREK, but that was becoming old hat and boring. Its over-syndication in that era when cable TV wasn’t as prolific as it is today was ridiculous.
The fall TV season of 1978 brought with it a new TV season, and ABC TV stepped up to the plate to deliver the goods we so wantonly desired. Television writer and producer Glen A. Larson had come up with the premise for a series he first called ADAM’S ARK. He subtly infused into it themes prevalent in his religious background as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Ancient Alien theories of Erik Von Daniken, and added a healthy dose of Cold War fear. The show eventually became the venerated BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.
This week marks the 35th Anniversary of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. The original series premiered on Sunday night, September the 17th, with the first episode, The Saga of Star World. It also had a limited theatrical run, earlier that summer in Canada, but for me, it was the United States network television premiere. I fondly recall watching the broadcast and being mad that ABC News cut into it for the historic Camp David Accords. While the three world leaders made peace in the Middle East, my buddies and I were on the phone, talking in wonder and awe at this visual feast that was before our eyes and would be on TV every week! THIS WAS AWESOME! The show eventually came back on, my parents let me stay up to watch it on a school night. My dreams that night were of flying a Viper and shooting Cylons. The next day at school every little geek boy and girl was talking about the show. I even went as far as to order the cardboard Viper cockpit from the back of a Trix cereal box. I became bitten and enamored by the adventures of Starbuck, Apollo, and Commander Adama. I eagerly awaited Sunday, then Saturday nights, nothing would come between me and that show.
The weeks went by, the stories and adventures went on as the Fleet searched for the lost planet, Earth. Episodes like The Lost Planet of The Gods in which our heroes discover an ancient Egyptian-like planet that was home to their gods. I cried at the death of Apollo’s wife, Serina (played by the forever beautiful Jane Seymour.) during the second part of the story. Or how about The Gun on Ice Station Zero, a western unlike any other. The fan-favorite though is The Living Legend in which we are introduced to Commander Cain and lost The Battlestar Pegasus.
The series shared so much of STAR WARS that it received criticism for it. John Dykstra, the special effects guru behind the then-fledgling Industrial Light & Magic jumped ship to do the effects, causing a legal battle. John Williams even did the score. Regardless, the series stands on its own in my mind.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA ran its year-long course and drifted away, it’s large budget becoming prohibitive. It eventually came back, morphed into a low budget monstrosity called GALACTICA 1980. I remember watching that with my Dad. We both looked at each other and said, “This sucks.” I think we watched one episode, maybe two.
The dark wonder that was THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK allowed me to somewhat forget the debacle of GALACTICA 1980 and sucked me back into George Lucas’s saga. Something was missing though. More years passed and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA became a fond memory of my youth, like a seldom played song on a great classic rock album. If I thought of it, the show would bring a smile to my face. Syndication was rare for Galactica, you could catch repeats here and there. Video release was also limited and expensive. It wasn’t until the show got its re-imagined push from Ron Moore in 2003 that you were able to obtain the original series affordably.
The alternative to STAR WARS or STAR TREK, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA endears after three decades for reasons that are pretty obvious. With its pseudo-polytheistic-Judeo-Christian theology tied into the show’s premise of searching for our planet, I found I could closely relate to BATTLESTAR GALACTICA than I could to STAR WARS or STAR TREK. The setting and themes made my suspension of belief easier.
The Ron Moore BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is one of the first “re-imaginings” of the modern era and is still the best, in my opinion. It extrapolated on the concepts of the original series and turned a space opera into a military science fiction machine. The show further connected with me due to its correlation to 9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Certainly controversial at times, adhering to true sci-fi as a social analogy of current world events; as well as being epic in scope yet intimate in its drama, the re-imagined BATTLESTAR GALACTICA became a flagship of the Sci-Fi Channel. Yes, Ron Moore did turn some of our beloved characters on their heels, especially by turning Starbuck and Boomer into females, just for example. But in the end, his decisions have been held up by the power of the actresses that took on the rolls, especially the ever-present Katy Sackhoff. It gave birth to the spin-off series, the short-lived CAPRICA, and at least two SyFy movies, RAZOR and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME.
To further feed my Galactica needs, Bryan Singer announced last year he would be adapting the original series for the big screen (*2020 – FUCK BRYAN SINGER.). I’m looking forward to it coming to fruition. With JJ Abrams successfully breathing life back into the STAR TREK franchise, and the imminent heralding of Episode VII of STAR WARS, a new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA would be a welcome addition to the world of science fiction. Happy birthday, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. So Say We All.
“Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the last Battlestar, Galactica, leads a rag-tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest…a shining planet known as Earth.”