Friday, March 14, 2008

Battlestar Galactica 1980... Huh?

The President of the United States There was a key element missing from my childhood.  When I was little, I took an immediate dislike to Jimmy Carter, because he interrupted the Battlestar Galactica pilot for some stupid speech, probably State of the Union or some stupid crap like that.  Dude, get off the TV, I'm watching a monkey dressed up like a robotic dog!

Battlestar Galactica ended abruptly, but lived on in reruns for the better part of my childhood, and can still be found today.   It was an amazing show for it's time.  Unfortunately, the effects were just as expensive back then, and BG was one of the most expensive shows of it's time, leading to it's cancellation.    Network execs can be real bungholes...

The backlash caused by the cancellation of BG led the execs to reconsider their decision, and eventually the reinstated the show, in a manner of speaking.  Enter Battlestar Galactica 1980.Battlestar Galactica... what happened?

I completely missed this show.  It apparently wasn't well received even when it was new.  It was canceled after a handful of episodes.  I recall the commercials for it, but either I never got around to actually watching it, or my brain was so traumatized by the event that I've suppressed all memory of it. 

I decided to catch up.  Thanks to Netflix, I was able to watch all of the episodes of BG1980 and see what I had been missing.

Mutant Boy The first three episodes started fairly well.  It helped that I was expecting utter crap, so it would have been hard to disappoint.  So the plot is they've found earth.  Apollo is gone (no explanation), and so is Starbuck (no explanation, at first anyway).  Now, even though they still refer to the Quorum of 12 from time to time, they never really make an appearance and the whole fleet is being led by this mutant uber-geek called Dr. Zee.  In the first few episodes, they applied some strange effect to his voice, I suppose to make him sound other-worldly.  Apparently that got too expensive for later episodes. 

The first three episodes formed a three part story arc, which was rare in those days, and tended to lend the show a little bit of credibility.  The super-scaled-back budget was pretty apparent, from the title credits which showed exclusively clips from the original series, to the battle scenes which were also exclusively clips from the original series.

Warning: spoilers ahead. 

I can get past bad, cheap special effects.  I understand that not every show will have a multi-billion-dollar-an-episode budget, and don't expect hollywood quality effects from 80s sci-fi.  BUT... there's no excuse for bad writing.  After starting well (I gave them some extra leeway for the fact that it was the first episodes, which are never all that great), the show quickly devolved into standard 80s type television.  Any one of the plots could have easily been transplanted into Knight Rider, the A-Team, or any other number of similar 80s TV shows with minimal rewriting.  Very few were had anything unique to BG that was central to the plot.  The show had almost nothing redeeming about it until the last episode The Return of StarbuckProbably not as good as I remember it

This is where we finally find out what happened to our favorite womanizing hot-shot pilot.  The plot apparently borrowed heavily from Enemy Mine, or maybe it was the other way around.  Anyway, the similarities were unnerving.  In a flashback, Starbuck crash lands on an abandoned planet that he immediately names Planet Starbuck.  He finds the cylons he was fighting crashed not too far away, and in a fit of loneliness, fixes one. 

They of course become friends, even though the cylon vehemently denies it.  At one point, after a nasty lovers quarrel, the cylon says he's going to find Starbuck a woman.  Surprisingly, he does.  While nobody shows any normal level of interest in exactly where she came from, she soon becomes part of the group.  Oh, and she's pregnant with Starbuck's psychic love child.  I dont know

Role model for young boys of the 70s The lover's spats between Starbuck and the cylon get worse as the cylon gets jealous of Starbuck and the mysterious woman.  Finally the baby is born, and Starbuck is suddenly able to figure out how to build a small spaceship from the left over parts of his crashed viper and the cylon raider.  He puts the woman and the baby on the ship and they take off, leaving Starbuck alone with the cylon again.  A few new cylons show up, and the friendly cylon (Cy, was his name, BTW) is killed defending Starbuck while killing his fellow cylons.  Starbuck is all alone again, except the mystery woman shows up on a cliff and announces to the cosmos that she "judges this man good".  Okay, we could've done that for you, we saw the original series, lady. 

The spaceship shows up at Galactica with only the baby on board, who grows up to be (like it could've turned out any other way) Dr. Zee. 

With the exception of those four episodes, there was nothing else worth saving about this show.  It's a typical maltreatment of a good show by money-centric corporate executives, convinced that the cattle they call viewers will watch any piece of crap they put in front of them, so they focus on cutting costs, crank out yet another cookie cutter TV show, and sit back and wait for the money to roll in. 

It's no wonder Richard Hatch's Galactica 2.0 starts with the premise that '80 never happened.  I kindof wish it hadn't either.  Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of potential there, but nobody put in the effort to try to make this show something special. 

Best known as Jack Crichton Interesting facts: The star of the show, Kent McCord, whose character, despite being called Troy was actually Boxey grown up, also played John Crichton's father on Farscape, Jack Crichton.  Jerry Van Dyke, the other main character, was Dick Van Dyke's son.  Also Robyn Douglas who played the hottie reporter, apparently did a Playboy Cover in 1974 (according to IMDB).  It's kindof interesting she did it before landing the part on BG1980.  She also doesn't seem to have been heard from since the '80s.  Too bad....

1 comment:

  1. so yes sci-fi mentioning over Shostakovich ;) and now some more info about Russians in our quite notorious USSR thing... we had this one ruling political party (it's a known historical fact me thinks) and the head of the party was also the head of the state to some extent, meaning there were some ppl that were considered to be leaders they were lifers and they were worshiped or they wanted to be worshiped. I vaguely remember that - was a kid. What I do remember that back in early 80s they were dying like hell one after another and all country had to go into mourning namely no entertainment allowed. You know we used to have only 2 TV channels of shit at all back then and 1 radio station and on those mourning days they all of a sudden started putting out only classical stuff all over (TV, radio) operas, ballets, orchestral pieces, all profound and monumental. So when all higher-ups had eventually died those ppl on TV decided to put all classics away far far away ;) and some years after don't remember was it still USSR or Russia already when we happened to see Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake on TV we usually stared giggling "Has anyone died up there?" you see Pavlov's conditional reflex in action ;)

    now i'm into Battlestar Galactica severely i think ;) getting new one from torrent :x actually my friend does cause i'll go broke if i start doing it ;) i spent $40 for the last 2 eps of the 2nd season of Dead Like Me (they couldn't translate them for half a year!! so didn't put untranslated ones on local net to lessen price for those interested ;) so i was all fine don't need you community help i can do that myself :) i don't need you at all :)

    but one thing i do for my community i find out new stuff out there so i was into awaiting the next BS season, relations between versions and so on and sci-fi doesn't want to show me their last teaser :mad: cause of my ip (not that i don't know what a proxy is ;) but the fact is it's not fair :)

    so now i need to dig that Starbuck thing out... i'm shocked... i don't want to see the original serial it's a mess ;D thank you :)