Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Discuss: Battlestar Galactica

Karen: We're talking about the original Battlestar Galactica here, the 1970s series that capitalized on the immense popularity of Star Wars. While visually stunning (for the time), it always seemed to be missing something. I think a lot more could have been done with the premise, what with the lost tribe, the whole Egyptian motif, and so on. Also, I think the idea of having our heroes always running away might have rubbed people the wrong way on some level. But it's still fun to look at, and it inspired the new series, which many folks consider to be one of the best sci fi shows ever.

So what say you all on the adventures of the Galactica?


david_b said...

Close to my heart, Galactica works very well as ‘a television series’, which is why it doesn’t hold up well on blu-ray. Other than it’s theatrical releases in Canada and overseas (primarily to recoup it’s enormous cost for the studio..), it was always meant only as a television venture to capitalize on SW. It’s actually painful to watch some of the space scenes, because the effects were only done to look well on television, hence more close-ups, etc, rather than how ships are blocked for cinematic viewing.

With that in mind, it was a big money winner for Universal. Problems came back when ABC was seeing the studio was couping all the income for licensing, hence their desire not to renew it for a 2nd year. Ratings wise, it stayed in the Top 20 for most of it’s airing, easily assuring renewal for most shows. Of course, with Greene’s salary and the other expenses, it would be a big investment for ABC to fund another year.

I didn’t like it initially, being more devoted to SW. When Anne Lockhart came on, the show began to grow it’s ‘legs’, adding secondary characters, becoming more than a sum of it’s parts, and less than a ‘space-battle-of-the-week’ show. Like Space:1999, I can name the shortcomings as much as anyone else, but generally I liked the show more towards the end.
The final ‘Hand of God’ episode is regarded my most as the best.

The episodes typically were re-writes of movies like ‘Shane’, ‘Towering Inferno’ and ‘Magnificent Seven’, but why not..? They were great movies.

More later.

david_b said...

Sorry, my 2nd sentence in my 2nd paragraph, wasn't phrased properly.

If you look at the business aspect of it, ABC paid Universal to produce for them a SW-type show. Universal delivered. What ABC didn't like was that they got exactly what they requested, but not the tertiary income, such as merchandising, movie income, etc, which was rightfully due to Universal. I'm not even discussing the lawsuits 20th Century posed from the Lucas folks, which is perhaps too off-subject here.

Hope no one brings up 'Galactica 1980'.., just a hopeless cause, 'cept for the 'Return of Starbuck' with Dirk Benedict.

As for the look, I really enjoyed the earthtone uniforms and Vipers. I went to the 20th Yarhen celebration in LA, it was quite good. Hatch was great to talk to.

Anonymous said...

there's a new battlestar galactica? i am pretty sure lorne green is dead...did they at least get dirk benedict and richard hatch? jane seymour?

--matt alias anonymous

Edo Bosnar said...

As a kid I used to just love the series, and my friends and I would excitedly discuss episodes on the bus ride to school. However, when I watched some of the reruns in high school and later, I thought they did not hold up well at all, with little of the redeemable or least fun & campy qualities of other dated SF shows. Even so, I did like some of the spaceship designs, such as the Battlestar itself and the Cylon saucers - simple yet menacing. Also, Marvel's comic series was actually pretty good, especially that last bunch of issues that Walt Simonson did.
And since david_b mentioned it, I would say my favorite episode of the entire original Galactica (i.e. both the original series and the abhorrent Galactica '80) is 'The Return of Starbuck.' It was both funny and profoundly sad.

MattComix said...

For all it's obvious flaws, I will gladly take the original series over the modern one any day of the week. Not even because I think it's some great work of artistic achievement, it just happens to be much more entertaining.

The modern series is basically familiar ideas from the original run through the grimdark ringer, and shot like CSI all in holy sacrifice to the altar of Serious Business.

..and if you're like me it's like on the one hand you can appreciate things being less goofy than they were before but on the other it's so aggressively darkened and divorced from anything charming about the original series that the whole thing just leaves you cold.

david_b said...

The 'reimaged series' didn't do anything for me:

1) Dysfunctional, when the earlier one was heroic (at times.., hammy, yes..);

2) Provocative situations, when the earlier show was more family-oriented, not that I liked 'cute kid' shows, but Boxy wasn't too bad.

None of the new characters had any screen presence to even hold my interest. I like heroics, plain and simple. I don't mind vulnerabilities, but this show just seemed to topical in style to really stand out. Despite grafting in the series name and character names, it was not Galactica to me.

I applaud the vision to bring in more realism, but as stated, none of the actors did anything for me.

Nor did the sexy Cylons.

Garett said...

I watched the original movie again last year and enjoyed it. That era was super for me, starting with Star Wars in '77. Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon...lots of heroic movies for a kid. Galactica was one I watched every week--liked the characters and vipers. I tried watching the new Galactica, but couldn't get into it despite the good reviews--not enough fun.

Is there something about grim=adult, in some comics and movies? It seems to me that grim is a protective shield against criticism, rather than a vibrant expression of life.

david_b said...


Nice expression.., 'grim is a protective shield against criticism, rather than a vibrant expression of life.'

Very, very insightful.

Totally agreed on your comments, it was back when sci-fi was fun, a bit like 'Firefly' was, as another single-season gem..

It's ironic, in early interviews, George Lucas had the line of 'I'd love to have copy-catters of SW, so I can just sit back and watch..'

Yeah, well, 20th Century Fox didn't seem to share the same view.

To me, as a comparison, I told my wife once Space:1999 was like a fine wine, Galactica was more like drinking root beer. My wife's a wine snob, so she understood.

NOT to say root beer is bad, there are some mighty fine brews out there. And I enjoy root beer on occasion. But the comparison stuck nevertheless.

I liked some of the Mattel toys, which were nowhere as nice as the, 'course one of my favorite ships (the Landram) was only released in Canada and typically runs nearly $1000 to buy on eBay.. (yes, I typed 'a thousand'..).


Inkstained Wretch said...

I watched the original series back in the day but can barely recall it and haven't seen an episode in probably 30 years. I enjoyed it a lot at the time but I could be pretty undiscriminating as a kid. So I'm not in a rush to re-watch it and spoil those memories.

One thing I do recall was that Lorne Greene's presence in the show was a big deal for a lot of adults and sparked a lot "space Ponderosa" jokes. Never having seen Bonanza, I had no idea what they were talking about. I just knew Greene as the guy who sold Alpo dog food.

On the other hand, I have seen the first two seasons of the revamped series and I honestly think that that is some of the best televsion ... well, ever.

david_b said...

I heard Lorne Green had some problem with all the science lingo..

He read 'asteroids' and thought that's what you had from riding horses all day.


starfoxxx said...

I remember Battlestar as somewhere between Star Trek (sorry, I just don't get it) and Star Wars (my favorite). Much cooler action and spaceship fights than Trek, but with alot of the more boring Trek-like scenes.

I remember being intrigued by the big bad guy who never was completety seen, until I got the action figure. Who was that weird afro-headed purple guy?? And the Cylons were so cool, the voices and the glowing "eye"! Also a cool action figure (Man, I wish I still had those).So much ripped off STAR WARS, but who didn't/hasn't???

But my most prominent memory was from the pilot/movie---Those singing "women" with the multiple eyes! FREAKED ME OUT, but I was only 5 or 6. Then I got the comic-book adaptation AND THEY WERE IN THE COMIC and IT SCARED ME AGAIN! I almost wanted to tear that page out! Creepy!

William Preston said...

I was in high school when it came out. It disappointed me. Not as much as Buck Rogers, which was just goofy (though I dug Erin Gray), but still, the characters and situations didn't seem serious enough, or not as dramatically thoughtful as Trek, which was my gold standard. (I loved SW, which had the requisite seriousness for something that was clearly fantasy and not SF.)

The comic, under Simonson, was indeed great.

david_b said...

Oh, and that Mattel Landram I mentioned.., there's an eBay auction now it with box for $8,000.

Jeez. Never saw 'em go for that much, but it still goes for a hefty price.

Rip Jagger said...

I always liked it for what it was, a pretty entertaining television show. But I had a problem of always seeing Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright from Bonanza, so it undermined the whole magilla for me a bit.

I agree on the Egyptian thing though, as I expected more from that great visual clue. I think the art designers were more clever than the writers in that regard.

The Cylons were properly scary though, that's a great plus for the show.

Rip Off

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

I wish that it was allowed to go more seasons. While I thought of it as a Star Wars and Star Trek rip off, it evolved into something better. Originally the Cylons were going to be aliens. However Standards and Practices would not allow them to laser blast so many aliens per week. They were turned into robots because they could get away with a lot more laser gun battles.

The new Sy Fy version was much better. There is talk of a prequel called Burning Chrome. I wonder if it will ever get made. It looks very good. It's better than Caprica.

Again I have to agree that the producers should have did more with the mythology and their origins with the Egyptian ancestors. It would have made it a better show if we found out where they were from.

Lorne Green was good in the original as a fahter figure, much like he was in Bonanza. However I was glad he didn't try to be Captain Kirk. That wouldn't have worked.

Garett said...

Thanks David. I agree that Galactica is the root beer of SF!

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