Today’s show is the original Battlestar Galactica and it’s spinoff show, Galactica: 1980. I’m actually not a big fan of these shows. Still, since its reboot has garnered a lot of praise from fans including me, I thought it would be nice to look at the original show and its sequel.
My first look at anything related to BSG came from an old recorded VHS tape that had some old cartoons on it. There was an episode of Galactica: 1980 on there and it involved the Cylons (“The Night the Cylons Landed”). When we got the Sci-fi Channel (the station wasn’t part of our plan beforehand), I noticed that they would play the show on certain days. Back when the Sci-fi Channel was actually good, they would show a small marathon of shows every work day during the morning and noon times. When I was out of school, they would usually show BSG. After the channel got rid of that cool segment, I had not seen any of the original show since.
When I got Netflix, I noticed that both shows were on there but I didn’t really have any inclination to watch them. A while back, I heard some reviews about some comic book series that were based on this show and that piqued my interest in the show. I also wanted to see if the show was really any good because I really didn’t remember much from it. So, I took a break from watching Fringe (which is/was pretty awesome) and watched the 1 season of BSG. I then tried to watch G: 1980 and… well, I’ll get to that later. What did I think of the two shows? Find out below:
Battlestar Galactica (1978)
For those who don’t know about the show (reboot or otherwise), the show is about a group of human refugees from the 12 colonies of Kobol. They have to flee their home system to escape from the Cylons, a race of robotic beings who basically want to destroy all humans. Their only main line of defense is the Galactica and a crapload of awesome-looking jet fighter-type ships called Vipers. The humans travel in order to find the lost, legendary 13th colony on a planet called Earth.
While the show wasn’t perfect by any means, I thought it was a pretty decent series for its time.
- Overall story – One of the things I liked about the show overall story of their journey. We see the destruction of their system and their journey towards Earth. You also get to see them struggle a little bit with supplies and power struggles. This is one thing the reboot really did well. We would see them go up against the Cylons and other threats out there in the galaxy. I also liked that it was an ongoing narrative.
- Some nice characters – There were some cool characters on the show. I thought Apollo and Starbuck were cool though it took a while to warm up to Starbuck. They really remind me of Luke and Han from Star Wars. Yes, there are some similarities between the two franchises in terms of looks and looks only. I also liked Comm. Adama in that fatherly figure way. His relationship with Apollo was on good terms here unlike how it is in the reboot. Other characters I liked were Boomer, Casseiopeia (?), Colonel Tigh, Baltar, and Lucifer.
- Decent villains – The show also had some pretty decent villains. We had our main villains in the cool-looking Cylons and Baltar, the man who sold humanity out to the Cylons. I have to say that I liked this version of Baltar better than the one in the rebooted series. It could be the fact that he’s play by a former Klingon, I don’t know. These weren’t the only villains the show had to offer. There was a one-off adversary named Count Iblis who was pretty out there… just watch “War of the Gods” and you’ll see what I mean. Another set of villains who were okay were the Eastern Alliance which I’m guessing was an allegory for the Nazis or the Soviets.
- Different, interesting culture – The humans also had their own culture that was different from anything I’ve seen. They had their own language for certain things like telling time. They even had their own swear words and that was pretty awesome and kind of funny.
- Nice theme song – Last but not least, I actually liked the theme song. It’s not the greatest theme song ever, but it does get the job done.
Yes, I have some dislikes with the show. While some are nitpicky, others aren’t.
When the only entertaining thing in "The Young Lords" is a robot in a funny robe, you know the episode is bad.
- Boxey and Muffit – They just had to shoe-horn the boy and his robitic daggitt (dog) in everywhere, didn’t they? Now, that’s not me saying that I loathe the two characters. I do like Boxey more than I do Muffit though not by much. I just wonder why these two were dragged on just about every planet mission in the early episodes. I actually groaned to myself during one episode when they show up on a planet! Luckily, we get these two less and less as the season progresses.
- Some lackluster episodes – Outside of the multipart episodes, most of the stand-alone single episodes were pretty dull. The ones that really come to mind are “The Young Lords” (UGH) and “The Man with Nine Lives.”
- Reuse of Stock footage – There was a lot of stock footage reused during the space battles with the Cylons. If you’ve only watched a couple of episodes, you probably would notice it. If you’ve watched the whole season, you’ll definitely notice it. You’ll notice the pilots traveling on that cart to the dock, the Cylon raider in the middle that gets blasted, and the Galactica on fire. I actually kind of zoned out during the space fights since they are pretty much the same in every episode.
- Starbuck – That’s right, folks. I got to admit that Starbuck annoyed me a few times. It’s like he’s a mixture of Captain Kirk and Han Solo and somehow it’s a mixture that didn’t work for me at first. It seems like he would be the one in the group who always got in trouble. I still do like the character. He has his good points and I like his relationship with Cassiopeia.
- It ended – Unfortunately, the show only lasted a season. I looked online for reasons and it looks like it was cancelled because of low ratings and the fact that it cost a lot to make this show. I read that they spent about $1,000,000 dollars an episode. It sucks because the finale (“The Hand of God”) was actually pretty good for what it was. We even got a glimpse of Earth. Unfortunately, that ended up leading to the next show I’ll talk about… Galactica 1980.
I should have known something was up when I discovered that Netflix only had seven of the ten episodes. This show takes place 30 years after the end of the original show. The Galactica and it’s shipment of refugees have finally made to Earth. Of course, they run into problems. First, they find out that Earth’s technology is pretty primitive (it’s 1980, guys). Second, the Cylons have apparently followed them though they don’t show up until the 7th episode. Finally, they show up on a pretty lackluster show called Galactica: 1980. As you can tell by that snide remark, I didn’t enjoy this.
While there isn’t much to like about the show, there were a couple of things that were okay.
Wow, even the Cylons missed Starbuck! I know I did.
- The time travel premise – The time travel premise they introduced in the first episode was actually interesting. Basically, a commander named Xavier (not bald, by the way) wanted to travel back into Earth’s past give them a technological edge. The council and Doctor Zee thought it was a bad idea because they could make things on Earth worse. So, Xavier steals a Viper and goes back to World War 2. Troy, Dillon, and a reporter chase after him. If the show had stayed like this and used that premise, I probably would have liked it better. Unfortunately, we got “Super Scouts” after this…Ugh.
- “The Return of Starbuck” – It’s probably the best episode of this series. It’s a flashback episode, so it doesn’t revolve around the stuff happening in Earth and Dirk Benedict’s back. It’s not great, but it has its moments. It even gives Doctor Zee an origin and makes him seem less like “Doctor Exposition.” You’ll understand that nickname in a minute.
- Human Cylons – If you think the human Cylon originated with the reboot, you would be somewhat wrong. The show actually had a Cylon disguised as a human and that was actually a decent episode… well, some of it anyway. It took place during Halloween… and involved Wolfman Jack… Yeah, that two-parter went downhill quick!
- It ended – Yes, I said it. It got cancelled after ten episodes. I don’t know how this show could have been salvaged and made into something that was at least decent.
Well, where do I begin?
In any other show, flying motorcycles would be cool. Here, it ain't happening.
- Weak Leads and not a lot of familiar characters – The only people who returned from the original show were Lorne Greene (Comm. Adama) and Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Boomer) in reduced roles. Dirk Benedict did reprise his role as Starbuck in the last episode as well. The main leads were Troy and Dillon. It was clear they were supposed to be a lot like Apollo and Starbuck. Unfortunately, they were pretty much watered down versions of those characters. While Troy was okay, I wasn’t a fan of Dillon. If the original two are Pepsi, then these two are the cheapest brand of cola you can find.
- Too much cheesiness and weak stories– While the original show had its cheesy moments, this show went overload with cheese. It’s like someone threw a gallon of melted cheese on my TV! A lot of the Earth scenes had that amount of cheese with it. The story telling was also weak.
- Not enough Space – Since a lot of the “action” takes place on Earth, there aren’t many space battles nor much time spent in space. I really don’t have too much an issue with it, but I do sort of miss the exploration of space.
- Doctor Zee – On the show, Doctor Zee is a child prodigy that Comm. Adama consults on matters. My nickname for this character is “Doctor Exposition.” All he does is spout exposition. He’s basically Brainac 5 (Legion of Superheroes) without any personality whatsoever. I think HAL 9000 had more personality than this guy and he was a computer!
- "Speedball" – This was the one episode I really had to skip through. Basically, the episode revolves around some kids from the Galactica getting used to being on Earth… and playing baseball. It’s like they wanted to mix “The Bad News Bears” with something cruddy.
- There’s probably more I could say, but I’m tired of talking about this piece of “felderkarb.”
Finally, here are my favorite episodes of both series.
- Saga of a Star World – It’s the pilot episode of the series.
- Lost Planet of the Gods – The Galactica is on the run from the Cylons when they find an anomaly in space.
- The Living Legend – The Galactica finds the legendary Battlestar Pegasus, led by Commander Cain.
- War of the Gods – Vipers start to disappear as the Galactica finds a weird planet that houses a strange man by the name of Count Iblis. Baltar is also captured.
- Baltar’s Escape – Baltar and other prisoners try to escape from the prision barge.
- Experiment in Terra – Weird stuff happens.
- The Hand of God – The final episode of BSG.
- Galactica Discovers Earth – The Galactica finds Earth and has to deal with Xavier.
- The Night the Cylons Landed – The Cylons make their return and the concept of Human Cylons is introduced.
- The Return of Starbuck – It's the final episode of G: 1980.
Well, that ends that. Do I recommend any of these series? I do recommend that you at least check out the original BSG. It’s just 24 episodes. If you’re a fan of the reboot and and want to see what inspired it, check it out. It’s a decent series. As for the other series… well, I say see the first and last episodes. You have no need to see the rest. If you want to see all of Galactica: 1980, enter at your own risk. Well, I'm outta here. Peace and God Bless.