|Our trio of galactic heroes: Apollo (Richard Hatch), Adama (Lorne Greene) and Starbuck (Dirk Benedict). Image: UNIVERSAL.|
Welcome to this new blog site devoted to the original and enduring science fiction adventure series that is the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. The most expensive weekly TV series ever made for its time- of which its stunning pilot episode was also released in 1978/79 as a theatrical event in the UK, Europe and Canada- GALACTICA may ultimately have only lasted one season, but its well-cast actors, great special effects and timelessly enjoyable story-telling remain as compulsively addictive to fans old and new across the world.
Our first feature linked to the original, classic GALACTICA series comes from 2008, and a piece from the STAR WARS AFICIONADO web/blog sites, written by your truly, celebrating the TV series then thirtieth anniversary, born in the wake of STAR WARS stratospheric launch and success in the cinemas:
The birthday anniversary celebrations continue- this is one, though STAR WARS related, that is not actually about the saga itself. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, often considered as almost the seventies bastard child of the original STAR WARS movie, has, as of 17th September 2008, now reached that mighty milestone many people thought it never would. Originally conceived in the mid-sixties (according to it’s creator, Glen A. Larson), and first known as ADAM'S ARK, then, in the seventies, as the bold STAR WORLDS (you couldn't get a more catchy I wonder what that sounds like title, eh?), before post-WARS finally settling as BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (and getting a mighty story polish with the visual impact of the theatrical release and success of Lucas’s film at the same time!!), the series, a space age re-telling of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbour, going beyond it to focus on the last remnants of humanity's search for the sanctuary of the far off planet Earth, away from the rampaging hordes of the evil robotic/lizard Cylon Empire chasing them, was, on its original 1978 transmission and European theatrical release (it was released by UNIVERSAL in SENSURROUND sound in selected cinemas -remember that!!?), quickly to become one of the most costly pilots and regular episodic series of all-time to make-and also one of the main reasons why it was eventually cancelled way too early in it's one and only season run. It may not have had the commercial success and wide ranging appeal of STAR WARS, but the legacy of the show, quickly commissioned by UNIVERSAL after their disastrous move in turning down Lucas’s “sci-fi project” in 1974/75 (and seeing how much money they now had to gain in that medium), has endured in many ways due to the huge amount of talented people from the first STAR WARS movie who went on to work for it- Ralph McQuarrie on the conceptual art (check out the artists excellent book for some of his stunning work on the project), John Dykstra as producer, and Dennis Muren and Richard Edlund on model camera work, all of whom contributed on the critical first seven hours of the show (when it was originally planned as a mini-series). BG also created/ induced a frenzy of paranoia in George Lucas that has remained to this day-the idea of having to protect his saga from the army of film studio rip-off artists that would need only one blurbed out secret from his production camp to ruin an entire film and audience's surprises for his future WARS sequels-and possibly damaging future box office sales as well. Ideas of security that would create conditions that, at the time, and even since (with the arrival of RETURN OF THE JEDI, where the situation was soon at its zenith), were unheard of, and continue at his organisation to this very day on all of his other projects. By the time of GALACTICA’s transmission, the new show, and Larson, were deemed a heavy threat to FOX/LUCASFILM. And yet, the year before, both Lucas and Producer Gary Kurtz had been aware of the show and the fact that their artists/visual effects people, many of which were not under any firm contracts, were out of work with no idea at that time as to when the next WARS sequel would be happening after the first films completion, and with ILM as a company not totally cemented, had no financial choice but to work on work on Project: GALACTICA. By the time of the series first three hour pilot, SAGA OF A STAR WORLD, Kurtz even saw/ made some recommendations to its creator Larson about things that should be changed in the series so that they didn't clash with the unique visual aspects of STAR WARS. Hell, Lucas originally gave his blessing to it and indeed let his out of work people work on it (including Dykstra, though their relationship had probably deteriorated to the point where Lucas was probably never going to re-hire him for a possible STAR WARS sequel anyway) and said in an interview quote in 1977, after the first WARS release and continuing success at the Box Office, its creator was going to take a step back and enjoy watching all of the sci-fi films that would be spawned in his films wake. That mindset ultimately changed when GALACTICA came out, though, cutting a little too close to the bone inn his mind with it's Cylon warriors that looked like Darth Vader, heroes Apollo and Starbuck that both had elements of Han and Luke in their characters, and ships that darted about with the visual and fast paced effects similarities to X-wing fighters.
And then there was that infamous copyright infringement court case between Lucas and FOX against UNIVERSAL, which, after three years, Lucas and FOX were destined to lose (after UNIVERSAL unleashed their trump weapon: the Huey, Lewey and Dewey robots from their earlier sci-fi flick SILENT RUNNING, which Lucas in the seventies would actually, to some degree, use as an inspiration in part for the development of Artoo Detoo (as revealed in THE MAKING OF STAR WARS book from J.W. Rinzler), and that all parties, at the end of the day, probably thought they'd wished they'd never bothered to go to court and waste so much money on in the first place. Ultimately, the only ones who enjoyed the court case were the world's press vultures, always hungering and leaping on their prey and any other dead carcasses in their wake, when it comes to a good old fashioned creative battle they can report on ad nausea.
Like STAR WARS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA has also spawned off into many other new avenues over the years-there has been a healthy amount of merchandise, a spin off show-GALACTICA 1980-which could almost be considered it’s own version of THE HOLIDAY SPECIAL (only BG’s fan base had to endure a more painful thirteen episodes of that instead of WARS one and only slice of bad-ness)- and, to many fans joy, spawned a new re-take on the original series, with a further spin-off to come-CAPRICA, produced by wunderkid Ronald D. Moore of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION fame, which, in many ways, has been more successful with a modern audience of viewers, and critically, than the original parent that spawned it. Yes, the modern version of BG has great effects and terrific acting, but the storylines at time are so serious and depressing, and the characters so grumpy and unhappy that it makes you want to slash your wrists watching it at times. I'll stick with the happy go lucky, brave and adventurous storytelling of the original-the re-hashes of THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, THE TOWERING INFERNO and SHANE-yep, I love 'em- and the brave heroics of the boys and girls of Blue Squadron. Yes, they all wore flares and long hair styles that would make a 1977 Mark Hamill envious… Yes, the Cylons weren't dangerous enough (the result of Network viewing standards interference), and the great model effects were re-used time and time again…but the original series still retains a tremendous, exciting charm and it feels very STAR WARS'y in the best way thanks to the input of the aforementioned production personnel that worked on it. There was also the riding the crest of the STAR WARS wave which was, to me, as an eight year old sci-fi adventure nut, very appealing- I loved collecting the BG bubble gum cards, the figures and the toys, and, whist waiting for the next stage in STAR WARS theatrical future, it proved a very welcoming and still enjoyably diverting part in my life- and an interest in that first season that has continued on to this very day..
Here's a nice fan tribute to some of the series greatest moments: Battlestar Galactica 30th Anniversary: Favourite Scenes - YouTube
Classic Trailer German fan compilation: Battlestar Galactica Classic Trailer - YouTube