Battlestar Galactica (1978)
I was back in my summer job as the house and pet sitter extraordinaire. Almost to the summer’s midpoint and Kalua’s owners were visiting relatives in Orlando and here I was broke, lonely, and uninterested.
On a holiday were people are preparing their barbecues, fireworks, chairs, and other party favorites to include a wide variety of spirits and enhancing chemicals while expecting other humans to join them in a day of outdoor fun celebrating the birthday of our nation, I was indoors, alone, and on a nice comfortable chair in front of the large “tube” in the house living room ready for another binging. The binging began around the late morning on the eve of July 4 and ended late into the night of the fourth, as the sounds of fireworks were beginning to wane.
I had bought the original Battlestar Galactica on Blu-ray last Christmas and originally my plan was to watch it during the Christmas break but life got in the way (as usual) and the plans changed to either spring break or summer.
Battlestar Galactica was one of my favorite television shows as a young teen. Based on the movie of the same title and it only “sin” was timing, for it was released after Star Wars and unfairly was labeled a “knockoff”. Even today, I think it is a great story despite all the references at the time of being a Star Wars knockoff.
However, for me, the story was better than Star Wars (I said it!) because the struggles of humanity in the face of extinction has more appeal than a morality story with a spaghetti-western twist, full of brigands and gunslingers along with mysticism of religious overtones.
Do not confuse or misunderstand, I like Star Wars, but the story of Battlestar Galactica has more appeal to me. It has layers, depth, and is more plausible, for it is a story of survival against incredible odds that will test our humanity in the brick of extinction.
The story of Battlestar Galactica also parallels the story of the people of Israel portrayed in the movie “The Ten Commandments (1956), as Moses (Charlton Heston) led his people out of the tyranny and enslavement at the hands of the Egyptians only to wonder for a time in search of place to call home.
Yes, I know it is a biblical story just not much into religion and I think the movie is a good visual reference to make the comparison; furthermore, the movie had a great cast, great direction, and at the time top of the industry special effects (won Oscar for Best Movie in 1956).
In contrast, Battlestar Galactica used many references from early civilizations mostly Egyptian and Greek in their visuals (warriors’ helmets) and names (Apollo, Cassiopeia, etc.) despite being in a similar predicament as Moses and his people as they escaped and struggled to survive.
As the story goes, the Jewish people found the Promised Land and settled, but the ragtag band of human survivors along with Commander Adama (contrary to Moses) never did, as the powers that be (TV executives) cancelled the show after one season.
The box set has good packaging and the quality of the blue-ray transfer is very good giving the appearance that the show is newer than it is. Many additional features like interviews and documentaries enhance the box set that also includes the full screen and wide screen versions of the show.
According to one of the documentaries within the disk extras, it was one of the highest rated pilots aired at the time and kept a decent rating throughout the first episodes.
As I mentioned before, the show suffered from the Star Wars Syndrome (or exhaustion maybe), as many people (usually the same people) deemed it as a cheap knockoff of Star Wars suffering the same fate as many science fiction shows and movies of the time.
It got reprised a few years later as Galactica 1980, and it was a disaster that was cancelled before it got worse, for it was really a mercy-killing since it never was able to connect with fans of the show.
Only Lorne Greene (Commander Adama) returned and some of the original characters made appearances in some episodes like Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) in the “Last Warrior”, (titled in IMDb as The Return of Starbuck) and perhaps the only good episode of the failed series reboot.
It was a bitter ending to a great story that was far more interesting although less appealing ($$$$) than Star Wars.
Some years later or a long time ago in a science fiction network not far away, a remake mini-series of Battlestar Galactica made its debut, and with great interest and patience I sat down and saw this new version.
Like the movie, the mini-series led to a show that lasted four seasons and had an ending, as it survived the networks executives’ shortsightedness.
An achievement that even the detractors of the new show can agree was better than the failed original version.
Even Richard Hatch (the original captain Apollo) who was an avid supporter of a reboot of the show for many years also disagreed in some of the changes to the original show, but became involved and was casted as a new character (Tom Zarek) for the new version of the show.
He died in February 2017, but for many years was an avid supporter of the original show and was directly or indirectly involved in keeping the conversation open among TV executives about bringing back the show. Read his comments on the show and the story of Battlestar Galactica on his website RichardHatch.com
Doing the research fro this post, I came across an interesting article about Mr. Hatch from Otako No Culture (on WordPress) titled “The World of Science Fiction According To Richard Hatch” (2015) that chronicles his carreer as an actor, writer, producer. and overall human being.
Watching the show after so many years (last time in the original Sci-fy Channel) brought memories of my youth.
Memories of a shy pudgy kid that lived in an imaginary world of his making, as a way to cope with the realities in his real life.
Next: The 4th of July Extravaganza Part 2