Archive for the ‘Battlestar Galactica’ Category

The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 8: Bring Me the Head of Tucker Burns (2001)   7 comments

Above:  The Headless Biker

All images in this post are screen captures.

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Bring Me the Head of Tucker Burns

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired August 25, 2001

Production Number = 5009-01-111

Starring

Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Octavia L. Spencer as Ruby Rydell

Main Guest Cast

Paul Lane as the Headless Biker

Mark A. Shepherd as Nitro

Elaine Hendrix as Kristen Martin

Casey Biggs as Dick Blanston

Len Cordova as Detective Hector Garibaldi

Behind the Camera

Consulting Producer = Naren Shankar

Writer = Javier Grillo-Marxuach

Director = Sanford Bookstaver

Above:  Tucker Burns and Kristen Martin

Brief Summary

At midnight each day, for a few days, a headless motorcyclist wearing a jack-o-lantern helmet beheads a person with an annoying job that makes the lives of ordinary people miserable.  The first three victims are, in order, an employee of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, a meter maid, and a tax auditor.  The episode begins with the execution of the meter maid.

Tucker encounters Kristen Martin again as both of them join the gaggle of journalists at the scene of the meter maid’s beheading.  The lead detective in the case is Hector Garibaldi, who misses many vital clues and becomes a recurring character.  At the crime scene, Kristen asks Tucker if he thinks alien head hunters are responsible.  He jokes, “Nah!  LBJ kicked all the alien head hunters off the planet once they got Jayne Mansfield.  Bad scene.”  Kristen replies, “Cute.”   They agree to share leads.  Sharing leads leads to dating during the episode as Tucker focuses on romancing Kristen, thereby allowing the investigation to fall to Wes and Grace.

Grace had been working on a story about a scientist who claimed to be cloning the Rat Pack, minus Joey Bishop.  Allegedly, the cloned Rat Pack would be ready to start performing in Las Vegas by the end of the year.

In the archives, Wes and Grace uncover a plethora of legends about headless horsemen, bikers, et cetera, from all around the world.  Wes explains that some of these headless spirits merely wreak the same kind of havoc they did in life.  He continues, “Many people think this legend explains the Reagan era.”

Wes and Grace uncover a lead about a Hell’s Angel (Clarence, known as “Hellboy”) accidentally decapitated a few years prior.  They interview Clarence’s brother, Nitro, who sells motorcycles.  Nitro tells Wes and Grace that Clarence, a veteran of the U.S. invasion of Panama, got drummed out of the Army for reasons related to conduct, then became a bounty hunter.  Nitro also tells our heroes from the World Chronicle that Clarence enjoyed frightening children by wearing the jack-o-lantern helmet.  Nitro affectionately describes his late brother (whose skull he later admits to having kept) as “a whore-monger, a gambler, and a drunk.”

Shortly thereafter, Wes and Grace attempt to save the life of the third victim, a tax auditor.  They succeed, however, in locating the Headless Biker’s lair.  Then the call the police.  Detective Garibaldi proves to be useless.

Wes and Grace uncover a vital clue:  all the victims have sequential driver’s license numbers.  They would use the Rosetta Stone to hack into the DMV’s computer, to identify the next possible victim.  Why not?  The Rosetta Stone does interpret extraterrestrial languages.  Yet, as Wes explains, “nobody screws with the DMV.”  Fortunately, Vera the sex-starved receptionist has a former boyfriend who works at the DMV.  She uses phone sex to get the essential information for Wes and Grace.

The next possible victim is Dick Blanston, a cable guy.  Wes and Grace get to him just in time for the Headless Biker to drive into the apartment.  They take Blanston to relative safety at the offices of the World Chronicle, but the Headless Biker drives into the tabloid’s headquarters.  Wes and Grace hide with Blanston in the elevator, but the Headless Biker abducts Tucker and leaves a note (written in blood) threatening to kill Tucker unless our heroes deliver Blanston by dawn.  Blanston, from Hell (literally), takes the file on the case of the decapitations.  Off-screen, he beats up Nitro and takes Clarence’s skull.  Then Wes and Grace visit Nitro.

Clarence is the Headless Biker.  He is also still a bounty hunter.  Blanston and the other victims are prisoners.  They are souls of discord who escaped from the eighth circle of Hell.  The soul of discord who got a job at the DMV set up everyone else with new identities and with sequential driver’s license numbers.  Clarence is working for Satan, I guess.

Kristen ceases to deny the existence of a biker after she and Tucker witness him exit the offices of the World Chronicle.  However, Kristen denies that the Headless Biker is headless, for she saw him wear a helmet.

Blanston goes to the Headless Biker’s lair.  Wes, Grace, and Nitro meet him there.  Nitro rides a motorcycle and wears a jack-o-lantern helmet.  Blanston tosses the skull to that cyclist, who removes his helmet to reveal that he is Nitro.  The Headless Biker returns Tucker, safe and sound.  Then Clarence drives up and decapitates Blanston.  Nitro tosses the skull to Clarence, who removes he helmet, puts the skull on, then puts the helmet back on.  Nitro says his farewell to Clarence, who drives off and never beheads again.  Next, Nitro thanks Wes and Grace for helping him find closure and offers each one a deal on a motorcycle.  Then he, in a good mood, rides away.

The useless police, tipped off by Kristen, show up.  Kristen is glad to see that Tucker is alive.  They are now boyfriend and girlfriend.

Above:  Ruby Rydell

Character Beats

Grace does not know who the Hessians were.

Donald Stern is an expert in retrofitting space stations.

Tucker decided to become a journalist because of the example of his grandfather, a reporter.

Kristen decided to become a journalist because of the example of Lois Lane.  (Was Lois Lane a good reporter?  How sharp were her powers of observation?)

Great Lines

Wes:  “Who wouldn’t want to ice a meter maid and a DMV clerk?”

Wes:  “I knew an elementary school education would come in handy.”

Wes:  “Now, I know what you’re thinking:  It’s impossible, you know, Germans making war and all that.”

Kristen:  “Why do all men think that women want to be Lois Lane?  And don’t get me started on Supergirl.”

Wes (at Dick Blanston’s door):  “We know you’re in there watching reruns of Suddenly Susan, buddy.  Open up now.”

Above:  Detective Hector Garibaldi, N.Y.P.D.

In-Universe

This episode marks the first appearance of Detective Hector Garibaldi, a police officer yet hardly one of New York’s finest.  The journalists at the World Chronicle are better detectives than he is.

Donald Stern is in Russia, helping the team retrofitting Mir.  Apparently, the crash of the space station into the ocean on March 23, 2001, was a cover story.  (March 23, 2001, was in the recent past in the present day of this episode.)

Wes and Grace once chased a disembodied hand down the Holland Tunnel.

On the other hand, Wes finds going to New Jersey creepier than chasing a disembodied hand.

Kristen Martin begins continues down the path of struggling with the possibility of the world be a stranger place than she assumes.

How many other escaped prisoners from the eighth circle of Hell work in annoying jobs?  And which bounty hunter(s) will pursue them?

Above: Kristen Martin Sees the Biker, Whose Existence She Had Just Denied

Comments

I detect open hostility to the Department of Motor Vehicles in this episode.  I understand this.  In Georgia, we have the ironically-named Department of Driver Services.  I have my own story about that agency, staffed with Vogons.  (Yes, I have read Douglas Adams.)

This episode is worthy of watching many times, and not just for the swipes at the DMV.

Bring Me the Head of Tucker Burns is not the first episode of a television series to feature a headless motorcyclist.  I know of one other, Chopper (1975), from Kolchak:  The Night Stalker (1974-1975).

Nothing in this episode is gratuitous.  The camera cuts away (sometimes to shadows) at certain moments.  Leaving some details to one’s fertile imagination suffices.

I binge-watched this series and made mental notes before I commenced this rewatch project and started making written notes in preparation for blog posts, such as this one.  The Chronicle would have been a different series–whether better or worse, I cannot say for sure–had Tucker stayed with Shawna Fuchs.  Take my word for that, or do not, O reader.  But do watch the series, if you wish.

Casey Biggs played Damar, an intriguing character, on Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine.

Mark A. Shepherd portrayed attorney (later President, briefly) Romo Lampkin on the Ronald D. Moore reboot of Battlestar Galactica.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 26, 2020 COMMON ERA

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Flagrant Disregard for Continuity   2 comments

I am an old-school Trekkie.  I remember a time when available Star Trek consisted of the 1966-1969 episodes in reruns on local stations, a handful of movies in VHS format, and, when the gods smiles, reruns of the 1973-1975 animated series on cable television.  I recall possessing a large library of VHS cassettes full of episodes I recorded.  My earliest memory of Star Trek is the classic episode Metamorphosis, which originally aired in 1967.  I can recite Star Trek II:  The Wrath of Khan (1982) word-for-word and, when I listen to the soundtrack, know exactly what is happening.  I know that Prime timeline stories ended with the lamentable Star Trek:  Nemesis (2002), and that, regardless of what anyone says, the events of the equally lamentable Star Trek:  Enterprise (2001-2005) exist in a parallel universe created in Star Trek:  First Contact (1996) and do not precede the original series in universe.

I also know that Star Trek‘s Prime Timeline is a sequence of period pieces.  Each incarnation of the Enterprise is a given size and looks a certain way.  The level of technology is what it is.  The uniforms are what they are.  The bridge design is what it is.  Continuity matters.  Maintaining it is a matter of respect for the franchise.

I have no use for the open contempt for human dignity that many critics of Star Trek:  Discovery and other series (notably Series 11 of Doctor Who) spew.  The misogyny, sexism, and homophobia of these individuals is wrong.  These critics also seem not to grasp that socially progressive politics have been part of Doctor Who since 1963 and Star Trek since 1964.  Do these critics forget A Private Little War, classic Star Trek‘s critique of the Vietnam War?  The Daleks, who debuted in one the earliest First Doctor serials, are an unveiled allegory of fascism in general and of Nazism in particular.  I also remember Patterns of Force, a classic Star Trek episode that used reproductions of Nazi uniforms.  In a related matter, I remember that, when news of the recasting of Starbuck (renamed Kara Thrace) in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica broke in 2003, many people complained about political correctness.  I also recall that Katee Sackhoff played that role brilliantly.

My main critique of Star Trek:  Discovery is that it openly shows disregard for continuity in both visual style and story content.  If one is going to film a prequel series to the original series, one should reproduce the look of the technology and uniforms, and mind the chronology meticulously.

My comment to all those is responsible for this abomination of a series is,

I hope your series fails miserably and ends as soon as possible.  Stop insulting those of us who care about our franchises. Don’t let the door hit you where the dog should have bit you.  If you want to take such liberties with details, create your own fictional universe in which to set your stories.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 12, 2019 COMMON ERA

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The Importance of Being Morally Fit for Triumph   1 comment

Above:  The Confession of Captain Benjamin Sisko in In the Pale Moonlight (1998)

A Screen Capture I Took Via PowerDVD

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Or, What Reinhold Niebuhr Has to Do With Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine

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So… I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all… I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again, I would. Garak was right about one thing, a guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. So I will learn to live with it. Because I can live with it. I can live with it… Computer, erase that entire personal log.

–Captain Benjamin Sisko, In the Pale Moonlight (1998)

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Recently I completed my rewatch of Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine (1993-1999), the best of the Star Trek series.  I had recorded most of the episodes from 1993 to 1999, but I had not sat down and watched the series from beginning to end, skipping certain really bad episodes.  DS9 was the last great Star Trek series–certainly heads and shoulders over Voyager (1995-2001) and Enterprise (2001-2005), two series notable for, among other faults, playing it safe and ignoring continuity much of the time.  DS9 did not play it safe, especially after its troubled first season.  The Dominion War arc certainly took the series into dark and morally ambiguous territory, only part of which I consider in this post.

The Neo-Orthodox theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), a Cold War liberal, had a strong moral compass and an awareness of human sinfulness.  He opened The Irony of American History (1952) with a statement of the possibility that the means by which the free world, led by the United States, might have to win the Cold War might leave the victors morally unfit to govern.  The use of atomic weapons would not only endanger civilization, kill many people,  and cause much physical destruction, he wrote, but lead to moral complications for the victors:

The victors would also face the “imperial” problem of using power in global terms but from one particular center of authority, so preponderant and unchallenged that its world rule would almost certainly violate basic standards of justice.

–Page 2

As Commander William Adama stated in Resurrection Ship, Part II (2006), an episode of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica (2003-2008),

It’s not enough to survive; one must be worthy of surviving.

In the story lines of Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine the Dominion War raged for years and endangered the great powers of the Alpha and  Beta Quadrants–the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, and the United Federation of Planets.  (Aside:  The scripts tended not to mention the Beta Quadrant, but, according to official Star Trek lore, the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, and much of the Federation were in the Beta Quadrant.)  Forces of the Dominion, an empire presided over by the shape-shifting Founders, fought to conquer the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.  The body counts were staggering and the Dominion seemed to be on the verge of victory.  Times were desperate.

In In the Pale Moonlight (1998) Captain Benjamin Sisko, with the approval of the Federation Council, conspired to trick the Romulan Star Empire into abandoning its non-aggression treaty with the Dominion.  The plan was to convince one Romulan senator, Vreenak, that the Dominion was plotting to invade the Romulan Star Empire.  There was no evidence of this, so Sisko, with Federation approval, arranged for the forging of evidence.  Certainly the Dominion would invade the Romulan Star Empire in time, given the nature of the Dominion and the Founders’ sense of superiority to solids.  Furthermore, the Federation needed for the Romulans to enter the war on its side.  Vreenak recognized the forgery as such, but Elim Garak, who hired the forger then killed him or had him killed, planted a bomb on Vreenak’s shuttle craft.  The leadership of the Romulan Star Empire blamed the Dominion for Vreenak’s death and declared war.  The Federation had a new ally.  Sisko admitted his crimes in private and confessed that he could live with his guilty conscience.

As I have pondered this episode and others, all the way through the end of the series, I have realized that, as the writers presented the story of the Dominion War, Sisko was correct; his crimes were necessary.  The Romulans were crucial to the defeat of the Dominion, after all.

In The Maquis, Part II (1994) Sisko analyzed the difficult situation of a group rebels-terrorists succinctly:

On Earth, there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window of Starfleet Headquarters and you see paradise. Well, it’s easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there in the Demilitarized Zone, all the problems haven’t been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints — just people. Angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with Federation approval or not!

However, later, in For the Uniform (1997), Sisko poisoned the atmosphere of  Maquis colony world and prepared to do the same to other Maquis colonies.  A vendetta against one Maquis leader, Michael Eddington, inspired this plan.

Above:  Dr. Julian Bashir Confronts Admiral William Ross in Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges (1999)

A Screen Capture via PowerDVD

Sisko, the greatest of all the Star Trek captains, did not live in paradise, neither was he a saint.  Neither was Admiral William Ross, as in Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges (1999).  In a story reminiscent of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,  a great Cold War thriller, Admiral Ross plotted with Section 31, the Federation’s black operations agency that officially does not exist, to frame an innocent and  patriotic Romulan senator and thereby improve the political standing of a double agent.  After all, as Ross said in Latin, quoting Cicero,

In time of war the law falls silent.

Later in the series Dr. Julian Bashir, who takes his Hippocratic Oath seriously, learns that Section 31 was responsible for infecting the Founders of the Dominion with a fatal virus–that the Federation was responsible for attempted genocide.  The Federation, as Gene Roddenberry conceived of it in the 1960s, was a noble and idealistic organization.  DS9 did more to expose the dark underbelly of the Federation than did any other filmed incarnation of Star Trek.  DS9 gave us Section 31, for example.  The writers seemed to present Section 31 in such a way as to make plain its moral dubiousness as well as its practical necessity.

Roddenberry’s Federation is an analog for the United States of America, just as the Klingon Empire is an analog for the Soviet Union.  Thus, in Star Trek VI:  The Undiscovered Country (1991) the two powers begin to end their cold war.  Since the Federation stands in for the U.S.A., the moral questions the Federation faces during the Dominion War might remind one of morally questionable policies of the U.S. Government over time, especially in the context of the Cold War and events since September 11, 2001.   Overthrowing democratically elected governments that are merely inconvenient to U.S. business interests and installing military dictatorships that victimize their own citizenry for decades contradicts U.S. ideals, does it not?  Supporting brutal regimes–whether fascist or military dictatorships–because they are not communist should trouble one’s conscience, should it not?  Also, committing and condoning torture makes one morally unfit.  Whom would Jesus torture?  As Niebuhr reminds us down the corridors of time, we must be morally fit, not just victorious.

All of this brings me to a point:  How can we defend ideals that are in peril by violating those ideals?  We cannot, of course.  Yes, we might have to get our hands dirty, so to speak, but, if we get them too dirty, we compromise ourselves morally and render ourselves morally unfit to serve the interests of justice.   How we treat others is about our character, not theirs.  We may not live in paradise, but how close to the standard of sainthood can we live?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 17, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDITH BOYLE MACALISTER, ENGLISH NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMILY DE VIALAR, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT JOSEPH OF THE APPARITION

THE FEAST OF JANE CROSS BELL SIMPSON, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TERESA AND MAFALDA OF PORTUGAL, PRINCESSES, QUEENS, AND NUNS; AND SANCHIA OF PORTUGAL, PRINCESS AND NUN

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/06/17/the-importance-of-being-morally-fit-for-triumph/

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Speaking Out of One’s Ignorance   Leave a comment

I make an effort, whether I am speaking in public or in private, or writing on a weblog, to do so out of knowledge.  Toward this end I prefer to do homework and check facts.  In conversation I am not afraid to say something to the effect of

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know where I can find the answer,

with the intention of doing so and reporting back.  I would rather do that than be inaccurate.  Even better is to know the answer ahead of time.  At a weblog I strive for accuracy, also.  If I can find the answer to a given question before publishing a post, I like to do so.  If my sources prove to be inaccurate, I accept factual correction.  Objective reality is what it is, after all.

I am also a fan of science fiction.  My inherent attention to detail, in combination with my fandom, has made me a person full of science fiction trivia, especially with regard to Star Trek, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica, and other franchises.  Recently, when watched the entirety of Lost, I kept track of many details that my viewing partner had missed.  I kept reminding her of scenes from previous episodes or the same episode.

I also know that there is much I do not know, so I endeavor to learn.  Toward that end I consult a variety of sources.  Tor.com, I have found, is a fine source of information about various science fiction franchises, especially Star Trek series, episode by episode.  For Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine the official series companion volume sets the standard for other volumes of that genre.  Certain reviewers who create and post video reviews are also fountains of knowledge.  Many podcasters and reviewers at YouTube, however, routinely speak out of their ignorance.  I have decided to stop listening to a number of podcasters and reviewers there because of this fact.  As I have listened to them profess their lack of knowledge or go off on tangents I know to be baseless in universe I have thought or uttered something to the effect of

I know more about this subject than you do.  Why do you have the podcast?

I have also caught myself correcting them audibly.

One can do homework of these matters easily enough.  I know of websites with detailed information about these series, including by episode and character.  Finding them is quite simple.  One can consult the special features on DVD or Blu-ray sets, if one has those.  I have found special features quite informative.  Commentary tracks have proven especially helpful.

So, those who analyze episodes, series, and movies online, do your homework first, please.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 2, 2017 COMMON ERA

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Galactica 1980 (1980)   2 comments

The DVD Root Menu

This post follows this one:  https://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/battlestar-galactica-1978-1979/.

ABC liked part of the Battlestar Galactica concept but sought a lower budget.  So they got Galactica 1980, set in what was then the present day.  This cost the network less per episode but yielded what, in Galactica parlance, one might call felgerkarb.  Yes, it was really bad, and it has not improved with age.

The Galactica

Thirty yahrens (years) after the events of the Battlestar Galactica pilot, the Galactica discovers Earth, the same Earth those of us alive in 1980 recall.  The Cylons are trailing behind the fleet, so Adama steers away from Earth to protect the planet from a Cylon attack.  The Galactica cannot defeat the Cylons, and the sole purpose of seeking Earth was to find a refuge.  So all humans are now in great danger.  That is the basic premise.

Continuity does not work, however.  The original series, which ran one season, was set after 1969.  1980 minus 1969 equals 11, which is less than 30.  But who is counting?

Most of the original cast did not return.  Lorne Greene, as Commander Adama, was the main exception to this rule.  His beard marked the passage of time.

Troy

Troy was Boxey as adult.  He was, like Apollo (dead by Galactica 1980), who raised him, a straight arrow.

Dillon

Dillon was Troy’s friend and partner.  He was somewhat impetuous, but not nearly as roguish as Starbuck.

Troy, Dillon, and Their Flying Motorcycles

They got to ride their flying motorcycles.

Jamie Hamilton

In the three-part pilot, Troy and Dillon met Jamie Hamilton, a reporter.  During the short-lived series (ten hours, including advertisements), she helped them in various ways, mainly by helping guard a group of Galactican children Adama sent to the Earth for safety.

The children, however, stood out.  They could, for reasons of scientific technobabble, jump higher than Earth children, were stronger than them, and had greater intellectual discipline.  This attracted the unwanted attention of a U.S. Air Force officer, who pursued them episode after episode.   Most of the series concerned the adventures of Troy, Dillon, Jamie, and a few children.

The Disclaimer

Speaking of the Air Force, this disclaimer appeared at the end of episodes in which Air Force personnel pursued any Galacticans.

Doctor Zee

I suppose that Commander Adama was supposed to be in charge of the fleet, but he deferred to the young genius, Doctor Zee, who was also quite an inventor.  Doctor Zee’s mother was one of those ascended humans from the ships of light.  The one very watchable Galactica 1980 episode (also the last one), The Return of Starbuck, consisted mostly of a flashback to how Starbuck became stranded on an uninhabited planet, befriended a Cylon, rescued a mysterious woman who also crashed on the planet, and sent her (and her baby, Doctor Zee), out to space in a one-person craft.  (An untold story never filmed would have shown the ship of lights humans rescuing Starbuck.)

Doctor Zee

Doctor Zee looked like this after the pilot movie.

In the three-part pilot movie, Galactica Discovers Earth, teams of Colonial warriors seek out elite members of the scientific community for first contact.  These men and women should be the most open to the possibilities and the least likely to react out of fear and distrust, after all.  The goal is to raise Earth’s level of technology until Earth can defend herself from the Cylons.

Dr. Donald Mortensen

Troy and Dillon visit Dr. Donald Mortensen, at the Pacific Institute of Technology.  He becomes convinced that Troy, Dylan, and the other Galacticans may be as important to the human race “as the coming of the Messiah.”

Those were heady words, ones meant to sound important, but the series became bogged down in issue-of-the-week stories, such as the dangers of industrial pollution, how bad irrigation quotas are, and why anti-Hispanic bias is misplaced.  The show aired on Sunday evenings, at an hour which came with requirements to present educational messages.  The first rule of comedy is to be funny.  Likewise, the first rule of drama is to tell an interesting story.  The telling of the story ought to present the moral and/or educational message(s) without being pedantic.   But, in Galactica 1980 we get Quincy, M.E.-style speeches, which were no less annoying when Jack Klugman delivered them.  At least Klugman had relatively better material, though.  Of course, Larson made Quincy, M.E., too.

Xaviar

Council member Xaviar, impatient to build up Earth’s technology level gradually, travels back in time to help the Nazis.  So Troy, Dillon, and Jamie must follow him and prevent him from succeeding.  Fortunately, Jamie took her history lessons very seriously.

Xaviar

Oh, and some days Xaviar looks like this.

Wolfman Jack and a Cylon at a Halloween Party

The Cylons do land on Earth–at Halloween, where they encounter Wolfman Jack.  This picture says it all.

The axe fell after ten completed episodes, with few people to mourn the loss.

Over twenty years later, Ronald D. Moore had the Galactica discover Earth, but he did it properly.

A Scene from Revelations

In Revelations, a fourth season episode, the fleet discovers Earth, which is irradiated and in ruins.

A Scene from Daybreak

Yet, in the finale, Daybreak, the Galactica discovers a planet people agree to call Earth.  The scene you, O reader, see above, is set 150,000 years ago.

I knew that, despite my opinion of Galactica 1980, I would purchase a copy when it became available.  Maybe I am a sucker for science fiction with Lorne Greene in it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 30, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen caps I took via PowerDVD.

Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979)   2 comments

The Galactica in Orbit of the Planet Terra, from the episode Experiment in Terra

The success of Star Wars prompted the development and release of other science fiction in the late 1970s.  Paramount Pictures, after years of vacillating, gave the green light to Star Trek:  The Motion Picture (1979).  TMP was really the Motionless Picture, but c’est la vie.  (People wearing bland-colored one-piece spandex pajamas, er, uniforms, while staring at special effects is about as motionless as a movie can get.)  However, Universal Pictures and ABC, in conjunction with Glen A. Larson (who used plenty of spandex in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), put Colonial warriors in comfortably fitting uniforms in Battlestar Galactica.

(Note to science fiction series and movie costume designers:  Avoid spandex!)

A Cylon

Battlestar Galactica feeds off the mythology of ancient astronauts.  The pilot opens with the robotic Cylon race, which has been at war with the twelve human colonies of Kobol for a thousand yahrens (years), using a truce as a pretense to exterminate humanity.

The Peace that Wasn’t

They almost succeed.

Baltar

Baltar, a member of the ruling council, has sold out humanity in hopes of become the leader of the survivors.  The Cylons have led him to believe that this will happen.  They have lied to him.

Commander Adama

Commander Adama, commanding officer of the Battlestar Galactica, has the good sense to escape from the Cylon ambush, so his battlestar survives intact.  He thinks that it was the last battlestar until he encounters the Battlestar Pegasus, commanded by Commander Cain, played by Lloyd Bridges.

Adama and Athena

Athena, Adama’s daughter, is a bridge officer aboard the Galactica.

Captain Apollo

Apollo, Adama’s son, is one of the viper, or fighter, pilots.  Apollo is the dutiful, responsible voice of morality and reason.  He is a straight arrow.

Starbuck

Starbuck is not a straight arrow.  Sometimes he dates Athena, sometimes not.  He is not ready to settle down yet, but he is an excellent pilot and a basically good guy.

Adama gathers up as many survivors as possible and shepherds a rag-tag fleet in search of Earth, the thirteenth colony, the precise location of which he does not know.  Cylons pursue the fleet, posing a continuous danger, while, from time to time, Adama must overrule the ruling council, populated mostly with fools.

Galactica is a post-apocalyptic story, one ABC decided to air in the old “family hour.”  The “family hour” was a good venue for family dramas and clean comedies, but not a post-apocalyptic saga about human survivors stuck inside cramped spaceships.  So network demands watered down the possible power of the series, which came to suffer from the cutesies.

Hector and Vector

Exhibit A:  The annoying robots Hector and Vector, who, mercifully, appeared in only one episode.  Here they are singing and dancing.

No more exhibits are necessary.

Another weakness was the lack of character development.  Actions in one episode rarely had consequences in another, except in the case of a two-part story.  So most characters felt like stereotypes.

Also, most of the early scripts were bad.  The network rushed into series production after the pilot, giving the writers insufficient time to develop good stories at the beginning.  So many early episodes have tried-and-true plots.  The Magnificent Warriors, for example, is based on The Magnificent Seven.  Watch the original instead.  And Fire in Space, set after a Cylon attack on the Galactica, is based on many 1970s big-budget, all-star-cast disaster movies.  Avoid those.

There was also Boxey, an annoying boy, with his more annoying mechanical daggit, or dog-like creature.  Apollo is raising Boxey as his son, which is noble, as is the captain.  The less one says about them, the better.

There was also sexism.  Early in the series, most of the male viper pilots become ill.  So the defense of the rag-tag fleet is left to…gasp…women!  There is much concern about this, but the women do their jobs well.

On the other hand Lorne Greene, as Commander Adama, brought gravitas to his role.  Who wouldn’t want to follow Pa Cartwright during such a time of crisis?

“John”

The best element of the original Battlestar Galactica was the group of mysterious people who wore white and lived in white ships.  These were deceased humans who had ascended to a higher realm.  They intervened on behalf of the Galactica during the series.  This does beg a question, though:  Why did they not prevent the attack in the pilot episode?

Battlestar Galactica ran for one season only, ending more because of production costs than its place in the ratings.  There would, however, be a follow-up series, Galactica 1980, the subject of my next post at this blog.

As the late, great Peter Falk said in character as Lt. Columbo, “one more thing.”  In the final episode, The Hand of God, the Galactica receives a signal they cannot understand.  It is on a frequency they do not use much any more.  Besides, the signal is garbled.  But, once the signal is cleaned up, we have the big reveal.

“The Eagle has landed.”

It comes from Apollo 11.  The events we have been watching are set after 1969.  And that is no felgerkarb.

I remember watching Galactica for the first time in the 1990s.  It was okay, I thought, but I was sure to keep watching, even if only to poke fun at 1978-1979 hair styles.  Then I saw the Ronald D. Moore version, beginning with the 2003 miniseries, and never looked at the old show the same way again.

Yet the 1978-1979 series retains certain charms, despite the hair.  They (not the hair styles) are worth discovering for one’s self.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 30, 2011 COMMON ERA

All images are screen captures I took via the PowerDVD program.