Archive for the ‘Lorne Greene’ Tag

Galactica 1980 (1980)   1 comment

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.