Battlestar Galactica… Has It Been 35 Years Already?

There are those who believe…that life here began out there, far across the Universe…with tribes of humans…who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians…or the Toltecs…or the Mayans…that they may have been the architects of the Great Pyramids…or the lost civilizations of Lemuria…or Atlantis.

Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man…who even now fight to survive–somewhere beyond the heavens!

*Cue Stu Phillips awesome theme music!!!*

Patrick Macnee’s narration of this transported me every week for a whole year in 1978 (repeats included). We were living in CFB Borden, Ontario, and I was attending Frederick Campbell Public School.

apolloandstarbuck1978The original series, created by Glen A. Larson, followed a ragtag fleet on the run from the robotic Cylon menace and their rather freaky looking Imperious Leader (Voiced by Macnee, who also came back to pay the rather nefarious, and possibly demonic Count Iblis) –  though on reflection except for the occasional mention of starving people, and parts, these people seemed to be handling the mass slaughter of their home worlds pretty good.

They were looking for a mysterious planet, a new home… they were looking for the legendary Earth.

And so the journey began as Apollo (Richard Hatch), Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) and Boomer (Herb Jefferson Jr.) flew vipers, fought Cylons and other baddies, and Adama (Lorne Greene) ruminated on the troubles of the fleet). There was Boxy (Noah Hathaway), and his robot daggit Muffy, whose mother Serina (Jane Seymour) falls in love with Apollo.

There was the former *ahem* socialator* Cassiopeia (Laurette Spang) turned nurse.

I had been caught up in the amazing world of Star Wars the summer before, and now, here was a weekly sci-fi show that had cool heroes, evil robot bad guys, and so many cool ships.

Athena_03As much as I crushed on Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Athena (Maren Jensen) really did it for me in Galactica. Yes I was only 6 going on 7, but I knew I was in love. Here was a smart and pretty (hey I was 6) woman in, what seemed to me, a position of authority, and that just made her all the more awesome as far as I was concerned.

Starbuck was just cool, he was flippant, had a self-confidence that still eludes me, had a cool blaster, flew a viper, and was always chasing down a girl. I remember telling one of my cute swimming instructors that she could call me ‘Starbuck.’ I was quite the scamp.

One of the first plastic models I ever got (though my dad had to do most of it) was a Colonial Viper. OH YEAH! I didn’t care if it was a model I would play with that thing all the time, because I never got the little Mattel fighters, with the launching missiles, which of course caused a huge recall cause a kid choked on one, and I’ve been on the lookout for them ever since… Toy Conventions here I come. I had a Starbuck action figure, that even came with a cloth cape, unlike the plastic robes that adorned the Kenner Star Wars figures, but lost it fairly quickly. And I always loved the uniforms! Those jackets!!

sffc_ad02I was fascinated by the idea of this war-torn fleet out there somewhere trying to find their way to Earth. When would they arrive? Would they arrive at sometime in the past? In our time? Or maybe in the future, like the distant year 2000! I would race around on my bike as I’ve mentioned before sometimes pretending it was a viper, I’d clasp my jacket’s collar around my throat, and wear it like the capes of the dress uniforms, I would run around pretending to have a control stick in my hand, and thumb the blasters or the thrusters (which would make me run faster). I remember playing in the schoolyard at recess. Everyone wanted to play Galactica!

I was still a goofy kid, when Galactica 1980 rolled around, and I thought YAY! This will be awesome, the Galactica makes it to Earth, but the Cylons are still chasing them, how cool would that be? And there were flying bikes! Who doesn’t want one of those?

Galactica_Turbo_CyclesSadly, except for the classic Return of Starbuck episode this series was kind of a let down, though I didn’t know that at the time, I just knew it was there one moment, and gone the next.

I collected some of the Marvel comics, trading cards, and the books, there was never enough for me, and it always kind of haunted the back of my mind. Would anyone ever revisit this universe, tell us more stories, on the big or small screen?

Richard Hatch wrote a number of Galactica novels in the 90s, and was championing the idea of a new series, one that would pick up after the original and move forward with those story threads.

marvelThere were rumors of a Bryan Singer re-imagining and movie….

There was a comic series from Maximum Press…

And then, rumors began to arise of a new reimagined series from Ronald D. Moore (good) which would see a number of changes including the changing of Starbuck to a woman (WHAT THE FRACK/FRAK?!). I was anxious and worried. What do you mean the Cylons look like us? I loved the idea that it would be treated more seriously and explore the dynamics of relationships and deal with all manner of issues, politics, war, torture, it’s all there.

Then I saw the 3 hour mini-series, and was hooked.

And I standby the belief that 33, the first episode of Season 1, is still one of the best series openers ever. And then of course the mind-blowing ending of Lay Down Your Burdens Part I, with the jump forward!


Yes, the final season was a little off, but there are still some standout episodes, and each of the actors made the characters their own, and made me believe in another version of Galactica. Edward James Olmos, Michael Hogan, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, Lucy Lawless, Mary McDonnell, James Callis, Aaron Douglas… all these actors and oh so many more.

220px-KaraThraceThis in itself sponsored more adventures in this universe with Caprica (about the creation of the Cylons), and Blood & Chrome (the first Cylon war).

It’s kind of wild to think that Galactica is 35, of course Retrun of the Jedi just turned 30, doesn’t that just kick you in the childhood?!

And happily I was one of those kids that could love all my science fiction, I could love Star Trek, Star Wars, and Battlestar equally.

Do you remember the original? What did you think of it?


2 Comments Add yours

  1. I enjoyed your tribute to the original BSG! I stumbled across it because I’m currently rewatching the reimagined version with my son and wife, who are seeing it for the first time. Quite the experience!

    My memories of and reactions to the original sound a lot like your own (I blogged about them for the franchise’s 35th anniversary, too: Now that there are renewed rumblings of another reboot, what do you think? Would you be open to seeing a new version that stayed more faithful to the original, or is Moore’s series too recent to allow room for other interpretations?

    1. TD Rideout says:

      To me it still feels like Moore’s is too recent. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see an interpretation of Larson’s original version with Ovions, Ships of Light, and a bit of a mystical overtone tying into mythology but I don’t feel we need to rush the reboot cycle on this one yet. Let’s wait it out and see what happens…

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