Battlestar Galactica – the Complete Epic Series



Battlestar Galactica – the Complete Epic Series – I remember this series so well from when I was a kid! I was only eight years old when Star Wars came out, nine years old when Battlestar Galactica followed it on TV; now that I have an 11-year-old of my own I am enjoying watching this series with him. It is less challenging than the newer versions of Battlestar Galactica (quite a lot of sex and death in that – maybe something for when he’s 16 or so), and we both enjoy the hammy acting, although for different reasons. The words “frak” and “felgercarb” have definitely entered our vocabulary, not to mention talk of cubits, yahrons, centons, microns, etc.

Watching the series can be a bit dull because the development seems a bit slow at times, the action tame, and the battle/starship/fighter scenes recycled (you’re always happy to finally see a new one). But there’s no doubt that it was a good high-budget series, with all sorts of great gear, huge sets, and wild Colonial Warrior uniforms (love those brown suede jackets!). Also some of the most beautiful women in TV at that time.

The opening episodes are great because they have the sumptuous Jane Seymour in it (wow!!). She makes the stunning Maren Jansen look dull in comparison (Maren gets phased out of the series in favour of Cassiopia, as well as new arrival Sheba, played by the nasty, but nice-looking Ann Lockhart). I also love the tooth-gnashing, snickering villainy of Baltar, and the series definitely loses momentum when they stop fighting Cylons and encounter flaky villains like the Western Alliance, or run up against wacky desert warriors. There’s also a shift in the goofy opening dialogue and the opening credits, “There are those who believe that life here… began out there!!”

The opening episode is a stunning three-part story that shows the destruction of the colonies and the creation of the rag-tag fleet; it’s laced together with one of the better episodes, which shows the Hotel California-like pleasure pit that’s secretly a vampire/Cylon kidnap/hunting hole. Yuck!! “Lost Planet Of the Gods” is a two-parter that shows the Warriors fighting both cylons and a virus! “The Lost Warrior” is a wacky “cowboy sci-fi” tale, with Apollo landing on a Westworld that is being terrified by a malfunctioning Cylon called “Red Eye” aiding a group of caricatured goons in terrorising the innocent towns folk. Yeah!! “The Long Patrol” has our heroes encountering a new world of human villains with their weird prison system, and a young Irish thief who’s fleeing them to find a new home for his family. Interesting. “Gun on Ice Planet Zero”, a two-parter, has that cool dramatic title that you just love, and includes a cool commando squad assembled by Apollo and Starbuck (who else) to take out the ice planet death ray, while dealing with dangerous prison-ship demolition experts, and also funky ice clones. “The Magnificent Warriors”
“The Young Lords” is a weird little adventure that includes a nasty gang of kids.
“The Living Legend” is probably the best Battlestar Galactica story – it features a manic Lloyd Bridges as the legendary commander Cain, and introduces his lovely daughter Sheba, and the minor character Bojay (love that nickname). Cain butts heads with Adama by introducing a daring plan to attack a Cylon outpost and a cylon base that comes with the risk of temporarily endangering the rag-tag fleet. The story is a brilliant example of strategy, with a very cool little ending. “Fire In Space” is one of those “natural disaster” stories, of the type that were so popular in the 1970s (The Towering Inferno, etc), with the crew battling flames. “War Of The Gods”, a two-parter, shows the crew of the Galactica pitted against the mysterious Count, a Satanic figure, who no one really knows how to deal with. “The Man With Nine Lives” is also a great little episode that brings in Fred Astaire (!!!) as a man who pretends to be Starbuck’s father… who then is Starbuck’s father!! He’s also a dastardly Han Solo-like character who tricks everybody, including the creepy Borellian Nomens – guys with seriously ridged brows and a deadly code of ethics. Very very very weird! “Murder On The Rising Star” is a pretty cool episode that shows the aftermath of a Triad game gone wrong, with Starbuck nearly found guilty of murder – until Apollo figures out how to clear his friend’s name. Interesting stuff going on there. Very nice indeed (although we’re never really sure why the murderer needed to frame Starbuck, rather than someone else). “Greetings From Earth” is a two-parter that shows the Galacticans intercepting a space ship with humans in suspended animation, and the strange proceedings that carry on from there, including the Galacticans following the humans to their farm world, some silly politics, a battle, and the entrance of the ruthless Eastern Alliance fascists. “Baltar’s Escape” is an interesting one – it shows Baltar, the Borellian Nomens and our fascist friends from the Eastern Alliance helping each other to escape the Galactica. “Experiment In Terra” is a weird one, with Apollo being turned to white and sent on a ghost mission. Strange. “Take The Celestra” is a silly story about a devious co-pilot rebelling against his commander; bad acting and mustache-twirling aplenty here. “The Hand Of God”, the final episode in this one-season series, is a cool one, showing a return of the Cylons, Starbuck and Apollo’s adventure infiltrating a Cylon base ship, and more nuttiness, including the first kisses between Apollo and Sheba. What a man!! And let’s not forget that ironic transmission that they receive!!!

The packaging is pretty cool – there’s a nice six-DVD foldout set, with a cool little booklet that’s full of pictures of the series’ cheezier moments, great pictures of Starbuck and Apollo in all their feathered-hair glory, with episode details as well as single pages devoted to important cast members, as well as a nice schematic o the Galactica herself, the Vipers, and the Cylon Raiders. The outer shell resembles a Cylon helmet. Damn cool!!

Bonus features are fairly generous, although I’m not so impressed with the “deleted scenes”, which are mainly outtakes of scenes where the actors screwed up their lines. No big deal at all.

But there are quite a few featurettes: producer Glen A Larson talking about the series’ creation, composer Stu Phillips talking about the intense score to the series, how the Cylons operated, how the daggit operated, a photo gallery and an interactive game; there’s also commentary on the pilot show with Apollo, Starbuck and Boomer.

Among the earlier, shorter pieces, the first one is Glen A Larson talking about his fascination with Egypt, pyramids, Erich von Däniken’s Chariots Of The Gods, and all sorts of trippy thoughts about what connects our various races of ancestor civilisations, which he observes developed in isolation of each other. “What if ‘Heaven’ is the name of a planet?” This sort of trippy plot development emerges in several non-Cylon episodes (and alongside cowboy episodes, like the one with Red-Eye). Drew liberally from mythologies, and mentions how in one of the episodes the Satanic character was revealed to have cloven hooves. Thoughts about evolution, and how perhaps our own job some day – if we do a good job in this life – is to run some planet somewhere. The music director talks about how he made themes for all of the characters, including Boxey, and how themes were repeated, allowing him to do his job week-after-week without imploding. “Inside Battlestar Galactica” shows three short videos: working the cylons, working the daggits, and a photo gallery. The first one talks about the Cylons, and how the mirrored armor looked cool, but it was heavy, it reflected the cameras, visibility for those wearing the armour was poor, one guy nearly drowned when he went under water with the heavy gear on, and how the limited visibility (and top-heaviness) meant that a lot of cylons would take a dive and crash around (sometimes topping each other like dominoes – there are several great shots of this). At one point, they ran out of money for new Cylon suits, which may explain why there were so few shots of Cylons in later episodes, as the first round had been destroyed during filming – they were cannibalising parts later on. For the daggit series they showed live shots with the chimp sounds coming out of the daggit. Noah Hathaway talks with fondness for the chimp, Evie, who we see in just one shot without her helmet on. Awwww… There are plenty of cool pics, including 42 of the cast, 24 of the artwork, and 50 of the original models. The disc also includes a trailer for the upcoming remake series, and for the video game.

On the last disc, finally, we get a longer documentary called “Remembering Battlestar Galactica.” It runs through interviews with many of the cast members, including Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict and Noah Hathaway, and we get to see how old they are now, and how their careers have faded (outside of Noah Hathaway on The Neverending Story, and Dirk Benedict on The A-Team, I don’t think any of them ever worked again). It’s a shame for Richard Hatch, because we all rooted for him as Apollo – as square as his character was, he certainly was one cool-lookin’ dude.

In the documentary, we learn that 60-70 million viewers checked out the pilot movie for Battlestar Galactica. That’s a lot!! The crew describes the pressure that they were under going from pilot to mini-series to full series at the drop of a hat, and how they often hardly had their lines (or re-writes) before they were on camera! Wow!! It must have been a crazy year, no wonder it was not re-newed.

We get to see some of the jokes they played with each other on-set – like one with a viper going backwards for one of Starbuck’s scenes!! There are shots of Starbuck’s original shirtless love scene with Cassiopea. For the Triad scenes, the guys actually got to play the cryptic outer space game, a pure exhibition of male Colonial Warrior sexuality. The cast talked of Lorne Greene telling the most off-colour jokes. We learn/see that shots existed of the Imperious Leader (and lizard), but they were never used. Noah Hathaway talks about how they gave him beer on set (uncool, actually), and both he and Richard Hatch talks about falling in love with Jane Seymour… awwww!!! Can’t fault them there, though – who among us hasn’t ever fallen love with Jane Seymour?

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