Original Battlestar Galactica
This was certainly the best space opera type of series to appear on television in between Star Trek the original series and Star Trek the Next Generation.
BSG was also ahead of its time, because it had a season-wide arc. Ironically, this may have hurt the series because this was before even VHS was a widespread technology, so if you missed the first part of a two-part episode you probably felt screwed.
BSG had great music, and great special effects for 1978. Amazing actually. The special effects were far superior to what we saw in the movie Logan’s Run which was filmed only two years beforehand, and Logan’s Run won an Academy Award for special effects, cheesy as they were. They did re-use a lot of the same footage whenever there was a space battle or whenever a Viper was launched, but it was pretty good footage and they did have a limited budget, you must forgive that.
People can say “it’s not original, it copied Star Wars,” but few TV series are truly original. In fact, BSG was very original for a TV series, as I said giving us the best special effects ever seen in a TV series up to that point in time, and introducing the season-long story arc. Plus there was Lorne Greene and Dirk Benedict, both great actors. Richard Hatch was OK as Apollo, but he was outshone by Greene and Benedict. Maren Jensen who played Athena, the Commander’s daughter, was absolutely gorgeous; not a very good actress, but so beautiful to look at, and she was an ethnically ambiguous babe, quite common today but an original casting concept in 1978. Plus the introduction of weird mystical elements poached from Mormonism; this is common today (minus the Mormonism) in a lot of sci-fi type of shows, but was definitely original in 1978.
Readers tired of leftist propaganda in their television will enjoy the right-wing propaganda of BSG, in which the Cylons obviously played the role of the Soviet Union, and the clear message of the show was peace through strength and never trust your enemy to honor treaties. Plus there was no sex, even though one of the main characters was implied to be a prostitute in the first episode, Saga of a Star World; they seem to have forgotten* that aspect in later episodes.
Unfortunately, in between the episodes that were part of the story arc were some truly horrific episodes, and they are no doubt responsible for significantly lowering people’s opinion of the series.
My advice is to watch the series (now available on Netflix streaming) and only watch the good episodes which advance the story (and which also received the most of Glen Larson’s tender-loving care and the bulk of his special effects budget). The good episodes are:
Saga of a Star World (three parts, the introduction to the series)
Lost Planet of the Gods (two parts)
The Living Legend (two parts, skipping past six extremely crappy episodes)
War of the Gods (two parts)
The Hand of God (the last episode of the series, skipping past seven uneven episodes, not as bad as the earlier crappy episodes which we skipped)
One of the episodes we** skipped, Experiment in Terra, was the idea behind the series Quantum Leap.
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*Internet research shows what I suspected. ABC censors told Glen Larson that he couldn’t have a regular character who was a prostitute. Cassiopeia was supposed to be killed in Saga of a Star World, but Glen Larson decided to keep her because Maren Jensen sucked so bad as an actress, so he needed another cute female main character. He had her become a nurse instead of a prostitute.
**You should defintely skip those six episodes between Lost Planet of the Gods and Living Legend. They suck really bad and you are likely to give up on the series before you get to the really good episodes. I suppose the episodes that take place after War of the Gods are worth watching. They don’t advance the main story, and there’s the occasional out-of-place campy element, but they are mostly decent television. In addition to the episode that was the idea behind Quantum Leap, there was also an episode where Fred Astaire guest starred.