Lion of the Blogosphere

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.

* * *

*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.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

November 10, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Nerdy stuff, Television

18 Responses

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  1. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that series and I rather doubt it would hold up today, however for it’s time, you’re right; it was groundbreaking. Unfortunately it was also groundbreaking in it’s price, which was about a million per episode, which was unknown at that time. The ratings didn’t justify that kind of expense so it was cancelled.

    Although they did bring it back in a much cheaper and stripped down version as Galactica 1980. All I remember of that is that it was pretty bad.

    Mike Street Station

    November 10, 2015 at 3:07 pm

  2. I’ll never forget the cowboy episode in which a brain-damaged Cylon had a cowboy hat and was the corrupt sheriff, or something. Maybe this was not a real episode, just an insane dream stuck in my head.


    November 10, 2015 at 4:18 pm

  3. *We* skipped, eh? Good, good.


    November 10, 2015 at 4:19 pm

  4. Who is we?


    November 10, 2015 at 5:04 pm

  5. That wasn’t a philosophical question.


    November 10, 2015 at 5:16 pm

  6. Hah, who are we anyways?

    Jokah Macpherson

    November 10, 2015 at 6:07 pm

  7. ‘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’

    I ask myself often: What is it with sex being thrown into everything? I think its unnecessary, especially with porn being so easily accessible online. A show can be great without throwing in sex, in my opinion. My only guess is attempting to gain ratings with teens, who are likely to have their internet access monitored and can’t download porn, or sexually bored middle aged women.


    November 10, 2015 at 6:10 pm

  8. BSG (1978) was a little before my time. So I hadn’t seen it until I power-watched it only a few weeks ago. I think your review is very good. The Cylon / Soviet connection was probably obvious in 1978 but it didn’t occur to me in 2015. However, it’s hard to miss that BSG (1978) leans right. Which is amazing because nothing on TV leans right. I can’t even think of another scifi series that doesn’t lean left. I wonder if that’s why Hatch had so much trouble reviving it? I kind of feel bad for the guy. Because BSG definitely has more potential than what the studios have given it.

    Regardless, even BSG reimagined leans right a little though it may go over people’s heads. And, if you recall Blood & Chrome (2012), the ending was a total rejection of everything that makes liberals liberal. Particularly what the Cylon woman says. Everything after that was just spiking the football. Loved it!


    November 10, 2015 at 7:13 pm

  9. Man, you know Space 1999 was superior, what with all that pimp theme music.


    November 10, 2015 at 7:57 pm

  10. If I remember, there was a BSG episode featuring diabolical, space reptilians who disguised themselves as humanoids (before the tv series V ever came to existence). They revealed their lizard form and died, when Lt. Starbuck was able to turn down the temperature of their spaceship. It turns out they were afraid of very cold temperatures.

    Hollywood loves to rehash the idea of a vulnerability of evil aliens (sort of an Achilles’ heel), where humans are able to exploit it and defeat them.

    The space jelly, Blob, was also afraid of cold temperatures, after Steve McQueen in the original movie, discovered that blowing cold air into it, would shrink its body mass.

    In V, the lizards were exterminated with a red powder coming from a bacteria.

    In the movie, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, the alien klowns could only die from being shot in the nose.


    November 10, 2015 at 8:23 pm

  11. When I was a kid there was a kind of fad on TV for movies and episodes of shows about major fires. “Towering Inferno” is the most famous, I guess. “Battlestar Galactica” had an episode that I found incredibly tedious that consisted entirely of the characters fighting a fire on the ship.


    November 10, 2015 at 10:35 pm

  12. Maren Jensen apparently dropped completely out of acting soon after her time on BSG ended. She was Don Henley’s longtime girlfriend.



    November 10, 2015 at 11:01 pm

  13. Lion, great news- There is a NEW battlestar galactica series that was put out in the early 2000’s…I’ve never seen the older version, but the new one is REALLY GOOD.

    Definitely worth a watch, with some great great great acting!


    November 11, 2015 at 12:38 am

  14. I did my share of script doctoring on BSG. Paid great and I retired to my present life of exercise and world travel.


    November 11, 2015 at 2:12 am

  15. 1) The Wire 2) Six Feet Under 3) Deadwood

    That is all.


    November 11, 2015 at 2:23 am

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