1 9 7 8 – 1 9 7 9 (USA)
24 x 60 minute episodes
Following the blockbuster success of the movie Star Wars in 1977, the leading American television network , ABC, decided a big-budget space epic was the way to success. The title of`Glen Larson’s original premise changed from Star Worlds to Earth Star and finally to Battlestar Galactica, and it was so close an imitation of Star Wars that the producers of the movie sued ABC.
Comparisons are unsurprising when you realise that the special effects for Battlestar Galactica were created by John Dykstra, the same man who worked on Star Wars.
Reported to have cost $1,000,000 per hour to produce, Battlestar Galactica used spectacular special effects to depict a fierce struggle for the survival of mankind set in outer space, thousands of years in the future (in the seventh millennium, in fact).
Galactica was the only surviving battlestar after an attack by the evil robotic Cylons had destroyed interplanetary peace and wiped out 12 of the 13 humanoid civilisations.
Now the Cylons were chasing the Galactica and her fleet of 220 smaller spacecraft as they sped through space toward a last refuge – the distant, mythical ‘Golden Planet’, Earth.
Commanding the mile-wide Galactica was the silver-haired Commander Adama (Lorne Greene) – a Moses figure who used to own a cattle ranch near Virginia . . . sorry, I’m getting confused.
His son, Apollo (Richard Hatch), led Galactica‘s Viper fighter squadron along with impetuous, top-gun pilot Lieutenant Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) all dressed in Egyptian crash helmets.
Other members of the crew included Adama’s daughter, Athena (Maren Jensen), second-in-command Colonel Tigh (Terry Carter), Cassiopeia, the medic (Laurette Spang), and Boomer (Herbert Jefferson Jr), another pilot. Villain of the piece was Count Baltar (John Colicos), who had betrayed the humanoids to the Cylons.
In spite of its big budget, large cast and fabulous special effects, the storylines were widely criticised. There were groans of despair from fans over some of the derivative plots – ‘Lost Warrior’ was a space-age redo of Shane, with Apollo facing a gunslinging Cylon in a western town, while The Dirty Dozen and Guns of Navarone were also inspirations as Apollo and Starbuck led a raid on ‘Gun on Ice Planet Zero’.
Before the final season ended, Battlestar Galactica had become an early Sunday evening children’s adventure series re-titled Galactica 1980. Only Lorne Green remained on the show from the original cast.
A successful re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica (with a new cast) ran on America’s Sci-fi Channel from 2004 to 2009.
NB The official name of the “daggit” (a dog-like robot) was Muffett II, but the kid, Boxey (Noah Hathaway), always called it Muffy. The “actor” inside the daggit costume was actually a chimp named Evolution, trained by acclaimed animal trainer Boone Narr.
Herbert Jefferson Jr
Flight Sergeant Jolly
Imperious Leader (voice)
Ed Begley Jr