Battlestar Galactica (1978 TV series)

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Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica 1978 - intro.jpg
Battlestar Galactica intro
Created by Glen A. Larson
Starring Richard Hatch
Dirk Benedict
Lorne Greene
John Colicos
Maren Jensen
Noah Hathaway
Jane Seymour
Herb Jefferson, Jr.
Jonathan Harris
Tony Swartz
Laurette Spang
Terry Carter
Ed Begley, Jr.
Rick Springfield
Anne Lockhart
David Greenan
Sarah Rush
Composer(s) Stu Phillips
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 24 (List of episodes)
Production
Running time 45 minutes per episode
Production company(s) Glen A. Larson Productions
MCA/Universal
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Original run September 17, 1978 (1978-09-17) – April 29, 1979 (1979-04-29)
Chronology
Followed by Galactica 1980
Related shows Re-imagined Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica is an American science fiction television series, created by Glen A. Larson, that began the Battlestar Galactica franchise. Starring Lorne Greene, Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict, it ran for one season in 1978–79. After cancellation, its story was continued in 1980 as Galactica 1980 with Adama, Lieutenant Boomer (now a colonel) and Boxey (now called Troy) being the only continuing characters. Books have been written continuing the stories.

The series was remade in 2003, beginning with a three-hour mini-series followed by a weekly series which ran from 2004–2009. A feature film remake is also planned, to be directed by Bryan Singer with production input from original series creator Glen A. Larson.[1][2][3] However, the movie has not gone into production as of November 2014.

Narrations and theme music[edit]

The show begins with a narration, spoken by Patrick Macnee:

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! (The theatrical version of the pilot ends with "far, far away amongst the stars.")

The short version of the narration, also spoken by Macnee:

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.

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

During the narration, the viewer sees scenes of nebulae and other celestial phenomena. Macnee provided the character voice of the Cylons's Imperious Leader throughout the series, and even appeared on-screen as Count Iblis in "War Of The Gods", a two-part episode which originally aired in January 1979. The narration is followed by images of the Galactica, the colonial fleet, and other scenes. The Battlestar Galactica theme plays prominently, an orchestral piece with an emphasis on brass instruments. This was composed by Stu Phillips and Glen A. Larson.

The show closes with narration by Lorne Greene:

Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the last battlestar, Galactica, leads a rag-tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest...a shining planet known as Earth.

Plot summary[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Destruction of the Twelve Colonies.

In a distant star system, the Twelve Colonies Of Mankind were reaching the end of a thousand-year war with the Cylons, warrior robots created by a reptilian race which expired long ago, presumably destroyed by their own creations. Humanity was ultimately defeated in a sneak attack on their homeworlds by the Cylons, carried out with the help of a human traitor, Count Baltar (John Colicos). Protected by the last surviving capital warship, a "battlestar" called Galactica, the survivors fled in any ships that were available to them. The Commander of the Galactica, Adama (Lorne Greene), led this "rag-tag fugitive fleet" of 220 ships in search of a new home. They began a quest to find the long-lost thirteenth tribe of humanity that had settled on a legendary planet called Earth. However, the Cylons continued to relentlessly pursue them across the galaxy.

The era in which this exodus took place is never clearly stated in the series itself. At the start of the series, it is mentioned as being "the Seventh Millennium of time", though it is unknown when this is in relation to Earth's history. The implication of the final aired episode, "The Hand of God", was that the original series took place after the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969 (as the Galactica receives a television transmission from Earth showing the landing). The later Galactica 1980 series is expressly set in the year 1980, though it is also claimed that the voyage to Earth took 30 years which contradicts the Apollo moon landing transmission which was only 11 years earlier.

Larson incorporated many themes from Mormon theology into the shows.[4]

Pilot[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Saga of a Star World.

The pilot to this series, budgeted at $7 million (the most expensive at that time), was released theatrically (in Sensurround) in various countries including Canada, Japan and those in Western Europe in July 1978 in an edited 125-minute version.

On September 17, 1978, the full 148-minute pilot premiered on ABC to high Nielsen ratings. Two-thirds of the way through the broadcast, ABC interrupted with a special report of the signing of the Camp David Accords at the White House by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, witnessed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter. After the ceremony, ABC resumed the broadcast at the point where it was interrupted. This interruption did not occur on the West Coast. After the pilot aired, the 125-min theatrical version was given a U.S cinema release in spring of 1979.

Criticism and legal actions[edit]

Battlestar Galactica was criticized by Melor Sturua in the Soviet newspaper Izvestia. He saw an analogy between the fictional Colonial/Cylon negotiations and the US/Soviet SALT talks and accused the series of being inspired by anti-Soviet hysteria:[5]

Isaac Asimov commented: "Star Wars was fun and I enjoyed it. But Battlestar Galactica was Star Wars all over again and I couldn't enjoy it without amnesia."[5]

In 1978, 20th Century Fox sued Universal Studios (producers of Battlestar Galactica) for plagiarism, copyright infringement, unfair competition, and Lanham Act claims,[6] claiming it had stolen 34 distinct ideas from Star Wars.[7] Universal promptly countersued, claiming Star Wars had stolen ideas from their 1972 film Silent Running[8] (notably the robot "drones") and the Buck Rogers serials of the 1930s.[citation needed] 20th Century Fox's copyright claims were initially dismissed by the trial court in 1980,[9] but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit remanded the case for trial in 1983.[10] It was later "resolved without trial."[11]

Ratings[edit]

Battlestar Galactica initially was a ratings success. CBS counter-programmed by moving its Sunday block of All in the Family and Alice an hour earlier, to compete with Galactica in the 8:00 timeslot. From October 1978 to March 1979, All in the Family averaged more than 40 percent of the 8:00 audience, against Galactica's 27 or 28 percent.[12]

In mid-April 1979, ABC executives canceled the show. An AP article reported "The decision to bump the expensive Battlestar Galactica was not surprising. The series ... had been broadcast irregularly in recent weeks, attracting slightly over a quarter of the audience in its Sunday night time slot."[13] Larson claimed that it was a failed attempt by ABC to reposition its number one program Mork & Mindy into a more lucrative timeslot.[14][verification needed] The cancellation led to viewer outrage, protests outside ABC studios, and even contributed to the suicide of Edward Seidel, a 15-year-old boy in Saint Paul, Minnesota who was obsessed with the program.[15][16][17]

Language[edit]

While primarily English, the Colonial language was written to include several fictional words that differentiated its culture from those of Earth, most notably time units and expletives. The words were roughly equivalent to their English counterparts, and the minor technical differences in meaning were suggestive to the viewer. Colonial distance and time units were incompletely explained, but appear to have been primarily in a decimal format.

Time units included millicenton (approximately equivalent to one second), centon (minute), centar (hour), cycle (day), secton (week), quatron (unknown, perhaps 1/4 yahren), sectar (month), yahren (Colonial year), centuron (Colonial century).
Distance units were metron (meter) and micron (second of time when used in a countdown, but also a distance unit, possibly a kilometer.)
Expletives included "frack", also spelled "frak" (interjection), "felgercarb" (noun), and "golmonging", also spelled "gall-monging" (adjective).
Other terms included daggit (a dog-like animal indigenous to one of the colonies), ducat (ticket), pyramid (card game), cubit (unit of currency represented by rectangular coins), triad (a full-contact ball and goal game similar to basketball), and lupus (a wolf-like animal indigenous to another of the colonies).
Figures of speech There were a number of these used in the series, such as "daggit dribble", a term used to condemn falsehood, and "daggit-meat", used as an expression of contempt.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Universal in Talks for "Battlestar" Movie, Hollywood Reporter, February 20, 2009
  2. ^ Bryan Singer to Direct and Produce "Battlestar Galactica" movie, Entertainment Weekly, August 13, 2009
  3. ^ Bryan Singer to Direct "Battlestar Galactica", Variety, August 13, 2009
  4. ^ Ellen Leventry (May 2005). "The Theology of Sci Fi Channel's 'Battlestar Galactica'". beliefnet.com. Retrieved November 3, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Critics' reviews of Battlestar Galactica". Galactica1981.tripod.com. Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2012. 
  6. ^ Fullen, Andrew. Universal Studios vs. Battlestar Galactica, pp. 10, 171. CreateSpace, November 1, 2007. ISBN 1-4348-1579-X.
  7. ^ Twientieth Century-Fox Film Studios Corp. v. MCA, Inc., 715 F. 2d 1327 (C.A.9, 1983) Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. v. MCA, Inc. p. 1330, fn 1, 5.
  8. ^ Newitz, Annalee (26 November 2007). "Battlestar Galactica Dubbed "Too Expensive" and "Star Wars Ripoff"". io9. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  9. ^ Gallagher, William. "Film Rip-Offs - "Star Wars" vs "Battlestar Galactica"". bbc.co.uk. BBC. Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  10. ^ Twentieth Century-fox Film Corporation, et al., Plaintiffs-appellants, v. Mca, Inc., et al., Defendants-appellees (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 1983-05-06) (“We therefore reverse and remand for trial”). Text
  11. ^ "Los Angeles Litigation Attorney - Firm History - Leopold, Petrich & Smith". lpsla.com. Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  12. ^ 'Battlestar Show Blasting Nowhere at Light Speed.' The Montreal Gazette - Mar 27, 1979; Wilmington Morning Star Jan 11, 1979.
  13. ^ "Battlestar Galactica, Five others to be Cancelled Next Fall by ABC." The Toledo Blade, April 24, 1979.
  14. ^ Larson confirmed this on the Sci-Fi documentary "Sciography"
  15. ^ Associated Press. "TV Death". AP, August 25, 1979.
  16. ^ Associated Press. "St. Paul's High Bridge: Suicide Hot Spot". citypages.com, February 5, 2008.
  17. ^ Sci-Fi Channel. Sci-fiography: Battlestar Galactica, Sci-Fi Channel Productions, 2000.

Further reading[edit]

  • Criswell, David and Richie Levine. Somewhere Beyond The Heavens: Battlestar Galactica Unofficial Companion. Imprint Books, 2006. ISBN 1591099935.

External links[edit]