Battlestar Galactica (1978 TV series)
Battlestar Galactica intro
|Created by||Glen A. Larson|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||24 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||45 minutes per episode|
|Distributor||NBCUniversal Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 17, 1978– April 29, 1979|
|Followed by||Galactica 1980|
|Related shows||Battlestar Galactica (2004)|
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 the 1978–79 season before being canceled. Afterward, a write-in campaign revived the show as Galactica 1980 with 10 episodes in 1980.
Narrations and theme music
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 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' 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 ragtag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest: a shining planet known as Earth.
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" (from "battle starship"), named Galactica, the survivors fled in any available ships. 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 pursue them relentlessly 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", although 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 after a 30-year voyage to Earth.
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 (except the United Kingdom where it was released in April 1979) 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.
The pilot had originally been announced as the first of three made for TV movies. After broadcast of the second episode, "Lost Planet of the Gods", Glen Larson announced the format change to a weekly series, catching his writing and production staff off guard, resulting in several substandard 'crash of the week' episodes until quality scripts could resume. "Lost Planet of the Gods" also introduced a costume change from the original, in that the warriors' dress uniform featured a gold-trimmed cape falling to upper thigh. Because of the costume change, a portion of the pilot was reshot; this refilmed version was released in cinemas in 1979. The original version of the warriors' dress uniform, a plain, mid-thigh-length cape, is documented in The Official Battlestar Galactica Scrapbook by James Neyland, 1978.
Criticism and legal actions
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:
The galactic negotiations between the people and the Cylons really resembled the U.S./Soviet SALT talks - not in their actual form but in the perverted interpretation of the enemies of the treaty from the family of Washington hawks... Their inspiration is the pumping-up of military, anti-Soviet hysteria, which in this case is disguised in the modern costume of socio-scientific fantasy... Anti-Soviet symbolism dressed in a transparent tunic of science fiction.— Melor Sturua, Izvestia
In 1978, 20th Century Fox sued Universal Studios (producers of Battlestar Galactica) for plagiarism, copyright infringement, unfair competition, and Lanham Act claims, claiming it had stolen 34 distinct ideas from Star Wars. Universal promptly countersued, claiming Star Wars had stolen ideas from their 1972 film Silent Running, notably the robot "drones", and the Buck Rogers serials of the 1930s. 20th Century Fox's copyright claims were initially dismissed by the trial court in 1980, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit remanded the case for trial in 1983. It was later "resolved without trial".
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.
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." Larson claimed that it was a failed attempt by ABC to reposition its number one program Mork & Mindy into a more lucrative timeslot.[verification needed] The cancellation led to viewer outrage and protests outside ABC studios, and it even contributed to the suicide of Edward Seidel, a 15-year-old boy in Saint Paul, Minnesota who was obsessed with the program.
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), sectar (month), quatron (unknown, perhaps 1/4 yahren), 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 "golmogging", also spelled "gall-mogging" (adjective). These words avoided US FCC guidelines on the use of profanities and the associated fines.
- Other terms included daggit (a canine–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), lupus (a wolf-like animal indigenous to another of the colonies), and sociolator (prostitute).
- 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.
The show's original music was composed and conducted by Stu Phillips, with the pilot score performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. It was recorded at 20th Century Fox, which later sued Universal over the series. MCA Records released a soundtrack album on LP and cassette with Phillips as the music producer; the album was later reissued on compact disc by Edel in 1993, and Geffen Records in 2003. For the series, Phillips used a studio orchestra at Universal, although the theme and end credits music as recorded by the LAPO were retained.
In 2011-2012 Intrada Records released four albums featuring Phillips's music for the series, representing the first commercial release of music other than that of the pilot. (Phillips previously produced a four CD promotional set.) Except the first, all are two disc sets.
- 2011: Battlestar Galactica Volume 1: "Saga of a Star World".
- 2011: Battlestar Galactica Volume 2: "Lost Planet of the Gods" parts 1 and 2, and "Gun on Ice Planet Zero" parts 1 and 2.
- 2012: Battlestar Galactica Volume 3: "The Long Patrol", "The Lost Warrior", "The Magnificent Warriors", "The Young Lords", "Murder on the Rising Star", "Take the Celestra", "The Hand of God", and Galactica 1980's "The Return of Starbuck".
- 2012: Battlestar Galactica Volume 4: "The Living Legend" parts 1 and 2, and "War of the Gods" parts 1 and 2, plus music recorded for Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack and Galactica 1980.
"Fire in Space", "The Man with Nine Lives", "Greetings from Earth", "Baltar's Escape", and "Experiment in Terra" were entirely tracked with preexisting material.
Follow on projects
In 2009 Bryan Singer was tapped to direct a feature film remake with production input from original series creator Glen A. Larson. Larson's 2014 death caused a delay, but in 2016 Lisa Joy was assigned to be the screenwriter and the studio was considering Francis Lawrence to replace Singer as director.
- List of Battlestar Galactica characters
- List of Battlestar Galactica (1978, 1980) episodes
- Battlestar Galactica (ship)
- Colonial Viper
- Cylon Raider
- Ellen Leventry (May 2005). "The Theology of Sci Fi Channel's 'Battlestar Galactica'". beliefnet.com. Retrieved November 3, 2011.
- "Critics' reviews of Battlestar Galactica". Galactica1981.tripod.com. Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. Retrieved January 7, 2012.
- Fullen, Andrew. Universal Studios vs. Battlestar Galactica, pp. 10, 171. CreateSpace, November 1, 2007. ISBN 1-4348-1579-X.
- 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.
- Newitz, Annalee (26 November 2007). "Battlestar Galactica Dubbed "Too Expensive" and "Star Wars Ripoff"". io9. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
- Gallagher, William. "Film Rip-Offs - "Star Wars" vs "Battlestar Galactica"". bbc.co.uk. BBC. Retrieved 2014-11-17.
- 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
- "Firm History". lpsla.com. Leopold, Petrich & Smith. Retrieved 2014-11-17.
- 'Battlestar Show Blasting Nowhere at Light Speed.' The Montreal Gazette - Mar 27, 1979; Wilmington Morning Star Jan 11, 1979.
- "Battlestar Galactica, Five others to be Cancelled Next Fall by ABC." The Toledo Blade, April 24, 1979.
- Larson confirmed this on the Sci-Fi documentary "Sciography"
- Associated Press. "TV Death". AP, August 25, 1979.
- Associated Press. "St. Paul's High Bridge: Suicide Hot Spot" Archived June 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.. citypages.com, February 5, 2008.
- Sci-Fi Channel. Sci-fiography: Battlestar Galactica, Sci-Fi Channel Productions, 2000.
- "What the frak? Faux curse sweeps geek nation". Today. AP. September 2, 2008. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
- "Bryan Singer onboard Battlestar Galactica film". The Guardian. 14 August 2009. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
- Bryan Singer to Direct "Battlestar Galactica" Archived August 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.. Variety, August 13, 2009.
- Kroll, Justin (9 June 2016). "'Battlestar Galactica' Movie Finds Writer in Lisa Joy, Eyes 'Hunger Games' Director". Variety. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
- Criswell, David and Richie Levine. Somewhere Beyond The Heavens: Battlestar Galactica Unofficial Companion. Imprint Books, 2006. ISBN 1591099935.
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