Retrospective on the Battlestar Galactica Television Series

Retrospective on the Battlestar Galactica Television Series

Glen Larson conceived the idea behind Battlestar Galactica. Although Larson claims the idea brewed for over a decade before its execution, the creation of Star Wars in 1977 was a significant inspiration. The previous title of Battlestar Galactica was “Adam’s ark”. However, there were speculations that the remarkable success of Star Wars led to the adoption of the name Battlestar Galactica. Although both franchises differ in the storyline, the use of space-related science fiction and similar themes. For instance, more advanced and oppressive forces hunting down free humans appeared in both franchises. This led to the producers of Star Wars throwing accusations of copyright infringement and plagiarism at Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica is an American Science Fiction, action, horror, and adventure genre. The original franchise aired between 1978-1979 and contained about 24 episodes. Larson also found a way to integrate part of the Mormon theology into the show using terms like the “lost planet,” the thirteenth race, and others. Undoubtedly, Larson was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Despite not attaining the height of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica also earned the interest of a very large audience. 

Join us on a retrospective of the Battlestar Galactica.

Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979)

Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979)

The original series of Battlestar Galactica aired between 1978-1979. The series contained 24 episodes, with each episode lasting about 45minutes. The series reveals a long history of hostility between the twelve colonies of humanity and a race of robotic nemesis created by a race of reptiles.

It was not entirely clear whether the robots were responsible for the clear out of the reptilian race. However, their feud with humans had lasted up to a thousand years. The relentless race of robots that the humans often referred to as Cylons soon found a human ally named “Count Baltar.” Baltar teamed up with the Cylons and aided their goal of decimating humanity. 

The Cylons launched a serious attack on the twelve colonies, and the few survivors of the attack had to escape through a giant warship called “Galactica” and other small warships. An army commander named “Adama” led the few who escaped through the Galactica. The commander then led the search for the thirteenth tribe of humanity inhabiting a planet called ” Earth.”  During their search for a new home, the relentless Cylons continued being resolute in their hunt for humanity.

In the final episode, “Hand of God,” humans finally lands on the 13th colony. However, the humans throw away caution under the guise of being in their desired habitat, but their arch-nemesis soon reappears. The Cylons seemed to have chased them down to the new planet under the leadership of Count Baltar. The humans who are tired of running decides to mount a fightback under the leadership of Commander Adama.

Reception

The original franchise received a mixed reception despite its tremendous success. The opinion that the show was only a replica of Star Wars put off a large part of the audience. Renowned science fiction writer Isaac Asimov famously presented his commentary on the series.

Star Wars was fun, and I enjoyed it. But Battlestar Galactica was Star Wars all over again, and I couldn’t watch it without amnesia.”

The series of legal battles between 20th Century Fox and Universal Studios that followed the movie’s production was not helpful to its reception.

Also, the series became entrapped in the ideological war of its time of release, with the Soviets believing the series made a mockery of their actions. Summarily, the decision to discontinue the show led to protests and agitations. The famous incident of the 15year old Edward Seidel, who committed suicide after the program’s abrupt conclusion, stirred more mixed feelings because Seidel had sent a letter pleading for the studio to continue the series. However, the studio ignored his letter.

Galactica 1980 (1980)

Galactica 1980 (1980)

Following the outrage, the cancellation of the original franchise generated in 1979, ABC had to review its decision and reintroduce the show in 1980. The company consulted Larson, who has shifted attention to other projects, and convinced him to work on another release of the movie. Larson and the company made efforts to reduce the costs by eliminating the roles of some minor characters and focusing on the major characters.

The decision to continue the show was arrived at, and the series contained ten episodes, with each lasting for about 45minutes.

Count Baltar, the character who betrayed the humans and led the Cylons attack in the original franchise, returned to humanity, and he leads the council of twelve. As the play unfolds, the humans realize the earth cannot afford them enough protection against their traditional foes and realize the need to come up with a plan to avoid the Cylons. Commander Adama suggests a distraction mechanism by stirring a ship away from the planet, while Baltar suggests using a time travel machine to acquire technology capable of fighting off the Cylons. Although humanity rejected Baltar’s idea, he stole a ship capable of traveling through time in other to execute his plans.

The council appoints Starbuck and Apollo to lure him back and restore the natural order.

Reception

Reactions to the 1980 show were negative. The time travel effect added to the series earned the show a lot of criticisms. It also failed to match the standard of the original 1978 series.

Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries (2003)

Battlestar Galactica: The Miniseries (2003)

Ronald Moore wrote and produced the 2003 Battlestar Galactica miniseries. The series was the first that Glen Larson did not write. Michael Rymer also directed the miniseries. It aired on December 8, 2003 and contains just two episodes.

Despite having a different writer, the miniseries maintained a similar plot, but there was a little uniqueness in the series. The appearance of Cylons in human form made humans more susceptible to attacks from their traditional foes. Before the time, the two warring races had signed an armistice with the hope of putting an end to their conflict. The Cylons considered this a rare opportunity and soon penetrated the ranks of the humans with their human-like Cylons. A particular human-like Cylon named “Number Six” had seduced one of the most trusted scientific minds of the people, Dr. Gaius Baltar. Number Six’s access to the codes empowered the Cylons to launch a nuclear attack on the humans. The Cylons then launched subsequent attacks to reduce the number of survivors further.

Again, the humans turned towards their powerful aircraft, “Galactica,” which they used in orchestrating their escape to a fabled planet called “earth.” However, they soon realized they were in the company of Cylons appearing as humans.

Reception

This series revived the Battlestar Galactica following a poor show in 1980. The series won a Saturn Award for best television presentation and won the Emmy awards for Best sound editing and special visual effects.

Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)

Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009)

Ronald Moore returned to also write and produce the follow-up series to the successful 2003 miniseries. It was also the longest Battlestar Galactica series spanning five years, from 2004-2009. The series also earned diverse recognitions such as Emmy nomination for Writing, Directing, visual effects, and sound mixing. The TV show also featured in Time’s 100 best TV shows of all time. 

Like the previous series, the show sustained the rivalry between the humans and the Cylons. However, the humans and a group of Cylons seem to have forged an alliance under the leadership of the Cylons’ leader John Cavil. Cavil once again led humanity to a new planet called “Earth.” Notably, the series presents the modern-day earth as a product of the Human-Cylons relations. Like the previous series, the new series also maintained a new standard for the movie, a factor missing in the previous series.

Caprica (2010)

Caprica (2010)

Ronald D. Moore also wrote and produced Caprica. The series aired from January 2010 to November 2010.

Caprica’s plot occurred 58 years before the Battlestar Galactica. There was a change of style and tone in this series which was a deliberate effort by Ronald Moore to create something quite different and avoid repetition. There was a little digression in the storyline, and the story focused on two families — The Graystones and the Adamas.

Graystone is a wealthy scientist whose daughter Zoe has joined a terrorist organization. In an explosion set off by Zoe’s boyfriend, the Graystones’ daughter died alongside the wife and daughter of Adama, a lawyer working for the Tauron gangster community. Graystones decided to meet Adama to help acquire a piece of technology that could help bring back his daughter to life and complete the cybernetic being he is creating for the government. 

The reception of the show was mixed, with some part of the audience praising the creativity while others criticized it as being poor in quality when compared to Galactica.

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome (2012)

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome (2012)

Michael Taylor and David Eick created Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, the latest series in the franchise. 

This series portrays the time between Caprica and the Battlestar Galactica, emphasizing the role of William Adama.

Following his graduation from the academy, Adama received a post to the Wild Weasel, a raptor ship, though Adama would prefer a Viper fighter. The two thought they received an assignment on a civilian mission before their new boss, Dr. Kelly, issued a new directive. Adama and his partner Coker survive various levels of danger in this series.

Conclusion

Even though Battlestar Galactica did not have the best start due to its close resemblance to Star Wars, the following series made the show one of the best television series ever. Now, the series stands on its own merits and matches popularity with other science fiction giants like Star Trek and Star Wars.

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About the author

Author: Chris Ingledue 

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Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!

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Retrospective on the Battlestar Galactica Television Series
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Retrospective on the Battlestar Galactica Television Series
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Join us on a retrospective on the Battlestar Galactica television series since its debut series in 1978 up until the latest 2012 series.
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Wheeljack's Lab
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