Humor (1980)

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Hilarious Interview with Galactica 1980 Story Editors Allan Cole and Chris Bunch

See: Sources:Interview with Allan Cole and Chris Bunch

British writer Matthew Wharmby's Hilarious Galactica 1980 Episode Summaries

The Super Scouts

PREMISE: Forced to seek shelter on Earth after a surprise Cylon attack destroys their ship, a group of Galactican kids fall foul of Earth's polluted environment. The perpetrator of this has to be taught a lesson, Galactican style.

MORAL: Pollution is bad (Earth kids). Don't drink foreign water (space kids).

We open with a scene aboard the dilapidated freighter Delphi, on board which Troy and Dillon are teaching some kids about what they're likely to find on Earth, should they ever be allowed down there. Not to be wondering too much what they're doing here rather than on patrol or, more importantly, trying to advance Earth's technology by wheeler-dealing with selected scientists, we soon figure out that they've got problems when the Delphi grinds to a halt with engine trouble.

On the bridge of the Galactica (a very poor set indeed, no equivalent whatsoever to the spectacular multi-level affair of the original series), some semblance of tension mounts as Adama and Boomer realise that the Delphi is now isolated, having fallen behind the rest of the fleet. Not that the fleet's really going anywhere these days, but the threat is real enough that Adama orders vipers launched immediately. Sure enough, the Cylons have spotted the Delphi and begin tearing into it. Among their number is the blistering gunship identified in 'Conquest of the Earth' as the A-B Craft, and which I shall refer to as such in this and subsequent reviews.

It's established that this is the first time the Cylons have attacked 'in a generation', the machine pursuers evidently having been content to sit back and let the Galactican fleet lead them to Earth, but thankfully the colonial warriors haven't forgotten how to stick it to the Cylons, and spend ten minutes doing so. However, the Cylons have wrought heavy damage upon the Delphi, which begins to break up. Troy and Dillon hustle as many kids as they can into shuttles and off the Delphi, and pilot the last one off themselves as the ship blows (seen in a lame special effects montage based on a freeze frame of the freighter Gemini).

Unfortunately, the shuttle has been caught in the blast and also damaged. Boomer, leading the viper squadron which has managed to drive off the Cylons, confers with Troy, but the skies are still too dangerous to attempt making the journey back to the fleet. Some excitement ensues, at least among the kids, when Troy announces that they're going to be the first 'children from the stars to set foot on the planet Earth'. And here's where the excitement tails off for us, as the next hour and a half is set on Earth. Which they reach, just about. After narrowly avoiding a head-on collision with a 747, the shuttle puts down in a field in the middle of the night. The resulting scene where the children encounter land, plants and flowers for the first time is rather touching, but they have to avoid the attention of passers-by, who have to be put out of commission with stun fire.

The lads go into town on their bikes to score clothes for the kids, and come up with the idea of disguising them as a scout troop. A tortuous scene is set in a department store where Troy uses his invisibility shield to avoid some customer service, but Dillon's adventures are a bit more amusing. Not only can he not cross a road without getting himself damn near run over, but he has no comprehension of how to use banks, and his attempt to change Colonial cubits for U.S. greenbacks goes awry when the bank clerk assumes his tender is stolen. Why is it that bank clerks are always such patronising expeletive deleted's? I'm from a lot nearer Cali than these space hoboes, and they still always treated me like a five-year-old. And I didn't have a shooter to threaten the wretched woman with, like Dillon! Still, he comes off with a big bag of dosh, and they're away.

Naturally, the kids have been getting up to no good while the lads have been in town, but aside from a spot of fighting, the real problem comes when they stop by a riverside and drink some water. The overly flowery way they describe it was one of the major problems with this troubled programme - Moonstone, probably (who may or may not have been played by one of Glen Larson's kids) goes 'And this is where they stopped to satisfy their thirst'. Three of the kids have taken ill, and are in a bad way, lying comatose inside the tents Troy and Dillon have bought for them. As if that's not trouble enough, they're being pursued by the county sheriff, who is without a doubt the ugliest human being ever to have appeared on celluloid. The actor, whose name I'm too idle to look up on the IMDB, also played a mercenary in the Buck Rogers episode 'The Plot to Kill a City', which was filmed more or less around the same time, give or take a few months. The spreadover into the second episode (yep, this was a two-parter) is roughly characterised by a cheerless sequence in which the kids hit their invisibility screens and leap into trees, there to pelt the pigs with apples.

There is a reason for the river's mankiness. You'd think that after all the trouble it takes to pipe Southern California's water five hundred miles down from the Sierra Nevada, they'd do something about the grey silt content, but this isn't the kids' problem. A local manufacturing plant of some variety (forget the product) is fouling the water supply. Jamie is on hand to interview the proprietor, a jowly, grey character known as Mr Stockton, but he's as unsympathetic as are his troglodytic workforce, who don't want to be laid off again. There are some cheap thrills when the hard hats try it on with Troy and Dillon, who simply fling them across the landscape like space balsa wood. Oddly, you find yourself not without sympathy, as the writers have injected a spot of labour relations into this episode, which is not something you'd expect in Galactica 1980. Who's the real villain? Big business screwing up the environment, or the working class too dependent on their exploitative employer?

Anyway, the three kids are on their last legs. Honestly, this is ample proof that kids never listen to their mothers. Americans, when you go to Mexico, they implore you not to drink the water, don't they? It's the same with my mob when we go to Portugal. We may get the toms something rotten, but we don't flatline, which is precisely what Moonstone does the minute the lads get him to a local hospital, having obviously bitten the bullet against using primitive Earth medical facilities. It doesn't help when Valerie, Dr Spencer's dimwitted assistant, starts throwing a wobbly and has to be sedated herself (again by the useful expedient of a laser pistol set on stun). Dr Spencer is intrigued when his microscope readings on Moonstone's exhausted little body throw up some most interesting results - either that or he accidentally dropped some doughnut crumbs from his lunch on the slide! It soon becomes clear that Troy and Dillon, and the kids, are from a bit further than Cleveland. Lucky the writers didn't substitute Kentucky, given the amount of DNA-mangling inbreeding that's said to go on around there!

There is nothing for it but to call up some REAL medical assistance. You can't help but wonder why Dillon has to go out of the building to get better reception to the Galactica on his wrist computron, but that's presumably to put the frighteners on the Air Force, who are also picking up his transmissions, with the appropriate consternation. Dillon is enthused when he tells Troy that something special's on the way. 'That can't be ready, can it?' Troy says.

Aboard the Galactica, a sombre Dr Zee and Commander Adama realise they have no choice but to rush into service their latest creation - an anti-gravity ship in the shape Earthlings would immediately associate with a flying saucer. It also looks remarkably like the artwork on the front of the original Battlestar Galactica novelisation. Adama is so impressed with the potential of this ship that he wonders 'with a force of anti-gravity ships such as these, we could retake our planets!' And why not? It would be a damn sight better than hanging around the arse end of the galaxy, waiting to get blown away. However, there is only one of these ships to hand, and the only person who understands it fully is Dr Zee, who thus insists on going to Earth with it. Adama almost panics; 'You above all must not be risked!' but Dr Zee, with the impressive arrogance only a posh English kid can convey, has his way over a man six times his age.

Things thus pick up a great deal from here, as the lads drive the sick kids to high ground. I'm afraid I can't remember for the life of me how Mr Stockton comes to be in the van with them, but it's integral to the plot. So much so, that his protesting is silenced with the inevitable stun round to the thorax. The grotesquely ugly sheriff and Colonel Sydell have picked up the trail, and have additionally called in the National Guard, all of whom are put out of business when interference from an unknown source screws up their engines near the summit. One of the better lines comes from this scene. The sheriff, in a truly hideous profile shot which amplifies his ugliness to horrendous proportions, has his own take on the situation. Under the weak premise that the scoutmasters Troy and Dillon are 'impostors', he declares something to the order of 'This isn't about little green men at all. No... more likely, little green dollars.'

The money shot is a blatant bite of Close Encounters, but it's surprisingly well done. However, it's not helped by a cringe-inducing explanation by Dillon to a now openly frightened Mr Stockton that 'the glory of the universe is intelligence'. Barry van Dyke's done this before, and delivered a line that was meant to be serious (I think!) in a tone that can only be interpreted as sarcastic. Perhaps it's this member of the cast's inside joke at these inane scripts. But we forget all that when the mist clears, and down comes a splendid starship all outlined by bright lights. Adama emerges from this shameless copy of the Close Encounters vehicle and greets Troy, addressing him as Boxey. With no time to lose, ghostly medical figures get to work on the kids, while Stockton is ushered into the nicely appointed bridge chamber to be shown the error of his ways. The poor fool is now well and truly slack-jawed with catatonia. Dr Zee is present, and after fending off Stockton's pathetic pleas, shows him a little documentary. On the same lines as the projections that showed Hollywood being blown to bits by Cylon raiders (Burn, Hollywood, Burn!), this time the show is of an aged Stockton weeping at the funeral of an unspecified individual ten years later. 'No... Not Jimmy,' Stockton snivels, as it is his son that's due to die, poisoned by chemicals that Stockton Senior continued to use in his plant. We can only hope that Mr Stockton converts to green power mighty quick, as the anti-gravity ship picks up the approaching cops and army and prepares to get the hell out of there. All that the troops find when they finally reach the top of the mountain is a gibbering Stockton, who presumably turns over a new leaf from here on.

VERDICT: Two stars. The beginning and end carry it, but we could cut a good half hour from the middle and not be any the worse.

THOUGHTS:

  • On Dr Zee's protected status, which in some fanfic circles (Lee Storm's marvellous interpretations in particular) is carried to its conclusion.
  • Completely forgot about the kids' super skills. They jump about a bit, enough said. I think they also sing a song at the end, which is best forgotten.
  • Why is that blackshirt aboard the Delphi so happy?! Is it because he can subtract 12 from 137 to make 125, a process presumably beyond the target audience of this show?[1]


Spaceball

The Fairest Review I Can Manage

BACKGROUND

This was the first Galactica 1980 episode I ever saw (TVS, the ITV network then covering the southern regions of Britain, aired the show, still under the title 'Battlestar Galactica', in autumn 1984). First off, I'm going to mortify the hardcore by declaring that I'm not as against Galactica 1980 as most. To me, the premise was sound, but was let down by the ever-paternalistic network constraints on what constitutes suitable viewing for the kiddies. Still, to me 'any Galactica is good Galactica' and I regard it as a spinoff, not to be taken too seriously (except by some truly gifted fanfic authors, who have done wonders in unifying the two universes).

I'm not so sure there aren't overtones of colonialism in the Gal '80 concept. If you're a more technologically advanced culture, the last thing you want to do is antagonise or frighten the natives, especially when you need them so desperately, and to get their help you've almost got to abase yourself. I've often felt the same way when I go abroad. Still, this episode didn't do a lot for me, and I suspect it didn't for more than a few others.

THE STORY

Troy and Dillon arrive in their usual field on their turbocycles (and I don't care what anyone else says, those bikes were cool). A viper shimmers into view, and out climbs a Colonial warrior named Lieutenant Nash, who states that he has been ordered by Commander Adama to deliver the viper to the two. Programmed into its computron (by Dr. Zee) are the coordinates of the last known sightings of Xaviar. Nash also offers to look after the children until Troy and Dillon return, but there's a shiftiness about his nature that we don't like (it's the English accent, does it every time!). Nash looks pretty pleased with himself as the viper takes off.

At the UBC broadcasting studios, Brooks is handing out assignments. Jamie draws the task of covering a camp for underprivileged kids run by Billy Ayers, a faded baseball star (and this is where I start to fade myself. Sorry, but as an Englishman, baseball bores the living crap out of me. I've done my best, I even attended an Angels game at Anaheim Stadium, but it's got nothing on football. I said sorry). Jamie reckons she can kill two birds with one stone by taking the Super Scouts (who are underprivileged kids of a sort, after all) there for a day out. Mr Brooks is none too pleased with the way Jamie has been waltzing off assignment to hang about with these kids, so attaches Hal, a nerdy cameraman with an obvious crush on Jamie, to the project. Brooks also laments that he's no nearer to discovering the nature of the 'terrorists', as he holds up Kent McCord's and Barry van Dyke's studio 8x10s to the camera.

Somehow, while all this is happening (you'll appreciate my lack of effort in watching the whole tape again) the kids end up in the studio, where they show off their (smug!) superior skills by dismantling a television camera. Its handler goes apeshit at seeing the pieces all over and runs screaming off to Jamie, but when she takes the party down to investigate, the kids have put it all back together again. Aaw. There were some cheap thrills in this show, and this is one of them - and you can't get much cheaper than kids making mugs out of grown-ups. Kids' show this was, and don't they just know it. Meanwhile again, poor Colonel Sydell, the downtrodden representative of the United States Air Force, is having a really bad day. I can't truthfully remember how he comes to figure in this plot, but suffice it to say he wants to catch Troy and Dillon something rotten, as they've buggered up his career and no mistake. The third studio mugshot of the day is Robyn Douglass's, so he decides to blow work off for the day to pay Jamie a visit. The breakout star of this episode is Sydell's pretty secretary (a full Lieutenant in rank! Nice work if you can get it...)

At the baseball camp, Jamie and the kids pull up in a woody wagon with a greater capacity than the Tardis (I know American cars were big back in the day, but thirteen bodies, small as some are, was not a realistic load!) and have a chat with Billy Ayers, who grouses that his Little League operation is going down the pan. He manages a team scheduled for local playoffs, but as luck would have it they've all come down with the flu. Jamie offers up her own kids, but confesses that they don't know the game. Out of shot, they immediately embarrass Jamie when adorable little Starla picks up a baseball and throws it back to the kids who hit it towards her feet. Her gentle throw goes clean over the horizon (and this IS funny, you've got to admit). Dim Hal gets all excited and scrambles to get footage for the six o'clock news (probably the post-live police chase, post-Johnny Mountain wacky weather puff piece), and Jamie's well flustered. She has to let the kids down easily by telling them to hide their skills, and basically behave like 'complete genetic retards' in the anguished words (more or less) of the most redheaded of these galactic stepchildren.

At this point we cut to Troy and Dillon (wondered where those two had got to!) zipping through space in this loaner viper. All they have to do is punch in the coordinates supplied to them by Nash (sounds too easy, doesn't it?) and just like that, the viper conks out (visualised as a truly appalling freeze-frame). You can almost smell the panic through the TV set as they realise they're in deep felgercarb. Their last resort is to contact the Galactica and beg for help, which is our one of just two scenes in this episode to feature Commander Adama. Lorne Greene carries it off well however, standing stoically with chest out and hands behind back, albeit on a dreadful bridge set which is so obviously shoved into the corner of one of Universal's less-favoured soundstages. Adama has no idea what Troy is on about, noting that Lieutenant Nash is 'standing right here beside me', and that they've got into some sort of trap. Conveniently, they then drift out of radio range. Adama dispatches a patrol to find them (which is never heard from again, incidentally!), but Troy and Dillon have got problems. So much 'in trouble' that this scene is actually REPEATED! The continuity supervisor and editor should all be shot, as they've already duped scenes (the infamous 'Since the time of our defeat, the Cylons have not been idle' Dr Zee monologue).

If you've got problems, kids, just go to sleep, and it'll be better in the morning. This message has been brought to you by ABC. To this end, Dillon nods off for a bout of sleep mode, while Troy tries to take the ship apart from the inside (you try that when you can't move your arms higher than your head). To add to this, their air's starting to run out. The best line in this episode stems from this little concern, when Dillon complains 'The air's foul in here.' So much for a children's show - you can't get much more suspect than wondering what happens when two men find themselves in a confined space!

So we've established that Nash is Xaviar - this is explained by Dr Zee's matter-of-fact explanation that 'we are all quite capable of epidermal transformation', i.e. face lifts for all. Without going too deeply into the whys and wherefores of this convenient excuse for Richard Lynch's non-reprisal of the Xaviar role, Jeremy Brett (who, to be fair, is only 99% dreadful) can now pester the kids unknown to Jamie. She thinks he's just another Galactican rube slumming it on Earth, and drags him along to the first innings of the baseball game, which can't be much fun (being evil's hard work, kids!). The ante is upped in that if the Polecats (the none-too-flattering title for these Galactican Dodgers) lose this game, Billy Ayers will go bust, and lose his holding to greedy, nasty developers. Some squabbling on the edge (between the - erm - the fellow who's dressed up like the black Michelin Man - the one Schroeder does in Peanuts when they're playing. That one; and what are probably representatives of the developers) is already taking place.

Invariably the Super Scouts come on, and are stuffed off the planet. Made to perform like geeks, they fall behind, to the order of 6-0 or thereabouts. Jamie is cringing - it seems either way you lose with this space rabble. Billy Ayers is looking at a dustbin for his next meal. Under the bleachers, Xaviar rings up Adama and chats almost cordially. All he wants is an amnesty, and the freedom to live wherever and whenever he chooses. Adama's not having it, so Xaviar threatens to slaughter the children, basically for fun. Jamie rumbles him, but is boxed into a corner. And, to really top things off, Colonel Sydell has decided to make a flying visit (so to speak). He'd already dropped by the station, to be informed that he wasn't the only individual interested in directions to the baseball camp (cue 'evil' music). Jamie collars the kids at half-time and reverses her instructions, ordering them to show off all their skills and give these sneering Earth mugs an ass-whupping, Galactican style. The rationale? The press will be swarming all over the winning team, and neither Xaviar nor Sydell will be able to get a look in. Clever girl, our Jamie.

As the Polecats begin hammering the Cougars, Troy and Dillon realise that there's no other way to fix the sabotaged viper but to get out and push. Having managed to get their spacesuits on inside the cockpit, they do just that (and this bit is done fairly well; you can't see the wires. One of the few uses of blue screen in the whole series, and after missing out on proper space action so much for all this Earthbound tripe, you really do welcome it all the more!). The repairs complete, they haul ass back towards Earth, and there ensues the inevitable flying bike matte, which sees its two thousandth or so repetition. Perhaps they mirror-imaged it for a bit of variety, I can't remember.

Xaviar isn't too happy that he's got the next World Series winners on his hands, and shepherds Jamie towards the gym. Sydell joins them there, and the two baddies engage in some truly ridiculous, and alarmingly effete, banter establishing who they are and what the other's problem is. Mercifully, Xaviar ends this by whipping his gun out (so much for non-violence - how the show needed it! Used constructively, of course!). At that moment, Troy and Dillon bust in and Xaviar legs it. They shoot it out for about fifteen seconds, the major casualty being Colonel Sydell, who fancies himself a hero and sprints off after the lads. Xaviar turns on his heel, zeroes in almost casually and puts a round right into his chest. It's only a stunner, but the Air Force man goes down like a sack of wet sand. After that, Our Heroes give up the chase, rather touchingly cradling the out-for-the-count Sydell (isn't that magnanimous? Or unbelievably patronising? You decide).

I said there were funny moments in this cruel show, and the final scene has an absolute corker. Troy and Dillon and Jamie review events, the day is obviously saved for the Great American Pastime as practised by Billy Ayers, and the only thing Jamie can hope for is that the damn kids never take up any other sports! Trouble is, they're standing right over from a basketball court, and once again the ball falls at little Starla's feet. She chucks it over her head, and BOOM! Nothing but net.

Rating - 1 1/2 stars. Not totally atrocious, but falls short of fair.[2]


The Night The Cylons Landed

PREMISE: A new and considerably more powerful Cylon fighter is intercepted by a Galactican patrol, but is forced to crash-land on Earth. Troy and Dillon must stop the Cylon survivors from commandeering radio equipment to contact baseships.

Like most Galactica 1980 episodes, 'The Night The Cylons Landed' starts off with a bang but collapses in the middle, to recover (and that's stretching it) only by the very final scene. Recon Patrol Delta, a two-man viper crewed by Captain Kanon and Lieutenant Britton, is picking up some ominous readings of a size and shape apparently too advanced to be your common-or-garden Cylon fighter. As if out of nowhere, a tremendously powerful new type of Cylon warship jumps them and fountains fire onto their position. Not only is the enemy ship jamming any attempt they are trying to make to contact the Galactica, but, alarmingly, its crew appear to exhibit human outlines. Realising that their single viper is hopelessly outclassed against the A-B craft where firepower is concerned, Kanon decides on a desperate strategy and rams the ship, putting both out of commission. The Cylon gunship tumbles out of the sky, and Britton is injured in the collision.

The compilation movie 'Conquest of the Earth', which combines this episode with the first third of 'Galactica Discovers Earth' has considerable additional footage of the A-B craft, which is identified as such in that movie, and which term I'll use to refer to the ship from now on. Without a doubt the best starship design of Galactica 1980 (in fact, the only new model) if not of the entire series, the A-B craft is about twice the size of the usual Cylon raider, with commensurately improved firepower and speed (which certainly have Recon Patrol Delta quaking in their cockpit). It fairly thunders along with the roar of an express train fighting an 80mph crosswind. Crewed by at least five (possibly six, if there is a centurion on each wing), two commanders are now specified to control the standard pilot and gunner. The commanders of this prototype ship (which, to be picky, had already made its combat debut against the Delphi) are humanoid Cylons of a new type of construct - and what fellow Cylons must make of comrades designed after their worst enemy, who can say? Andromus is in command, with sidekick Andromidus, and together they figure out very quickly that the A-B craft has an Achilles heel that the Galactican pilots have well and truly hit, if somewhat by sheer luck. Presumably the signalling equipment is located in the belly, and it's been put out of order, with the A-B ship unable to call for reinforcements or assistance of any kind from their baseship. And, as if that's not enough, the ship is drifting towards an as yet unidentified blue planet. Transmissions emanating from the service indicate that not only is the planet heavily populated (we are, of course, treated to some educational dialogue concerning Earth's precise dimensions), but the sentient (well, just about) population is composed entirely of humans. Andromus's face lights up as he exults that 'we have done what no Cylon before us has been able to do. We have found the lost human civilisation. The planet Earth.' But for some engine trouble, the war could be close to won. Spirits are deflated (if you can apply such an analogy to machine Cylons) when the crew make computations indicating that it's highly unlikely any of them will make it down at all.

And here's where we meet the human stars of this show (come on, you know you preferred the Cylons. Even in the original Battlestar Galactica). Troy and Dillon have taken the kids to watch a movie. They must reckon that sitting the twelve scouts down for a couple of hours in front of a flickering screen would cure them of their irritating propensity to leap fifty feet into the air and throw baseballs from California to New Mexico (this is a good decade before they rolled out Ritalin for mass use against American children), but the choice of film hasn't impressed them. It's a cheesy 1950s B-movie horror flick starring a butt-ugly monster (I forget the precise title, but you can be sure it's A Universal Picture), but the kids are reminded of a life form they ran into on their way to Earth. I would have liked to see the Gorkons, they sounded like a laugh.

Who said this show wasn't up to date? A good fifteen years before you wanted to belt the guy whose mobile phone went off in the cinema, Troy's communicator goes and Adama's on the line. Transpires that the Galactica has lost contact with its Recon Patrol Delta, and the last telemetry they were able to decipher placed it on a collision course with Earth. Troy and Dillon are ordered to meet the stricken viper at the point it's likely to come down, which is as yet undetermined, but which is predicted to be in the New York area. Unfortunately, the Air Force have been a little too diligent in picking up vipers on their way to and from Earth, and the lads are instructed to use alternative means of transport if they can possibly help it. Which means taking a plane to New York. The kids are ferried to Griffith Observatory in the Hollywood Hills and dumped on Jamie, who I believe makes herself useful with a spot of abridged astronomy.

Brows are furrowed at the Air Force headquarters when they too pick up an 'incoming' of unknown provenance, and worry that it's going to be 'Skylab all over again'. As Troy and Dillon board the flight to New York, they still believe it's the viper on its way. Please note that the pair manage to get through customs without passports, apparently without tickets, and additionally armed with a laser pistol each! Aren't domestic flights great? Every time I fly, the bastards make me take my belt off, turn my pockets out for loose change, paw me with a Geiger counter and mess with my computer! I'm surprised they haven't looked up my arse yet - that's where I keep the drugs! (But you never heard that).

As it happens, they needn't have worried, because someone else has brought artillery. Badly disguised as a female, a suitably shifty Latino stereotype and his 'husband' have also boarded, with a pushchair and (later to be revealed as plastic) infant. Once the plane is airborne, and Troy and Dillon finding out as quickly as any Earthling that flying is a serious bore ('I could have flown to Pluto by now,' Dillon opines), the drag artist unscrews his buggy and assembles a rather intricate 'Day of the Jackal' single-shot rifle (wonder how many kids watched this show and had a try at the very same?). He doesn't get much further than brandishing the weapon around the cabin and ordering the pilot to divert to Cuba before Troy and Dillon drop him with a joint round of stun fire apiece. His partner is brought down on his way to the bogs, which are also used to good effect by the stewardess. She's played by Sheila DeWindt, who played the hard-as-nails female viper pilot Dietra in 'Lost Planet of the Gods', and after Richard Lynch, is the second 'name' cast member to be recycled in Galactica 1980. All the poor girl gets to do however, is be pushed against the wall as the lads activate their invisibility screens in the toilets (do they have the room?!) and hustle off the plane as soon as it lands at JFK.

Troy and Dillon are already on a cab and on their way 'north', Dillon having brandished a big wad of bills at the driver as an incentive. By now it becomes clear that their mission is of greater concern, as Recon Patrol Delta has managed to make its way back to the Galactica. A noticeably injured Kanon, speaking from the Life Center (actually, what appears to be some corridor segments bolted together to form a corner) has delivered the footage of the A-B craft's occupants to Dr Zee, who repeats his infamous 'Since the time of our defeat, the Cylons have not been idle' speech. The expected landing zone of the Cylon gunship is narrowed down to 'sixty miles north of New York City', and the Air Force, now under the command of Colonel Briggs (poor old Sydell presumably having gone Section 8) is also aware. Thus it's a race to the spot between Troy and Dillon and a number of blue-and-whites and ambulances. The A-B craft comes down, but it's a bad landing. Four of the six crew are destroyed and the ship is blown to pieces. Surviving are Andromus, and pilot Centurion 9, who is, from here on, referred to inexplicably as Centuri. The centurion frees Andromus from the wreckage and both exit, activating a self-destruct sequence so as to destroy any remaining evidence. At a safe distance from the impending explosion, the two Cylons confer. Andromus surmises that they have come down 'within a thousand metrons of a primary communication centre', and is additionally confident that he can use his human configuration to pass amongst humans without suspicion, especially since the transmissions indicate that Earthlings do not know there's a war on. Centuri he's not so sure about, but they can worry about that later as they stroll the short distance to Interstate 95. All Centuri is bothered about is to 'destroy all humans', which is quite reasonable, but their priority is to find somewhere from where to signal their baseship.

It starts going downhill as the two Cylons find themselves picked up as hitchhikers by a couple dressed for Hallowe'en. Yes, only this far into the episode do we determine that it's October 31st, and William Daniels (of Knight Rider's KITT voiceover fame) can count himself lucky that his face is obscured by half a ton of white greasepaint). Norman and Shirley witter endlessly on their way to New York, casually dropping in that they're on their way to a party where Wolfman Jack will be present. Andromus's ears prick up at the talk of someone with anything to do with radio, and he humours their two hosts. More important for our purposes is that their mutual friend Arnie cooks meatballs that have a higher body count than the two Cylon warriors, who are sat there wishing they could simply tear the heads off these infuriating creatures and bowl them over the horizon. Wolfman Jack is, of course, the legendary American DJ immortalised in (was it American Graffiti?). Even us Brits had heard of him, so there you go. Centuri just sits there, all seven feet of him crammed into the back seat, and looks hard. 'What a great costume!' Shirley enthuses, which is the whole reason she picked them up in the first place. Tell that to Rex Cutter, who must have been busting for a leak inside that suit!

While the tin cans are putting up with this ignominy, Troy and Dillon have reached the crash site just in time to have to run for their lives again as the self-destruct goes off. They do however manage to inspect Andromidus's smashed remains and realise that some of his comrades have got away. Just then, the long arm of the law arrives, and Troy and Dillon look distinctly suspicious sniffing round a crash site and trying to palm it off as their 'plane' crashing. The police frisk them and take their guns (a cheerfully gratuitous shot permits one bemused copper to blast a tree to bits with one shot from what he thinks is 'some kind of cigarette lighter'. Taking advantage of the cops' astonishment, the lads snatch their weapons back, stun their assailants and steal their cruiser! Anyone considered how much crime takes place in this so-called children's show? In only the space of a few hours' air time, Troy and Dillon have stolen cars, clothes and money, broken the speed limit on both land and in the air, abused police officers, and shot security guards, businessmen, nurses, policemen, and members of the United States Air Force!

Tapping into the Cylon frequency on their wrist computrons, the lads discern that the Cylons are moving south, heading for New York City. It's not long, however, before fellow cop cars lay in pursuit to reclaim their stolen vehicle, and after a fairly uninteresting car chase, Troy and Dillon end up putting their cruiser into the East River. In this way they've thrown the fuzz off the trail for a bit, but have irreparably soaked their highly fashionable PVC puffa jackets. After alerting Adama to the situation, another spot of theft is called for as they sneak through the first open doorway they can find. This scene is unbearably chronic, only livened up when Dillon gapes in astonishment at a revue of costumed Universal Studios cartoon characters (the sublimely un-entertaining Woody Woodpecker, for example) cavorting on stage. 'Dancing mammals?!' he manages to gasp, as if Earth wasn't screwed up enough. 'Strange,' Troy concurs as the two of them sneak backstage and grab the first garments they can find off the rack. To be fair, our unloved heroes do look sharp in their dazzling white tuxes (are you sure this isn't a 'gone back in time' sequence?) but they have the grim bad luck to be forced on stage and made to participate in the revue. The only way they can save their faces is to activate their invisibility screens and make a run for it, leaving the rest of the cast apparently suspended in mid-air. As are half the audience, unfortunately. It does pick up - honest it does!

Andromus and Centuri prove to be big draws at the party, but they're not particularly sociable guests until Wolfman Jack shows up, his bulk artfully concealed by a Henry VIII costume. I have a good feeling that the eponymous Wolfman ad-libbed every single line he was given in this episode, and I wouldn't blame him one bit. The Cylons make plans to remove Wolfman Jack from the party, but are thrown for a loop when the infamous Arnie unleashes some of his dreaded meatballs. I was surprised they had microwaves by 1980, but when Arnie turns it on to give his speciality a bit of a final going over, Centuri freezes, short-circuits dramatically and crashes to the ground. Andromus has to waste the microwave with a burst of red energy from his hand, setting the place on fire. This is their cue to spirit Wolfman Jack away from the blazing apartment and to the radio station they'd got him chatting about earlier. On their way through what is presumably Central Park (yep, only tourists brave it by night), the three of them run into some disgracefully stereotyped Italian-American muggers, who posture at them distinctly un-threateningly until Centuri (shot from waist level to accentuate his great height) simply glares at them. Two or three minutes later, if I've got this in the right order (and it probably doesn't matter that much if I haven't, let's face it), Troy and Dillon happen upon these ridiculous rejects from The Warriors, an otherwise excellent cult film of the same era, but simply jump out of their way. They employ the same tactics to rescue a kid who's got himself caught in the burning apartment. You may be interested to note that this kid's dog is the second dog in Galactica 1980 to be called Skippy, or variations thereof. Come on, everyone knows that's a kangaroo's name!

Wolfman Jack is herded to WSHIT or whatever call letters denote his radio station, whose remit is grotesque adult contemporary that curdles the blood. You'd think that wall-to-wall automated Dr Hook would make Cylons self-destruct right off, not to mention his incessant blather, which finally irritates the Cylons into threatening him. Centuri simply presses his glove to his chest panel and short-circuits himself, which would presumably be a man-sized deterrent when applied to fat motormouthed humans with no respect. Andromus himself now gets on a tear and can't resist a lecture, to the order of 'Soon, you humans will realise just how unimportant you are to running a truly efficient society,' before finally ordering Wolfman Jack to escort them to the roof, where rests a satellite dish. All this to the strains of 'Daydream Believer', or some nauseating piece of late-1970s dreck that passed for music back then. Troy and Dillon now enter the building and are hot on their tail, but the Cylons have thoughtfully put the lift out of action. Here ensues some tiresome leaping from floor to floor (fifty storeys), but you've got to admire the lads for not putting so much as a speck on their white tuxedos.

No small amount of concern ensues on the Galactica when Dr Zee picks up a weak signal emanating outbound, towards the star Balcon (which I believe actually exists, and is a point at the edge of the galaxy where the Cylons have parked awaiting further instructions). At the same time as ordering massive electronic jamming of everything non-ABC flowing in this direction, Adama (or, to be more accurate, Dr Zee, who is quite obviously running the show here) has a patrol launched, and you'd think this'd be the cue for a proper battle, but no such luck. Andromus and Centuri have barely got the surprisingly titchy satellite dish set up and transmitting when Troy and Dillon bust in. Full marks to Troy for dispatching Wolfman Jack with a bellowed 'Get out of the way!', and he's also on the ball when a moderately interesting firefight ensues. Centuri receives a burst full in the chest, and Andromus's reaction to a similar wound shows that for all their advanced nature, Cylon humanoids do feel pain. He doesn't half scream when a malfunctioning, thoroughly disorientated Centuri tenderly cradles him, and together they stumble off the roof to their doom. One laser blast from Troy takes out the satellite, and the skies are safe once more for soft rock classics. Thank God that up in the Bronx around this time, hip-hop was being invented!

A cheap chuckle ensues when the Cylons land right in a trash compactor, which drives innocently off past Troy and Dillon as they exit the radio station, their work done. I don't know how Lorne Greene could have brought himself to utter Adama's shameful cop-out line 'then they are hardly so advanced that we cannot win', but we can put that out of mind when we are given one last glimpse inside the garbage compactor. There lies Centuri's severed head, still functioning, and repeating the faithful stuck record of his allotted function. 'I will protect you... I will protect you...'

VERDICT: Two stars (Fair). Conquest of the Earth did well to remove the worst parts of both this two-parter and Galactica Discovers Earth.

THOUGHTS:

  • The Hallowe'en gimmick is too much, but there aren't a lot of other ways they could have done this. Or, on second thought, New York is renowned for its parade of oddballs on any day of the year. Andromus and Centuri would barely have merited a second look, and needn't have had to bother passing themselves off as FBI agents (and where did they get that ruse from? Not from watching awful reruns of 'Robot Monster', I'll be bound).
  • The Cylon A-B craft only picks up Universal Studios product on its scanner. It also spells 'Centurions' incorrectly, substituting the letter 'O' with 'A'.
  • I swear the sound used when the Cylon pilots turned round to react to Andromidus's dry 'Centurion survival unlikely' statement is that of a bunch of pots and pans scraping together! Cylons have been called tin cans, but perhaps they really are![3]


Space Croppers

PREMISE: The Galactica's agroships are destroyed by the Cylons, so Troy and Dillon have to do a bit of wheeler-dealing with a local farmer.

MORAL: Racism is bad. So is greed.

WHAT WE LEARN: A fair bit of Chicano history, the suitability for planting of certain items of produce, and the machinations of rainfall.

BACKGROUND:

Attending college in the US, I discovered Bill Anchors' comprehensive video archive Star Tech, and immediately spent most of my tuition on his services. First priority was to collect all the remaining Galactica episodes I hadn't seen, among which, of course, were those of the infamous Galactica 1980. A bit of local history ensued, as all these tapes were recorded on first airdate from ABC affiliates in obscure places like Chattanooga or Dayton, Ohio.

THE STORY:

Begins promisingly, with a leisurely shot of the agroship sailing delicately through space, and suitably ominous music (the music, always of the highest standard, managed to endure in quality through Galactica 1980, with some nicely done individual themes). Cut to three Cylon basestars of the lurking taskforce, and none other than Imperious Leader. Just what he's doing all the way out here is anybody's guess, but disappointment is heavy when he opens his mouth (wherever on his ugly face that happened to be), as the budget does not extend to re-employing the silken tones of Patrick Macnee.

It is rather nice to see the old-style throne room make a return, although accomplished entirely with stock footage of a single centurion making his way in for an audience (and looking decidedly wobbly-legged in the process, might I add).

Imperious Leader declares a new strategy, ordering the targeting of the Galactican fleet's food supply. With their agroships destroyed, the humans will have to approach Earth closer, and thereby reveal its location to the Cylons. To this end, squadrons of fighters take off. These raiders are piloted by what I can only imagine as Valley Cylons. 'Like-source-identified-as-Galactican-fleet;-gag-me-with-a-spoon'. A large speck of injudiciousness in the voice casting, methinks.

We are now three or four minutes into the episode and still haven't used any non-stock footage, as vipers launch and head off into the attack. You immediately notice that the viper pilots' helmets are different, being more like motorbike helmets with a smaller mouthpiece (and you'll see them repainted black on the Buck Rogers episode 'Flight of the War Witch', which was filmed within months of Space Croppers). One of the pilots to get a little more screen time is a black man in his mid-twenties with a prominent grin, whom we recall sat next to Troy and Dillon in Dr Zee's conference chamber on 'Galactica Discovers Earth', and whom fanfic (aided by a one-liner in the Berkley novelisation of that episode) casts as Lieutenant Kip. This was the lucky warrior who got the really plum assignment to the USSR.

The battle scene is lifted almost directly from 'The Gun On Ice Planet Zero', even down to the incidental music, but I'm not too bothered about that, as that was a pretty good scrap. As the Valley Cylons break and head for the agroships, we see Adama and Dr Zee watching the battle (in the conference chamber! Who's looking after the bridge?!). In a volley of stock fire, the agroships eat it, and the Cylons disengage. Kip doesn't seem too flustered, as he lets out a warrior's 'yeee-hooo!' while picking off the rearguard (Did that count as payable dialogue for that uncredited actor?).

Adama groans, wondering why the Cylons should pick that ship out of all 220, and Dr Zee responds with the second incarnation of his 'Since the time of our defeat, the Cylons have not been idle' speech. The boy genius concurs with Imperious Leader, that it's a pretty obvious plan to lead the Cylons to Earth.

There follows a strikingly pointless scene in Adama's quarters, where the Commander is unusually excited about the prospect of opening their first agricultural colony on Earth. He and Boomer (in flight uniform) are interrupted by an unidentified captain (in hangar crew uniform) barging in to complain that D Squadron (nicknamed the Daggits) have been souping up their vipers by removing the limiters from the turbochargers. So what? we wonder, as we do the same to our factory-limited BMWs. There are great fanfic possibilities for the details in this scene which I'm going to try to tackle at some point, namely the fact that Lieutenant Dante seems to be a grade-A nutter, a loose cannon who will attack Cylon baseships with neither provocation nor fear, and thus comes in useful as a protector of Troy and Dillon on their missions to Earth. We do hear the voiceover of Dante as his squadron takes off on another harassing mission against the baseships, and he does sound like a lunatic. A kind of post-Starbuck, if you will.

As Troy and Dillon make their way to Earth, we cut to a different scene. A none-too-prosperous smallholding in California's green belt owned by a Mexican-American family, the Alonsos. They are this close from bankruptcy, and patriarch Hector has taken the last resort and placed an ad for help in the local paper, but is embarrassed to have done so in front of the local Growers' Association, whom we are already surmising are a bit out of order.

First to be seen is ten-year-old son Chris, who helpfully gives us the backstory in a rather desperate prayer, the last stanza of which is the suitably prophetic 'and please, PLEASE send someone to help my dad!' Second is Gloria, seventeenish, who is played by Ana Alicia in her second role on Battlestar Galactica. And still, might I add, utterly gorgeous. She's barely on this episode, but, aside from a little issue of mine with her attitude, she could steal it.

One of the more light-hearted moments covers Troy and Dillon's approach to the Alonso farm. They encounter a shabby-looking scarecrow and immediately assume it's a local (Not such an erroneous assumption! You'd get a damn sight better conversation than out of most Californians!). The dialogue here is so priceless that I feel no shame in reproducing it in full.


DILLON: Over there, an Earthling.

TROY: That must be Mr Alonso. Excuse me...

DILLON: That's not a life form!

TROY: Some type of dried grass.

DILLON: Stuffed in an Earthling's clothing? Why?

TROY: Might be some kind of primitive burial symbol.

DILLON: Some kind of an attempt at crude artistic expression?

TROY: Looks like the main dwelling over there.

DILLON: ...Nice night!


Somehow, the readership of the small ads of the Riverside County edition of the LA Times comes from a considerably more widespread demographic than imagined, and somewhere like that was where the lads saw Hector Alonso's appeal for help. To this end, they're dressed up like hillbillies - all they need is bits of straw hanging out of their gobs, or better still, a big plug of chaw marinating away inside a cheek.

Hector's ad offers to sell half interest in the farm, but an irrigation quota placed there by John Steadman, of the Growers' Association, is starving him out. Our Dillon's not being starved, as Gloria takes an instant liking to him and starts plying him with food. Next day, Hector takes Troy and Dillon to the perimeter of his property in a wretched old truck. There, as plain as day, is a dam. Not as big as the Hoover, and not the kind beavers live in, but damnable (as it were) enough to cut off two-thirds of the water supply. As Hector explains the problem, up rolls a black Mercedes 450 SEL with natty monograms on the doors, and John Steadman introduces himself. He's a few years and a few pounds shy of Boss Hogg dimensions, and he lacks the heart of gold. He's got two redneck associates known as Maze and Barrett, and they cover the chewin' tobacco requirement.

Transpires Steadman has a problem with Hispanics and/or trespassers, but greed is this week's 'evil'; basically he wants to buy Hector's farm for a knockdown price.

What has to be the most disappointing scene in the whole episode isn't too bad on its own, but is let down by the use of music which has been used for far more exciting battle scenes. Thus, the score for the destruction of the agroships (the FIRST time around) at the opening of 'The Magnificent Warriors' is expected to prop up thirty miserable seconds' footage of Maze's thrown cigar butt setting fire to the seeds in the bed of Hector's truck. Seeds that Hector thinks are way too complicated to grow quickly on his scrappy farm.

The lads pull over, jump out and drag out the sacks of burned crops - and now it's war!

DILLON: Troy, I'm beginning to get angry.

TROY: I was angry about five centons ago.

While they could be picking out the undamaged seeds and shovelling them back into the truck, they instead endure a lecture by Hector on the abridged history of the Chicano diaspora - evidently the five minutes' education time demanded by the network. This was fine by me, as I didn't previously know about Juarez, or Diego Rivera, and happen to find the stuff interesting. Similarly for the discussion of what soil requirements you need to plant legumes (like peas and alfalfa - should I ever want to eat those ghastly vegetables! Ugh!)

Troy and Dillon go to have it out with Steadman, demanding compensation for the lost seed. Steadman has a good play with his employees, deciding to show a bit of cheap good faith by taking the payment out of Maze and Barrett's wages. He can't resist the opportunity to put one over on Troy and Dillon, and throws in an offer of untamed racehorse Satan - if they can ride him. He'd already garnered some laughs out of watching the horse throw Maze all over the place.

This is where they make a fool out of Steadman, simply pacifying the animal with a burst of alpha waves from their wrist computers.

Dillon breezes back to the ranch and presents Gloria with the horse. But I think I'd be entitled to more than an 'I think you're cute' if I'd handed over the next Red Rum as if it was a My Little Pony! Especially from the proverbial farmer's daughter! Damn!

'Nice-looking horse you got there,' the two yahoos Maze and Barrett counter in reply; 'Wait till you try watering it.' Steadman is going to cut their water off altogether.

Adama calls. In order to get the seed planted and grown to replenish the fleet's hydroponic capabilities without a blip, they have to do it that night. Dr Zee will swing by in his anti-gravity ship and niggle the clouds into producing a good storm (and here we get our third lecture of the piece. Again, not uninteresting by any means. Living underneath torrents of the damn stuff nearly every day, I'd never previously cared as to how or why rain was produced!).

One educational concern the producers ought to have thought about is child labour, as Troy and Dillon draft the scouts in to do a bit of Land Army work on Hector's plantation. No local labourers dare show up for fear of being cut off too, and they would take two weeks to do the job. So, that night, a lot of jumping and vaulting about with bags of seed (accompanied by the grotesque Super Scouts' Theme that is so obnoxious that I have to turn the sound off every time), into furrows ploughed by Troy and Dillon, with a pair of Buck Rogers handguns, gets the job done. A passing Steadman can't believe his eyes - but Chris is equally gobsmacked when he sees a flying saucer sneak past his window at roughly the same time. Inside said flying saucer (whose very smart bridge set swallowed a good percentage of Galactica 1980's budget) are a veritable army of Caprica Hillbillies, who are Galactican agricultural experts assigned by Dr Zee to harvest the crops.

Crops shoot up overnight, but this phenomenon goes unnoticed compared to Steadman's frantic revelations of leaping aliens (illegal aliens, in a final slur) and flying saucers to the Growers' Association. Thankfully, they sprout brains as quickly as Alonso's legumes and laugh him out of town, voting to order the dam torn down and the water distributed freely. Helped of course by Jamie's revealing of her press credentials, as nothing will frighten off honest country folk more than the media.

So the lads have got to go, and Gloria's heart is broken. Still, after saving her family's livelihood, scoring her a free horse AND growing in one night enough crops to feed two hundred and twenty ships, all she gives to Dillon is a shy kiss on the cheek before running off girlishly. Starbuck he's not! And I hope Troy doesn't have to take front seat next time they go out in a patrol viper!

VERDICT: Two stars (Fair). Learn a few things amid nice sunshine and idyllic settings, the odd throwaway line, and Ana Alicia.[4]


10,001 Reasons To Put Up With Galactica 1980 by Matthew Wharmby

It wasn't THAT bad, for Sagan's sake. Rationales in 'YES', 'NO' and 'INDIFFERENT' categories as follows.

YES:

1. Any Galactica is good Galactica. Although, if Todd Moyer's really going to foist on us walking vipers, I might have to reconsider.

2. The Cylon A-B craft was the baddest-ass warship I have ever seen. So it can be brought down with a simple prang to the undercarriage, but it's the 600 SEL to the viper's 300 E.

3. The unnamed anti-gravity ship was pretty smart as well. Much of the budget will have gone on fitting it out, although rather than 'retaking the planets' as Adama believed, it ended up basically a crop duster. Did like the shameless bite of 'Close Encounters', that was a nice touch. Though it could have done with the alien jam session that made that movie so special, perhaps with Adama on low notes and Dr Zee as soprano.

4. They still had Stu Phillips on music duties, I think - the music was well up to standard, and still over and above the non-orchestral drear of today's episodics. The 'Goodbye, Starbuck...I love you... we all love you' theme of 'Return of Starbuck' really tugs at the old heartstrings. (Although it lacks when used again as the backdrop for a crappy Ford Econoline van inching slowly up the mountains with nasty ol' Mr Stockton on board, who has to be thankfully silenced with the familiar stun burst).

5. Mean old industrialist Stockton as good as soiling his drawers upon visiting same ship. '...Not my boy... not Jimmy!'

6. Dillon's lines 'The glory of the universe is intelligence' lines are hysterical. Barry van Dyke was camping them up too, you could see the roll in his eyes.

7. Some personal parallels with my own life; having emigrated to the offending region myself (though from London, not Caprica), I was eventually as disappointed with Southern California as the Galacticans were with Earth as a whole. The locals were nice and meant well, but it just seemed too, well, primitive. I got to go home though. (Thanks to Eric Paddon's fantastic stories, Our Fallen Heroes can, and have!)

8. Dr Zee is English. (Nuff said!) A decade and a half later I became a big All My Children junkie, on which Patrick Stuart played a large part round about the turn of the decade. The lovely posh choirboy accent had completely gone (and it was starting to slip in 1980, there was a lot of mid-Atlantic in there!). I was starting to sound the same at one point. A point to note; if the series had been picked up, what would they have done when Dr Zee's voice broke?

9. The bikes were cool. Even when they flew. I've often thought of customising my bike with a few chunks of fibreglass. Would help if I had a bike, of course.

10. Ditto the wrist computrons, even though they were big enough to break a skull if swung in anger. (Wonder if Dr Zee was actually an alter ego for Bill Gates, another brainbox nerd that everybody hates? This would account for Microsoft CE)

11. Dr Zee's conference chamber was very swish. Think about it - all those TVs? A teenage boy's dream. I want my bedroom to be like that (although obviously with a bed somewhere amid all those tellies).

12. I adored Angela. I always get the 'likeable, but a little on the loony side' ones as it is. Best of all, all the cachet of having knocked someone up but without the paternity suit! (Or child support, it appears. It's all Starbuck's fault that Dr Zee is so well ... odd).

13. Two words. Gloria Alonso. (I think I'd be a little more grateful than a kiss on the cheek if someone got me a racehorse for a present! After all, you've all heard the one about the farmer's daughter!) Ana Alicia is STILL fine.

14. Xaviar was no Baltar, but he would have to do. I liked the way that circumstances forced him to be played by two actors; Richard Lynch's psychopathic nastiness and dreadful skin versus Jeremy Brett's effete slyness).

NO:

1. Conquest of the Earth. This was the first time I ever saw G:80; it reached the UK on April 7th, 1984, after which the series followed. I thought it was pretty good (going on the 'Any Galactica is Good Galactica' premise - there was so little of it after all!), but obviously not a patch on the real thing. The use of Baltar footage was well out of order (unless you account for extra Lucifer voice-overs; he was sorely missed after 'War of the Gods').

2. Some absolutely god-bloody-awful continuity which makes you pale with shame. For instance, why has Adama only got his left silver collar tab when conversing with Doctor Zee? Why does Cy's scanner eye not function for half of 'Return of Starbuck'? And why do they even repeat Dr Zee dialogue (the infamous 'Since the time of our defeat, the Cylons have not been idle').

3. Why did Dr Zee's monitors only feature ABC programming? :) And likewise, the same footage on the Cylon A-B craft (featuring the notorious 'gorilla with deep-sea diving helmet' B-movie of the '50s).

4. The Valley Cylons in 'Space Croppers'. 'GAG-ME-WITH-A-SPOON-ATTACK-SQUADRON-PROGRAMMED-FOR-LIKE-AGRICULTURAL- SHIP-DESTRUCTIO N'

5. Cy's human voice was disconcerting. (But couldn't do without it for those snappy comebacks such as 'I'm going...I'm going...' when ordered by Starbuck to fetch water etc).

6. Why did they delete the three rifle cartridges from colonial warriors' belts? Probably somebody whining that kids would want to collect them. (When I was a kid around that time, we used to collect spent shotgun shells from the woods near school, when pheasants were in season).

7. The appalling line 'Then they are hardly so advanced that we cannot win' uttered by Adama of all people, who ought to have been ashamed of himself. Oh, sure you could win, with thirty yahrens' worth of tinheads stacked up behind you and a planet of the apes of no help in front.

8. The time travel gimmick. It's a personal thing, but I don't rate time-travel in sci-fi much; it tends to be used as a bit of a cop-out. Glad they resisted the temptation after Galactica Discovers Earth.

9. To which end - have you ever seen a German soldier with hair like Troy and Dillon's? (Maybe in the hippy Bundeswehr). In the real Nazi Germany, that general whom Xaviar was sucking up to would have spent so much time bastinadoing Our Heroes (and Jamie, who incidentally doesn't look at all bad under a coal-scuttle helmet) that there wouldn't have been enough time to launch a V2. (Editor's note: To bastinado means to whip the soles of the feet!)

10. The invisibility schtick was lame - also a corny sci-fi fallback. Not even going to expand on it, there are too many instances with which to find fault.

11. That scarecrow had more clout than Troy and Dillon squared. (I love the dialogue in this one, they were really enjoying themselves here - 'That's not a life form! ...'Some type of dried grass.. stuffed in an Earthling's clothing. Why?' and then Dillon signing off with 'Nice night!')

12. Devoting a whole episode to baseball. Curse if you will my foreign attitude to this foreign sport, but it bored me stiff. I did think, however, that Starla throwing a baseball clear over the horizon was quite sweet.

13. Driving along in a rusty flatbed with a cigar butt burning your groceries does NOT in ANY way compare to multiple squadrons of Raiders and Vipers having it out. They had no right to use the same music in that scene!

14. The awful, hideous covers of the awful, hideous music playing over the reel-to-reels at Wolfman Jack's obviously AOR radio station. (If I was Imperious Leader, I wouldn't have been tuned in that Hallowe'en night - sorry to disappoint you, Andromus). Come on, guys - even though this was 1980, there was some quite decent stuff out there. Late P-Funk, the whole Two-Tone ska scene, Prince's second album and loads of early New York hip-hop!

15. What WAS that blackshirt smoking? The Delphi's being blown to bits by Cylon fighters (including the A-B craft awkwardly matted into existing footage), supply teachers Troy and Dillon are hustling more kids onto buses than Scorpio from 'Dirty Harry' and this Council security guard is grinning like he won the lottery! Did he even make it off the old tub?

INDIFFERENT:

1. The Super Scouts don't repulse me THAT much. Don't be mean! Glen Larson's kids needed jobs after all. They played a blinder in 'Greetings from Earth', so why shouldn't they be cheaply re-used for some greetings FROM Earth?

2. How cruel to lampoon the US military (stifled chuckle!). It wasn't very imaginative to go straight from poor dimwitted Sydell and Briggs on G:80 to the A-Team's Lynch and Decker. (and the shortlived third one, who might also have been called Briggs?)

3. The lads' weapons - lady derringers maybe, but can your .22 fell an oak tree at fifty metrons?

4. On that note, how did Xaviar get hold of one? He wasn't an Earth plant, he wouldn't have been issued with one.

5. So did Buck Rogers loan Troy and Dillon some of his spare shootin' irons to plough Hector Alonso's fields with?

6. And why was Jamie not considered good enough to carry a weapon when she went to Nazi Germany?

7. There WERE daggits in G:80, to riposte Mark Weller - briefly, when Dillon is strolling through the Gemini (after thirty yahrens, STILL looking like the South Bronx), pressing the flesh and going 'We made it' none too convincingly. There are two of them, to which Dillon chides the kids baiting them 'Easy kids! You'll singe their circuits!' while wishing he had some firecrackers to put under them like he used to do back on Caprica with REAL cats.

8. Maybe the real reason G:80 was cancelled even quicker than its superior predecessor was not that it was sh*t, but that certain matters didn't quite fit into its new family-friendly time slot of 7 pm on a Sunday evening (still a TV death zone in my American heyday twenty years on). For example, the strange things that transpire when two men find themselves alone in a confined space ('The air's foul in here....')

9. At least some contemporary villains get theirs one way or another - the military-industrial complex, thick sheriffs, polluting capitalist pigs, durbrained genocidal robots, rednecks, bullying kids, patronising bank tellers, undertrained nurses, Nazis, anyone who plays 'Daydream Believer' on a juke box (nice shooting, guys, even if it was only on stun!), horse abusers, unionised labour, ethnically stereotyped muggers, people who actually eat meatballs, bad DJs, bikers, Cuban commies in drag, etc, etc.


April Fool's Article - Richard Hatch Wants To Redo Galactica 1980

This article was originally posted as a joke on the Sheba's Galaxy site in 1999 when Richard Hatch was attempting his own revival of Battlestar Galactica. Of course, it wasn't true, but it was inspired by the idea of "Wouldn't it be funny if Richard Hatch suddenly announced that he wanted to redo Galactica 1980?"

Ironically, Battlestar Galactica.com (owned by Hatch) would later post a similar prank article of their own about wanting to bring back Galactica 1980.



Richard Hatch Wants To Redo Galactica 1980


Fans of the late 70s television show Battlestar Galactica were shocked at the stunning announcement made earlier this week by Richard Hatch, the man who has been the head of the movement to bring back Galactica to the big screen. For years, Hatch (who played Captain Apollo on the show) had been campaigning to revitalize Galactica, but he has now announced he has decided against trying to bring back the original series. Instead, he would like to redo Galactica 1980, the short-lived follow-up series which was universally hated by both Galactica fans and general viewers alike.

"Bottom line, it was a tough decision to make," says the 53 year-old actor. "In the end, it all came down to the issue of financing it. The original show had incredible potential, and yet we barely scratched the surface. But, to be honest, Galactica 1980 also had untapped potential. It was very innovative in the sense that it was the first 'outer space' show that didn't really take place in outer space. That's not an easy thing to pull off, yet somehow they managed to do it. When you consider how costly it is to do a sci-fi film these days, it would certainly save a lot of money if we could do a Galactica movie which takes place entirely on Earth instead of in outer space."

The premise of Galactica 1980 had the Battlestar Galactica discovering Earth with their enemies, the robotic Cylons, right behind them. Earth's technology was too primitive to fight against the Cylons, so the Galactica's crew, led by Colonial warriors Troy and Dillon, attempts to slowly increase Earth's technology while leading the Cylons away from the planet. Most fans were upset with the various scenarios presented on the show. From time travel to the super-powered children known as the Super Scouts, the series quickly became a directionless mess and was canceled after just 10 episodes.

Hatch believes he knows what went wrong with the series. "I think the problem with Galactica 1980 is that it didn't do enough to hook the kids. The 4 to 10 year-old audience is very difficult to impress. My plan is to take the whole Galactica concept and bring it down to the kids' level. I want to water it down enough so it will be simplistic, non-threatening, educational and fun for the whole family."

Glen Larson, the creator of Galactica, was outraged at the news of Hatch's decision to redo Galactica 1980. He is currently working with Todd Moyer in an attempt to bring back Galactica on his own. "Who does he think he is?" Larson stated. "I worked damn hard to make Galactica 1980 what it was. If he thinks he can recapture the magic we had in '80, he's got another thing coming." "Yeah," Moyer agreed. "He's in way over his head if he's going to do a project like that. I should know. I did Wing Commander, and look how Wing Commander turned out!"

Hatch is already working on the script for an up-to-date Galactica 1980. Not everything is certain, but he says it will likely feature a new generation of Super Scouts using their super powers to battle bank robbers, muggers, and other evil baddies while attempting to prevent the general population of Earth from finding out about the Galactica's presence. The original cast will also probably appear. "Most of the original characters were dead when Galactica 1980 came around, but that doesn't necessarily have to stop them from appearing. Starbuck, Apollo, Sheba, Cassiopea, Bojay, and Tigh could always pop up and say they're from the Ship Of Lights."

A name for the movie has not been decided yet. "Of course, it couldn't be called Galactica 1980. We'll have to come up with a new title, something that appeals to the child in all of us. It's already been decided that in the past 20 years the Galactica still has not revealed itself to Earth, and the Cylons still haven't discovered the planet. Exactly how this will be explained isn't certain, but I can promise everyone the answer will be simplistic enough that anyone under the age of 5 will be able to understand."

Despite the change of direction, Hatch insists he is more excited than ever about bringing back Galactica. "The biggest issue was always raising the money. Not anymore. This may turn out to be one of the cheapest science fiction movies ever made. Neither the Galactica nor any other spaceships will actually be seen. Like the witch that you never actually see in 'The Blair Witch Project', it's the power of looking out into the night and seeing nothing, but knowing deep down that something is really out there."

Jack Stauffer, who played Bojay in the original series, was available for comment about Richard's announcement. "Hmmm... Could be interesting... Tell me... Is Richard feeling all right?"

Hatch believes the movie will be completed in time to be previewed at the Galactica 1980 Twenty Yahren Reunion to be held in January 2000 in Los Angeles. He insists his new vision of Galactica will propel it to new heights in the next century. "Even if the movie itself bombs, the merchandising possibilities would still be enormous. Look out, Power Rangers... Here we come!"

References

  1. Sheba's Galaxy: The Ultimate Battlestar Galactica information site
  2. Sheba's Galaxy: The Ultimate Battlestar Galactica Information Site
  3. Sheba's Galaxy: The Ultimate Battlestar Galactica Information Site
  4. Sheba's Galaxy: The Ultimate Battlestar Galactica Information Site