Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tuesday's Forgotten (or Overlooked) Television: BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA (1978) Starring Lorne Greene, Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict

TV Guide Cover Art by David Edward Byrd

I never did watch the new and updated version of BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA primarily because I couldn't get used to and couldn't like the new and updated version of the Cylons. Why - they look just like us! What happened to the shiny bright metal armor and little red flashing lights zooming across their visors? More importantly: what happened to the catchy phrase, "By your command." ?

So back to 1978 and here's where I ask: Is it so very wrong of me to be rooting for the Cylons?

The 70's was the era of bad haircuts, bad fashions and clunky television effects effects, not to mention, embarrassingly bad acting by homogenized actors in luridly banal plots. Looking back it's a laugh-fest. So why am I talking about BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA at all?

Well, snow is still coming down and I must be in a nostalgic sort of mood - hell, when am I not? Not that I miss the 70's much, but admittedly I did watch this show when it first came on and I must then have liked something about it. So I thought I'd do a little time-traveling since Netflix is streaming the full 24 episodes. It's always intriguing to play tag with the past.

Lorne Green starred as the fatherly figure (literally as he is the father of three of the Galatica's crew members) who heads the cast and crew of the Battlestar Galactica as it heads into the void hoping to run across the planet Earth. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself as usual. First up: war with the Cylons.

Watched the initial two part episode when all hell broke loose in space and the guys promulgating peace were taught the terrible error of their ways (especially Lew Ayres as the chief peace monger for the human race) who should have known better than to trust John Colicos as Baltar, a 'tireless worker for peace'.

John Colicos? Are you kidding me? You only have to look at this guy to know that he's up to know good now, then, and forever. And here he is working hand in glove with the Cylons. I remember him in an early episode of the original STAR TREK. He played a Klingon when the designated make-up was just lots of eye shadow, a Fu Manchu mustache and raised eyebrows. It was in one of my favorite episodes so I do remember him vividly. He was deliciously wicked. Trust him? Nope.

Soon as I saw him in the first episodes of BATTLESTAR GALATICA, I said: Uh-oh.

Sure enough he betrays humanity but that was only to be expected. At least by me.

Is there anything about the show to like? (Besides getting a glimpse of all these old actors, some like Ray Milland, Lew Ayres, Dan O'Herlihy, Barry Nelson, Lloyd Bridges and even Fred Astaire near the end of their careers. Fred Astaire? Haven't seen that episode yet. Can't wait. )

What I like:

1) The Cylon Centurians
2) John Colicos
3) The little robot dog.
4) The pilot warriors' helmets shaped something like the ancient Egyptians head gear.
5) The Cylon catch phrase: "By your command."
6) The opening sequence voiced by Patrick MacNee (Though it sure sounds like Wilfred Hyde-White to me.)
7) The gorgeous sound track by Stu Philips and Glen A. Larson

I'm currently re-watching BATTLESTAR episodes online but it's possible (indeed, probable) that I may overdose at some point in which case I will switch over to MIDSOMER MURDERS and give the newer episodes of that series a look. It's that kind of day.

Since it's Tuesday, don't forget to check in at Todd Mason's blog, Sweet Freedom, to see what other films, television or other audio/visuals other bloggers are talking about today.


  1. I mainly remember Galactica as that season's examplar of "the new show that died of its own hype".
    Every year, there's at least one show that becomes its network's "next big thing". It gets all the publicity, all the magazine covers, saturation appearances by the stars on every talk show, national and local, all the product tie-ins, etc. etc., ad infinitum -
    - and ends up struggling through one middling-rated season, if that much.
    I'm not much of an SF fan (and I learned the hard way that trufans never say "sci-fi" - it's their "N-word").
    What I saw of Battlestar: Galactica seemed OK to me, nothing special - and it seems that most viewers felt about the same way.

    I do remember John Colicos, though - from his stint a few years later on General Hospital, at the height of Luke&LauraMania.
    Colicos played Mikkos Cassidine, the arch-villain who plotted to freeze the whole goshdarn world, starting with Port Charles, NY. (Why Post Charles? Why not?).
    It fell to L&L to stop them and save the world (with the deus ex machina aid of the suddenly-present World Security Bureau).
    Millions watched and cheered when Luke shoved Mikkos into his own Ice Chamber (and if you thought John Colicos's Star Trek makeup was something ...).
    That was more than 30 years ago - and General Hospital still keeps bringing back the Cassidines all these years later (I think you can guess how I know all this ...).
    John Colicos is gone now, and I only regret that he never guested on a Quinn Martin series, that I might have learned for sure how to pronounce his name ( I've heard co-LEE-cos, but I don't guarantee that ).
    So much for Nostalgia (or Neuralgia).

    1. Uh-oh, I always say sci-fi, Mike. SF just doesn't have the same ring to it. :) You brought back the General Hospital era - something I'd forgotten all about. NOW I remember JC as a Cassidine. Remember Elizabeth Taylor as one? I haven't seen the show in many years but I do remember Luke and Laura. I was part of the mania. Ha!

      I love John Colicos as you may have guessed. He could be a bit of a hambone, but that just made me love him even more. There was just something about that face and the way he milked his lines for all they were worth. But when he appeared on a show you knew right away he was up to no good. I wonder that no one ever seemed to cast him against type. Well, why waste that face, that manner. :)

    2. P.S. You're so right about the hyperventilating new show that always seems to fall flat. Happens all the time. Which just shows how little television executives (or for that matter movie executives) know about what the public will actually like or for that matter, stand for. (Though lately I'm afraid the public apparently will stand for a lot.)

  2. Yvette, I'd love to see that Fred Astaire episode too. Can't really imagine what he'd be doing in this series.

    1. Probably played an elder statesmen - haven't found the episode yet, Prashant. But I plan to. Just to see what's what. On thinking things over it seems to me that the casting of the two young leads was awful (they were not ready for prime time) and that's the main reason the show is not even a real hoot.

    2. At this point, Fred Astaire was coming off his success in Towering Inferno, playing a gone-to-seed con artist.
      His Galactica part was in the same line; I can't recall the character's name, but Fred was looking to hook up with one or another of the "Siresses", much as he did with Jennifer Jones in TI (he wound up with Anne Jeffreys, if memory serves). There's more to his function in the Galactica show, but I don't do spoilers (or at least I try not to).

      Actually, we've touched here on the major reason I ever watched Galactica: the guest star deployments.
      The other one I recall had Ray Bolger and Bobby Van as father-and-son robots; this one you have to see for yourself.

    3. Ray Bolger and Bobby Van? Don't think I ever saw that one originally, or for that matter, the Fred Astaire one. They simply ring no bells, Mike. I'll have to keep watching until I come across them. Thanks for the info. :)

  3. You forgot to mention Lorne Greene, looking like an austere, white-haired, Roman patrician. Who wouldn't want him to be the Leader?

    1. I did mention him, Kirk. Even I wouldn't forget Lorne. :)

    2. Ooops - so you did. When I wrote that I was dwelling on your list of likes, and had then watched the opening sequence to check on the voices (and see if it really was Patrick McNee) and then I guess I forgot!

    3. No problem, Kirk. :)

      Come to think of it I should have linked the opening sequence to my post. I think I'll add it on. Thanks for reminding me.

  4. We always called it "Battlestar Ponderosa"

  5. That takes me back, thanks Yvette! I used to love this show as a kid - like having my own weekly version of STAR WARS! I enede dup becoming a very big fan of the remake (well, until the reall stupid ending that is).

    1. You're welcome, Sergio. I never did get to see the newer version. Didn't miss it. :)

  6. I know it's cheesy, but I love this one. Never could get into the remake.

  7. Love this way more than the remake.

  8. I never 'loved' either of them. But I know what you mean. :)


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