Battlestar Galactica (The 1978 Original)

One of the first tv series, and the first science fiction series, I ever watched was the original Battlestar Galactica whose first and only season was shown back in 1978-79. BSG, created by Glen A. Larson (who also created many other classic tv series like Quincy, M.E., B. J. and the Bear, The Fall Guy, Magnum, P.I., Knight Rider and the short lived AutoMan), who used his Mormon faith as somewhat of a basis for the show, was set in a distant part of the galaxy. The plot line involves humans but not from earth! According to the original BSG universe, mankind originated on a distant and now dead planet called Kobol. The humans of Kobol developed space-faring technology and due to the complications of having a growing populaion on a solitary planet, one who’s resources were dwindling, and a star which was dying, they left to find new planets to colonize and make their home. The humans left Kobol, separated in 13 tribes and 12 of them eventually colonized 12 planets (each named after the Zodiac signs) in a single solar system and settled to continue their growth as a species. However the 13th tribe presumably traveled a greater distance and in another direction, settling on our Earth and were lost in the archives of the rest of the humans. Hence the BSG universe tells us that life on earth actually began out in another planet and we are infact generations of aliens on earth. Anyway, back to the story – after the human inhabitants of Kobol fled the planet and founded the colonies, they deliberately destroyed all of their technology and spacecraft; it took several centuries to rebuild even the most primitive ships for exploring the stars but eventually they did flourish as a society.

At the beginning of the show the humans were reaching the end of a thousand-year war with the Cylons, warrior robots created by a reptilian race which expired long ago, presumably destroyed by their own creations. Apparently this war started when humans reached to aid their allies the Hazaries but then the war turned to just Cylons vs Humans. At the end of the 1000 year war, the Cylons call for a cease fire and for negotiations for peace using a treacherous & devious human Count Baltar (John Colicos) as mediator. These negotiations for peace talks were just a ruse and the Cylons use this opportunity to sneak into the colonies air spaces and almost wipe out humanity. They also destroy the unsuspecting human war spaceships, called Colonial battlestars, leaving the surviving humans with no defense – except for one! Veteran Commander Adama (Lorne Greene) not trusting the Cylons or Baltar moved his own battlestar, the Galactica, away and was ready with defence when the Cylons attacked. Being the sole surviving military spaceship the Galactica protects the ‘rag-tag” fleet of surviving human in whatever civilian ships they can find and they set out to escape the Cylons. Soon food & water becomes scarce and Adama sends his son Apollo (Richard Hatch), captain & squad leader of the fighter pilots with Lts Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) & Boomer (Herbert Jefferson, Jr.) to find out sources for food – it seems that some of the wealthier class of humans are hording food on their more luxurious ships. Apollo puts his foot down and gets the food to be shared while they look out for friendlier planets to resupply their stocks. Meanwhile Starbucks find himself in hot steam, literally, as the playboy hotshot pilot juggles two women – his main squeeze Athena (Maren Jenson) who is Apollo’s sister and solicitor Cassiopeia (who he found in one of the poorer ships).

Apollo meets and befriends a young woman, former reporter Serena (Jayne Seymore) and also bonds with her young son Boxey. After initially escaping the Cylons across a massive starfield called the Nova of Madagon (referred to as such due to its extremely dangerous, hot environment, and Cylon mines), the Galactica and the fugitive fleet find brief respite on the resort planet of Carillon, where they hope to find food and fuel for their journey. A small group of humans land on the planet and find an oasis – a luxurious resort where other humans are gambling, drinking and eating their way to excess. No one seems to be losing any money at the games and the insectoid hosts, who keep to themselves, are more than willing to host the humans while they themselves remain in the background. Apollo is the first to suspect something is amiss – and he & Starbuck set off to investigate. The fact that Carillon has more than enough food and fuel for the fleet’s needs makes Adama wary. It is also apparently the largest tylium (fighter fuel) mining facility in that part of the galaxy, as well as a popular gamblers’ den, but nobody has ever heard of the place. Meanwhile a powerful leader, Sire Uri, and member of the council of 12, convinces everyone else on the council that they should abandon their weapons, as a show that they are peaceful, and settle on Carillon and that the Cylons are far behind. The Council arranges a banquet on Carillon, and orders all fighter pilots to attend. Adama suspects that this might be a golden opportunity for the Cylons to launch an attack on their fleet, and orders Colonel Tigh to surreptitiously hold back their fighter pilots from attending the party while he is to outfit noncombat personnel with fighter uniforms.

In the lower levels of the complex Apollo & Starbuck discover the secret – the insectoid Ovions, have set up the gambling resort to lure humans to them to serve as living food for their hatching larvae in their underground chambers. They are also secretly in league with the Cylons and mine the tylium solely for their purposes in exchange for their freedom, and they are cooperating in the Cylons’ efforts to eradicate the human fugitives. During a subsequent fight with Cylon soldiers, the laser fire from both parties sets the tylium mines on fire, threatening to destroy the planet once the fire rages fully out of control. Adama’s ruse worked and the pilots are able to fight the attacking Cylon fighters. During the fight, Apollo realizes the Cylon fighters couldn’t have come so far without a basestar, and he and Starbuck disengage from the battle and find a Cylon basestar hidden on the far side of Carillon. In defiance of Commander Adama’s recall order, they decide to attempt to destroy it, in order to enable the refugee fleet to elude pursuit, and use fake radio chatter to fool the basestar into thinking it’s under attack by multiple Viper squadrons. The basestar descends into Carillon’s atmosphere to avoid detection, and is destroyed when the planet finally erupts in a massive tylium explosion. Despite their victory, however, the humans realize their enemies will still be pursuing them, and they set out to Earth, their last hope for survival.

Baltar meanwhile was ordered to be beheaded by the Cylon’s mysterious Imperious Leader (voiced by Patrick Macnee who also narrates the opening), wanting no human to be left alive, but relents in the events of the basestar exploding and gives Baltar his own command, a basestar and plenty of squadrons of Cylons to attack the humans. This theatrical film was also shown as a 3 part pilot for the 1978 tv series. As a movie I give it a 9 outta 10, considering for the time period a classic scifi movie at it’s best.

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