For some reason, Netflix “recommended” the Battlestar Galactica series to me. Having vague memories of it as a kid, I thought why not, and put it on.
The Pilot is long. I mean, REALLY REALLY long. It is three 1 hour episodes (part 1, part 2, and part 3). Originally broadcast in 1978, it was about a year after the first Star Wars movie, and clearly it was influenced by the blockbuster hit that preceded it. A space opera, with action and special effects to captivate the audience.
The premise is that an ancient race of cyborgs (the Cylons) are ostensibly engaging with humans to negotiate a long term peace. Of course, they really are planning on wiping out the humans, to cleanse the universe of these pesky life forms.
A surprise attack is detected, and the “Warriors”, a class that is trained from birth to fight and defend the humans, prevents the annihilation. The main ships are things called “Battlestars” huge ark-like ships that are closer to the mini-cities that our Aircraft Carriers are today.
In the course of the fighting, only the Galactica’s captain sees the wisdom of evasive action, so it is the sole Battlestar that isn’t destroyed. The Cylons had a mole inside the humans to help forward this treachery along, who was in the presence of the Council of 12, the leaders of the human race.
In addition to the surprise attack on the human ships, the Cylons also attacked the planetary bases, essentially destroying all the culture.
At the end of the third part, it is the Galactica and a rag-tag fleet of ships housing the remnants rescued from the planets, to search for a new home planet.
Apparently, the producer Glen A. Larsen is a Mormon, so much of the societal structure is based on the Church of Latter Day Saints. I can’t comment one way or the other, besides mentioning that similar structures are not uncommon in the SciFi genre.
However, the ancient race that created the Cylons does have a progenitor in the genre. Fred Saberhagen has a series of stories bundled together in The Berserkers. In them, two ancient races were locked in mortal battle, and one of them created huge, almost planet-sized machines to exterminate the enemy. These advanced AI’s took it upon themselves to exterminate and sterilize all life in the universe.
The original races are long dead before the Humans encounter the Berserkers, and then it is a cat and mouse game pitting human ingenuity against the cold machine logic. Even to the point that the machines have coopted some humans to infiltrate the military strongholds of the Humans. (Ironically, these are called “goodlife” as opposed to “badlife” that must be exterminated.)
The acting. Atrocious. Classic 70’s vintage drama shows. Big hair, perfect makeup. Many semi-big names, but the marquis name is Lorne Greene.
The terminology. Clearly the writers tried (in mean really tried) to make it sound technical, but it sounds pained and stressed. In one scene, they are plotting incoming space ships to attack in units of length they called “microns”. Clearly, not one scientist or engineer was involved in reviewing the script. A micron is a real unit of length, and it is one milionth (10-6) of a meter.
All the usual space goofs are there. The “fighter” ships all make noised like in an atmosphere. They appear to be bound to aerodynamics of fighter jets. Yeah, I have a degree in physics, so I ruin this for people, but 1978 we should have known better.
The special effects are cheesy. Yes, I get that they couldn’t spend as much as George Lucas did for Star Wars, but the really bad painted backgrounds, and model work was cheesier than from the original Star Trek series a decade earlier.
They try really hard to inject human interest storylines, but they are eye rolling-ly bad. The whole kid losing his dagget (a dog) and replacing it with a robotic dagget is corny as hell. Oh, and the kid has the classic 70’s bowl cut. I hope he got some soup with that haircut…
Will I watch all 24 episodes? Probably not. I have gotten through the pilot (3 episodes) and the next two parter, but I suspect that I am losing interest rapidly.
I know that this is a cult classic, and there have been remakes, feature length films, and that it is popular for the cosplay crowd. But I am just “meh”.