Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG TOS 1980 - Season 1 - Episode 01

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 4.15

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Synopsis
After thirty years of travel, the Galactica finally locates and reaches Earth, but it's the year 1980, when the planet's technology is not advanced enough to help defeat the Cylons. Adama orders the Galactica away, to prevent the Cylons from locating Earth, and sends his grandson Boxey (now Captain Troy) and Lieutenant Dillon to the planet to locate Professor Mortinson, a man they hope can help them speed up Earth's technological development. [DVD]

Problems
- Dr. Zee claims that the people of Earth are the last remaining humans in the universe. What about the people of Terra, or any number of the many colonies Galactica found in BSG 1978?
- Adama claims that Earth is the only planet in the entire galaxy capable of supporting human life. This is yet another reference to Galactica's nonsensical intergalactic travel.
- So, Dr. Zee waits until they find Earth to tell everybody they've been leading the Cylons to Earth? Gee, maybe you shoulda mentioned that when you first thought of it, yes?

Factoids
- Dr. Zee's "computer simulation" depicting the Cylons attacking Earth is actually footage from the film "Earthquake" (1974) with Cylon fighters overlayed making it appear as though they're causing the destruction.

Remarkable Scenes
- Troy and Dillon encountering the U.S. fighters.
- The little boy discovering the Viper.

My Review
Galactica 1980 is largely considered to be one of the worst shows in science fiction history. Partly because it was an inferior knock off to an already critically disliked TV show, but mostly because it was an extremely inferior knock off. Almost every character from the original series is written off as having died during the journey in Galactica 1980 because the original actors couldn't or wouldn't sign on for this version. This is a severe blow for the fans to take, for suddenly out of nowhere we're robbed of any emotional involvement we may have had with those characters.

Aside from sweeping changes in the cast and characters, sweeping changes are made to the premise. By and large, there's no reason not to consider Galactica 1980 canon with Galactica 1978. The two shows are meant to be the same and do not contradict each other. But many BSG 1978 fans take too much offense to BSG 1980, and arguably with good reason. Even moreso than BSG 1978, BSG 1980 is a kids' show. There are obvious attempts to sprinkle elementary educational value into various scenes, and children are featured as prominent influential characters, such as Dr. Zee and later the infamous Super Scouts.

But the biggest insult for fans to take is the deluge of cheesy late 70s / early 80s pop culture flowing through the plot. Nearly every detail in the plot of this show from beginning to end is at best unintentionally funny and at worst completely embarrassing. And no, I'm not just talking about flying disco motorcycles and Dr. Zee with his arrogant superior attitude and stereotypically British accent. (Why are all British-accented people on American TV portrayed as smart, but arrogant pricks? Do contemporary Americans retain some sort of centuries-old inferiority complex regarding England?)

Moving on to the plot itself, if we forgive the sentiments of the day and their extreme influence on the story, the basic idea behind this story is actually pretty cool; I must admit, Galactica 1980's first episode is among my favorite episodes of BSG 1980, and one of the better episodes of both series. No, really. Think about it. The colonials and the Earth humans have the same origins, Kobol. The Earth humans just don't know it. And they also haven't developed the level of technology the colonials have. So the colonials send undercover operatives into Earth to swiftly influence the development of their technology and culture so as to prepare them for eventual first contact. Galactica 1980 had a really cool idea for a TV series!

On that basis, my rating of this episode is very forgiving. Sadly, however, like BSG 1978, BSG 1980 is not true to it's pilot episode and the quality of the series will begin to drop.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Hugo on 2011-11-13 at 1:52pm:
    Not that bad, but then again not much happened in this ep - not much drama to the story...

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