Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG TOS 1980 - Season 1

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 4.16

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# Votes: 24 2 7 7 5 7 21 5 2 6 6

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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My Rating - 3

Fan Rating Average - 3.46

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# Votes: 15 1 8 5 2 2 1 2 2 7 1

Synopsis
Xavier time-travels to Nazi Germany, intending to give the Germans advanced technology in order to boost the planet's modern-day tech level. Troy, Dillon and reporter Jamie Hamilton must stop him from changing the past. [DVD]

Problems
- The science behind the time travel... sigh.

Factoids
- So it seems that Vipers are definitely capable of carrying two people after all.

Remarkable Scenes
- Mortinson: "Walls do not a prison make."
- The little boy showing his father the Viper.
- Boomer as the XO of Galactica!
- The Nazis attacking the Vipers.

My Review
While Xavier arguing with Adama about the moral implications behind the use of time travel is pointed and interesting, the whole idea of introducing time travel to the show in the first place was pure rubbish. Especially the science behind it.

While still the same basic story of what happens when you artificially enhance a culture, bad science fiction does a good job of utterly ruining what value the first part had. And I believe I speak for everyone when I say television, even in 1980, has seen enough Nazis. American TV is sadly obsessed with Nazi Germany. Star Trek did it. ("Patterns of Force") And even BSG 1978 did it with the Eastern Alliance Nazi allegory. The damn horse is dead, stop beating it!

The story isn't completely shot to hell, however, and manages to retain at least some of the drama and intrigue of the first part. It also, fortunately, manages to tone down the late 1970s / early 1980s pop culture mannerisms that made part one of this story so annoying as well. So it's at least worth something.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Hugo on 2011-11-16 at 5:36pm:
    if they can travel back in time, can't they just go back and beat the cylons? save caprica? etc...

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My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 4.56

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# Votes: 9 3 8 6 3 4 3 2 4 7 5

Synopsis
Troy, Dillon, and Jaime attempt to capture Xavier, who has returned to modern-day Earth to reclaim his Viper. [DVD]

Problems
None

Factoids
None

Remarkable Scenes
- Dillon shooting down the rocket.
- The little boy finding the Vipers again and this time getting the authorities to see it in time.
- The little boy pulling pranks on his rival.
- Colonial officer gives rank insignia to someone count 4. Troy gives rank insignia to Willie.
- Xavier walking into the street almost getting hit by car, then mistaking a police car for a cab.
- Xavier meeting with Mortinson.

My Review
And BSG 1980 begins to run out of steam right here as plot devices introduced in the first two parts are exploited beyond capacity. There's nothing too fundamentally different in this episode from the previous two, except that it accomplished nothing short of wrapping up the cliffhangers of the previous two episodes. It even largely fails to do that, seeing as how Xavier has escaped. The episode then leaves us with yet another cliffhanger, of the pseudo sense, showing our brave new heroes ready to take on yet another time travel adventure, except this one takes place offscreen. I suppose even the writers were tired of time travel by this point.

What's most annoying about this episode, besides of course the all kids' show padding the network enforced, is the sheer pointlessness of it. It completely fails as a conclusion the grandiose things presented in the first part. Adama et al don't appear to have a clear, well defined plan by the end of the episode. They've only barely (and arguably not completely) recovered from an initial blunder. What way is this to start a series that's supposed to be about one culture artificially enhancing another? In place of philosophical exploration of that concept, we learn instead more varying gradeschool facts about Earth. How disappointing.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Hugo on 2011-12-02 at 8:24am:
    I didn't really follow, but how did Xavier's Viper get captured? Was he that stupid that he landed it next to the other Vipers (how could he know where they are?), while they are chasing him? And it managed to become visible at the same time as Troy's and Dillons'?

    Interesting that Jamie's boss treats her like she has been employed a long time...

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My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 3.57

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Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 12 4 7 2 3 2 0 2 1 8 1

Synopsis
After a Cylon surprise attack, Adama sends the fleet's children (disguised as "Super Scouts") with Troy and Dillon to Earth, where they enlist Jamie's aid to protect the kids. [DVD]

Problems
- So the freighter Delphi has engine trouble and comes to a complete stop, eh? Seems the writers still haven't learned their lesson about inertia.
- So the children have superpowers because the gravity is less on Earth. Why aren't the adults imbued with these powers too? They sure could have came in handy during the last few episodes.

Factoids
- It seems (possibly due to manpower shortage?) that Boomer is not only the Galactica's XO but also the ship's lead pilot.
- Child actor Patrick Stuart (not the Captain Picard one ;)) replaces Robbie Rist as Dr. Zee starting in this episode.

Remarkable Scenes
- The destruction of freighter Delphi.

My Review
Aside from the annoying plot itself, this show is becoming heavily formulaic. Every episode seems to have to have some scenes where Troy and Dillon stumble over Earth customs and some scenes where they bewilder Earth people with their technology. In many cases, those scenes are numerous and repetitive.

And so here begins what made Galactica 1980 so universally hated. This episode is all about children, and places kids in the center stage. Following in the tradition of Star Trek, children in science fiction shows are almost always universally lame. And this episode is no exception. We get to see a number of annoying misbehavior scenes and even an annoying singing scene. What's worse is this entire farce is based on a shoddy premise. The freighter Delphi, which for some reason is the "children ship," has unexplained engine trouble and comes to a full stop. Have the writers learned nothing from episodes like Take the Celestra?

The one redeeming quality of this episode is the reintroduction of the Cylons. It's nice to see they actually ARE following the fleet, and Dr. Zee isn't simply making things up. It's a shame much of the battle was recycled footage, but at least the destruction of the freighter Delphi was something of a spectacle to watch. A few minutes of genuine science fiction in what's quickly becoming a children's educational show. What happened to the grandiose exploration of the human condition that this show was supposed to be about?

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My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 4.58

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# Votes: 13 3 1 3 7 1 3 6 1 6 6

Synopsis
Several of the children get sick after drinking polluted water. Troy, Dillon, Jamie work to shut down the chemical plant responsible for the contamination. [DVD]

Problems
- So the adults do have the super powers after all. That's good, eliminates the technical problem of the previous episode. Except for the fact that we still don't have an answer as to why they haven't used these powers until now.

Factoids
- According to Dr. Zee, the Cylons will attack Earth in the year 1990.

Remarkable Scenes
- The landing of Dr. Zee's flying saucer.

My Review
The second part of this veiled ecology story wrapped into a kids' show like its predecessors was largely a waste of time. Super Scouts could have easily been compressed into a single episode and been more effective for it, though in the end, I would contend that it was entirely a misguided effort to even bother making this episode in the first place. The colonials are wasting their time tipping off Earth authorities every episode to their existence. How many times can they possibly write off these "UFO sightings" as natural phenomena? It's already a cliche for viewers and it's beginning to push the limits of suspension of disbelief as well.

I've voiced my annoyance for a children-centric plot before, but one aspect of Galactica 1980 that's supremely annoying is the reliance of Dr. Zee as a plot device. Any TV series which regularly relies on a super genius is having creativity problems. Furthermore, add "offscreen missions" to the formulaic approach Galactica 1980 seems to favor. Once again at the very end of this episode, Troy and Dillon go on a mission not depicted onscreen. We have no idea what this mission is, but maybe it's better that way.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Hugo on 2011-12-24 at 3:37pm:
    Yawn

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BSG TOS 1980 - 1x06 - Spaceball - Originally Aired: 1980-3-30

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 3.99

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Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 13 16 4 5 4 3 1 8 9 7 2

Synopsis
The renegade Xavier returns, sabotaging Troy and Dillon's Viper and attempting to kidnap the Galactica children, whom Jamie has taken to play at a baseball camp where she's doing a story. [DVD]

Problems
None

Factoids
None

Remarkable Scenes
- Dillon regarding the Viper troubles: "Maybe Dr. Zee made a mistake?" Troy: "Nah, that's impossible."
- Starla throwing the baseball through a solid wooden wall.
- The spacewalk.

My Review
Xavier is just too idiotic to take seriously anymore. First of all, there's no explanation as to how he escaped and returned after the events of the pilot episode. Second, his methods in this episode are just dumb. Xavier is supposed to be on Galactica's side. He wants to see the colonials survive just as much as Adama does. But when he and Adama have a disagreement as to how best to go about doing that, suddenly none of it matters and he reduces to being nothing more than criminal interested in his own greed? One so evil that he'll go so far as to threaten the lives of children? That's just not realistic. Finally, why does evil incognito Xavier have to have a German acccent? Hasn't this show done enough Germany bashing?

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Hugo on 2011-12-25 at 12:29am:
    I am not sure why I am watching this... painfully bad.

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My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 4.92

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Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 13 6 7 7 5 3 0 4 17 6 8

Synopsis
The Cylon Empire has created a new version of the Cylons, a humanoid android. On Halloween, one of these new models, Andromus, crashlands near New York City with a regular Cylon. The two seek a radio station where they can contact the rest of the Cylon fleet, while Troy and Dillon try to stop them as well as save a child trapped in a fire. [DVD]

Problems
None

Factoids
- According to one of the Super Scouts, there are 114 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, which is supposedly information derived from Galactica sensors.

Remarkable Scenes
- The appearance of the new Cylon ship.
- Flight attendant: "Smoking or nonsmoking?" Dillon: "Which way does the plane run best?"
- The Cylons mistaken for Halloween costumes.
- The disclaimer at the end... "The United States Air Force stopped investigating UFOs in 1969. After 22 years, they found no evidence of extra-terrestrial visits and no threat to national security." WTF?

My Review
So the Cylons have created human models. Now there's an interesting plot development, but true to Galactica 1980's style, it's exploited for comical value rather than its serious implications. Indeed, this episode makes for a pretty good showcase of why this series is so hated. It's filled top to bottom with cheesy late 70s / early 80s comedy; even viewing this episode back in 1980 would have been a bizarre experience. We do, however, get to see a new type of Cylon ship in this episode which looks pretty cool. And I concede an extra point for this episode's strangely effective, though perhaps unintentional humor.

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My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 6.17

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Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 1 2 3 1 1 1 0 2 2 8 2

Synopsis
The Cylon android attempts to take over a radio station so he can send a message to his Base Star. Troy and Dillon chase after him, hoping to stop him before the Cylon Empire finds out about Earth. [DVD]

Problems
- So why did the colonials never discover that microwaves have a deleterious effect on Centurions during the Cylon wars?

Factoids
- The humanoid Cylons seem to have a telepathic power, as Andromus was able to convince the Taxi driver that he had already paid, Jedi Mind Trick style. One wonders what the limit of this power is.

Remarkable Scenes
- The Cylons at the Haloween party.
- The Centurion collapsing from the radiation emitted by the microwave.
- The people from the party mimicking the Centurion: "Voom... voom... voom..." Hilarious.
- The damaged Centurion picking up his injured comrade and walking off the roof of the building with him, falling into the dumpster.

My Review
The farce ends with as much silliness as the first part. Again, strangely, the humor at the Halloween party among other places is strangely effective, making this episode like the previous one at least somewhat entertaining, in a "don't take it too seriously" kind of way. Beyond those merits, there is very little to redeem this episode. Yet another blundering incident on Earth is barely cleaned up by Troy and Dillon. Yet again the Earthlings remain barely oblivious to the actual events taking place. And what's the deal with that UFO disclaimer at the end of the episode? Do the writers really believe that after watching Galactica 1980 that people were really going to start fearing the prospect of UFO invasions?

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BSG TOS 1980 - 1x09 - Space Croppers - Originally Aired: 1980-4-27

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 6.02

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# Votes: 3 8 1 0 0 3 9 9 3 9 6

Synopsis
The Cylons attack Galactica again, this time destroying the Agroships. Troy and Dillon head to Earth for food, and wind up partnering with a farmer struggling to resist a local tyrant. [DVD]

Problems
- One wonders if anyone will ever investigate Hector's vastly unnatural overproduction of food. One also wonders if anyone will ever notice all that extra food doesn't seem to be going anywhere... on Earth anyway.

Factoids
- This episode is largely considered to be the worst episode of any BSG series.

Remarkable Scenes
- The Cylons attacking the fleet and taking out the agro ships.
- The horse scene.

My Review
There's nothing worse than a "cowboys, farmers, and hicks" episode on a science fiction show. Similar to BSG 1978's "The Magnificent Warriors" the issue of a food shortage is turned into a silly farce. Indeed, most BSG fans consider this the worst episode of BSG ever done. I'd like to take a moment to point out that no episode of BSG 1978 or 1980 is deserving of a zero rating in my opinion. In my Star Trek reviews, you'll note that in the vast majority of cases, zero ratings are only dished out when an episode is so bad that should have to be dropped from canon to preserve continuity's integrity.

That said, this episode is no exception. "Space Croppers" may be annoying and bad, but there's no reason to drop it from canon just because it lacks taste. In fact, it's pretty pivotal to the aborted arc. Now that Galactica is incapable of producing its own food. Dependence on Earth is a certainty. The next logical step after this episode would have been a Cylon attack on Earth. Granted, Dr. Zee claimed that wouldn't happen until 1990 and it's been said that he's never wrong, but it's at least plausible that he was merely speculating. For it seems clear that the Cylons are bearing down on the colonials.

Besides the distinct lack of taste (and that dreadful leaping and singing scene), what really drops this episode's rating is its distinct lack of plot advancement. At the beginning of the series, the mandate was to slowly artificially advance Earth's culture. Instead, we've spent a bunch of time helping out the less fortunate people in the United States. A morally correct, but misguided story. And once again, the episode closes with another appearance of that UFO disclaimer...

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BSG TOS 1980 - 1x10 - The Return of Starbuck - Originally Aired: 1980-5-4

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 5.68

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Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 1 1 31 7 1 4 10 13 3 18 14

Synopsis
Dr. Zee reveals to Adama a dream he had about a warrior whom Adama recongizes as Lieutenant Starbuck, who was lost 14 years ago in a Cylon attack. Zee goes on to describe Starbuck's crash landing on a barren planet, where he built himself a Cylon companion from scavenged parts and befriended a pregnant woman who'd arrived there in time to give birth. [DVD]

Problems
None

Factoids
- While many BSG 1978 fans despised BSG 1980, this episode is largely considered to be an exception to their collective assertion that BSG 1980 is not canon.
- This episode was an attempt to save this series from cancellation. A sequel called "Wheel of Fire" was planned, but the last ditch effort to save the series failed; the series was canceled.

Remarkable Scenes
- Starbuck battling the Cylons, crashing into the planet, and discovering the crashed Cylon figher he shot down.
- Starbuck deciding to repair and revive one of the Cylons.
- Starbuck reviving a Cylon. I loved the Cylon's reaction to seeing Starbuck.
- Starbuck: "I don't believe this. How do you hurt a Cylon's feelings?"
- The Cylons landing on Starbuck's planet.
- Starbuck launching Angela and Zee into space.
- The Cylons attacking Starbuck.
- Cy shooting his own kind to save Starbuck.
- Cy's death.

My Review
An episode depicting how Starbuck was lost. This is a welcome change of pace from Galactica 1980's usual repertoire. This flashback into BSG 1978 makes it clear just how much better the original series was compared to Galactica 1980. It's a shame we couldn't have just had BSG 1978 season 2 instead.

Listening to Starbuck narrate his own fate was a very nice storytelling technique and the story of the events which befell Starbuck, Cy, Angela and her baby was most touching. The idea that a Cylon Centurion could be turned and learn how to be friends with a human is fascinating; it tells us that they are something more than programmed killing machines. Or at least that they had the potential to become something more.

BSG 1978 and 1980 similarly had the potential to become something more and that potential was never tapped. But like BSG 1978's "The Hand of God," I couldn't think of a better way to close a series. "The Return of Starbuck" was Galactica 1980's best episode, and what better way to close a series than on its best episode.

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