1978 Universal Studios
The runaway success of any movie pretty much guarantees that copycats will soon be popping up to try to ride the popularity wave it generates and no movie had more copycats and wannabes than Star Wars. Probably the most blatant Star Wars ripoff of all was the TV series Battlestar Galactica. Made solely to cash in on the success of the Twentieth Century Fox mammoth blockbuster this expensive series became very popular very quickly and then died, a victim of the incredible expense of producing it.
Being ravenous for anything Star Wars or resembling Star Wars I jumped on this like a kid in a candy store. Even back in my childhood I knew this was a ripoff but I didn’t care. Strangely enough though this had a charm all its own with a very likable cast, an interesting storyline, and some good special effects. It soon built a very passionate fan base and was doing pretty good in the ratings. The pilot episode was also released in the theaters to take advantage of the science fiction/fantasy craze.
Battlestar Galactica has a grand story with an epic scope, as the pilot episode begins we are introduced to the human citizens of the twelve colonies of man who are celebrating a peace armistice with their longtime foes the Cylons. During the celebration when their guard is down the Cylons attack and devastate the twelve colonies. The survivors flee their home worlds and rendezvous with the lone surviving Battlestar, basically an air craft carrier in space. In an attempt to avoid genocide the remnants of mankind flee their solar system and begin a quest for the mythical thirteenth colony located on a planet called Earth. The Cylons, a machine race, pursue the rag-tag fleet of assorted space vessels hellbent on extermination every living human in the universe .
For television back in the 1970’s this series was huge: huge budget, huge cast, huge sets, and a huge story to boot. I was in heaven and impatiently awaited each new episode. I collected the model kits and other toys and was just enjoying it all immensely. Then it was cancelled and the world just sucked! My friends and I were very bummed when this show went off the air. We had a blast talking about the show at school and playing my handheld Battlestar Galactica Space Alert video game in which little red dots would rush toward your Battlestar and you needed to fire red dots at the red dots to destroy them. Awesome graphics.
The good:Some of the special effects are impressive.
The handheld Battlestar Galactica Space Alert game. I mean just look at it!
The not so good:Some of the special effects are not that impressive.
The reuse of special effects. Even in the pilot episode they were recycling effects shots.
After the fleet reaches Carillon the story gets kind of dumb. None of the people there are aware that the twelve colonies have been destroyed and no one in the fleet seems to be in a hurry to tell them. Clearly these are citizens of the colonies seeing how there are already colonial warriors in the casino when Starbuck and Boomer arrive.
Random thoughts and observations:
Even as a child I always thought it was a bit peculiar that the Cylons would have let Baltar live. In the theatrical release they didn’t, they beheaded him.
Early in the pilot episode Apollo and his younger brother Zac go on patrol. Just after they leave a Cylon Raider is seen for a few frames following them. This is a case where the editor neglected to trim the scene short enough, the Cylon was not supposed to be there!