It’s Movie Time: Battlestar Galactica (1978)

As always, Spoiler Alert.

When I was seven or eight years old, I wrote the local TV station to complain because Battlestar Galactica had been preempted several weeks in a row. Some time later, I got a letter in the mail from said station, apologizing for the show’s disruption and explaining that it was beyond their control, as it had been preempted on the originating US network.

That letter is one of the few things I’ve gotten rid of over the years that I wish I’d kept. Even though the complaint was obviously written by a child, the reply they sent treated it as valid, and they didn’t talk down to me.

I also wish I’d kept it because it’s evidence of just how long I’ve been a Battlestar Galactica fan.

That being said, when it came time to watch the 1978 movie for this blog series, I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen it before. I’d religiously watched the TV show the movie had spawned, but the movie itself was a lot more iffy. As a kid, going to the movies was a very rare occurrence, so I knew I hadn’t seen it then, and I was pretty sure I hadn’t watched it in the years since. I bought a collection of ’70s and ’80s sci-fi b-movies a while ago specifically because BG – as my friends and I called it back in the day – was part of it, but hadn’t gotten around to watching it since then, either.

I remembered a shit ton of other stuff, though.

Like the theme – one of the best, most underrated movie/TV themes of all time.

Speaking of best and underrated, while a lot of the special effects haven’t aged well, the Viper launches are still awesome.

For all BG was accused of being a Star Wars knockoff, I actually prefer Vipers to X-Wings. And, for that matter, Cylons to Stormtroopers. The Cylon vocal treatment is one of my favourite sounds ever, with the wah-wah noise their bouncy red eyeball thing makes not far behind. I could happily listen to them for hours.

These things were all pretty much seared in my brain, and pressing play only brought back more memories – like how many of the characters were named after Greek gods, and my huge crush on Apollo (Richard Hatch), and how I wanted a daggit, and how I actually had triad playing cards.

Source

They were a bitch to use. But they looked cool.

What about the movie itself, you ask?

It starts out well, with the Cylons attacking the colonies. And it ends well, with a decent space battle. And the characters are great, especially the Viper pilots. But the good stuff is mostly overshadowed by this weird storyline involving a casino paradise and human-eating aliens.

I remember hearing off-and-on for 25 years how Richard Hatch was trying to bring BG back and, while admiring his dedication, also thinking he was a bit daft. I mean, I loved it, but only through a haze of nostalgia. I thought there was no way it could possibly be anything but a joke. Even when it finally happened, and it was rebooted as a (very popular and respected) TV series in the mid-2000s, I figured it was ‘in name only’ more than anything.

Finally watching the film, I realize I was wrong. There are a lot of things carried through to the reboot TV series, from storylines touching on the same themes, to a surprising amount of the underlying style to, well, Richard Hatch himself, who played Tom Zarek. I spent a good chunk of my time watching Battlestar Galactica (1978) picking out all the things that made it into the series bearing its name 25 years later.

For that alone, if you’re a fan of the TV show, it’s worth watching the movie, simply to see the foundation on which the show was built. Turns out Richard Hatch was right to fight for it.

And so, I think, was I.

To see other posts in my venture to watch my movie collection in alphabetical(ish) order, click here.

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