Battlestar Galactica intro
|Created by||Glen A. Larson|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||24|
|Running time||45 minutes per episode|
|Distributor||NBCUniversal Television Distribution|
|Original release||September 17, 1978 -|
April 29, 1979
|Followed by||Galactica 1980|
|Related shows||Battlestar Galactica (2004)|
Battlestar Galactica is an American science fiction television series created by Glen A. Larson that began the Battlestar Galactica franchise. Starring Lorne Greene, Richard Hatch, and Dirk Benedict, it follows the surviving humans as they flee in Battlestar Galactica and other ships in search for a new home while being pursued by the Cylons. The series ran for the 1978-1979 season before being canceled.
In 1980, a write-in campaign revived the show as Galactica 1980 with 10 episodes. Books have also been written continuing the stories. Battlestar Galactica was remade in the early 2000s with a reimagined mini-series and a weekly series.
In a distant star system, the Twelve Colonies of Mankind were reaching the end of a thousand-year war with the Cylons, warrior robots created by a reptilian race which expired long ago, presumably destroyed by their own creations. Humanity was ultimately defeated in a sneak attack on their homeworlds by the Cylons, carried out with the help of a human traitor, Count Baltar (John Colicos). Protected by the last surviving capital warship, a "battlestar" (from "battle starship"), named Galactica, the survivors fled in available ships. The Commander of the Galactica, Adama (Lorne Greene), led this "rag-tag fugitive fleet" of 220 ships in search of a new home. They began a quest to find the long lost thirteenth tribe of humanity that had settled on a legendary planet called Earth. However, the Cylons continued to pursue them relentlessly across the galaxy.
The era in which this exodus took place is never clearly stated in the series itself. At the start of the series, it is mentioned as being "the seventh millennium of time", although it is unknown when this is in relation to Earth's history. The implication of the final aired episode, "The Hand of God", was that the original series took place after the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969 (as the Galactica receives a television transmission from Earth showing the landing). The later Galactica 1980 series is expressly set in the year 1980 after a 30-year voyage to Earth.
The pilot to this series, budgeted at $7 million (the most expensive at that time), was released theatrically (in Sensurround) in various countries including Canada, Japan and those in Western Europe in July 1978 (except the United Kingdom where it was released in April 1979) in an edited 125-minute version.
On September 17, 1978, the full 148 minute pilot premiered on ABC to high Nielsen ratings. Two thirds of the way through the broadcast, ABC interrupted with a special report of the signing of the Camp David Accords at the White House by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, witnessed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter. After the ceremony, ABC resumed the broadcast at the point where it was interrupted. This interruption did not occur on the West Coast. After the pilot aired, the 125-minute theatrical version was given a U.S cinema release in spring of 1979.
The pilot had originally been announced as the first of three made for TV movies. After broadcast of the second episode, "Lost Planet of the Gods", Glen Larson announced the format change to a weekly series, catching his writing and production staff off guard, resulting in several substandard 'crash of the week' episodes until quality scripts could resume. "Lost Planet of the Gods" also introduced a costume change from the original, in that the warriors' dress uniform featured a gold-trimmed cape falling to upper thigh. Because of the costume change, a portion of the pilot was reshot; this refilmed version was released in cinemas in 1979. The original version of the warriors' dress uniform, a plain, mid-thigh-length cape, is documented in The Official Battlestar Galactica Scrapbook by James Neyland, 1978.
Battlestar Galactica was criticized by Melor Sturua in the Soviet newspaper Izvestia. He saw an analogy between the fictional Colonial/Cylon negotiations and the US/Soviet SALT talks and accused the series of being inspired by anti-Soviet hysteria:
The galactic negotiations between the people and the Cylons really resembled the U.S./Soviet SALT talks - not in their actual form but in the perverted interpretation of the enemies of the treaty from the family of Washington hawks... Their inspiration is the pumping-up of military, anti-Soviet hysteria, which in this case is disguised in the modern costume of socio-scientific fantasy... Anti-Soviet symbolism dressed in a transparent tunic of science fiction.
In 1978, 20th Century Fox sued Universal Studios (producers of Battlestar Galactica) for plagiarism, copyright infringement, unfair competition, and Lanham Act claims, claiming it had stolen 34 distinct ideas from Star Wars. Universal promptly countersued, claiming Star Wars had stolen ideas from their 1972 film Silent Running, notably the robot "drones", and the Buck Rogers serials of the 1930s. 20th Century Fox's copyright claims were initially dismissed by the trial court in 1980, then the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit remanded the case for trial in 1983. It was later "resolved without trial".
Battlestar Galactica initially was a ratings success. CBS counter programmed by moving its Sunday block of All in the Family and Alice an hour earlier, to compete with Galactica in the 8:00 timeslot. From October 1978 to March 1979, All in the Family averaged more than 40 percent of the 8:00 audience, against Galactica's 28 percent.
In mid-April 1979, ABC executives canceled the show. An AP article reported "The decision to bump the expensive Battlestar Galactica was not surprising. The series ... had been broadcast irregularly in recent weeks, attracting slightly over a quarter of the audience in its Sunday night time slot." Larson claimed that it was a failed attempt by ABC to reposition its number one program Mork & Mindy into a more lucrative timeslot.[verification needed] The cancellation led to viewer outrage and protests outside ABC studios, and it even contributed to the suicide of Edward Seidel, a 15-year-old boy in Saint Paul, Minnesota who was obsessed with the program.
While primarily English, the Colonial language was written to include several fictional words that differentiated its culture from those of Earth, most notably time units and expletives. The words were roughly equivalent to their English counterparts, and the minor technical differences in meaning were suggestive to the viewer. Colonial distance and time units were incompletely explained, but appear to have been primarily in a decimal format.
The show's original music was composed and conducted by Stu Phillips, with the pilot score performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. It was recorded at 20th Century Fox, which later sued Universal over the series. MCA Records released a soundtrack album on LP and cassette with Phillips as the music producer; the album was later reissued on compact disc by Edel in 1993, and Geffen Records in 2003. For the series, Phillips used a studio orchestra at Universal, although the theme and end credits music as recorded by the LAPO were retained.
In 2011-2012 Intrada Records released four albums featuring Phillips's music for the series, representing the first commercial release of music other than that of the pilot. (Phillips previously produced a four CD promotional set.) Except the first, all are two disc sets.
"Fire in Space", "The Man with Nine Lives", "Greetings from Earth", "Baltar's Escape", and "Experiment in Terra" were entirely tracked with preexisting material.
In 2009 Bryan Singer was tapped to direct a feature film remake with production input from original series creator Glen A. Larson. Larson's 2014 death caused a delay, but in 2016 Lisa Joy was assigned to be the screenwriter and the studio was considering Francis Lawrence to replace Singer as director.