Battlestar Galactica and Galactica 1980

Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979)
Galactica 1980 (1980)
Type: Spin Off

   Few spin off series are remembered with more shame and embarrassment than Battlestar 1980. A continuation of the science fiction series Battlestar Galactica, most everyone with a connection to the Galactica stories prefers to just pretend Galactica 1980 never happened. As Battlestar Galactica continues in books, comic books and potentially in movies, Galactica 1980 is always discounted from the continuity of the franchise. What could be so horrible? What went wrong? Read on.

   First of all what was the original series Battlestar Galactica about? Starting off as a feature film which lead into a series, Battlestar Galactica was a science fiction epic which pitted a society of humans against a race comprised mainly of killer robots known as the Cylons. In the feature film, the humans had arranged a peace with the Cylons through a human mediator named Baltar. The peace was merely a ruse however to lull humanity into lowering its guard. Baltar had betrayed his race for the promise of power in the Cylon empire! Humanity was crushed. Their planets were decimated. All of their space warships were destroyed... except for one: the Battlestar Galactica. Gathering the remnants of humanity into every large ship they could muster, Commander Adama of the Battlestar Galactica lead the remaining humans in a "rag tag fugitive fleet" searching for a lost tribe of humans who had left long ago to settle a distant planet - Earth!

   In the film, traitor Baltar was rewarded for his treachery by the Cylons with death! In the series things went differently. He was given a Cylon warship to command so that he could hunt down and wipe out Adama and his people. Also on the show was Adama's son Apollo - a heroic space pilot; Starbuck - Apollo's gambling, cigar chomping, womanizing partner and a number of other supporting players including, most importantly for this spin off page at least, Apollo's son Boxy.

   The series had a problem with its central plot though: the search for Earth. The draw to watch the series should have been the audience's curiosity to see if the Battlestar Galactica would in fact reach Earth! But that didn't draw viewers because everyone knew they never would. If they did, the show would seemingly be over. And it was a standard TV contrivance to present such a premise and then never resolve it. The Robinsons were forever Lost In Space, David Banner would never find a way to control the Hulk... The thing is in most of these cases the ongoing quest is downplayed in favor of the week to week adventures. With Battlestar Galactica the quest was a driving important element and audience knew it would never pay off.

   As it happened, TV was on the cusp of a major change in these plots being handled this way. Shows were starting to actually let such plot lines pay off. But most shows, Galactica included, preferred to play it safe. If Galactica reached Earth... what would they do? They couldn't have them announce themselves to the world. The Cylons couldn't show up and devastate the Earth with war. Why? Well because it wouldn't match the real world. People could see out the window that this didn't mesh with their world. It still hadn't occurred to Hollywood that people would accept something like that - accept that it was just a show and that the reality for the show where maybe Earth was in ruins didn't have to match real life. Hello? We already know its a show guys. We can take that next leap and buy an Earth torn by interstellar war as long as its a good story. But the producers wussed out, let the Galactica wander around without finding Earth and the viewers wander away. Battlestar Galactica was canceled.

   Trying to salvage the show in some way the producers decided to take a few plot chances, but just a few. The producers created a spin off series called Galactica 1980 in which, gasp, the Galactica did reach Earth. The year was 1980 and so that was the year they had them reach Earth. Hey, it made it current and the show didn't have to deal with fancy sets and wardrobe to establish a different era. But in the shows time line over ten years had passed since the original series. Adama was older. Apollo and Starbuck were gone. Apollo's son Boxy, now grown and called Troy, and his friend Dillon were the new heroes. The Galactica had found Earth with the help of a young genius named Doctor Zee. Doctor Zee was revealed to be long lost Starbuck's son... sort of. It was a sort of Joseph and Jesus thing with Zee becoming the Galactica's salvation. Too bad Doctor Zee was so annoying.

   So they let them reach Earth. Good move. But it was the only good move the show made. Still not wanting to make the reality of the Earth on the show appear any different than our world, the Galactica did not announce itself to Earth. Feeling Earth was not ready to handle the appearance of the Galactica from deep space and not wanting to attract the Cylon's attention to Earth, the Galactica hid itself and only sent down Troy and Dillon to Earth to feel out the situation. It was a weak conceit.

   On top of this, someone else had another bone headed idea. "Hey! We want kids to watch the show right? Let's put some kids INTO the show." Ugh. So Troy and Dillon were given a squad of kids to take with them to Earth. The children on the ship had grown up in space and never been on a planet. The idea was they needed to get out into some real air. And since they grew up in space, there muscles developed differently and they were super strong and able to make huge flying leaps. I wished they all would take a giant flying leap. Young Doctor Zee was also surely added for the same "kid appeal". Good move. Every kid wants to tune in to watch an annoying braniac geek order around the heroic Adama like he was a moron.

   The logic in adding the "super children" to the show was equally bad. First of all, kids don't think like these TV big shots figured they did. I was ten then and I wanted to see action and heroics not kids like me who had super powers. The bottom line was Troy and Dillon got stuck playing babysitter. A babysitter's first job is to keep his kids safe. That means not taking them into dangerous situation where they might be blown into hundreds of tiny bits (oh how I hoped for that). So Troy and Dillon never got into those sorts of dangerous situations which are exactly the situations a sci-fi audience WANTS to see. Adding the kids didn't make kids want to watch and they certainly made adult viewers want to claw their eyes out and change the channel.

   The show did have some cool elements. Troy and Dillon had space motorcycles that could fly. Very cool. They could make their Viper space fighter invisible (so that no one on Earth would be able to see it). That was nice. The only decent plot element the show had was one involving time travel. A character named Xavier went rogue similar to Baltar and took off on his own, traveling through time in a ship Doctor Zee had invented, forcing Troy and Dillon to ditch the kids (ahh) and go back in time after him.

   The bottom line though was that 99% of the show stank on ice. The show was canceled and this sorry chapter in Galactica history was excised entirely from the continuity of the franchise. Amen! May the Galactica super children never get shore leave again!

Other Battlestar Galactica Crossover Links
Battlestar Galactica and Battlestar Galactica (2003)

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