Battlestar Galactica at 40

Most of the science fiction shows I look at today are serialized, and often pretty dark.  Gritty is the trend, but gritty has no hope, no wonder.

The original Battlestar Galactica celebrates it’s 40th anniversary this week.  I watched it in its original run and really enjoyed the show.  It was controversial at the time because it was right on the heels of Star Wars.  I believe there was a lawsuit.  But if you look at the past history of TV shows, any time there was a popular movie that came out, some element showed up in a TV series:

  • Airport – Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, and Airwolf
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey – The Bionic Woman
  • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century – Star Wars (and then the network ruined it by trying to make it Star Trek)

BG wasn’t perfect, but no show is.  It launched without a lot of time to prepare so they pantsed the heck out of the world building.

King Tut’s treasures had recently made the rounds in the U.S. (I got to see them as part of a school trip), so it was likely an influence for the Egyptian aspect of the show.   That was something I didn’t think of until I was writing this, but it’s amazing to look back and see what influences landed in the story.  Egypt was mystical and mysterious–and BG wouldn’t be the only one to have an alien influence on Egypt (Stargate, Stargate SG1).

But it also had the classic good guy/bad guy, right out of the Westerns.  The bad guys were the Cylons, and the good guys always destroyed the current threat.  There was an overall threat, but it was a time where we trusted that the good guys would always win.   It also kept the entertainment part in full view and never lost sight it.

My favorite episode was the gunslinger one, The Lost Warrior.  Apollo crashes on a planet where a town is being terrorized by a damaged Cylon and a mob boss-type bad guy.  Apollo doesn’t want to fight, but ends up having to confront the Cylon in an old-style gunfight in the street…with lasers.

A picture of the actor who played Apollo, Richard Hatch.  I took this at DragonCon in 1997.

Actor seated in chair, a stuffed bear in one arm and a stuffed koala in the other



3 thoughts on “Battlestar Galactica at 40

  1. Peggy September 16, 2018 / 4:05 pm

    “Most of the science fiction shows I look at today are serialized, and often pretty dark. Gritty is the trend, but gritty has no hope, no wonder.”

    And thus you’ve identified why I don’t watch (or read, for that matter) a lot of SF today, either. I want that sense of wonder which, I think, ties in with a sense of hope. I find that a lot of shows start out lighter in tone but get more serious as things go on, so I stop watching after that first season or two (see, e.g. though more F than SF, Lucifer).

    Any recs for F/SF that keep that sense of hope and wonder are appreciated!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Maye Adams September 17, 2018 / 7:35 pm

      For today’s TV: The Orville. The pilot was pretty rough, but I was willing to suspend opinions because pilots usually aren’t all that good. And the advertising was terrible. They emphasized all the humor–Fox evidently didn’t trust the audience. But it’s gotten better with each episode. Majority Rule is Star Trek quality in topic.

      Books…I’d go with Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Retrieval Artists’ series. I picked up a later one in a StoryBundle and suddenly bought all the books in the series. Elizabeth Moon is also pretty good, both on the fantasy and the sci-fi side, but she basically writes one long book and breaks it up into separate ones. And if you don’t mind romance/SF or romance/Fantasy, Ruby Dixon (though they are very steamy).


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