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.