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- For the comic re-imagining based on the concept for this series, see: Galactica 1980 (comic).
Galactica 1980 was first broadcast on the ABC Television Network in the United States from January 27, 1980, with its final episode first airing on May 4, 1980. Running for only 10 episodes, it was poorly received by both critics and viewers.
The series first aired in Sunday's 7:00 PM time slot, during what was known as the "family hour", targeting the show's audience primarily for children.
- 1 Synopsis
- 2 Short life
- 3 Production
- 4 Budget hell
- 5 "Kiddie Hour", Standards and Practices, and "kids crawling out of your ears"
- 6 Syndication, VHS and DVD releases
- 7 Episode list
- 8 Notes
- 9 Official Statements
- 10 Narration
- 11 Closing disclaimer
- 12 Central character absences
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Set a generation after the Original Series, battlestar Galactica and its Fleet of 220 civilian ships finally discover Earth but find that the planet is technologically backward in relation to Colonial technology. As a result, Earth couldn't defend itself against the Cylons as originally expected. Therefore, teams of Colonial Warriors are covertly sent to the planet to work incognito with various members of the scientific community, hoping to quickly advance Earth's technology.
The promotional material for Galactica 1980 sets the series at thirty years after the events of the Original Series.
Commander Adama and Colonel Boomer—now second-in-command in place of Colonel Tigh—send Captain "Boxey" Troy, the adopted son of Adama's own son Apollo, and Lt. Dillon to North America. The two become entangled with TV journalist Jamie Hamilton who aids them in devising ways to help Earth's scientists and outwit the handful of Cylons that discover the planet.
- Lorne Greene - Commander Adama
- Robyn Douglass - Jamie Hamilton
- Herb Jefferson Jr. - Colonel Boomer
- Richard Lynch - Xaviar
- Kent McCord - Captain Troy
- Allan Miller - Colonel Sydell
- James Patrick Stuart - Doctor Zee
- Robbie Rist - Doctor Zee
- Barry Van Dyke - Lieutenant Dillon
Greene (Adama) and Jefferson (Boomer) were the only major cast members of the Original Series to reprise their roles in the ten episodes, with Dirk Benedict reprising his role as Starbuck in the last episode.
Galactica 1980 had a promising start in its ratings with a three-hour adventure that saw Troy, Dillon and Hamilton sent back in time to Nazi Germany to save the future, but the series could not sustain this momentum. The series was unceremoniously canceled after only ten episodes, many of which were multi-part stories, or what would be referred to now as story arcs.
The final episode, "The Return of Starbuck," aired on May 4th, 1980. The episode featured the return of Dirk Benedict as Lt. Starbuck in a flashback episode. The episode's popularity was too late to save the series. Repeats were aired through August 17th; the series was replaced by repeats of Fantasy Island the following week.
In the fall of 1979, ABC Television approached Glen A. Larson and Universal to bring back the Galactica series. According to 1980 story editor Chris Bunch, neither Larson nor Universal wanted to do the series at all. Bunch claims that both parties were threatened to do the series for reasons which were not known to him, and attributes the reason that Larson agreed to do the series to "[whore] for the money with a bad attitude". This is also corroborated by Bunch's then-writing partner, Allan Cole.
All the parties agreed that the discovery of Earth would be a suitable vehicle for drawing back viewers. However, many of the actors had moved on to other roles, most of the sets had been struck, and the time available for completing the production before the proposed January 1980 airdate was short. Actors and production personnel who worked on Galactica 1980 describe a crazy shooting schedule that involved working on multiple episodes at the same time, last minute re-writes, and working days that extended well into the night.
Bunch notes that both he and Cole were "literally blackmailed into the gig because of ostensible expertise in SF". They (including Robert L. McCullough) were story editors for the series, and would chant "Come on, 13" every morning. "13" was the ratings number that, should 1980 ever hit or go below it, would result in the series' cancellation.
Larson wrote or rewrote the entire series' worth of episodes from either Hawaii or Malibu. Further episode rewrites happened on the sets just prior to shooting. Additionally, there was no clearly defined purpose to the show prior to development, as the purpose of the show changed on a daily basis. Additionally, new characters were created for the series, and then subsequently dropped as though they never existed.
As a result of having crews work overtime, the budget for the series continued to creep up in cost. That, in conjunction with ratings that went from historic highs with the first episode down to a dismal showing by April, spelled the early end of the program.
Despite what Cole calls "revisionism" from people, such as lead actor Kent McCord -- who claimed that they needed a way to "economize" Battlestar Galactica, ergo 1980 -- ABC "knew very well that Glen [Larson] never met a budget that he didn't hate".
The series itself cost between $1.2 and 1.5 million to produce per episode; the $1.5 million number is the budget that "The Super Scouts, Part I" used. As ABC only paid $600,000 to $700,000 per episode, Universal was left to pay the remainder for each hour of programming.
Additionally, Cole notes that "there were almost as many producers listed on the show as secretaries. I mean, every day we'd be introduced to another guy who had just joined the staff as a new producer. I don't know what any of them did -- we rarely saw them again -- but they sure were collecting the bucks." He adds that this was Universal's decision as they "figured [that] if they were going to eat the big green slime anyway, they might as well take care of some obligations and dump all their losses into one (overflowing) bucket." This constant overflow of personnel to the series did nothing to alleviate the budget issues.
"Kiddie Hour", Standards and Practices, and "kids crawling out of your ears"
This timeslot was deemed by Standards and Practices as children-friendly, and thus had restrictions as to the type of stories that could be told, or how they could be told.
The content of shows airing in this timeslot needed to be educational, and thus the Galacticans' lack of knowledge on Earth cultures and locations, and finding out about them through their wrist computrons came to satisfy this.
Furthermore, there could only be so many incidents of violence per episode. These incidents included shooting Cylons, despite the fact that they were robots; blowing up trees with laser pistols was also forbidden by ABC's censor, Susan Futterman, who caused many of the series's problems according to Cole, making the show impossible to work on.
Additionally, people in the series needed to be clean-cut and presentable, thus removing any ability to present realistic presentations of people. Furthermore, Standards and Practices complained to Larson that there weren't enough kids; according to Cole, Larson replied "Okay, I'll give you kids crawling out of your ears." This resulted in The Super Scouts and the episodes that they were featured in, notably "The Super Scouts, Part I", "The Super Scouts, Part II", "Spaceball" and "Space Croppers".
Unfortunately, shooting with large groups of children proved another major headache for the series, forcing the producers to hire child actors who were twins. In addition to the kids having reduced hours of availability, and the lack of professionalism exhibited by them, the cast and crew had to deal with the "stage moms, all of whom ought to be locked up" and the teachers for each kid. As Cole put it, "if the kid is a star you have to listen to the teacher as if she were speaking from on high" regardless of the reason.
Later, as told by Bunch, Futterman questioned the information in the planetarium scene in "The Night the Cylons Landed, Part I", and believed the meatball joke in the same episode to be sexual innuendo -- which resulted in Larson peppering additional meatball jokes in that episode, in addition to its conclusion, "The Night the Cylons Landed, Part II".
Syndication, VHS and DVD releases
The ten series episodes were rolled into the television syndication package for Battlestar Galactica and were given the same title as its parent program. Some of the episodes were edited together to produce a VHS home video under the title Conquest of the Earth. Very few out-of-print copies of the VHS release of Conquest of the Earth remain publicly on sale. Unlike its Original Series parent, Galactica 1980 was late to release for home video.
As of August 2006, the Sci Fi Channel in America and the SPACE Channel in Canada periodically air the series. The three parts of the pilot were featured as part of SPACE's 2006 New Years Day marathon of the Original Series.
- Galactica Discovers Earth, Part I – January 27, 1980
- Galactica Discovers Earth, Part II – February 3, 1980
- Galactica Discovers Earth, Part III – February 10, 1980
- The Super Scouts, Part I – March 16, 1980
- The Super Scouts, Part II – March 23, 1980
- Spaceball – March 30, 1980
- The Night the Cylons Landed, Part I – April 13, 1980 (guest-starring Wolfman Jack)
- The Night the Cylons Landed, Part II – April 20, 1980 (guest-starring Wolfman Jack)
- Space Croppers – April 27, 1980
- The Return of Starbuck – May 4, 1980
- The series suffered from what are now considered science fiction clichés. For some fans, the addition of the mysterious Doctor Zee, a prodigy child that serves as counsel to Adama, pushed their suspension of disbelief to the breaking point.
- Many fans of the Original Series over the years since the series' conclusion have demonstrated scorn for Galactica 1980, often considering it apocryphal with the exception of one episode: "The Return of Starbuck," whose story of the fate of a popular character of the Original Series was considered to be well written and full of the same energy found in many of of the Original Series episodes. (Battlestar Wiki treats this aired series as canonical for the purposes of this encyclopedia.)
- One curious Cylon character in the two-part episode, "The Night the Cylons Landed" may be the one significant contribution to the "Galactica" saga. In the episode, Cylons disguised in human form arrive on Earth to cause mayhem. Some 23 years later, the Re-imagined Series also introduced humanoid Cylons that wreak terror and havoc amongst the Colonies.
- Allan Cole discusses his thoughts on the show to John Larocque:
- Allan Cole: Let's face it, Galactica 1980 was an awful show. It deserved to be dropped. At the time, I remember that I posted a big sign on my office door with the number 13 on it. We had been told if the ratings dropped to 13 or below that we would be cut. Every morning my then partner, Chris Bunch, and I would chant "Come on, 13!" Must have been a great mantra, because the show dropped steadily, week after week. ([S]o much for the nice writer's comments about building an audience.) Of course, Chris and I wanted out of our contracts in the worst way. ([W]e had just sold the Sten series and were desperate to get started). Because of the "family hour" timeslot, the censors were always making us put in "educational beats" for the kiddies. I personally told Susan Futterman, then head of the network's program practices, that they ought to open every episode of the show with an "educational" tag that read: "Why aren't you little bug snipes watching 60 Minutes." (our, ahem, competition in that time slot) Susan wholeheartedly agreed with our sympathies.
- Glen Larson: Lorne Greene called me and said his heart was broken over the fact that he wouldn't be in it. I don't think I've ever told anybody that, but I... I... I, um, I guess I reacted somewhat sympathetically to how he felt and, uh, rehired him. But it probably would've been better in terms of the cleanness and clarity to have gone forward some generations, and continued the trek.
- Anne Lockhart: Well, I don’t know…when Boxey grew up into Adam-12, I really got worried…and that long white beard on Lorne [Greene]….
- Richard Hatch: And Herb [Jefferson Jr.]….
- Lockhart: Yeah, the snow that went in Herb’s hair! And everybody else died fighting the war. I thought it was pretty bad, frankly. I watched one episode and was so offended that I never watched another one. (to Richard) What did you think about it?
- Hatch: I think you summed it up pretty well!
This is the opening narration to Galactica 1980, spoken by Commander Adama.
Affixed after (or overlaid on top of the freeze framed) final scenes of the 1980 episodes, starting with "The Super Scouts, Part II" and ending with "Space Croppers", is a disclaimer regarding Jack Sydell's Air Force Special Detachment One:
- The United States Air Force stopped investigating UFOs in 1969. After 22 years, they found no evidence of extra-terrestrial visits and no threat to national security.
Central character absences
- Galactica Discovers Earth, Part I: Col. Boomer
- The Super Scouts, Part II: Col. Boomer
- Spaceball: Col. Boomer
- The Night the Cylons Landed, Part I: Col. Boomer
- The Night the Cylons Landed, Part II: Col. Boomer, Jamie Hamilton
- The Return of Starbuck: Cpt. Troy, Lt. Dillon, Jamie Hamilton
- Paxton, Susan J.. Battlestar Zone Interview: Chris Bunch (backup available on Archive.org) (in ). Retrieved on 11 August 2007.
- Larocque, John (28 Feburary 2005). Interview with Galactica 1980 story editor Allan Cole (backup available on Archive.org) (in ). Retrieved on 11 August 2007.
- Cole, Allan (17 April 2006). Galactica Story #1 (backup available on Archive.org) (in ). Retrieved on 9 January 2007.
- Play.com Galactica 1980 (backup available on Archive.org) (in ).
- Paxton, Susan J.. 1986 Galacon Q & A with Richard Hatch and Anne Lockhart (backup available on Archive.org) (in ). Retrieved on 12 August 2007.