I was going to do my first ever re-watch of the 2000s remake, but then I thought it would be more fun to watch the original series first, then go into the remake with a whole new perspective from when I first saw it. The original series couldn’t be any more 70s if it tried, and is extremely… Star Wars-y, but it does have some originality and a few plus points. Let’s take a closer look (on Blu-Ray no less!)
In a distant part of the cosmos, the human race is embroiled in a thousand-year-long war with the robotic Cylons. Aided by the human traitor Baltar, an armistice turns out to be a ruse by the Cylons who launch a massive surprise attack against the Twelve Colonies of humanity, almost wiping them out. Only the Galactica, led by Commander Adama, and a ragtag fleet of 220 civilian ships survive, beginning a journey across the galaxy in search of long-lost sister civilization Earth. But the Cylons will not rest until every last human has been eliminated, and pursue them across the galaxy…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
It’s time to play guess the decade!
Commander Adama (Lorne Greene) – Experienced and brave leader of the Galactica, he firmly believes in Earth and that they’ll reach it some day…
Captain Apollo (Richard Hatch) – Extremely nice and understanding heroic type to the point of wanting someone to slap him across the face… twice.
Lieutenant Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) – Decidedly less… breasty than the character’s later incarnation, Starbuck is your classic laidback, womanising, lovable rebel type.
Lieutenant Boomer (Herb Jefferson Jr.) – Another pilot with less jugs (and also actually human!) than his future self, but also less character, to the point where you get the feeling he was probably only here because he was black. Still, that’s one more black character than the original Star Wars had!
Serina (Jane Seymour) – Famous news reporter who managed to escape Caprica with her son Boxey before it was destroyed. She soon fell in love with Apollo, which turned out really well!
Boxey (Noah Hathaway) – Your classic child character who can’t act a lick. To make matters worse, he has a robot… dog… bear… thing called Muffit, that can barely move and looks crap. Double fatality!!
Baltar (John Colicos) – A politician who ends up selling out his entire race to the Cylons in order to save himself. So, no complex narrative this time, just straight up evil!
The Cylons – Machines created by a race called Cylons, who have long since turned against their creators and now menace humanity (so a tad different to the reboot!). They are just robots in ships or walking around in the original series, no Cylon duplicates here!
Plus many more!
Funky Cylons are the best Cylons!
The three part opener, “Saga of a Star World”, is actually really good. It has some really good model shots for space battles, the rather dire plot is just as bleak as the far-bleaker-in-general remake and it establishes the main cast and their (rather cliché) personalities well. It’s not without its faults (see The Bad below!) but it does establish a rather high quality standard that the series, at least in the next four episodes) fails to catch up to.
Episodes 4 and 5 are a two part story called “Lost Planet of the Gods”, which sees the crew find a planet with ruins made by Earth travellers, but it soon gets destroyed by Cylons. The highlights here include a showdown between Adama and Baltar in the temple, and the most unexpected death of Serina, who Apollo married earlier in the story, adopting her son Boxey as a result (poor fellow…) That lead to some pretty heavy scenes for what I have always been told is a far campier show than the 2000s remake. (to be fair, the next episode was campy as hell, so…)
Episode 7, “The Long Patrol”, had some good sci-fi ideas. I could have done without Starbuck arguing with a funny on-board A.I., but otherwise the story of him landing on a long-lost penal colony that has been making supplies for generations, despite the fact that the supplies never left as the colony lost contact with the rest of humanity a long time ago, is a good one. The descendants of the prisoners and the descendants of the guards just keep up the routines their predecessors taught them. Now there are plenty of ways that doesn’t really make sense, but in terms of “switching your mind off and don’t think about it”, it was fun to watch.
“What’s that boy? You don’t want to live in this barely mobile state anymore? …Tough!”
Apart from Boxey and Muffit, the rather immersion-breakingly naff IL-Series Cylon Lucifer and some of the unavoidable production cut-backs three things stood out:
A large part of the opening three parter takes place on an alien planet’s gambling den, full of humans, which felt odd so soon after humanity was seemingly just all but wiped out. Made you wonder why they’re so dead set on Earth when so many other habitable planets were around…
Episode 6, “The Lost Warrior”, sees Apollo get stranded on a frontier world that somehow ended up exactly like an old western, and meets a young mother and her son and ends up getting into an old west style duel with “old Red Eye”, which turns out to be a damaged Cylon who’s acting like some sort of bodyguard gun-slinger to the local land-owning prick. It was very nearly so cheesy it was good, but … nope. Mostly it had another annoying child actor in it, and generally it felt so out of place, especially for the first stand alone episode!
“Lost Planet of the Gods” did a lot right, but, and this is just a sign of the times, a big part of the episode is that most of the pilots (all of them being male) were ill due to an unknown virus, so Apollo and Starbuck had to train non-fighter pilot crew members to fight, and this ends up being most of the women on board. It leads to some rather on-the-nose “they can do it too!” scenes with female pilots managing to shoot down some Cylon ships in the closer and Starbuck damning them with faint praise. Not very good, especially in 2017!
Great looking models, though maybe they could have gone with a different colour scheme to make it a little less Star Wars-y…
I wasn’t sure what this was going to be like, going in. I never managed to get into the original Star Trek series, I was worried this would be similar given its vintage US-ness, but thankfully it seems the close proximity to Star Wars lead it to be a bit more exciting… at the start at least. There are some extremely annoying regulars, and its already gone down some pretty confusing and well… crap routes and there is still 17 episodes to go, so… we’ll have to see if this can keep what little momentum it has left going!
Episodes 1 – 3 “Saga of a Star World”:
Episodes 4, 5 and 7:
Episode 6 “The Lost Warrior”: