Galactica 1980 – Episodes 1 – 5 Review

G1980 P1

After a break from Galactica I’m back to finish off the original run… admittedly I took the break because I’d heard how back Galactica 1980 was and wasn’t in a hurry to dive in, and I can say that… it’s pretty bad, but not quite the end of us all that I was lead to believe. That being said, the first three episodes are one story, and episodes 4 and 5 are similarly linked (and are far, far worse than the first three…) so maybe it just keeps getting worse from here… Hooray?! Let’s take a look…

Synopsis:

1980: a generation since they last fought the Cylons, the Galactica and its fleet of 220 civilian ships have finally discovered Earth, only to find that its people are not as scientifically advanced and that the planet can neither defend itself against the Cylons nor help the Galactica as originally hoped. Therefore, teams of Colonial warriors are covertly sent to the planet to work incognito with various members of the scientific community, hoping to advance Earth’s technology…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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That attempt at a smile is the only change in Troy’s face you’ll see in the whole show

Commander Adama (Lorne Greene) – Adama is still commanding the Battlestar Galactica, and mysteriously doesn’t appear to have aged in the two decades they’ve been travelling… He has grown a beard though!

Captain Troy (Kent McCord) – Formally the boy known as Boxey, he has managed to go from an annoying child to a plain, uncharismatic and wooden adult. Is that a step up, or just a new way of being bad?

Lieutenant Dillon (Barry Van Dyke) – Lt. Dillon is… the funny one, I guess… I mean, he tries to be, but it doesn’t come across very well. I guess he marginally more interesting than his partner Troy anyway…

Jamie Hamilton (Robyn Douglass) – Jamie is a would-be (and later just a) reporter who ends up in contact with Troy and Dillon. She’s… at least a bit funny and interesting. I guess.

Commander Xavier (Richard Lynch) – Rouge member of the Galactican council who wishes to use time travel in order to accelerate the Earth’s technology in the present…

Doctor Zee (Robbie Rist and James Patrick Stuart) – A young boy who, somehow, is a also a super-genius. I guess its being born in space? But then why is he the only one? Why did he … regenerate between stories? Why did the writers think Adama taking orders from a stuck-up child would be a good idea?!

The Super Scouts (Various) – Speaking of bad ideas, here is a bunch of kids who can’t act a lick wandering around on Earth with greater psychical abilities due to the difference in Earth’s gravity compared to the Galactica. “Hilarity ensues”.

Plus many more!

The Good:

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“But why Doctor Zee? Why can’t I go back to a good TV show?”

You know, all things being equal, the time travel idea featured in the opening three parter “Galacrica Discovers Earth” isn’t a bad one. Would it be my ideal idea of how to continue Battlestar Galactica? No… Not at all, but it could have worked… Basically Commander Xavier (whom no-one can settle on the right way to pronounce his name…) uses Galactica’s newly discovered time travel ability to increase Earth’s technology level to the right point in the present, leading to our… dull as hell duo of Troy and Dillon, along with Earth woman Jamie, to go back to the same time period and stop him. The three-part opener sees them going back to Nazi Germany, which is something I never thought I’d say about a Battlestar Galactica episode, and it’s… alright. I guess. They encounter a spy and have to stop the new missile technology Xavier gave the Nazis. It’s better than the bloody Super Scouts, okay?

Jamie Hamilton is a bit of stock “shake your head and say “oh you guys!”” kind of character, but she is at least a bit funny and well acted. Why she would willingly jump into an alien spacecraft and fly to an alien ship in order to “get a story” I don’t know, especially, as she herself says, she can’t print the story because everyone will think she’s crazy! Ah well… Adama, by the way, is his usual self, it’s just he basically gets no scenes…

There were also some actually somewhat amusing “don’t know Earth technology or terminology” gags that somehow managed to land well. Oh and Boomer makes a few cameo appearances as a Colonel, which is nice to know he made it. There are also some scenes with an Earth scientist who knows of Troy and Dillon’s significance as visitors that are quite good… The opening three parter isn’t THAT bad really, looking back.

The Bad:

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Oh God, it’s like Boxey has multiplied! Arghhhh!

Let’s start with the obvious: the lead duo of Troy and Dillon are… well, awful, frankly. Troy is literally among the most wooden and plain “actors” ever, and if he is ever supposed to be worried, angry or taken by surprise you won’t know because he always has the same non-expression on his face! Dillon on the other hand is very nearly as wooden, but manages to put on a convincing smile when he does his extremely plain “jokey character” dialogue. Then again I’m pretty sure a stone gargoyle will seem charismatic next to Troy…

Doctor Zee is one of the more stupid ideas to be put on the show, have your only established character from the original series being commanded by a stuck-up little prick. At least the first one looked the part, mind you… the second “Doctor Zee” is even worse…

Throughout the five episodes we see Troy and Dillon ride special bikes that can take off and fly into the air… because… why not? The only problem is they were told not to draw attention to themselves and to blend in, yet they constantly take off in front of Earthlings, leaving them comically dumbfounded… Hello?! They’re lucky this wasn’t during the age of camera phones and the internet, that’s for sure…Also the flying effects are awful, but it was 1980 TV budget, so I’ll let that slide…

Now we get to the two-parter, “The Super Scouts”. Yeah… this is where Galactica 1980, which had up to this point just been on the edge of being a straight up children’s show, crosses that line. Hell the “Super Scouts” end up fighting the pollution of a corrupt chemical plant, leading to the owner of said plant having a change of heart when he finds out the damage his waste product does… I mean, even as a kid I would have shook my head at how on the nose the message was. It made Captain Planet seem subtle! (… okay, maybe not.)

Then let’s get to the Scouts themselves, shall we? Yes, you guessed it (or if you didn’t you read my description up above) it’s a large gathering of child “actors” who can’t act a lick and take you out of every moment they’re in… and they’re being lead by two extremely dull characters and an average female actor. It’s not a good combo! Add in a bumbling sheriff character and you have nearly two hours of my life I’ll never get back… As a kids show it’s still not good, let alone comparing it to the “fun for all the family” style stories they’ve done in the past…

Overall Thoughts:

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Erm….. Yeah.

So, after all the horror stories of Galactica 1980, how does the first half of it stand up? Well… it barely does. The opening three parter has some interesting ideas for a sci-fi show, just one that shouldn’t be a follow up to Battlestar Galactica, and it desperately needs some … actual good actors in the leads. Then it dumps the only interesting concept and goes full on kids show, but a really bad one. How this survives another five episodes I have no idea, but I’m not looking forward to seeing it…

Story 1 – Galactica Discovers Earth:

2 Star Watch

Story 2 – The Super Scouts:

1 Star Watch

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