INTERESTING

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

FACTS AND TIDBITS


Early names for the title of the series were: Star World, Battle Star Galactica, Galactica: Star Worlds, The Saga of the Battlestar Galactica, and Earth Star.

George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, has often been mistakenly referred to as the creator of Battlestar Galactica.

George Lucas eventually became concerned that Galactica would be too much like Star Wars, and he had Galactica producer Glen Larson agree to avoid doing certain things. One such example was that the laser fire would not be the think beams that were seen in Star Wars. However, this still did not prevent Lucas and Fox from eventually starting a lawsuit against Universal claiming that Battlestar Galactica was an infringement on Star Wars. The lawsuit stated there were 83 points of similarity between the two such as the bond between Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. Lucas comes off as an incredible hypocrite considering that the plot of Star Wars closely resembles that of an old Japanese movie called "The Hidden Fortress", and Lucas himself has even declared that Star Wars was a homage to numerous other books and films.

The October 1997 issue of Starlog (#243) has an interview with Glen Larson where he talks about Galactica: "I don't know if I would say it's the show I'm proudest of, but it has a special place in my heart. It was an enormous undertaking, and we did so much and so well at a time when it was really hard to do those things. Today, with CGI, we could do them very easily. But at that time it was bloodletting to make that show." As for his fondest memories of the show, he says, "It's hard when there are so many tears at the end. But I guess just getting on the air and getting on the cover of all these major magazines, US and People, and to have people on the Emmys saying, 'My kids aren't watching me, they're home watching Battlestar Galactica' - it was fun to have that rush."

At one point, an ABC executive suggested to Glen Larson that they hotshot an episode where the Galactica finds Earth for no other reason than to pop a rating for the week. Fortunately, Larson did not take their advice.

A small child in Georgia died after swallowing a projectile from a Galactica toy. A massive toy recall was done to make the projectiles permanently attached to the toy.

The "miniature" model of the Galactica was 72 inches long and weighed 60+ pounds. It is unclear who actually designed the Galactica itself, but concept sketches were created by both Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston. Only one model of the Galactica was built for the series. It measured 76 inches long overall, 30.75 inches wide, and 11.5 inches tall. Plywood bulkheads were laid over a welded pipe frame which provided five motion control mounting points -- front, back, top, bottom, and right landing bay. Clear acrylic (Plexiglass) was then glued over the wood frame and thousands of kits parts were used to detail the surface. The ship was painted battleship grey with red markings. The model was illuminated with hundreds of tiny fiber optic strands and high-intensity quartz bulbs simulated the ship's two main engines. To keep the bulbs from overheating in the engine compartment, two fans provided ventilation/cooling through cleverly concealed air intakes. This information was provided by The Starship Builder's Guide. The site has exclusive photos of the Galactica model.

One estimate for the scale of the model is 1/960 -- 1 inch = 80 feet. This would make the "actual" Galactica more than 6000 feet long and 2400 feet wide!

Colonial units of time such as microns, centons, hectars, sectons, centauries, and yahrens are never at any point in the series given any clear definition, leaving viewers confused. When attending the 20 Yahren Reunion convention in Sept. 1998, I learned from two of the writers that a micron was supposed to be a minute, a centon was supposed to be an hour, and a yahren was supposed to be a year, yet writer/producer Glen Larson among others would consistently get them wrong. And yet the original script of Greetings From Earth has a key, written by Larson, which states that a centon is a minute, a centar is an hour, a secton is a week, and a yahren is a year. Figure it out for yourself.

The Galactica bridge cost $850,000 to construct. An additional $3 million worth of computers was donoted by Tektronix, Inc. in exchange for prominent screen credits. The bridge could be broken apart in sections to provide better angles for filming, although this was both time-consuming and expensive due to all the electronic equipment. The bridge controls were rigged so that many of the buttons used by the actors actually controlled various effects. There were also over 100 video games on the bridge that the actors would play whenever they had the chance. When the show was canceled, Tektronix took the computers back.

The full-scale Colonial viper seen in the launch bay is too small. It doesn't match the proportions of the miniatures. It was constructed shorter and was shot with a forced perspective to make it appear larger. Only one full-size viper was built. Its mechanically opening cockpit hatch often did not work properly. There is an example of this in Murder On The Rising Star. When Starbuck is about to launch, the hatch of the viper closes very sloppily.

Seven Viper fighter craft models were built for the show. Each measured 15.5 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 6 inches tall, making them approximately 1/24 scale. Molds were taken from the wooden master and duplicates were cast in high-density foam over a metal armature. This allowed the models to be mounted for filming from the top, bottom, and rear, with some versions including side mounting points as well. The models weighed approximately five pounds each. Three "hero" models featured special pipes which emitted freon gas from the engines -- this combined with bright quartz lights to create the "turbo" effect. At least one model had a fully detailed cockpit with pilot and fiber optics in the laser guns. This information was provided by The Starship Builder's Guide. The site has exclusive photos of the Viper models.

Glen Larson originally planned for the Cylons to be living aliens underneath their armor, but ABC vetoed the idea due to its non-violence standards. Their reasoning was that it would be too violent to have the Colonial warriors killing living beings so it was decided that the Cylons would be machines.

The production crew actually came up with the names of the other battlestars in the fleet even though most of them were never revealed. The battlestar names are: Bellerophon, Solaria, Prometheus, Cerberus, Olympia, Pacifica, and Rycon. Triton is also believed by some to be a battlestar, but it actually was an escort (a frigate or destroyer type ship) to the Pacifica.

Although Starbuck and Apollo were like brothers, Dirk Benedict and Richard Hatch never became close during the filming of the series. In the October 1998 issue of Starlog magazine, Hatch said, "Believe it or not, we were never unfriendly, but we didn't hang out. We were always after the same roles, so I think that natural rivalry got in the way of us being better friends." In the February 1998 issue of Starlog magazine, Benedict said, "We were working so hard, carrying the show. Also, we had different interests. He was much more serious than I. I was busy laughing and flirting with the ladies. I just enjoyed showing up and saying my lines. Richard was more focused on the storylines and the production. He's a very intelligent and caring person."

ABC did not want Dirk Benedict to play the role of Starbuck despite the fact that Glen Larson had written the part just for him. They said Benedict wasn't handsome enough for the role, although in reality they had already chosen another actor on their own. Larson and Universal were set on using Benedict, and it came down to a war between the two sides. Filming was about to begin for the pilot, and it would have cost an enormous amount of money if they didn't have an actor ready, so ABC caved in. Unfortunately, the ABC executives were said to have been rather arrogant because ABC was the number one network at the time, and Dirk Benedict has speculated that the hard feelings that resulted from the dispute may have played a part in the show getting canceled.

At one point, Dirk Benedict was threatened to be fired by the network if he didn't stop having Starbuck smoke cigars, but when the fans reacted positively to it, the network insisted that Starbuck smoke cigars as much as possible. Benedict began smoking cigars at age 10.

Starbuck was originally supposed to be a minor character, as the show was going to focus primarily on Apollo's relationship with Adama. Starbuck was simply going to be another one of the fighter pilots. This is why Dirk Benedict only made about one-fourth the money that most of the cast was making. Everyone always wondered why Dirk always drove a used car! Eventually, he was given his own trailer, and he basically lived in it during the entire production of the series. Dirk was always laid back and calm, and some people mistakenly saw that as arrogance. He has been quoted saying that the show saved his life.

Of all the roles Dirk Benedict has played, Starbuck is his favorite with the exception of Hamlet.

Don Johnson was considered for the role of Starbuck, but his southern accent killed his chances.

Terry Carter (Colonel Tigh) was originally hired to play the role of Boomer. Shortly afterwards, Carter broke his leg in a skating accident and had to pull out. Fortunately, the show's production was delayed, and Carter recovered enough in time to get the part of Tigh.

The February 2001 issue of Starlog (#283) has an interview with Laurette Spang (Cassiopea) in an article called "Space Nightingale". If she has one complaint about BG, it was "I could have been a hot nurse!" Spang had only signed on to do the pilot, but then they wanted her to be a regular. Since it was a family show, it was decided she could not be a socialator (hooker), and she was suddenly covered with clothing in the next episode. Spang says she would have liked a smoother transition. She got along great with Dirk Benedict. "When I would go out of town, I would leave Dirk the keys to my house, because he was being hassled by the National Enquirer and followed everywhere. So I said, 'Use my house, but keep your stinkin' cigars outside.'" She and Richard Hatch never got to know each other well. "I always thought he either didn't like me or was too busy and intense. I looked up to him; he seemed to carry a lot on his shoulders." Spang enjoyed working with Lorne Greene because she was a huge Bonanza fan. "He was the father figure on Galactica. When my husband and I had our first two children, Lorne and his wife sent us baby presents." Spang and Jane Seymour became friends. They each had their first babies together and were in the same maternity class. Spang says no one knows what happened to Maren Jensen; she left the show in mid-season. Spang loved Muffit (and the chimpanzee that was inside). There was a time when the daggit came running on the bridge and pulled the daggit head off and threw it. The director yelled "Cut!" but the chimp kept taking the head off again during the next several takes. Spang feels that Muffit should have had a larger part on the show.

Spang loved the scene in the pilot where Starbuck and Apollo rescue her from the Ovions. When she was offered a regular part for the series, her agent didn't want her to do it because he felt they weren't offering enough money (apparently because the cast was so large). But Spang loved doing the pilot so much that she said "I want to do it!" Spang was devastated when the show was canceled. She heard it from watching Rona Barrett. She had just completed interviews with US and Redbook. The magazines pulled both articles when the show was canceled. Spang feels the show was finally hitting its stride with the last episode The Hand Of God. She eventually left acting after marrying actor John McCook, deciding to raise a family. Spang has doubts that there would be a revival with the original cast. If it ever happens, she believes there will probably be a new cast (like Lost In Space). Although she respects Richard Hatch's efforts to revive Galactica, she has to side with Glen Larson since he is the creator. "There are many shows like Galactica where people are in love with the show and want it to go on, but Battlestar Galactica will never happen again the way it was."

The Colonial Viper was originally called a Star Hound.

Skyler was the early name for Apollo. It was probably changed because it was too similar to Luke Skywalker of Star Wars.

Muffit the mechanical daggit was played by a three-year-old chimp named Eve. The chimp was said to have hated humans and would never listen to its trainer.

Giving the commander of the Cylons the name "Imperious Leader" is something of a blooper because "imperious" means haughty or arrogant. Hardly an appropriate title for such a revered being!

Glen Larson strongly considered Kent McCord (who later played Troy in Galactica 1980) for the role of Captain Apollo, but, fortunately, ABC preferred Richard Hatch.

Richard Hatch has said that he had crushes on Laurette Spang and Sarah Rush (Rigel) during the filming of the series.

Composer Stu Phillips had a great deal of difficulty doing the soundtrack for the series. Not only was there a severe lack of time, but last minute script changes made by the network often caused his best work to be left on the cutting room floor. Phillips was particularly unhappy when the song that he and Larson wrote for the survivors to sing was cut out of the final edit of the pilot.

The model of the Galactica was created from the back to the front. One of the special effects people at the 20 Yahren Reunion said that the creation of the model was rushed at the very end, thus the front of the battlestar was not done as well as it could have been. At one point, the Galactica actually caught on fire due to a technical mishap.

Sounds of the Galactica's doors opening and closing came from two Alka Seltzers being dropped into a glass. Modified sounds from a bullwhip were used for laser shots.

The Cylon Centurions, while looking impressive, had a lot of accidents until the limitations of the suits were discovered. The Cylons also provided numerous problems during filming as the crew had to be careful to keep reflections of the camera operators from being seen in the Cylons' armor. The way this was accomplished was by shooting most of the Cylon scenes in darkened rooms such as the Imperious Leader's throne room.

Jean-Pierre Dorleac created the costumes for the show and won an Emmy for Best Costume Design For A Series. But, rather than open doors on new employment opportunities, it actually hurt his career because it resulted in him being typecasted as a science fiction costumer. Still, Dorleac remains proud of his work on Galactica.

Unfortunately, none of the original sets (including the bridge) have survived since the show was canceled. Some of them were repainted and used on the television show Buck Rogers. One of the special effects people has said that the sets were cheaply made (someone, if they wanted to, could have run right through the walls) and eventually would have fallen apart anyway. It's still a shame.

The original Imperious Leader costume cost $50,000 to create, but it was discarded because Glen Larson did not like it.

The elevator in the launch bay set was raised and lowered by a hidden forklift.

Laurette Spang guest starred on numerous 70s television shows as a scheming adulteress. Ironically, in an episode of Charlie's Angels, she played a prostitute.

Dirk Benedict's real name is Dirk Niewoehner. Terry Carter's real name is John E. DeCoste. Richard Hatch's full name is Richard Lawrence Hatch. Maren Jensen's full name is Maren Kawehilani Jensen.

The kind of special effects used on both Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers are virtually identical, which is hardly surprising since Glen Larson was the producer of both series and Buck Rogers began shortly after Galactica. Probably the most fun thing about watching Buck Rogers is spotting all the Galactica stock footage that is borrowed.

To learn even more interesting facts, check out the Battlestar Galactica Episode Guide.


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