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10,001 Reasons To Put Up With Galactica 1980

By Matthew Wharmby mwharmby@amdragon.com


It wasn't THAT bad, for Sagan's sake. Rationales in 'YES', 'NO' and 'INDIFFERENT' categories as follows.

YES:

1. Any Galactica is good Galactica. Although, if Todd Moyer's really going to foist on us walking vipers, I might have to reconsider.

2. The Cylon A-B craft was the baddest-ass warship I have ever seen. So it can be brought down with a simple prang to the undercarriage, but it's the 600 SEL to the viper's 300 E.

3. The unnamed anti-gravity ship was pretty smart as well. Much of the budget will have gone on fitting it out, although rather than 'retaking the planets' as Adama believed, it ended up basically a crop duster. Did like the shameless bite of 'Close Encounters', that was a nice touch. Though it could have done with the alien jam session that made that movie so special, perhaps with Adama on low notes and Dr Zee as soprano.

4. They still had Stu Phillips on music duties, I think - the music was well up to standard, and still over and above the non-orchestral drear of today's episodics. The 'Goodbye, Starbuck...I love you... we all love you' theme of 'Return of Starbuck' really tugs at the old heartstrings. (Although it lacks when used again as the backdrop for a crappy Ford Econoline van inching slowly up the mountains with nasty ol' Mr Stockton on board, who has to be thankfully silenced with the familiar stun burst).

5. Mean old industrialist Stockton as good as soiling his drawers upon visiting same ship. '...Not my boy... not Jimmy!'

6. Dillon's lines 'The glory of the universe is intelligence' lines are hysterical. Barry van Dyke was camping them up too, you could see the roll in his eyes.

7. Some personal parallels with my own life; having emigrated to the offending region myself (though from London, not Caprica), I was eventually as disappointed with Southern California as the Galacticans were with Earth as a whole. The locals were nice and meant well, but it just seemed too, well, primitive. I got to go home though. (Thanks to Eric Paddon's fantastic stories, Our Fallen Heroes can, and have!)

8. Dr Zee is English. (Nuff said!) A decade and a half later I became a big All My Children junkie, on which Patrick Stuart played a large part round about the turn of the decade. The lovely posh choirboy accent had completely gone (and it was starting to slip in 1980, there was a lot of mid-Atlantic in there!). I was starting to sound the same at one point. A point to note; if the series had been picked up, what would they have done when Dr Zee's voice broke?

9. The bikes were cool. Even when they flew. I've often thought of customising my bike with a few chunks of fibreglass. Would help if I had a bike, of course.

10. Ditto the wrist computrons, even though they were big enough to break a skull if swung in anger. (Wonder if Dr Zee was actually an alter ego for Bill Gates, another brainbox nerd that everybody hates? This would account for Microsoft CE)

11. Dr Zee's conference chamber was very swish. Think about it - all those TVs? A teenage boy's dream. I want my bedroom to be like that (although obviously with a bed somewhere amid all those tellies).

12. I adored Angela. I always get the 'likeable, but a little on the loony side' ones as it is. Best of all, all the cachet of having knocked someone up but without the paternity suit! (Or child support, it appears. It's all Starbuck's fault that Dr Zee is so well ... odd).

13. Two words. Gloria Alonso. (I think I'd be a little more grateful than a kiss on the cheek if someone got me a racehorse for a present! After all, you've all heard the one about the farmer's daughter!) Ana Alicia is STILL fine.

14. Xaviar was no Baltar, but he would have to do. I liked the way that circumstances forced him to be played by two actors; Richard Lynch's psychopathic nastiness and dreadful skin versus Jeremy Brett's effete slyness).

NO:

1. Conquest of the Earth. This was the first time I ever saw G:80; it reached the UK on April 7th, 1984, after which the series followed. I thought it was pretty good (going on the 'Any Galactica is Good Galactica' premise - there was so little of it after all!), but obviously not a patch on the real thing. The use of Baltar footage was well out of order (unless you account for extra Lucifer voice-overs; he was sorely missed after 'War of the Gods').

2. Some absolutely god-bloody-awful continuity which makes you pale with shame. For instance, why has Adama only got his left silver collar tab when conversing with Doctor Zee? Why does Cy's scanner eye not function for half of 'Return of Starbuck'? And why do they even repeat Dr Zee dialogue (the infamous 'Since the time of our defeat, the Cylons have not been idle').

3. Why did Dr Zee's monitors only feature ABC programming? :) And likewise, the same footage on the Cylon A-B craft (featuring the notorious 'gorilla with deep-sea diving helmet' B-movie of the '50s).

4. The Valley Cylons in 'Space Croppers'. 'GAG-ME-WITH-A-SPOON-ATTACK-SQUADRON-PROGRAMMED-FOR-LIKE-AGRICULTURAL- SHIP-DESTRUCTIO N'

5. Cy's human voice was disconcerting. (But couldn't do without it for those snappy comebacks such as 'I'm going...I'm going...' when ordered by Starbuck to fetch water etc).

6. Why did they delete the three rifle cartridges from colonial warriors' belts? Probably somebody whining that kids would want to collect them. (When I was a kid around that time, we used to collect spent shotgun shells from the woods near school, when pheasants were in season).

7. The appalling line 'Then they are hardly so advanced that we cannot win' uttered by Adama of all people, who ought to have been ashamed of himself. Oh, sure you could win, with thirty yahrens' worth of tinheads stacked up behind you and a planet of the apes of no help in front.

8. The time travel gimmick. It's a personal thing, but I don't rate time-travel in sci-fi much; it tends to be used as a bit of a cop-out. Glad they resisted the temptation after Galactica Discovers Earth.

9. To which end - have you ever seen a German soldier with hair like Troy and Dillon's? (Maybe in the hippy Bundeswehr). In the real Nazi Germany, that general whom Xaviar was sucking up to would have spent so much time bastinadoing Our Heroes (and Jamie, who incidentally doesn't look at all bad under a coal-scuttle helmet) that there wouldn't have been enough time to launch a V2. (Editor's note: To bastinado means to whip the soles of the feet!)

10. The invisibility schtick was lame - also a corny sci-fi fallback. Not even going to expand on it, there are too many instances with which to find fault.

11. That scarecrow had more clout than Troy and Dillon squared. (I love the dialogue in this one, they were really enjoying themselves here - 'That's not a life form! ...'Some type of dried grass.. stuffed in an Earthling's clothing. Why?' and then Dillon signing off with 'Nice night!')

12. Devoting a whole episode to baseball. Curse if you will my foreign attitude to this foreign sport, but it bored me stiff. I did think, however, that Starla throwing a baseball clear over the horizon was quite sweet.

13. Driving along in a rusty flatbed with a cigar butt burning your groceries does NOT in ANY way compare to multiple squadrons of Raiders and Vipers having it out. They had no right to use the same music in that scene!

14. The awful, hideous covers of the awful, hideous music playing over the reel-to-reels at Wolfman Jack's obviously AOR radio station. (If I was Imperious Leader, I wouldn't have been tuned in that Hallowe'en night - sorry to disappoint you, Andromus). Come on, guys - even though this was 1980, there was some quite decent stuff out there. Late P-Funk, the whole Two-Tone ska scene, Prince's second album and loads of early New York hip-hop!

15. What WAS that blackshirt smoking? The Delphi's being blown to bits by Cylon fighters (including the A-B craft awkwardly matted into existing footage), supply teachers Troy and Dillon are hustling more kids onto buses than Scorpio from 'Dirty Harry' and this Council security guard is grinning like he won the lottery! Did he even make it off the old tub?

INDIFFERENT:

1. The Super Scouts don't repulse me THAT much. Don't be mean! Glen Larson's kids needed jobs after all. They played a blinder in 'Greetings from Earth', so why shouldn't they be cheaply re-used for some greetings FROM Earth?

2. How cruel to lampoon the US military (stifled chuckle!). It wasn't very imaginative to go straight from poor dimwitted Sydell and Briggs on G:80 to the A-Team's Lynch and Decker. (and the shortlived third one, who might also have been called Briggs?)

3. The lads' weapons - lady derringers maybe, but can your .22 fell an oak tree at fifty metrons?

4. On that note, how did Xaviar get hold of one? He wasn't an Earth plant, he wouldn't have been issued with one.

5. So did Buck Rogers loan Troy and Dillon some of his spare shootin' irons to plough Hector Alonso's fields with?

6. And why was Jamie not considered good enough to carry a weapon when she went to Nazi Germany?

7. There WERE daggits in G:80, to riposte Mark Weller - briefly, when Dillon is strolling through the Gemini (after thirty yahrens, STILL looking like the South Bronx), pressing the flesh and going 'We made it' none too convincingly. There are two of them, to which Dillon chides the kids baiting them 'Easy kids! You'll singe their circuits!' while wishing he had some firecrackers to put under them like he used to do back on Caprica with REAL cats.

8. Maybe the real reason G:80 was cancelled even quicker than its superior predecessor was not that it was sh*t, but that certain matters didn't quite fit into its new family-friendly time slot of 7 pm on a Sunday evening (still a TV death zone in my American heyday twenty years on). For example, the strange things that transpire when two men find themselves alone in a confined space ('The air's foul in here....')

9. At least some contemporary villains get theirs one way or another - the military-industrial complex, thick sheriffs, polluting capitalist pigs, durbrained genocidal robots, rednecks, bullying kids, patronising bank tellers, undertrained nurses, Nazis, anyone who plays 'Daydream Believer' on a juke box (nice shooting, guys, even if it was only on stun!), horse abusers, unionised labour, ethnically stereotyped muggers, people who actually eat meatballs, bad DJs, bikers, Cuban commies in drag, etc, etc.


To read Matthew's hilarious episode Galactica 1980 episode reviews, click here.


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