THE LIVING LEGEND

Parts One and Two


John's Comments:

RATING: Five stars out of five (Outstanding)

This is one of the very best episodes of Battlestar Galactica. The two-part episodes consistently deliver, and The Living Legend is no exception. The idea of a second survivng battlestar is a good one, as is a scenario where the fleet runs out of fuel. All in all, this is a tremendous episode.

This story is different from any other Galactica story thus far because we see a clash of philosophies within the ranks of the military. Cain wants to wage an all-out war against Gamoray, and Adama simply wants to capture the much-needed fuel and escape. The earlier episodes were extremely simplistic in their portaryal of good versus evil. The Colonials are good. The Cylons are evil. Simple as that. Since the good guys are all in the military, the military is always portrayed as being right. Adama, Starbuck, and Apollo had very few moral dilemnas to deal with, which would have made the stories so much more interesting.

This episode introduces two compelling characters, Commander Cain and his daughter, Lt. Sheba. Sheba's character is said to have been a ground-breaking role for women. She is tough, independent, and short-tempered. Basically, she's the exact opposite of virtually every other female character to appear on the series. Fortunately, she, along with Bojay, becomes a regular after this episode.

Glen Larson wrote the character of Sheba specifically for Anne Lockhart. She was offered to play a role in the pilot episode (rumored to be Athena, but not verified), but she refused because she didn't care for the character. When Larson sent her the first 25 pages of The Living Legend script, she immediately said yes to play Sheba.

Lloyd Bridges is tremendous as Commander Cain. It's hard to imagine any other actor filling the role. The only weak moment for Bridges is when Cain lies to Adama about the "accidental" failure of the tanker mission. Cain's cavalier attitude about it makes it obvious to everyone that he purposely sabotouged the mission.

This story is based on an earlier one-episode script called The Last Legend written by Jim Carlson and Terrence McDonnell.

According to Anne Lockhart, this episode was to end with the Pegasus destroyed but ABC objected, so the fate of the ship was left ambiguous. Had there been a second season, Cain and the Pegasus would likely have returned.

Baltar personally leading the attack on the Galactica makes the battle much more intense and exciting, mostly because the battle has a storyline. Most of the Galactica space battles are nothing more than a confusing jumble of stock shots haphazardly thrown together with nothing in terms of a flow or climax. (One of the bigger flaws of Return Of The Jedi was that the Battle of Endor had nothing in terms of a storyline.) This time it is different. The Pegasus closing in on Baltar at the end of part one is the best cliff hanger of the series. It is rather fitting that Baltar's forces are taken by surprise, since it was Baltar who caused the colonial warfleet to be taken by surprise in the pilot.

When you put the story under scrutiny, there are some serious flaws. Why are viper pilots sent on a ground mission? Wouldn't the Galactica have specialized teams for that sort of thing? It is also a bit difficult to believe that Sheba could have found a way to go on the mission to Gamoray without permission. It is even more difficult to believe that Cassiopea would have been allowed to just hop on the shuttle. Was she given a crash course on parachuting during the shuttle ride? How could the Colonial warriors have known exactly which building in Gamoray contained the main communications center? And are we to believe that destroying one small communications center would disable the entire city's defense system? If, like me, you can overlook these flaws, this is still a very good episode.

A different Cylon race is seen for the first time in part two.

There is a scene left out of the original episode that occurs not long after Sheba discovers Cassiopea is alive. Apollo has a talk with Sheba as she sits in her viper preparing to launch. He tells her some good things about Cassiopea, in particular that she is a med-tech. This scene appeared in a home video version of the episode which is no longer available.

The original script contains action and dialogue left out of the final cut. To see them, click here.

The scene between Adama and Apollo right before the mission to capture the Cylon tankers is very powerful. It shows how, despite being father and son, each of their respective positions forces a distance between them personally. What is especially impressive is that this is done without words. Richard Hatch and Lorne Greene manage to convey more with a facial expression than most actors do with a page of dialogue.

Blooper 1 - The scene in part one where Cain shows Apollo and Starbuck a holograph of Cassiopea is supposed to occur aboard the Pegasus, yet it was awkwardly edited to appear that it occurred aboard the Galactica.

Blooper 2 - In part two as the Battle of Gamoray begins, stock footage shows Athena launching a viper, and seconds later she is seen on the bridge.

Blooper 3 - The viewer gets a good look at the length of a shuttle when Cain, Starbuck, and Apollo walk out of one in the first half. When you consider that each shuttle is big enough to hold a landram, the shuttle we see in the scene is far too small. However, this was not an error on the part of the set designers. They simply could not have made the shuttle the proper size because it would have been too big for any Universal sound stage. The shuttle would have to have been over 110 feet long. The actual shuttle seen is about 33 feet long. They simply hoped that no one would notice the discrepancy.

Blooper 4 - In part two, as the shuttles are heading toward the Galactica, they are clearly on a collision course with one another.

Blooper 5 - In part one, Lucifer mispronounces the word "Gamorray" as "Gam-ma-ray." It should be "Gah-mor-ay."

The Imperious Leader appears for the last time in part two.

A funny incident occurred during the shooting of this episode. Universal came up with a unique plan to help deal with the burgeoning production costs of the show: The actors were suddenly forced to pay for coffee and donuts! The cast was in an outrage over it, and Lorne Greene and Lloyd Bridges (both in costume) sternly marched out of the studio and went up into the tall Universal building next to the lot. 15 minutes later, someone quietly removed the price sign from the coffee and donuts table, and that was the end of it.

Boxey really starts to get on the nerves at this point. Nothing against Noah Hathaway, but Boxey is a character all too typical of standard television. He is an ultra-cute TV kid doing ultra-cute things, yet usually has little or no bearing on the plot. These kinds of characters (most notably the Super Scouts from Galactica 1980) only serve to hurt a show's ratings.

To read my review of the Berkely novelization of this episode, click here.

When Starbuck goes to tell Cassiopea about Cain's return, why hasn't she already heard about it? Surely news of the arrival of a second battlestar would have swept like wildfire throughout the fleet.

In the pilots' barracks, shortly before the ground assault team heads for the shuttle, Starbuck comes on to Sheba, proposing they make a sexual bet as to whether the mission will succeed. She smilingly tells him it's a bad idea; she wouldn't want to risk having to blow the mission just to avoid living up to the terms of the bet. This is not a missing scene, but it has been cut from the version that occasionally airs on the Sci-Fi channel, so many fans may not be aware of it. It's funny, though a little awkward since Starbuck supposedly has such strong feelings for Cassiopea.

Many viewers are probably confused when Bojay asks Apollo, "You've shot down one Cylon patrol ship in a secton?" For the record, a secton is a week. When Sheba says the assault team will only have millicentons to get out of Gamoray, a millicenton is probably supposed to be a minute given the way she uses it. Of course, this contradicts the way units of time are used in other episodes.

Anne Lockhart has said she did not sign her contract until five years after the show ended.

Lloyd Bridges was Gene Roddenbury's first choice to play Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series, but he turned it down due to having appeared in a poor science fiction movie called Rocketship X-M (1950).

Anne Lockhart is also well-known for a guest appearance as Buck Roger's long-lost love in the Buck Rogers episode A Dream Of Jennifer.

This episode and Fire In Space were later combined to form the horrid Galactica theatrical movie Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack.


Matt's Comments:

RATING: 5 stars (Outstanding). Everyone's favourite, I think. Non-stop action balanced by no small amount of inter-human tension (fairly rare up till now; we were beginning to fall into Star Trek's trap of 'all conflict has been resolved').

THE USUAL BITS & PIECES:

As the fleet got further and further away from charted space (Gomoray being the absolute limit), it was starting to get difficult to incorporate characters with enough backstory related to the Colonies.

Baltar's megalomania is almost cartoonish in this one. And why not? John Colicos is so delightful when he lets go in this manner.

I liked the idea that Cain remained on flight status. In the unproduced script 'The Wheel Of Fire', Adama was consoling Boomer about being taken out of the air once he was promoted to Colonel. The virtual enforcement of this statute or tradition would not have applied so far out, especially with Cain the way he is.

John'll disagree with me, but I thought the telemovie 'Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack', which combined 'The Living Legend' with 'Fire in Space', did a good job. The fighter strafe of Gomoray was better handled, and there were additional battles and scenes. The key difference, which involved the splitting of the taskforce (one wing to the Pegasus, the other to the Galactica) was also dealt with much better than in the other telemovies (which are mostly horrid, and are mentioned for inclusivity alone!)

The father-daughter relationship between Sheba and Cain is well drawn. When alone with him, Sheba almost reverts to a little girl. This is especially poignant in their farewell prior to the last battle. Otherwise, they're all business.

Quite a bit of footage is reused, of course, most notably the tanker sequence lifted from 'Saga of a Star World'. In the telemovie they gratuitously inserted most of the minefield clearance scene, only it is the Pegasus's deck lasers taking out the mines. A couple of frames of Cylons being thrown about from 'The Hand Of God' completed the looting.

The Gomoray base is said to have been filmed at the University of California at Northridge. Some of this real-life location was flattened in the earthquake of 17th January 1994 (didn't need vipers to do it, I guess!)

Lloyd Bridges (Commander Cain) died on 10th March 1998, aged 85. It is reported that Glen Larson wanted Jack Palance to play Cain in a remake, and I think he'd be an excellent choice. I reckon Kirk Douglas would make a smashing Cain. Pick any surviving western star over 75 and you'd be well served. Sean Connery would also do at a pinch.

Fuel is the buzzword for this episode. Sci-fi geeks have griped about this not being up to par with science fact, but I don't care. You try getting the Space Shuttle back to Earth without a full tank.

We see Cylon civilians for the first time. They're not up to much, comprising just a 'Dr Theopolis' face with alternate flashing eyes over a swimming cap, but they don't need to be, and their prowess under laser fire shows it.

A third I-L series Cylon is seen, the unnamed base commander (and another 'English' accent!). He buys it when the control centre goes up, but I can't remember whether he is actually shot by one or both of Starbuck and Boomer. Before the colonial warriors' paradrop, he is seen chatting with a fellow on the auspiciousness of the Imperious Leader's visit.

The winged horse symbol on Silver Spar Squadron's helmets is a nice touch. As is the name itself.

Imperious Leader being on Cylon stretches credibility just a little. It does provide the urgency needed for Baltar to 'rush to our Leader's defence' - yet we never find out whether Imperious Leader survives or not. The novelisation has Cain kicking himself at their narrow failure to snuff their enemy when they had him, but grateful for the manner of his escape allowing them more or less total control of Gomoray.

Gomoray's name is undoubtedly borrowed from the Biblical legend of Gomorrah. Don't know about Sodom though!

It's certainly nice to see the good guys dishing it out for a change, as Jolly and Greenbean give Gomoray a good pasting!

Not entirely convinced that Cylon baseships couldn't shoot back at the attacking vipers - either that's a major design flaw or a lazy plot device to underpin the Cylons' general uselessness in battle.


Battlestar Galactica Episode Guide

Enter Sheba's Galaxy