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THE LONG PATROL

Written by Donald P. Bellisario

Original Airdate: October 15, 1978

Synopsis by Matthew Wharmby

THE PREMISE

As the Galactica enters an unfamiliar sector of space dotted with human settlements that were forgotten by the Colonies millennia ago, Starbuck is sent ahead to investigate, flying a considerably souped-up viper. As you'd expect, he soon runs into trouble, consisting of the theft of same viper, a skirmish with the Cylons and the discovery of a planet full of booze!

THE STORY

Athena and Cassiopea loved to fight over Starbuck!The fleet is leaving the dark Kobol quadrant, but the star system they're about to enter is unknown to present-day Colonists. We see, from the bridge, the horizon suddenly flare alive with stars. Adama and Tigh immediately pick up signals of populated planets, and that's their signal to launch the first probe into the region. Who drew the lucky pool to be first to take a souped-up viper into the unknown first thing in the morning? You guessed it - Starbuck.

Right now Starbuck is living the space pimp lifestyle to the full, aboard the Rising Star with a big plate of mushies and Athena draped around him. Life is good, you think, but Starbuck's playing Cassiopeia at the same time, rushing between two very expensive luxury suites to entertain them and losing most of his pay in tips to the maitre d' along the way. This scene is quite funny in a French farce kind of way, but all too soon, and certainly before old Bucko gets to expend any energy he'll be needing for the mission, he gets the call from Adama. On their way out, musing dreamily, Athena and Cassiopeia bump into each other. Both are holding identical collar pins that Starbuck gave them!

Starbuck, in civilian clothes and what appears to be a bicycle helmet, gets himself seated in the Recon Viper (which is named 'Starchaser' in red on the side, in the familiar font) with the shortest of briefings as to the improved capabilities of the ship. As well as an on-board computer, Apollo explains that the viper is considerably faster and has had larger fuel tanks fitted. Starbuck immediately wonders what's been left out to supply the extra capacity. 'They removed the lasers,' Apollo notes, not without a hint of amusement. 'I'm unarmed?' gapes Starbuck before the ship launches - on its own - and he bursts out into space!

Immediately Starbuck begins to enjoy himself, revelling in Recon Viper One's fabulously enhanced speed. One experimental thumb on the turbo boost later and his eyes and teeth are in the back of his head. 'Whoooooooeeee!' he yells to anyone who's listening as he steams along at light speed. 'I'd like to see a computer do that!' And as if by magic, the viper goes even faster. When Starbuck orders it to slow down a bit, a little voice comes out of the dashboard. 'Don't be a bore,' it says in a breathy female voice. 'My name's CORA. Short for Computer: Oral Response Activated'. Starbuck's fascinated and gets down to banter right away, as if the female voice was one of his (no doubt) numerous girlfriends. Not long later CORA picks up some local air traffic and identifies a sixth-millennium shuttle, being fired on by a fighter craft of similar vintage. The local law enforcer named Croad is at the helm, instructing the pilot to surrender and addressing him as Robber.

Noting the unfair advantage, Starbuck intends to charge in there and rescue the shuttle. He does this by getting between the ships and then gunning his thrusters within fifty metrons of the fighter. 'We'll knock him silly, and scare the pogees out of him!' CORA relishes, but when Starbuck accomplishes the diversion, albeit at an actual distance of fifty-two metrons, she develops an attitude. 'Nice work - if a little sloppy.' Starbuck then follows the shuttle down to a nearby asteroid (an attractive matte with loads of planets and half-moons in the background).

Rigel says 'Launch when ready!'When the pilot of the shuttle introduces himself, Starbuck is most enthused to discover he's holding a bottle of ambrosa in his hand. Invited to take a drink, he's delighted - it's got to be at least fifty yahrens old. 'Five hundred...' Robber reveals proudly. Then Starbuck's eyes narrow and he cracks his characteristic grin. 'Are you a bootlegger?' he asks slyly. With neither confirmation nor denial from the shuttle pilot, we see cubit signs go k-ching in Starbuck's eyes. And there's loads more where that cargo came from. At once Starbuck begins entertaining the notion of trading this priceless booze to the fleet, but he makes the mistake of turning his back while he's pipe dreaming, at which point Robber takes the opportunity to distress him over the back of the head with the bottle.

Robber then climbs into the Recon Viper and is off. Ignoring CORA's pleas as to what's happened to Starbuck (and what is she doing letting anyone other than Starbuck fly the ship?!), Robber straight away orders her to prepare to transmit intergalactically.

Since Starbuck is under strict orders not to make radio contact under any circumstances, when the Galactica picks up the unknown signal heading in a direction back towards the colonies they can only jump to the conclusion that 'a Cylon has either killed or captured Starbuck, and captured his viper.' Apollo and Boomer launch towards Recon Viper One's present heading, with orders to shoot to kill if necessary.

Someone else is picking up Recon Viper One's signal - Baltar's basestar. Right away we notice that Lucifer has undergone a costume change, with his robes turning from gold to red. Baltar's simple solution is to launch a patrol.

The only way Starbuck can now get off the asteroid he's been marooned on is to use Robber's crummy shuttle, which can only barely wrench itself into the sky. And as soon as he does so, the enforcer Croad's fighter swoops down on him! Obviously lurking in the area, Croad relishes the opportunity to get one back on Robber, and forces him down. Croad's consternation at finding that Starbuck isn't the man he was chasing is soon relieved when he lights upon the cargo of illegal booze.

Apollo and Boomer charge into the sector and zero in on Recon Viper One, still transmitting the code. On the Galactica, Athena is examining the code, still with no clue as to its provenance. Suddenly Cassiopeia, who is on the bridge and worried about Starbuck, recognises the code. 'It's an Aerian merchant code,' she exclaims, explaining that her trader father used to take her on long trips. Immediately the order goes out to Apollo and Boomer to break off pursuit, and just in time - Apollo had locked on and was about to bring his thumb down on the famous red button!

Apollo approach Robber's landing site and find that he's started stripping the stolen viper. Caught in the act, he fires on Apollo and Boomer immediately and a furious firefight ensues before Robber makes a run for it. Boomer chases him down, in a very well done scene filmed on a hand-held, but when he catches Robber, he can't shoot - he's surrounded by his wife and daughter. Robber is willing to put down his gun and explain all. He had no idea that Aries and the rest of the Colonies were now in Cylon hands. He offers to help them find Starbuck - and of course return the viper.

Starbuck has been carted off to jail by Croad - but it's not your everyday lock-up. The prisoners are all drunk and roiling (hang about - maybe it isn't so unfamiliar!). Even Starbuck gets issued a bottle, and a new name. 'From now on, your name is Bootlegger 137,' the guard scoffs. As Starbuck examines the cell, and in particular a fascinating mural on the wall depicting a star system, a lascivious female prisoner asks 'What sort of a crime is Starbucking?', to which our hero replies 'That's not a crime, it's my name!'. All the prisoners are named for the crimes committed by their Original Sinners, to Starbuck's amazement - misdeeds done by their distant ancestors. Grabbing the bars of his cell door to shout his point, Starbuck is astonished to find it swing open. It's not locked, and neither is anyone else's. The prisoners grow frightened at Starbuck's exhortations to just walk out. What do they do all day then, if that's the way it's always been? 'Make ambrosa for the colonial warriors!' exults a shaggy-looking felon twice removed. Starbuck retorts 'The Colonies forgot these penal asteroids existed yahrens ago! All the ambrosa ever made here is still ageing out in the loading dock!' Now this riles up the prisoners, and they do leave their cells, taking no heed of warning shots from the guards.

Outside, the prisoners breathe in the heady air of freedom, and at that point the three vipers arrive. 'Cylons!' cry the prisoners in fear, but Starbuck smiles and shakes his head. When he claps his eyes on Robber, he is about to have a go, but Apollo warns him that he's picked up Cylons on the way. Robber marshals the prisoners and guards back indoors while Starbuck gleefully points out the endless rows of vintage ambrosa crates and the fortune ready to be made from them. Only Starbuck, sigh Apollo and Boomer with half-smiles.

With all three vipers airborne, the Cylons commence attacking and the battle's on! Starbuck's Recon Viper One is at a disadvantage without armament, but its speed will come in handy. Two Cylon fighters are destroyed, but the third starts strafing the prison complex. It then gets on Starbuck's tail. He instructs CORA to execute a maximum-G climb one micron before he hits the ground, figuring that the Cylon won't be able to follow. She gets perturbed, apparently having missed Starbuck more than she'll let on. 'You'll black out!' she cries. Sure enough, Recon Viper One punches it and charges skywards, the G-forces driving Starbuck into unconsciousness. The pursuing Cylon fighter ploughs into the loading dock at high velocity, setting everything within a hundred yards on fire. 'Starbuck? Starbuck? Honey?' CORA wails, willing Our Hero to come back to consciousness. But he wishes he'd stayed out cold when he sees what the battle's done to the ambrosa stocks, which are blazing away unstoppably. 'Aw... frack. There goes my fortune,' he moans.

At the obligatory celebratory dinner in Adama's quarters, Starbuck is handed a small present by Boxey; it's a rolled-up map of Earth's star system. Robber, who has come aboard the fleet with a bunch of the prisoners, is startled, as he recognises the configuration. 'The Silent One,' he reflects. An unknown man had crashed there once and been incarcerated with everyone else. He never said a word, but spent his days drawing that star system on his cell walls. Freeze frame on everyone's puzzled frowns as they realise that that mythical planet Earth could be one step closer...

VERDICT: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 - (Good). I liked this one, though it wavers a bit throughout. CORA is, thankfully, a one-hit wonder, and Starbuck's glad he's got his guns back by the next episode.


John's Comments:

RATING: Three stars out of five (Good)

The Long Patrol is lot of a fun and a big improvement over The Lost Warrior. Starbuck's computer companion C.O.R.A is a hoot. There are several funny scenes: Starbuck womanizing Cassiopea and Athena; Boomer's jab at him before he goes off on the mission; Starbuck finding a fortune in ambrosia only to have it destroyed by the Cylon attack. Adama deciding to change the Galactica's course to keep distance from the Cylons is very well done, revealing how burdensome command of the fleet is and how it forces him to sacrifice his loved ones to protect the rest of humanity. The Long Patrol is definitely one of the better one-hour episodes.

Maren Jenson (Athena) gets more screen time here than in most of the episodes. Unfortunately, she's reduced to the role of chasing after Starbuck and being womanized by him. Not to be redundant, but women consistenly got the shaft on this show. Still, the scene with Athena revealing Starbuck's apparent death to Cassiopea is especially moving, one of Jensen's best scenes of the series.

The original script of this episode contains scenes left out of the final cut. To see them, click here.

It is never revealed how Apollo's patrol manages to find their way back to the Galactica after it changes course. The original script, however, does reveal this. To find out, look in the Missing Scenes section.

Adama seems to believe at the dinner celebration that the prisoner who created the map Starbuck saw may be from Earth. This is apparently not the case, since when the Galactica finally does reach Earth (in Galactica 1980), Earth's technology is far primitive to their own.

Blooper 1 - The waiter on the Rising Star twice tells Starbuck about his life "before the war", yet the war between the Cylons and the Colonies had been raging for a thousand years.

Blooper 2 - At the end during the dinner, Robber uses the word "years" instead of "yahrens."

We do not actually see Robber hit Starbuck over the head with the ambrosia bottle. This was due to the censors. When the prisoners rebel against the Enforcers, we see the prisoners grab at the guards and then the scene ends. The lack of violence here was again strictly demanded by the censors.

When we first see Starbuck and Cassiopea in the dining area on the Rising Star, the set is actually the Council of Twelve chambers redressed.

The Enforcer who gives Starbuck his "Bootlegger" name tag is played by Robert Hathaway, the father of Noah Hathaway (Boxey).

The fighter flown by Croad is very similar to some early viper designs.

The close-up shot of Croad's ship's lasers firing were reused in numerous episodes of Buck Rogers.

Ted Gehring (Croad) played the sheriff in the Galactica 1980 episode Galactica Discovers Earth - Part 3.

Tasha Martel, a.k.a Arlene Martel, (Adulteress) is best known to science fiction fans as Spock's wife T'Pring in the 1967 Star Trek episode Amok Time.

Could C.O.R.A. have been the inspiration for K.I.T.T., the computerized car on Glen Larson's Knight Rider? Considering the amazing similarities between the two, it would have to be a possibility. Also, Glen Larson has went on record saying that K.I.T.T.'s swerving red eye was inspired by the swerving red eyes of the Cylons. It was sort of his way of keeping the Cylons alive.


Matt's Comments:

One fanfic I read had CORA a Cylon construct, planted to subvert the humans! Shows how much sci-fi fans hate talking computers - almost as much as genius children.

The Berkley novelisation of this episode is another to give one of the major guest stars a sex change as Robber becomes female. At the end of the book she and many of the prisoners join the fleet, there to discover the dubious delights of being attacked by Cylons on a regular basis.

No small amount of stereotyping going on here - all the drunken prisoners have Irish accents (I didn't say anything!)

Baltar doesn't do an awful lot in this episode; all of four words ('Launch fighters to investigate') wouldn't have paid the rent. We don't actually see him clearly, and it could be dubbed on altogether.

Again, I liked the steadicam footage of Boomer hunting Robber in the darkened alleyways. You really pick up his nerves. The location looks familiar, and is probably the Universal backlot (been there enough times, I should know! And my dad used to work there!)

Come to think of it, this is yet another episode where all the planets visited are in perpetual darkness.


Guest Cast

Cathy Paine		C.O.R.A.

James Whitmore, Jr. Robber

Ted Gehring Croad

Sean McClory Assault

Robert Hathaway Enforcer

Nancy DeCarl Slayer

John Holland Waiter


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