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THE MAGNIFICENT WARRIORS

Written by Glen A. Larson

Original Airdate: November 12, 1978

Synopsis By Matthew Wharmby (mwharmby@amdragon.com)

SYNOPSIS: After a Cylon attack in which the fleet's agricultural ships are deliberately targeted, warriors must approach a populated planet incognito to attempt the trade of energisers for grain. However, the township selected is held hostage by predatory mounted creatures, and the Colonials find themselves tricked into confronting them.

Adama tries to tolerate Siress Bellaby in The Magnificent WarriorsTHE STORY: We open in the midst of a Cylon attack, with vipers already launched and engaged in battle. The Colonials are getting the better of the enemy when three Cylon fighters approach the agroships and wreak havoc before breaking off. After the battle, the tally looks grim - the Cylons appear to have deliberately targeted the fleet's food production facilities. Not only have two ships been destroyed outright, but the third has had her airlock blown away, ruining the crops.

There is just about enough food to get them through the short term, but the priority is to look for new seed. As luck would have it, the fleet is coming through a section of space dotted with populated planets. The settlements there are human but relatively backward by contemporary standards, so the idea is to trade with the inhabitants, offering energisers they think will be appreciated on these worlds. Trouble is, to avert Cylon pursuit, they will have to conceal their origins. And the only person in the fleet who owns an off-brand energiser is Siress Belloby. An aghast Adama has to reveal she is a character from his past, and what's worse is that she hasn't forgotten it. When contacted, she insists on Adama negotiating with her personally, in her lodgings aboard the freighter Gemini. Apollo is rather enjoying this, rather cruelly since his father is so uncomfortable, but together they go to visit the Siress, Adama wielding flowers.

The Boray action figure from Mattel is the rarest of all the Galactica figuresShe agrees to hand over the energiser, but only on the nauseating condition that Adama agrees to 'court' her. Thus she attaches herself to the commander like a limpet as they get their civvies on and load up a shuttle for a short trip to the planet Sectar. Apollo, meanwhile, goes to bid another reluctant goodbye to Boxey, but this time the kid has the advantage. He reasons, quite correctly, that there is no Cylon threat on this planet they're going to (having seen just about enough tin cans to last him the rest of his life in the last episode!) and if that's the case, why can't he come along. Apollo, to Boxey's delight, says 'You know what? You're right!' and lets his son and Muffey come along.

On Sectar, a leisurely scene is played out in the town bar, apparently the hub of all social events on this fashionable planet. The mayor of town, Sire Bogan, is strolling outside taking the air. But his leisurely demeanour turns to concern as soon as he claps eyes on the rising moon. As if on cue, the small population flees indoors and begins barricading their buildings with everything they can find. A rumbling of hooves shakes the light fittings as a horde of mounted creatures rides towards town. These are the Borays, ugly pig-like characters whose goal in life is pillage.

We then cut to Farnes, a nervous-looking man loading a weedy-looking firearm and being consoled unconvincingly by Bogan. As the town constable, it is his responsibility to stand in the middle of the road and warn off the Borays. Not entirely surprisingly, the primitive warriors simply ride straight over him on their way to the seed bins that the townspeople have left out for them. Once the dust has cleared and the Borays have ridden through, Bogan and the townsfolk venture out to cart off the constable's trampled body. The mayor disconsolately reflects that that 'was the fourth constable this week.'

The shuttle, consisting of Adama, Apollo, Starbuck, Boomer, Jolly, Siress Belloby and Boxey and Muffey, land on Sectar. Starbuck and Boomer bring out the landram (actually an unarmed drop-top version) to go into town ('Serenity - A small agrocommunity', the interstellar Yellow Pages lists it at the bottom of the screen) and set about the business of bargaining. A swoony Belloby cuddles the commander and sighs 'Isn't it romantic' as she gapes at the full moon. The rarely outplayed Adama looks like he's about to throw up - and so do we.

Starbuck and Boomer head into town and enter the saloon. With a couple of introductions, they attempt to get a fair price for the energiser. The locals don't seem particularly bothered at first sight, but Bogan is looking on, noting that these two out-of-towners could be the break they're looking for. They fob off Starbuck and Boomer with vague promises of seed in return for prolonged work, but Bogan's men feel their cause is better served by simply waiting till the two foreigners have left the bar before jumping them on a dark road and mugging them. Off they drive in the landram, leaving an enraged Boomer and Starbuck writhing under a net.

Adama isn't at full strength by any means, with Belloby all over him like a rash, and when Starbuck and Boomer limp back, all he can do is fulminate impotently. The two warriors return to town to protest, but without the energiser have to barter with cash. Bogan's prices are too high, but he idly points to a futuristic craps table (this bar's got everything!) and suggests they grow their money that way. Unknown to our heroes, the Sectarans have fiddled the odds so that Starbuck only wins, and he starts enjoying himself. Seeing that the lieutenant has broken the place, he offers an extra incentive - a natty-looking gold star worth twice as much as the entire pot. Starbuck takes the challenge, twists and of course the win is his. 'Congratulations, Constable Starbuck,' Bogan says casually. That star was the sheriff's badge, and Starbuck's been press-ganged into the office! And the job is a lifetime appointment.

Starbuck soon finds himself on the end of a rocket from Adama, who has had to come to town to try and bail him out, without success. The commander has a go at Starbuck for getting himself into these kinds of scrapes, but recognises that at the same time Starbuck has to accept responsibility for it, and that being the sheriff might do him some good. Bogan interjects to point out that the moon is rising (twice in one night? Funny old axis on this planet!), but Our Heroes have no idea what he's on about. 'When the moon is high,' Bogan states ominously, 'it's time to eat.' With a bit of background, the mayor explains that the Borays used to live peacefully at a distance from Serenity's humans, but dropped their farming lifestyle like a bad habit when their lazy and arrogant leader, Nogow, decided that it was much easier to simply steal food from town. An extra frisson of danger comes in the Borays' weakness for the local women, whom they simply carry off and defile at their leisure. To the frightened townspeople, losing a couple of women (and the constable) is cheaper than dying wholesale, but Bogan still manages to put a brave spin on it.

At high noon (high midnight?) Apollo, Starbuck, Boomer and Adama form up in Main Street Serenity, lasers out. Even Adama's tooled up, which is only the second and last time in Battlestar Galactica (the first was in Lost Planet of the Gods, where he helped put down the two Cylons who shot Serina). From an adjacent building, Belloby cheers them on profanely.

For the first time, Nogow's boys find themselves with a proper challenge as the four Colonials shoot warning rounds, but the Boray leader spurs them on nonetheless. On their way to the grain silos, they scoop up an unexpected prize - Belloby, who has come out cursing her defiance and aiming the constable's old shotgun.

Now you'd think the Colonials would be pleased Nogow's ridden off with the horrible old bag and good riddance, but Adama is dismayed nonetheless - we hope for the wretched woman's own sake. Their gloom is tempered when the townsfolk creep out from behind their barricades with a new sense about them - that of awe. Rather unhelpfully blowing what flimsy cover they had, Bogan sheepishly apologises for the deceit he put them through. 'You're not farmers. In fact there's only one legendary brigade that could have stood up to those animals with the courage that I have just witnessed... I am honoured to be in the company of warriors from the great Colonies.' Still, having boosted their confidence, he then sends them off to their probable doom. 'I apologise for having to deceive you into saving us, but we are desperate people. You know what you have to do.'

With the landram returned, the Colonial warriors inch towards the Boray settlement, headlights blazing and ominous music in the background. Boray sentries appear on bluffs above them, brandishing spears and grunting threateningly. Outside their cave lair, Adama as leader has to go in. Apollo, Starbuck and Boomer cluster together as the Borays surround them, warning them off with the odd pistol shot (and one or two that connect - oh, what a shame).

Inside, Adama attempts to communicate with Nogow, but is getting nowhere, and Belloby is hardly much help. After a suitable period, the commander stalks out in a foul mood, berating the loathsome Nogow's total refusal to negotiate about anything. Starbuck then pipes up, offering his services. Adama concedes - what else can they do?

Amazingly, Starbuck emerges moments later wearing a smile that could light up this apparently perpetually dark planet (two moonrises notwithstanding) and his arm round Belloby. How did he do it? they wonder as they get the hell out of there before the nasty Boray creatures change their minds and kill them anyway. We find out, back in the bar (-cum town hall, -cum just about everything in this place). A still grinning Starbuck assures Sire Bogan that there won't be any more trouble with the Borays, since Nogow's decided to order them back to farming. Yeah, just like that. So what was the catch? Bogan asks incredulously, only to really soil his drawers when Starbuck beams that he's simply offered Nogow himself the chance to take over. 'Take over what? The town?' Bogan gapes. 'No - my job,' says Starbuck, introducing none other than the Boray headman himself - resplendent with sheriff's badge. The townsfolk quail as one, but rush to get the stocky beast a drink. 'He doesn't like to be kept waiting,' Starbuck quips.

Encouragingly, Belloby decides there and then that she's completely gone off Adama. It's not been his episode, as she pans his erudition and civility before explaining that at her stage of life, she needs a 'real animal'. Off she goes to the bar then, to enjoy a drink with her hairy new best mate. [And since we never see her again, can we hope against hope that her ass stayed on Sectar?!] However, the revulsion factor isn't yet complete as she sees fit to thank Starbuck for this welcome bit of May-December matchmaking by grabbing him by the chops and laying a prolonged and thoroughly revolting kiss on him! UGH!

As Apollo and Adama chuckle at Starbuck, who's busy wiping slobber off his lips (with sandpaper, he wishes!), Apollo can't resist the kind of dig at his father that would have got me a thick ear. 'Thank God that's over,' or something to that order. 'I just couldn't see myself calling her Mother!'

RATING: Two out of five (Fair). The battle scene gets it the second star, but it's a weak and unpopular episode. I hated writing this review almost as much as I do watching the video, so that's my excuse for seven months of writers' block, only to give you this lousy review. Sorry.


John's Comments

RATING: One and a half stars out of five (Poor)

Many fans consider this to be the worst episode of Battlestar Galactica. While I don't agree, I think it comes pretty close. The story is, quite frankly, terrible. We are again subjected to yet another old-western style shanty town? Once was enough! The Borays are disgusting and sound awful. The only redeeming moment is when Adama and company discover Starbuck at the gambling table. It's rather funny.

The plot is borrowed from the 1960 film The Magnificent Seven and The Seven Samurai.

The premise of The Magnificent Warriors actually had a lot of potential. We are given a situation where the fleet has no food and everyone is aware of it (unlike in Saga Of A Star World when the Colonials were able to cover up the problem). This raises all kinds of fascinating issues. Would the fleet start a mutiny against Adama during such a crisis? How would Adama react to such a mutiny? How would he choose who to save? Would he allow each ship to make its own decision to leave? Or would he try to force them to stick together? And what decisions would Starbuck and Apollo be forced to make if such a mutiny occurred? So many interesting questions for the episode to pursue.

Sadly, standard television plotting is what we get. The Colonials are traveling through the vast uncharted regions of space, and they run out of food at just the precise moment they happen to be near a farming colony. Okay. Whatever. The Colonials land on the planet and meet the Borays. From then on, it's just another battle of good vs. evil. Putting the Colonials in a moral dilemna would have been much more interesting that what we were given here.

There are a number of problems logistically with this episode. The Colonial fleet entered a new galaxy in The Long Patrol where no colonist had ever gone before. Yet no one is surprised to find humans on the ice planet in Gun On Ice Planet Zero. Neither is anyone surprised to find the farming community that appears in this story. Bogan even recognizes the Colonials, as would the family on Attila in the next episode, The Young Lords. Some of the episodes were definitely shown out of sequence. If The Long Patrol takes place after The Young Lords, that would clear up this problem.

Another serious issue arises with all the human settlements the Colonists keep finding. If the Cylons are following the Colonial fleet, then the Colonials are leading the Cylons directly to these outposts, where they would certainly be destroyed. Therefore, the Colonials would be indirectly responisible for the destruction of these human settlements!

Siress Bellaby is hands down the most annoying character to ever appear on Battlestar Galactica. Most viewers probably couldn't understand why the Colonial Warriors didn't simply let the Borays kill her.

On a positive note, we are shown Lorne Greene's impressive range as an actor. It's interesting to see a comical Adama, a nice contrast to the serious commander that we usually see. Unfortunately, Greene is forced to play against Brett Somers (Siress Bellaby). Somers isn't funny; she's annoying, and it kills most of the comedy that is presented.

The idea that Adama could not simply order Bellaby to give up the energizer is, of course, ludicrous. It is even more ludicrous to think that the Colonials could not simply erase or burn off the Colonial markings on one of their own energizers. It seems to be a contrived way to bring Bellaby into the story.

The town of Serenity was a redress of the set originally seen as the deserted town in which Apollo and Boomer found Robber and his family in The Long Patrol. The same set was also used in The Lost Warrior.

All footage of the agroships were taken from Universal's 1972 film Silent Running.

This is Richard Hatch's least favorite episode of Battlestar Galactica.

Blooper - During the battle with the Cylons, someone asks Boomer how many Cylon raiders he saw. Boomer answers "I count six!", but a green computer display clearly shows five Cylon raiders.

This is the only episode to have an information data screen over an initial view of the planet Sectar. It shows the planet's name, quadrant, and the startime.

The Mattel action figure of a Boray is the rarest and most valuable of all the Mattel Galactica action figures.

The leader of the Borays, Barry Nelson, was originally wearing a mask. When the Borays ride into town the second time, his mask fell off, but the actor's face still looked scary enough that they didn't redo the shot.

A Boray appears in the background of the Buck Rogers episode Unchained Woman.


Matt's Comments

POINTS TO NOTE:

* Gratuitous fat boy joke when Greenbean notes Jolly's concern with the agroships' lacklustre defensive screen, quipping 'They get those birds, you'll have nothing to eat, Jolly!'

* Wouldn't have thought the Cylons would give a toss where the energisers had come from, so long as there were humans - any humans - around to waste.

* Can't stand Siress Belloby, or the Borays. The ending is actually a nice twist, in that they're ideally suited to each other! And it lets Starbuck get his own back for the locals taking him for a ride, not once but twice.

* Belloby's digs are suspiciously opulent for the Gemini! The corridor could use a good hoovering though.

* The Borays are thoroughly ugly, deeply loathsome, and terribly boring. There were enough different individual ones though to have been a fair drain on the budget (unless, as I suspect, they didn't actually use makeup at all. There is actually an agency devoted solely to 'ugly' actors).

* So much for Boxey's holiday - all he got to do was hang about in the shuttle with Jolly.

* I don't enjoy seeing a mug made of Adama. Would you want your beloved, kindly grandad fawned all over by a disgusting old harridan and embarrassed by his own troops?

* So what happened to all these women that Nogow's boys carted off? Did they eat them? And, to add extra shudders, you'd think there'd be some unintentional offspring milling about. You could flail at some unsavoury stereotypes here if you really put your mind to it, but who can be bothered - it's not Galactica.


Guest Cast

Brett Somers		Siress Bellaby

Barry Nelson Bogan


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