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STAR WARS MADE MANY OF THE

SAME MISTAKES AS GALACTICA


There's no question that Battlestar Galactica had plenty of flaws and made a lot of mistakes. But I've always been annoyed with the way Battlestar Galactica has been criticized while Star Wars made many of the same mistakes during the course of its four movies, yet it has mostly managed to escape the same criticism that Galactica has faced.

I'd like to make it very clear that I am a huge Star Wars fan, so I am not trying to trash Star Wars. I am merely trying to point out certain things that have been overlooked by both fans and critics alike.

Criticism #1: Battlestar Galactica is a Star Wars rip-off. If Galactica was a rip-off of Star Wars, then Star Wars was a rip-off of the 1958 movie The Hidden Fortress (which Lucas saw in film school). In the beginning of that movie, we see two Army soldiers, one tall and one short, walking across a barren landscape bemoaning their fate. There is a brave, outcast warrior general, a princess forced to disguise herself as a commoner, a feared military leader who opposes the princess's cause, and a mysterious hidden fortress. Does this sound at all familiar? Star Wars owes itself to numerous other science fiction shows and stories as well, such as Dune (which featured a desert planet - Tatooine, anyone?) and Buck Rogers. Also, The Empire Strikes Back comes across as a rehash of Saga Of A Star World. The Imperials (Cylons) defeat the Rebels (Colonials), forcing them to flee into space in a rag-tag assortment of ships. Much of the action even occurs on an ice planet (Remember Gun On Ice Planet Zero?). It makes you wonder just who was copying whom at that point!

Criticism #2: Apollo is a carbon copy of Luke Skywalker, and Starbuck is a carbon copy of Han Solo. First of all, Apollo was an older, experienced military officer. Luke Skywalker was a young, wet-behind-the-ears farmboy. To compare the two is simply ludicrous. Han Solo was a smuggler (i.e. criminal) who was not a hero and was willing to kill (i.e. Greedo) if he had to. It is not until the end of A New Hope that he transforms into a true good guy. Starbuck, on the other hand, was a gambler and womanizer (Han Solo never appeared to be either of these). He was a reluctant hero, but he was still one of the good guys, and he could always be counted on to do the right thing when needed. These two characters are simply not the same.

Criticism #3: The characters of Galactica are not complex. Whoa! If there is one area that I feel Galactica easily beats Star Wars in, it is the characters. Starbuck, Apollo, Adama, Boomer, Serina, Sheba, and Cain are all very intricate, multi-faceted characters (thanks in part to the great actors who played them). Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and Obi Wan Kenobi are all stereotypical characters taken straight from mythology (They are likeable stereotypes, but stereotypes nonetheless).

Criticism #4: Poor acting. Again, Galactica has Star Wars beat easily. Let's face it. With the exception of Harrison Ford and Alec Guinness, Star Wars wasn't exactly brimming with thespian talent, and some of the performances were downright embarrassing (Numerous scenes from Return of The Jedi come to mind). As for Galactica, with the exception of Maren Jensen, Glen Larson hired the very best. The actors on Galactica were tremendous and their performances made even the worst written episodes watchable.

Criticism #5: No scientific background. Galactica certainly had its share of scientific inaccuracies, but so did Star Wars. Are we to believe that such a thin laser beam from the Death Star could actually blow up an entire planet? Are we to believe that shooting a tiny exhaust port could actually blow up a space station as enormous as the Death Star? Also, the X-Wings (like the vipers) had wings, which of course are not necessary for space travel.

Criticism #6: The bad guys are a joke. Yes, the Cylons could never shoot straight. However, could someone please explain how the Stormtroopers lost to the Ewoks? "Look out! Teddy bear creatures! And they've got primitive hand-made weapons! Let's forget our years of experienced military training, throw down our high-tech weaponry, and run away!" Stormtroopers losing to the Ewoks is akin to Cylons losing to the Super Scouts.

Criticism #7: Too much emphasis on special effects. The re-using of the same stock footage over and over certainly hurt Galactica. Most of the space battles had little story to them. But Return of The Jedi, even though it never re-used stock footage, had a very poor space battle at the end. The special effects were great, but we were given a jumble of images with nothing in terms of a flow or climax. There was no storyline to the battle.

Criticism #8: Galactica portrayed a simplistic battle of good versus evil. This was certainly true as the Cylons were very one-dimensional bad guys. But, then again, when during the course of any of the Star Wars movies were the Imperials ever portrayed as anything other than evil and the Rebels portrayed as anything other than heroic freedom fighters? The Rebel Alliance vs. the Empire was always portrayed in black in white instead of shades of grey, which is a shame because there undoubtedly had to be some good people who served the Empire and some bad people who served the Rebels.

Criticism #9: Poor writing. The greatest flaw of Battlestar Galactica was no doubt the writing. But it is truly amazing how poorly Return Of The Jedi was written. It is basically a remake of Star Wars with another Death Star to be destroyed (at least the Emperor was able to plug up that pesky port hole this time). The Ewoks defeating the Imperials isn't believable in the least, and are we to believe that a Super Star Destroyer would crash into the Death Star after a single fighter crashes into it? Even if the main control center was destroyed, a ship that enormous would certainly have a back-up system of some kind.

The Phantom Menace also comes across as a remake of Star Wars (although it is infinitely better than Return of The Jedi). At least Galactica had a good reason for its poor writing - the show was rushed into production. Lucas had plenty of time when it came to writing Return of The Jedi, and look at what the final results were.

Again, I am a big fan of Star Wars, so I am not looking to trash it. I believe it is possible to be both a fan and a critic at the same time. Readers of my Battlestar Galactica episode guide know that I pull no punches when it comes to Galactica's flaws, so don't expect me to give Star Wars any breaks either. The bottom line is that both Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica were great productions. Both of them had similar flaws and made similar mistakes, and I think everyone should recognize that.


Enter Sheba's Galaxy