Saturday, December 17, 2011

Geek TV #11: Battlestar Galactica (Original Series)

battlestara2Concept: One part Star Wars, one part assorted mythological and Egyptian stuff, and one part TV budget, and you get... “Feeling from the Cylon tyranny, the last battlestar, Galactica, leads a rag tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest – a shining planet – known as “Earth.”

Total Episodes: 22

Original Air Dates: 1979-1978

Original Network: ABC

Geek Factor: 8

Commander Adama (Lorne Greene): Leader of the Battlestar Galactica, and father to Capt. Apollo and Athena. It's his idea to send the Galactica and the remaining humans in whatever spaceships they could find and flee their homeworlds in search of the legendary 13th Colony of Mankind, Earth.
Captain Apollo (Richard Hatch): Top-ranking Viper pilot, passionate, and fair-minded. Best friends with Lt. Starbuck, even if he doesn't always approve of Starbuck's interests.
Lt. Starbuck (Dirk Benedict): Possibly a better Viper pilot than Apollo, Starbuck is the cigar-smoking, wise-cracking ladies' man who can't pass up a good game of Pyramid.
Lt. Boomer (Herbert Jefferson Jr.) reserved, thoughtful and loyal Viper pilot, in many ways the opposite of Starbuck.
Baltar (John Colicos): Mankind's greatest enemy, a human who sold out his entire race to the Cylons in return for power.
Athena (Maren Jensen): Beautiful daughter of Adama and sister to Apollo, her main position is on the Galactica bridge operating a scanner. She is in love with Starbuck, and has a rivalry with Cassiopeia.
Troy “Boxey” (Noah Hathaway): Annoying to many viewers, Boxey was the son of Serina, adopted by Apollo after the two married, now being raised by Apollo as his own son after his wife's death. When his daggit (dog) was killed during the attack on Caprica, Apollo later found a “replacement” for Boxey, a robotic daggit named Muffit II after the original daggit.
Cassiopeia (Laurette Spang): Lovely socialator turned nurse, in love with Starbuck.
Flight Sgt. Jolly (Tony Swartz): Hefty, jovial, likeable fellow, and another of Galactica's excellent Viper pilots.
Colonel Tigh (Terry Carter): Executive officer of the Galactica and a close, personal friend of Commander Adama, a no-nonsense officer and former pilot.
Omega (David Greenan): Core command crewmember, more or less the operations manager of the Galactica.
Sheba (Anne Lockhart): Daughter of the legendary Commander Cain of the equally legendary Battlestar Pegasus, Sheba transferred to Galactica after the apparent loss of Pegasus. After her transfer, she begins to develop the start of a romantic relationship with Apollo.
Flight Cpl. Rigel (Sarah Rush): Core Command operative on the Galactica, coordinating Viper defense and lauch approval procedures.
Lucifer (Felix Silla/Jonathan Harris): Cylon IL-series attached to Baltar, although the two have different ways of thinking. Probably ptu in place to keep an eye on Baltar as much as aid him.
Imperious Leader (Voice of Patrick MacNee): Highest authority of the Cylon empire who struck a bargain with Baltar that allowed the Cylons to take over the Twelve Colonies.

Geek Guest-Stars:
Let's see if I can pare down from what I've typically written for this section!
Jane Seymour, who played the ill-fated Serina, had made her first geek appearance in the James Bond film Live and Let Die as Solitaire, and later played Farah in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Her most recent geek role (at the time of this writing) was Dr. Victoria Stangel in seven episodes of the 2006 season of Smallville.
Jeff McKay, who played Cpl Komma in three episodes, was first brought to geekdom's attention playing Gordon “Gordie” Masterson in the Dr. Shrinker segments of The Krofft Supershow, and after Galactica, played Hugo Kaufman on The Wild Wild West Revisited, played Corky on Tales of the Gold Monkey, guest-starred in two episodes of The Greatest American Hero, and voiced Fireflight on The Transformers.He died in 2008.
Lew Ayers portrayed Mandemus in Battle for the Planet of the Apes and Vaslovik in The Questor Tapes, guest-starred in an episode of The Magician, two episodes of The Bionic Woman, and one episode each of The Fantastic Journey and The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, also playing Bill Atherton in Damien: Omen II prior to playing President Adar in the first two episodes of Galactica. He later played Jason Burke in Salem's Lot (1979). He died in 1996.
The near-legendary (or should that be just legendary) Wilfried Hyde-White played “Doodles” Fletcher in Tarzan and the Lost Safari, guested on an episode of The Twilight Zone (1963), Mission: Impossible, and played Captain Reginauld K. Klaus in The Magic Christian before playing Sire Anton in the first two Galactica episodes. Later, he played Dr. Goodfellow in 11 episodes of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He died in 1991.
Roy Thinnes is best known for playing David Vincent in The Invaders, but he also played Colonel Glenn Ross in Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, and guested on a 1977 episode of Tales of the Unexpected before playing Croft in the two-parter episode “Gun on Ice Planet Zero.” He later played Roger Collins on the 1991 revival of Dark Shadows and played Van Order in the TV Series War of the Worlds. He played David Vincent again in the 1995 TV Movie The Invaders, and played Jeremiah Smith in three episodes of The X-Files
James Olson played Dr. Mark Hall in The Andromeda Strain, Capt. William H. Kemp in Moon Zero Two, guested in an episode of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, two episodes of The Bionic Woman, and then guested as Thane in the two-parter “Gun On Ice Planet Zero.” He later guested on Project U.F.O, and played Father Adamsky in Amityville II: The Posession
The Ice Planet Zero episode had a lot of geek guest-stars! It also had Christine Belford, who had guested on an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man prior to playing Baroness Paula Von Gunther in an episode of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman and guesting in an episode of Tales of the Unexpected. After Galactica, she guested on Beyond Westworld, The Incredible Hulk (1979-1981), The Greatest American Hero, and Mann and Machine

John Fink played George Kerby in the TV Movie Topper Returns and guested on The Bionic Woman before playing Dr. Payne in two episodes of Galactica, and also had small parts in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin
Lloyd Bridges first came to geekdom attention playing Col. Floyd Graham in Rocketship X-M, but of course he'll always be remembered for playing Mike Nelson on Sea Hunt. He also guested on Mission: Impossible and Tales of the Unexpected before playing Commander Cain in the two-part “The Living Legend.” Shortly after Galactica, he played Steve McCroskey in Airplane!, which even more people these days probably remember than Sea Hunt, and also played the White Knight in the 1985 TV movie of Alice in Wonderland. He died in 1998.

Ray Milland played Dr. James Xavier in X: The Man With X-Ray Eyes, Harry Baldwin in Panic in Year Zero!, Guy Carrell in Premature Burial, guested on Night Gallery, played Harry Flexner in Terror in the Wax Museum, Maxwell Kirshner in The Thing With Two Heads, Aristotle Bolt in Escape to Witch Mountain, and a few other geek roles before playing Sire Uri in the first two Galactica episodes. He died in 1986.

Rick Springfield voiced his animated counterpart in Mission: Magic! And guest-starred on The Six Million Dollar Man prior to playing Lieutenant Zac (the younger brother of Apollo) in the first two Galactica episodes. He also guest-starred on The New Adventures of Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk (1979), then much later played Christopher Chance in the 1992 version of Human Target
While he had several guest-starring roles on geek TV shows (including The Green Hornet), Lloyd Bochner had his first major geek roles playing Harmon Temple III in City Beneath the Sea and Dr. Cory in The Dunwich Horror. He guest-starred on The Starlost, The Magician, The Bionic Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Amazing Spider-Man (1978) before playing Commandant Leither in two episodes of Galactica. Much later, he guest-starred in The Adventures of Superboy and voiced Mayor Hamilton Hill on Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. He died in 2005.

battlestara1Olan Soule appeared as Carmichael on two episodes, but way before that, he'd appeared in a small part on The Day the Earth Stood Still as well as in This Island Earth, he played Aristotle “Tut” Jones in the TV series Captain Midnight, appeared in three episodes of One Step Beyond, two episodes of The Twilight Zone, three episodes of Mister Ed, an episode of The Addams Family, The Munsters and Bewitched, three My Favorite Martian episodes, an episode of Batman (1966), The Girl From UNCLE and The Monkees, and then, in 1978, he voiced Alfred and Bruce Wayne Batman on The Batman/Superman Hour, in segments later released as The New Adventures of Batman. While guesting on other shows like The Six Million Dollar Man and Mission: Impossible, he voiced Batman again in four episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies, and then again on Super Friends, The All-New Super Friends Hour, and Challenge of the Super Friends. During Galactica, he also guest-starred om three episodes of Project UFO. He continued to voice Batman in the 1980-1983 Super Friends before being replaced by Adam West, but in SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show he voiced Professor Martin Stein, as well as the same role in The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. He died in 1994.

Geek Pedigree:
Series creator Glen A. Larson had previously created Alias Smith and Jones, wrote the TV movie The Six Million Dollar Man: Wine, Women and War, created the Galactica follow-up Galactica 1980, developed Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, created Automan, Knight Rider, and wrote the TV movie NightMan, based on the comic book character.

David G. Phinney was an associate producer, and he served in that same role on The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Galactica 1980. He wrote an episode of Galactica and directed episodes of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Quantum Leap.

John Dykstra was a producer on four episodes, and is generally considered to be by many people the special effects supervisor, a position he also held on Silent Running, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Alice in Wonderland (1985), My Stepmother is an Alien, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, Spider-Man, Spider-Man II, and X-Men: First Class.

Supervising producer on two episodes Leslie Stevens was executive producer on the original The Outer Limits, later producing episodes of The Invisible Man (1975), Gemini Man, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and the 1996-1998 version of The Outer Limits. He also wrote episodes for all of those shows or had a hand in developing them for TV. He died in 1998.

Musical composer Stu Phillips had previously composed background music for The Monkees, scored The Six Million Dollar Man: Wine, Women and War, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Spider-Man (1978-1979), Galactica 1980, Automan and Knight Rider
Dirk Benedict had previously played David Blake in Sssssss.

John Colicos played Kor in the original Star Trek episode “Errand of Mercy,” guested on Mission: Impossible, Night Gallery, The Magician, The Six Million Dollar Man, and later guested on War of the Worlds (1989), voiced Apocalypse on X-Men (1992-1995), and reprised his role as Kor on three episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He died in 2000.  

Patrick MacNee was the opening credits announcer, the voice of Imperious Leader, and Count Iblis, but for many geeks, he'll always be John Steed in The Avengers.

Anne Lockhart is the daughter of June Lockhart (Lost in Space). 

 Felix Silla was the man inside the Imperious Leader costume, and his small size also landed him the part of Cousin Itt on The Adams Family, as well as roles in Star Trek (a Talosian in “The Cage”), a child gorilla in Planet of the Apes, Polka Dotted Horse and others on H.R. Pufnstuf, Colonel Poom on Lidsville, Twiki on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, an Ewok in Return of the Jedi, and an Emperor Penguin in Batman Returns. Jonathan Harris, the voice of Lucifer, will forever be known as Dr. Zachary Smith in Lost in Space, but had many, many other geek roles.

DVD Release: Complete series

Website: features both the original and remake series.

Notes: You'll no doubt recall that, amazingly, not all that long after Battlestar Galactica was cancelled, it was kind of brought back as Galactica 1980, which I'll eventually get to here. I have to admit, when I heard that the SciFi Channel was reviving Battlestar Galactica, I had my doubts, especially when I saw how different it was going to be from the original – but then I watched the first miniseries, and I was a convert (although in many ways, I'm still more of a fan of the original series). I was very excited when this show came out, and my family watched it faithfully, as did the families of all my friends, so we were somewhat surprised when it was cancelled! Well, not that surprised, maybe, as it didn't take long before we realized how often the exact same special effects shots were used over and over and over again, making the show look cheap... and then there was the Eastern Empire thing – you know, the Space Nazis? – and that whole thing went on for way too long. What originality and promise there was in the initial few episodes seemed to peter out quickly, and it went into more pastiche. Yes, Star Trek did their space Nazis, but that was in one episode... Galactica had several! Still, high points of the series were the first few episodes and the later Living Legend two-parter with the Pegasus.

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