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GALACTICA 1980: SERIES PILOT - 1 Slime
Unrated
Copyright 1980 Glen A. Larson Productions
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 19 June 2012

The Characters:  

  • Capt. Troy - You might remember him as Boxey from the original series. Here you can just think of him as a shorter-haired version of Apollo. Sort of a fauxpollo.
  • Lt. Dillon - If there is a faux Apollo, then there must be a faux Starbuck.
  • Cmdr. Adama - Everybody else from the original series is either old and decrepit or dead (some apparently of old age), but he hasn't changed a bit.
  • Dr. Zee - If you look up deus ex machina in the dictionary you will find a picture of him.
  • Jamie Hamilton - The mandatory intrepid female news reporter who never reveals that aliens have arrived on Earth, but often helps out those very same aliens when their lack of familiarity with our culture causes problems. She also babysits for them now and then.
  • Mr. Brooks - Jamie's boss. He wouldn't know a good story if it sat on his face and confessed to assassinating JFK.
  • Willie - I know that saying this makes me a bad person, but he is an ugly kid wearing an even uglier sweater.
  • Dr. Mortinson - Robert Reed! I refuse to believe that a nuclear physicist would keep his life's work, a short formula, on a circa 1980 computer. He would of course keep it on a blackboard, written in chalk.
  • Cmdr. Xavier - Richard Lynch! The series needed a bad guy, so here he is. He's so evil that he is willing to travel back in time to teach the Nazis how to build better rockets.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

This is not the "Battlestar Galactica" that you remember. Meaning that it is a far cry from the original 1978 series that many fans of the 2004 series would call quaint and dated. Now, the 2004 "Battlestar Galactica" was a very good show, but I was just five years old when the original series arrived on television. It was, to a young man enthralled with "Star Wars," science fiction books, and Godzilla movies, the most incredible television show ever made. Every week there was another episode that featured space battles and wisecracking Viper pilots. That even beat out "In Search of..." and "Star Trek" in terms of coolness. Heck, I had the Colonial Viper and Cylon Raider toys, and thought that made me awesome.

You know what? When I was five years old, I was awesome. I had a big plastic Godzilla toy with a spring-loaded fist that could shoot five or six feet, a good dog, and lots of soybean and corn fields where I could build elaborate bunker and trench systems for my plastic army men (and then spend hours mortaring them with dirt clods). And every morning for breakfast, I had Tang. That right there is the good life.

Unfortunately, "Galactica 1980" is nothing like the original series. It is not awesome. Not even to a seven-year-old who loves science fiction books and Godzilla.

Something else that is not awesome is Tang. What in the world was I thinking back then? What in the world was my mother thinking? I miss the dogs who were my friends and playmates through the years, I have fond memories of building snow forts and tunnels, and it is likely that the many hours I spent playing "Army" with Michael, Ryan, Nick, and others has something to do with me joining the Marines, but I don't think I'll ever wax poetic about Tang.

Getting back on track.

Having finally discovered Earth, the survivors of the Twelve Colonies evaluate what they know of its civilization. Nobody from the Galactica actually visits the Earth to do this. They judge us by watching intercepted television signals. All they see are California traffic reports, smog warnings, and "CHiPs" reruns. As a result, Dr. Zee, Cmdr. Adama, and the other decision makers have a very low opinion of Earth's civilization. We are too selfish and technologically backward to help ourselves, let alone a fleet of refugees who are under the constant threat of Cylon attack.

In order to solve Earth's problems without causing a violent upheaval, the Colonial Council decides to avoid announcing their existence to our civilization. Instead, small teams will make contact with select scientists and leaders. The plan is to seed new technology and knowledge across the globe, raising Earth's civilization to advanced levels through carefully managed steps. If this sounds like a load of elitist hogwash to you, I feel the same way.

The main architect of "Operation Don't Give the Monkeys a Hand Grenade Until They Learn to Stop Throwing Poo At Each Other" is Dr. Zee. He is, by far, the most annoying character present. Dr. Zee is a child prodigy who is always right about anything he says. The Council and Commander Adama defer to him every time that an important decision has to be made. The young genius displays omniscient knowledge, infallible planning, and faultless logic. He is infuriating to the Nth degree (where "N" is the likelihood that he routinely suffered atomic wedgies while in 1st grade). I personally despise the character because anytime the writers needed to make a plot work, they just used Dr. Zee to either invent something or advise a course of action.

To carry out Dr. Zee's plan, Capt. Troy and Lt. Dillon are ordered to make contact with a leading nuclear physicist, Dr. Mortinson. During the descent, the two Vipers are tracked by NORAD, but the Colonials have a plan to avoid detection once they land near Los Angeles. Dr. Zee (bespeckled plot device that he is) created a gadget that can turn equipment and personnel invisible for short periods of time. Troy and Dillon stash their invisible Vipers in a park, disembark a pair of motorcycles, and set off in search of Mortinson.

I don't care if the Vipers are invisible, somebody is going to discover the ships by walking into them, jimmy the cockpit hatch, and steal the radios. Guaranteed.

Along with the other normal woes of not understanding the local culture, the motorcycles built for the Earth contact teams are not inconspicuous (as if the pharoah-style helmets are either). Fortunately, whenever a Hell's Angel or member of the California Highway Patrol takes an interest in Troy and Dillon, they have two choices: turn invisible or fly away. Yes, the motorcycles can fly. Yes, it's funny the first time they do it to a bunch of bikers who include Brion James and Mickey Jones. Yes, the novelty wears off quickly.

Trying to make contact with Dr. Mortinson proves problematic for the two Viper pilots. Even their nifty wristwatch answer boxes are little help in learning how to use a telephone booth. The unapologetic thing completely bamfoozles the technologically advanced aliens. The pair resort to zapping it with something that causes the phone to belch out its quarters, but all that does is attract the attention of Jamie. She thinks that the two are stealing change from the pay phone and berates them. Things get sorted out eventually, leading the female reporter to accompany Troy and Dillon as they accidentally are mixed up in a mob protesting nuclear power, meet Mortinson, get arrested, escape by using their invisibility, and get chased through nighttime L.A. by a horde of police cars before finally getting away.

Yes, a fruit cart becomes a casualty during the car chase scene.

When they're not frustrating the police or inflicting economic bulimia on Ma Bell, Troy and Dillon are chasing after a renegade Council member named Xavier. He thinks that all of this gentle uplifting is stupid. Instead, Xavier wants to travel back in time to Earth's past and give us the technology at an ealier date, so that by 1980 we will be sufficiently advanced to defend ourselves from the Cylons. Where did the time travel machine come from? Dr. Zee, of course. Why they do not use time travel to go back and warn the Twelve Colonies that the Cylons are going to destroy them is beyond me. That's what I would do.

The country that Xavier chooses to provide with the advanced technology is, of course, Nazi Germany. Troy, Dillon, and Jamie (she's along as an advisor) also travel back to 1944 to stop Xavier from altering history. So, they end up turning their Vipers invisible and running around a forest that is full of Germans. One unfortunate effect of time travel, apparently the only negative effect, is that it temporarily turns your clothing bright white. Have you ever had a nightmare about being stuck in a forest full of trigger-happy Germans while wearing a bright white suit? The trio of protagonists are living that dream.

Along the way the Colonials run into an American commando who wants to disrupt the German missile test. They also discover a train filled with Jews that are being shipped off to a concentration camp. Jamie explains the Holocaust briefly, which horrifies Troy and Dillon. That's odd. They have spent their entire lives fleeing from a race of genocidal robots that want to eliminate mankind. Why should any sort of mass murder surprise them? Because it is humans killing humans? Pfaw, we are better at killing ourselves than anything else has ever been.

After successfully destroying the V2 rocket, the chase for Xavier leads Troy and Dillon back to 1980. All of the aliens run into trouble when the U.S. Government manages to locate the Vipers and impounds them, but maximum-security airfields are no problem when you have a personal invisibility generator. Well, at least when the Air Force is guarding the airfield. The Marine Military Police have these things we call Military Working Dogs, which are also known as Chew the Face Off of Invisible Alien Intruders Dogs. In this case, the Air Force is protecting the captured Vipers and all three aliens manage to get away. Xavier escapes once again, vowing to continue his campaign of meddling in Earth's past.

That guy has to be stopped. Where is Jean Claude Van Damme when you need him? What? He's fighting himself again?

I once had a dream about a planet full of Van Damme clones that were all fighting due to a civil war. The only person who wasn't a Van Damme clone was Chuck Norris, and he was killing Van Dammes by the hundreds. What this dream means, I do not know. Any time I've ever tried to discuss it with a doctor they stop talking to me.

The first episode of "Galactica 1980" is so long that it was split into three parts. Parts two and three throw a bone to viewers who missed the previous week's installment by beginning with a six minute recap of what happened prior. Wow, to heck with nuclear physics and nanomedicines, what we need from the Colonials is DVR technology. Anyway, what's sobering about watching the recaps is realizing that you did not need to spend an hour watching the previous episode. Each recap is succinct, comprehensive, and usually even contains the best parts of the previous week's installment. The only thing that dedicated viewers accomplished by tuning in every week was to waste fifty-four minutes of their lives. What they should have done was turn on the television, watch the recap for the previous week, turn off the television, and then spent the rest of their evening reading a book. If they were in the mood for a space opera, then something from the Lensmen series by E.E. Smith would be good, because let's face it, if they were in the mood for a space opera, "Galactica 1980" is not going to satisfy that itch.

It's unfortunate that E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensmen books are out of print. If you haven't read them, try to find a copy at the local library or buy used. Skipping forward just three years does offer up David Brin's Startide Rising, which is an aquatic space opera - proving once again that fish goes with anything.

Before some well-read pedantic lout happens along, I should point out that the only fish present in "Startide Rising" are part of a dolphin's haiku.

"Galactica 1980" ran for ten episodes, three of them the opening pilot, before ending. More than anything, the series disappoints me by not being the original. The footage is recycled, the characters are almost the same people played by different actors, and the plots are often odious. The second episode, split into two parts, is just as annoying as the series pilot. That episode is titled "The Super Scouts" and it follows Troy and Dillon rescuing a bunch of Colonial children from a Cylon attack and bringing them to Earth where they get mistaken for Cub Scouts. To makes matters worse, suddenly it turns out that Colonials have super powers on Earth, like being able to jump fifty feet into the air. Even worse than that, the antagonists are a mean local sheriff and chemical company that is dumping pollutants into a lake.

The one redeemable episode in "Galactica 1980" is the final one, which explains what happened to Starbuck and also why Dr. Zee is Space Jesus. Besides that, the only reason to watch this series is if you want to kill your inner child.

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Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Lasers are better at blowing up buildings than killing people or damaging asphalt.
  • Radar homing missiles can only hit visible targets.
  • 1980 was the tipping point when nuclear power became dirtier than the average college student's hairdo.
  • Albert Einstein was the second coming of Jesus.
  • Time travel is impossible for epileptics.
  • Women cause batteries to wear down faster than men.
  • Waterloo and Gettysburg are both located on page 124 of the Encyclopedia of America.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • Part#1 15 mins - Why not just use a SEP field?
  • Part#1 16 mins - The weapon release, afterburner, and time travel buttons are all located on the control stick. Man, if a pilot gets confused or has fat fingers they are in for a rough flight.
  • Part#1 35 mins - "Your word processing device is almost as primitive as your primary method of transportation."
  • Part#1 47 mins - That is one ugly sweater.
  • Part #1 47 mins - The kid is more than a little on the homely side, too.
  • Part #1 48 mins - I'm not sure which is less attractive, the kid or the sweater.
  • Part #2 22 mins - "Jettison her into space."
  • Part #2 31 mins - Look out for the Spitfire!
  • Part #3 18 mins - If Scott Glenn is the bus driver I am going to die laughing.
  • Part #3 19 mins - In case you were wondering, this accursed thing is wearing me down. I was hoping for death.

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note galactica801.wav Cmdr. Adama: "Too many of our sons and daughters did not survive to share the fulfillment of our dream. We can only take comfort and find strength in that they did not die in vain. We have at last found Earth."
Green Music Note galactica802.wav Dr. Zee: "We need time to bring Earth to a level of technology that can help us."
Cmdr. Xavier: "And where do we get this time if we've brought the Cylons to Earth's door?"
Green Music Note galactica803.wav Capt. Troy argues with Cmdr. Xavier about time travel. I love the random line from Xavier: "You're a dreamer and I'm a warrior."
Green Music Note galactica804.wav

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipgalactica80_1.mpg - 11.4m
Flying motorcycles! Troy and Dillon get accosted by Brion James' gang of bikers, but the viper pilots just zip off into the wild blue yonder to avoid any trouble.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 [2]
Re: Galactica 1980
Reply #9. Posted on June 26, 2012, 10:29:54 PM by FatFreddysCat
Quote
The older series was incrediblely expensive to produce, something like $750,000 per episode, and the network executives wanted something similiar to the older series, but cheaper, and the show's producers tried, but they couldn't do it.

I met Richard "Captain Apollo" Hatch at an autograph signing for his first Galactica novel during the 1990s. Someone asked him why he wasn't in "Galactica 1980," to which he replied, "That...thing?" Haha. He then explained that the network (ABC) told the producers that to bring the show back they'd have to do it as cheaply as possible, hence the re-casting of nearly every major role with no-name actors and the recycling of special effects shots from the original show.

He also said "The show probably wouldn't have been any better even if I had been on it"
Re: Galactica 1980
Reply #10. Posted on June 27, 2012, 03:16:50 PM by Pacman000
I bought this on video, under the title "Conquest of Earth."

I knew it was the Galactica 1980 pilot; I knew it was supposed to be bad.  Still, I never expected it to be that bad!  The original series was campy but fun; this wasn't even good for a laugh. Dull, Dull, Dull, worse than "Planet of (the) Dinosaurs."  Bluesad

Still, I have all the edited-from-the-TV-show-for-international-audiences movies, so it's not all bad.  
Re: Galactica 1980
Reply #11. Posted on August 07, 2012, 08:41:51 AM by Flangepart
Richard hatch is my hero!
Good on ya, mate!
Re: Galactica 1980
Reply #12. Posted on August 07, 2012, 10:47:39 AM by ulthar

Anybody see all ten or so episodes?


I probably did at the time.  I was a die-hard fan of the original and probable 'refused' to give up on this.  I just don't remember, which is likely a defense mechanism.

I do remember it stunk - royally stunk.  And for me to admit that at the time would have been a big deal.   But it was really awful.

How bad does a show actually have to be for fanboys to KNOW it reeks within the first viewing?
Re: Galactica 1980
Reply #13. Posted on August 07, 2012, 12:11:32 PM by AndyC
I was a die-hard fan of the original and probable 'refused' to give up on this.  I just don't remember, which is likely a defense mechanism.

That sounds about right for me too. I can remember a few little bits and pieces - a character, a situation, maybe a line of dialogue - but nothing more. I'm sure I saw all of it at the time, though, because I would eat up any science-fiction type show, particularly if it started well, or spun off of a good show, as this one did.

The odd thing is that I can remember these shows were crap, even though I'm sure I never missed an episode and wouldn't have viewed them as critically at age 9 or 10.
Re: Galactica 1980
Reply #14. Posted on August 07, 2012, 01:14:30 PM by FatFreddysCat
I was 10 years old when the show aired and I probably watched all the episodes at the time, too, even though I wasn't crazy about it -- being a young fanboy, it's likely that I tuned in every week with the vain hope that the show might get better as it went along.

I do know that when "Galactica" was syndicated in the early 80s, my local station would show "G-1980" episodes randomly mixed in with "original series" episodes, so I guess Universal must've sold them all as one big package. I would tune in and if it was a "1980" episode I'd quickly change the channel and hope to get a "good" episode the next time!!

Other than the pilot and "Whatever Happened to Starbuck" episodes I remember very little about the other "1980" shows aside from a few random bits & pieces. (and I'm in no hurry to re-live them via DVD anytime soon!)

I have vague memories of a Halloween themed episode in which the heroes ducked into a house where a costume party was going on in order to escape a Cylon Centurian that was pursuing them; the Cylon came into the house through the kitchen and then someone turned on the microwave oven, which caused the Cylon to short circuit. (Fellow children of the '70s might recall that back then, people who had pacemakers were advised not to use microwave ovens or even stand too close to one, for that exact reason!!) Does anyone else remember that bit or did I imagine it??
Re: Galactica 1980
Reply #15. Posted on August 08, 2012, 08:12:39 AM by Flangepart
Nope, I saw that one too.
Had Wolfman Jack in it, as well.
Re: Galactica 1980
Reply #16. Posted on August 08, 2012, 09:48:19 AM by FatFreddysCat
Nope, I saw that one too.
Had Wolfman Jack in it, as well.


Wolfman Jack was everywhere back then wasn't he??  TeddyR
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