Posted by:
Byron Brewer

The Wayback Machine: Battlestar Galactica (1978)

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It’s gonna be dynamite!

Or at least it’s gonna be published by Dynamite in 2013. Dynamite Entertainment.

Among a handful of announcements by Dynamite as the NYCC arrives today came the news that CBNfan favorite cosmic scribes Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (DnA) will be chronicling the adventures of those heroes from our youth: the frontier fighters of Battlestar Galactica!

That’s right, the same duo that invented the exciting Hypernaturals for BOOM, guided the Guardians of the Galaxy and more in Marvel Cosmic, and reignited the fire of Legion of Super-Heroes for DC will next year be recording the doings of Starbuck, Adama and your other favorites as they battle Cylons and unknown alien threats.

Knowing DnA, there will be more excitement than you can fly a Viper at!

In that vain, let’s fire up the ol’ Wayback Machine and venture to the year 1978 as I await my senior year in college and a mixture of Star Wars and other grand movies is about to explode on the small screen in my dorm: the premiere episode of Battlestar Galactica!

The series was created by Glen A. Larson and followed, after a first season (!) cancellation by a simply abominable sequel in 1980 that I would like to forget. A remake of Battlestar Galactica aired in December 2003, beginning with a two-part, three-hour mini-series developed by Ronald D. Moore and David Eick. This led to a weekly TV series which ran for four seasons between 2004 and 2009. A two-hour pilot for a second spin-off series, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Crome, was filmed, with plans of continuing it into a regular series. But the series was eventually scrapped.

But, if I understand right, it is the memorable if not successful 1978 series DnA will be concentrating on, with Starbuck still having keyjones!

Battlestar Galactica productions all share the premise that in a distant part of our galaxy, a human civilization lives on a group of planets known as the Twelve Colonies, to which they have migrated from their ancestral homeworld of Kobol. The Twelve Colonies have warred for decades with a cybernetic race known as the Cylons, whose goal is the extermination of the human race. The Cylons offer peace to the humans, which proves to be a ruse. With the aid of a human named Baltar (an inadvertent aid in the 2003 version), the Cylons carry out a massive attack on the Twelve Colonies and on the Colonial Fleet of starships that protect them. These attacks devastate the Colonial Fleet, lay waste to the Colonies, and virtually destroy their populations.

Scattered survivors flee into space aboard available crafts. Of the entire Colonial battle fleet, only the Battlestar Galactica, a gigantic battleship and spacecraft carrier (analogous to an aircraft carrier) appears to have survived the Cylon conflagration. Under the leadership of Commander Adama (Lorne Greene of Bonanza), the Galactica and the pilots of “Viper” fighters lead a fugitive fleet of survivors in search of the fabled 13th Colony known as – Earth!

Cool, eh? So why the failure?

Just a year after our eyes had first beheld Star Wars on the big screen, ABC was giving us sci-fi nuts Battlestar Galactica on the small one. Seemed to good to be true, and it was.

When ABC decided to make Battlestar Galactica a weekly series, it was at a then-record cost of a million dollars per episode, normal for such a series today. Battlestar Galactica received more publicity then any other television show before it, and debuted on Sept. 17, 1978to stellar ratings (65 million viewers). It was an instant sensation (key word being “instant”).

By the end of the season, Battlestar Galactica finished at No. 24 in the ratings. One week before the last episode aired, ABC announced its cancellation. Galactica fans were outraged. Protests were held outside ABC studios. A 15-year-old boy jumped off of a bridge, committing suicide because of the cancellation.

Why was Galactica cancelled? The truth is that no one knows for sure. It was probably due to a number of reasons. ABC gambled Galactica would be the No. 1 show on television. It wasn't. To finish the season at No. 24 must have seemed to them as failure. The show lost money due to its one million-per-episode price tag, but the writing certainly would have gotten better had the show gone a second season, as science fiction author Isaac Asimov was going to be brought in. As a result, the ratings surely would have gone up.

There was also a constant battle between the producers and ABC, as ABC's Standards and Practices Guidelines made it difficult to have a level of violence acceptable for good drama. The Cylons quickly became a joke as the space battles were ludicrously one-sided. The ending of “Fire In Space” was ruined due to the meddling of the censors, and their interference only made things more difficult for the writers.

Finally, some said that Universal put pressure on ABC to cancel the show. Others have speculated that ABC was jealous that Universal was receiving all of the profits on the vast amount of Galactica merchandise being sold. Certainly, the lawsuit from Twentieth Century Fox didn't help. Fox sued Universal, claiming that Galactica infringed on the copyrights of Star Wars. This was a ludicrous claim. While Galactica was certainly inspired by Star Wars, Star Wars was inspired by numerous science fiction stories before it. Just as the lawsuit was about to be thrown out, Universal countersued Fox, claiming that Star Wars infringed on Universal's 1972 science fiction film Silent Running. This claim was even more ridiculous than Fox's, and it only served to prolong the lawsuit until August 22, 1980, when the courts finally declared that Galactica was not an infringement on Star Wars.

And we think the situation with Marvel Cosmic is crazy today! Lol

Back to the future!

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