All Posts (24)

Sort by

Fire in Space

On to the next episode review!


Fire in Space Analysis
By Walt Atwood



Boomer and Athena are enjoying some "furlon" time (off-duty) in the Galactica's game room with other personnel, young Boxey (Noah Hathaway) and Boxey's pet robo-"daggit" Muffey (A daggit being a Colonial dog, played by Evie the Chimp). On the Galactica bridge, Adama and Tigh watch their scanners closely as an approaching Cylon baseship and fighter squadrons, which the Galactica evaded ten centares (hours) before, poise for an attack. The Galactica manages to launch all her fighters in time, and Apollo, Starbuck and Sheba (Anne Lockhart) proceed to blow the huge task force out of the sky. The Cylons aren't fighting back, instead, a couple of Cylon ships break through the vipers and attack the Galactica directly. The Cylon suicide mission results in Adama suffering critical injuries on the bridge, while the Alpha (port) landing bay is destroyed in a huge fire. The fire rages through the huge Galactica's interior, cutting off the game room and threatening the vital inner workings of the ship.

Dr. Salik, the Galactica's head surgeon, (George Murdock) discovers a metal fragment from the Cylon attack is lodged in Adama's heart. Still, Salik is reluctant to operate on his commander because of the ship's unstable condition. Power outages make surgery too risky. Firefighting crews, lead by the Galactica's Fire Leader (William Bryant) try advancing on foot with hoses to spray "boraton", a powerful extinguishing fluid, on the fire. But the Galactica's power plant and explosive storage remain in jeopardy, and the rest of the ship's fate along with them. Apollo, Starbuck and Sheba conduct straffing runs on the flaming landing bay with "mega pressure" boraton fire extinguisher cannon rigged in place of their weapons. The viper mission fails.

Boomer decides to attach an S.O.S. note to Muffey and the cyber-dog (er, "daggit") through the ventilation duct. Tigh visits Adama in the Life Center. Adama's condition is deteriorating, but through his weak voice we can hear his wisdom intact. The dying commander suggests a radical strategy: place time bombs on the Galactica's hull and blow holes in the ship's armature that will suck all the fire into the vacuum of space. As Apollo and Starbuck don spacesuits and begin a weightless travail to place the explosives at strategic points on the battlestar's exterior, the fire continues to rage. Vital parts of the ship are more threatened than ever. Apollo radios Tigh that Boxey trained Muffey to sniff out mushies, so Tigh places a tray of the snacks near an open ventilation duct. Sheba watches Starbuck and Apollo's spacewalk from her viper, running a close parallel course with the Galactica. Apollo nearly looses his handhold on the hull, and it turns out that the process of setting the explosives is more difficult than anyone expected. Muffey emerges next to the mushies, and Tigh reads the note from Boomer. Tigh attaches a sack of life support masks to the robo-daggit, along with a note warning Boomer about the explosive charges. Muffey crawls back into the vent, and makes its way toward the fire. Along the way, it spots and injured firefighter laying in burning corridor. When Muffey returns to Boxey, Boomer breaks out the air masks and Tigh's warning note. The trapped Colonists all huddle together and wait for the blast. But Muffey escapes through the vent again. In the Life Center, Salik decides to risk surgery on Adama's heart. Power outages make the operation tricky, but he presses on for his commander's sake.

Apollo places his last bomb, but slips off the hull. Sheba watches helplessly as Apollo tumbles over the blast zone. Starbuck see this, and lunges off the hull toward his captain. The two join hands and the momentum carries them off. Then the bombs explode, sucking the air out of the fire and ending the danger. But Apollo and Starbuck are nowhere to be found. Did they tumble off into space? Where they caught in the explosion? Sheba starts to look for them. She sees the two of them, gripping each other's hands. A shuttle is sent to recover them.

In the Life Center, Apollo is glad to see his father is awake and recovering. Boxey is mourning his Muffey. But Starbuck has a surprise: a burned and battered Muffey is hauled in. It appears that Muffey went back to drag the injured firefighter to safety. With a little work, Boxey's noble pet will be good as new.

A Second Look

People can look at this and see it is an obvious retread of THE TOWERING INFERNO and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. It is a disaster movie, scaled down and watered down for television. As a criticism, this view has merit only if this outing does not bring something new and innovative to the well-used concept. To be fair, BATTLESTAR actually does, by introducing the notion of spacewalking to the show. This episode also skips the usual guest cast appearances in favor of emphasizing the regulars. This is a welcome change, although it is too long overdue.

The notion of a fire in space is a tricky one to justify. Fire, in the terrestrial sense, requires air. If the Galactica's exposed landing bay were set on fire, one would think the failure of the atmosphere containment there would suck all the air out to begin with. And if all the ship's compartments are sealed, yet the fire keeps repturing them, why wouldn't the inferno eat through the hull and open up holes for the vacuum on its own? Still, the advent of a fire on the aging Russian space station Mir points to the limited possibility of fire in space.

This whole story hinged on a ridiculous design flaw in the landing bays of Colonial battlestars: the absence of a door mechanism to close off these huge caverns from space during a battle. Close a door over the gaping hole in the rear of these bays, and there's no clear way for a Cylon fighter to attack the inside of the ship. End of story.

The notion of Cylon suicide runs on a battlestar is hardly original. Since the series' debut, we have seen repeated footage of the very same tactic, even contributing to the destruction of the Battlestar Atlantis. If we had to see the Galactica crippled by a Cylon attack, couldn't the show's writers and producers come up with a new approach? In the fifth-year episode of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (Paramount/syndicated, 1987-94) entitled "Disaster", the Starship Enterprise stumbled upon a natural phenomenon called a "quantum filament", which blindsided the starship, disabling its power and communications. This left people trapped inside the great ship, suddenly cut off from essential services they took for granted. This ship's delicate power plant was also in danger of malfunctioning, threatening to explode and take the rest of the ship and crew with it. While this was far from being original by the time it aired (October, 1991), it did manage to bring new life to the "great starship in distress" concept.

The silliest flaw with both of these "great starship in distress" stories is that both crews should've had access to wireless communications. STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION's characters routinely used high-power, computerized badges for voice communication, while it would seem that BATTLESTAR's warrior characters would have vaguely similar technology. The notion these two stories tried to pass off is that, with the ship disabled, it's every man for himself. Neither one was very convincing. If computers, lighting, heating and gravity still worked, why not communications? Taken the other way, if communications were down, the characters should be in the cold, weightless pitch black.

At least we get to see Athena doing something other than calling reports out on the bridge. Too bad she comes across as an airline stewardess helping injured passengers.

Just what a black character needs to depict on prime-time network television: a juvenile delinquent past stealing hovermobiles.

Maybe it would've been better if Athena used her circuitry smarts to improvise an escape to the next compartment. We already know of her technical expertise from the series' debut.

If the time bombs can use a magnetic base, why couldn't the boots of the spacesuits worn by Apollo and Starbuck? Use of magnetic "gravity boots" was seen in STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (Paramount, 1992) and again in STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT (Paramount, 1996).

The best performances were given by Dr. Salik (George Murdock), Tigh (Terry Carter), Omega (David Greenham) and Sheba (Anne Lockhart).

Why would Sheba and Tigh have a hard time finding Apollo and Starbuck after the explosives go off? They have radio communications, don't they? And doesn't Sheba's viper have tracking scanners?

If the detonation of those time bombs cause the atmosphere to be sucked out of the fire zone, what good would those masks do Boomer and company in a vacuum?

Where were the Galactica's laser turrets when the crew needed them?

Why did Tigh insist there was a manpower shortage? Couldn't more firefighters be called from other ships in the fleet?

Spectacle value

The Cylon combat footage, which is repetitive from previous episodes, adds nothing to the action.

One of the hokiest gimmicks that is used in space action television and movies to show a starship suffering structural damage is the alleged spectacle of a structural girder, bulkhead or frame falling on someone on the bridge. This was a tired cliche long before BATTLESTAR was ever on the drawing board. It looked ridiculous when STAR TREK (NBC/Paramount, 1966-69) did it with a Romulan bridge in "Balance of Terror", and it looks worse in this episode. Did anyone ever stop to think that, if a starship were seriously damaged in an attack, a more logical spectacle would the failure of the ship's artificial gravity or the breeching of the hull?

The shooting of "boraton" fire extinguishing element from the vipers was a somewhat innovative, if decidedly weird, special effect. It begs the question: why not equip the fleet's other starships with "boraton" cannon, and have them draw in close enough to keep pumping the extinguishing substance into the Galactica, just as some habor fireboats do here on Earth?

While we're on the subject, isn't it interesting that the other starships in the fleet are not shown throughout the combat and fire portions of this episode? Where did 220 ships go?

Those wall phones seen on board the Galactica look so cluncky and silly today. Of course, they didn't win acclaim in 1978, either.

The Colonial spacesuits make their debut in this episode. They're bobbing around so much that we never get a definitive look at them. While they are a neat (and long overdue) effect themselves, I'm left wondering why we don't see helmets that look like they are more familial with the Egyptian-style viper flight helmets.

One handy special effect that is appreciated: Muffey. The robotic pet redeemed itself in this episode.


Despite the critical panning of this episode, the use of a similar plot in "Disaster" makes it clear that a "great starship in distress" story can work, if it is done well enough. The Cylon attack would have to use a more original approach (Why not show a basestar inflicting heavy damage, or trying out a prototype ship-to-ship weapon? Or how about showing the Galactica destroying a basestar, and the explosion causes collateral damage to the Galactica?) and showing some other kind of crippling damage that is not a fire.

How about showing spacesuits with magnetic "gravity boots"?

How about showing characters like Boomer and Athena is a more flattering light?

How about showing the rest of the fleet getting involved to help save the Galactica?

One key thought: if the Galactica were so ravaged by explosion and fire, what would be the ongoing consequences? This episode did not indicate how many fatalities resulted, nor did it illuminate how the damaged sections of the mighty starship were restored. It is a foregone conclusion that the landing bay and adjoining sections would have to be at least partially rebuilt... while in flight. The clearly implied ability to do this brings some more questions to mind:

1: if the Galactica is able to repair and restore crippling battle damage while in flight, why can't the Colonists use her underside to create a kind of "mobile drydock" cradle, for repairing, rebuilding and refitting other ships in the fleet?

2: We've seen the Galactica, which is supposedly a self-sufficient starship, relying on other ships in the fleet (such as the Celestra) for support services. Is it not a forgone conclusion that the Adama chose to shift some facilities to other ships in the fleet, to prevent over-reliance on one ship in the event said ship could suffer damage or other failure?

3: Why couldn't the Galactica use its in-flight construction capabilities to construct new starships? They would be constrained to a size the Galactica could handle during in-flight construction, but smaller ships could further decentralize and fortify the fleet, cushioning the refugees from even greater disaster if something happened to the Galactica.

None of these three points would necessarily alter the premise of BATTLESTAR. In fact, they could open new doors while still showing the vulnerable fleet wondering the Universe. The Colonists simply would not be as vulnerable as they started out after Carillon.

Tidbits & Nit-picks

One embarrassing goof in production values: "old" shots of Sheba launching and piloting her viper from "The Living Legend" show her wearing a pilot's helmet with a Pegasus on it. In other shots, she is shown with a helmet just like the Galactica pilots.

Speaking of "Legend", this episode's use of suicide Cylon fighters does make logical sense after Cain destroyed those two basestars near Gamoray. What happened to all of those fighters that returned to find their motherships destroyed? Baltar had to do something with them. As with the damaged Galactica in this episode, Baltar's lone basestar could only handle so many fighters at a time. The rest would have to wait their turn to refuel. The ultimate solution is to throw as many at the Colonists as possible, on a suicide mission. This is the implication used in the MISSION GALACTICA: THE CYLON ATTACK telemovie.

One interesting oversight is Tigh's reference to viper squadrons: he loosely implies there are only four. After the fighters from the Pegasus made the Galactica their new mothership, what happened? Were these squadrons absorbed into the Galactica's exisiting units, making each squadron double in size? Or did the Pegasus' squadrons disperse to other ships in the fleet, such as the Celestra? I don't recall Silver Spar Squadron ever being mentioned after the Pegasus vanished.

Why would a starship as compartmentalized as a Colonial battlestar need central air? Isn't it a foregone conclusion that the fire or poison gas could spread that way? And what's to stop the shock from the explosion from spreading throughout the ship through those ducts? Wouldn't it make sense for every compartment (or maybe every section, or subsection) to have its own self-contained life support systems?

They should've shown Boomer replacing the ventilation cover in the storage compartment and turning a knob to seal it shut to keep the atmosphere in the room. Explosive decompression is not necessarily a better way to die than fire or smoke inhalation.

Does anyone ever notice the angle from which we see the airlock situated, relative to the Galactica's engines? It looks like Starbuck and Apollo would have to be right on top of the burning sections when they emerged. Does this imply they walked through the fire to get there?

Read more…

Considering the events of this past weekend it more than occured to me that it was was high time to write a sequel to the original Anatomy of a Photoshoot which is featured on ...which I should explain a bit before delving into this one!

A couple of months back, my good friend & most excellent photographer Chris Loomis did a full montage of photo's with my good friend Richard Hatch at Studio 1444 in Hollywood.

Just an aside, you can find Chris right here on the Fan Club site...have a chat with him!

Anyway I was lucky enough to be there with him along with our Deputy Vice President Herb BrunnerClub Member Cliff Gardner & get some video time in with Richard.

We had a great time....& as a matter of fact is was SO great that we thought we'd repeat it.

This time out Chris did a photoshoot with my buddy Noah Hathaway.12578017085?profile=originalNoah is of course best known for his roles as Boxey in the original Battlestar Galactica as well as Atreyu in The Neverending Story...look out for his upcoming film Sushi Girl!

Come see Noah if you are in the Dallas-Fort Worth Texas area on February 11-12, he will be joining our Vice President Paul Nix at the Battlestar Galactica Fan Club table at the The Sci Fi Expo in Irving that weekend.

On top of that Chris also hosted actress Adrienne Wilkinson, best know for her roles in Xena: Warrior Princess, Days of our Lives & the current Vence: The Series...such a gracious person & just simply nice too....12578017684?profile=original

Yesterday was a long day....but fun!

Besides the photo's included here...please check out the full set of photo's (that I took at least!) in of course our photo section!

Some people probably think that doing a photoshoot is easy...WRONG!

It's fun but a lot of work too...& if you take a peek at the video...I've found that my friend Chris Loomis had some talents besides being...again, THE most excellent photographer on the planet...I was really quite amazed!...well you take a peek & see what you think!





Read more…

The Living Legend Part II

The second half of Walt's take on this two-parter...


The Living Legend (Part 2) Analysis
By Walt Atwood 12578018652?profile=original


Baltar is personally leading an attack on the Battlestar Galactica, using the combined Cylon fighter-bomber squadrons from three baseships. The Galactica and her fighters, outgunned, are on the ropes with Cylon attacks on the landing bays making relief impossible. Baltar savors the moment until one of his Cylon co-pilots notices the approach of another battlestar: Commander Cain (portrayed by the late Lloyd Bridges) aboard the Pegasus orders a counter strike with his ship's fighters freshly fueled and armed. Baltar's fighter narrowly avoids collision and anti-fighter fire from the Pegasus. He notices Pegasus' vipers swarming in and sounds a retreat. Cain radios Adama aboard the Galactica and requests a conference to plan their next move.

On the Galactica, Cain insists that the one way to prevent Gamoray's fighters (they have four complete squardons, the equivalent of a baseship) from joining Baltar's strike force in a attack would be to attack the Cylon city immediately. Once the supply depot is secure, the fleet can refuel and escape. Cain points out that with the Galactica damaged and still in need of fuel, Adama's flagship should remain over Gamoray until it is time to escape. The Pegasus will go out to meet the returning Cylon fighter squadrons and decoy them away from Gamoray. Adama reluctantly agrees. Apollo, Starbuck and Boomer and getting ready for a parachute drop onto Gamoray when their insubordinate rivals Sheba (Anne Lockhart) and Bojay (Jack Stauffer) show up and offer their familiarity with the target. As the airborne-commandos get ready to move out, Casseopia stops Starbuck and notes that Cain is leaving in the Pegasus without her. That can only mean he doesn't expect to come back. Since the commando team doesn't have a med-tech, she volunteers to go with them.

A shuttle sprints into Gamoray's atmosphere, and drops the commando team into the Cylon's outer capitol. Once there, the commandos start planting explosive charges on an exposed munitions dump. The team regoups to attack command post, but they are missing Bojay, they go back to find him hit. Casseopia manages to stop Bojay's injuries from getting any worse, but she has to stay behind with him while the others attack the Gamoray's office complex. While the warriors make their way back to the Cylon headquarters, the Cylon Imperious Leader's ship lands at the air dome. The Leader has come to dedicate the newly completed base. In a great reception hall, many Cylons gather to greet their Leader. The Leader appears, and begins his address to dedicate the capitol. Just this occurs, the charges planted in the capitol go off. The Cylon Leader demands an explanation. Starbuck and Boomer are first to make it to the Cylon command station. They get into a firefight with the locals and bomb the place. With the Cylons incapacitated, the battlestars launch fighter squadrons to strafe the defensive installations and secure the depot. With that done, shuttles begin arriving to rescue the commandos and to drain the fuel stores. As a shuttle begins taking Apollo's team up to orbit, he notes they are heading for the Pegasus. Casseopia gave the order because Bojay needs medical attention. She tells Starbuck she still hasn't decided, she is still confused. He tells her he understands.

Baltar learns that Gamoray is being attacked. He sees this as the perfect opportunity to attack the Colonial fleet; they will be vulnerable. Lucifer tells his commandant of how the Imperious Leader has come to Gamoray to dedicate the base. Baltar changes his tune: "Send everything we have to destroy those two battlestars, and let not a single ship return until that's accomplished!" As the Cylon squardons head for Gamoray, Cain orders the Pegasus to charge toward the baseships. Apollo confronts Cain, saying that he will be sending all the pilots of both battlestars, including Sheba, into battle against the odds. As the Pegasus meets the Cylon squadrons, Cain launches the combined forces of vipers from both battlestars to spearhead a corridor for the Pegasus right through the Cylons. The Pegasus takes on heavy damage to her landing bays, and its seems the Cylons will close in from behind and destroy the battlestar. But Baltar determines that the Pegasus is attempting a decoy to draw Cylon fire away from the Colonial fleet at Gamoray. He orders the Cylons to continue on to Gamoray, leaving the Pegasus alone. The Cylon attack force veers off, leaving the Pegasus to continue on, away from Gamoray. Apollo and Starbuck, who landed on the Pegasus when Sheba's viper was damaged and she was injured, realize Cain is planning to continue on to attack the Cylon baseships. Casseopia tends to Sheba's injuries aboard the Pegasus, which is undergoing quick repairs. Adama and Tigh realize that Cain's decoy isn't working, the Cylons are continuing in the Galactica's direction. They order a withdrawal of troops and shuttles from Gamoray. Adama opens a communication link to Cain, and confronts the Pegasus' commander about what he is doing. Cain admits he is out to attack the baseships, thus again he will draw the Cylon fighters away from the Galactica. Adama concedes there is nothing he can do to stop Cain.

Apollo is to lead all of the fighter squadrons on an escort of the Pegasus shuttles back to the Colonial fleet. All the injured and non-essential personnel are to be evacuated on the shuttles. On the lead Cylon basestar, Lucifer reports that the Pegasus is continuing to advance in their direction. Baltar is horrified upon discovering that the legendary Commander Cain may be after his head. He orders the fighter squadrons to reverse course, and return to the baseships for protection. Apollo and Starbuck realize the course that the shuttle fleet is taking will lead their force away from the path of the Cylons, should they return. So, why not check out the rear flank? The two steer their vipers to catch up with the Pegasus. As the Pegasus draws closer to the Cylon motherships, the Apollo and Starbuck's vipers approach from behind. Baltar orders the two supporting baseships to confront the Pegasus, while his baseship will retreat.

Cain is surprised to learn that two vipers are passing the Pegasus and attacking the two nearest basestars. Apollo and Starbuck note that the Cylon juggernauts can't fire at the vipers without hitting each other, so they don't. The two warriors pick off the Cylon weaponry, severely damaging the starships. The Pegasus moves in and fires her own weapons at point-blank range. The Cylon ships explode in an incredible cascade of energy. When the bright lights die away, there's nothing but smoke and debris. The Pegasus is nowhere to be found. As Baltar's fighter squadrons approach, Apollo and Starbuck sprint for the Galactica.

On the Galactica, Sheba is still recovering in the Life Station. Apollo and Starbuck visit her, and they speculate on what became of Cain and the Pegasus. The rogue battlestar has not been heard from since it engaged the two basestars. It was never conclusively proven to be destroyed. With the Cylon fighter force from the three baseships returning with no baseships to land on and drained fuel cells, the Pegasus could've slipped away. Adama stops in and welcomes Sheba to her new battlestar and a new family.

A Second Look

This clever story of maneuvering, both in tactical moves and in relationships, stands on its own as well as the first part of "The Living Legend" did. It introduces us to new characters who would continue to appear in the series, while also showing them working with and relating to the established ones. Unlike the first half, "Part 2" does not show a Colonial fleet as threatened from within as it is from without. Instead, the reclosive Cain orders his ship to go off on its own, with very little confrontation from Adama and his people.

Many aspects of the battle tactics in BATTLESTAR GALACTICA seem derived from MIDWAY (Universal, 1976), the epic hours-long feature film detailing the changes of fortune of the United States and Japanese navies from the Battle of Coral Sea through the pivotal Battle of Midway, in late May and early June of 1942. "The Living Legend, Part 2" especially capitalizes on the deceptive feinting tactics seen in MIDWAY. Still, Cain's reclosive battle tactics seem to have more to do with two other more commentary-based war movies from the 1970's, namely PATTON (Paramount, 1970) and COLLISION COURSE (TV movie, 1975). In PATTON, George C. Scott portrayed the legendary U.S. Army commander George S. Patton, Jr., who lead campaigns in North Africa, southern Italy, and the Battle of the Bulge. Scott's Patton was shown as a harsh and eccentric figure, sometimes abusive of his troops, sometimes a loose cannon. The movie translated to television well, which makes this GALACTICA outing somewhat disappointing. Lloyd Bridges could not draw his character from a real-life military leader, so he made up a gambler with big guns. Cain's egotistical demeanor seems to have as least something to do with Henry Fonda's portrayal of an insubordinate Gen. Douglas MacArthur in COLLISION COURSE, which focused on the Korean War.

So, now we're back to playing HOGAN'S HEROES again. Is that all these warriors can do, just sneak into enemy installations with curiously lax security, and plant stick-on bombs? At least the notion of parachuting commandos into the capitol was original enough, even though it remains to be seen how they landed on this alien world and knew right where to focus their attacks. It also remains to be seen how they managed to fly a shuttle so close to the city so that the parachutists could be deployed without being intercepted by Gamoray's fighter squadrons.

A recurring problem with BATTLESTAR's depiction of violence is that it makes the ongoing war with the Cylons look like a game, instead of the horror that war is. When the vipers fly strafing runs on the Gamoray capitol, pilot Jolly comments "This is almost to easy!" Indeed, this show is one of the most vivid examples of how the series trivializes combat. Even if prime-time television in the 1970's had to remain bloodless, earlier series such as COMBAT! (ABC-MGM/UA, 1962-7) showed it did not have to be a plastic parody of the real thing.

The "city" which the commandos parachute into looks conspicuously like a college campus in California, which fan lore maintains it is. The boxy concrete architecture of the buildings seems so incongruous, after what we've seen of the Cylon ground stations in the past. Could it be that, like the captured castle/citadel seen in "The Young Lords", these facilities were designed and built by the Delphian Empire? In the interior scenes, we see IL-series Cylons and centurions gathering to greet the Imperious Leader. We also see another species, which is not given a speaking role in the episode. This species is shrouded in shiny capes, and has what looks like a cyber-mechanical prosthesis for a face. Are these Cylons, or are they Delphians under Cylon rule?

The Cylon Imperious Leader, voice by Patrick Macnee, appears for the last time in this episode. Unfortunately, we never get to see the Leader's face. We see a profile of the Leader, facing away from our view. It looks conspicuously like the show's makers did not want to show to whole costume. Maybe this would've been too expensive, and maybe it should've been that way. To show the Cylon Leader in this episode, then reduce "his" appearance to only a couple of incidental scenes, makes the whole "dedication" into a ho-hum plot device. Given the significance of this figure, and the history of the Cylons on this show, it was clearly a mistake not to show more of the Cylons' interplay and eventual reaction to the Colonial attack. Could the Leader have been on Gamoray in anticipation of Baltar's attack on the fleet, and subsequently to relieve the human commander of his post in favor of the traitor's execution? Did the Leader know nothing about what was happening in this galaxy? And isn't it interesting that the Leader's arrival suggests even more Cylon forces would be on hand for the Imperious escort? There could be yet another baseship in the area (this was shown in the MISSION GALACTICA telemovie) which would raise the Cylon firepower to five baseships! And two battlestars got the best of them. Now that's pushing the envelope!

There is the implication from the viper strafing runs that yet another Imperious Leader was killed by the Galactica warriors, this one the second after the destruction of Carrilon.

Speaking of Carrilon, isn't it neat that the Cylon/Ovion tylium mines caused that planet to completely explode, but a more severe attack on the munitions dump on Gamoray leaves the base intact enough for the Galactica's shuttles to extract enough fuel to replenish the fleet's reserves? Given that whatever the fuel is that powers spaceships in BATTLESTAR must be powerful enough for those ships to at least approach the speed of light (if not go many times lightspeed) then wouldn't detonating an even small amount of this fuel create an explosion which would dwarf most nuclear devices on contemporary Earth? (The munitions dump must have some fuel, or something similar.) This is no nit-pick after "Saga of a Star World, Pt. 3". If anything, raiding the supply depot would be out of the question.

At least in STAR TREK, ground troops employ computerized sensing devices called tricorders to analyze the situation and tell them the difference between a repair shop and a command office complex. The commando team does not appear to use anything but their eyes and ears.

Spectacle Value

Despite the recycling of fighter combat footage ad nauseum, there are some long-overdue interesting sequences in this episode. We get to see a confrontation between starships (two Cylon basestars against the Battlestar Pegasus) for the first time. We also get to see a nice viper-strafing sequence where Cylons on the ground get chewed up by incoming fire.

There is a comical sequence where Apollo and Sheba catch up with Starbuck and Boomer, just as the Cylon command center explodes. Did they find the command center? Yep. Where? There! Kaboom!

You have to hand it to BATTLESTAR's makers: they recognized that commandos look good in basic black tights.

At the beginning of "Part 2", we see Batlar's fighter narrowly avoid collision with the Battlestar Pegasus. The size of Baltar's fighter seems unusually large next to the nose-section of the Pegasus.

Fans have been known to criticize the decline of production values in this episode. There is a sequence where recycled stock footage of a shuttle in flight is superimposed over itself a handful of times, to create the appearance of a squadron of shuttles in space. The recycled, overlapping footage doesn't fit together. It makes two of the shuttles look like they're about to collide.

A far worse misuse of stock footage would have to be the missile launch from the Pegasus during its final battle with two Cylon basestars. The images of missiles launching was actually real-life footage of the Command Module separation from the final stage, prior to "LEM Extraction" during N.A.S.A.'s Apollo moon missions. In "Part 2", this footage, unedited, is used to look like a torpedo/missile is being fired from inside the dark recesses of a launch tube on the Pegasus. An external view of this same process can be seen during the outstanding APOLLO 13 (Universal, 1995). The missile firing is further shown by large red streaks shown across the Cylon basestars. These red streaks look especially cheap and cheesy.

One semi-nice computer graphic used on the bridge of the Pegasus would have to be the profile views of two Cylon basestars. They are not very detailed, and not entirely correct in their proportions, but still fairly effective.

The best effects are when Apollo and Starbuck's vipers strafe the basestars. We get to see some new perspectives on those ships, even if they aren't well-lighted. It makes for a nicely done combat sequence.


This episode would be viable, although the combat would have to be much more creative than the same old same old. This is not simply true of the space dog-fights; it is especially true of the commando sequences. It would've been more convincing if several commando teams had landed, possibly using a bomber-craft or a small contingent of two- or three-seat vipers. It would really be interesting if dedicated, full-time infantry were used, instead of fighter pilots. There would have to be an explanation as to how the commandos got close enough to the Gamoray base without being detected. Perhaps a shuttle or bomber could land a discreet distance away from the base, and then use smaller, mini-viper-like attack craft to approach at low altitude. And the troops would have to do something more creative than plant those silly stick-on bombs. Maybe a computer virus could be inserted into a security system?

The story would have to allow less time to useless rituals, like the protracted display of fighter launches and dog-flight sequences.

The Cylon Imperious Leader would have to be presented in more than just a profile view, or a seated view from behind. Perhaps the Leader should be a special effect, like the adult ALIEN.

How about explaining the infiltration of the Gamoray base by showing cooperation with a Delphian underground? The natives of this planet could be part of a larger empire that is threatened by the Cylons. By working with the Colonists, they could be overthrowing the Cylons, while still leaving the base intact enough to sieze its technology to prevent a Cylon counter-strike.

While Adama's position is logical in regards to not being able to secure a planet, this episode missed the opportunity to show the Colonists doing more than just going on the offensive. It could've shown them having the upper hand over the Imperious Leader and impressing upon the Cylon chief that hunting down the human refugees is becoming more trouble than it's worth. It would also have been interesting to see Baltar pleading with Adama and Cain to spare the Leader.

It would also have been interesting to see the Galactica warriors stealing vital Cylon information from the Gamoray computers, and then sharing it with the Delphians, in exchange for information that might lead the Galactica to Earth.

In MISSION GALACTICA: THE CYLON ATTACK, footage of the bridge of the Cylon basestar from the BATTLESTAR episode "The Hand of God" is cannibalized to show the Cylons' reaction an attacking Colonial battlestar. Despite criticisms of MISSION's patch-together nature of grafting footage of various unrelated episodes together, this was actually a nice touch. Maybe we should've seen more footage of Gamoray and the two basestars, each prior to their respective attacks. This would've meant making "The Living Legend" into a three-parter, which might not have been a bad idea, especially if it meant showing dedicated commando teams working with a Delphian underground.

Despite BATTLESTAR's very loosely sci fi pretense, this story had more to do with a war/fantasy arrangement. It was STAR WARS without the magical, mystical hokum. Perhaps it would've been better if Delphian collaborators with Cylons were exposed on Gamoray, ahead of a Cylon move to take over this world.

Tidbits & Nit-Picks

During this episode, Cain makes a couple of hitherto unheard of mentions of spacecraft protection. Prior to engaging the Cylon basestars, he orders "all electronic defense shields to maximum power". Later, he expresses confidence that the Cylons will not be able to survive a point-blank-range missile launch, "not even their shields will be able to help them". What was he talking about? The only shielding we ever explicitly see in GALACTICA is armor plating that comprises the hulls of starships. Is he talking about something else? If so, why do Apollo and Starbuck find it so easy to strafe the basestars, knocking out their flankside missile launchers?

There are some interesting inconsistencies in this episode. The Colonial brass is correctly convinced that there are three basestars involved in the attack on their rear. From "Saga of a Star World", and later "The Hand of God", we know a basestar carries approximately 300 fighters. As a result of "The Living Legend, Pt. 2", we know that the Galactica wound up carrying the combined fighter compliment of both the Galactica and the Pegasus, thanks to the evacuation. In "Hand", Tigh stated in regards to fighters, "You'll be outgunned, two to one." This implies that the lone basestar in that episode likely carried twice the fighters the Galactica retained. That would mean there would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 fighters between the squadrons originating from the Galactica and those from the Pegasus. If three baseships attacked with a full standard compliment from each, it would imply that a maximum of roughly 900 Cylon fighters would be involved. Yet, in "The Living Legend, Pt. 2", there are repeated references to the viper pilots facing "three to one" odds. It would seem more like six-to-one odds. When one factors in the fighter compliment on Gamoray (Lucifer indicates "four complete squadrons; the equivalent of a baseship.") that would imply a total of 1,200 Cylon fighters. And if we accept that the Cylon Leader arrived in yet another standard baseship, this brings the total up to 1,500. That's ten-to-one. The only way out of this is to assume the Pegasus has a very large overstocking of vipers and pilots, say, three times the implied normal compliment of about 75 vipers. In order for that number to be reduced by the time of "Hand", an awful lot of pilots and ships would have to vanish.

Upon hearing explosions in the Gamoray capitol, the Cylon leader also uses the decidedly old Earth expression "What, pray-tell, was that?"

In "Part 1", Tolan (Rod Haase) appears to be the Pegasus' top enlisted man by virtue of his position on the bridge and his demeanor. ("If you officers will excuse us...") Yet it appears in "Part 2" that Cain is addressing Tolan as "Colonel". Yet another inconsistency. Where's the Chief of the Boat when you need him?

We do get to see a greater variety of IL-series Cylons, as well as those other gold-shrouded creatures, in the grand reception hall on Gamoray. Too bad we didn't get to see more of this earlier in the series.

One irritating scene takes place in the Cylon headquarters on Gamoray: an IL-series Cylon is noting the detection of a U.F.O. in their quadrant. The person speaking the line nearly fumbles it on the word "quadrant". Could it be, like so much of the content of this series, that this scene was thrown together at the last minute?

Why do the Cylons need a city on this planet? To call it their own, maybe? And just what does constitute a Cylon civilian society, just different kinds of androids other than centurions? And what do all of these Cylons do? Do they build more ships to locate and establish bases on more planets? Do they sit around and write Java applets all day long? What do they do?

Nit-pick special: Spotlight on galaxies

Despite references throughout the series that clearly indicate the Colonial fleet is traveling through at least one galaxy other than their home one, some BATTLESTAR fans insist on ignoring this and assuming that all references to speed, astronomy and travel are suspect. While there is ample reason for this attitude, "The Living Legend", in both parts, reaffirms the notion of intergalactic travel, and that Gamoray is located in a galaxy other than the Colonists' home stars.

In "Part 1", Adama is disappointed upon learning that the Cylons control Gamoray, noting that if they do "they wield power across half the Universe!" While fans assign exaggeration to this, there's only so far that exaggeration can go, in light of explicit intergalactic references, especially in "The Long Patrol" and "The Hand of God", along with loose inferences in other stories. It is noted from "The Long Patrol" that, upon entering a new galaxy, Apollo tells Boxey that "no living human in this fleet has ever seen before", and the subsequent discovery of a human presence in this galaxy, including descendents of migrants from the Colonies, appears at first to be a contradiction. But perhaps it isn't: What is so wrong with a local cluster of galaxies being connected by some network of naturally occurring wormholes? Migrants of the past could've spread to other galaxies and lost contact with the Great Colonies easily. And just because no living human in the Galactica's fleet has never seen the stars of a different galaxy doesn't mean the migrants descendents had to forget about the Colonies, either.

On possible explanation for interstellar, and maybe even intergalactic, travel in BATTLESTAR lies in an alternative form of travel that would be divorced from either thrust-based rockets or "warp" drive in the STAR TREK sense.

Fan Susan J. Paxton, ( wrote on the Battlestar Galactica E-List: "In his novels Jerry Pournelle proposed what he called the Alderson drive, which assumes there are naturally occurring flaws or lines of force between star systems, along which ships can move almost instantaneously by using their FTL drive at the points where the flaws intersect normal space. This has become almost ubiquitous throughout science fiction; Lois McMaster Bujold uses it, Weber and White use it, etc. It certainly explains why the Colonials always seem to be near or in a planetary system..." Perhaps the same fllaws could exist between galaxies. And perhaps Adama knew about the Delphian Empire because the Delphians once visited the Great Colonies, long ago.

Still, there is another reference in this episode which lends itself to the notion of intergalacitc travel. When the Cylon Leader gives a dedication speech on Gamoray, the Leader makes the following remark: "With the securing of this outpost, deep in the heart of the Krillian Star System, our supremacy is all but assured." While BATTLESTAR frequently mangled astronomical terminology, confusing a galaxy with a star system, the Cylon Leader's language does appear to lend itself to the notion that Gamoray is meant to assure Cylon presence in a Krillian Galaxy

Read more…

Quotes from Peter Berkos

Peter Berkos was the sound effects editor on the Battlestar Galactica 1978 series. In 2004 Peter Berkos was awarded a lifetime achievement Oscar for his outstanding career in sound editing. For Battlestar Galactica he was responsible for the sound effects of the laser guns, the barking of Muffit and of course the distinctive voice of the Cylons. He was interviewed some years back about his career and how the sounds on Battlestar Galactica were created.: "Battlestar Galactica fell into my lap. When it was ready for post-production, I was not working on a feature film. I met Glen Larson, a man I had great respect for, we hit it off and I was invited to be part of the team. I was asked to run the rough cut of the film, which had no sound refinements and conjure up appropriate sounds for the various space crafts, lasers, interiors, exteriors, robotics for animals, etc. Every episode of Battlestar Galactica presented a new challenge. Glen [Larson] had a keen, inventive mind. The battleships, the Vipers, the Cylon craft, various modes of transportation were established early and used week after week. However, each week I had to create new fantasy sounds: radar mine fields, celestial castles, galactic night-club atmosphere, actually, too many to recall. For the Cylon voice,a 'vocoder' was used in tandem with a companion sound, I seem to remember it was a synthesizer. Only one actor was used for all Cylon voices to keep the sound consistent. I was in the recording studio during the taping to insure a monotone reading. Then in the editing room to introduce the dialogue onto the sound track and finally in the dubbing studio to combine the recorded dialogue and the synthesizer through the vocoder. I created the sound effect for the moving eye ;a simple electrical sound on a loop. I can tell you how I got the sound of laser guns. I started with the snap of a bullwhip. We recorded sharp cracks, which we expanded electronically (It was so long ago that don't remember the name of the instrument we used). We then fed the elongated sound through the mixing panel to add highs. Frank Warner, who did the sound effects for Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, used the same principal, however, instead of a bullwhip, he found a telephone pole with a heavy cable that extended to the ground. Frank recorded the sound of hitting the cable with a hammer and recording the sound. He then worked with that sound at the panel to turn it into laser shots. When you create sound effects, you find your own starting point. "

Read more…

Remember Galactica

Buffeted and battered,

Bobbing against riptides

And odds,

Reluctant protector and leader

Relentlessly seeking,

Ruthlessly sought

Gnashing and nervous

Railing against a fate

That visionaries cannot know.

Obsolete, and vital,

Unfailing, a constant,

Amid swirling alliances, and bloodshed.

Tenacious and tireless,

Determined, driven by duty

Toward the truth

And the end.

Read more…

The Living Legend Part I

The episode that introduced the world to the Battlestar Pegasus & Commander Cain...


The Living Legend (Part 1) Analysis
By Walt Atwood




Apollo and Starbuck are flying on a routine viper patrol when they are intercepted by two vipers from the lost Battlestar Pegasus. Apollo remarks in awe, not only that another Colonial warship has been found, but that it appears to be the one skippered by the legendary military genius Cain (portrayed by the late Lloyd Bridges), Apollo's wartime idol.

Apollo and Starbuck get to meet Cain, and both use the debriefing to update each other on recent events. The Pegasus, presumed lost with the Fifth Fleet in the Battle of Molecay, fled the massacre and sought refuge in the isolation of the Delphian Empire's galaxy near their capitol of Gamoray. Gamoray, like so much of this galaxy, has fallen into Cylon hands. On the Galactica, Tigh informs Adama that the refugee fleet's fuel shortage seems to be the least of their problems; civilian transmission leakage from a hitherto unknown Cylon city has been picked up by the Galactica's sensors. Cain contacts an astonished Adama and shuttles over from the Pegasus with Starbuck and Apollo. Cain tells of how the Pegasus survived, raiding the never-quite-completed Gamoray. He proposes capturing the Cylon's new outer capitol for much-needed fuel and as a base from which to strike back. Adama brushes off the notion of conquest, instead favoring the capture of Cylon tanker starships to replenish the fleet's fuel reserves enough to escape.

In private, Starbuck, who learned aboard the Pegasus of Cain's past affections for Casseopia, tells his lover of her old flame's return. She finds Cain, alone, and the reunion is bittersweet. She recalls how Cain's daughter --Lieutenant Sheba, now strike commander of the Pegasus (Anne Lockhart)-- resented Casseopia's appearance in Cain's life after Sheba's mother died. Apollo happens upon Sheba and fellow Pegasus pilot Bojay (Jack Stauffer) bragging up their harassment of the Cylons on Gamoray in the Galactica's officer's club. Apollo draws out their incredulity when he tells of how life as a warrior aboard the Galactica means escaping the Cylons, and that the Pegasus' crew and commander will have to adapt to this new, defensive posture. Sheba starts to bristle at this, when in walks Cain and Casseopia. Sheba leaves, but not before Apollo tries unsuccessfully to privately confront her.

Adama and Apollo enthusiastically agree that Blue Squadron from the Galactica should accompany Silver Spar Squadron from the Pegasus in catching up with a routine Cylon fuel run before the tanker starships get out of range. On the mission, Cain pulls some surprise maneuvers, shocking even his daughter. The two squadrons split up. While Blue Squadron is taking flack from the tankers' fighter escort, Cain slips around and destroys both of the tankers. The mission is over. When Adama debriefs Cain, Apollo objects to the notion that Blue Squadron had anything to do with Cain's notion that the two squadrons didn't work well together. Sheba sits quietly through the debriefing. Adama insists on waiting until the following morning before deciding on whether or not to adopt Cain's strategy for an all-out frontal assault on Gamoray for the sake of capturing the Cylon fuel depot. After the debriefing, Apollo confronts Sheba about Cain's story. Cain, meanwhile, is rallying support with another round of drinks in the officer's club.

The next morning, Adama conducts a strategy session. The Commander-in-Chief proposes taking the fuel reserves from the Battlestar Pegasus (which are currently full) and portioning them out to the Galactica and the refugee starships. Cain refuses to cooperate. Adama tolerates only so much of Cain's insubordination before relieving Cain of his command. Tigh will assume the Pegasus' bridge and conduct the fuel distribution. Back in the officer's club, Cain is sulking in his drink when Sheba and Bojay sit next to him and offer to support him in stopping Adama. Cain says he is a good warrior who showed poor judgment, and what they propose is mutiny. He refuses to be a party to a military maneuver that would leave a fleet of refugee ships exposed to Cylon attack.

Baltar has gathered three Cylon basestars, and is preparing to launch a full-scale attack on the Galactica, apparently unaware of the presence of the Pegasus. He sees glorious victory parades awaiting him on Gamoray, which he looks to as his future seat of power. When Lucifer suggests waiting until after the attack to celebrate, Baltar suddenly decides to join the fighter squadrons in the assault. He will co-pilot one of the fighters. As Tigh takes command of the Pegasus, the senior bridge aide Tolan (Rod Haase) advises delaying the fuel transfer until after sentiment among the loyal Pegasus crew has time to settle. Tigh insists the transfer begin immediately. As Apollo and Boomer step out of one of a fuel transfer shuttle, they are greeted by a group of angry Pegasus warriors, led by Sheba and Bojay. When Apollo orders them to stand aside, Sheba and Bojay draw their weapons. Just then, the battlestar's alert claxon sounds. The Cylon fighters are closing on the Galactica.

Cain reports to Adama on the Galactica's bridge. It looks like three Cylon basestars worth of fighters, forty-five microns and closing. Cain admits he was wrong, that if an attack on Gamoray had been launched, the fleet would've been left wide open by now. He suggests that since the Pegasus is still on the far side of the fleet, the Cylons likely have not spotted it yet. He requests permission to resume command of his battlestar, swing it around and crush the Cylon attack in a surprise pincer move. Adama agrees to the plan.

As vipers launch from the Galactica, Baltar, wearing Cylon armor, commands his centurions to attack. Squadron after squadron of Cylon fighters pours into the fleet formation, attacking until the Galactica's landing bays are damaged. Baltar wants to keep the vipers at full throttle until they are exhausted. The Cylon ships have a place to land. The vipers won't. Fires break out aboard the Galactica, and the situation looks hopeless. But the Pegasus crew cheers when they learn that Cain is returning to take command. Tolan apologizes to Tigh for the display, but Tigh quips "I quite understand. Who can fight a living legend?"

As Baltar cheers on his centurions, one of his co-pilots notices the Pegasus approaching. Baltar refuses to listen at first, but then realizes they are on a collision course...

A Second Look

This episode, the first half of a two-part story, actually stands well on its own. Unlike "Lost Planet of the Gods, Pt. 1", or "The Gun on Ice Planet Zero, Pt. 1", the first hour of this two-parter is a story unto itself, even if it ends with a cliffhanger. Cain, who clearly has designs on the Galactica as a means to the conquest of Gamoray, ultimately admits that his pushy insubordination was wrong. Baltar finally leaves his precious throne to champion his cause first-hand, in a fighter cockpit. And Adama responds to a challenge in the chain of command. Apollo's admiration of his hero is crushed by a harsh reality. And Casseopia slowly learns you can't have your cake and eat it, too.

Another good thing about this episode is that the warriors get to go on a flight-mission for an important cause, without having to play HOGAN'S HEROES or loose a pilot on a backwater planet. Cain and Apollo lead their vipers on an offensive space mission that at least begins to stimulate the viewer's imagination. This was a very good start.

This is the first BATTLESTAR GALACTICA episode in which the prologue "There are those who believe..." spoken by British actor Patrick Macnee is no longer used between the show's teaser and theme music. Despite this episode exhibiting some of the most interesting drama in the series, there seemed to be a trend in recent episodes toward concept erosion. Instead of the theme being about "life here began out there", it seems that the show became caught up in the ongoing plot threads, not the fundamental premise laid down in "Saga of a Star World" and "Lost Planet of the Gods". Adama never even mentions the quest to find Earth in this episode. One result of this, which can be described as a mixed blessing, is when Lorne Greene's closing oration "Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny..." is absent.

One scene is shuffled around in the Sci Fi channel's showing of this episode, causing unbelievable discontinuity. First, Apollo and Starbuck meet Cain in his ready room aboard the Pegasus. Then Cain is shown aboard the Galactica, talking with Adama. Then, we're suddenly back aboard the Pegasus again, and Cain is showing Apollo and Starbuck holograms of Casseopia and Sheba. This scene obviously belongs with the scene where Apollo and Starbuck first meet Cain, since we can see the hologram projector off to the side. Subsequent scenes show Cain, Apollo and Starbuck aboard the Galactica, as if they had been there all along. There is no logical explanation for this blunder. At least in the MISSION GALACTICA: THE CYLON ATTACK movie, the scenes are in their proper sequence.

The appearance of Sheba, who is apparently the strike commander of the Pegasus, brings a sudden and welcome end to GALACTICA's girls-can't-fight-a-war pretense. Anne Lockhart makes her debut as a warrior who can be a strong command presence without the another-model-turned-actress sexism to subvert the character. On the other hand...

There is another, disturbing mini-scene shown in the Sci Fi channel's airing of this episode: When Tigh assumes command of the Battlestar Pegasus, Apollo and Boomer are shown arriving on a shuttle to begin the fuel transfer. When Apollo confronts the insubordinate Pegasus warriors and demands they step aside, rebel leaders Sheba and Bojay draw their weapons, obviously pointing them directly at Apollo and Boomer. The battle alarm breaks up this confrontation. This scene did originally air on ABC in 1978, but the actual drawing of the weapons was omitted from MISSION GALACTICA. Maybe that omission was not a bad thing. Drawing weapons on fellow officers in an insubordinate confrontation is a criminal act, no two ways about it. There's only one way to respond to that: court-martial, followed by dishonorable discharge and imprisonment. It doesn't matter what caliber of pilots those warriors might be; they cannot be trusted. Witness "The Gun on Ice Planet Zero, Pt. 2". A preferable solution would be to follow the MISSION GALACTICA omission.

Wouldn't the flight data recorders of the vipers involved in the tanker mission be enough to show (1: that Blue Squadron was not the cause of the tankers being destroyed, and (2: that Cain fired those shots at the tankers unnecessarily?

Baltar manages to make his madman's quest for revenge into a hilarious farce, even when it shouldn't be. How ironic that Lucifer has to bring him back from his imaginary victory parade. All this can be forgotten when we get to see Baltar in a Cylon fighter cockpit, wearing centurion's armor. That's entertainment, GALACTICA-style. Even the centurions must warn him of the dangers of spent fuel, and "the other battlestar".

Cain sure does spend an awful lot of time in the officer's club, doesn't he?

Spectacle Value

This episode recycles old space action footage from before, but gives it new life with the appearance of Cain and Baltar in their respective cockpits. Cain's firing on the Cylon tankers, followed by Apollo's questioning of what he was aiming at, was very effective. Baltar's combat outfit, combined with his ravings, has to be seen (and heard) to be believed!

The scene in Baltar's fighter when the Pegasus approaches from the side, while a simple effect, is very effective. It makes for a beautiful cliffhanger.

The computer graphic representation of the Pegasus' "visual echo" was also a nice, if simple, way of reuniting the two battlestars.

Alas, we're back to showing individual vipers launching again. And again. The plus here is that we get to see Lloyd Bridges in the cockpit.

Cain's holographic display was also a nice effect. After the viper simulations in "Lost Planet of the Gods, Pt. 1", this new effect reaffirms that holography was indeed part of Colonial starship technology long before the holodecks of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.


This episode, sans the drawing of the sidearms, would be quite viable. The Baltar "we are the champions" performance would have to be replaced with something more serious, although the scenes with the late John Colicos in Cylon armor were priceless.

The business about the fuel exhaustion would have to be scrapped. It was a transparent plot device that had already been done too many times in the series. A more clever need for attacking a Cylon city would have to be relied upon. Perhaps the arrival of the Imperious Leader in "Part 2" could supply some possibilities.

It would be nice to see at least one of the basestars involved in Baltar's attack.


Unlike the viper pilots' helmets for squadrons from the Galactica, Cain, Sheba and Bojay are shown wearing a crest insignia of a winged horse: a Pegasus. Their collar pins and breast/shoulder insignia are different as well.

In a different fashion cue from anyone else in GALACTICA, Cain, referred to as a commander, is shown in a pilot's uniform with a brown jacket; just like Apollo, Starbuck, and company. Unlike other pilot/warriors, Cain's uniform is laced with golden oak leaf-like ornamentation on the shoulders, and golden bands on the sleeves and the outsides of the pants as well. Vaguely naval, this is a very nice touch. It would look nice on other warriors' uniforms as well...

Strange how these parent-child arrangements seem to fall into place in the Colonial military. Adama originally had two sons and one daughter stationed aboard the Galactica, while Cain's daughter was a pilot aboard his ship, the Pegasus. And it's neat how the offspring seem on the fast track for advancement. Apollo and Sheba appeared to be the senior pilots aboard their respective parents' ships.

One odd note, though. Apollo has occasionally referred to himself as "flight captain" and "strike captain", while Sheba is only a lieutenant. I don't know if the term "glass ceiling" was coined in the 1970's, or later...

Athena is present in this episode, doing her best Lieutenant Uhura impression. (At least Maren Jensen gets to do more than say "Hailing frequencies open, sir.")

Tigh is insufferable in this episode, pushing the Pegasus crew until the Sheba/Bojay mutiny is inevitable. Tigh should've heeded the advice he was given.

People complain about the lackluster, patchwork quality of the MISSION GALACTICA movie, which sloppily splices together footage from predominantly two BATTLESTAR outings, namely "The Living Legend" and "Fire in Space". There are also scenes lifted from "Saga of a Star World" and "The Hand of God". At least "The Living Legend" portion of the movie was, in some respects, better than the chopped-up TV series episode airing on the Sci Fi channel.

The notion of a battlestar somehow escaping a massacre during the war and seeking refuge in deep space is a confusing one. It logically kept the Pegasus and her crew intact, but it also kept them from their home, without relief. If the Battle of Molecay happened "two yahrens ago," and this battle occurred before the attack on the home worlds, then it is safe to assume that the refugee fleet has been seeking Earth for less than two Colonial yahrens. Just how they've been in flight, and how long the Battle of Molecay took place before that is unclear. The only logical explanation falls back on the notion that Gamoray is located in a different galaxy than the one in which the Cylon-Colonial war occurred, and that the Battle of Molecay led to the Pegasus' escape sometime prior to the ambush at Cimtar.

Baltar refers to "the people of Gamoray", yet Cain appears to indicate the Delphian inhabitants of Gamoray are dead, "It's now a model of machine efficiency." Is Baltar referring to the Cylons on Gamoray, or are there still Delphians alive there, under Cylon rule?

What is/was the "Fifth Fleet" that was supposedly lost in the Battle of Molecay? Was it a task force of ships, derived from the Battlestar fleet seen in "Saga of a Star World"? It is assumed that there were twelve Colonial battlestars officially operating in the vicinity of the home worlds at the time of the ambush at Cimtar. Does the notion of multiple fleets mean that those battlestars were the centerpieces of several subsidiary groups of ships, possibly including smaller craft like the Celestra? Or could it be that there were other fleets of battlestars, unaccounted for at Cimtar?

One tired plot device shows anyone who discovers the Galactica, or some lost member of its compliment, scheming with designs on how to take advantage of them in their vulnerable state. Cain wants the Galactica to further his goal of conquering Gamoray; Sheba and Bojay don't seem to care about the effect their threatened mutiny would have on the safety of the civilians in the fleet. In the previous episode, "The Young Lords", Kyle seems to rescue Starbuck from the Cylons only to use the warrior in exchange for Kyle's father, Megan. The humans in this series are so corrupt and divided that it's no wonder the Cylons are able to keep moving in for the kill. The bad guys in this show are deadly, but the good guys are far too often their own worst enemy. It makes you stop and wonder who there is to root for, other than just Adama and Blue Squadron.

Read more…

The Young Lords

The next installment in the episode reviews of original series Battlestar Galactica by Walt Atwood...


The Young Lords
By Walt Atwood






Starbuck and Boomer are probing near the delta-class planet Attila in the Omega Sector when they are ambushed by four Cylon fighters. While three of the Cylon ships are destroyed, a fourth damages Starbuck's Viper before slipping away. Boomer leads Starbuck to Attila for a controlled crash landing.

On the surface of this marshy world, the Cylon garrison administrator, an IL-series model named Specter, is overseeing the fortification of a captured human castle when a centurion brings news of the viper battle. Specter radios Baltar aboard the human's Cylon baseship. Lucifer is not amused with Specter's flattery toward Baltar, but both are interested in seeing the Colonial pilot captured and interrogated to discover the Galactica's position. Starbuck, suffering from a leg injury, tries to evade a Cylon infantry squad. As the centurions carry the warrior back to their castle garrison, the squad is quickly ambushed by a small band of indigenous human youths riding in on Unicorns. Starbuck blacks out as they rescue him.

When Starbuck awakens later in a fire-lit cave the young woman named Miri (portrayed by Audrey Landers), clad in thin cloths and feathers, cares for him. Attila was invaded by Cylons in the recent past, and her family, who lived in the citadel-like castle, were driven underground. Most of the castle-villagers, descendants of migrants from the Colonies, were killed, except for this cave-dwelling of brothers and sisters. Miri mourns the loss of their mother. When the eldest boy, the tall teenage Kyle (Charles Bloom) returns and calls the pre-teen siblings to formation for a patrol report, he insists their father is also dead. Starbuck is baffled at how these children managed to both stay alive and harass the Cylons in the castle.

On the Galactica, Boomer and Apollo gain permission from an ailing Adama to take a shuttle back to Attila. They rule out sending a large force of vipers for the rescue. Tigh and Adama are both disappointed to discover the Cylons have penetrated this far into deep space. On the Cylon basestar, Lucifer checks over records of Specter's progress on the planet. It seems that, for a successful garrison which supposedly exterminated the inhabitants, Specter's unit repeatedly places substantial materiel requests, including calls for more weapons. When Baltar signals Specter again, the Cylon misleads the human by reporting the captured pilot is both in custody and receiving medical attention. Lucifer is still chaffing, but Specter is successfully conning Baltar into sympathizing with the garrison's plight; on such a wet planet, the Cylons are rusting. Kyle leads a raid on the castle again, but this time he has Miri plant a message offering to exchange Starbuck for their father, Megan. (Played by Bruce Glover.) In the castle's watch-tower jail, Specter brings Megan the news of his pending freedom, and extracts a commitment from the father to stop the rebellion.

As Kyle readies to exchange Megan for Starbuck by floating each across a mote, Starbuck pleads to Kyle and Miri to beware of treachery. True to form, Specter's infantry squad brings Megan to the mote's shore to speak, then puts a straw dummy in the Cylon boat to float across. But Specter is surprised to find Kyle's raft with the dummy wearing Starbuck's uniform. Kyle relinquishes command of the young warriors to Starbuck. They then plot to invade the castle through a secret entrance, rescue Megan and blow up the fuel depot. They chant a battle song with the plans on how the little ones will plant bombs and use slingshot grenades to disrupt the garrison.

Specter is caught in the position of having to explain the din of the attack to Baltar; the Cylons are destroying all shelter in a "scorched planet policy" as they await permission to evacuate their ailing unit to the basestar. Baltar falls for it, and Specter orders the troops to board the transport ship. Starbuck and Miri rescue Megan just as the family assembles in the castle. The Cylons depart just before Apollo and Boomer's shuttle lands. Megan decides his family will stay on Attila. Starbuck kisses Miri good-bye. Boomer snorts "I don't know how he does it."

A Second Look

Unlike the well-worn fighter-pilot-on-patrol-gets-stranded-on-a-planet-and-needs-rescued outings that have been all too abundant thus far in BATTLESTAR, "The Young Lords" is the most fun as a guilty pleasure. The kids get to recite, and then play out, their fireside commando battle song. (Was this an omen of the rap era, which hit the urban scene just a few years later?) Starbuck gets to make cozy with a very young Audrey Landers. (Child molestation, anyone?) And of course, true to the 1970's, the unicorn-riding kids from the cave dwelling in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe get to make war on King Friday's castle. One has to ask, why didn't the Cylons just take Trolley into the tunnel, or recruit the wicked Lady Elaine Fairchild to use her boomerang-toomerang-soomerang to win back the day? (XENA, WARRIOR PRINCESS would've sided with kid-power anyway. And we didn't need to see Starbuck loose Miri to a love triangle with Xena and Gabrielle.)

On the plus side, this episode establishes several Cylon conventions which make their presence more interesting and less confusing in the series. We see Specter, an IL-series Cylon like Lucifer, in command of a Cylon garrison. Specter distinguished himself as devious and conniving, while Lucifer displays suspicion and jealousy. ("Felgercarb!" and "Daggit drivel!") Baltar chuckles at the rivalry. There's more character development among the bad guys than anyone else in this story.

We also get to see more of the Cylon baseship's interior. Baltar is shown entering his new throne room, which is apparently the bridge of the dreadnought vessel. We see centurions manning control panels and dealing directly with him. And, much like the bridges of starships in STAR TREK, he uses a wall-mounted viewscreen for ship-to-surface telecommunications. His new throne pedestal is much smaller, but more attractive, than the huge one in the Imperious Leader-style throne room. (Notice Lucifer is never shown sitting in it or rising from it.) The passage leading to this chamber is shown, lined with buzzing electronic luminaria. Baltar is even shown engaged in the operation of the equipment here, as if he really is a hands-on Cylon commander-in-chief. Specter confers with Baltar, even taking orders from the human. This shows the character, played by the recently departed stage and screen star John Colicos, was growing both in depth portrayed and in influence within the empire.

Sadly, Baltar and his Cylon allies didn't grow fast enough in BATTLESTAR. These scenes should've occurred much earlier in the series. Specter and the Attila garrison come off as clowns, having been not just sabotaged but outright bombarded by a ridiculously small group of kids. The only way this could've worked would be to take the plight of the Attilans more seriously as a larger, bleaker, more serious rebel Underground. It would've helped if a cue had been borrowed from "The Gun on Ice Planet Zero", where the clones were hiding children and someone still living in the garrison had sold out to the Cylons. Another opportunity missed.

It is easy to ridicule "The Young Lords" showing such a small group of youths attacking a Cylon garrison. It trivializes the suffering of children living in an occupied territory. These kids act like they're out for summer camp. And the most ludicrous fakery of combat is shown when Specter orders the centurions to fire across the mote. The children confer with Starbuck, "what will happen to father", in a normal tone of voice while explosions from Cylon volleys are heard very close-by. While previous commando expeditions seemed to have too much to do with the World War II espionage farce HOGAN'S HEROES (CBS/Bing Crosby, 1965-71), this BATTLESTAR story seemed to make F-TROOP (ABC/Warner Brothers, 1965-7), the Western cavalry spoof, look good. Actually, F-TROOP was good. And F's Capt. Wilton Parmenter (Ken Berry) could've given Specter some pointers on how to deal with the Indians.

Still, we never learn the true size of Specter's castle unit. It looks to be simply an outpost of a small company of centurions. We never see the size of the transport ship the Cylons escape in, but the handful of fighters engaged in combat indicates a small listening station, like the one seen in "Lost Planet of the Gods". Such a station could be set up for early warning protection of the soon-to-be-dedicated Cylon city on Gamoray, in the subsequent episode "The Living Legend".

At least Starbuck gets the best line in the show, when he remarks, "at least we don't rust", in reply to a centurion's insult about the fragility of the human body.

It boggles the mind. The kids have custody of Cylon weapons which should be capable of blasting right through the castle walls, exposing the garrison and giving the little rebels the upper hand. (Those blaster rifles have to be more powerful than machine guns.) Still, we have to show the little tykes underfoot, planting bombs.

Spectacle Value

Sexpot Audrey Landers, older sister of equally attention-getting blonde tease Judy Landers, adds a little extra spectacle to the show. Ms. Landers' career in films and television dates back to 1970, and spans through the late '90's. True to BATTLESTAR's habit of eye-candy sidetracking, Landers would ultimately appear with her sister in one of PLAYBOY magazine's infamously "tasteful" celebrity pictorials in the early 1980's.

Despite the recycling of old space combat footage, this episode offers some nice new spectacles, including the castle images and the other new venues, both on the planet and aboard the basestar. Another nice touch was the use of improved aerial computer graphics when Apollo and Boomer discover the surface battle in progress.

A very nice scene was when Boomer inspects damage to Starbuck's viper. Note that BATTLESTAR's makers showed a moment of brilliance by illustrating the battle damage to the ship's exterior by showing electric arcs flashing through the hull breeches, rather than showing a fire.


This episode could be done, but its execution would have to be much better. Children playing a role in an Underground war movement do not look like cub scouts out for a camping safari in the woods. They look like the tunnel-dwelling Viet Cong. There would have to be some explanation as to how they avoid Cylon detection. Their appearance would not be Audrey Landers-sexpot-style cute, either. Starbuck would feel great sympathy for a budding young woman, but it would not be of the cliched show-me-some-skin kind depicted here. As with the previous "The Magnificent Warriors" episode, we don't need to employ any such kitchy stereotypes to arouse Starbuck, any more than we needed to put the farcical fear-of-God into Adama.

It would be nice if the notion of Attila being a long-lost Colonial splinter outpost were tied into the subsequent discovery of the Delphian Empire capital of Gamoray in "The Living Legend." Could the Delphian Empire have been an offshoot of the Kobolian migrants? Could Attila be a Delphian fringe colony? Or could a marooned wartime expedition from a lost Colonial starship have started a colony on Attila many yahrens ago? If the Battlestar Pegasus made it out further than this, the later scenario could be possible.

They should show the rebel Underground in a more sophisticated light. If the kids knew about the Colonies and were literate enough to identify Starbuck by his rank, then some spacefaring Colonists must've brought that heritage to Attila. Either these settlers' descendants survived the Cylon invasion through special powers indigenous to Attila or they retain some technology. It would really be more interesting if the Attilan unicorns, instead of just having a horn, also had wings. Imagine a unicorn-pegasus hybrid that could fly in attacks on the garrison! (This, of course, would be an expensive, though innovative, effect for the series.)

The notion that an entire world could be considered "controlled" by the Cylons, simply by garrisoning one castle, typifies the cheap tunnel-vision of BATTLESTAR's writing. It would be something if Starbuck led a revolt by recruiting former rival lords from other nearby castles, or by showing a larger underground from this one. It would also be more credible if it were explained that Attila's surface were mostly ocean and the castle served as an outpost on the world's largest island.

The equally ludicrous notion that a guerrilla war can be fought by such a small force without the guerrillas suffering even a scratch would have to be ditched. If a guerrilla war is going to be shown, there would have to be casualties and real fear in their lives. The Bajorans of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE are one example of how American sci fi TV did this successfully. World War II action for a small Army squad in rural Europe was shown at its nearly-bloodless best in the well-written COMBAT! (ABC-MGM/UA, 1962-7).

A Cylon occupation would have to be much more formidable and sinister. Think Nazis. Think Imperial Japanese. Think Soviets in Afghanistan. The characterization of Specter would have to be more than just a conniving royal milquetoast or a Colonel Klink. A good example of what prime-time television can do to show the ruthlessness of an occupying power would be WAR AND REMEMBRANCE (ABC, 1989), especially the scene when the Nazis in France confront the Jewish character of Aaron Jastrow (played by Sir John Gielgud). And the Galactica would have to send viper escorts to protect the rescue effort, even if they weren't sure where the previous ambush originated from.


This episode wastes time showing Adama, ill, in bed. Then Boxey comes along with the "pet" again. This takes time away from the story. At least we don't waste time showing spaceships being launched. Once again, Starbuck is missing on assignment and we don't get to see any reactions from Athena. We barely get to see Cassiopea express concern. Maybe they should've accompanied the rescue team. (Athena could've used the unarmed, boosted Recon Viper One to run interference over Attila, and later she could've used the superior speed and tracking abilities of the craft to home in on the fleet when returning to the Galactica, in case a change of the fleet's course were needed.)

So, Cylons worry about rust, eh? What a shame. Nobody better tell them about Ziebart.

Interesting that the Cylons conduct their command center in the castle's main hall, with a raging fireplace and candlelight. Why not show a centurion dressed as a court jester, performing a juggling act? Or maybe Specter could play a tune on a medieval flute. (Cylons don't breathe air, though. Or do they?)

It would make sense if the centurions wore holstered sidearms, not just carrying rifles all the time. It would free up their hands.

It was neat how Specter just hurriedly abandoned a working Cylon outpost, with the equipment still functioning. The Cylons left Attila without firing a shot. They could've nuked the castle from high altitude. Given time, and the possibility there might be other survivors hidden on Attila, Megan's revolt could prove to be a formidable thorn in the Cylons' sides. They took custody of their castle back, plus a full working garrison operation from the Cylons. And they have the wreckage of Starbuck's viper to salvage and study.

Maybe Specter expects the centurions will be as dishonest as "he". After all, are they going to refute their garrison commandant's lies about the "progress" of the "extermination" of the Attilans?

Since Boomer reported back about the firefight, it makes little sense not to send at least a small contingent of vipers to Attila. What do they have to loose? If the shuttle encounters resistance, lack of fighter protection makes a rescue impossible. Even if Specter's garrison has only one fighter left to muster, that one fighter could make short order of a shuttle. This is yet another reason why a bomber/ "PT boat" craft is desperately needed in BATTLESTAR.

Megan tells Starbuck how the Attilans are migrants from the Great Colonies, and Kyle knows about the Galactica from raiding the "tin cans". Earlier, in space, Boomer finds an unnamed "delta-class planet" for Starbuck to land on. Later, Boomer reports the planet's name is Attila, as if the Colonists knew about this distant world in another galaxy all along. It's so contradictory. On the one hand, Starbuck and Boomer are on patrol (in an area where there just happens to be a habitable planet for Starbuck to crash-land on) and never mention Attila. They don't even seem to be ready to deal with Cylon interceptors, or anything else, for that matter. And Starbuck is later surprised to learn of Attila from Kyle. Yet Boomer reports on this world to Adama.

The scene where Boomer inspects the damage to the underside of Starbuck's viper lends credibility to the notion this these fighters are faster-than-light craft which rely, at least in part, on high energy propulsion. (This as opposed to chemical-reaction rockets.) The electric arcs in the hull breeches are somewhat reminiscent of what you would expect of damaged warp nacelles in STAR TREK.

During the bedroom conference, Adama mentioned that a rescue operation would have less than 24 centares to recover the missing pilot and return to the Galactica.

Read more…

The Magnificent Warriors

Another from Walt Atwood's reviews from the classic series...


The Magnificent Warriors
By Walt Atwood



Blue Squadron serves as an advance interceptor force, to shield the fleet from a small Cylon attack wing. The warriors seem to have blunted the offensive, but a few of the attacking ships reach the fleet. To everyone's surprise, the Cylons do not engage military targets. Instead, the fleet's "agro-ships" (apparently mobile hydroponic greenhouses, used to cultivate nutrition for the fleet's population) are either damaged or destroyed. This forces Adama to seek out two things: an agricultural planet where new seed can found to restart the fleet's agricultural process, and an old, unmarked "energizer" to trade for the seed.

Apollo finds a suitable "energizer" aboard a Geminise freighter in the custody of a human woman who apparently has her eye on Adama: Siress Belloby (portrayed by Brett Somers). The only way the Siress will agree to part with her equipment is if Adama visits her and courts her. The old commander seems to regard this prospect with all the anticipation of a coffee enema. Still, Adama and the Siress accompany Apollo, Boomer, Starbuck, Boxey and Muffey to the surface of the frontier farming world of Sectar, setting down their shuttlecraft near the deceptively named village of Serenity. It seems Serenity's town constables have a hard time staying alive on the job. The problem lies with a cowardly populace that doesn't want to deal with a gang of piggish primates called Borays, lead by the Boss Nogow (Ben Frommer). At every showing of a full moon (Sectar seems to have several) Nogow leads his thunderous gang of Borays on horseback down from the hills to Serenity to steal supplies and turn the town upside down if anyone gets in the way. In need of a new constable, the town elder, Bogan (Barry Nelson) and his hired hands Carmichael (Olan Soule), Farnes (Range Howard) and Duggy (Dennis Fimple) try to slap the constable's badge on any drifter who happens into Serenity. When Starbuck and Boomer stumble into the Serenity saloon, Bogan targets the warriors as his next constables. The Geminise power source is stolen, and Starbuck is suckered into winning the constable's badge in a poker game. Boomer returns to the shuttle for help, and brings Adama and the rest of the party back to Serenity.

The Siress finds the Colonial dune-buggy with the power source hidden in the village. But then the Borays attack again, Adama decides he and the warriors will use their blasters to drive the intruders off, but Nogow abducts Belloby before retreating to the hills. Adama and party hop in the buggy and follow Muffey until the trail leads them to the Boray cave. Adama finds Belloby and tries to negotiate with Nogow. When that fails, Starbuck hatches a plan: make Nogow into the new constable and let the Borays move into town and run things. The raids stop, Nogow takes over, and the Colonists get their seeds. Belloby dumps Adama for a "real animal".

A Second Look

The only thing that redeems this farce is the chance to see Adama, out of his Fleet Blues, standing his ground on a planet surface with his warriors, with weapons drawn and firing. A little Ben Cartwright could've done this show some good. Too bad we don't see more of it.

The whole bit with Brett Sommers playing Siress Belloby was a disaster. Still, those who claim GALACTICA was just TV's imitation of STAR WARS may want to consider that Belloby was giving Adama heartburn a full decade before Majel Barrett-Roddenberry's Laxwana Troi chased after STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION's Captain Jean-Luc Picard. There is some consolation in there, somewhere.

It makes no sense for such an advanced spacefaring society, even one that is on-the-run like the Galactica fleet, to be threatened by famine. While it is a foregone conclusion that the Colonists have not mastered matter replication technology (have they?) it still doesn't make sense for them to be so vulnerable. How do the Cylons stop the fleet? Just pick off the agro-ships. End of story. The delicacies most commonly seen in the series are a clear protein drink and "mushies". How difficult could it be for each ship in the fleet to use some form of crude energy-matter distillation technology to synthesize these substances? If the ships of the fleet can synthesize breathable air and useful gravity, and if at least some of their ships are capable of achieving the speed of light, it can't be that technologically infeasible for them to fabricate edible delicacies using processes divorced from agriculture. Think of it: how did battlestars sustain their crews in deep space without support ships?

That having been said, the appearance of agro-ships, lifted from footage of the 1972 sci fi motion picture SILENT RUNNING, look great and are probably the only other good thing about this GALACTICA outing.

We get to see yet another human colony that seems to carry on in perpetual night. No sunlight to be found, but then the characters don't stay here long.

Just how are the warriors going to stuff enough seeds into one shuttlecraft to re-seed the entire fleet's agricultural base? Leave the dune-buggy behind, maybe?

Spectacle Value

The point is legitimately made that GALACTICA's fighter combat metaphor made for a monotonous regurgitation of Cylon attack footage. This episode at least attempts to superimpose action footage over the SILENT RUNNING agro-ship images. While it gets the job done, it also reveals some issues:

1: The fighter combat metaphor, once introduced, stifled creativity. This is because combat footage consumes an episode's airtime and leads to a predictable "sameness" of the outcome. A viewer must know the Cylons are going to use their fighters to attack either the Galactica or the fleet, or both. They are going to use their turbo-lasers to break down the Colonial defenses somehow, often the very same way, time after time. There is nothing new or interesting about it. The only thing special about this episode is a change in target.

2: There was no alternative to the fighter combat metaphor. While the Galactica would see action later on, in "Experiment in Terra" and "The Hand of God" (recycling footage of the Pegasus engaging Cylon basestars from "The Living Legend, Pt. 2") the limiting of action to just the vipers both cuts off avenues of advancing a plot and leaves a gaping hole in the viability of the fleet. While the use of fighters is inevitable in the GALACTICA format, over-reliance on them in light of no alternative metaphor for either confronting Cylons or exploring space hurts the show's ability to renew itself each week.

3: In the previous episode, "The Gun on Ice Planet Zero, Pt. 2," we see Baltar's forces pursuing the Galactica with not one Cylon baseship, but three. In the entire series run, we never see a basestar attack the fleet directly. They are obviously capable of it. It would've been more plausible to see a basestar targeting the agro-ships directly before being driven off by reinforcements from the Galactica. Granted, this kind of footage would cost more, but it would break up the monotony.

Unlike the Runabouts of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE or the Eagles of SPACE: 1999, the shuttles of GALACTICA don't seem to provide as interesting or versatile a setting for excursion scenes. We seldom see more than the "hind-quarter" of the ship or the cabin. Glen Larson's crew did little to make these sets look interesting. The aforementioned Runabouts and Eagles were more logically presented as viable ships in their own right. Each kind of ship offered better lighting, more compartmentalized interior, and better creature comforts to allow passengers and crew to endure longer voyages. Both also allowed for the use of firepower. Colonial shuttles, on the other hand, seem incongruous to the situation they arise from. They seem to be fragile, air-bus type vehicles.

The use of hard-to-read, 1970's-style eccentric computer keypunch lettering, similar to that used in the first year of SPACE:1999, as a caption to introduce the planet Sectar and the village of Serenity, looked odd and seemed unnecessary in light of Adama's "Captain's Log"-like oration.


Alternatives to the Cylon fighter combat metaphor would have to be found. There have to be other ways to show confrontation and attacks. To that end:

Two new kinds of ships would be needed desperately: a small starship (a little bigger than a Cylon tanker) for excursions away from the fleet without the danger of never making it back (something that could destroy any Cylon patrol it encountered, and be able to support vipers), and some smaller, shuttle-sized "bomber" craft. These ships would support the Galactica and the refugee fleet, while not altering the show's premise. Both the small Colonial warship and the "bomber" would have to be packed with automatic blaster-turrets to make them less vulnerable than viper-fighters alone. They would not be as maneuverable as fighters, but could easily outmaneuver larger ships. Maybe the small warship could even carry a very limited contingent of craft, say, a handful of vipers and a couple of shuttles/"bombers".

The show could never get away with the kind of demeaning display personified by Siress Belloby. A story like this would have to deal with more serious implications and issues, such as:

1: How the Galactica keeps the fleet going, in the event the Cylons attack civilian ships in the fleet. (I guess nobody ever thought of what would happen if the Cylons disabled the engines of even one or two ships.)

2: How the Cylons could pursue the fleet, and yet not expose nearby human-settled planets to any danger.

3: How these human settlements could use a language and culture even vaguely similar to that of the Colonists. ("My name is A-da-ma. What is your name?")

4: How Adama and the governing council handle catastrophic failures in the fleet, and still keep things running.

5: How the warriors remain on call to keep the refugee ships in shape. This notion was abandoned after the pilot episodes. We never see why.


Some would say the plot from this episode was lifted from THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (MGM/UA, 1960). Not me. I wouldn't insult a Yul Brinner motion picture like that.

Another little techno-question pops up in the story: the "energizer". Apparently, this portable power unit can be handed over to primitive inhabitants of this farming world with little or no support or fuel needed. (We don't see any tanks of tylium being handed over, do we?) We can assume that technology exists for both starships and planets to tap into some kind of zero-point, or other renewable, power source that requires little or no fuel. Surely this makes sense for indefinite journeys in space. And chances are that if it doesn't take in much, it won't put out much in the form of pollution/waste. This makes a great deal more sense than the notion of mining a planet for a flammable mineral to be used as a chemical propellant in rocketships.

How could three agro-ships grow enough food for a fleet of 220 ships? If the scenes in "Saga of a Star World" were any indication, it is not unreasonable to assume that each ship in the refugee fleet carries perhaps and average of, say, 500 residents. That's a rough guesstimate of 110,000 total refugee population, not including how many people the Galactica could hold. It's hard to understand how the space inside three agro-ships could grow that much nutrition.

If Blue Squadron was flying an "advance intercept" outside of the fleet to keep the Cylons at bay, where were the fighter-escorts to protect the starships themselves?

One would think that, at the very least, the refugee ships would be fitted with at least some form of automatic defense. Why wouldn't the agro-ship pack at least a couple of strategically-placed automatic blaster-turrets?

Adama complains he's been cooped up on board the Galactica "for sixteen quattrons", whatever they are. Adama did briefly spend time on Caprica before departing with the fleet. It raises the question: just how long have they been in flight from the Colonies?

Read more…

Yes!!! Blood And Chrome Is Appearantly back on track.  One suggestion, though. PLEASE Don't drag out storylines like they did with Caprica! "How the Cylons got Religion" was boring as frak! action mixed with Strong Characters will do just fine, thank you.

Read more…

The Gun on Ice Planet Zero Part II

Walt Atwood's look at the second half of this two-parter...


The Gun on Ice Planet Zero (Part 2) Analysis
By Walt Atwood






The Galactica fleet is at a dead stop in space, waiting for its commando team on the icy asteroid Arcta to disable the powerful weapon on Mount Hekla. Baltar is upset that the crash-landed commandos were never found and killed. On the surface of Arcta, Apollo and his team, lead by the Arcta clones, hide in a frozen crevasse while a Cylon foot patrol passes by. Once the way is clear, the clones lead Apollo's party to a vast underground network of interconnecting caves which form a village.

Apollo breaks off from his expedition to be led by a bearded male clone, Series 5, Culture 9 (Denny Miller) to meet the "Father-Creator", Dr. Ravashol (Dan O'Herlihy) in his laboratory. Apollo confronts the human scientist about the use of the Pulsar as "a weapon of war". At first, Ravashol pleads ignorance, "I have no control over the use of my creations; no responsibility!" But Apollo presses on and reveals that Ravashol's clones do not use the "energy lens" for benevolent purposes. Indeed Ser 5-9 insists the clones "would be whipped if they came near" the mountain-gun. But three Cylon centurions come calling, cutting the debate short. Apollo is able to secret himself in a curious trap-door inside an electronic "research stack", but Ser 5-9 is taken by Vulpa's centurions to be punished; a "worker clone" is not permitted to visit Ravashol, only "planners" are. Once the Cylons are gone, Apollo comes out of hiding and confronts Ravashol again, this time revealing the clone are secreting offspring in the underground village. Ravashol relents, showing Apollo plans to the mountain-gun and garrison and advising him on how to effectively destroy it. Ravashol warns the clones will be reluctant to help in destroying the very weapon which makes the Arcta outpost such a threat; without the Cylon garrison, the clones will want the mountain-gun as insurance. One of the convict/commandos, Thane (James Olson), secretly attacks a clone and steals his clothes just before being captured by the Cylons and paraded around before the villagers. Starbuck later reports back that Wolfe was killed.

Baltar presses Lucifer to keep the Cylon fighters from his base-ship in the environs of the Galactica. He keeps ordering the attack craft to attack and then withdraw to give Adama the impression that the pursuit force is actually closer to striking the Galactica fleet than the Cylons really are. Lucifer quarrels with Baltar over this strategy, arguing it jeopardizes the body of fighters. Baltar also radios ahead to Vulpa, ordering the Ravashol Pulsar gun to begin a random sweep of Arcta's approach corridor to further harass the refugee fleet. Vulpa gives up on the cerebral cortex scan of the captured pilot, Cadet Cree (Alan Stock) and orders the prisoner locked in a cold cell. The mountain-gun's skyward assault begins.

Ravashol accompanies Apollo to the village to meet with the clones. The clones resist the notion of destroying the Pulsar, but their "Father-Creator" urges them to regard the fleet of human refugees as their "brothers". The clones agree to assist Apollo in climbing Mount Hekla. Starbuck and Boomer set out with the female clone Tenna (Britt Eckland) to attack the garrison. The clones lead Apollo, Croft (Roy Thinnes), Leda (Christina Belford), and Wolfe (Richard Lynch) up the side of the mountain. As the Pulsar fires, the noise triggers an avalanche. The falling debris injures one of the clones, forcing Apollo to go on without them. Once up to the garrison heights, Wolfe pulls a blaster-pistol on Apollo and declares himself free. Croft intervenes, and in a struggle, gets the blaster. Wolfe escapes into the blizzard. Croft, Leda and Apollo continue their ascent. Inside the garrison, Starbuck and Tenna separate from Boomer's force. The two break into the Cylon brig and free Cadet Cree. They then rejoin Boomer and get into position to place explosive charges for their timed assault on the Cylons. Apollo's team reaches the summit, entering through an air-intake vent. Once inside, they secret themselves near the base of the gun so they can strike on schedule.

The Galactica fleet is forced to move forward in the corridor. Baltar has two more base-ships escorting his own into the area. The brilliant weapons fire from the mountain-gun is zeroing in on the Galactica. Adama has Tigh order all ships to accelerate through the corridor. On schedule, Apollo, Leda and Croft attack the base of the gun, taking out a few Cylons there. They plant the bombs on the gun's mechanism. If Ravashol's plan works, detonating the base of the gun will cause a chain reaction, destroying the entire facility. As Apollo is about to lead his team out, Vulpa appears and kills Leda.

Starbuck, Boomer, Tenna, and Cree attack the garrison's control center. With the Cylon forces in the dark, the team withdraws and meets Apollo for their descent in the elevator. The force reaches the bottom and evacuate the other clones and their children. As the Galactica is set in the sights of the mountain-gun, the surviving Cylons at the summit prepare to fire. The entire top of the mountain explodes. Far below, Apollo asks Ravashol what the Arcta community will do now. The "Father-Creator" promises that they will not bow to the Cylons again. He apparently has more defenses in mind for Arcta.

Baltar and Lucifer spar over the failure of the Pulsar plan. How will they explain this disaster to Barkol, the Cylon Imperious Leader?

A Second Look

The episode suffers from so many bloopers and non-seqitors it can barely be taken seriously. The weirdest continuity goofs come from the use of Vulpa, the golden Cylon command centurion on Arcta. Starting with the Ravashol scene in the laboratory, Vulpa is the first golden centurion to use a deeper voice. Later in the story, when Vulpa orders a probe of Cadet Cree's brain, that voice reverts back to the usual one used for silver Cylon centurions. To make matters worse, Vulpa is shown in two places at once. First, Vulpa is in command of the Pulasar's fire control station. Then, as Apollo's team is about to withdraw, Vulpa is shown surprising Leda. Vulpa is destroyed by Starbuck in that scene. Later, Vulpa is back up in the fire control station. These goofs underscore the need for Vulpa to be an Lucifer-like IL-series Cylon, if not of some other variety.

It doesn't make any sense for the commando team to split up. It seems more logical to board a few Cylon fighters at the garrison, launch them up to the summit, and attack the gun from below. They may not destroy the gun by doing so, but they could certainly disable it long enough to usher the fleet through. (The only new footage needed would be the gun being hit by weapons fire and some scenes with commandos in the cockpits of the Cylon fighters.) And the whole notion of the convicts expecting to use Cylon ships to escape sounds absurd. It would make more sense for them to seek asylum in the village. That would seem like an equitable trade where everyone, even Ravashol, would be happy.

The convenient way Apollo is hidden in the "research stacks" points to Ravashol being a double-agent all along. Ravashol doesn't seem too surprised by the notion of the clones having children, either. It is as if he had his own secret endeavors in place all along, and Ser 5-9 knew of them. It makes one wonder why there were no follow-up episodes or novels done on the exploits of Ravashol and his Arcta society. They seem to be more powerful than anyone else in the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA universe, except for the beings of light. It looks like Ravashol had designs on the Cylons; they seemed to have him right where he wanted them. Isn't it neat how the centurions have to ask for permission to enter the laboratory? And the centurions do nothing while Ravashol calls their commander on them.

Only on 1970's prime-time television would a kid (Boxey) refer to other kids (the offspring of the clones) as "children". That poor boy needs some starch taken out of his collar.

When Baltar's fighters begin harassing the fleet, Blue Squadron is called on to patrol the rear. In the ever-rudundant launch sequences, we see female pilots manning the vipers. Where were they in Part 1, when those cadets were in trouble? :-)

It is a forgone conclusion that a Colonial centon is analogous to a minute, give or take a few microns. Mount Hekla must be a pretty small hill if the climb to the summit takes only 200 centons. Maybe someone took the cable-car. Those Cylon fighters are looking mighty sensible.

Baltar orders Vulpa to begin random sweeps of the corridor leading to Arcta. This leads to a few perplexing issues:

1: What corridor? The images of Arcta and the fleet in space look like there's a backdrop of vast openness. Somebody forgot to insert some FX to make the image of the corridor more convincing.

2: Every time the Pulsar fires, a brilliant spear of light shoots skyward. Adama even has time to order evasive maneuvers to avoid the beams. This seems to suggest the weapon operates at the speed of light, though this is never made clear. So how much of a threat is this gun?

3: With the number of viper-squadrons the Galactica has available, how can that one gun possibly stand a chance in the event of an advance assault? (Of course, who's gonna volunteer to go in first?)

4: How come the spear of light keeps exploding in deep space, every time it passes the Galactica? Shouldn't it just keep going on into the galaxy, merrily evaporating any unsuspecting comets that get in the way?

The drama involving Ravashol seems to draw some small substance from THE HEROES OF TELEMARK, in which captive scientists are forced to live in their laboratory which the Nazis demand they accelerate their heavy water experiments. It seems more than a little ironic that Richard Hatch would appear on THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO as Inspector Dan Robbins, a character who succeeded Inspector Steve Keller, played by Michael Douglas. In "The Gun on Ice Planet Zero," Hatch's Apollo plays much the same role in the story as Kirk Douglas (Michael's father) played in TELEMARK. In light of these parallels, it should be noted that TELEMARK was no critical darling, and "Gun... Part 2" didn't pack the dramatic punch it could have. Too much fireworks and not enough plot and character development.

The basic plot rotates around the mission to neutralize the Pulsar so the Galactica fleet can escape. Still, what is this story really about? Is it about Baltar's obsession with avenging himself? Is it about Apollo confronting Ravashol about the scientist's responsibility? Will Starbuck begin warehousing girlfriends? There are so many sidebars going on that the story winds up being convoluted, a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.

Spectacle Value

The viper combat footage in this episode adds nothing to the story. It wastes valuable time.

The mountain blowing its top was a beautiful effect, although ridiculously derivative. The detonation scene in THE GUNS OF NAVARONE and Count Blofeld's self-destructing volcano in the James Bond flick YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (British/MGM-UA, 1967) had already done this more than a decade before.


The Pulsar weapon effect could be done more effectively, as an expanding bolt of energy instead of a straight laser beam. STAR TREK provides a few decent examples: in the "Classic" episode "Balance of Terror", the Starship Enterprise tries unsuccessfully to evade a Romulan weapon that resembles an expanding ring of fire. In STAR TREK - THE MOTION PICTURE (1979), the alien V'Ger launches plasma-energy weapons that can engulf whole vessels. But perhaps the best effect was the "shock wave" resulting from the explosion of the Klingon moon Praxis (STAR TREK VI - THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, 1992) or the forced super-nova explosions (STAR TREK - GENERATIONS, 1995).

The drama between Apollo and Ravashol would have to become the focal point. Getting someone in Ravashol's position to take responsibility was a golden opportunity to show both characters in a genuinely compelling controversy with no easy answers.

Instead of just running from the Cylons all the time, doing this story differently (setting it up so Apollo's forces could damage the gun temporarily with a view toward taking it over intact) would allow Adama to briefly turn the tables on Baltar. The fleet could lure the Cylon base-ships to Arcta on the pretense the fleet was trapped there. Once Baltar advanced, Apollo could turn the Pulsar on the Cylons. This would put the Adama in a position of power the Cylons would have to respect, and assuring Ravashol would maintain that respect even after the Galactica left.

The Baltar-Lucifer drama would have to be even better than this. The two often come across as bickering fools. If the whole Cylon allegory is supposed to remind us of the atrocities committed by the Nazis and Japanese imperial forces during World War II (only magnified), then we should see more realistic depictions of the war-criminal mentality. Lucifer could still be calculating, using that buttery-smooth voice, but what these characters would say would be much more sinister.


Again in this episode, there's another use of naval protocol: in the scene when the Galactica bridge crew realizes the Pulsar is destroyed, Tigh answers Adama's command with an "Aye, sir."

If Cree was being kept in a cold cell, how come he isn't suffering from hypothermia? He isn't wearing a hat or helmet, and much of the body's heat is lost through the head. Once Starbuck releases Cree, the cadet seems fully ready for combat. Cree should be incapacitated.

This is the first episode where the Cylon Imperious Leader is referred to by a name, not just a title: Barkol.

We also get to see Baltar in direct telecommunication with Cylon forces off his base-ship (he confers with Vulpa at the Arcta garrison). The scene leaves the impression that Baltar has clout as a Cylon leader, albeit at Barkol's whim.

They would have to put Dirk Benedict in a Fonzie-like scene where he's kissing three women. Why not just show him reporting for duty in red-velvet pajamas? Strangely in contradiction to this display, Tenna is shown speaking for her people in telling Starbuck the clones will not aid in an attack on the pulsar.

Bridge aide Rigel (Sara Rush) is given a little extra time at the end of this story to do something other than say "launch when ready" or recite a count-down.

The scene where Thane suicidally encourages the centurion to tamper with a "hand mine", thus resulting in both he and the Cylons being blown up in front of the villagers, was an important occurrence in the original airing of this story. This passage was omitted from the Sci Fi showing. Disappointing since Thane's death along with the Cylons probably helped fuel the revolt the plot seems to depend (at least a little bit) on.

Lucifer's sentiment "we are all machines, even you" seems odd for a race that seems to disrespect humans. The Cylon enslaving of the clones, rather than killing them, seems to mesh well with both Baltar's designs to seize control of the Colonial fleet, as well as Barkol's use of Baltar to be a "more charitable" dictator over the humans once they are captured. Perhaps extermination is only seen as a wartime tool, with the desired goal being subjugation. Apollo obviously doesn't see it that way. He believes that if the Cylons didn't kill him, he'd be better off dead than under their rule.

Read more…

Talking to Fred Armisen

The Battlestar Galactica Fan Club had the pleasure of speaking with Fred Armisen, an alumni of Saturday Night Live as well as his new series Portlandia.

Fred also was featured in such films as Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo & Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy with Will Farrell.

Here's another little thing to throw into the mix, he is a BIG Battlestar Galactica Fan & if you tune into the show this (1/13) Friday night you'll see just how big a fan he is....


Shawn; I hear that you are a really big Battlestar Galactica fan?...
So what's the history on that?
Were you a fan of the orignial series to start with?
Fred: A few years ago, somebody told me to watch it.  
They insisted.  
And I started and totally loved it.  
I continued on into the next year.  It was DVDs and also iTunes downloads.  
I also remember a long time ago, watching Patton Oswalt do standup at this club.  
He went on and on about how great Battlestar Galactica is.  
It's so good and I got into the humanity (?) of all the characters.  
I liked how flawed they made everyone, but not in a show-offy way.  
And they visually addressed how objects would fly through space.  
I know that's a weird thing to bring up, but the way the vipers move through space, they stop and turn so quickly.  
It makes sense that it would be that way out there.  
And Gaius.  
It was so cool trying to figure out what he was about.  
I didn't know very much about the original series.  
I like that Richard Hatch is so present in this one.  
I like when things like that happen.
Shawn: What's your take on Caprica?
Fred: It moves everything forward and keeps it alive, and I'm always a fan of that. It makes me optimistic too that more can still be made.
Shawn; You are obviously well known for your comeidic turns on film & with Saturday Night Live....
Talk to us about Portlandia....
Where did the idea for this show come from?
Fred: I used to make these short videos with my friend and musician Carrie Brownstein.  
They were just these weird little videos, not quite comedy, and we called it "Thunderant".  
We shot them in Portland which is where Carrie lives.  
After a while, we had enough to try to think of another venue for them.  
So we pitched it as a TV show.  
Shawn You think you'll be using the BSG theme on Portlandia in the future?
Fred: I'd like to.
Shawn: Anything you'd like to say to the folks in the Battlestar Galactica Fan Club & out there to the World directly?
Fred: I just want to say thank you for reading this and for having me on here.
I will tell you first hand that meeting the people from BSG was a HUGE thrill and I was completely starstruck.  
They are really cool.  
We got the crew of Portlandia hooked on the series too.  
On the episode, which comes out this Friday night, we built it so that the tension is like BSG.  
We cut it similarly and added that tense music.  
I love the show (Battlestar Galactica I mean) and this is a great site!  
Thank you!
Read more…

The Gun on Ice Planet Zero Part I

Walt's take on this two-part episode featuring Denny Miller & Britt Eckland


The Gun on Ice Planet Zero (Part 1) Analysis

By Walt Atwood



Starbuck and Boomer are leading three cadets on a probe mission out ahead of the Galactica, when they come upon a frigid, though habitable, planetoid known to the Cylons as Arcta. Brilliant flashes from the surface draw in one cadet, whose ship is destroyed from long range by a powerful laser-like blast; the Cylons are manning a huge, long-range weapon built into a mountain. This valuable information comes at a cost: interceptors from the Cylons' Arcta garrison force Cadet Cree (Alan Stock) to land. Starbuck is guilt-ridden at having to leave Cree behind. Adama now sees a pattern in the Cylons' strategy. It seems the Galactica is being shepherded by the Cylons in the direction of Arcta; apparently, this weapon could destroy a battlestar with one direct hit.

Adama orders a search found for qualified commandos for an expedition to attack the mountain garrison on the ground and destroy the super-weapon. The search turns up a list of convicted violent criminals, including Croft (Roy Thinnes). On the surface, Cadet Cree is captured by a Cylon foot patrol and taken to a golden-outfitted command centurion, Vulpa.

Adama recruits the unruly band of cut-throats to serve under Apollo's command. Before leaving for the mission, Apollo stops to check on his stepson Boxey. Boxey wants to see "what snow is like." Apollo takes one last look at Boxey and his pet robot-daggit (dog) Muffet, and leaves. The expedition launches in a shuttle with a single-viper escort. Cylon interceptors shoot down the shuttle, which crash-lands some distance from the mission's objective. The viper is destroyed. As the Cylons swoop over the shuttle, Apollo readies a "snow ram" personnel carrier. He discovers Boxey and Muffett secreted inside. The expedition boards the snow ram, and Starbuck uses the ram's top-mounted blaster turret to shoot down a menacing Cylon fighter. As the ram nears the mountain, a fight between the criminals ensues and results in the ram being disabled. The expedition sits tight inside as they await a deadly storm to pass. Muffet gets loose and runs off into the blizzard.

The team awakens in a warm, well furnished cave inhabited by a race of humanoid clones (Denny Miller, Britt Eckland) who tend to the newcomers' wounds and needs. Muffet brought the clones to rescue the expedition. When Apollo asks how these clones came to be here, they give credit to the "Father-Creator", the mysterious Dr. Ravashol. The clones offer to escort the humans to a village near the mountain. On the way through a frozen crevasse, the clones hide the humans from a Cylon infantry platoon. Muffet's growling leaves the last centurion in the column to look around for the noise, not realizing the clones and the expedition are hiding close by.

On a Cylon Basestar in deep space, Lucifer comes to the throne room to report on fighter sightings from the garrison on Arcta. Baltar surprises Lucifer by having already anticipated the Galactica's movement in that direction. He reveals the Cylon shepherding operation to be his idea. He wants to call for reinforcements to he can push the Galactica from behind and let the Arcta gun destroy the last battlestar once it is forced to move ahead. As Lucifer goes to summon more basestars, a fuming Baltar hisses to himself, "Soon, Adama. Soon..."

A Second Look

This show put sci fi TV onto the Ice Planet Hoth two years before THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Detractors claim that BATTLESTAR was imitation STAR WARS. Maybe George Lucas and company saw fit to return the favor.

One basic notion about the nature of planetary bodies that this story ignores could undo the entire plot: rotation. Even the conniving Baltar could not time his scheme so perfectly so that the Galactica fleet could not slip by while the Ravashol Pulsar gun is facing away. The only way to discount this would be to assume that the mountain is located at one of the planet's poles. If this were the case, the Galactica would have to approach from directly "above" the mountain. Surely the ships of the Colonial fleet would not be that limited in their approach vector. Again, Glen Larson and Donald Bellisario, the Hollywood whiz-guys that made BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, show little regard for just vast outer space, even interplanetary space, can be.

Funny how a screen-saver for us Earthlings looks perfect for a Cylon computer readout. Ah, the 1970's were a different time. :-)

For as brilliant as these recruited criminal/commandos supposedly are, one would think they could stop fighting each other long enough to accomplish their goal. The whole fight scene on top of the snow ram was a rather convoluted plot device. It would've been more interesting (and not necessarily more expensive) if the firefight with the Cylon interceptor had resulted in damage to the ram which eventually lead to its breakdown. In the end, the team had to leave the ram behind anyway. You can't use a machine like that to climb a steep mountain. So, why not show the ram just driving up to a group of clones? The clones could tell the expedition that you can't take the ram any further without being spotted by the Cylons, and then the team would follow the clones to the village on foot. Same end result.

The first part of this two-part story already establishes that this is a watered-down remake of THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (Columbia, 1961) and THE DIRTY DOZEN (MGM/UA, 1967), this time served up with outer space trappings. This story seems to be the perfect opportunity to tell an allegory tale about the life of commandos, like the U.S. Navy SEALS. Instead "The Gun on Ice Planet Zero" will start a bad habit of espionage and sabotage stories on BATTLESTAR which would seem more at home in the Word War II farce HOGAN'S HEROES (CBS/Bing Crosby, 1965-71). If this series was going to keep doing stories about commando raids, they should've made at least some recurring characters into full-time commandos. Thus far in the story, Richard Hatch's Apollo looks like a fish out of water. Why risk the Galactica's top fighter pilots like this? Starbuck might be understandable as the shuttle pilot. The whole notion of criminals participating in this mission is as poorly conceived of a plot device as using a child and his robo-mutt. The time devoted to these silly asides could've been more wisely used showing Starbuck (and maybe Boomer) having some kind of personality conflict with Nomen or some black-sheep team of SEALS which wound up on the Galactica after the Cylon ambush at Cimtar.

If this pulsar gun is so fearsome, the expedition's shuttle should never have been able to approach Arcta, let alone make planetfall.

Here we go again with Starbuck and women. Three blonde models who look like clones of Tracy Vaccaro. At least BATTLESTAR's makers gave Starbuck some foresight. (Vaccaro would ultimately become PLAYBOY's Miss October, 1983. Maybe Hugh Hefner and his centerfold-recruiting operation were "inspired" by this show.) And isn't it neat how the male clones speak without inflection, but the Vaccaro-alikes have that Euro accent? Funny how Starbuck has time to leer at the ladies while he's feeling guilty about leaving Cree behind.

The single-scene appearance of Baltar and Lucifer is much improved from "The Long Patrol", but still leave much to be desired. If this maneuvering is all Baltar's scheme, we should've seen more of his involvement. The only thing different we see is a more serious vindictive edge to his speech. These two characters are dying of neglect before our eyes.

Did Vulpa have to use the main gun to shoot down the viper when it was right on top of the mountain? Haven't these Cylons ever heard of secondary AA batteries?

If the Cylons have their own fighters in the air to fend off the good guys, what's to stop them from shooting down one of their own? Presumably, a garrison doesn't have an infinite supply of ships to expend.

Spectacle Value

There is the legitimate complaint that GALACTICA recycled many pieces of FX footage so many times they loose their effect. This show could've done without so many viper launchings. Still, this particular BSG outing gave us some atmospheric adaptations of that footage which were nicely done.

The pulse generator effect itself, revealing the guts of the weapon in operation, was an impressive effect.

The crash of Cree's Viper, combined with the full-scale mock-up of the ship in the fake snow set, were good. They could've been excellent if we had seen Cree's breath.

Use of the snow ram, especially Starbuck's shooting down of the Cylon fighter, was beautiful. A shame we don't get to see more of it. (Actually, it would've been neat to see suped-up work snowmobiles, or even STAR WARS-style moto-gliders, but that would've been even more expensive.

The notion of a Cylon hit rupturing the hull of the shuttle and resulting in a whole in the bulkhead was also nicely done.

We see, for the first time in BATTLESTAR, multiple conversations taking place between centurions outside of a fighter cockpit. Some conventions are adopted. One, a command centurion, Vulpa, is golden while its subordinates are silver. This is a nice touch. Another, clumsier device is the motion of the front of the Cylons' helmets when one centurion is talking in a room full of them. Since they all sound the same and all look the same, the Cylon scenes are often confusing anyway. Maybe they could have used the illuminated mouthpiece seen on Lucifer to better facilitate Cylon dialogue. For that matter, maybe they should have made Vulpa an IL-series Cylon. Jonathan Harris, the smooth-talking voice of Lucifer, could've done a creepier job torturing Cadet Cree. The real problem here is the lack of distinguishing varieties of Cylons. The show's makers should've developed at least two more series of them, or made more IL-series units with distinguishing characteristics. It would've been a nice touch to see an IL-series Cylon wearing a helmet-like cone, instead of having the glittering brains exposed. Maybe a different-colored face and cape would also have helped.

The computer graphics in this episode were a let-down. That goes for both Cylon and Colonial graphics. No excuses here; even for 1978 they were lackluster.

The superimposition of fog-like blowing snow in the "outdoor" scenes is tolerable. Again, it would be better if we could see the human and clone characters' breath. That would bring the cold home to the viewer. Instead, this comes of as sanitized, canned '70's TV. Fake, fake, fake.


This episode would be a tough sell. Even without the planetary rotation issue and THE GUNS OF NAVARONE/DIRTY DOZEN criticism, the characters would have to pursue this adventure in a more serious tone, like the espionage tale THE HEROES OF TELEMARK (British, 1965).

The time spent on the planet, both the Cylon scenes and the commando scenes, would have to be more extensive.

The clone society would have to be better developed than the plastic, bearded-men-and-model-turned-actresses. It could be quite interesting, exploring why the Cylons consider them sub-human. The groundwork for it is laid in this show. Perhaps the sameness of these clones could have a psychological effect not unlike the alteration imprisoned Jews endured in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II, when the prisoners' heads were shaved and they were made to wear simple clothes, if any. This demoralized the prisoners.

There are close connections between this episode and the novel. While the novel itself could've been better science fiction, it points to the very real possibility that television could follow a more intense, literary model, not unlike motion pictures. Perhaps is GALACTICA were more sci fi oriented, it would give the franchise more depth and drama.

The ill-fated viper escort for the expedition's shuttle underscored that GALACTICA needed an armed class of shuttle, not unlike the Runabouts of STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE or the Delta Flyer of STAR TREK: VOYAGER. How ridiculous that the only way the mission team could defend themselves from a Cylon strafing run was to get out the snow ram and use its weapons. Why can't the ship itself pack firepower? The bombers of World War II relied on fighter protection, but they also bristled with machine guns.

If the plot's basis in the notion that the Galactica is being "herded into this safe passage" were to make any sense to today's audience, there would have to be significant astronomical circumstances. Perhaps if the Galactica's fleet were being funneled through a star cluster or nebula, where there were all kinds of hidden hazards to linear space travel, the notion could be accepted. This would require an appropriate starfield backdrop for the spaceships to be set against. The best way to show Arcta as the key to the strait would be an imposing asteroid field. Would that not be out of the question for modern, computer-generated FX?


This is one viewer who doesn't see the point in showing a bunch of centurions standing in a row moving a couple of large slide-dials up and down. It looked silly.

True to form, we've already forgotten about the female viper pilot cadets. All boys again, and disobedient ones at that. Neat how they are entrusted with a ship before they are taught discipline.

This episode built up the Starbuck character. He is shown not only in a command situation, but with a commensurate attitude. He worries about the pilots under his command. He even says "that's a direct order!" In the strangely discontinuous scenes where Dirk Benedict wears shorter hair, he looks a little more military, by the way. There is a nice little scene where he is shown sneaking into a computer station and apparently inputting bogus career data to make it look like he's qualified so he can go on this expedition. Another beautiful scene is when Boomer is having a hard time accepting Starbuck's qualifications, even to the point of wondering aloud to Starbuck's face whether the records have been altered.

Another Starbuck special moment in this show, which some would dismiss as a blooper, is when he appears to address Adama in a naval discipline. He refers to the commander as "Captain", and says "Aye, sir" more than once. It's actually a nice touch. Too bad it is dismissed by some as a blooper. If Starbuck were a naval full-lieutenant, he would have the commensurate rank for the probe mission that a more junior airforce or marine lieutenant would lack. It would make more sense for him to command a small wing of fighters, piloted by trainees. And the reference to Adama as "Captain" opens up some intriguing lines of thought as well. Perhaps the term "Commander" is Adama's title, not his rank. And if this is true of "Colonel" Tigh as well, it casts a new light on how the Colonial military is organized.

I recently discussed evolution and conventions of naval rank with a former petty officer who was in the U.S. Navy. I learned that in some non-English-speaking nations, navies employ a ranking system that does not use the term "commander" as a stratum of rank, like the U.S., U.K. and Canada do. Here is an excerpt for an e-mail dialogue I enjoyed with this gentleman:

==========BEGIN TRANSCRIPTION================

Other European nations pretty much have the same number of ranks as the US, +/- one. Most nations use the basics of "admiral," "captain," and "lieutenant," just like we do. The subdivisions have come between different admirals (who commands fleets, who commands squadrons, who commands divisions), different captains (who commands bigger or smaller vessels) and lieutenants (who are senior enough to be command vessels, be seconds in command &c.). Most countries in the 1800s modified their navy ranks so they lined up with their army ranks. It's easier to transliterate the officer titles than the enlisted ones. You'll notice the odd-sounding title "captain-lieutenant," this is equivalent to our lieutenant commander and originated to indicate a lieutenant in command of a small vessel.

FRANCE Admiral Vice Admiral (Chief of Staff) Vice Admiral (Fleet Commander in Chief) Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Ship's Captain Frigate's Captain Corvette's Captain Ship's Lieutenant Ship's Ensign 1st Class Ship's Ensign 2nd Class GERMANY Admiral Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Captain Frigate Captain Corvette Captain Captain-Lieutenant Senior Lieutenant Lieutenant RUSSIA Fleet Admiral Admiral Vice Admiral Rear Admiral Captain 1st Rank Captain 2nd Rank Captain 3rd Rank Captain-Lieutenant Senior Lieutenant Lieutenant Junior Lieutenant

===========END TRANSCRIPTION=================

This opens the door for Adama's title of "Commander" to mean "Commander-in-Chief", a term often used to describe the top brass in a given theater, fleet or operation. If Tigh's "Colonel" is a title indicating his supervision of pilots and other infantry-style troops stationed aboard the Galactica (it's a mighty big ship; there must be some troops aboard her) then perhaps he fits into this naval scheme of things as well. As for Flight Captain Apollo, perhaps his rank connotes something like a "Captain-Lieutenant", or "Corvette Captain". This would make him similar to a lieutenant commander in the U.S.N. This rank would match his responsibilities aboard the Galactica, while still giving him room for advancement.

The notion of stated ranks of "Sergeant", "Flight Sergeant" and "Corporal" in GALACTICA need not conflict with this naval convention, either. Many navies of Earth use land ranks as assignment titles in naval infantry regiments and other atypical land-based operations. Hence a petty officer can be referred to as a "platoon sergeant". Italian and Dutch navies even incorporate "sergeant" and "corporal" as part of their basic naval rank stratum.

This kind of naval discipline would go a long way to more adequately defining the military culture, and thus the characters, of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.

Read more…

The Long Patrol

Introducing the review of the fourth regular episode of the original series...


The Long Patrol Analysis
By Walt Atwood




Filled with anticipation, Adama, Apollo, young Boxey and Colonel Tigh watch as the Battlestar Galactica leads the fleet out of a field of asteroid dust. When the ships emerge, they will have left their native Cyrannus Galaxy for an entirely new one, which "no human in this fleet has ever seen."

Adama is eager to begin scans and probes of this unexplored region of space. At the top of the list of volunteers to go on deep probe is Lieutenant Starbuck. Starbuck put his name in for the reward of a date on the Rising Star cruise ship. The warrior bribes his way into a private dining suite for himself and Cassiopeia. Lieutenant Athena finds out about Starbuck's whereabouts, and catches him alone in the dining suite waiting for Cassiopeia. She throws herself at him. Starbuck pulls Athena away from one suite and into another. He starts playing musical chairs between the private rooms, patronizing both women, when he is recalled to the Galactica for the patrol. He departs, leaving each lady with one of his warrior-pins. The Athena and Cassiopeia discover each other in the corridor, and realize what Starbuck is up to.

Starbuck, meanwhile, is reporting to Recon Viper 1, dressed in civilian garb. Life signs are indicated in sector alpha-6, and Adama ordered the lieutenant to conceal his warrior identity. Apollo and Boomer see Starbuck off. Apollo lets Starbuck know this fighter has double the ordinary speed and range, the drawback being the weapons were replaced with engine boosters. Once in space, Starbuck tries out the boosters. They prove to bit every bit as potent as Apollo promised. Starbuck discovers the ship is also equipped with a sentient on-board computer with a female voice that criticizes his flying as "sloppy." C.O.R.A., for Computer Oral Response Activated, advises her pilot that there is activity in the planetary system within sector alpha-6. An old, "sixth-millennium" sublight fighter is harassing an antique shuttle. Starbuck shocks the fighter pilot Croad (Ted Gehring) with a quick pass kicking in the boosters. The old fighter drops away, but the shuttle was forced to land on a nearby planetoid. Starbuck goes down to investigate. He finds a shuttle pilot, Robber (James Whitmore, Jr.) bootlegging ambrosia (cosmic wine? champagne?) of a stellar vintage. The shuttle pilot jumps Starbuck and steals away in Recon Viper 1. Starbuck is left to follow in the old shuttle, but is quickly apprehended by Croad, the enforcer from the Proteus prison colony. The two old ships set down there and Starbuck is imprisoned in an Aerian dungeon.

On the Galactica, Tigh is alarmed that Recon Viper 1 is beaming long-range signals in an unknown code back to their home galaxy. He fears a Cylon has taken control of the viper while on the asteroid's surface, and is using the transmitter as a beacon to attract more Cylons. This is exactly what happens: on a basestar in the Cyrannus Galaxy, Lucifer reports strange signals. Baltar orders interceptors launched to investigate. Apollo and Boomer are dispatched to track and destroy Starbuck's viper. Athena asks Cassiopeia to come to the bridge; with Starbuck's ship about to be shot down, Athena wants to tell Cassiopeia the news. But Cassiopeia recognizes the code as originating from the merchants of Aeries. Decoding the message reveals Robber is asking Aeries for coordinates; the renegade has no idea Aeries is in Cylon hands. Apollo's search-and destroy mission is called off. He and Bommer land on the asteroid Crodus to find Starbuck. Instead, Robber plays cat-and-mouse with the warriors on foot. Finally, Robber fears for his wife and daughter and surrenders. The "Robber" family tells of how the prison class has been trapped on Proteus for generations, serving Aerian Enforcers who have nothing better to do than manufacture ambrosia. Robber wanted to return to Aeries, but didn't have the ship to make it.

In the Proteus prison, Starbuck meets a bizarre cast of inmates who take on the crimes of their convicted ancestors as names: Forger (Ian Abercrombie), Adultress (Arlene "Tasha" Martel), and Assault (Sean McClory). The prisoners are glad to serve the war effort by making ambrosia, which the Enforcers feed back to the inmate population. Starbuck discovers this drunken social order has endured the centuries, despite the cell door locks no longer work; the people voluntarily remain and drink to their heart's content. But Starbuck reveals his true identity and tells of how this penal asteroid has long since been forgotten. He leads a revolt and all of the population rushes to the surface in time to see Recon Viper 1 landing, escorted by Apollo and Boomer. Three Cylon fighters are approaching, and Starbuck must lure them in so the other two ships can destroy the raiders. The plan works, but much of the stockpile of ambrosia is set ablaze by a crashing Cylon ship.

Even though the fleet changed course on learning of the Cylon fighter incursion, Starbuck and C.O.R.A. lead Apollo, Boomer and Robber's ships back to the Galactica. On the Rising Star, Adama hosts a banquet to welcome Robber and his family. Young Boxey presents Apollo with a drawing of a solar system Adama taught the boy about. Starbuck corrects the drawing, which he remembers from the cell walls on Proteus. Robber recalls a fellow inmate, "the Silent One," was wandered space before being imprisoned on the asteroid. The drawings belonged to the Silent One. This system included Earth.

A Second Look

Where "The Lost Warrior" failed to take the notion of an abandoned distant colony seriously, this episode at least begins to explain how it got there. There are vague similarities to isolated island-colonies in the South Pacific, and to Japanese soldiers secluded for years after the end of World War II. Still, it would be nice if we knew who the people of Aeries were, and what their relationship was to the Tribes of Kobol, if any. If "The Lost Warrior" had come after "The Long Patrol", things would've made a little more sense.

The notion of a backwards, Botany Bay-style penal colony is turned on its ear in this story, with hilarious results. While some people talk of how BATTLESTAR GALACTICA championed a supposedly conservative, militaristic theme, "The Long Patrol" illustrates that theme twisted around by an abusive social order kept in place by a mixture of misguided patriotism and booze. Here, Starbuck is ironically in his full glory leading an uprising against the establishment.

Nobody seems to care what will happen when the Cylons loose three interceptors in an inhabited planetary system. Will Baltar send more ships to investigate this loss? Does that not spell doom for the Aerian colonists on Proteus and Crodus?

This episode typifies how Baltar and Lucifer could be replaced by cardboard stand-up dummies and nobody could tell. "Launch fighters." "By your command." At least the basestar's eerie background noise explains Baltar's insanity. It would be enough to make anyone genocidal after a while.

Athena and Cassiopeia get air time in this episode, but the air seems used up by heavy breathing over Starbuck. The legitimate criticism has been made that women are depicted as either subservient junior personnel or as promiscuous teenage girls. Such is the case with "The Long Patrol", which gives away its 1978 origins. To be fair, one must remember that this was the era of disco, the first designer jeans, and the heyday of Hugh Hefner and Bob Guccione. The only era-inappropriate behavior of Starbuck is he was smoking a "fumarillo" (cigar) instead of some illegal substance. It is too bad that Athena, still listed as a viper pilot in this episode, wasn't shown piloting a ship instead of looking like an overglorified stenographer. They could've at least made her a lieutenant-commander; that would've given sitting in a chair reporting to Tigh and her father a little more credibility.

Donald Bellisario wrote a good premise in this show, but like all episodes of this series, we are left with questions. How did the Galactica fleet get from one galaxy to another? A vast, universal network of wormholes? What happened between Baltar and Lucifer? And why doesn't Adama want Starbuck to go on patrol in his regular uniform? Were the Aerians coopted by this "alliance"? How do the Cylons fit into this "alliance"? Do they lead it? In this show, the waiter of the Rising Star talks of what it was like "before the war". Later, the Aerian colonists on Proteus talk of how they helped the war effort hundreds of yahrens ago. Was there more than one war? Maybe a string of wars, spread out over more than a thousand yahrens? Or maybe one war, that was alternately hot-and-cold? These possibilities make more sense than just one hot war for a thousand yahrens straight.

How Starbuck leads Apollo and company back to the Galactica is not made clear. Do the same advanced abilities Robber used C.O.R.A. for to initiate long-range transmission prove useful in relocating the fleet?

The Irish metaphor in this episode sends it over the top. The curiosity exhibited by Adultress (Arlene "Tasha" Martel), as to what "Starbuckin'" is about was purely R.O.F.L.

Too bad BATTLESTAR GALACTICA slammed the door on galactic intrigue by totally wiping out the home planets. By the looks of the old "sixth millennium" fighter Croad was flying, and the loose intimations of other civilizations and intrigue, maybe they should've had refugees of only one or a few satellite worlds wandering space. The homeworlds could've been in chaos from internal divisions. If the Cyrannus Galaxy were teaming with schemes and counter-schemes of a variety of civilizations, the Galactica would have to navigate a more interesting course for its fleet.

Speaking of "sixth millennium" ships, how old could those ships be? If the events of the series occur in the 7000's, then that's the eighth millennium. This Aerian colony and ships would have to be over 1,000 yahrens old. Yet the Croad's fighter looks to be of the same lineage as the Colonial viper. By the way, that ship looked beautiful. Yet we never saw anything like it again.

C.O.R.A. is a pure joy. Her exchanges of sarcastic wit with Starbuck were worth a chuckle, even if the computer was too colloquial. Never explained was how Robber could steal the Viper and use it as a communications platform with C.O.R.A.'s cooperation. The computer can get smart with Starbuck, but never challenged Robber. And how did Apollo get the Starchaser operational again so quickly, after Robber had been stripping it down?

There is just a hint of science fiction in this episode, though only just a hint.

Spectacle Value

Funny how you can land on any one of a handful of asteroids and they each have agreeable climate. Funnier still that Crodus (Robber's refuge) has settlement and vegetation galore, yet it looks like a barren, airless rock from space.

The painting of the Proteus penal colony seen from a distance looked interesting, if a bit vague, shrouded in darkness. The combination of combat footage, fire and background imagery added in was beautifully done.

The most-used special effects in this outing were either recycled stock fighter footage or computer screen "tactical" graphics. There is very nice use of the full-scale mock-up of the viper ships.

We do see one brief scene of an alien world (Crodus) during the daylight hours when Robber's family talks to Apollo and Boomer about the prison situation on Proteus. Inexplicably, that's the only such scene in this episode. Every other planetary scene is at night.

Where did they conjure up that outfit for Starbuck's mission? At least the Colonial helmets offer some pretense of being useful as part of a spacesuit.


C.O.R.A. would have to be different. Even though C.O.R.A. arrived years before KNIGHT RIDER's talking K.I.T.T. car, everyone would still be saying "they made the talking Trans Am into a spaceship!" They really should've used C.O.R.A. more in the series to help the characters articulate more complex and interesting situations as part of the flow of the plot. It also would've opened the door to stories of encounters in space and on other worlds which had less to do with combating Cylons and more to do with exploring the Universe. In the absence of any teleportation device the characters could use to "beam down" anywhere, C.O.R.A. would've served as a better flight companion than the ubiquitous Federation computer (voice by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry) heard in STAR TREK.

There would have to be a little more background as to how those Aerian colony-asteroids got there, and why. There would also have to be an explanation of how the Aerians would evade more Cylons.

This would also serve as the perfect story, if done in two-part form, to introduce characters in the fleet who would mutiny for the chance to disembark and settle on such a world. This would have the double-edged effect of showing how the Galactica deals with discipline while also showing seeds of the defeated Colonists' legacy being spread across the Universe. If GALACTICA were to continue on for years, these worlds could be revisited, showing how the planted seeds sprouted into civilizations sympathetic to the Colonial cause.

The whole love triangle thing would have to be dropped. Either that or Arnie Becker would have to get caught red-handed and dealt with decisively.

Athena could still be beautiful and have a thing for Starbuck, but she could also have a career. Maybe she could've volunteered to fly in Boomer's place or Apollo's.

It would be nice to see some kind of craft sized between a viper and shuttle. Such a combination "bomber"/scoutship would seem more practical than stuffing a pilot into a cockpit for extended periods in deep space. Design cues could be taken from the Eastern Alliance destroyers. To use an analogy from STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE, they need a Runabout, or STAR TREK: VOYAGER's Delta Flyer.

If you don't like C.O.R.A., the answer is simple: use two-seat Vipers, as in GALACTICA: 1980. Maybe Athena could've been assigned to co-pilot on Starbuck's mission. The fight between them would've been more dangerous than the Cylons.


The performance of Starbuck's Viper, the Starchaser, combined with the implications of the missions of both Apollo/Boomer and the Cylons, make it clear that fighter craft in the eighth millennium are capable of faster-than-light speeds. C.O.R.A. even mentions that the Starchaser is slowing to sublight speed prior to engaging Croad's antique fighter, not to mention the braggadocio that the ship "can outrun anything in the Universe."

Taking C.O.R.A.'s assertion that Starchaser can outrun any ship in the Universe at (near) face value, (well, at least, the ships in the known Universe) just how fast can that thing go? Does this mean it could out-drag-race a battlestar? It was mentioned in "Take the Celestra" that the Celestra's top speed was "factor four", without elaborating what that meant. If that meant four times the speed of light, that would be too slow for the kind of interstellar travel seen in GALACTICA. The whole fleet must be faster than that. Warp factor 4? Don't laugh. Admiral Asimov of BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY once ordered the Starship Searcher to "slow to Warp 3". Or maybe the "factor" is a logarithmic order of magnitude, relative to the speed of light. Ten to the fourth power would mean 10,000 times the speed of light. Maybe that's Celestra's battlespeed for limited periods. And maybe Starchaser can do double *that* speed, or 20,000c, for brief "turbo" bursts.

While I like the Omega character, it seems all his lines could've been spoken by Athena, giving her more involvement in this story. This really isn't a "ship" story. So bridge banter should concentrate strictly on what's relevant to the story, namely: the detection of life and the mission. Athena could've done that.

The scene where Tigh and Adama make an elaborate stroll around the bridge of the Galactica was beautiful. The set was huge, but they did an effective job as making it look bigger and more active than it was.

Apollo makes the reference to "eating" the Starchaser's "ion vapors". It is never really clear where ships in this show derive their power from, much less how it is used to create the fantastic speeds which are obviously achieved. One thing is for certain: this does not sound like a reference to simple, chemical-reaction thrust rockets, at least not such rockets alone.

Starbuck concedes to Apollo that encountering Cylons makes Starchaser's probe into "a one-way mission." But if this recon viper is so powerful and swift, why can't Starbuck dodge the Cylons long before they can catch him? Surely, a doubling in speed and range makes it possible for the probe to plot a roundabout return course so the Cylons are fooled and the pilot still gets to return to home base. In a situation as desperate as theirs, it doesn't make sense for the Galactica to throw away a good pilot and a good ship.

At the beginning of this episode, Athena pulls up a duty roster on her computer screen:



Don't you just hate it when some nit-picker uses the pause button on the VCR? :-)

First of all, it is nice to see Athena is still considered part of Blue Squadron. The first column is obviously the character's name, the second the rank/rate, the third may be some kind of positional title, the fourth their current location, and the fifth their current readiness status for routine work. By the looks of this, and referring to what the characters say, Omega and Starbuck are off-duty "for the centon". But where's Boomer, Jolly, and Greenbean? Of all of them, at least Boomer must be in Blue Squadron. What about Brie, and the other female warriors? And what are Omega and Rigel doing on that list? It would seem that a squadron would include at least a dozen, if not twenty or more, pilots and ships.

One interesting notion: Apollo and Boomer joke about Starbuck's fitness as a warrior. They needle their buddy constantly. Yet Starbuck is apparently the "flight leader" if this roster means anything. This seems to imply Starbuck is second-in-command in the squadron. So they are sending the squadron's XO on a dangerous scout mission alone? (It seems that Boomer should be the XO of the squadron anyway.)

The story in this episode rests on the notion that this is a new galaxy and the Cylons don't know the Galactica left the Cyrannus Galaxy. Robber unwittingly puts an end to that. It is never made clear if the Cylons report anything back to the basestar. But it is made clear that the Galactica somehow guided the fleet through a dust cloud from one galaxy to another. What is going on here? Could the dust cloud have something to do with a naturally occurring wormhole? Or maybe the fleet plunged into a black hole at faster-than-light speed and emerged on the other side from a quasar, or "white hole", clearing the spat-out debris field in its wake. Whatever passage permitted this intergalactic travel, Robber is able to send some kind of long-range transmission through it. We know this because Lucifer reports on receiving the signals. So this episode establishes that at least some crude form of intergalactic travel and communications are possible.

It is possible that the Cylons picked up Robber's second transmission after emerging from the dust; the fighters would then fixate on the signals and head straight for them. This does not mean that the basestar, apparently still in the Cyrannus Galaxy, would have any idea where specifically the signals came from. It is a forgone conclusion that Baltar ordered his basestar to pass through this mysterious dust cloud to follow the Galactica's wake. It is not clear that the Cylons know what happened to their fighters or where they went. That could get Proteus off the hook insofar as Baltar's forces are concerned.

One wonders if Starbuck didn't leave behind anything with the colonists on Proteus; plans to a new Viper for them to build, maybe?

Read more…

The Lost Warrior

The Lost Warrior Analysis
By Walt Atwood


The third review to come up of the classic series...look at Walt's take on it...






Flight Captain Apollo is on a solo Viper mission when he encounters a Cylon patrol. Hopelessly outgunned, he keeps hailing the Galactica for help while he tries to evade his pursuers near an unknown planetary system. Though the warrior is successful at outmaneuvering the Cylons and even destroying one of their ships, his mayday goes unanswered. Adama declares his son's mission a loss, writing off the transmissions as "meant for Cylon ears." Even though Starbuck and Boomer are eager to seek out Apollo, Adama refuses.

The Cylons regroup after Apollo's counter-attack, but choose not to continue pursuit. The new course the Viper chooses leads out of their range. The Cylons deduce the new heading is a ruse, away from the Galactica. Apollo, meanwhile, chose the heading because he is running out of fuel, with no hope of return to his home battlestar. He finds a habitable planet and glides down into what appears to be nighttime in wooded, hilly farm country. He declares himself lucky for making such a soft landing. He is discovered by mother-and-son homesteaders Vella (portrayed by Katherine Cannon) and Puppis (Johnny Timko). Though Puppis is thrilled with Apollo's arrival, Vella seems weary. She insists the Viper be concealed in the brush. Once done, the homesteaders welcome the warrior back to their ranch, on a world they identify as Equellis.

While Apollo samples the homesteaders' hospitality, a strange horse approaches outside. Everyone is surprised to see a battered Cylon centurion, whom the natives call Red-Eye (Rex Cutter), perched atop the horse. Apollo hides inside the house and watches as the mother and son greet Red-Eye. The Cylon was sent by the ever-watchful town gangster, LaCerta (Claude Earl Jones) to investigate a strange disturbance in the night sky. Just then, Red-Eye is startled by another strange horse. The apparently malfunctioning Cylon swiftly draws a Colonial blaster to greet Vella's approaching brother, Bootees (Lance LeGault). Red-Eye warns all of the homesteaders not to defy LaCerta's will; their "tribute" (shake-down) is overdue. The menacing centurion rides back into the town.

Back inside the house, Vella introduces Bootees to Apollo. Bootees is ecstatic at the notion of a Colonial warrior-- a flight captain, no less --who is armed and can rid the village of Red-Eye. Vella explains that Puppis' father, Martin, crashed his fighter in the desert. Vella nursed Martin back to health, they married, and she bore their son. When Puppis was still very young, Red-Eye appeared and the Cylon killed Martin for his blaster. Townspeople who challenged the LaCerta's centurion enforcer with the local air-powered weapons ultimately wind up dead.

On the bridge of the Galactica, young Boxey visits Adama while Starbuck, Tigh and Boomer fidget at the thought that Apollo will not be returning. The little boy is staying up late to greet his step-father. Nobody is ready to break the news. Starbuck and Boomer offer to keep the child company.

Apollo sets out on horseback for the village, determined to learn about where Red-Eye came from. Could there be a Cylon garrison on Equellis? In the town saloon, LaCerta spots newcomer Apollo immediately, and dispatches henchman Marco (Red West) to size-up and harass the pilot, who is now unarmed and wearing indigenous clothing. But Apollo insists on sitting in the corner with Red-Eye. The obviously malfunctioning Cylon is instantly suspicious of Apollo, and starts threatening violence. The exchange catches LaCerta's attention. The boss invites Apollo over for a drink. It becomes clear the centurion follows LaCerta's every command. Apollo offers to work for the town boss, much to the gangster's amusement.

In the pilots' barracks aboard the Galactica, Starbuck, Boomer, Jolly and Greenbean are playing cards with Boxey, who beats them all. Cassiopeia (Laurette Spang) scolds the warriors for drinking, smoking and playing cards before the boy, who is staying up too late. The warriors defend their innovative approach to baby-sitting, insisting they are drinking fruit juice. As Starbuck's girlfriend relieves the men of custody of the boy, the warriors consider a plan to determine their strike commander's fate.

In Adama's quarters, Tigh insists that Adama is bending over backwards to avoid the appearance of wanting to rescue the "Commander's son." The Galactica will only be in range a short time if they are to attempt a recovery. Adama relents, and Tigh immediately walks over to a comm-link and orders recon Vipers to launch. Starbuck and Boomer are in flight almost immediately.

As Apollo returns to Vella's ranch, he finds Puppis, who just barely managed to shoot a wolf-like "lupus" with his air-gun. Apollo is proud of the boy. Once back in the house, they learn that Bootees' livestock were raided by LaCerta for the "tribute." Vella is worried that her brother will get into a confrontation. True to form, Apollo enters the saloon, unarmed, in time to see a drunken Bootees die in a gun fight with Red-Eye. Apollo quickly grabs any loose air-guns and surrenders them. This outrages Puppis, but it also stops the violence. Apollo learns from one of LaCerta's ladies that Red-Eye was found damaged in the crash site of a downed Cylon fighter. The centurion has regarded LaCerta as if he were a Cylon commanding officer ever since. Vella is about to depart with a resentful Puppis in a horse-drawn carriage when Apollo has second thoughts. The warrior retrieves his blaster and, much to his hostess' chagrin, confronts LaCerta. Red-Eye appears, and Apollo wins the gun draw. The Cylon falls in a shower of sparks. Back at the ranch, Apollo must dampen Puppis' enthusiasm by reminding him that the "heroic" gunfight with the Cylon was no different than the confrontation the boy had with the lupus. Vella offers to show Apollo the crash site where Martin landed; maybe the ship still holds some fuel.

In space, Starbuck keeps encouraging Boomer to stretch their probe a little further in pursuit of Apollo. Boomer warns that they are nearing the point of no return. Apollo's ship emerges from Equellis, and the three Vipers head for home.

A Second Look

While GALACTICA did put considerable effort into reviving the Western at a time when it was long-since dead, the series makers did not try hard enough. Other sci-fi and action-adventure series have attempted to graft a re-treaded COOL HAND LUKE plot onto a decidedly non-Western series format. It is a dubious endeavor. In this case, the Western homestead-and-corrupt-village seems to serve as more of a window dressing or a transparent plot device than a serious discovery of another human-inhabited world. To see how a series takes the notion of a prize fighter stumbling into a frontier dictatorship and raising a hand for freedom more seriously, one need look no further than the 1972 made-for-TV movie/pilot for KUNG FU, or any of a number of the subsequent episodes of the series, especially the 1973 outing "The Hoots." This series, sometimes referred to as a "far-Eastern Western" because it featured David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine, an outcast Shaolin priest and Kung Fu master who escapes to the American south-west of the 1870's to find his American relatives, proved a drama focusing on a nomadic character could exhibit superior story-telling and win high audience ratings (the show was canceled by Carradine, not flagging popularity or troubled returns) while showing greater depth and conviction, all without breaking the bank.

What could have been a higher quality story as yet another two-part adventure instead becomes a chopped-down all-nighter which leaves the viewer with more curiosities than messages. Granted, it is time that action-adventure television showed a hero who was understandably afraid and worried about children being exposed to violence. But this GALACTICA outing fumbled the opportunity to give that important moral a better hearing. In the end, Apollo doesn't even want to tell his fellow warriors what happened.

To use of LaCerta and Marco as frontier tyrants was a waste. Claude Earl Jones seems to have trouble conjuring up a believable strongman, and Red West seems longing to appear in a parody of a Western instead of the real thing. At least we get to see Rex Cutter quick-draw in a Cylon suit. Ironic that the Cylon's appearances save the day for this lackluster imitation of a tried-and-true Hollywood theme. It takes a very poor effort to bungle a plot like this. What is so sad is how GALACTICA managed to pull in this kind of guest cast and not fully utilize them. Clearly, less time should've been spent off-world so more time could be devoted to the story on Equellis. Instead, Apollo simply shoots the Cylon, sermons the boy and then is next seen in space. How did he get to the desert to forage for fuel in Martin's fighter? Did the townspeople help him? Interesting how Apollo, defender a freedom and protector of human interests, just dethrones LaCerta and walks quietly into the night without another thought. Here was a golden opportunity for Richard Hatch to use the Apollo character to exhibit some leadership outside of GALACTICA's war theme. The people of Equellis could've been recruited to help find the other Viper. Giving them a goal as a newly freed community of citizens would not necessarily have been a difficult or expensive thing. Showing a crowd congratulating their hero could've led to a quest to help him return to space. Such a quest, while a simple plot device, would allow for Apollo to lead the people in doing something constructive, a more worthy "tribute" which could've restored their self-respect through accomplishment. Instead, all we see is one of the townspeople snatching up Red-Eye's weapon. No doubt this would set the stage for more abuse and hardship on Equellis.

This episode also missed out on the opportunity to show how a clearly human colony could exist with no apparent knowledge of the Twelve Tribes. Was Equellis settled by a stray offshoot of the Thirteenth Tribe? Where did Martin come from? Another Battlestar? The Pegasus, perhaps? The Equellisians (?) themselves are a curious lot. They live in metal houses and socialize in a metal saloon, all illuminated with artificial lighting. They apparently posses power sources to perpetuate Red-Eye's reign of terror. Yet all we see is an isolated, backwards village and homesteading. These people seem to know about space travel, and appear receptive to the idea of the Great Colonies and the war. Yet they are obviously not interested in these ventures. Could Equellis have been colonized by other lost warriors who abandoned all attempts to rejoin their comrades in space? Could these Equellisians be descendants of castaways (or even deserters) of some downed expedition who choose not to teach "the whole truth" to their children? These are obvious questions Apollo could have, and possibly should have, explored in a better-prepared two-part story which would serve as a better follow-up to "Lost Planet of the Gods."

What this episode did do well was allow Terry Carter to put in a good performance as Tigh. The guy gets to show some passion in taking a stand.

Where is Athena in all of this? She doesn't even show up to express concern or report on Apollo's transmissions. Maybe instead of showing Boxey at the card game, they could've shown her talking with Adama and Tigh.

There is not a hint of science fiction in this entire episode. To see a slightly more genuine sci-fi attempt at a vaguely similar story, watch the STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE episode from 1994 entitled "Paradise", in which Sisko and O'Brien are stranded on a planet inhabited by community of humans who have rejected any form of technology. The tyrant versus outsider theme, in which weapons become a precious commodity, is executed much more effectively.

Spectacle Value

Metal-colored cowboy hats and a synthesizer-player in a saloon who sounds like a perverse parody of disco. Only in the 1970's. I love that decade!

Another '70's-only vignette: the kid gets all the spoils in a "pyramid" card game.

A curious pattern is already forming in this series: all the action happens at night. Even the townspeople congregate at the saloon through the wee hours, as if they sleep all day. Or is there any daylight at all?

Another curious pattern is how we have to watch each individual pilot launching from the Galactica. A bit tedious, this adds nothing to the story, while arguably detracting from it. It's great spectacle, but also time consuming.

In case this section of the review hasn't betrayed the hint yet, this episode contained little spectacle except from the shoot-out near the ending. Maybe that was good for this story. It should not have been about space battles or FX. Too bad a stronger story didn't fill the vacuum.


They would not likely get away with such a lackluster attempt as this episode. It would have to be a two-parter, with at least a brief mention of what happened to Baltar and Lucifer. While the story could not heavily involve the Cylons in space, it would have to at least briefly explain the fate of those two characters in part 1. Maybe they could briefly reappear in Part 2, pursuing the wrong course and finally coming to realize it. If GALACTICA were to be even semi-serialized in a revival attempt, obligatory scenes like these would be mandatory.

The main thrust of the story would have to be Apollo saving the Equellisian community and recruiting their aid in foraging for Viper fuel. (But, then again, maybe the "lost warrior" should've been someone other than Apollo.) The "lost warrior", whomever that would be, would have to interact with more of the villagers, exhibiting a curiosity about their origins. Maybe a rediscovery of the Equellisian heritage could serve as part of the boy's-- and the community's --coming of age.

How about seeing some daylight on Equellis? A two-parter might make the cost of daytime scenes easier to swallow.

Think of what they could've done by rearranging the characters: instead of the widowed mother Vella, they could've used a widower-father in Bootees. And the "lost warrior" could've been Athena. Apollo would've been arguing alongside Tigh about rescuing "the Commander's daughter." It would've given Richard Hatch a different role, as the leader of the rescue. That role could easily have its own "B story" in a two-parter, without diminishing Hatch's star-status on the show. Maren Jensen would also have had a chance to do something other than counting fighters on a tracking display or piloting a Viper.


Just what is the strike commander of a battlestar doing, acting as a solo decoy on a recon mission? Major no-no. It makes no sense for the fleet's top-ranking active pilot to throw his ship-- and life --away, alone. This argument especially resonates after what Apollo said about risking shuttle pilots in "Lost Planet of the Gods."

Richard Hatch's performance in this episode resonates the notion that Apollo's rank of "flight captain" may not indicate a marine/airforce grading (O-3, between 1st lieutenant and major) but instead a higher, naval or British airforce connotation. (Roughly O-6, like a captain of a ship; equivalent to a colonel). The way that Tigh, Adama and Apollo banter with one another seems to indicate their ranks are all high and all close to one-another. Maybe Apollo is a ladder-climbing, risk-taking prodigy. In a related bit, Tigh, who would later take command of the Battlestar Pegasus in "The Living Legend, Part 1", again identifies himself as a fighter pilot. While we never see Tigh serving in this role, he seems to establish his character as having done that. It makes one wonder why he didn't hop into a Viper during the "Lost Planet of the Gods" outings when there was a "manpower" shortage.

Obviously the Cylons are familiar with this region of space; they've been here at least once, maybe twice, before. So why do they leave Equellis untouched? Maybe the Cylons don't bother with homestead planets which exhibit little or no space flight interest. This would explain why so many human colonies are left alone by the Cylons. Or maybe the Cylons only occupy undeveloped planets (by space faring standards) when they offer some strategic value, such as location.

The people of Equellis live what appears to be a somewhat simple, homesteading lifestyle. Vella even keeps a fire going at night. Yet this Spartan existence seems to clash with her Toni Tenille hairdo, and he son's bushy coif. Another dead giveaway as to when this was made.

Vella's homestead looks conspicuously like the ranch which Hector and Vector kept waiting for Michael and company on Paradeen in "Greetings from Earth". At least then we get to see it in daylight.

Neat how Tigh had Starbuck and Boomer in their cockpits at the ready in the launch tubes. Adama's tutorial in sneakiness in "Saga of a Star World, Pt. 3" stayed with the colonel.

Read more…

Lost Planet of the Gods Part II

This is the second part of Walt's analysis of the two part episode "Lost Planet of the Gods"...


Lost Planet Of The Gods Part II Analysis
By Walt Atwood




As the infected pilots recover in the Galactica's infirmary, the maverick shuttle pilots brag up their victory in the Officer's Club. Starbuck and Apollo are relieved to hear that the bridge crew has detected an unknown blip trailing the Galactica fleet, just beyond tracking range. At first, Tigh approaches Apollo about leading a recon patrol to see what's out there. Then Serina appears and insists she is assigned as Apollo's wingman. In the confusion, Starbuck launches in Apollo's fighter. Apollo takes after Starbuck, followed by Serina.

The Cylon lure works. A slew of their raiders descend on Starbuck's ship before he knows what hit him. Without a shot fired, Starbuck is lost at the void's fringe. Aboard the Cylon Basestar, Lucifer and the Centurions escort their catch to Baltar. It is here that we learn of Baltar's plan to approach Adama with this new hostage as a peace offering. The encounter is as much a surprise to Lucifer as it is to Starbuck.

On the Galactica's bridge, Apollo cannot resist staring into the scanner, hoping to see Starbuck's Viper reappear. Serina consoles Apollo, but he still cannot accept that their comrade could disappear so suddenly. Serina presses on for marriage, saying that the predicament they are in may never end, and Starbuck would've wanted them to move on. As Adama performs the "sealing" ceremony on the Galactica's amphitheater deck, Tigh notices a star appearing. If Adama is right, the planet orbiting that star is Kobol: the birthplace of the human race.

Lucifer reports that the Galactica has been sighted approaching a dead planet orbiting a lone star. Baltar figures out what is happening and orders his personal craft readied. Lucifer cannot accept Baltar's confidence in approaching the humans with a peace plan.

On the planet's surface, Adama wants camp set up on a site of pyramids, a sphinx and other great ruins he suspects were once the thriving city of Eden, "the first to fall" on ancient Kobol. Apollo and Serina are grateful to have a dead planet to themselves for a honeymoon. As the warriors ready to bivouac among the ruins, Adama orders a guard to be posted.

As Adama, Apollo and Serina probe the pyramid "temple", which turns out to be the tomb of "the ninth Lord of Kobol," they discover an elaborate protective access system, which can only be opened by a Medallion from the Council of Twelve. Apparently, the ninth and final lord returned to Kobol to die after the thirteen tribes left to form new colonies beyond the void. The writings in the temple reveal the "last days" of this civilization. As Adama pays his respects to the dead, Baltar appears, wearing his own Medallion. When the traitor greets Adama as "old friend", the beleaguered Battlestar commander lunges for his enemy's throat.

Baltar insists he has been defamed by these treason charges. He tells of how he has seen the Cylon seat of power in chaos; how the Galactica could strike their capital and devastate the Cylons. Adama hisses to Baltar: "you have the tongue of an angel, and the soul of a serpent." Apollo takes Baltar into custody.

Back on the Basestar, a Centurion is paged to Baltar's throne room... to find Lucifer perched on the pedestal and ready to declare Baltar's peace envoy a failure. Though the Centurion is certain Baltar will deliver the Galactica fleet to Cylon, Lucifer is "thinking out loud" about why he was not chosen to be the new Imperious Leader over his "IL-group" competition; perhaps a military victory under his command might change his stature. "What is your command?" the Centurion asks.

On the planet's surface, the rookie warriors are enjoying their open-air evening on Kobol, when Starbuck appears. Apollo orders the warriors to ready themselves and demands that Baltar explain what is going on. When Apollo takes the traitor back into the tomb to talk to Adama, Serina notices that the sunlight is intensifying. As the light beams into the tomb, it is caught by Adama's Medallion. the focused rays activate the temple chamber's secret mechanism, and a deeper chamber is revealed. Once inside, Adama discovers more writings of what happened here. But then the tomb begins to shudder: the Cylons have begun a bombardment of the ruins.

Starbuck and Athena begin launching a counter-strike from the camp. On the Galactica, Boomer and some of his fellow warriors report for duty. "Lieutenant, obviously you can't even stand", Tigh warns Boomer. Boomer replies "The Viper is flown from the seated position, sir." Just when all seems lost for Starbuck and Athena, Boomer and company rout the Cylon attack. On Kobol, the Cylon attack nearly kills those left in the tomb. Adama is just about to learn of the thirteenth tribe when a Cylon attack shatters the tomb, leaving the writings destroyed and Baltar trapped under the rubble. While Adama's party try to free Baltar, they eventually give up and abandon him. The traitor vows to get even with Lucifer, "you have not heard the last of Baltar!"

Back on the surface, Adama, Serina and Apollo are reunited with Starbuck and Blue Squadron when Cylon infantry guns down Serina. She is mortally wounded but evac'ed to the Galactica before Apollo and Boxey say good-bye. Apollo now must rear the little boy on his own.

A Second Look This BATTLESTAR outing makes splendid use of John Colicos as Baltar, and the phenomenal robot Lucifer, animated by Felix Silla and voice by Jonathan Harris. The duel of the titan egos on the Basestar takes a strange turn, mixing doses of comedy with treachery. The sight of the IL-Cylon on Baltar's throne approaches farce. But the show belongs to Colicos' Baltar, whose con-artist tour-de-force comes into full bloom on Kobol.

The notion of a star appearing overhead at the very moment when Apollo and Serina are sealed was well played, if a bit too coincidental. When later Baltar apologizes to the air for defiling the ancient crypt, and then begs Adama to "use your power... get us out of here", the whole Kobolian mystery is a bit over the top. It is not clear if the show's makers want us to believe that Adama is tracing the footsteps of history for a well-grounded cause, or if his quest is based on some magic from the dead. One good thing is clear: Adama's Medallion beat Indiana Jones' staff-jewel laser to the Well of Souls by a few years. :-)

Missing from the Sci Fi channel "syndicated" version of this episode was a nice shot of Starbuck's Viper on approach to the Basestar. Other scenes seem chopped down to allow for commercial time. The explanation for Boomer's sudden recovery isn't adequate, either. Way too abrupt. This detracts significantly from the serialization aspect of the series. Speaking of which...

This episode underscores the serialized, soap-opera nature of the series does work well when it is allowed in the oven for long enough, and with the right ingredients. "Part 2" capitalizes on all the events that came before and does well on its own.

Jane Seymour turns in an improved portrayal of Apollo's bride, Serina. Too bad it was her swan song in the role. She was really starting to make something with it. But what was she doing out there on recon probe? That whole scene almost made a farce out of Starbuck's abduction. It's like Mom insisted on following Dad on his trip outta town. "Can I have the keys to the station wagon?" More proof positive that the show's makers did not take the war and military aspects of the series as seriously as they should have.

Spectacle Value Maren Jensen gives a nice cameo appearance as Athena, ready to fight the Cylons: fluffy hair, makeup and all. If Calvin Klein ever needed a female fighter pilot for a designer jeans ad campaign, Athena would be the lady. Speaking of ladies, at least the "girl" demeaning was toned down. Too bad they had to dub in those silly "Eeeee!" screams when the Cylons attacked the camp. Maybe showing one of the ladies hopping into the turret atop a land-ram would've been a better use of footage. They didn't even have to show the turret firing; just one lady ready to fend off the attackers while the others get clear to their fighters. But this was 1978, after all.

This two-part story cemented the status of Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict as stars of the show. Make no mistake, even though some remember it as "BATTLESTAR PONDEROSA", Apollo and Starbuck are at the top of the characters list.

While this episode recycles some space and combat footage, the real spectacle is the focus of the plot: the ancient ruins. Every Kobol scene was effective, shot and performed better than anything thus far in the series. Even the Cylon attack worked beautifully. That great success also fuels the confusion behind what the series is trying to communicate about this quest for thirteenth tribe: the physical manifestations seem to suggest the quest is based on ancient heritage, while the magical/legendary aspect suggests mysticism.

The other great thing about GALACTICA is the music. The score here was much better than in "Part 1." This series championed the power of music, even freezing an occasional touch of Colonial pseudo-disco in time. It is a treat to listen to.


This episode would be the most viable. Even though the Cylons have definitely worn out their welcome by now, the quest and the pursuit are tightly bound in a drama that works well against the backdrop of ancient ruins. Despite this, I also just watched a STARGATE SG-1 rerun of "The Fifth Race," in which Colonel O'Neil is accidentally "programmed" to make contact with the Askard race in another galaxy by reconfiguring the Stargate portal. Ironically, STARGATE seems to borrow from BATTLESTAR's theme of ancient mystery, underdog exploring the unknown, and the serialization of drama. Maybe now, if the older franchise is revived, it can learn from its younger student. STARGATE goes a step further by layering its cosmic history. It isn't just found in ancient historical texts in one place or time. The cosmos is much bigger than that. "The Fifth Race" shows us multiple legacies that are ongoing and more complex. What if this thirteenth tribe branched off, settling in more than one place? Or what if the thirteenth tribe intermarried with another race, and turns out not to be human anymore? Or what if it turns out that the Galactica unknowingly is leading the thirteenth tribe, and will ultimately settle on Earth? Or what if Earth is humanity's point of origin, which then spread to Kobol, and lost track of its roots? (Maybe the Great Colonies are thousands of years in humankind's future.)

They would have to do a better job depicting the abyss.

If they ever got their hands on another casting coup like Jane Seymour, they had better not let go of her. Mistakus collossus!

They would have to be a little more clever with their allegories. Some say the series reminded them of the Mormon legacy. Others say it was derived from THE AENID by Virgil. There is also a whiff of the original American colonists arriving from England to escape persecution under the Crown. This was impossible to define in one year's slate of episodes. If a revival were to champion an agenda, it would have to choose a direction (or directions) to go in and be more thorough in defining them.

They would also have to be more careful how they treat regular characters, like Baltar and Lucifer. Even a non-serialized drama cannot show scenes like the one with Lucifer on the throne or the one where Baltar is trapped in the tomb without showing how they are reconciled. Irresponsiblus galacticus!

They should do what is necessary to lure Patrick MacNee back to the show, if only for brief appearances and/or voice-overs. The introductory "There are those who believe..." narrative is best kept alive, and delivered by him.


Neat: the Cylons are supposed to still be hidden in the void, yet there are stars everywhere.

Apollo's plea to Adama to flee Kobol "while the star is still dormant" makes it clear that Kobol is in the heart of the abyss, not its far edge. So why do we see so many stars there? Does the abyss mask a wormhole or something that sends the ships across hyperspace to emerge in a new galaxy, a la "The Long Patrol" and "The Hand of God"? This is never fully established, one way or another.

Kobol must have a peculiar rotation. When they go into the tomb, it is day, when Starbuck reappears, it is night. When Adama unwittingly opens the tomb's deepest chamber, it is as if mid-day is near. When the Cylons attack, it is night again. If these sudden changes occur because of the fluctuations in the star, it's a miracle this world isn't in an ice age.

It makes no sense... ... for Apollo to allow his green pilot-trainees to make planetfall with their Vipers. They don't need fighter-craft down there, much less that many pilots.
... for the Cylons to attack the ruins, not the Galactica first.
... for so many pilots to be with their ships on the planet, and then Boomer and his squadron launch with even more ships from the Galactica. I don't think they are supposed to have that many Vipers at this stage in the series.

Again, in order for the "endless" nature of this void to make any sense, all craft in the Galactica and Cylon fleets, especially fighters, must be capable of at least the speed of light, if not several times that speed. The generic term "lightspeed" must apply to varying magnitudes of faster-than-light travel.

Nice to see that Sara Rush's "Woman on Duty" is instead listed as Rigel. She made a nice little supporting cameo in "Part 1", and again in "Part 2". She delivers a professional sounding "launch when ready." Too bad we don't get to see more.

Even though Hatch's Apollo and Benedict's Starbuck get the top billing, everyone else still gets the best lines, from Athena needling Starbuck to get into battle, to Adama's parting shot to Baltar "It seems your friends have sealed your fate as well as ours." And the best scene in this episode was when Baltar first appeared in the tomb and Adama lunged at the traitor. Lorne Greene still had some action in him! :-)

You have to love the charitable nature of Adama and his family. There's Baltar, a guy who would make Hitler look like a pussycat, trapped under that rubble, and Adama, Apollo and Serina are risking their lives and giving themselves a hernia just to save that crazy, corrupt S.O.B. That's compassion of Biblical proportions!

Read more…

Lost Planet of the Gods Part I

I'm going to be featuring a series of reviews that were orginally posted on my maiden website Battlestar Galactica: Resurrection...these are all authored by Walt Atwood with a keen eye to detail & covers the original series from start to finish...


Lost Planet Of The Gods Part I Analysis
By Walt Atwood



The Galactica Fleet, having escaped the Holocaust and having unknowingly destroyed the Cylon Imperious Leader at the battle of Carillon, continues to explore deep space far away from their war-ravaged homeworlds. The new Cylon leader spares the disheveled human traitor Baltar and sends him after the rebel fleet with a Basestar, entirely under the human's command. Baltar is escorted to his new assignment by Lucifer, a Cylon android who seems to have more in common with the Imperious Leader than with the crude, robotic Centurions.

On the Galactica, Apollo announces his engagement to Serina. At this point, Serina is still in civilian dress. But later, Apollo visits Serina in her quarters to discover she is wearing a cadet's uniform; the Colonial journalist wishes to become a shuttle pilot. While Apollo first objects, his fiancee assures him she will serve her new role well.

Apollo joins Starbuck on a Viper reconnaissance mission beyond the Fleet's tracking range. The two "buddies" discover a great black void , which inhibits all forms of tracking, navigation and communication. After nearly getting lost in this void, the two turn return to the Galactica to report their discovery. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Boomer and Flight Sergeant Jolly probe another direction with their Vipers. The two discover a Cylon outpost built into a rockface on an asteroid. They leave the area, not suspecting the Cylons are tracking them.

On returning to the Galactica, Boomer and Jolly sneak past decontamination procedures to join Apollo's bachelor party. Both collapse and reveal a strange plague which incapacitates and could kill everyone in the Fleet. Doctor Salik orders a quarantine of all personnel (exclusively male personnel of the Galactica's bridge crew and pilot roster) who came in contact with Boomer and Jolly. One by one, all of those affected are stricken. Salik insists he will have to journey to the asteroid to discover what caused this disease. With so many Viper pilots incapacitated, Adama must recruit shuttle pilots, apparently all female, to train for Viper simulation. Apollo and Starbuck ultimately lead a reconstituted Blue Squadron, including Serina, to escort Doctor Salik's shuttlecraft to the asteroid.

Baltar and Lucifer spar over what to do about capturing the Galactica and her fleet. Baltar insists on no aggressive action or revelation of his Basestar. Both seem concerned about how to handle the rogue Battlestar, and content to bicker about it.

Apollo and Starbuck seem to have their hands full just keeping their squadron in formation. They catch the outpost by surprise. The Cylons get several fighters launched, but Apollo starts destroying them before more can do so. Starbuck and Athena lead the rest of the squadron in picking off the Cylons. It seems everyone got the hang of flying and fighting. Blue Squadron reports their mission was a success.

Both Lucifer and Baltar are bewildered by the attack on the outpost. What could the Colonists have gained by this incursion? Even more puzzling are the reports of erratic flying of the attacking Vipers. Baltar tires of bickering with Lucifer and orders the capture of one of the Galactica patrols.

A Second Look Baltar seems to get way too familiar with Lucifer in a hurry, doesn't he? For a man who was nearly executed at the hands of the Cylons, he seems all too confident to tell Lucifer "Don't fence with me, my friend." And why does Lucifer often visit Baltar with an armed guard in tow? Fear of assassination, perhaps?

The scene where Apollo announces his engagement to Serina in Adama's dining room seems very stilted. The starched dialogue seems dated, even for the 1970's. This kind of thing makes the whole story look half-baked.

Why would Boomer and Jolly assume they had not been detected by the Cylons on a Cylon-held asteroid? Shouldn't an evasive procedure be in place in the event these probes make such a discovery?

Obviously, the sickness which incapacitates these pilots is a device which the entire story's sense of jeopardy rests on. But that still doesn't explain why they got away with skipping their decontamination process. (Looks like it wouldn't have mattered, since both men were already afflicted.)

There are presumably enough capable folks throughout the fleet who were not at that party that would make better Viper pilot candidates than a trainee who's never even flown a shuttle before! It's one thing to recruit shuttle pilots to fly Vipers, another to recruit cadets who've never flown a shuttle. One would think Serina could've said something about having flying hours back on Caprica, but this is yet another missed opportunity that makes the show look half-finished.

Spectacle Value Some fans grouse about seeing stars in the abyss. This really wasn't a problem. The blackness was sufficient to get the message across, while those few stars showed the edges of the abyss.

The Cylon outpost looked like a miniature. It would've been different if they would've superimposed the images of tiny Cylon warriors guarding the encampment's periphery on foot, a la Gamoray.

Some may not buy into Lucifer's appearance, but this is one Cylon effect that looked perfect for the show. It may scream "disco robot" and the use of Jonathan Harris' voice makes one think of Lucifer as a descendant of Robot from LOST IN SPACE. Still, Lucifer is a shining example of something this show did perfectly the first time. This is the most alien character in the entire series, outside of the being of light seen in "War of the Gods." Sadly, one is left with the impression the all there is to a Cylon Basestar is computerization, launch bays, and a big throne room. If the Cylons are supposed to be part of the story, they should be treated as characters. Does Baltar do nothing but sit on his throne and run his back massager while he passes gas all day? What a waste. If the Basestar is under his command, why not show him in a planning room with Lucifer, studying a star chart? If the show's makers can suit up a Centurion to be on hand, why not show the Centurion interacting with them?

This episode recycles internal footage of the Cylon Basestar over Carillon from "Saga of a Star World, Pt. 3". It shows Cylons standing next to a wall of electronic equipment, apparently monitoring Colonial activity and responding to it. It looks like they just took a hunk of the Galactica's bridge and posed some Cylons in front of it. Cheap, and campy looking. At least for "The Hand of God", the Cylons had their own bridge.

There was one nice computer graphics shot used: when Apollo is being dogged by a Cylon fighter, we see an attack computer display showing a nicely done graphical representation of a Viper approaching with a Cylon behind. Very nice, especially for 1978.

He said, she said Much has been made of how this episode looks dated, how it underscores a male chauvinist attitude in late 1970's television. There are some interesting passages throughout the episode.

The scene between Apollo and Serina in her quarters was nice, but not substantial enough to do either character justice. Again, like the dining room scene, the conversation seems stilted and awkward, over-simplifying the characters' dilemma. Apollo has the nerve to ask his fiancee, "Are you any good?" instead of a more caring and diplomatic "How good was your score?" This scene seems to have been shot to show off Jane Seymour in a tight uniform. (How often do we see so obvious an exhibition of "the Jordache look" in hour-long primetime dramatic fare today? With the exception of STAR TREK: VOYAGER's Seven of Nine, not very often.)

Then there's the scene with the ladies in the crew bunkroom wearing slinky "G-suits", which would make men look ridiculous as well. (Funny, but how often do we see Richard Hatch or Dirk Benedict wearing these same suits? For that matter, wouldn't it have been wiser to avoid this kind of nonsense by designing a flightsuit-and-helmet combination that doubles as a spacesuit? Hindsight being 20/20, guess nobody ever thought of that.) Just what we need to see is Apollo and Starbuck lecturing a bunch of giggling "girls". Somebody should've been soooooo fired for that scene, they should OWE their Hollywierd employers money for it!

Athena is shown piloting a Viper, both in simulation and in battle. She was previously portrayed as a bridge officer. Despite the accusation that Athena's poor piloting carried a sexist message with it, it seems more logical that the show's makers threw Maren Jensen's character into a cockpit because they didn't have a female pilot character readied from "Saga of a Star World." Athena's amateurish flying can be considered understandable if the bulk of her experience is in other areas. If the show would've been better showing her as a pilot, then that's something which should've been addressed earlier. Barring that, Apollo and Starbuck's attitudes are understandable.

Perhaps the biggest embarrassment about this episode is the unprofessional conduct of almost all the Galactica personnel. Is this a cruise ship, or a military vessel? Apollo's pilot friends may celebrate, but all at once? After what's happened to their people? Not only is this "party" an affront to military ideals and readiness, it also serves to make the Galactica look more like MCHALE'S NAVY or a cruise ship, not a carrier on the run escorting refugees. Glen Larson and company seem not to take the nature of their characters or the dangers of their war seriously enough. To the credit of the giggling female pilots, at least they seemed to take their duties more seriously once they got into their cockpits.

Isn't it neat how everyone in the restocked Blue Squadron is a lieutenant? Conveniently, none of these ladies outrank Apollo and Starbuck. Still, if some of these ladies are green, you'd expect to see an ensign. (It's never made clear if Athena's lieutenant rank is air or naval-based. As a Bridge officer, her rank would likely be naval, which would at least put her as equal to Starbuck, if not Apollo. This would also explain the way these characters address each other, personal familiarity aside.)


They would've had to better develop this episode. It was obviously not thought through as well as it should've been. The disease still could've incapacitated several pilots, but the whole business of throwing inexperienced pilots into space would be avoided. Serina piloting a Viper did nothing for the character or the story. Baltar seemed over-eager to do the Imperious Leader's bidding to start with; his life depended on it. So why was he shown lounging in his throne room? What is he doing in there? Daydreaming? Baltar and Lucifer would have to be more than just cardboard standups, ordering Cylon maneuvers. And the discovery of the Cylon outpost should've been handled more cleverly, as with the discovery of the Basestar in "The Hand of God."

The show did not take its military/war aspect seriously enough. Had the show more clearly defined the military culture of the characters and the hardship it imposed on them, it would've been a double-edged sword. It would've made drama easier for the writers and the actors to portray, and it would've given the characters and their situations more substance.

The show's dogfights would have to be more three-dimensional. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA did a surprisingly good job of showing there's no "up" or "down" in space, but even today's sci fi can do a better job.

And maybe instead of showing a Cylon airstrip on a vulnerable asteroid's surface, we could see a new type of Cylon space station or mini-Basestar in orbit.

Isn't there enough canonical evidence that not all refugees and warriors from the Colonies are Earth-type homo sapiens? There are Nomen and many others. So why are they not seen on the Galactica's bridge or in her Vipers' cockpits? All of the characters in this episode are either human or Cylon. Break out the weird makeup! Put a squid on the bridge next to Sara Rush! Put an octopus in that Viper!


This episode clearly underscores that both Colonial and Cylon fightercraft are capable of at least lightspeed. (Probably shuttles, too.) There is the loose implication that the Cylons at the outpost dispatched fighters to Baltar's Basestar, rather than revealing the discovery of Boomer and Jolly's intrusion over an open comm-link. There is also the loose implication that Baltar was ordering Cylon fighter patrols to "hang back" and not reveal themselves to the hunted Fleet. Lucifer indicates that accelerating to lightspeed would allow the Basestar to intercept the Galactica in a short period of time. This means that the Cylon patrols trailing the Fleet must be capable of at least lightspeed to have caught up with the Fleet's periphery, and still be able to report back while apparently maintaining radio silence.

They had to give the most beautiful line in the whole episode to one of the bad guys: "Isn't he wonderfully devious?" -Lucifer

It would seem readily evident that a significant period of time passed between the aftermath of Carillon and the events in this episode. That is the only way to explain the new routines, Baltar's familiarity with Lucifer, and Apollo's engagement to Serina. So, why not say so?

Funny, but if this "G-suit" technology is supposed to protect the human body from tremendous G-forces a Viper will face in flight, why doesn't this suit cover a pilot's hands? Maybe human hands are immune to hypergravity?

And what is an enlisted man (Flight Sergeant Jolly) doing piloting a fighter? Shouldn't that kind of thing be left to warrant officers and commissioned officers?

Read more…

Blog Topics by Tags

Monthly Archives