Battlestar Galactica – The Original Series Episodes 8 – 13 Review

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My first watch of the original series continues, and it’s amazing how one show can shift tones so quickly and jarringly as this. Seriously, from the comedy of Episode 10, the children’s TV-ness of Episode 11 and the great and seriously toned space opera of Episodes 12 and 13, it’s a complete mish-mash! Still, some great stuff to be watched, though.

Synopsis:

In a distant part of the cosmos, the human race is embroiled in a thousand-year-long war with the robotic Cylons. Aided by the human traitor Baltar, an armistice turns out to be a ruse by the Cylons who launch a massive surprise attack against the Twelve Colonies of humanity, almost wiping them out. Only the Galactica, led by Commander Adama, and a ragtag fleet of 220 civilian ships survive, beginning a journey across the galaxy in search of long-lost sister civilization Earth. But the Cylons will not rest until every last human has been eliminated, and pursue them across the galaxy…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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Baltar and his needlessly high-up chair…

Commander Adama (Lorne Greene) – The head of the Galactica and defacto leader of the survivors of the human colonies (well, the colonies from where they came from, anyway). He’s a dependable leader and a nice guy… Not much more depth needed than that!

Captain Apollo (Richard Hatch) – Your infallible and incorruptible hero character… much like his father, no more depth than that!

Lieutenant Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) – Laidback and cocky ace pilot who had a thing for the ladies, and most of them have a thing for him back. He still has a sense of loyalty and justice as well, so he’s not a complete gag character or anything…

Lieutenant Boomer (Herb Jefferson Jr.) – A top Viper pilot who is also best friends with Starbuck. Not much else to say about him really…

Boxey (Noah Hathaway) – Annoying as hell kid with his crappy toy robot dog thing. Has the ability to suck any drama from scenes he’s involved in…

Baltar (John Colicos) – Human who is helping out the Cylons destroy the rest of his race in order to save himself…? What a cock. Why the Cylons keep this human who keeps failing them around is anybodies guess…

Lucifer (Jonathan Harris) – A Cylon from the IL series, built to be brilliant strategists and leaders. For some reason, Lucifer is the underling of Baltar, correctly cautioning him about inevitable failure before being ignored…

The Cylons – Killer robots that have been hounding humanity seemingly forever. They’re lead by their Imperious Leader, who of course walks around in a cloak like some sort of cool bad-ass!

Plus many more!

The Good:

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“I thought you were a woman?”  “No, that’s the other series…”

The stand out story here is “The Living Legend”, which stretches over episodes 12 and 13. It features the Battlestar Pegasus and its famous leader and war hero Commander Cain (played by Lloyd Bridges!), who soon clashes with Adama’s views of trying to protect the innocent human ships instead of attacking the Cylons head-on. It’s really well played, it has some tense scenes between the two crews of the respective ships, and has some good space battles. There is tension between Cain’s daughter and his lover, who is also currently Starbuck’s lover, and it all ends with an invasion in a Cylon city (!) to take over their fuel depot. It was really gripping stuff, loved it, and very little Boxey and Muffit, which is always a plus…

“Gun on Ice Planet Zero” (Episodes 8 and 9) is also a good feature length story and has one of the best cheesy sci-fi names ever. The Cylons have a gun turret that can fire long-range off-planet and so Apollo, Boomer and Starbuck have to go down to planet and take it out before the Galactica is herded towards it. The catch ends up being that they have to take three convicts down with them as they’re the only ones with knowledge of surviving on an ice planet or destroying the gun itself. It leads to some great interaction, not just between the main crew and the cons, but between the cons themselves, who have detailed backstories that link into each other. When on the planet they meet a bunch of clones that have ended up creating their own society, much to their creator’s surprise. This is a bit of a cliché storyline, and came out of no-where, but it works. There is also a side plot of Starbuck wanting to save a Viper pilot who he was in charge after he was captured and taken to the base. It does have some Boxey and Muffit issues, though…

Episode 11, “The Young Lords”, I should have disliked, really. It focuses on Starbuck crash landing on a planet whose populace has all but been wiped out by the Cylons. He is rescued by a family of two teens and three small children who together are trying to take down the Cylons and free their Dad. It has a cringey scene where they attack a castle while reciting a badly written nursery rhyme and somehow the Cylons fail to stop the small children… yet, for some reason, I really enjoyed it. I think it was the cheesy IL model called Spectre who is the very definition of Saturday morning cartoon villain, spouting abuse at his underlings, lying to his superiors about how well everything is going, and doing the whole sighing “oh no, not again!” type dialogue. Maybe it just caught me in a childish mood, who knows, but I don’t have the heart to put it in the bad section…

The Bad:

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You see, she wants him, but he doesn’t want her! That’ll last 48 minutes without getting old!

“The Magnificent Warriors”, episode 10, was not very good. It had a jokey relationship plot between Adama and some random woman who is probably some famous actress from 70s American TV that I don’t know, and it has another faux-Western setting with a sheriff plotline, though this time revolving around pig savages who steal food and women every time a full moon appears. It tries so hard to be funny, but it just wasn’t. It wasn’t properly bad TV, but it wasn’t very fun.

My main complaint is, of course, Boxey and Muffit. Now, again, I don’t want it to seem like I hate all children or anything, but serious, Boxey just robs so many scenes of any drama because he’s so bad. Ignoring Muffit and his barely mobile walking… galloping… man in a suit, but other times bad animatronics… thing, Boxey really is the issue. Gun on Ice Planet Zero was the worst offender, a story about convicts and near death situations was ruined by Boxey sneaking on board and everyone deciding it was alright to bring him along. Now at first they had no choice, but when they met up with the clones the wounded were left with them safely in a hut while Apollo et al. went to the village and where the gun is… except they brought Boxey with them! Why on Earth didn’t they keep the kid safe with the wounded away from the action? They were on a sneaking mission for f… goodness sake.

Overall Thoughts:

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The bronze-y / gold armour means he’s the leader! Well, the leader of this base, anyway.

A good set of stories really. The two feature length stories were really good, The Living Legend especially, and while the two stand alone episodes weren’t up to much, they were at least pretty harmless, and one even enjoyable (somehow!). If this strange mix of styles is what the rest of the series is, I hope for more Living Legend-level stories, and less Boxey. Always less Boxey.

“Gun on Ice Planet Zero” and “The Living Legend”

4 Star Watch

“The Young Lords”                      

3 Star Watch

“The Magnificent Warriors”

2 Star Watch

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