Galactica 1980

Galactica: 1980 sought to continue the saga of the Battlestar Galactica under the premise that Galactica had reached its ultimate goal and discovered Earth.  Since the 1978 series had proven to be far too expensive to produce, network executives decided to implement cost cutting measures and feature the story in a contemporary setting during the year 1980.

The series starred Kent McCord (Adam-12 and Farscape) as a grown-up version of Boxey whose name was changed to Troy.  Barry Van Dyke (son of actor Dick Van Dyke) played his friend and fellow warrior Dillon.  Robyn Douglass portrayed TV journalist Jamie Hamilton and Lorne Green returned as Adama.  The show also featured Richard Lynch as an outlaw member of the Council of the 12 named Xavier and a character named Dr. Zee, first played by Robbie Rist (l), and continued by Patrick Stuart (r) (who is NOT the Patrick Stewart of ST:TNG fame).

Sadly, the premise was poorly executed in many ways.  The show wandered with some rather silly story elements, like the use of an invisibility screen which would cause Troy, Dillon, and sometimes Jamie to disappear in times of danger.  Also playing against the actors of McCord and Van Dyke was the absence of the characters of Apollo and Starbuck played by Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict.  A later episode would feature Starbuck and is regarded by many as the only good Galactica 1980 episode. 

Weak scripts, tailored for the heavily censored 7pm timeslot, further complicated any chance of success.  Troy and Dillon found themselves in stupid situations at times that were drastically different than the conflicts of the original Battlestar Galactica.  In one case, the heroes engaged in a two wheeled car chase through downtown L.A..  In another, Dillon attempted to exchange some gold for money only to find himself robbing a bank.  In yet another, Troy and Dillon had to change clothes to evade police only to find themselves in a Broadway show.  The series badly lacked the spirit of its predecessor.

Also hampering the show was the character of Dr. Zee, whom Adama always deferred to when it came to seeking guidance.  In the classic series Adama was the wise leader, but in Galactica 1980, Adama seemed to need his hand held by this super smart kid who never made a mistake.  Dr. Zee invented the invisibility screens, flying turbine bikes, and time warp synthesizer which Xavier later used.  The time warp synthesizer was supposed to be used for Xavier to go back in time and try to advance Earth’s civilization to where he believed it would aid the Galactica against the Cylons. Troy, Dillon, and Jamie pursued him and thwarted his schemes, the first of which involved the advancement of Nazi Germany.

To its credit, the character of Xavier was one of the few pluses of Galactica 1980

Symbolic of this series was the Turbine cycles which could convert into flight mode and launch into the air to the astonishment of onlookers.  In the end, they became gimmicks, like the invisibility screen and overuse of a stun gun by Troy and Dillon that caused people to freeze in position briefly.

The Cylons themselves were only featured in two episodes.  In “The Night the Cylons Landed”, a human-looking Cylon and a Centurian walked around New York City hoping to find a radio transmitter to call forth more Cylons.  In this story, they kidnapped the radio personality Wolfman Jack.  This Cylon danger was thwarted when both villains fell into a garbage dumpster and were hauled away by city employees. 

More traditional Cylons were featured in a computer simulation featured in the pilot that portrayed a Cylon attack on Los Angeles, and the centurions in the episode “The Return of Starbuck”.  In this story, Starbuck’s fate was revealed via one of Dr. Zee’s dreams.  Starbuck had crashed on a planet and was forced to find companionship with the sole survivor of a Cylon raider he’d shot down.  This story, which duplicates the premise of the movie “Enemy Mine”, provided a past for Dr. Zee but left Starbuck stranded forever.

Any hope for Galactica 1980 ended with “The Return of Starbuck”.   Had the series continued, it would likely have dealt more with the pursuit of Xavier across time.

Several episodes of Galactica 1980 were later edited into a telemovie called “Conquest of the Earth”.  A few new scenes were added but they made little difference to the overall story.  This version further suffers from a lot of voice dubbing and editing.  However the romance element between Jamie and Dillon was touched upon in this version but could have been done better.   Also, this version does display a gold colored Cylon raider flying in the attack force, the only time such a raider was shown in any of the series.  The telemovie also included footage of the character Baltar from Battlestar Galactica; a scene from “The Young Lords” that dubbed over to appear as a new scene. 

–  Written by JSC1