BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978)
Article 4314 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Richard A. Colla
Featuring Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, Lorne Greene
What it is: TV Pilot space opera
When the twelve colonies are destroyed by an attack of the Cylons, the lone surviving battlestar gathers together the survivors and sets out to find a new home for humanity – Earth, the planet of legend from which they came.
I never got caught up in the hype surrounding the TV series when it debuted in 1978, probably because I watched very little TV at all at the time. I do remember that the critical reception to the show (and to this theatrical release of the pilot episode) was not good, with the most common accusation leveled at it being that it was ripping off STAR WARS. Without having seen it, my response to that criticism at the time would have been that the similarity was the whole point of making the thing in the first place.
Watching it here and now for the first time, I can understand the criticism; it looks like practically every element of the production of this pilot was doing double time in trying to imitate STAR WARS as much as it possibly could; there are quite a few moments here which directly reference similar moments in the earlier movie. However, there is one crucial difference; the plot itself is very different, and that’s the movie’s biggest saving grace.
Overall, this one is a mixed bag. The premise itself is interesting enough that I can see how it might make for a compelling series (and I can appreciate why, after the original series foundered, it would be remade many years later to great success). The plot gets a bit muddled at times, and because the movie places its biggest scenes near the beginning, it really drags in the middle. I also don’t care for the fact that the movie chooses to emphasize the adventures of the three fighter pilots (who I find rather dull and uninteresting) rather than the adventures of Commander Adama (who is played by a much better actor). I don’t care much for the subplot about the kid who misses his dog, but at least the dog robot that results from it isn’t annoying. Overall, the movie does entertain well enough, though some of the dialogue could use some work. And the movie has at least one moment that really wins me over, and that’s when it gives one of the Cylons a laugh line; I certainly never expected that.