Produced by Glen A. Larson Productions and Universal Television
January 27 to May 4, 1980
After traveling for 30 years the survivors of the 12 Colonies have finally found Earth and it is inexplicably primitive in comparison to them and now they must protect Earth from the Cylons.
Galactica 1980 is a classic case of how not to bring back a television show. When Battlestar Galactica was cancelled a letter writing campaign began in support of a revival. This was an unusual thing at the time so ABC executives began to rethink things and approached creator Glen Larson for a revival that was more cost effective. Some ideas were bounced around and as stars declined for one reason or another and the network made demands we eventually wound up with this…thing.
While its predecessor had been light in tone, Galactica 1980 was just goofy and campy. This was much more juvenile than its predecessor. Battlestar Galactica was a space adventure show and this was a sequel series which completely lacked space adventure. This had all the internal logic of a Saturday morning cartoon and the concept suffered.
Only two original cast members returned. Lorne Greene and Herb Jefferson Jr. returned as Commander Adama and Col. (formerly Lt.) Boomer. The aim in part originally had been to set the show a few years after the original to cut out superfluous characters but nobody really wanted to return so the bulk of the cast vaporized. Personally given the time jump they should have seriously pursued Richard Hatch from the original to take over the leadership role but Hatch was one of the first to pass on returning.
Greene looked rather ill during this show. I am talking death warmed over ill at times. I am not sure if it was because of make up used to age him or he was actually ill with something. I cannot find anything one way or another on this. Jefferson looked frustrated and kinda regretful in his performance like he was trying to figure out why he said “Yes” to coming back.
Lacking either Apollo or Starbuck, two newish characters were created to replace them. Kent McCord was cast as Captain “Boxey” Troy and Barry Van Dyke was cast as Lieutenant Dillon. Troy is the Boxey character from the original show but this fact comes up only once in the pilot and is quickly forgotten and never mentioned again. Worse he is reframed as being Apollo’s biological son in dialogue and Boxey is called a nickname inexplicably given to him by his parents. At no point in the previous series was any of that part of the story. Boxey was clearly Apollo’s adopted son (mom got killed off because Jane Seymour, the actress playing the character’s mom, wanted to do the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders movie) and Boxey was his given name. After all there were given names like Starbuck and Apollo and Cassiopeia floating around. Boxey would not be weird.
Former model Robyn Douglass was cast as plucky reporter from Earth Jamie Hamilton. On the surface she acted as Troy and Dillon’s guide to the planet, but she was not too much help. They got along just fine without her. She was rather superfluous, and I was guess cast as eye candy for the guys.
Robbie Rist and James Patrick Stuart showed up as newly created super genius kid character Doctor Zee. I was not too thrilled with him. The genius kid character is a tough sell and in a bad show that tough sell is impossible. His origins were alluded to in the final broadcast episode “The Return of Starbuck” which coincidentally happened to be the best episode of the series. Then again the other episodes were utterly forgettable so being bet here is a very low bar.
Most of the original series characters were gone. Just gone. Apollo was implied to be dead and Boxey was now a central cast member and Boomer got a promotion. “The Return of Starbuck” was one of the few instances that gave a clear explanation of what happened to a particular character. Starbuck crashes on a planet with a Cylon where he encounters a renegade member of a species called Seraphs (seen in the previous series) who is about to give birth. The episode is told in flashbacks and ends with Starbuck marooned in the planet and the woman’s child heading to the Colonial Fleet.
Commander Xavier was more or less the main villain of the show. Actor Jeremy Brett was the character in their final appearance via some bad writing, but distinctive actor Richard Lynch originated the role. Until I re-watched the show, I thought Xavier was a left over from an original Battlestar Galactica episode called “Guns on Ice Planet Zero” where he played Wolfe, but that was not correct. That would have made sense. He was the same actor in a different roles and considering Wolfe skipped out in the final few minutes of his episode one could be forgiven for being confused. I would surmise the reason Lynch did not return for Xavier’s final outing was he felt the series was so bad he could not show up one last time and they did the shittiest way to cover it.
Another sin of this show is the point in the BSG timeline at which it occurs. They are said to have arrived at Earth after a 30-year journey through space which in and of itself is not an issue since it easily negates a serious need to explain missing characters. The issue comes with that it was established that the original series takes place at some point after the Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969. We know this because at the end of “The Hand of God” the Galactica picks up a transmission of those very events. That would put their arrival sometime in the early 21st Century at the earliest given that television signals travel at the speed of light but based on the title and what is in the show itself the series takes place in a very polyester 1980.
Many years ago, Richard Hatch began circulating a film at conventions and on YouTube. It was produced by him as a proposed sequel to the original series. It moved the concept into the future but also mixed things up. Baltar returned. There was a new breed of Cylons. The Cylons were involved in a civil war. And humanity had settled down on its old world and apparently abandoned the search for Earth. It looked good and ignored the events of this series. Nothing ever came of it unfortunately but from what is shown below I dare say this is the way to continue the original concept and not Galactica 1980.
Galactica 1980 in the end felt like a fan film rather than a continuation of the concept. It is interesting to watch for what they did but not to watch as good television. Skip it!