Battlestar Galactica 1980
Currently available on Hulu.com is Galactica 1980. The premise is pretty simple, the “rag tag fleet” of the Original Series finally made it to Earth. But the Cylons have followed the humans to Earth.
So the poor old Galactica is caught between Earth and the Cylon forces. Commander Adama is of course torn, on one hand it’s obvious that Earth’s technology is far below that of the Twelve Colonies. On the other hand, “computer projections” (AKA recycled and chopped footage from the first episode of the first show) Cylon attacks on Earth show Los Angeles being “devastated.” Or rather, a few cars being thrown into the air, a couple of very small explosions, and some laser strafing that doesn’t even hit anything.
In the third or fourth scene Troy and Dillion (who are the main characters) are discussing how the United States of America “sounds like a fun place,” as they’re flying into Earth’s Atmosphere. Unfortunately they’re tracked by NORAD or it’s far more secret and shadowy 80’s Television version. Two F-16’s are launched to intercept and destroy the unidentified air craft. In a torturously boring dogfight where the Vypers dodge a tiny bit, the F-16s launch a single missile, and the Vypers go invisible into the clouds. The F-16 pilots throw out a bit more patriotic talk and then we cut to the next scene.
As the show progresses, US radar technology continues to see the Cylons and Vypers. But the Cylons have new technology too, including Cylons that look just like humans. This plot point is used again in the new Battlestar Galactica which somehow managed to run more episodes total then both the original series and the 1980 series put together. This ups the ante for the Colonials, as they must protect the Earth from the Cylons, yet are torn in trying to make Earth their new home.
I fear to spoil the plot, or, what little plot there actually is. But suffice to say Galactica 1980 is the quintessential early 80’s show. The Afros on White Guys. The overt American Patriotism. The cheesy acting, cheesy low budget TV special effects. Multiple bit actors hoping to make it big time yet again, including Robert Reed of “the dad” on Brady Bunch fame. The fact that George Takei (Commander Sulu on Star Trek) happens to be doing Sharp TV commercials during the breaks just adds to the surrealism of the entire show.
Keeping in mind that the show is now thirty years old and saw little to no popularity in it’s day, yet it actually holds up pretty well. The cheesy moments are appropriately cheesy. The acting is the typical semi-dramatic 80’s. The plot, is thinner and more cobbled together then a Rube Goldberg machine. The fight scenes are lousy. The special effects are “special.”
In this single show, everything that is the 80’s is glorified and still laughable. Discard Galactica 1980 if you wish, but keep in mind that it’s shows like this that gave us what we watch today.