As modern culture is currently proving, there is great difficulty in letting go of a good story. If a show has a hint of a vague conclusion, it can still be continued. In 1979, Battlestar Galactica’s eager fans were teased that the final remnants of humanity had found the fabled Earth. After an unprecedented campaign proved the show’s value, the network gave it one final chance in continuing the story; only with a different timeslot, and a new mission. In Galactica 1980.
After enduring 30 yarns (read years, Galactica has a way with language), the crew of the Galactica finally find the fabled earth! The only trouble is, it’s Earth in 1980. Boxey has grown into a fine warrior, much like his old man, Apollo who has perished in the trip, Starbuck has been marooned, and Adama has grown a beard. A space-born genius by the name of Dr Zee warns that Cylons might be coming, and the defenceless Earth will be merciless. As the crew of the Galactica try to infiltrate earth, and subtlety builds up its defences, they must be careful about what they reveal.
Galactica’s single season provided much controversy when it ended. This was before the days that fans could send in a bag of nuts and get a satisfactory resolution. The resurrection moved Battlestar into a different timeslot, and while the original has a delightfully retro campy charm, 1980 has a lot more of a child focus, due to its new home. Technology is at the forefront, with the pilot hosting the contentious debate on nuclear power. Not all the talk is negative, a lot of the technology that the Galactica crew uses on Earth. Flying Bikes are shown off constantly, a handy look-up device that helps the Galacticans navigate Earth (predating the iPhone by a decade), and a camouflage cloak. These examples offer examples of a future that manages to be both exciting and inspiring for both potential episodes and the young minds at home.
30% of the ill-fated series is crystallised in a pilot making some bold claims for the future of the show (that the networks weren’t a fan of.) Primarily consisting of an education bent, mixing technology with the competitively primitive population of 80s America. Even a time-travelling sojourn back to Nazi Germany (the show did explore similar themes with its Eastern Alliance). A large portion of the subsequent episodes deals with the space-born Super Scouts (much like Superman, being on Earth gives them superpowers), with little mention of the iconic Cylons until much later, feeling like a large step forward. Even still, it feels like the show’s greatest strength lies in the final episode, where we find out the fate of a stranded Starbuck. As he undergoes an Enemy Mine scenario with a downed Cylon fighter, away from Earth.
The economical bent and greater family-centric focus do not hamper the sci-fi discovery. There’s a constant joy in mixing futuristic technology with fun adventures, much like the show did through the small screen a year ago. Galactica 1980 had some keen ideas, that might have fared a lot better in its original timeslot. Although largely ignored by future projects, like the gritty-conspiratorial reboot, 1980 has taken its premise into some interesting dimensions. While not what many were expecting, Galactica 1980 demonstrates that you can go home again.
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