We did it. We watched all 10 episodes of Galactica 1980. To celebrate, we started watching the original series. It’s also hokey and silly, but by comparison? It’s art.

No, actually, it’s not.

But it’s something closer to art than Galactica 1980. One could say that the final (completed) episode of 1980, “Return of Starbuck” has a certain Waiting for Godot je ne sais quoi. You’d have to be really really high to say that, but if you could get that high without suffering an aneurism, you could say it.

Probably.

200px-adama80

“Return of Starbuck” wasn’t intended to be the series finale and the scripts from the last episodes are available at the Galactica Wiki, I just haven’t bothered to read them.

I’ve mentioned Dr. Zee, the teenage super-genius who sits around on a lighted throne and foresees the future and stuff. In “Return of Starbuck,” Dr. Zee tells Commander Adama’s facial hair about a dream he had that reveals his true origins.

Turns out, Dr. Zee is the love child of an 8 and Helo.

Wait. No.

Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) was presumed dead after his Viper was destroyed. Turns out, he didn’t die. He crash landed on some planet. Or maybe he’s an angel. Who the hell knows? Or cares? Besides, Dr. Zee, that is.

Dr. Zee has a vivid dream about Starbuck yukking it up in the desert with his new best pal and wacky sidekick, a Centurian he names Cy. Starbuck and Cy play Pyramid. Starbuck and Cy bicker. Starbuck and Cy meet a pregnant woman, deliver her baby, and put it on a space ship and send it back to Galactica. The baby grows up to be Dr. Zee, who is magical or Starbuck’s love child or something.

Just don’t think about it.

The important thing is that this is the episode where Starbuck first uses the word “frak,” instead of the previously popular Galactica obscentity, “felgercarb.”

This may be the most important legacy of the Galactica 1980 series.

Until 2001, that is, when Special Times Just Right, a direct descendant of Adama’s facial hair, wins Best in Show at Westminster.

(This post was written March 9th)

So here we are, plodding through “Spaceball,” another fine Galactica 1980 episode. (Confused? See yesterday’s post for concise explication of the various Galactica series).

“Spaceball” is the personification of hell on earth, in that it’s a whole episode devoted to the premise that everyone loves precocious children playing baseball against a formidable opponent and winning at the last minute. In this case, it’s the Super-powered Galactica Children who need to win the big playoff game to save a baseball camp run by an earthling named William “Billy” Ayers.

The name of the team is the polecats.

Seriously.

Ayers is played by Paul Koslo, who has appeared in pretty much every cheesy 70s and 80s show ever made at least once. It’s impressive. You should click on that link and look for yourself. Go on, we’ll wait here, just be sure to come back!

Wasn’t that great? I love the fact that he even played Jesse James in that episode of the Dukes of Hazzard that’s presented as a flashback to the Old West while Uncle Jesse reads from an old a diary and all of the characters in the flashback are played by the actors who play the characters who are supposed to be those characters descendants.

See also: tropes that are only one step to the left of a full-on time travel episode.

See also: sweeps week stunts.

See also: we didn’t just jump the shark, we caught it, skinned it, ate it and wore it’s hide as a disguise so we could eat in the studio commissary without showing our faces.

So, back to Galactica 1980 – William Ayers only has one arm, it’s implied he chewed it off to escape the set of this show. Maybe I implied that. In the episode I think they explained how he lost his arm and why it ended his career, but I spaced out and missed the explanation.

Any episode with Starla and Moonstone and the other allegedly darling Galactica children makes my teeth itch.

And yet, this is also the best episode we’ve watched so far. The character of Xavier the time-traveling bad guy is being played by a different actor and he seems unclear what both his motivation and his ethnicity are supposed to be. You’ve got to watch the first 10 minutes of the episode on hulu to appreciate how hilariously bizarre this is. I swear at one point in that opening scene he seems to lapse into a Bela Lugosi impression.

We’ve learned important things from Galactica 1980, particularly this, which appears at the end of every episode:

Helpful information on the Galactica 1980 DVD

Just in case you had any questions, I guess.

Most importantly, we’ve decided that “William Ayers and the Polecats” would make an excellent band name.

1. This contains minor BSG (new series) spoilers, so be warned.
2. Yesterday’s post was so full of typos and grammatical errors I practically had to rewrite it last night. sorry.

My posts about Galactica 1980 are causing confusion. To clear things up, here’s a primer.

There are 4 Battlestar Galactica series, including the forthcoming Caprica.

The show that is currently on SciFi and wrapping up it’s 4th and final season is Battlestar Galactica. It is also known as “the reimagined series” because creator Glen Larson already produced a show with the same name.

That first show was called Battlestar Galactica. Also known as “the original series.” It aired from 1978-79. It won a bunch of Emmys and got nominated for Golden Globes and all, but was very expensive and it got canned after one season.

Then, there was Galactica 1980. Also now known as “what the fuck were they thinking?” It only lasted 10 episodes and aired in 1980.

In 2010, SciFi will debut Caprica, which is described as taking place 50 years before the events of the re-imagined series. The plot, according to the SciFi website, involves the creation of the original Cylons. This makes no sense, since the new series would have us believe Cyclons inhabited the Earth 2000 years ago and nuked it. Does this mean we’re going to get time travel subplots? Please. No.

We realized people have Oscars-watching parties because it’s the only way to make the damned things entertaining. Poor Hugh Jackman. He tried so hard, but he was doomed by the dreadful material he had to work with. We were embarrassed for him during that opening number.

Husband and I decided it was time, time to begin the long-promised Galactica 1980 marathon.

We’d already watched 4 episodes, but that was a long time ago. Figuring we’d repressed most of what we’d seen, we broke out the DVDs and began at the beginning. We watched the first 3 episodes and then tuned back in to the Oscars to catch the last hour of awards. Compared to Galactica 1980…the awards were still dull.

Things went off the rails quickly the last time I vowed to do this whole Galactica 1980 marathon thing – you can bring yourself up to date here.

This time, with God(s of Cobol) as my witness, I will watch the whole series. And blog about it. This week. I guarantee it, or we’ll give you a full refund.

Oh – here’s some obligatory Oscars content: The best Oscars-related opinion writing was in yesterday’s Washington Post. Robin Givhan made a sensible case for dumping the ridiculous custom of letting stars hold the fashion industry hostage for alleged “good publicity.” (“Designers in the Red: The System’s Wearing Thin”)

It may at last be time to face my arch-nemesis. No, not Wolf Blitzer. Galactica 1980.

I’m about to go totally meta here, and quote from that previous post about why you don’t want to try this at home:

Here are the original posts from that first little (mis)adventure, to help newer readers understand why they shouldn’t try this [watching Galactica 1980] at home. Not without first undertaking a rigorous training regimen. And possibly lobotomizing themselves with a number 2 pencil.

Remember people, I watch so you don’t have to. I am a trained media professional and this is the big time. You should not, I repeat, not, try this at home.

And if you do, I’m not responsible for the psychological carnage. Nor will I come to your home and scrape the fetid remnants of your anguished soul off of your rug.

1) galactica 1980 marathon, part I (caution: new series spoilers)

2) Cousin Oliver gets kicked to the curb; or, Galactica 1980 marathon, part 2

3) Mormons, or, Galactica 1980 marathon, part 3

4) Galactica 1980 marathon, part 4, wherein I talk about Knight Rider instead because I still haven’t been able to bring myself to finish watching episode 5

5) Galactica 1980 post part 5; I only wish the 6th episode starred Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce

6) And, if you got through all that, a bonus post, at no extra charge: The Big Score, and a minor Battlestar Galactica (new series) spoiler

(Original post here).

The DVDs are standing by. If anyone wants to undertake this mission with me, drop me a line. Be warned that you aren’t getting your mitts on one of the lollipops and you’re going to need to know me fairly well to be allowed to babysit.

The category index for Galactica 1980 is here.

In February 2006 the SciFi channel aired a Galactica 1980 marathon. In a series of escalating dares, Husband goaded me into watching it. Perhaps it was the gray February weather, or maybe it was the drugs. Whatever the reason, I accepted.

Later, we needed to make room on the Tivo and I only saved one episode from this precious cache. I thought I could pick them up cheap somewhere for later, more leisurely viewing. This was a mistake, as I soon learned. For some reason (basic human decency?) the show wasn’t commercially available.

Until now.

Quite by chance, I just discovered that Netflix has every heart-wrenchingly bad episode available on demand. At long last, I can complete my journey through the darkness.

Here are the original posts from that first little (mis)adventure, to help newer readers understand why they shouldn’t try this at home. Not without first undertaking a rigorous training regimen. And possibly lobotomizing themselves with a number 2 pencil.

Remember people, I watch so you don’t have to. I am a trained media professional and this is the big time. You should not, I repeat, not, try this at home.

And if you do, I’m not responsible for the psychological carnage. Nor will I come to your home and scrape the fetid remnants of your anguished soul off of your rug.

galactica 1980 marathon, part I (caution: new series spoilers)

Cousin Oliver gets kicked to the curb; or, Galactica 1980 marathon, part 2

Mormons, or, Galactica 1980 marathon, part 3

Galactica 1980 marathon, part 4, wherein I talk about Knight Rider instead because I still haven’t been able to bring myself to finish watching episode 5

Galactica 1980 post part 5; I only wish the 6th episode starred Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce

And, if you got through all that, a bonus post, at no extra charge:
The Big Score, and a minor Battlestar Galactica (new series) spoiler

Now that I’ve reread them, I have to say that those were actually entertaining, if only because they brought back lovely memories of giant spaceships full of Lucy Lawless clones, getting in trouble for calling girl scouts “sugar whores”, the 1970s sci-fi show time travel Nazi-encounter plotline fad, and, a personal favorite of mine, our fearless leader freaking out over human-animal hybrids (Manimal?) in his State of the Union. Good times, indeed.

Wet Hot American Summer is a highly under-rated Janeane Garofalo movie about the last day of summer camp.

Toward the end of the film the motley assortment of awkward campers prepare for the requisite softball championship scene. The dialogue goes like this:

Counselor:
So I say, when those anonymously evil campers from Camp Tigerclaw get here we give it our best shot and we try to come from behind at the last minute with some kooky trick play that we made up and we win the game! What do you say, campers?

The campers are skeptical.

Girl Camper:
It sounds like pretty well-worn territory.

Boy Camper:
The whole thing feels kind of trite. I say we forget it.


All of the campers agree.A bus arrives.The Counselor goes to the bus and confers with the counselor from Camp Tigerclaw, and then the Camp Tigerclaw bus pulls away.

Alas, “Spaceball”, Galactica 1980 epsiode 6, trods upon that well-worn baseball/softball game territory, and it hurts every bit as much as you’d expect. It’s funny, but not in the way they intended. If I think too much about it today my head might actually explode, and we can’t have that.

In closing, avoid Galactica 1980 and rent Wet Hot American Summer. It’s much, much better. The official website is even still active. It has a good cast. It’s relatively short. It’s dumb, but it’s fairly clever in it’s dumbness.

And most importantly, it actually means to be funny.

Obligatory Galactica 1980 content: Glen A. Larson was the executive Producer of Knight Rider, and even co-wrote the theme song.

This has been bothering me for a while. Since 1982, to be precise. Have you ever paid attention to the prologue for Knight Rider?

“Knight Rider, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless in a world of criminals who operate above the law.”

What’s up with the loner schtick? It sounds romantic, I guess, but the plot revolves around the guy not being a loner. In fact, he runs with a whole pack. First of all, he’s supported by Knight Industries, presumably a big company. Knight Industries somehow operates the mercenary organization F.L.A.G. – the Foundation for Law and Government. F.L.A.G seems to be bound by neither the rules of law nor government, but we’re just going to let that go for now, because to think about it would just bring my headache back.

Even if you discount F.L.A.G., Michael Knight has also got a band of wacky sidekicks who ride around in an 18-wheeler and attend to his every need.

Probably most importantly, he has that deep homoerotic bond with his car, KITT.

What part of that spells loner? I mean, except in the whole existential “we’re all alone” sort of way, of course. If this guy is a loner, he’s a miserable failure at it.

Incidentally, William Daniels, the uncredited voice of KITT, was a guest star on Galactica 1980 in the 2 parter, “Night of the Cylons.” So there, more Galactica 1980 content. They were both Glen A. Larson shows, plus he’s pretty much guest starred on everything ever made, so it’s not really that interesting of a coincidence. Or, really, technically, a coincidence.

(proceed to part 5)

Husband informs me that Barry Van Dyke and Not-Starbuck’s dorky motorcycles could fly in the first episodes of Galactica 1980, I was just in some sort of fugue state during the flying dorkcycle scenes and didn’t notice.

Oh well. Welcome to day 3 of the Galactica 1980 Fest, wherein we don’t actually watch an episode of the show because it gives us a pain right here and we need a little break. By “us” I of course mean “me.” Even as I type Husband is happily viewing an episode of Miami Vice that starred Miles Davis, who seemed intent on proving that a great, great musician could be a bad, bad actor. The episode is from 1985. The following year, Don Johnson proved to the world that a bad, bad actor could be a bad, bad musician with his opus, Heartbeat, but that’s a post for another day. I don’t think this episode is going to be as good (if by “good” you mean “bad”) as the one with James Brown as the leader of a UFO cult.

Tivo is not your damned friend.

There is a Miami Vice-Battlestar Galactica connection. It’s not Glen A. Larson. It’s Edward James Olmos, who co-starred on Miami Vice as the token (token actor, that is) and now stars in Battlestar Galactica (the iteration I refer to as “the real one”, much to Husband’s annoyance) as Admiral Adama. (Lorne Green Action Facial Hair sold seperately).

This post is a little too paranthetical (even for me).

The problem with prolonged viewing of Galactica 1980, and in fact any show from the franchise, is that it inevitably leads to prolonged ranting (by me, at any rate) about Mormons. Not all Mormons. Not even most Mormons. Only the Super-conservative misogynistic Mormon missionary dudes who live up the blocl. I got rid of them for a long stretch of time at one point by actually inviting them in and spilling the ashes of my deceased cat (it was actually a peppermill, but they didn’t know this).

So yeah, maybe I do have a problem with some Mormons. But those are specific individuals and they’d be annoying no matter what flavor of oppressive theology they adhered to. But I could ignore all that, if the Galactica Universe wasn’t just ooy-gooy with theology, which I find boring and trite. Again, no matter whose theology it is. Series creator Glen Larson really wears his religion on his sleeve in this one. Yes, I know, plenty of sci-fi is just rehashing of established religion. (I just did that nerdy thing where you clear your throat while croaking a word, in this case: The Matrix. You just didn’t hear it). I don’t care. It’s intellectually lazy. If you want to invent a religion, invent a religion. Don’t just make anagrams and call yourself clever.

If there’s overt Mormonism in some of Larson’s other epic masterpieces, Knight Rider, Buck Rogers, and Quincy spring to mind first, I’ve never noticed. My own babblings about Mormons and Battlestar Galactica are neither insightful nor interesting, so I’ll send you elsewhere if you’re interested in reading more on the subject.

Michael Lorenzen’s essay on “Battlestar Galactica and Mormonism is interesting, albeit stiff and awkwardly written. This essay is probably a better summary, although it doesn’t go into the depth that Lorenzen’s essay does.

Well, whatever. Just think about all those naked Lucy Lawless cylons and it will all a-okay.

You may think that it’s silly to devote time to the Glen A. Larson oevre, but that just means you haven’t been following U.S. politics closely enough. According to the requisite sci-fi moment in this year’s State of the Union Address, President W pointed out that Manimal is a serious threat to our freedom:

A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research: human cloning in all its forms, creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids, and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos. Human life is a gift from our Creator — and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale. (Applause.)

Sure, there are loads of bioethical issues to be addressed in the field of xenotransplantation and creation of chimeras is a hot topic. Personally, I think it’s unfortunate the Prez wants to devote more resources to stopping this research entirely, not because of the medical implications but because I’m so looking forward to someday being able to mutate into various animals at will, especially raptors.

Again, not for any medical reason. Just because the idea of being able to poop on people and get away with it sounds kinda fun. And raptors are big, big birds.

And on that note, it’s time for us to finally catch up with Friday night’s ep of (the real) Battlestar Galactica, “Downloaded.” With special guest star Lucy Lawless.

Go on to part 4