10 Things You Might Not Know About BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978)

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There are those who believe that Geek Dave began out there, far across the Universe...


1. The pilot for Battlestar Galactica was budgeted at $7 million, making it the most expensive pilot ever for a US TV show at that time. Titled Saga Of A Star World it was originally intended to be the first of three made-for-TV movies, but after it debuted on ABC, on September 17th 1978, to high Nielsen ratings, creator Glen A. Larson announced the format change to a weekly series. This caught his writing and production staff off-guard, and with only the second of the intended made-for-TV-movies completed (Lost Planet Of The Gods) it resulted in several substandard 'crash of the week' episodes until quality scripts could resume.

2. The basic idea for Battlestar Galactica was inspired by a treatment Larson had initially called "Adam's Ark," in which Earth is destroyed and the survivors ship out into space. Larson had developed this idea some years earlier under the tutelage of Gene Coon, one of Star Trek's most highly successful show-runners.


3. The pilot had already been released theatrically in various countries including Canada, Japan and Western Europe in July 1978 (except the United Kingdom where it was released in April 1979) in an edited 125 minute version. This cinematic edit featured some differences from the original televised episodes, including the death of Count Baltar, the leading antagonist character who betrayed the human race to its enemy, the robot race of Cylons. In the theatrical release he was executed by his Cylon friends, but spared that fate for the small screen, meaning John Colicos character could go on to become a firm fan favourite.

4. Two thirds of the way through the debut broadcast of the full length 148 minute pilot, ABC interrupted with a special report of the signing of the Camp David Accords at the White House by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, witnessed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter.


5. During the pilot Boxey (Noah Hathaway) loses his pet daggit, Muffit, in the Cylon attack. Boxey is given a replacement pet, a robotic daggit named Muffit II, a prototype intended to replace the lost daggit species' warrior support roles.

You might not know but Muffit II was actually portrayed by a trained chimp named Evolution, or "Evie" for short.

6. Battlestar Galactica was the first weekly US television series budgeted at over $1,000,000 per episode. Unfortunately for the production, much of this lavish (for the time) sum was consumed by the special effects processes used. This necessitated the frequent, and often glaringly obvious, reuse of effects footage throughout the series wherever possible.

7. Much of Glen A. Larson's Mormon faith is very evident throughout the series. Such details include: The "Quorum Of The Twelve," also called the "Council Of The Twelve," which is the Mormon ruling body under the leadership of their Prophet; the term "sealing" used for marriage, as in a Mormon Temple wedding; and the reference to "sealings" being "for all the eternities," as with Mormon "celestial" marriages being "for time and eternity." Other aspects of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints faith are also very apparent in every episode. The moral lessons of each episode, moreover, are all very Mormon in design.


8. Before he found fame in Miami Vice, Don Johnson was shortlisted for the role of Lieutenant Starbuck. He eventually lost out to Dirk Benedict as producers weren't keen on Johnson's Southern accent.

9. After Battlestar Galactica became a success, the American author Isaac Asimov commented,
"Star Wars was fun and I enjoyed it. But Battlestar Galactica was Star Wars all over again and I couldn't enjoy it without amnesia."
He wasn't the only one who felt the series was very familiar to Star Wars, as 20th Century Fox sued Universal Studios (producers of Battlestar Galactica) for plagiarism, copyright infringement, unfair competition, and Lanham Act claims, claiming it had stolen 34 distinct ideas from Star Wars. Universal promptly countersued, claiming Star Wars had stolen ideas from their 1972 film Silent Running, notably the robot "drones", and the Buck Rogers serials of the 1930s. 20th Century Fox's copyright claims were initially dismissed by the trial court in 1980, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit remanded the case for trial in 1983.

Although Galactica was indeed launched to capitalise on the popularity of Star Wars, and it employed the same special effects team and the same concept designer (Ralph McQuarrie), the case was later "resolved without trial".


10. Battlestar Galactica was cancelled after just 24 episodes, but Glen A. Larson didn't let the show fully die as he recycled many of the props, effects shots, and costumes for Buck Rogers In The 25th Century (not to mention ill fated sequel series Galactica 1980) which went in to production as Galactica was still filming. For example, the "landram" vehicle was originally made for Galactica, and the control sticks used in the Terran starfighters in Buck Rogers pilot movie were the same as those used in Galactica's Viper craft. The Terran starfighters were also concept designer Ralph McQuarrie's original vision of the Colonial Vipers.

A few years later the classic sound of the Cylons was incorporated to K.I.T.T. in other Larson series, Knight Rider (indeed, both Cylons and K.I.T.T. have only one red eye, moving side to side permanently). The sound of a viper when it's launched from a Galactica starship too was incorporated to K.I.T.T. You can hear it when Michael Knight actives the Turbo Boost to make the car jump.

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