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Battlestar Galactica (Classic) Episode 1 Review w/ Episode
By Rachel Oliver | August 11th, 2008

Hey there. This is Rachel, a staff member with a wide variety of nerdy interests making my first post to the site, and in it what should be the first of many reviews from me…

As a fan of classic television, science fiction, and Lorne Greene, I probably should have sought out the original Battlestar Galactica much sooner than this. But I didn’t know much about it until recently, other than that the timing of the original broadcast made it seem like a mere attempt to cash in on the Star Wars craze. However, while there are at least a few visual similarities to Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica’s story and execution are quite different.

~Marc- Small note from your favorite editor, this will FBR’s first review with the full episode embedded in the review, if you wish to watch the episode BEFORE reading the review, scroll to the bottom.~

The first part of the three-part pilot, Saga of a Star World, opens with a group of humans in another part of the universe (as pondered by the opening narration). This particular group is composed of the leaders of the system’s colonies, known as the Council of Twelve, discussing a sudden peace proposition from their long-time enemies, the Cylons. Most of the council appears to be quite elated over the promise of peace, though one member, Commander Adama of the Battlestar Galactica, believes the Cylons still have war in mind. And his suspicions prove correct when two Galactica pilots encounter a large number of Cylon ships during a routine patrol of the area. But with limited information from the patrol, the council president forbids action to prevent the peace talks from being jeopardized. Nonetheless, Adama begins readying all of his fighter pilots as he continues trying to persuade the president to allow action.

While I don’t want to spoil much of the episode’s plot beyond that, I’m sure that most people who are at least familiar with the show’s basic premise, and even some that aren’t, can guess what happens next. Personally, I already had vague knowledge of the most important part, which I’m afraid I do have to mention for those who don’t know: most of the human colonies and fleet are destroyed by the Cylons, leaving only the Galactica to lead the survivors in a “rag-tag fugitive fleet” toward the legendary 13th colony called Earth. But knowing these things didn’t hurt my ability to enjoy seeing it all carried out.

In fact, while such a premise doesn’t necessarily sound spectacular on paper, the execution of it is what’s key. For example, what little we see of the council president makes him appear to be a weak and naive man, and yet it’s almost impossible not to sympathize with him and be moved during his final moments — something which Lew Ayres’s veteran acting skill no doubt plays a large part in. Another such example is the way the destruction is portrayed by showing individual deaths on ships and within city streets, as opposed to more impersonal methods of merely presenting structures or scenery being destroyed. But this works against it at the same time due to the stunts and effects quality; while the overall special effects are generally good for a sci-fi TV series made in the late 1970′s, there are two particular deaths that I find difficult to watch with a straight face even by those standards. They feel more like the kind of thing I’d expect to see in one of the sillier Roger Moore Bond films.

Other elements I find noteworthy include the portrayal of the survivors: they’re much feistier than I would have expected, but it works well and makes sense in the context. Also, while there are some events that were a bit predictable (and that’s excluding what most people might already know about the show’s premise), there were a few important character deaths that certainly caught me by surprise — one of which even made me do a double-take to make sure it actually happened — and a hint of romance that didn’t turn out the way I would have expected either.

But overall, I quite enjoyed this first episode of the original Battlestar Galactica. I thought the story was well told, and the male leads were all very strong and intriguing characters. My only real complaints come from the hokey deaths noted earlier, and that Athena’s character seems a bit weaker than those of her male co-stars, in both acting and the level of being interesting. But I rank those complaints as considerably minor compared to everything else, and I definitely look forward to watching the next episode, and reviewing it here.

Overall Score: A

Categories: TV Review, w/ TV Episode