Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.

Science Fiction

Childhood Science Fiction: Television (Part 9)

Two more shows today. One a classic and the other somewhat more obscure.

Battlestar Galactica (1978-1981)


There’s this thing called Star Wars, they said. We want one, they said. And not just a film, but a TV series. And so we got Battlestar Galactica from Glen A. Larson and ABC.

It was everything kids who’d seen Star Wars were wanting. Space battles! Robots! Brave warriors! Heroes and rogues! Wise, elder statesmen (and it was men)! Dogs Daggits! Robot Daggits! Lasers! Traitors! Weekly peril! And they were looking for us (Earth)!

We didn’t mind that they kept recycling the special effects or that Starbuck was a two-timing sleezebag or that Boxey really should have been killed off as soon as possible or that the supposed master race of artificial intelligences were incredible stupid.

We just lapped it up, waiting for Patrick McKnee’s weekly voice over:

There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe, with tribes of humans who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans, that they may have been the architects of the Great Pyramids, or the lost civilizations of Lemuria or Atlantis. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive—somewhere beyond the heavens!

In New Zealand our first encounter with Battlestar Galactica was not on TV though. We had a series of cinematic releases where a number of episodes were combined to make a film. I remember going to see the first movie at the old Cinerama (click here for a photo) movie theatre in Wellington with the amazing audio of Sensurround.


The three films were:

  1. Battlestar Galactica (1978)
  2. Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack (1979)
  3. Conquest of the Earth (1981)

That last film was a product of the sequel/spinoff TV show Galactica 1980, which was a really, really awful TV series. More on which episodes from the original series and the 1980 spinoff were combined can be found here.

I own Galactica 1980 on DVD. I have no idea what I was thinking buying it, beyond collecting it. We should all just forget it ever happened. That the entire opening credits of the show are made up of clips from the original series speaks volumes.

Battlestar Galactica had an extensive toy and book range with action figures, models, spacecraft, novels and comics.

Of course, back in the day I had no idea about the whole Mormon theology permeating the entire show, and which still continued into the rebooted series. You can follow that in these articles and essays:

  • Ford, James E. “Theology in Prime Time Science Fiction: Battlestar Galactica and Mormon Doctrine #17 [1983]: 83–87.” Journal of Popular Culture 17, no. 3 (1983): 83-87.
  • Wolfe, Ivan. “Why Your Mormon Neighbor Knows More About This Show Than You Do.” In Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy : Mission Accomplished or Mission Frakked Up?, edited by Josef Steiff and Tristan D. Tamplin, 303-16. Chicago, Ill.: Open Court, 2008.

In the 2000s, the entire franchise got rebooted. We got a darker, gritter and more political series that really hit that mark. The Caprica spinoff prequel did that too, but wasn’t as successful, though we got to see the Cylons created.


BofPBattle of the Planets (1978-1980)

Okay, this was what I ran home from school to watch when I was 8. My first exposure to anime, albeit in an American adaptation of the Japanese Science Ninja Team Gatchaman.

I really don’t have too much to say about this apart from:

  • 85 episodes!!!!
  • Mark; Jason; Princess; Keyop; & Tiny (Jason was my favourite)
  • The Fiery Phoenix spaceship transformation!!!!
  • Ninja skills + science fiction + cool tech!!!
  • G-Force!!!!


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