Battlestar Galactica is an American science fiction franchise created by Glen A. Larson. The franchise began with the original television series in 1978, and was followed by a brief sequel TV series in 1980, a line of book adaptations, original novels, comic books, a board game, and video games. A remake of Battlestar Galactica aired in December 2003, beginning with a two-part, three-hour miniseries developed by Ronald D. Moore and David Eick. This led to a weekly TV series which ran for four seasons between 2004 and 2009. A prequel TV series, Caprica, aired in 2010. A two-hour pilot for a second spin-off series, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, was filmed, with plans of continuing it into a regular series. The series was eventually scrapped.
All Battlestar Galactica productions share the premise that in a distant part of our galaxy, a human civilization lives on a group of planets known as the Twelve Colonies, to which they have migrated from their ancestral homeworld of Kobol. The Twelve Colonies have warred for decades with a cybernetic race known as the Cylons, whose goal is the extermination of the human race. The Cylons offer peace to the humans, which proves to be a ruse. With the aid of a human named Baltar (an inadvertent aid in the 2003 version), the Cylons carry out a massive attack on the Twelve Colonies and on the Colonial Fleet of starships that protect them. These attacks devastate the Colonial Fleet, lay waste to the Colonies, and virtually destroy their populations. Scattered survivors flee into outer space aboard available spaceships. Of the entire Colonial battle fleet, only the Battlestar Galactica, a gigantic battleship and spacecraft carrier (analogous to an aircraft carrier), appears to have survived the Cylon conflagration. Under the leadership of Commander Adama, the Galactica and the pilots of "Viper" fighters lead a fugitive fleet of survivors in search of the fabled thirteenth colony known as Earth.
Battlestar Galactica (1978)
Glen A. Larson, the creator and executive producer of Battlestar Galactica, said he had conceived of the Battlestar Galactica premise, which he originally called Adam's Ark, during the late 1960s. However, he was unable to find financial backing for his TV series for a number of years. Battlestar Galactica was finally produced in the wake of the success of the 1977 film Star Wars. In fact, the movie studio 20th Century Fox sued Universal Studios (the studio behind Battlestar Galactica) for copyright infringement, claiming that Universal Studios had copied 34 distinct ideas from Star Wars. Universal Studios promptly countersued, claiming that Star Wars itself had stolen many ideas from its motion picture Silent Running (1972) (notably the robot "drones") and the Buck Rogers movie serial of the 1930s.
Initially, Larson envisioned Battlestar Galactica as a series of made-for-TV movies (a three-hour pilot program plus two two-hour episodes) for the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). A shortened version of the three-hour pilot, Saga of a Star World, was screened in Canadian theaters (before the TV series was telecast) and in American theaters (later on). Instead of two additional TV movies, ABC decided to commission a weekly TV series of one-hour episodes.
In 1979 at the sixth annual People's Choice Awards, the TV series won in the category of "Best New TV Drama Series".
The initial episode of the TV series (the long pilot TV movie) was broadcast on September 17, 1978. However, about 30 minutes before the end, that broadcast was interrupted by the announcement of the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli Camp David Accords. After the interruption (which was nearly an hour in length), the episode picked back up where it left off.
During the eight months after the pilot's initial broadcast, 17 original episodes of the series were made (five of them two-part shows), equivalent to a standard 24-episode TV season. Citing declining ratings and cost overruns, ABC canceled Battlestar Galactica in April 1979. Its final episode "The Hand of God" was telecast on April 29, 1979.
During the autumn of 1979, ABC executives met with Battlestar Galactica's creator Glen A. Larson to consider restarting the series. A suitable concept was needed to draw viewers, and it was decided that the arrival of the Colonial Fleet at present-day Earth would be the storyline. A new TV movie called Galactica 1980 was produced. Again, it was decided this new version of Battlestar Galactica would be made into a weekly TV series. Despite the early success of the premiere, this program failed to achieve the popularity of the original series, and it was canceled after just ten episodes.
In this 1980 sequel series, the Colonial fleet finds the Earth, and then it covertly protects it from the Cylons. This series was a quick failure due to its low budget (e.g., recycling footage from the 1974 Universal Studios movie Earthquake during a Cylon attack sequence), widely panned writing, and ill-chosen time slot (Sunday evenings, a time generally reserved for family-oriented programming and, more specifically, also for the 60 Minutes newsmagazine program). The TV series also had to adhere to strict content restrictions such as limiting the number of acts of violence and being required to shoehorn educational content into the script and dialogue.
To cut costs, the show was set mostly on the contemporary Earth, to the great dismay of fans. Another factor for fan apathy was the nearly complete recasting of the original series: Lorne Greene reprised his role as Adama (working unpaid), Herb Jefferson, Jr., played "Colonel" Boomer in about half of the episodes (with little screentime), and Dirk Benedict as Starbuck for one episode (the abrupt final episode, though his character was to have also appeared in the unfilmed episode 'Wheel of Fire', which was a semi-sequel to 'The Return of Starbuck'). Richard Hatch (Apollo in the original series) was sent a script for Galactica 1980, but he turned it down since he was not sure what his part in the series would be - now that all the characters had changed.
Some TV syndication packages for Battlestar Galactica incorporate the episodes of this series.
Besides a re-edited version of the pilot, released originally in Canada, Europe and parts of Latin America and, following the broadcast of the series, in the U.S., two other Battlestar Galactica feature films were released in cinemas. Both Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack and Conquest of the Earth were made up of various episodes of the original series and Galactica 1980 respectively. (See: List of Battlestar Galactica feature films)
The original series maintained a cult fandom, which has supported efforts by Glen A. Larson, Richard Hatch, and Bryan Singer (independently of one another) to revive the premise.
Richard Hatch produced a demonstration video in 1998–99 which featured several actors from the original series combined with state-of-the-art special effects. This video, titled Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming, was screened at some science fiction conventions, but it did not lead to a new series.
In 1999, the producer of Wing Commander, Todd Moyer, and the producer of the original TV series, Glen Larson, announced plans to produce a motion picture based on the TV series. It would have featured Battlestar Pegasus.
In the year 2000, the director and an executive producer of the X-Men movie, Bryan Singer and Tom DeSanto, began developing a Battlestar Galactica TV miniseries under the auspices of Studios USA for the Fox TV network. A continuation of the original series but set 25 years later, Singer and DeSanto's version included several members of the original cast reprising their original roles as well as newer characters being introduced. It was intended to be telecast as a backdoor pilot in May 2002, and pre-production commenced and sets had even been partially constructed with a view to filming starting in November 2001. However, production delays caused by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks meant that Bryan Singer had to drop out, due to his commitment to direct the X-Men 2 movie. This caused the executives of Fox TV to lose interest in this project.
Despite attempts to revive the series over the years, none came to fruition until it was reimagined in 2003 by Universal Television as Battlestar Galactica, a three-hour miniseries. Commissioned by the Sci-Fi Channel, screenwriter Ronald D. Moore and producer David Eick were the creative forces behind it. Academy Award-nominated actor Edward James Olmos was cast in the role of Commander Adama, while two-time Academy Award nominee Mary McDonnell was cast as President Laura Roslin. Starbuck and Boomer were now female characters, portrayed by Katee Sackhoff and Grace Park respectively. Other cast members included Jamie Bamber (Captain Lee 'Apollo' Adama), James Callis (Dr. Gaius Baltar), and Tricia Helfer as a Cylon known as "Number Six". The mini-series was a ratings success for the Sci-Fi Channel and they commissioned a new weekly Battlestar Galactica series to follow.
A Cylon Centurion from the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica TV series
The new TV series was co-funded by the UK's Sky Television, and premiered first in the United Kingdom on the Sky1 satellite channel in October 2004. The series was then broadcast in North America on the Sci-Fi Channel in January 2005. Continuing where the 2003 mini-series left off, the main cast all returned to reprise their roles. Several new characters were introduced, and Richard Hatch, who played Captain Apollo in the 1970s Battlestar Galactica TV series, also appeared in several episodes as Tom Zarek, a former political terrorist who later becomes part of the new Colonial government.
An edited version of the pilot miniseries was aired on NBC on January 9, 2005, five days before the Sci-Fi series premiere. NBC also aired three selected first season episodes to promote the show in advance of the second season premiere in July 2005. The series ultimately ran for four seasons between 2004 and 2009. The second season was split into two halves screened several months apart. Due to production delays caused by the 2007–2008 Writers Guild strike, the fourth season was also split into two parts, with a seven month hiatus in between.
The series has won widespread critical acclaim among many mainstream non-genre publications. Time and New York Newsday named it the best show on television in 2005. Other publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, National Review and Rolling Stone magazine also gave the show positive reviews.
The show has received a Peabody Award for overall excellence, several Emmy Awards for Visual Effects, and Emmy nominations for Writing and Directing. Time Magazine named it one of the 100 Best TV Shows of All Time.
Razor (TV movie)
Battlestar Galactica: Razor is a 2007 television movie produced and broadcast in the gap between Seasons 3 and 4 of the re-imagined series. Razor is also technically the first two episodes of Season 4 though it chronicles events on Battlestar Pegasus in two time periods, both of which are "in the past" with respect to the Season 4 continuity. The "present day" framing scenes are set during Lee Adama's command of the Pegasus in the latter half of Season 2, while "flashback" scenes depict Helena Cain's command in the period between the Cylon attack (shown in the 2003 mini-series) and the reunion with the Galactica in the second season. It aired in the United States and Canada on November 24, 2007 and in the UK and Ireland on December 18, 2007. An expanded version of the movie was released on DVD on December 4, 2007.
Main articles: Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance, Battlestar Galactica: Razor Flashbacks, and Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy
The first set of webisodes were a series of shorts produced in 2006 to promote the third season of the re-imagined show. Made as an "optional extra" to Season 3, the webisodes filled in some of the events between the second and third seasons and featured some of the main cast, though did not reveal what would happen in the beginning of Season 3, nor was viewing them essential to follow the story of the third season. Each of the ten webisodes was approximately three minutes long, and they were released twice a week leading up to the U.S. Season 3 premiere in 2006.
The Razor Flashbacks were a series of seven webisodes produced in 2007. Set some 40 years earlier during William Adama's fighter pilot days during the later stages of the First Cylon War. They were released on the Internet as "webisodes" leading up to Razor's release. They are now available on the DVD and Blu-ray releases of Battlestar Galactica: Razor, and some are inserted into both the broadcast and extended cuts of the movie on DVD and Blu-ray. The installments that did not make the final cut include 1, 2, and the latter half of 7.
In May 2008, a set of 10 webisodes were announced to be in the works which were released during the seven month hiatus between episodes 10 and 11 of Season 4. Titled The Face of the Enemy, the web series premiered on December 12, 2008 on SciFi.com. Again, viewing of the webisodes was optional prior to the second half of Season 4.
The Plan (TV movie)
In August 2008, the Sci Fi Channel officially announced the production of a two-hour TV movie which was planned to air after the final episode of the series in 2009. The movie began production on September 8, 2008. The movie premiered exclusively on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download on October 27, 2009 and aired on January 10, 2010, on Sci Fi. Written by Jane Espenson and directed by Edward James Olmos, The Plan storyline begins before the attack on the 12 colonies and shows events primarily from the perspective of two Cylons, Cavil and Anders. Edward James Olmos reprised his role as Adama, and eleven of the twelve actors who played Cylons appeared, including Michael Trucco, Aaron Douglas, Dean Stockwell, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, Rick Worthy, Matthew Bennett, Callum Keith Rennie, Michael Hogan and Rekha Sharma. The only "Cylon" actor not present was Lucy Lawless (although previously filmed footage of her was included).
On July 24, 2009, Edward James Olmos stated that The Plan will not be the last movie based on the reimagined series.
Caprica is a prequel television series to the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. It premiered on Syfy (formerly Sci-Fi) on January 22, 2010, and was described as "television's first science fiction family saga". It was originally a two-hour back door pilot for a possible weekly television series, but on December 2, 2008, Syfy gave the go-ahead to expand the project into a full, 20-episode series. Caprica is set on the titular planet, some 58 years before the events of Battlestar Galactica. The show revolves around two families, the Adamas and the Graystones, and the creation of the Cylons.
The pilot was directed by Jeffrey Reiner and starred Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Paula Malcomson, Alessandra Torresani, and Polly Walker. The pilot was released on DVD on April 21, 2009 and the series was broadcast in January 2010.
On October 27, 2010, Syfy canceled Caprica due to low ratings. The final five episodes were aired in the US on January 4, 2011 though they had aired a couple of months earlier on the Canadian network Space. The entire series was released on DVD in 2011.
Blood & Chrome
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome was to be an upcoming spin-off series from the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series. Syfy approached show runner Ronald D. Moore to produce another spin-off set in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica universe, and will begin as a two-hour pilot that will focus on William "Husker" Adama (to be portrayed by Luke Pasqualino) during the First Cylon War (as was glimpsed in Razor and the corresponding webisodes).
Syfy greenlit the two-hour pilot of Blood & Chrome, which saw production begin in February 2011. No release date has been announced yet for the pilot. The channel decided against moving forward with a new TV series, but released the series via YouTube before being released on different formats such as DVD and Digital.
Creator Glen A. Larson entered negotiations with Universal Pictures for a film adaptation of the 1978 series in February 2009. Bryan Singer signed on to direct the reboot the following August, but was obligated to direct Jack the Giant Killer. In October 2011 John Orloff was hired to write the script. "I have wanted to write this movie since I was 12 years old, and built a Galactica model from scratch out of balsa wood, cardboard, old model parts and LEDs," Orloff told Deadline.com. "I love BSG, and I would pass on the job rather than frak it up."By August 2012 the script was being rewritten, with Singer explaining that "It will exist, I think, quite well between the Glen Larson and Ron Moore universes".
A series of comic book publishers have adapted Battlestar Galactica since its inception.
Marvel Comics published a 23-issue comic book series based upon the show between 1978 and 1981. Walt Simonson, who later wrote and drew Thor, and also had a long stint on Marvel's Star Wars comic, was the artist for the series at its conclusion. Other comics have since been published by Maximum Press, Grandreams, Look-in Magazine, Realm Press and, currently, Dynamite Comics. Of all these series, only those by Marvel, Grandreams and Look-In actually completed their storylines and brought the story to a conclusion. All the other series were cancelled at various points during their run, with no resolutions.
Both the Grandreams and Look-In comic strips take place early in the series. The other comic series based on the 1978 series have been set after the final episode of the series and ignored Galactica 1980.
The Maximum Press series began with the discovery of a completely unpopulated Earth some fifteen years after the conclusion of the TV show. The look and the feel of the comics had been changed considerably from the series, to give the stories a "more nineties" feel.
The Realm Press series picked up immediately after the conclusion of the final episode of the original series in an attempt to present what they called "Season Two" of the original show.
Dynamite Entertainment was the last company to publish comic books featuring both the classic and reimagined Battlestar Galactica series. They also released a 4-issue Galactica 1980 comic miniseries written by Marc Guggenheim. The limited miniseries was a re-imagining of the original series but at the end featured a second, smaller Battlestar (replacing the original which was destroyed) also named Galactica but strongly resembling the ship seen in the reimagined Sci-Fi Channel series.
Both the original and the reimagined series have had books published both about the series, academically oriented analysis, novelizations, and new works based on the characters.
Original series books
These Battlestar Galactica softcover novelisations were written by Glen A. Larson with the authors listed below. All novels except Battlestar Galactica #14: Surrender the Galactica (ACE publishing) were originally published by Berkley and have been republished recently by I Books as Battlestar Galactica Classic to differentiate it from the reimagined series. The episodic novels featured expanded scenes, excerpts from Adama's journals, more background on the characters and the expansion of the fleet to 22,000 ships as opposed to the 220 in the TV series. A new book series written by series star Richard Hatch starting in the 1990s continued the original story based on his attempt to revive the series, and ignored the events of Galactica 1980. His series picked up several years after the TV series ended, and featured Apollo in command of the Galactica after the death of Adama, a grown-up Boxey, who was now a Viper pilot, and the rediscovery of Commander Cain and the Battlestar Pegasus, who had started a new colony and was preparing to restart the war with the Cylons.
- Battlestar Galactica #1: Saga of a Star World. (with Robert Thurston)
- Battlestar Galactica #2: The Cylon Death Machine. (with Robert Thurston)
- Battlestar Galactica #3: The Tombs of Kobol. (with Robert Thurston)
- Battlestar Galactica #4: The Young Warriors. (with Robert Thurston)
- Battlestar Galactica #5: Galactica Discovers Earth. (Galactica 1980 novelisation, with Michael Resnick)
- Battlestar Galactica #6: The Living Legend. (with Nicholas Yermakov)
- Battlestar Galactica #7: War of the Gods. (with Nicholas Yermakov)
- Battlestar Galactica #8: Greetings from Earth. (with Ron Goulart)
- Battlestar Galactica #9: Experiment in Terra. (with Ron Goulart)
- Battlestar Galactica #10: The Long Patrol. (with Ron Goulart)
- Battlestar Galactica #11: The Nightmare Machine. (with Robert Thurston)
- Battlestar Galactica #12: "Die, Chameleon!". (with Robert Thurston)
- Battlestar Galactica #13: Apollo's War. (with Robert Thurston)
- Battlestar Galactica #14: Surrender the Galactica. (with Robert Thurston)
Original novels by Richard Hatch
- Battlestar Galactica: Armageddon, with Christopher Golden
- Battlestar Galactica: Warhawk
- Battlestar Galactica: Resurrection
- Battlestar Galactica: Rebellion
- Battlestar Galactica: Paradis
- Battlestar Galactica: Redempton
Reimagined series books
Tor Science Fiction has published the following works in both hardcover and paperback format.
- Battlestar Galactica by Jeffrey A. Carver
- The Cylons' Secret: Battlestar Galactica 2 by Craig Shaw Gardner
- Sagittarius Is Bleeding: Battlestar Galactica 3 by Peter David
- Unity: Battlestar Galactica 4 by Steven Harper
- Cylons in America: Critical Studies in Battlestar Galactica.
- So Say We All: An Unauthorized Collection of Thoughts and Opinions on Battlestar Galactica, edited by Richard Hatch
The original series inspired a Battlestar Galactica board game. The game is set during a training mission, where two to four players maneuver pieces representing Colonial Vipers in order to capture a damaged Cylon Raider. Play includes using terrain elements and a number of special-ability cards to the players' advantage.
In 1978, Mattel Electronics released a handheld electronic LED game based on the series. The player tries to defend Galactica from kamikaze Cylon Raiders by manipulating a switch on the game unit to direct their fire, triggered by a red button to the left of the unit.
In 1979, FASA released a tabletop counter piece game for Battlestar Galactica based on the fighter combat, which included the Galactica and a Cylon Basestar to be launched from, attack with and be attacked/defended. The counters for the Vipers and the Raiders included three model versions MKI/MKII/MKIII not just the MKII Viper and Raider MKI.
In November 2003, shortly before the premiere of the re-imagined TV series, Sierra released a 3D space combat Battlestar Galatica computer game for the original Xbox, PlayStation 2, and for PC. The game took place 40 years before the original series and featured an ensign Adama flying a Viper during the Cylon war. The game was developed by Warthog.
Wiz Kids, Inc. (a collectible game manufacturer) produced the Battlestar Galactica Collectable Card Game based on the 2003 mini-series and 2004 TV show. The premier set of this game was released in May 2006. After the release of one expansion set, Wizkids announced the game's cancellation on March 13, 2007.
A Battlestar Galactica role playing game was released in August 2007 by Margaret Weis Productions at Gen Con.
Fantasy Flight Games has produced Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game, based on the 2003 re-imagined series. It is a semi-cooperative game of strategy for 3-6 players with some players being Cylon agents, either aware at start of the game or become aware later, as Sleeper agents. Each of the 10 playable character has their own abilities and weaknesses, and must all work together in order for humanity to survive, as well as attempt to expose the traitor while fuel shortages, food contaminations, and political unrest threatens to tear the fleet apart. In June 2009, a "Pegasus expansion" to the board game was announced, adding seven new characters, and extra gameboards representing Battlestar Pegasus and New Caprica. A further expansion, Exodus was released in December 2010.
There is also a Xbox 360 Live Arcade title called Battlestar Galactica which is 2D in nature where you can co-op or dogfight with up to 8 people over Xbox Live.
Battlestar Galactica Online is a 3D browser-based MMOG released as an open beta on February 8, 2011 by Bigpoint Games.
References in Other Media
- In the Simpsons episode "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk", Homer falls asleep attempting to solve a Battlestar Galactica jigsaw puzzle.
- Battlestar Wiki, the premier online reference for the Battlestar Galactica television series.
- Battlestar Galactica Props and Costumes Auction - Official Website, the official website for the 2009 auctions presented by PropWorx on behalf of NBC Universal Studios.
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