Friday, October 19, 2018

Galactica 1980 - "The Night the Cylons Landed"

Galactica 1980

"The Night the Cylons Landed"
Galactica 1980 - Season 1, Episodes 7 and 8
Originally aired April 13 and 20, 1980

The Night the Cylons Landed

The Cylons crash land on Earth on Halloween, and it's up to Ponch and Jon... err, Troy and Dillon, to save the Earth from invasion, with help from special guest star Wolfman Jack!

"Hey kiddies!  Don't blow your stack, I'm Wolfman Jack!  Now pass me some crack and stand the hell back!  Awooo!!!"
I really hated the show Galactica 1980 when it originally aired when I was a kid, but I thought it might be fun to go back and watch the Halloween episode as part of the Countdown to Halloween.  I was wrong.  This show was boring and painful to watch.  The original Battlestar Galactica was one of my favorite shows when I was a kid, but it's sequel/spin-off/continuation (whatever you want to call it) is so terrible.

The Cylons Crash a Halloween Party

A quick history.  The original series Battlestar Galactica was cancelled after one season.  The show was a ratings success and very popular, but it was also extremely expensive to produce (I think it was the most expensive TV series ever made at that point in time).  Producer Glen Larson had some ideas on how to cut costs and do the show on a somewhat smaller budget for season 2, but ABC decided it was still too expensive to produce and canceled the show in April of 1979.

However, ABC had a change of heart later in the year, mostly due to massive outcry from the fans, and approached Glen Larson about reviving the series at a much lower budget.  But at this point, the sets had been torn down, and the cast had been let out of their contracts, and at a much smaller budget they had no way of rebuilding them and re-signing everyone.  They went through a few ideas about how to bring the show back.  Originally it was going to be set 5 years later than the original series (which would help to explain the loss of many of the original cast and sets), and morph into a time travel series on planet Earth, with Baltar traveling in time into Earth's past, altering history, and Starbuck and Apollo following him into the past to correct it.  But Dirk Benedict (Starbuck) had already signed on for another acting role and was unavailable, and Richard Hatch (Apollo) supposedly wasn't a fan of the script.  So then they decided to set it 30 years past the original, and have a now grown-up Boxey (Apollo's adopted son on the original series), now known as Captain Troy, as the new lead with a new character, Lieutenant Dillon, filling the Starbuck role.

They filmed the time-traveling pilot episode, but then ABC decided that a time-travel series would still be too expensive to film every week and decreed that all the future episodes had to take place on modern day Earth.  At this point the series would be like a cross between CHiPs and Knight Rider, with the two leads criss-crossing the country and getting into adventures on their sci-fi tech flying motorcycles. This was pretty far removed from the original concept of "Battlestar Galactica" but it still could have worked as a premise for a series.  But then ABC decided they wanted to air the show on Sundays at 7:00 PM, which they considered to be the "Children's Hour" of primetime.  They forced the producers to add children to the cast, which meant the two space heroes now had to care for a group of super-powered school kids known as "The Super-Scouts."  Further, ABC decreed there could be absolutely no violence on the series, even against robots, and all of the lead characters had to be clean-cut, wholesome, and morally upstanding.  This lead to a really wishy-washy series with no drama or excitement.  By making it so sanitized for the kiddies, they made it so no kid would want to watch it.  The first episode premiered to great ratings from an audience hungry for more Battlestar Galactica, but the ratings dropped every week as the audience saw what they were actually getting, and the show was cancelled after 10 episodes.
Dillon and Troy take the Super Scouts to the Movies

In this episode a Cylon ship crashes on Earth, and two Cylons survive the crash.  One is the typical robotic Cylon Centurion that we knew from the original series.  But the other is a new model of Cylon that can pass for a human being.  This idea would later be used on the 2000s Battlestar Galactica remake series.  On any other day, these two would cause a sensation being seen on the streets, but they had the good luck to crash land on Earth during Halloween, so everyone just thinks they are in costume.  They get picked up as hitchhikers by a pair of radio executives on the way to a Halloween party, where radio DJ Wolfman Jack will be in attendance.  The Cylons then plan to kidnap Wolfman Jack and force him to take them to his radio station, where they will use the radio to broadcast a message to the Cylon fleet in space alerting them to the location of Earth, which will then cause an invasion.

The Humanoid Cylon Shoots a Deathray out of his Hand and Kills the Microwave!

Wolfman Jack was one of Americas's most famous radio DJs during the 1970s and '80s.  I was certainly familiar with him as a kid, but I don't think I ever actually heard him on the radio.  It seemed like he was more famous for being famous back then, kind of like Paris Hilton or the Kardashians.  The two songs that Wolfman plays on the radio on this episode were a disco version of the old Buddy Holly song "That'll be the Day" and the theme song to the TV show "Bosom Buddies."  If that is an example of the sort of music he played, I can see why I never listened to him back in the day.

The Metaluna Mutant
There were a few minor bits of enjoyment I got from this episode.  There was a scene where Troy and Dillon take the Super Scouts to the movies to watch "The Day the Earth Stood Still," and don't understand special effects and costumes, and think the film shows real aliens and spacecraft.  That was fun for 30 seconds.

Planting the Seed for "Knight Rider" in Glen Larson's Brain
And there was an odd bit when the Cylons were picked up as hitchhikers.  Driving the car was actor William Daniels who went on to voice KITT on Knight Rider.  Knight Rider was also a Glen Larson production, and they reused the roving red Cylon "eye" and sound effect it made on KITT.  So when William Daniels was talking, but the with the Cylon in the back seat making the KITT sound effect, it made for a strange effect, like if you closed your eyes you could be watching some lost episode of Knight Rider, albeit one that didn't make any sense.  That was also fun for 30 seconds.

They seriously put a disclaimer on at the end.  Just in case someone watched this and thought the Earth was really getting invaded by Cylons.

So I had about one minute of enjoyment from this, and it was a two-part episode, so we're talking about 94 minutes of actual viewing time.  Even the Halloween setting wasn't enough to rescue this from the turd bin of TV history.

More screencaps after the break...

Cuban Terrorists

Invisible Spaceman

Cab Confusion

Invasion of the Coneheads

The Cylons Watch Vampire Movies in Space

Oh God, you mean we're not done yet?

Kids facing right

Cylons on the Balcony

Kids Facing Left

Cylon in the City

The Host of the Party Offers the Cylon Centurion a Meatball

The Cylons Murder a Microwave

Preparing to Broadcast

Centurion BBQ

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