Thread: Galactica 1980
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Old April 25th, 2005, 03:21 PM   #1
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Battlestar Galactica 1978 Galactica 1980

From the Unofficial Kent McCord Fansite:

Galactica 1980

Half a generation has passed since the adventures of Battlestar Galactica, and Adama and his fleet have finally found Earth, sending down teams of warriors to be assimilated into the society and make contact. Warriors Troy and Dillon meet up with a television reporter, Jaime Hamilton, who helps them in their adventures on Earth

Cast: Troy (Kent McCord); Dillon (Barry Van Dyke); Jaime Hamilton (Robyn Douglass); Commander Adama (Lorne Greene); Dr. Zee (Robbie Rist) (pilot); Dr. Zee (Patrick Stuart) (series).

Executive Producer and Creator: Glen A. Larson;
Producer: David O' Connell, Frank Lupo, Jeff Freilich; ABC/Universal; 60 minutes.

In 1980, the men and women of Battlestar Galactica finally landed on Earth. But the mission aborted when the saga landed a 7:00 Sunday nighttime slot. "It changed the nature of what the show was intended to be," says star Kent McCord.

Galactica 1980's time slot actually dictated the content of this TV show. "There was an FCC [ruling] where the 7:00 time slot was given back to the networks if the programming were public affairs, news-related or children's programming," explains McCord. "So, by dictate from the FCC, any program going in there had to meet one of those criteria. And if you're programmed in that slot, and you're trying to do an action-adventure show, what follows is that action-adventure show had better be a children's show."

Because of this, Glen Larson was faced with the dilemma of how to do an action-adventure science fiction show that fit within the boundaries of children's programming. Jeff Freilich, a Galactica 1980 producer who appeared in science fiction with The Incredible Hulk, explains how Larson accomplished this feat. "There had to be at least one educational message every act. That means four times an hour," says Freilich. In "The Super Scouts," "when the kids go off with Kent and Barry, they go the RCA building in New York, and one of the Galactica kids takes apart and puts back together a television camera. Glen decided that's going to be educational, but it's also a wonderful character moment for a futuristic child, raised from another planet, to demonstrate to people how a television camera works. That was Glen's idea of how to be educational without being preachy.

"We had to come up with a premise that could be exploited from an educational standpoint, which is why we did one about migrant farm workers. There were several shows that had messages, which for television is very difficult to get away with, because generally [series] television shows things that people won't see on the news, and they want to escape a little bit of the reality of the world. We were really forced to deal with it as much as we could. Because we had to mix the intention of the show, I think we got a little bit lost on how the show was supposed to run."

Why ABC decided to slot Galactica 1980 in this position on Sunday night escapes McCord. "I guess ABC thought it would meet one of those areas," he muses. "It would be counter-programming to 60 Minutes or whatever it was on NBC at the time."

"They just hammered us," says Larson of ABC's time-slot decision. "That's where they wanted us. That was the whole point of putting us on the air, so they could fill it as a 7:00 show. They were more powerful then than they are now. They said it virtually has to be this way. By getting on the air, we figured we could steer people in the right direction. We would do it their way until we could eventually move on and into what we wanted."

The first three hours of the show featured Troy and Dillon acclimating to Earth, and dealing with a renegade council member who traveled back in time to World War II. The villain, Xavier, planned to upgrade Earth's technology to help it meet any Cylon attacks that might come to be during the present. It was Larson's initial intention to do a Galactica time-travel show before it became mired in the FCC's programming straitjacket. Scripts were written that dealt with Cleopatra and Helen of Troy.

"We did some of those," admits Larson. "I'm not sure if that was a good idea or not. In retrospect, maybe we shouldn’t have toyed with it too much to begin with. We should have stayed right where we were instead of going back and doing [time travel stories.] I have mixed emotions. It may have been a mistake.

"Essentially, what Glen Larson and I talked about when we sat down together, when he was coming back with Galactica, was 'I want to try to do something akin to The Day the Earth Stood Still," recalls McCord. "Something along the lines that these two beings from outer space with all this great knowledge...were coming as peacemakers and trying to bring peace to Earth. But then, all of a sudden we got set with the 7:00 time slot and we got strapped down with a bunch of kids, doing baseball shows as Scouts. We kind of lost direction, I thought. And also, the fact it was programmed so quickly, I don't think Glen wanted to delay the premiere of the show. We had done the pilot in December [of 1979] and had worked for three or four weeks on the pilot. We started work on it, and then all of a sudden they wanted a show right away! I know that Glen had asked that we be delayed for a September [1980] premiere so we could prepare scripts and not be put under the gun.

"I felt that...had the show gone on in the time slot everybody thought was going to be, an 8:00 or 9:00, we could have developed the show the way Glen originally envisioned it--a Day the Earth Stood Still type of series, where these two characters with vast knowledge from the stars would come to Earth and bring peace.

...The pilot we did went into all the things we could have done with the show. With the characters meeting scientists and all that area. That was very interesting, and I thought it played very good. And then we got off on a tangent and got into a 7:00 time slot and the kid thing and all of that. When you ask how would I have taken the show, I would have done exactly what Glen tried to do. Go get a copy of The Day the Earth Stood Still, put it in your VCR and watch it. It is an absolutely wonderful film."

McCord is philosophical about the show's low order of ten episodes, and he explains the modern realities of Hollywood filmmaking and network rationale, giving audiences less and less of a show they watch.

That's life. It's a different world here. In the old days...you'd get an order for 13, a back 13 and the following season you'd get an order of 26. That's the old days. In the new days, you get an order for four or five or six and a producer hopes lightning strikes. If it doesn't, hell, I've seen shows pulled off the air--gone forever--after a couple of episodes. Galactica 1980 was opposite 60 Minutes. I think we came in second in the time slot, but I don't know if that was enough to counter the high cost of doing the show."

Although Larson's original intention in doing Galactica 1980 was to created a show that would be more economical than Battlestar, that quickly disintegrated when the network declared they wanted a product immediately for speedy airing.

"The purpose of finding Earth," says McCord, "was supposed to have been so we could bring down the costs. [But what happened was] in trying to get scripts ready and shooting, sometimes we had three first units shooting at the same time, in different episodes. I don't know if the show was economically feasible or viable to continue without being an all-out hit. Battlestar Galactica was the most expensive hour here at the time. This happens when you go into production and you don't have enough lead time. Mistakes are made and things become costly. So Glen was writing to try to get the show for September 1980 instead of that January or February that we debuted, which was very, very short lead time."

"What made it expensive was they gave that show just a few weeks to get started on the air," agrees Larson. "I'll tell you a true story. I was dubbing the show on a lot on Sunday afternoon. You don't dub on Saturday and Sunday, that's how expensive it was. I saw a guy walking around in one of the Galactica warrior uniforms. (I have one in my closet, by the way.) I saw this guy walk by and I was furious! I was so mad because the [Universal Studios Battlestar Galactica] tour was using so many of our props and they weren't paying for them, and I thought we were getting victimized. I was ready to call it. "This is exactly what I'm talking about. They're taking our money and they're spending it on the tour, and I'm not getting it on the screen.' I made a phone call. A very impatient voice on the other end of the phone said, 'That's not the tour.' I said, 'What are you talking about?' 'You better check your schedules, I know you're dubbing stages but we're shooting today.' We were actually shooting the show on weekends in order to get it one the air. That's how ridiculous it got. There were guys driving out that gate every weekend in campers...and they were buying their overtime. The show was costing a fortune because the network rushed it. How fast can you get on the air? I was terrible that way. They ring the fire bell and I answer it, figuring I could do almost anything."
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