Thread: Galactica 1980
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Old April 25th, 2005, 03:22 PM   #2
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Battlestar Galactica 1978

(Con't)

"There was a super-rush because it took eight or nine days to make [each episode]...and we couldn't make airdates unless we shot around the clock. One of the things that hurt the show was that I wouldn't allow them to just throw it together...I insisted that we make it look good and try to hold the quality. To do that we had to shoot a lot of overtime, a lot of weekends. The cost ran up there so...that cost our pickups [extra footage to increase coverage for editors]. We virtually couldn't afford to keep shooting them. The network was probably willing to keep it going, but it was costing them so much money."

So hectic was the filming schedule, it made for a memorable moment for the two lead stars of the show.

"This probably points up the chaos that we had to deal with. [It] was the day we were shooting the scene on the Universal 747 stage," recounts McCord. The episode was "The Night Cylons Landed," and we had probably 30 or 40 or 50 extras plus a crew. About noon, on this day with all this very difficult stuff, one of the associates producers came down and handed Barry and me eight pages of dialogue and said, 'At 4:00, you have to go to stage 25 and you have to shoot these eight pages. And no matter where you are here, you have to be over there to do this because we need this stuff to finish cutting a show that's being done.' So at 4:00 Barry and I had to go over to a different stage and leave all these extras and the whole crew...on this 747 soundstage and shoot eight pages of dialogue in a Viper. That dialogue had no reference to anything. It was Galactican language written for us. It's not easy stuff to learn. We had eight pages, and we didn't have time to learn it because we were shooting another show in another stage! That pointed out a couple of things. We had that unit shooting on a 747 stage and we had another unit shooting with us on stage 25, and I even think there was another unit out shooting with the kids or something," laughs McCord. "That's the way the show was done--to make airdates. It's very unusual."

Kent McCord, surprisingly, was originally slated to appear in Battlestar Galactica as one of the lead characters. "Glen wanted me in it, the studio wanted me in it. But it was a person on the network who had some conflict of interest," says McCord. "I've known Glen now for over 30 years, and when he called me and said, 'I got this great concept and I want you to meet with me,' I went over and met him. We had lunch together, and we drove out to the special effects studio where they were doing all the miniatures, and they had shot some tests of some things, and we went to a screening and looked at them. Yeah. I was very excited by that project. I thought it was going to be terrific! I think the original was plagued by airdates and a difficult time. It was a very, very difficult show to do. One of the most expensive hours that was being shot for television at the time! It was tough for everybody who worked on that show. Yeah. I was looking forward to having done that show. Unfortunately, I didn't get the opportunity to do it."

As to the change in premise from an earlier show to Galactica 1980, McCord says, "I think that if you're going to follow a show that has had some success, with some following, I think you have to keep the lineage alive. Glen chose to do a time some 25 or 30 years later of which I was supposed to be the grown Boxey. So there was a whole other generation. Lorne Greene was the tie between the old show and the new show. That kept the fans they had accumulated from the original show interested."

Working with Lorne Greene was an opportunity for McCord to see a television veteran at work. "He was a very nice man. Very professional and very dedicated. Lorne had a very limited time. He would come in and do his scenes. Everything was set up for him. I enjoyed working with him. He was an interesting man."

And of McCord's co-star, Barry Van Dyke? "Barry is a wonderful, wonderful man. I had a great time with him and we had a lot of fun together. I still see Barry from time to time."

Oddly, at the end of every episode of Galactica 1980 was a paragraph on Project Blue Book that said, "The United States Air Force stopped investigating UFOs in 1969. After 22 years they found no evidence of extra-terrestrial visits and no threat to national security."

"The network put that for 7:00 kids. That's standards and practices," says Larson.

McCord doesn't recall this paragraph at the end of the show; however, he notes, "I would imagine that if you're going to deal with outer space and things like that, that little paragraph at the end of the show, about Project Blue Book, is a nudge for people to think about what's out there in outer space."

McCord and co-stars Barry Van Dyke and Robyn Douglass appeared in only nine of the ten episodes shot for the series. Number ten was "The Return of Starbuck," with guest star Dirk Benedect returning as the sly, wisecracking warrior. In this episode, kid genius Dr. Zee recounts a dream to Commander Adama. In the dream, Boomer and Starbuck are on a mission, and Starbuck's Viper is hit during a Cylon attack, forcing him to crash-land on a rocky, deserted planet. The only other presence to keep him company is a deactivated Cylon robot, which Starbuck rebuilds. With his newfound Cylon robot friend, "Cy," Starbuck faces up to the reality that he could probably spend the rest of his life on this ruddy rock--especially since a woman about to give birth has appeared. But a homing beacon from Cy's ship brings more Centurions, and in order to save Starbuck's life, Cy sacrifices himself against his compatriots.

The director of that episode, Ronald Satlof, recalls, "I didn't care about the final fate of Starbuck. I liked it because of the anthropomorphization of the machine, the robot that Starbuck fixes who turns into a friend and sacrifices himself for Starbuck. I though there was a lot o human interest in a theme like that. I though that was a wonderful theme from science fiction because it is a mirror to ourselves. This was an irrationally programmed robot who ultimately became rational and saw the folly of its ways. People need each other, even if one of the people is a robot."

When asked why this episode was such a departure from the regular series, Satlof responds flatly: "They were trying to save the show. They were shooting two other episodes with Kent McCord, and it was written as a way of putting an entirely different unit [to work while] the regular shooting company of the series [was filming elsewhere]. Getting Dr. Zee and Adama in for one little scene to tell the story--that's about all that unified the two shooting companies."

Satlof recalls filming at Red Rock Canyon, "a horrible location." When they were scouting the location, it was nice and warm, and they thought it would be a perfect place to do the story. "But when we got there to shoot, there was a hailstorm and [the temperature] was in the 30s," he says. "The actress Judith Chapman had a little thing to wear, it was see-through and she was out there with her knees shaking, trying to act. It was unbelievable. We'd wrap blankets around her and say her lines and try to act before the shakes started. It was just horrible. It's what we do for television."

Of Benedict's performance in the episode, Satlof says, "He had a kind of lovely egotism tempered by a flare of humanism...so I thought he was terrific. I liked him a lot."

At the end of the story, it's hinted that we've seen the very last of Starbuck, but with the appearance of the team of Centurions, who ultimately will destroy Cy, Larson also hints that there's a Cylon vessel elsewhere on the planet in perfect working order for Starbuck to use.

"That's right. If the series had survived--and Starbuck certainly had a chance to survive--he'd rejoin the series," notes Satlof. "He'd somehow get to that Cylon ship and somehow get back to the star fleet.

"I'm not absolutely sure about this, but I really suspect that Glen...left a door open...to have him somehow get back into it in a new age, a new Galactic mission and all the rest of it, without having to age because you can explain it away with time differences in space."
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