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(The following review of An Analytical Guide to Televisions Battlestar Galactica is by Mike Daly and originally appeared on Amazon.com. Mike has kindly given me permission to reprint his insightful comments here. The image of the book is hyperlinked to Amazons information about this title. I can confirm their warning that it takes 4 to 6 weeks to ship; it took a good month for my copy to arrive.)
John Kenneth Muir has authored a superb analysis of the Battlestar Galactica TV series, noting the shows many critics, its strong audience pull, and so forth. He analyzes all 17 of the shows episodes, explores some of the behind-the-scenes production problems, and offers the strengths and weaknesses of the overall show and individual episodes.
Muirs theme is that Galactica, warts and all, was nonetheless an entertaining and thought-provoking series that didnt deserve the kind of criticisms it got from the likes of sci-fi author David Gerrold and horror author Stephen KingMuir reprints blasts by those two and others against the show, blasts that display the ever-indefensible strain of elitist snobbery distressingly common to sci-fi.
Muirs strongest insight lies in his analysis of the shows hawkish view of war-and-peace issues. Sci-fi tends to be drearily pacifistic, based not on any realworld context but on sheer myth. Battlestar Galactica was different, and remains such even today. The shows hawkish philosophy is based on what has happened in the real world, not on the dreams of pacifists. Galacticas viewpoint has been repeatedly verified throughout history; where, for instance, can the one-world pacific viewpoint of Star Trek be verified in the real world?
There are naturally areas where one can disagree with Mr. Muirhis analyses of the episodes Lost Planet Of The Gods and Gun On Ice Planet Zero are overly harsh; in GOIPZ he repeats the valid but misunderstood criticism that the Fleet could have simply bypassed the Cylon-armed planetoid, never realizing that the Fleet is in effect surrounded by Cylon base stars and cannot do such an end-runand he overanalyzes clichés within the show, such as the court-martial cliché used in Murder On the Rising Star.
Muirs overall analysis, though, is spot-on. He recognizes Battlestar Galactica as an enjoyable and thought-provoking series, and includes a list of ten recommended changes should the series be revived, some of which can serve as rules to be applied to any film genrethe bad-guys-who-cant-shoot-straight cliché has GOT to goand most of which have been employed in the Maximum Press and Realm Press versions of Galactica and in Richard Hatch and Chris Goldens novels.
|The Battlestar Galactica DVD set is now on pre-order from Amazon for $89.99, $30 off list. All of the episodes, commentary, interviews, etc.|
|The Battlestar Galactica premiere, in VHS format, written by Glen A. Larson, directed by Richard Colla and Alan J. Levi. Unfortunately, this is the cut shown as a 2-hour film rather than the longer (approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes) version shown on TV on September 17, 1978.|
|Battlestar Galactica DVD. More evidence, as if any were needed, that Universal doesnt give a frack about the series and its fans. This DVD is the two hour movie cut, with no added footage, no special features, no nothing. What a crock!|
Gun on Ice Planet Zero. The true second episode, written by Leslie Stevens, Don Bellisario, and Michael Sloan, based on a story by John Ireland: directed by Alan J. Levi. Guest cast includes Roy Thinnes in his memorable role of Croft.
Lost Planet of the Gods, written by Glen A. Larson and Don Bellisario, directed by Christian I. Nyby II. Another two hour episode well worth having, featuring Jane Seymour as Serina.
The Lost Warrior, written by Don Bellisario, story by Don Bellisario and Herman Groves, directed by Rod Holcomb. Pretty obviously a take on Shane, but necessary for Apollo fans, as Richard Hatch puts in one of his best and most sensitive performances in the role.
The Long Patrol, written by Don Bellisaro, directed by Christian I. Nyby II. One of the better planet of the week episodes, featuring Starbuck prominently. James Whitmore Jr. guest stars as Robber.
|The Magnificent Warriors, written by Glen A. Larson, directed by Christian I. Nyby II. The weakest of the planet of the week episodes, this should have been called The Doofy Warriors. Not much redeems this except that its fun to see the lads in civilian clothing|
|The Young Lords, written by Don Bellisario, Frank Lupo and Paul Playdon, directed by Don Bellisario. Not one of the better episodes, but it has redeeming aspects in Specter, the mobs of Cylons milling around, and of course it has to be a favorite of Dirk Benedict fans!|
|Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack. Unfortunately, The Living Legend is still only available on video in this form, cut together with Fire in Space. Worth having only until Living Legend is released in its original form.|
|Fire in Space, written by Jim Carlson and Terrance McDonnell, directed by Christian I. Nyby II. Not one of my favorites, but it does have a number of nice moments for Herb Jefferson Jr. and Terry Carter.|
|The Man With Nine Lives, written by Don Bellisario, directed by Rod Holcomb. One of the best of the one hour episodes; Fred Astaire is wonderful as Chameleon and we get to meet the mysterious Borellian Nomen.|
|Murder on the Rising Star, written by Jim Carlson and Terrence McDonnell, directed by Rod Holcomb. Although the Colonial legal system depicted here is inane, theres still a lot to like in this episode; Brock Peters as Solon, former Black Sheep Jeff MacKay and W.K. Stratton popping up, future V mainstay Frank Ashmore as Ortega, and the usual good performances turned in by Hatch, Benedict, Herb Jefferson, Lorne Greene, and Laurette Spang.|
|Baltars Escape, written by Don Bellisario, directed by Rick Kolbe. One wonders how on Earth Universal picked which episodes to release on video, since Baltars Escape doesnt make a whole lot of sense without seeing Greetings From Earth. Still, not a bad episode although the Council of Twelve comes off rather poorly; Anne Lockhart and Herb Jefferson have a couple of nice scenes, and Ina Balin is a memorable Siress Tinia.|
|Armageddon by Richard Hatch and Christopher Golden. Im the first to admit to not having a great deal of fondness for Richards novels, but this is the first, available in hardcover (left) and paperback (right)|
|Warhawk by Richard Hatch and Christopher Golden. The second new Battlestar Galactica novel from Richard.|
|Science Fiction Television Series: Episode Guides, Histories, and Casts and Credits for 62 Prime Time Shows, 1959 Through 1989 by Mark Phillips and Frank Garcia is really expensive. Very expensive. Just click on it and find out! But...its worth every penny. In fact, the chapter on Battlestar Galactica is practically worth the price of the book. The authors talked to several of the people involved in BG including Glen Larson, Don Bellisario, and Richard Hatch, and from the interviews tell more about BG and more accurately in a chapter than John Kenneth Muir does in his entire book There are a few small mistakes but a lot to enjoy here. In particular, the cast credits are the most complete Ive ever seen. Its costly, but if youre into science fiction on the tube, this book has to be on your shelf. Highly recommended.|
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