Battlestar Galactica: the space opera that Star Wars couldn’t quite crush (video).

In the wake of the astronomical success of the first Star Wars movie, says Rowan J Coleman, TV studios scrambled to replicate the formula that made George Lucas’ creation a pop culture phenomenon. Enter Universal’s Battlestar Galactica, the 1978 television series that boldly attempted to ride the wave of space-faring excitement. While it may have initially been dismissed as a Star Wars cash-grab, Battlestar went on to carve out its own unique legacy among the titans of science fiction. So, let’s jump back to the groovy days of disco and explore what made this original space opera so endearingly memorable.

Cylons, the glittering Robot Menaces

In Battlestar Galactica, the chrome-plated, red-eyed Cylons became a hallmark of the series. These robotic antagonists were a far cry from the cuddly droids of Star Wars. Sure, they might not have had the menacing presence of Darth Vader, but their disco-ball aesthetic and robotic voices provided a unique, otherworldly threat that captured the imagination of audiences everywhere. Plus, who can forget their iconic catchphrase, “By your command”? It’s like they were programmed to be both menacing and fabulous.

Starbuck: The original Space Cowboy?

Before Han Solo swaggered his way across the galaxy, there was Lieutenant Starbuck, the charming, wise-cracking, cigar-smoking Viper pilot. Played by Dirk Benedict, Starbuck became the heartthrob of the series, winning over fans with his roguish charm and devil-may-care attitude. In a universe filled with spaceships and laser battles, Starbuck showed us that you can still be a smooth-talking gunslinger, even in the far reaches of outer space.

Battlestar Fashion: When Capes and Turtlenecks rightly ruled the Stars.

Battlestar embraced the 70s aesthetic with open arms, making for some truly unforgettable costume choices. From the flowing capes of the Council of Twelve to the high-collared uniforms of the Colonial Warriors, the fashion in the series was a delightful blend of disco glam and futuristic flair. And let’s not forget the turtlenecks—because nothing says “space-faring adventurer” like a cozy, high-necked sweater. In the world of Battlestar Galactica, style and substance went hand-in-hand, proving that even in the depths of space, looking fabulous was still a top priority.

A Family Affair: The Adama Clan. Oh boy.

While interstellar battles and futuristic technology were par for the course, it was the family dynamic of the Adama clan that truly set Battlestar Galactica apart from other space operas of the time. With Commander Adama (Lorne Greene) at the helm, the series explored themes of family, loyalty, and sacrifice, providing a heartfelt and relatable core to the high-stakes space adventures. Whether it was Apollo (Richard Hatch) trying to live up to his father’s expectations or Athena (Maren Jensen) proving her mettle as a warrior, the Adama family’s trials and tribulations resonated with viewers on a deeply human level.

The Ship That Launched a Thousand Models!

The titular Battlestar Galactica ship itself was an impressive feat of design and a testament to the creative minds behind the series. With its angular lines and formidable presence, the Galactica instantly became a fan favorite, inspiring countless model kits and toys for sci-fi enthusiasts to enjoy. This iconic vessel not only held its own against the likes of the Starship Enterprise and the Millennium Falcon, but it also paved the way for countless other imaginative spacecraft designs in the years to come.

A Legacy That Transcends Time (and Space)?

Despite its relatively short original run of just one season, Galactica left an indelible mark on the world of science fiction. Its cult following remained loyal, eventually paving the way for the critically acclaimed 2004 reimagined series, which introduced a new generation to the epic struggle between the human colonies and the Cylons. The impact of the original 1978 series can still be felt today, proving that good storytelling and a memorable cast of characters can endure the test of time.

Battlestar may have begun its journey as a response to the Star Wars craze, but it ultimately proved that it was more than just a cash-in. With its distinctive style, engaging characters, and heartfelt stories, this cult classic carved out a special place in the hearts of sci-fi fans everywhere. So, raise a glass (or a laser pistol) to the space opera that dared to dream big and left a legacy that continues to inspire new generations of star-faring adventurers.

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