happy birthday battlestar galactica!

 On Sunday, September 17th, 1978, ABC premiered Battlestar Galactica.   THIRTY years ago.  How old do you feel now?  It seems like everyone remembers May 25th, the anniversary of that other  space franchise with Luke what’s-his-name, but why no love for  September 17?   I know I’ll always remember.  Sure, I was teased as a kid for wearing my Starbuck jacket to school and teachers chastised me for drawing Vipers in my notebook when I should have been paying attention in class,  but you know what?  The day I cashed my first paycheck with words Battlestar Galactica  on it is the day I offically told all those nay-sayers to bite me.  So yeah, I remember.

I ask all of you to grab a glasss of ambrosia and join me in a toast to the little show that could; that one-season wonder that clung to life for thirty years and came back as a juggernaut, pounding Star Wars  and Star Trek  to the ground and firmly re-established itself as the King of Sci-Fi.

Yes, they laughed at you too, thirty years ago.  Now they’re picking up their teeth.

And, of course, on this day we should all tip our hat to Mr. Glen Larson, without whom none of us would be here.

To help you celebrate, feel free to click and download the gorgeous, hi-res image you see above, courtesy of Lee Stringer, who served as CG Supervisor on the miniseries and first season of the new BSG (Lee is the second  biggest Battlestar fan on the planet).

In the comments section, I encourage everyone to share your  special memories of Battlestar Galactica  and tell us what the show means to you.

I’ll update this post later in the week with more goodies!



———————– WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? ———————–

Click HERE to read my controversial essay on why Galactica has endured

 GALACTICA.TV has some of the best original series content on the web

THIS truck driver likes BSG a little too  much…

HERE are great shots of the original Galactica model being constructed

 And click THIS to see rare images of the life-size Viper from 1978

THIS SITE has the greatest collection of BSG memorabilia i’ve ever seen

37 Responses to “happy birthday battlestar galactica!”

  1. 1 Hoopz
    September 17, 2008 at 1:46 am

    Pretty image… but is that Arial (1982) on a 1978 Galactica model?

  2. 2 cbowyer
    September 17, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Yep, I had a Battlestar Galactica jacket myself and was subsequently teased by all. Waited almost 6 months for it as I recall. Never been on the colonial payroll though.

  3. 3 Kris
    September 17, 2008 at 7:06 am

    Yeah I remember that night as well. I think I was in 1st or 2nd grade. My brother and I plopped down in front of the tv in our bean bag chairs. Wasn’t the 1st broadcast 3 hrs long ? I remember when I got up I had to peal my butt out of that bean bag. I thought the Cylons and Colonial flight jackets were cool as hell. Still do….

  4. 4 Lee
    September 17, 2008 at 8:46 am

    shhh! Actually I forget what I used, but I have/had great reference of the original and made it as close as I could. Also it should be noted that I was not the only one involved with making the classic Galactica CGI model. A small crack team at Foundation Imaging in 2001 helped me make a test video for the in-progress Tom DeSanto/Brian Singer BSG pilot, shortly before it was cancelled.

    But today is for the classic series, I forgot when I first saw it, I lived in the UK then and everything at that time took 6-12 months to arrive from the US. I think I saw it as the movie but time has made me forget.

    Lets see what the next 30 years brings!

  5. September 17, 2008 at 9:03 am

    I hate to say it but I wasn’t born for another 6 years. Little did I know how close BSG was to me for my entire childhood without even seeing an episode. When I saw my first episode around the age of 12 it was like a missing puzzle piece of scifi. It bound all the references that starwars and startrek couldn’t, and a part of my culture was finally explained.

    You can probably thank the opening of the A-Team for some of that though.

  6. September 17, 2008 at 9:27 am

    It was thirty years ago that I started scribbling cylon heads on the margins of my math assignments. My skill at math didn’t get any better. But my skill at scribbling did. :)

  7. September 17, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Yes, makin’ me feel old.

    I remember watching the premiere and even getting to stay up late to see the end!

  8. 8 peter noble
    September 17, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Battlestar Galactica is 30

    Thirty years ago today, Battlestar Galactica premiered on the ABC network at 8pm in the evening.

    With a running of three hours (with adverts), it was the most expensive television show in the world at that time.

    Initially watched by over 65 million Americans, the show was cancelled after one year on the air, primarily because the network thought they weren’t making enough money on it.

    Why does the memory of this one-season wonder still endure after all this time?

    I think because in many ways it was unique.

    Sure, it wasn’t ‘real’ science fiction like Star Trek or the Twilight Zone, after all it was written and created by Glen A. Larson – a man with very little experience of writing science fiction, who up until that point had written cop shows and westerns.

    But what Larson did was something that hadn’t been done before in American SF television, he wrapped his series in the trappings of his religion, the Mormon faith and reversed the direction of every show that had come before it – that of people from Earth going out into the universe. Now, the people of Galactica would be searching for Earth – alien humans from a society with nods to the ancient civilisations of our planet.

    Also, unlike many shows that came before and after it, Battlestar Galactica had a far from liberal bent. It’s philosophy of strength through superior power to maintain a peaceful existence echoes the policies of the Reagan years in US politics.

    The show’s main premise is also notable, in that within the first half hour, the human race is defeated and almost wiped out from their corner of the universe.

    Out of the fires of defeat, however, the crew of the mighty battlestar Galactica leads a rag-tag fugitive fleet of survivors away from the clutches of their mortal enemies, the robotic race of chrome-clad proto-Terminators, the Cylons, on a quest (for the lost 13th Tribe who are said to exist on a planet called Earth) that is sustained by the unswerving faith of their leader, Commander Adama.

    So, is the series about defeat?

    No, it’s about hope and human resilience and the fact that very often, humans are at their very best when things are at their worst.

    Is the series perfect?

    No, far from it. There are too many plots that are reminiscent of popular movies from yesteryear and the writers’ unfamiliarity with the tropes of science fiction can be embarrassing, but very often the sheer visual spectacle carries you through these rough spots, aided by the show’s good-looking and likeable cast, the majestic musical score of composer Stu Phillips and it’s Emmy Award-winning special visual effects.

    It may have lasted only one TV season, but the series is still shown throughout the world today. It is acknowledged in shows like the Simpsons and Futurama and it’s influences have even crept into the mighty Star Trek.

    So, I raise my glass to Battlestar Galactica, gone but far from forgotten.

    Happy Birthday!

  9. September 17, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    What I mostly remember of that premiere night is how insanely angry I became when President Carter interrupted the show for a speech about (I believe) the developing hostage crisis in Iran. I was only nine, so I hope I can be forgiven for having a poor grasp of priorities.

    I’ve always loved the original Galactica… to be honest (and with all due respect to Mojo, whose work on the new series is admirable), I’ve never been able to warm to the remake because, while it corrects so much of the cheesy and just-plain wrong stuff from the old show, it also leaves out the warmth that lay at the heart of the original. Thinking back on it now, while the Vipers and Cylons thrilled my younger self, the thing I most remember was the tight, brotherly bond between Starbuck and Apollo and (to a slightly lesser extent) Boomer, and the gentle wisdom of Lorne Greene’s Adama. These were the sorts of men I grew up admiring and that I hope I’ve become now. I can only hope my real-world friendships are as close and trustworthy as those between the pilots of Blue Squadron.

    Oh, and point of personal preference: Laurette Spang was and ever shall be infinitely hotter in my eyes than any of the ladies on the new show. ;)

  10. September 17, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Happy Birthday!! Yup, I also recall watching the premiere that first night, and I believe it was interrupted about 3/4 of the way through by an address from President Carter… but they picked it right up again (while they were escaping from the Ovion underworld if I recall correctly!).

    My first NYC convention in Feb.79 I put together an orange jumpsuit and a gold-spray-painted construction helmet, though on some earphones and a patch, and voila, Viper deck crew costume, beauty!

    Cheers to Glen Larson, and cheers to Stu Phillips for that beautiful score!

  11. September 17, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    What I remember was begging my parents for weeks to let me stay up (I was 11) and they sent me to bed when Carter came on. Grrrrr! This has to be the reason I’m a Rebublican.

    I lived and breathed BG for the next few years, at least until Next Gen came out. I remember going out to California for Christmas in 78 and taking the Universal tour. I was frantically trying to see anything Battlestar. I remember seeing a sign on a soundstage, but that’s about it.

    I had model Vipers, Raiders, a Basestar, Galactica… you can imagine what battles I had in my room.

  12. 12 Towaway
    September 17, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I had tickets to see Richard Kiley in Boston in “Man of LaMancha” on that day. I was thrilled to go see the show with my mother and an aunt. We had these tickets for months in advance. Then I heard about the premiere of BSG……ON THE SAME DAY!!!!! Luckily, It was a matinee on that Sunday and I made sure with my mother that we would be back from Boston in plenty of time.

    The show was terrific and Kiley was magnificent. The moment the curtain came down I said, “OK, mom! We gotta go so we’re home in time for Galactica!!!!!!” Our ride back to Providence was the longest of my life. I kept asking what time it was and each mile seemed to stretch on forever. We pulled into my aunt’s house five minutes before the premiere. Since I lived on the other side of town I knew we wouldn’t make it home in time so I begged and pleaded (whined was probably more like it) to stay there to watch the show.

    My whining paid off as I sat alone in my aunt’s living room while she and my mother played cards in the other room, planted at a folding TV tray and dinner of what ever leftovers my aunt could find to watch the 2 hour premiere.

    Richard Kiley and Loren Greene in the same day! Can’t get better than that.

  13. 13 Buckaroohawk
    September 17, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    I was 11 when Galactica premiered. Star Wars had hit theaters the year before, and there was talk of Star Trek being revived. It was an incredible time to be a fan of sci-fi. I watched the 3 hour movie enraptured from start to finish. Nothing of that scope had ever been broadcast on television before.

    I must admit that for a time, the Galactica, Colonial Vipers, and Cylon Raiders replaced the usual sketches of the Enterprise in the margins of my school notebooks. By the end of the first season, though, I’d grown a bit bored with the show. The plot seemed to be going nowhere, and you can only watch the same re-editted dogfight sequences so many times. It got to the point where my friends and I would call out the number of shots fired by a Viper or Cylon before it even happened, or countdown to the inevitable small craft explosion. “Cylon goes BOOM in 3…2…1…BOOM!” If we had been old enough, it would have been a great drinking game.

    Still, the original show holds a very special place in my heart. To this day I still swear that if I should ever become fabulously wealthy, the first thing I’d do is build a full-scale replica of a Colonial Viper in my backyard. Then I’d sit in the cockpit and blast the felgercarb out of any Cylon that dared cross the fence.

    Happy Birthday, Battlestar Galactica! And thank you for making my childhood just that much more fun!

  14. 14 kraig
    September 17, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    very cool… look forward to more frequent posts!

  15. 15 tommyc
    September 17, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    Wow, I once got my notebook taken away for drawing vipers in class. I thought I was the only one. And somewhere in storage is my viper that shoots the red missle out (before the recall). Viva Galactica!

  16. 16 Hardhat
    September 18, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Just a sideways perspective on the availability of the original BSG…

    Over here in the UK the original BSG was supposed to be shown by the ITV network (ie: the BBC’s commercial competitor).

    Unfortunately, because ITV at the time consisted of a loosely-connected group of regional stations, only primetime shows – say those shown between 7 and 10pm – stood any chance of being seen by the majority of the UK TV audience.

    Unfortunately BSG didn’t have any such luck.

    From memory, it didn’t get a first foot on UK TV until something like 1980 (although we did get to see a limited release of the Euro-pud film version in ’78-79)…and then that was only in the London area.

    Living over here in Wales, up until 1982 we had to contend with half of our daily output across all of our available channels (ie: all 3 of ’em!) being produced in Welsh. This effectively cut the chances of seeing even higher profile shows in half again.

    So: we didn’t really get a chance to see ‘ye Olde BSG until late ’80’s late night re-runs, by which time it looked really dated.

    That said, I think over here we’ve had the ‘advantage’ of not being so immersed in the original that we found issue with the thought of the new.

    For the majority of UK viewers, I’d probably say that the new BSG is the definitive article.

    And yet, without the original… Chicken & egg, anyone? :)

    That said: big congrats on the 30th anniversary of the premise for pone of the best scifi dramas ever.

    Particular congrats to you, MoJo, for brightening our days with the effects work on not just this, but Trek and – particularly – B5 too.

    Long live the blog :)


  17. 17 ety3
    September 18, 2008 at 1:07 am

    I watched Galactica as much as I could, whenever I could when it was first on. My parents were always pretty cool about letting me stay up, especially if it was something my dad wanted to see, too, and he definitely wanted to see Galactica.

    What do I remember about that pilot premiere? Not terribly much. I may have fallen asleep on my dad’s lap when they got to the Ovion planet (before the president came on, I guess).

    As a kid, I had that Viper launcher with the little foam Vipers. That was sweet. And I was never able to recover from the badassery of a robot carrying a sword. That would be why I cackled like a mad man when I saw the Razor featurette and the blade popped out of the free-falling Centurion’s arm. And cheeseball as it was, I always got a kick out of The A-Team’s opening credits when Dirk Benedict gave the “don’t I know you?” look to the Centurion walking by on the Universal lot in the show’s opening credits.

  18. 18 Boris
    September 18, 2008 at 5:18 am

    “I ask all of you to grab a glasss of ambrosia and join me in a toast to the little show that could; that one-season wonder that clung to life for thirty years and came back as a juggernaut, pounding Star Wars and Star Trek to the ground and firmly re-established itself as the King of Sci-Fi.”

    Question: you’re on the inside. I don’t want to take away from the fun you had as a kid (after all, I once thought that the Masters of the Universe cartoon/franchise was the best thing in the world, and still think that someone needs to come along and turn it into a serious movie about a decaying world, where technology of centuries ago is seen as sorcery), but are you really saying that without the old show, the cast and crew needed to create the current show would’ve never come together for another project of the same quality? Did Universal intend to create a show like the current BSG or to remake BSG specifically?

    I’m pretty sure that Ron Moore and everyone involved could’ve come up with a show of the same quality even if the old show didn’t exist. As I said in the comments for the previous post, I’m curious about what it took to assemble such an impressive set of closing credits – for one, probably a pretty solid budget, one that is unusual for other sci-fi shows, and when you have the all best people in one place, quality follows.

  19. 19 kingfish
    September 18, 2008 at 6:14 am

    Battlestar Galactica will always be a favorite of mine. This was a show that was a head of it’s time. ABC never wanted the show so it was doomed to fail and be resurrected as Galactica 1980 when Mork and Mindy’s ratings went in the toilet. IMHO Tom DeSanto and Bryan Singer would have brought the show back the proper way. Tom was a huge fan. I hardly watch the new series which in my opinion is GINO and will always be Galactica In Name Only.


  20. September 18, 2008 at 9:49 am

    I remember painting hundreds of tiny dots of glow in the dark paint on to my Battlestar model and admiring the results in the dark instead of doing homework. I think I lost interest in the show itself about the time they got to the metal cowboy hat planet, but the models were great fun.

  21. 21 peter noble
    September 18, 2008 at 10:50 am

    Initially, in the UK, Galactica was only shown in the London area and then made it around the ITV (a commercial network) regions.

    Buck Rogers was more popular because it got an ITV run that covered all the country at the same time.

    Galactica did get it’s due when it made it on to BBC2 in 6.45pm slot around 1987. This was repeated in about 1997.

    Recently the show’s been seen on Bravo and Virgin 1.

    A few months ago, the movie version of the pilot got better ratings on Sky 1 than the new series.

    The self-same movie version was the number one film in the UK on its week of release in 1979. Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack (a combined Living Legend and Fire in Space) made it to the flicks a few months later, followed by Conquest of the Earth (made up of Galactica Discovers Earth, The Night the Cylons Landed and even more bizarrely The Young Lords).

  22. 22 darthmojo
    September 18, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Great comment left on Ain’t It Cool: Growing up in South Auckland, New Zealand, there’s one certainty: you’ll date a solo mother. But before that is was that you’d have to see Battlestar Galactica at the movies. And so we did. The crowd went wild. The projectionist had to stop the movie part way through to settle the crowd down. Hard to believe that was 30 years ago. Memories… aaaaaahhhhh.

  23. 23 darthmojo
    September 18, 2008 at 11:52 am

    BORIS: Yes, much of this team probably would have been assembled for another series – you can thank Deep Space Nine for that, since Ron Moore pooled much of the talent for this show from that one, so it may have been inevitable that Ron would helm a new sci-fi series and ask his old friends to join him.

    But the core, dramatic essence of what makes the new BSG work has a direct link to the original series. Even Ron, who was initally uncertain about the viability of a BSG remake, immediately recognized the stength of the original’s premise after re-watching the original movie.

    Can any of you forget the chill you got the first time you saw Laura Roslin write down the number of surviving humans, only then to erase and lower that number? This wonderful moment builds upon the raw materials set up by Larson and company in 1978.

    There was “something” about the original series that made it endure for 30 years… maybe no one has quite put their finger on it yet, but that “certain something” – that strikes a chord with so many people – is also at the heart of the new series, and that essence will always only exist in a show called Battlestar Galactica.

  24. 24 The Friar
    September 18, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    I alas was too young to recall watching this as a ‘first air’ but I caught it in syndication; Loren Green was the best! Happy Birthday BSG!

  25. September 19, 2008 at 7:22 am

    Its remind me my age, feel getting old :)

  26. September 19, 2008 at 11:13 am

    My cool Galactica memory….sharing 30-40 minutes of Herb Jefferson, Jr’s time before a convention appearance several years ago in Chicago. “HE” walked up to “ME” because I was wearing my Navy ballcap and he recognized me as a Navy veteran and wanted to thank me for my service. Herb has done alot of volunteer work over the years for Vets and much to my surprise, he invited me in to the convention floor while he prepped his booth and we shared an amazing amount of conversation about his work with the vets, my time in the Navy aboard an aircraft carrier, and he even showed a few personal photos of his visits….

    I will always cherish that time spent with Mr. Jefferson…a true class act and a great character actor…..

    Oh….and later getting to meet Sarah Rush (“Launch when Ready!”) at that same convention…that made my millennium too!

  27. September 19, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    I think the original BSG had a core concept that worked really well, a great premise and good characters, which overcomes any technical deficiencies (like reusing the same effects shot 50 times). There was also the elements of the mythological sagas in the original series, and those things combined to make something that caught the imagination in the same way Doctor Who, Star Trek and Babylon 5 did and exactly the way Buck Rodgers didn’t, and led to the remake.

    Something I found interesting is that with BSG ending, Sky One here in the UK started looking for another venerable, popular SF show to remake and settled on Blake’s 7, a show that in many ways is the exact opposite of the original BSG (appalling production values, a very dark and pessimistic tone and it lasted four seasons rather than just one), but shares the same sense of a mythological underpinning with memorable characters (and spaceship designs!) that resonate to this day. Coincidentally, B7 debuted in 1978 as well.

  28. September 20, 2008 at 1:25 am

    I don’t know what it is about BSG that’s always stayed with me. Maybe it ws the vipers, maybe it was starbuck, maybe it was the cylons. Whatever it is, it’s been a great 30 years and I’m glad I was around for it. Happy Birthday BSG, thanks for all the good times.

  29. 29 Konrad
    September 22, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Happy birthday BSG!!
    Can’t remember when I first saw it but I had a viper and cylon raider toys as a kid. While I was always more of a Trek fan I always watched it and and I wanted to be Starbuck.

    Also any show that uses the term felgercarb was cool in my books.

    Thanks Ron Moore for revitalising BSG and bringing it bang up to date.

    Oh and what makes me feel old is that next year it will be 10 years since DS9 ended :-(

  30. 30 Darth Raww
    September 23, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I was in kindergarten when BSG hit, and man how I loved those vipers (still do)!. So much, that for craft time one day I made a viper out of four empty toilet paper rolls (with some other odds and ends). Long live BSG!

  31. 31 Boris
    September 24, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Now that the party is almost over, let’s not forget about the upcoming fifteenth anniversary of the first episode of the first season of B5: “Midnight on the Firing Line” (aired January 26, 1994). Since the blog wasn’t around for the pilot’s anniversary, the first episode is the next best choice.

  32. 32 darthmojo
    September 24, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    BORIS: Did you know that “Blood and Thunder” was the original title of “Midnight on the Firing Line?” There’s some anniversary trivia for you!

  33. September 25, 2008 at 9:35 am

    I was a junior in high school at the time BSG TOS aired – so I was already getting beaten up for being a Star Trek fan. But I remember that three-hour premier, though I don’t remember President Carter’s interruption! And I paid money to go see the film release version in the theater. Starbuck was cool, but my sister and I both thought that Herb Jefferson’s Boomer was THE MAN. Laurette Spang was okay, but I had a crush on the cute girl who manned Viper Launch Control.

  34. 34 Boris
    September 26, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Mojo: no, but did you know what the new title meant according to JMS?

    “Over the years, some have asked me the meaning of that particular title. Knowing that we were up against the Trek juggernaut, I knew that we had to have maximum impact with our first episode, that potentially everything could be riding on this one episode in our war for survival. Hence, ‘midnight on the firing line’.” (The Babylon 5 Scripts of J. Michael Straczynski, Volume 1)

  35. 35 Mark
    December 30, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Hi im a big fan of the old series of BG i hate the new one im from England and when i was young i rememebr watching BG i loved it then about 5 years ago i bought the whole series on DVD then im Hooked i even then started to collect things to do with BG and i have a few things in my collection now, i even have a 7 foot Cylon on display in my house hoping to buy a gold one one day?????

  36. 36 Capricana
    February 18, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    30 years since BATTLESTAR GALACTICA premiered! I remember that day well. My best friend ws all a-twitter about making sure his (then $7,000 & as big as the Galactica) VCR was up & rnning ready for the task of recording the greatest event in SiFi history!! I was a few days out from 13 years old and remember the excitement. Already a Lorne Greene fan (Bonanza), I already knew my fave character was going to be Adama!

    The show starts…..my friend’s VCR humming loudly……..Pizza and cokes n hand……..watching……..watching………..getting sucked in………amazed!!…….(Lorne “Adama” Greene RULES!!!)…..and………..then………..AAAAARRRRRGGH!! An interruption by none other than Jimmy Carter and an important “breaking news State-of-the-Union” address! Lotsa blue words said at this point and the mighty Battlestar VCR was brought to a “STOP”. We waited…..and waited……and tolerated the Presidential interruption as graceful as any Colonial cadet could with promise to get the turn to shoot up the Cylons next.

    After President Jimmy went away, the powerfuly oversized VCR fired up and we watched!!! It was that day, my friend became the SF Con-going Galactica character Lt. Atlas and I became the Commander’s “Shadow” Lt Capricana.

    Battlestar Galactica TOS, you spawnd many a fan, many a amateur costumer struggling to “get that interesting piece of checkered braid” for the Warrior’s uniform still in the sewing machine, many a writer and the fanzines from those writing sessions. You brought a genre together, and created many creative people who otherwise would’ve been….Blah!. (me, but Nevermind the one very embarrassing instance were I met Lorne Greene in person, (as a teen, I nearly died!), had a talk with him and thanks to some easily excitible friends wandering by, had to tell him the WHOLE story of my Galactica character. (Note: He really liked the story…wouldn’t let me “run away” until I’d told all. LLLOOOLLL)

    Battlestar Galactica(TOS), Happy 30th Birthday!! Your spirit lives on!!!

  37. 37 Jason Voss
    April 17, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    I’m actually working for a company which is building a studio scale model of the Old Galactica.Your web-site is great! so fun to see parts from the German WW2 railguns, the Morser and leopold used even on the New BSG design.

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September 2008

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