galactica marathon, supermodels thrill crowd


Last Saturday night the Aero Theater in Santa Monica was packed with hardcore original-series Battlestar fans, ready to take in all three feature length movies (two of which had never been screened in the US).  Not only was the lobby was packed with jaw-dropping models (sadly, not the bikini-clad type), a rare treat was in store and several special guests were in the house…

First of all, it was great to see so many people turn up.  While I think all of us should be thrilled that Ron Moore’s BSG has done well and brought a lot of attention to all things Galactica, there is sometimes the feeling that the classic series just don’t get no respect.  Well, you’d never know the new series even existed as fans gathered to watch six hours of non-stop vintage Battlestar.  A few people were dressed as Colonial Warriors, a plethora of classic BSG T-shirts could be seen and one crazed nutter was carrying around a toy Daggit!

can you find muffit?

can you find muffit?

I was in my element to be sure.

The excitement began before we even walked into the theater, as the lobby was packed with original series goodies.  Visual Effects Society (VES) member Gene Kozicki(who put the whole screening together) had two of his models on display – a vintage Colonial Viper and Cylon Raider.  “I built the Viper and Raider myself,” he explained.  “The Viper is based on castings off of the original and the Raider is from a kit that recreated the original down to the same model kit parts.”  Hardcore VFX nerds should note that the model mounts you see holding the models here and at the top of the post are the original mounts used in the series!


Also on display were picture-perfect replicas of the Galactica shuttlecraft and the Rising Star, also made from original castings by prop & model maker Ed Miarecki.



This final model is the original miniature used on the series, which was degined and built by none other than Andy Probert (better known to BSG fans as the designer of the Cylons):


After we were all done salivating over these little beauties (that’s the real reason they were encased in plastic), my posse and I took our seats in the auditorium for the main event (joining me were Jon “Trek-Or-Die” Lane, Daren “Imperious Leader” Dochterman, Kevin “Han Solo” Rubio and Rob “I just can’t sit through Galactica 1980” Klein).

 Most of us have seen the original movie in a theater recently, so it didn’t hold too many surprises (although the audience found some unintentional humor in Adama and Tigh’s “secret rendezvous” in the launch bay).  After the first film, Gene introduced himself and talked a little about the VES.  The real treat came next when he screened some of FX veteran Richard Edlund’s home movies from Apogee while they were working on “Gun On Ice Planet Zero.”  Most of the footage showed the crew working on models and actually doing shots; most notable were a behind the scenes look at filming the crash-landing of Cree’s Viper and the destruction of the mountain.  The audience “ooohed and ahhhhed” most when we got a sneak peak at shooting the Viper’s thruster effect – a large canister of liquid nitrogen pumped through hoses directly into the back of a Viper model.  Very neat stuff!

Gene then introduced a surprise guest, original series story editor Terrence McDonnell.  He spoke a little bit about the incredibly tight schedules they had to deal with (apparently the script for “Murder On The Rising Star” was commissioned on a Wednesday and had to be in mimeo on Friday).  Sadly, time was short and the Q&A had to be brought to and end far too soon.  I’ll see if I can track down Mr. McDonnell for a more complete interview!

Pegasus_flight_podNext up was “Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack,” which is essentially the two-part Living Legend and Fire In Space episodes cut together.  I don’t know how they did it, but through the miracle of editing, they managed to make Living Legendsuck.   Right from the start, the changes made for the “movie” left us scratching our heads; instead of discovering the existence of the Pegasus as a surprise though the eyes of Starbuck and Apollo, we see the Pegasus in the movie’s opening shot, followed by a clumsy launch sequence for Sheba and Bojay.  Huh?  Why the hell are we starting with them?

The entire love triangle among Cain, Starbuck and Cassiopea is gone, and only a fleeting affair between Cassie and Cain remains (dialog about Starbuck was simply cut out, sometimes quite obviously with an actor in mid-sentence).  The only “new” footage was in the guise of two visual effects shots – overly long takes of the fleet and of a Baseship.  Clearly the visual effects team created long establishing shots with the intention of them being sliced up and edited into shows as either a distant or close-up shot.  In “Mission Galactica,” someone must have found the entire original motion control passes and just stuck them into the film, since the Baseship shot lasted nearly thirty seconds!  The audience began to laugh at the languid pace and someone commented – and rightly so – that it was like watching the opening shot of “Spaceballs.”  Still, it would be worth tracking down a DVD of the film, just to grab the only appearence of these “extra’ effects shots.

The most interesting change between the original episode and movie came at the end, when Adama wakes up in the medical bay after being operated on (remember, the end of Fire In Space  served as the end of the movie).  Through the use of obviously overdubbed new dialog, Adama asks what happened to Cain after his fight with the Baseships; Starbuck answers “he just headed off into deep space, the way he did the last time,” to which Adama responds, “well, wherever he is, I’m damn sure he’s exactly where he wants to be.”  So, while the series left Cain’s fate as a mystery, “Mission Galactica” clearly states that he survived and is still out there, somewhere.

1980bikes“Conquest of the Earth,” the theatrical version of Galactica 1980, was just as bad (and also as much fun) as we were expecting.   It was essentially a union of the pilot and The Night The Cylons Landed, with a healthy helping of freshly-dubbed – and totally out of place – dialog.  The highlight was the forced “love story” between Robyn Douglass’ reporter character and Dillon; as soon as one of them turned their back to the camera, what was obviously another actor’s voice would come on and say something like “you know I’m falling in love with you,” etc.  At the very end, they both proclaim their love for each other at the precise moment they put on Viper helmets and you couldn’t see their lips move anymore.  Hysterical!

But the funniest part of the evening came from a new line of Cylon dialog – at a Halloween party where the baddies are trying to get Wolfman Jack to lead them to a transmitter, the Centurion proclaims, “Wolfman Jack, you will help us or I will disintegrate you.”  Wait, I take that back – the visual effect shot of the Centurion leaping off the building at the end was so bad it elicited howls of laughter from the crowd.  Well, what was left of them anyway; I’d say a good half of them split before the final notes of Stu Philips’ theme echoed through through the theater.  Can you blame them?

All in all, it was a fun evening and a real treat to pay tribute to the original series with such an enthusiastic crowd.  Here’s hoping they find some more “lost” BSG movies in a dungeon one day!

Click here to see more (and better) photos of the models and to read Gene’s account of the event!

16 Responses to “galactica marathon, supermodels thrill crowd”

  1. June 28, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Wish I was there. I never saw the theatrical versions, and it would have been a blast to see them on a big screen.

  2. 2 Anonymous
    June 29, 2009 at 3:53 am

    I had that stuffed Muffet too! You’d pull his string and he’d play Muffet’s sound effects.

  3. June 29, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Man, your butts must’ve been sore by the conclusion of Conquest of the Earth! I don’t know that I would have been able to last that long.

    Those models are pure gorgeousness. The texturing on the Viper is especially well-done. How large were those models, Mojo?

  4. June 29, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Whoops! Never mind; I should have clicked through to the additional photos you linked above. I can’t believe that the Viper model is so small–it photographs like a much larger model. Fantastic work. Thanks for posting this!

  5. June 29, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Huh. Apparently, it’s been longer since I’ve seen Mission Galactica than I thought, because Mojo’s description of it isn’t what I was remembering when I said the other day that it wasn’t too bad. Guess I’ll have to dig out my old VHS tape and refresh my memory!

  6. 6 John N. Ritter
    June 29, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Any more pictures of that final model? The one by Andy Probert. I have been trying figure it out for years. Why? It is my thought that most of the ships in the RTF would have been small Yacht like ships.

    I go the novelization version of the nuber of ships – 22,000 versus 220. Why do I go by this number? In a thousand Yarhen war, ships would be built for all needs. Yes, most of them would be Colonial Fleet, but a few would be executive in nature – to transport beyond a commercial shuttle could do. The same as is today in the real world.

    Now for the meat.

    The war with the Cylons, had to have changed society tremendously, on all of the Twelve Colonies of Man. There is no way it couldn’t. In other words what were the cultural effects upon the colonies?

    Each colony would have reacted to the threat at various times in differnt ways. Some would have gone into denial, and others would have embraced the war. But what every they did, it would have been a war of attrition. Not just of machines, but of (from the colonies perspective) of people. What would have been done to supply the needed numbers of people?

    So the idea was very interesting, but poorly executed, in the end.:^(((

  7. June 29, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    I think that the line, “Wolfman Jack, you will help us or I will disintegrate you,” is actually an homage to AMERICAN GRAFFITI (also from Universal) since that’s exactly what Richard Dreyfuss says to Wolfman Jack when he needs help to find Suzanne Somers. At least, I think it is. I could be wrong.

    Glad to hear it was a fun night. While you were there, I was across town at the Silent Movie for the Jerry Lewis double bill of WHO’S MINDING THE STORE? and THE DISORDERLY ORDERLY. Fun stuff, but to each his own.

  8. 8 Ein Staunender
    June 30, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Does anyone know how one can get such a toy muffit? ;-)

  9. 9 Ein Staunender
    June 30, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Besides, the guy in the middle of the muffit image looks a little bit like George Lucas, doesn’t he?

  10. 10 Boris
    July 6, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks for the detailed review.

  11. 11 Dan
    July 6, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    @John Ritter – I have the original novel and I don’t remember that there were 22,000 ships in the RTF. There wouldn’t be enough Vipers for the Galactica to protect all those ships.

    @Mojo – Galactica 1980 may have been awful, but at least they didn’t chuck the fleet into the sun and decide to become pre-Iron Age nomads after a 2 minute speech by Apollo. If that plot twist had shown up in Galactica 1980, it would be cited throughout sci-fi fandom as Exhibit A as to why that show was laughably immature. So what was it doing in our beloved RDM’s finale?

    Yes, I am bitter.

  12. 12 Boris
    July 7, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Dan: I’m not bitter, but rather than restate my usual complaints about the finale (which I saw for the second time recently, and which by all means should’ve been “No Exit” to the fourth power instead of space battles with a couple of flashbacks), perhaps the writers should simply have another go at making the connections between Colonials and present-day Earth more interesting in another TV movie, “Caprica” or even a feature if we’re lucky.

    (For example, even as late as the first part of the finale, I hoped that the writers were going to move in unusual directions with the flashbacks – say, we find out in the second part that the flashbacks are not really flashbacks, but actually the way everyone’s lives turned out in the next cycle of all of it happening again, after everyone had actually died and we found out more about the cycle of time.)

  13. July 23, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Hey Mojo, I was sitting in the back in the upper right hand corner – look for the big guy in the White shirt(Pat McClung – the guest speaker) near the back row – I’m to the right of him. He and I have worked together alot.

    Yeah, I know, you really can’t see anything. It was my 44th birthday and for the occasion my wife joined me to watch the cheese drip off the screen – or should I say run?

    Doug Knapp was sitting further in the front, just outside the picture. Did you ever get in touch with him?
    I can still arrange a get together question-a-thon if you still want . . .

    Sorry I didn’t get to reaquaint myself there – I suspected from something that Gene said that you might be there.

    And sorry I couldn’t stay to watch all the films, but it was neat seeing the models and the home movies brought back memories of my days shooting models. Really miss them . . .

  14. January 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I’d love to see a larger picture of the Rising Sun model. I’ve been putting together a screensaver (for my own use) on my computer Ind I’d love to have larger shots of the Rising Sun to work with – seeing as the DVDs would never provide something so clear to work with.

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June 2009

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