Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The 14 "Battlestar Galactica" Syndicated Compilation TV Movies from the 1980's!

The opening credits title card for Battlestar Galactica (1978 - 79)

Does anyone remember...the 14 Syndicated BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Compilation TV Movies from the 1980's?  If you do, please send a letter, postcard or e-mail to Universal Studios Home Entertainment and request a DVD and Blu-Ray release of these movies.  The address (as well as an e-mail link) is at the bottom of this review.

When BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (1978-79) was first syndicated in 1981, it wasn't shown in its original one hour format - instead Universal Studios edited the episodes together to create 14 "Compilation" TV Movies (released in the 1:33:1 aspect ratio).  All of these movies feature extremely interesting, specially-created "Movie-Style" Opening and Closing Credits as well as numerous never-before-seen scenes and several "alternate" Special F/X shots (one memorable F/X shot featuring the Underside and Rear of the Galactica as it flies through space is extremely cool - here's a look at it with a clip taken from MURDER IN SPACE):
Clip from the movie-style opening of "Murder in Space"

Most of these movies feature a number of EXPANDED / RESTORED Scenes that were cut from the ABC broadcasts (probably due to time constraints).  Many of the DELETED Scenes that are in the "bonus features" of the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA DVD and Blu-Ray sets appear in these movies in their proper context.

Lorne Greene was hired to perform a number of voice-overs for these movies, often providing "linking" narration to help the unrelated stories flow smoothly.  Dirk Benedict, Herbert Jefferson, Jr., John Colicos, Patrick MacNee and Jonathan Harris provided voice-overs as well.  Several of Apollo's lines were Looped (dubbed over) - by an actor who sounds NOTHING like Richard Hatch!  I will refer to this unknown voice-over actor (for lack of a better term) as R.H.I.N.O. ("Richard Hatch In Name Only") - for the purposes of this review.

The opening of "Mission: Galactica - The Cylon Attack"

These "Compilation" BATTLESTAR GALACTICA TV Movies were shown throughout the U.S. and around the world during the 1980's and occasionally pop up on cable or local stations.

Watching these movies is a fun - often surreal - experience...almost like a peek into an "alternate" BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Universe with scenes and events rearranged to form an interesting, if not always consistent whole.  For instance, MURDER IN SPACE is a compilation of "Murder on the Rising Star" and "The Young Lords".  In this movie, Starbuck is accused of murdering Wing Sgt. Ortega.  He ESCAPES from the Galactica in his viper [differing from the events of "Murder on the Rising Star" where he CHANGES HIS MIND about escaping] and crash lands on the planet Attilla and helps the children rescue their father from the Cylon outpost.  Apollo and Boomer arrive shortly afterward (they've been tracking his flight) and they THEN take him back to the Galactica to stand trial.  These Compilation Movies aren't just simple hack jobs by the "editing elves" - a lot of thought clearly went into creating them to form a (more or less!) consistent narrative.

One of the more interesting Compilation Movies is EXPERIMENT IN TERRA.  This film opens with an Astronaut (from Earth!) finding Adama's Galactica Logbook floating in space(!) - he opens the book and the history of the Cylons unfolds with an all-new narration by Lorne Greene accompanied by Jarvslav Geer's beautiful Battlestar Galactica storyboard paintings (this opening clip is currently on YouTube) and can be seen HERE:

About 12 minutes of footage from "Saga of a Star World" is shown as well, depicting the destruction of the Colonies and the progress of the Fleet in their journey to Earth.  Next, the film seques into the famous GALACTICA: 1980 episode "The Return of Starbuck" - but in this alternate Galacti-verse, Starbuck ESCAPES from the lost planet and returns to the fleet...just in time for the movie to seque into the episode "Experiment in Terra"!  Many of of these Compilation Movies feature fun "alternate" scenarios like this, some more severe than others.

The 2-part episodes were edited together into one telefilm (using the original title)...and most of these also feature EXPANDED (and in many cases, never-before-seen scenes)!

The following is a list of all 14 BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Compilation TV Movies and their episodic components.

NOTE: The "order" of these Compilation Movies is certainly open to the viewers interpretation. They are presented here in the same order listed in a Universal Studios press release published in STARLOG #39 (Oct. 1980) - ("Syndicated Telefilm Package Hits This Fall" by David Hirsch).  Each movie was made to more-or-less stand on its own.

1) BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (the pilot movie "Saga of a Star World") - EXPANDED / RESTORED Scenes - None.

"Saga of a Star World"
"F-- O--" - look just to the right of the middle Cylon fighter and you'll see it...!
RUMINATIONS: The WTF(?) - What the Frak? Award (literally!) goes to this episode.  During the Cylon attack on Caprica, the words "F--- O--" can be clearly seen spelled out in the Lights of the city below (see above photo).  This has been broadcast around the world and on tape and disc for decades.  Can't this be erased with CGI?  Correcting this Special F/X "gaffe" is decades overdue.  Is Universal Studios even **aware** of this not-so-hidden message?

2) LOST PLANET OF THE GODS (expanded version of "Lost Planet of the Gods", part 1 and 2) - EXPANDED / RESTORED Scenes (1) Serina landing the shuttle - her first solo landing is shown - this scene is referred to but not seen in the 2-part version of this episode (2) The scene where Tigh and Adama speculate about the Void is longer - Adama mentions he will ("keep his toes crossed") (3) On Kobol, Adama gives a fuller explanation about how the lost planet fell into ruin (4) Serena's death scene is longer.

Adama, Apollo and Serina explore the ruins of the dead planet Kobol
"Lost Planet of the Gods"
RUMINATIONS: Adama's eloquent speculations about Kobol's fall has my vote for the Best Deleted Scene of the entire series!

3) THE GUN ON ICE PLANET ZERO (expanded version of "The Gun on Ice Planet Zero", part 1 and part 2) - EXPANDED /  RESTORED Scenes (1) Colonel Tigh mentions that they are so short on warriors that they are ("throwing in cadets from the Academy") (2) Apollo talks with Adama in his quarters about why he wasn't chosen for the mission (3) On the bridge, Starbuck and Athena discuss the mission. Athena laments that she wasn't chosen (4) Adama's introduction of the mission team is longer and he introduces the support team, including Lt. Haals (the smiling warrior with the mustache) (5) Apollo and Lt. Haals have a brief discussion in the Thetan cave.

Lt. Haals (obscured), Adama, Thane, Leda, Wolfe and Croft
"The Gun On Ice Planet Zero"
RUMINATIONS: At one point, a Cylon refers to the captured cadet Kree as "the invader" - could this be a nod to guest-star Roy Thinnes' starring role in THE INVADERS (1967 - 68)?  While planning their escape, Leda (Christine Belford) mentions the planet "Starlos" - could this be a nod to the Harlan Ellison-created space-adventure series THE STARLOST (1973 - 74)?
The TIN EAR Award goes to Adama, Apollo and Athena - in this early episode, all 3 refer to Cylon BATTLESTARS(!?!) instead of Cylon "Base Stars".
The SUPER-CUTS Award goes to Starbuck - in several scenes, the length of his hair varies considerably, leading to **jarring** lapses in continuity.
The LEAVE IT TO BEAVER (Leave it to Boxey?) Award goes to Adama and Athena - didn't **anyone** aboard the Galactica notice that Boxey was missing?!?

4) THE PHANTOM IN SPACE (comprised of "The Lost Warrior" and "The Hand of God") - EXPANDED / RESTORED Scenes: None, but there are several never-before-seen F/X shots during the "Movie-Style" opening credits featuring the Underside and Rear of the Galactica and several ships in the fleet are also shown from different angles.

Apollo in the celestial chamber
"The Phantom in Space"
RUMINATIONS: R.H.I.N.O. ("Richard Hatch In Name Only") is heard in several Looped lines throughout this movie.  He tells Bella and Puppis that he was tracking a phantom signal when he crashed on Equellis.  Later, R.H.I.N.O. promises to return to Equellis after the fleet has found Earth.
The STAR WARS Award goes to Cassiopeia - she argues with Starbuck and says that ("...Knowing you, you'll find some beautiful female prisoner to rescue on that Base Star!") - is this a nod to Princess Leia who was held captive aboard the Death Star in STAR WARS?
The ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING Award goes to guest stars Red West and Lance LeGault - before they went into acting, they were Elvis Presley's life-long friends and bodyguards!

5) SPACE PRISON (comprised of "The Man With Nine Lives" and "Baltar's Escape", plus several Baltar / Cylon scenes and Baltar's trial scene from "War of the Gods", and footage of Baltar (with Cylon helmet!) commanding the Cylon fighter from "The Living Legend") -
EXPANDED / RESTORED Scenes - None, but during the "Movie-Style" opening credits, there are several previously unseen Special F/X shots of the Underside and Rear of the Galactica and several other ships in the fleet are seen from different angles.

Maga, the leader of the Borellian Nomen
"Space Prison"
RUMINATIONS: Curiously (via Looped dialogue), the Cylons refer to Baltar as COMMANDANT Baltar.  Also, (again in Looped dialogue), Adama arbitrarily sentences Taba, the young, beardless Borellian Nomen to 3 months confinement on the Prison Barge for the commotion he caused in the Rising Star dance hall as well as his drawing his weapon in the docking lounge (no trial is shown or mentioned).  At the conclusion of the movie, the Nomen are sentenced to LIFE IMPRISONMENT on the Prison Barge, again via Looped dialogue by Adama - and again no trial is shown or mentioned.  In the final scene in the Galactica mess hall, R.H.I.N.O. ("Richard Hatch In Name Only") speculates about the current whereabouts of Chameleon and Siress Blassie and wonders if they will get Sealed (married).
The EVIL TWIN Award goes to actor Bruce Wright who plays two different characters in this compilation movie - Corporal Lomas and 4th Guard!

6) SPACE CASANOVA - (comprised of "Take the Celestra" and "The Long Patrol") - EXPANDED / RESTORED Scenes - None, but in one has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed, truly oddball moment, we see a close-up of Starbuck's HANDS holding snapshot photos of Cassiopeia, Athena and Aurora - our space Casanova is desperately trying to choose between the 3 women (below)! He is about to race over to the Celestra to talk to Aurora when R.H.I.N.O. ("Richard Hatch In Name Only") intervenes and reminds him that he volunteered to fly the recon viper to explore the new star system.  Starbuck and R.H.I.N.O. then break into laughter in a cringe-worthy "blooper" that (thankfully) never made the cut of the ABC broadcast!  When Starbuck agrees to go on the mission, R.H.I.N.O. tells him (mid-laugh) - ("That's a good friend.").

"Space Casanova"
Athena and Aurora
RUMINATIONS: In voice-over, Starbuck muses that he almost got SEALED (married) to Aurora prior to the Cylon attack on Caprica - this **crucial** element of their relationship wasn't part of the original ABC edit.
The K.I.T.T. / KNIGHT RIDER Award goes to C.O.R.A., the sultry-voiced Viper Computer.  At one point, in voice-ever, Starbuck says that C.O.R.A. ("...reminds me of Aurora!").
QUOTE UNQUOTE: Cassiopeia comments that Starbuck ("...will always be a Casanova!").

7) CURSE OF THE CYLONS - (comprised of "The Magnificent Warriors" and "Fire in Space" and a Baltar / Lucifer scene from "Lost Planet of the Gods" with Looped dialogue and the Adama sick-in-bed scene from "The Young Lords" with Looped Dialogue).
EXPANDED / RESTORED Scenes - None, but the "Movie-Style" opening sequence features never before seen Special F/X shots of the Underside and Rear of the Galactica and several ships in the fleet are shown from different angles during this sequence.

"Curse of the Cylons"
RUMINATIONS: Via Looped dialogue, the Cylons refer to the upcoming attack as "Operation: Galactica". Also, R.H.I.N.O ("Richard Hatch In Name Only") reports that the Cylon attack destroyed 2 Agroships and damaged the 3rd.  There is one odd moment - in the scene where Adama is sick in bed, he wearily says ("I should be back up in my own quarters by the time Apollo returns.") - This Looped line doesn't make ANY sense in this context, since Adama is IN his quarters when he says this!  Later, R.H.I.N.O. tries to convince Adama not to go on the energizer / seed mission to Sectar.

8) THE LIVING LEGEND - (expanded version of "The Living Legend", part 1 and 2) - EXPANDED / RESTORED Scenes (1) Cain and Cassiopea's reunion scene is longer (2) Apollo and Sheba discuss her ill will toward Cassiopeia in the hanger deck as she boards her viper (3) Adama and Tigh have a conversation and come to the conclusion that finding the Pegasus just when they had run out of fuel was almost providential (4) Adama and Tigh discuss the loss of the Cylon tankers.  They realize that they now have no choice but to attack the Cylon base (5) Cassiopeia boards the shuttle and joins the mission. She says that she has her gear in her carryall.

Adama and Cain
"The Living Legend"
The MY ENEMY, MY ALLY Award goes to...Jack Stauffer (Bojay)!  I bet that even die-hard GALACTICA fans are unaware that Richard Hatch and Jack Stauffer were co-stars on ALL MY CHILDREN in 1970!  Believe it or not, on this popular ABC soap opera, they were rivals - both were in love with the same girl!  (Watch black and white clips of them in the same episode on YouTube: "All My Children - A Daytime to Remember") - HERE:

9) WAR OF THE GODS - (expanded version of "War of the Gods", part 1 and 2) - EXPANDED / RESTORED Scenes (1) Iblis says that he knows the way to Earth (2) Adama and the Council's discussion of Iblis' powers and motivations is longer.  Adama says that he will accede the Presidency of the Council to Iblis if he is found to be genuine (3) Apollo, Starbuck and Sheba return to the Galactica via the shuttle and arrive in the landing bay.  Adama tells them that the missing warriors were found alive on the planet.  They then plan a feast to celebrate the end of their ordeal (4) There is an unusual (never before used) Music Cue heard just before the "...Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny..." ending narration.

Commander Adama and Count Iblis
"War of the Gods"
Fembots aboard the Galactica !  :-)
The BIONIC BLOWOUT Award goes to this episode...is that a FEMBOT in Dr. Wilker's lab?!?  At one point, a female technician can be seen repairing the Fembot's facial circuitry... ("They are as beautiful or as deadly as I choose to make them!").  :-)

10) GREETINGS FROM EARTH - (edited version of the 2-hour episode "Greetings From Earth") - EXPANDED / RESTORED Scenes - None.
DELETED Scene - Hector and Vector's famous (infamous?) song-and-dance routine (below) is totally missing from the Syndicated Compilation Movie version!

Hector and Vector
"Greetings From Earth"
QUOTE UNQUOTE: ("Jolly, you forgot the kids!").

11) MURDER IN SPACE - (comprised of "Murder on the Rising Star" and "The Young Lords") - EXPANDED / RESTORED Scenes (1) Adama's sickbed scene runs longer (2) Apollo and Boomer sit at the shuttle controls, while Starbuck straps himself into the passenger couch.  Miri and her family watch the shuttle depart from the planet via a nicely executed pull-back shot.  **Neither** of these scenes appear in the Deleted Scenes section of either the DVD or Blu-Ray set!
Wing Sgt. Ortega
"Murder in Space"
RUMINATIONS: Once again (via Looped dialogue from Lucifer), Baltar is referred to as COMMANDANT Baltar.  There are several Looped dialogue scenes by both Herbert Jefferson, Jr. and R.H.I.N.O. ("Richard Hatch In Name Only").  Guest Star Lyman Ward (Karibdus) provided a few Looped lines for this movie as well.  All of Baltar's scenes from the "Murder on the Rising Star" part of the movie have been completely eliminated (via some incredible slight-of-hand editing!). The infamous "F--- O--" message can be seen again spelled out in the Lights of the Caprican city during the flashback footage from "Saga of a Star World".
QUOTE UNQUOTE: Via Looped dialogue, Adama says ("Murder is a serious charge!") (no kidding!)  :-)

12) EXPERIMENT IN TERRA - (compilation of "Experiment in Terra" and the Galactica: 1980 episode - "The Return of Starbuck", plus about 12 minutes of "Saga of a Star World", plus a few seconds of Pegasus battle footage from "The Living Legend" and battle footage of the Agroships being destroyed from "The Magnificent Warriors").
EXPANDED / RESTORED Scenes (1) Tigh and Adama discuss the situation ("We're heading directly into a war zone."). (2) The President's speech is longer. (3) Apollo's speech is longer.

Starbuck and Cy
"Experiment in Terra"
RUMINATIONS: This movie opens with **extensive** footage of an Earth Astronaut finding Commander Adama's Galactica Logbook floating in space.  There is a lengthy, all-new Patrick MacNee narration - he is speaking as if he were a human, living on Earth ("Again and again we launched our spacecrafts into the solar system to probe and search for a planet having the same composition as our Earth, as well as the necessary geological processes...but it always eluded us.").  All of the scenes with Angela and the Starchild as well as the scenes with Adama and Dr. Zee discussing his dream have been deleted.  At the conclusion of the movie, the "Fleeing from the Cylon Tyranny..." end narration is heard over more footage of the Earth Astronaut reading from the Logbook.
The PRIME DIRECTIVE Award goes to John (Guest Star Edward Mulhare): ("I am not allowed to interfere in any way.  It's a rotten job.")
QUOTE UNQUOTE: ("Did I irritate you?  You seem irritated.") - Why does Cy sound like Gary Owens?  :-)
The END CREDITS from this movie are currently on YouTube and can be seen HERE:

13) MISSION: GALACTICA - THE CYLON ATTACK  - (compilation of "The Living Legend", part 1 and 2 and "Fire in Space") - this movie was released Theatrically and  was also released on both VHS tape and Laserdisc.  This movie is pretty cool...check out the "disappearing laserguns" alternate edit of the confrontation between Apollo, Starbuck, Sheba and Bojay in the landing bay.  BUY this movie today via Amazon or eBay! It's a good one!

The 1990 VHS release of "Mission: Galactica - The Cylon Attack"
The 1982 LaserDisc release of "Mission: Galactica - The Cylon Attack"

"Mission: Galactica - The Cylon Attack"

The marvelous Opening Credits of "Mission: Galactica - The Cylon Attack" on YouTube.

The Closing Credits of "Mission: Galactica - The Cylon Attack" on YouTube.

QUOTE UNQUOTE: ("Wherever he is, I'm DAMN sure he's where he wants to be!") - Via Looped dialogue, Adama ruminates on whether Commander Cain survived the final attack.

14) CONQUEST OF THE EARTH - (compilation of "The Night the Cylons Landed", part 1 and 2; plus about 10 minutes of "Galactica Discovers Earth" and about 5 minutes of Baltar / Lucifer / Spectre footage from "The Young Lords") - YES - you read that right - in this Alternate Galacti-verse, Baltar and Lucifer are retro-fitted into GALACTICA: 1980!

The Movie Poster for "Conquest of the Earth"

The 1990 VHS release of "Conquest of the Earth"

"Conquest of the Earth"
RUMINATIONS: Someone other than Robyn Douglass Looped a few lines of Jamie's dialogue to introduce a star-crossed romance between her and Dillon!  There was no romance between them whatsoever in the regular GALACTICA: 1980 episodes - they were just good friends.  Two different actors (Robbie Rist and Patrick Stuart) played Dr. Zee in the regular GALACTICA: 1980 episodes.  In this movie they play brothers(!) - Dr. Zee (Rist) and Dr. Zen (Stuart) who inhabit the same body!  Also, the Opening Credits of this movie are extremely well done...definitely one of the better "Movie-Style" title sequences for these Compilation Movies.  This sequence is on YouTube and can be seen HERE:

These 14 Syndicated Compilation Movies are an interesting - often overlooked - part of the worldwide BATTLESTAR GALACTICA franchise.  These movies are not perfect by any means, but it would be GREAT if they were released on DVD and Blu-Ray.  If you agree, please send a letter or postcard to:

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
10 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608

The Universal Studios Home Entertainment website has an e-mail portal as well -
E-mail LINK: Universal Studios | Contact Us Form

The cast of Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica, Galactica: 1980 and all images, characters, logos and quoted dialogue are copyright (c) NBC / Universal.  All photos are used for illustrative purposes only.