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Old September 22nd 13, 17:03   #1
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The Original Battlestar Galactica

Anyone interested in the actual reasons the original Battlestar Galactica (1978/79) got cancelled?
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Old September 22nd 13, 23:22   #2
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Re: The Original Battlestar Galactica

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Anyone interested in the actual reasons the original Battlestar Galactica (1978/79) got cancelled?
Besides the massive costs and drop in ratings?
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Old September 23rd 13, 03:09   #3
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Re: The Original Battlestar Galactica

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Anyone interested in the actual reasons the original Battlestar Galactica (1978/79) got cancelled?
Besides the massive costs and drop in ratings?
Yup. That's the justification, not the cause.

Short form:

ABC wanted to cash in on the Star Wars craze, which they assumed would be short-lived. They decided to do a big-budget glitzy SF show, and use that as a loss leader. People would come for the shooty-shooty bang zwoosh, and they'd stay for "Angie" and "Up All Night" and the new sitcoms. They didn't care too much about the price of the show becuase they figured it'd fail. Since 1968 no SF show had lasted more than 13 episodes, so they figured by the time it crapped out, people would be hooked on the new shows.

IOW, Galactica was born to die.

Thing is: It didn't die. It had pretty huge ratings. And it cost (In modern cash) about $3.7 million/episode) which they couldn't afford to keep on the air. ABC had made it to # on the strength of cheap sitcoms like Happy Days, etc. Added to which, all the new sitcoms were dogs. Only one of 'em made it to the 2nd season. So their only hit was a show they intended to die, couldn't afford to keep on the air, and they freaked.

They started jumping it all over the schedule to drive ratings down. They'd run repeates 3 weeks, then a new ep with no real promotion, then two more weeks of repeats, then jump it to a new slot. It still holds the #2 or #3 spot for the most-moved show in TV history (WKRP in Cincinatti is #1) This worked, but not nearly so well as you'd assume. They only managed to drive it down to like #26 or so. It was still in the top 3rd, which would be good enoguh for it to come back for another season, but they claimed it was cancelled due to low ratings, after half a year of trying to drive the ratings down.

Interestingly, once they'd cancelled the show, they stopped moving it around, and left it in the same slot all summer long. Its ratings steadily increased, now that people knew where to find it. It was around #26 when they killed it. It was in the top 10 by the end of summer.

They took amazingly bad press over this, particularly after that one kid killed himself. They got hate mail for like a whole year. Finally, they created Galactica 1980 SPECIFICALLY to devaluate the brand. "Let's make a deliberately shitty show, have it bomb in the ratings, and then say 'look, we tried to give you people what you wanted...'" This worked perfectly, and BSG went from a show that nearly everyone kinda' liked in 1979 to a show that everyone kinda' laughed at in 1982.

And there you have it. There's a bit more to it than that, but that's the gist. All information comes from an extensive expose "Fantastic Films and Science Fiction" did in 1982, IIRC.

"But ABC had angered the television gods, and must pay," the article said. As a result of this debacle, they went from the #1 network to the #3.
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Old September 23rd 13, 20:33   #4
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Re: The Original Battlestar Galactica

Back then #26 was pretty bad. And summer ratings mean nothing unfortunately.

It was simply too expensive for a show that couldn't maintain the premier ratings. It has more to do with the writers being rushed by the network and them cranking out half ass ripoffs of movies in lots of episodes.
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Old September 23rd 13, 23:05   #5
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Re: The Original Battlestar Galactica

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Back then #26 was pretty bad. And summer ratings mean nothing unfortunately.

It was simply too expensive for a show that couldn't maintain the premier ratings. It has more to do with the writers being rushed by the network and them cranking out half ass ripoffs of movies in lots of episodes.
26 is not great, admittedly, but remember: they were DELIBERATELY driving it down. If they hadn't done that, it would have probably hovered in the top 10. And, yes, summer ratings don't count.

However the fundamental issue here is this: ABC signed the show SPECIFICALLY because they figured it'd be dead in 13 weeks, and they were wrong. They couldn't afford to keep it on. So they decided to put a bullet in it's head. This didn't work, so they had to bring it back from the dead, and put another bullet in its head.

Ripping off movie plots? Pretty common for '70s TV, particularly Glen Larson shows. Short production schedules? No doubt. They were always in a crazy rush to catch up until about 2/3rds of the way through the season when they kind of figured out what they wanted to be.

Interestingly, the series was *initially* signed as a series of movies of the week. 3 or 4 (Depending on who you talk to). Specifically, "Saga of a Star World," "The Gun on Ice Planet Zero" and "Lost Planet of the Gods." If it got good ratings, they'd do 3 or 4 more the next year, or maybe go to series. If it got bad ratings, they'd maybe do a quickie film to have 'em find earth, and that's that.

"Ice Planet Zero" was in production when ABC expanded the order to 24 hours for the season, and the production team was totally not up to it. (You'll note, though, that 1 of the 3 movies had a blatant ripoff plot, and another was highly derivative).

Sadly, I think the "Movie of the Week" format would probably have been ideal. Do 3 or 4 a year, make an event of it, plenty of time to hone the ol' scripts, it could have run forever.
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Old April 9th 14, 15:29   #6
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Re: The Original Battlestar Galactica

They're doin' a new Battlestar movie... related to the older show not the newer one.
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Old April 9th 14, 21:30   #7
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Re: The Original Battlestar Galactica

From what I understand this latest attempt to make a movie is a 're-imagining' rather than bringing back the old show, although they keep changing their tune. I remember back in the late 90s Bryan Singer was talking about doing a film with Viggo Mortensen as Adama, and if I recall correctly Richard Hatch seemed to support Singer while at the same time pushing his own attempt at a sequel series. Will be interesting to hear what he thinks about this latest development, although until it comes out of development hell and footage starts to be shot I'm going to retain the right to be skeptical.

Bit of trivia: if the show had gone to a second season Apollo would have become psychic and left Blue Squadron, and Starbuck would have become the new leader of Blue Squadron. And in Galactic 1980, Starbuck was meant to return in subsequent episodes with the Ship of Light, guiding Troy. Troy would ask about his father, but doesn't tell him what happened to Apollo, but it seemed like Larson was trying to morph it back into the original Galactica. Even Baltar was going to come back. Kent McCord and Barry van Dyke were practically going on strike as they thought they were about to be replaced by the original actors... in short it was a mess but I almost wish it had continued to see what would have happened with the old characters returning.

I've picked up the new comic book series being written by Dan Abnett, not had chance to read it yet but it seems to be a mish-mash of original Galactica and Galactica 80. I met Abnett a few weeks back at a con and he says he was putting different elements together from both shows deliberately, as part of the 35th anniversary, without being canon to either. There is a whole issue dedicated to Athena... :-)
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Old April 10th 14, 15:38   #8
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Re: The Original Battlestar Galactica

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Bit of trivia: if the show had gone to a second season Apollo would have become psychic and left Blue Squadron, and Starbuck would have become the new leader of Blue Squadron. And in Galactic 1980, Starbuck was meant to return in subsequent episodes with the Ship of Light, guiding Troy. Troy would ask about his father, but doesn't tell him what happened to Apollo, but it seemed like Larson was trying to morph it back into the original Galactica. Even Baltar was going to come back. Kent McCord and Barry van Dyke were practically going on strike as they thought they were about to be replaced by the original actors... in short it was a mess but I almost wish it had continued to see what would have happened with the old characters returning.
Nope.

Had it gone to a 2nd season, they'd have killed off most of the sprawling supporting cast, and given double-duty to the remainders. The season premier was to be called "The Return of the Pegasus" and it might actually have been good. It would have killed off Tigh, Dr. Salik, Dr. Wilker, and Sheeba. Boxey would have been sent to a boarding school ship so Apollo could get some funky love. Kids are a damper on that. Boomer would have taken over as the ships science officer, Cassieopeia would have taken over as the ship's doctor. They also would have introduced humanoid cylons (Mainly because the chrome ones were too hard to film) Oh, and a re-cast Athena would take Tighs' job.

I don't recall anything about Apollo becoming psychic.

As for G-80, you're only a little bit off. The original concept there was that it was set 5 years after the end of the original show, and the core cast would have been Adama, Starbuck, Apollo, and Baltar. Baltar has somehow redeemed himself and is president of the council of 12. He wants to change history on earth so they can be ready for the Cylons. The council refuses, so he goes rogue and does it himself. Apollo was going to chase Baltar through time attempting to fix changes Baltar had made, while Starbuck would be traveling back and forth through time from the Galactica to Apollo and back again, bringing information on change and where Baltar is and stuff.

They basically couldn't get Hatch or Bennedict, and couldn't afford Colicos, so they re-cast and re-named the parts, and set it further in the future. (30 years after TOG).

The network insisted on dropping the Time Travel thing early on, and it became effectively 'child care in space.' Horrible.

The "Return of Starbuck" was originally written as "The Return of Apollo," but Hatch was distancing himself from Galactica at the time, as it was regarded as a very bad career move to have been on it. Benedict agreed to do it, and the script was reworked pretty much ONLY by changing the name of the character.

Apollo would have returned as a seraph in subsequent episodes. They'd written another time travel story, but it's unclear if it would have met with network approval (I personally think not, as Christians would have found it extremely sacriligious)

Anyway, the bottom line is that the basic premise of G-80 was never really used, so later on it was heavily re-worked and recycled as "Quantum Leap."
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Old April 10th 14, 15:42   #9
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Re: The Original Battlestar Galactica

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Back then #26 was pretty bad. And summer ratings mean nothing unfortunately.

It was simply too expensive for a show that couldn't maintain the premier ratings. It has more to do with the writers being rushed by the network and them cranking out half ass ripoffs of movies in lots of episodes.
26 wasn't that bad. There were only 78 shows on the air at the time. Generaly speaking in those days any show that was in the top 50% got renewed. Larson thought he was going to get a 2nd season if he could bring the cost-per-episode down, and was dumbstruck by te cancellation. (Network politics)

The summer ratings dont' count, agreed. I just mentioned them to show that once people could FIND the show, and the network wasn't jumping it all over the schedule in an effort to kill it, the ratings were pretty good.
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Old April 10th 14, 15:44   #10
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Re: The Original Battlestar Galactica

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They're doin' a new Battlestar movie... related to the older show not the newer one.
Actually, I think Singer said his impression is that the new movie will be unrelated to either series, and probably mid-way between them in terms of tone and subject matter. I don't think Singer's attached to it, though, so take that with a grain of salt.

My HUNCH is that they're hoping to Chris Pine/JJ Abrams it, they way Paramount did Trek.
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