RETROSPECULATIVE TV: Battlestar Galactica (1978): “Saga of a Star World” (Episode 1) Chapter 5

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[CONTINUED FROM A BUNCH OF STUFF EARLIER THAT YOU PROBABLY WOULDN'T CARE ABOUT ANYWAY, SO IT'S PROBABLY NOT WORTH YOUR TIME TO GO BACK AND HUNT AROUND FOR IT]

There’s another deleted scene in which Apollo tells Serina that she’s the only woman he’s ever loved, and suddenly he understands poetry, which he never really got before. She tells him “Write me a poem. It would mean more to me than you know.”

Which brings us to Serina’s deleted subplot: In the attack on the Caprica Presidium, they make a point of showing her in close proximity to a mushroom cloud. Later, on the Rising Star she’s apparently feeling un-well so Apollo takes her to see Dr. Payne (The conspicuously-billed John Fink). She explains her symptoms, and he’s got one really good scene where he realizes she’s a gonner, but doesn’t want to tell her. In the next scene, he explains that the Cylons were using neutron bombs - apparently new technology - and this is what contaminated their food supply. Also, it’s affected people who were in close proximity when one went off. They all die. Serina’s got a few days left, though she’ll be weak but mostly fine until the very end. This chopped subplot is well known, and referred to as “Space Cancer” by the actress in interviews, but really it’s more like radiation sickness. This scene ends in some really awkward blocking between her and Payne as they walk down the hall.

Serina elected not to tell anyone about it, and seems to be trying to use her last days to find someone who’ll take care of Boxey (Setting up the awkward “I wish he could be my daddy” line). She already knows and likes Apollo, so it’s not entirely mercenary, but it does seem a bit redundant. Apollo is, above all, an honorable guy, and he’s crazy for her. If she just asked, he’d do it, gladly. He’s probably offer if she told him she was sick.

There’s no scenes of her puking or getting haggard, though, those rumors are false. She gets dizzy or weak a couple times, and has to sit down, but that’s it.

Which brings us to the intended final scene of the episode: Back on the Galactica, the fleet is on the run from the Carillon system, and there’s what looks to be a panicky, emergency meeting of the Council, *and* the delegates from the various ships. It’s a parallel or a bookend to the earlier scene in which Adama tells them about earth, and I think we’re supposed to take this as being the *real* start of their voyage. It’s also worth noting that the room isn’t *nearly* as crowded as it was in the earlier scene. I think we’re supposed to believe that a lot of people died on the planet. The scene is fragmentary, so I’m interpolating a lot, and might be wrong. In any event, it starts out with Adama praying,

“We thank our Lord for delivering us from evil, and commit mankind to all things good and righteous, on behalf of all creatures born to the blessing of life.”

A little odd, but ok. Then everyone launches into song:

Hail to Thee, oh Lord of manna
Bounteous be Thy Hand
Blessed be the core of freedom
Throughout the land

We salute the cause of freedom
‘Neath our flags unfurled
Standing for eternal mumblemumblemumble
Through the star-wide worlds

Keep us safe from powers of darkness
Liberty and light
Man rejoices, Lord of Zion
Lead us by Thy might

The first time I saw this, I thought it was a hymn, I thought it was Adama, overcome by religious fervor, breaking into prayers and hymns. (Let’s face it: he spent a lot of time reading their Bible in later episodes. Adama as religious fanatic would have been a good direction to take it in, but, alas, not in the ‘70s) Watching it again, I realized that everyone is singing it with their hands over their hearts, and they all know the words. I think probably this is the Colonial National Anthem, or possibly the Colonial Battle Hymn of the Republic, a show of patriotic fervor, segueing into the “Fleeing the Cylon tyranny…” closing naration.

During this sequence, Serina tells Boxey “Stay close to Captain Apollo, ok?” He says yeah. Then she says to Apollo, “I have to go. Promise me you’ll take care of my baby?” He says sure, and she puts his hand on Boxey’s shoulder and leaves. They keep on singing, Apollo suddenly senses awkwardness, and looks around, and sees Serina standing in a doorway watching him and her son. They exchange a look - does he know what’s going on? Has he figured it out? Is he as surprised as anyone else? - and then she turns and walks off, which, I presume, was the final scene. She would have died off-camera.
Sires Uri and Anton are both in the council, so apparently they didn’t die on Carillon. There’s no explanation of their absence through the remainder of the series (BTW, one of the deleted scenes has Anton chiding Uri over his scandalous food hoarding) (Also BTW, they make it clear that Uri was a retired councilman. They never expressly say this about Anton, but the way the two of them get on, I think he, also, was a retired member of the original council. This makes sense - in a crisis like this, people certainly would elect experienced people, if they were on hand)

Since we never see Dr. Payne again, let’s just assume he died on Carillon.

The Serina subplot was cut because the producers were hoping to rope Jane Seymore into joining the cast full time. That didn’t work, as we’ll see in the next (Hopefully shorter) review.

Man, I’d love to see an extended dance remix of this episode, with all the cut scenes edited back in. How about you? Any enterprising editors out there who want to give it a shot?

The End. Really this time.

OBSERVATIONS

This is a pretty lavish production, of a like never seen on TV before. The sets are impressive, the cast is solid, occasionally very good. Direction is great. Special effects were rushed jobs - lots of trash mattes - but apart from that, they’re entirely on par with Star Wars (And done by some of the same people). Miniature work is great, inventive, and cool to look at. Everything feels very well-realized and solid, though they reuse several shots several times in the ep.

The Warrior’s costumes are great, just lavish and obviously very expensive (If you look closely, however, you’ll notice that Athena is the only female wearing boots. I read they came from an Italian company who didn’t make ‘em in women’s sizes. Maren Jensen is rather tall) the sets - particularly the hangar bay, viper, and control room - are all astoundingly good. This is the most eye-popping show of the decade. In fact, visual for visual, it easily outshone anything in the eighties as well. Star Trek: TNG was the only contender, and it didn’t really pull out ahead until the 90s.

Civilian costumes are a bit cheaper. They look like a combination of refugees from the planet of Ban-lon and some stuff pilfered from the touring company of “Camelot.” They put the money where it matters, though: Serena, Cassie, and Athena all get some time in some slinky duds, and they all look good in ‘em (And as noted, Serina is consistent bouncetastic. Cassies’ not really my tipe, but she’s pretty leggy, and one of her dresses really shows that off, albeit briefly)

Man, there’s a lot of overt sex it this, isn’t there?

Starbuck: the card playing ladies man who loses at cards and love every time the subject comes up in this episode. I kind of like that. It’s pretty funny. Dirk Benedict is at his best when he’s teetering on frustrated exasperation, after all.

Aliens: Aliens were always a rough fit into the Galacticaverse. They were expensive, and not terribly convincing. The Ovions are great - and expensive - but for whatever reason, they didn’t want to use 'em again. There's also a pig-like Boray alien running around the casino. He had some dialog talking to Starbuck and Boomer, but it got cut. We'll see the Borays again later in the series.

And so we’re done.

I do apologize for dragging all of you through this, hopefully “Lost Planet of the Gods” will go faster and shorter. There’s just sooooooooooooo much information to get through, and frankly I’m way too close to this show - I now realize - to be dispassionate. Objective, yeah, dispassionate? Probably not. This show was a vastly huger influence on me than Trek, Star Wars, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea combined. (Never underestimate the exotic appeal of oceans to a kid who grew up in Nebraska) I hadn’t really realized that until just now

Thanks for tagging along.

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