Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Battlestar Galactica 1.24: “The Hand of God”

Airdate: 4/29/79

At the Galactica’s highest point, the transmission tower, Apollo picks up somevery faint radio signals. He believes they could be from Earth, so he and a Viper patrol fly to the outer reaches of the solar system he believes they originated from. Suddenly, they discover a Cylon base star instead; Adama, after being told they were undiscovered by Cylons, uses the opportunity to plan a direct assault on his sworn enemy, forever wiping them out and never having to be on the run again. Apollo goes one better – if he can infiltrate and destroy the base star scanners, their missions will have a heightened chance of success. How will he know where they are? Adama negotiates a quid-pro-quo arrangement with Baltar: information in exchange for his freedom if they are successful. And yes, they are; after nearly being mistaken for Cylons (they used Baltar’s fighter), they return home to a hero’s welcome. But Apollo still doesn’t believe the claims that those radio transmissions were a lure from the Cylons. He’ll never know if he’s right, but we do; after he and Starbuck depart we hear the unmistakable sounds of the Apollo 11 lunar landing.

And, so we bid adieu to Starbuck, Apollo and the rest, not due to Cylon treachery but rather…. Fred Silverman, head of ABC programming at ABC (it was one of his last acts before migrating to his disastrous tenure at NBC). The series would continue in a last ditch attempt at resurrection in Galactica 1980, but hey, c’mon – that was like the sci-fi equivalent of After MASH, and no Jamie Farr.

Well, it’s probably fitting that the show returns to the wretched excess that hampered the success of the first half of the season, if not completely satisfying. And plot-wise, we’re really looking at a rip-off of the second half of Star Wars (the heros infiltrate the “base star” (not Death Star) to deactivate some hardware, as a prelude to all-out assault on the base star itself, leading to its complete destruction (but not that of the Cylons completely).

But I must say that the writers do an admirable job of giving closure to the show while still leaving it open-ended. The twist-ending does just that, and offers hope that at least the weary Galactica is getting that much closer to its intended destination. In the month that elapsed since the previous episode, it was known that the series had been cancelled, but I wonder of the writers knew that when penning this episode. (They at least knew it was the season finale.)

Rating:  ***

(No series assessment yet; I’m also including the Galactica theatrical release (next) and the aforementioned Galactica 1980, so just hold your horses. You know what a completist I am.

PS: The box set I’m viewing features hours of extras, but they’re mainly deleted and alternate scenes. Who cares? There was a reason they were cut out in the first place. But there’s a few nifty mini-documentaries, the best of them, “Remembering Galactica” (featured on the last disc), is quite illuminating. We learn that the show started as a mini-series, then was immediately ordered as a regular series, putting everyone, especially the writers, under the gun to put out weekly material – fast! And Anne Lockhart (Sheba) shares a couple of great memories - she and Laurette Sprang giving spandex wedgies to Dirk and Richard, clad in those godawful Triad outfits – and having to keep a straight face as Patrick McNee utters to her the line, “You’ll always be safe as long as I’m inside of you.” Needless to say, Standards and Practices never let that one over the 70s airwaves. 

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