Deconstructing Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series – Chapter Thirteen: Greetings from Earth

During an extended patrol from the Galactica, Apollo and Starbuck run across a sub-light shuttle with six life-forms that read as human on the scanners. The ship is towed back to the Galactica and given an examination by Doctors Selik and Welker. As word spreads throughout the fleet of the existence of a ship that could possibly be from Earth, optimism rises, but since the humanoids aboard are in some kind of sleep cycle, there is a fear that waking them could be detrimental to the health and safety of either the shuttle humans or the Galactica.

Tensions continue to rise as there seems to be a growing consensus to open up the sleep cases and begin examinations of the people within, as well questioning the humans once they have been revived.

When the Council decides to revive the survivors and begin questioning their whereabouts, Adama, Apollo, and Dr. Selik object to this. This leads to a confrontation between the Galactica pilots and Council Security. Tensions rise even more when the elder male of the group is awakened and assaults one of the Council guards with a stun weapon. Unfortunately, his physiology is not completely compatible with the atmosphere within Galactica, so he passes out.

The Council has now decided to keep all of the people on board. Apollo and Dr. Selik have decided, through subterfuge, that the Shuttle should be launched and sent back on course. Cassiopeia stays with them to monitor the instruments.

As the shuttle, being “pursued” by Apollo and Starbuck, makes it way to Peredine, another ship is monitoring their progress. This new ship is staffed by a military force, and notices the Vipers are not powered by any source of energy that they are familiar with. They immediately make their way to Peredine to investigate.

After the shuttle lands on Peredine, the landing party is greeted by two androids, named Hector and Vector. After a brief misunderstanding, they all head back to a ranch maintained by John, who is Sarah’s father. Tragedy would return for Sarah as she finds out that John died.

Inside the house, Hector and Vector helped to keep the children entertained.

The Eastern Alliance continues to draw closer.

Starbuck and Hector go to the Archives to get information on the city that had been hit with an NBC-type weapon. However, Starbuck would not leave and orders Hector to go back and find Apollo to bring him to the City’s Archive. Apollo, on the other hand, goes back to the landing site and finds other humanoids looking through his ship. When the kids climb on board, they tell Apollo that the ships were trashed.

When everyone except for Starbuck meet back at the ranch, they find that Starbuck is now missing; the ships were trashed by Sarah, and the air on the planet is not compatible enough for the Colonial humans to survive on. A search begins in earnest – just as the Eastern Alliance lands on the planet.

Sarah, sensing the danger, sends the children to their neighbors, the Morlands. When they arrive, Mr. Morland wants to send the kids away, but is overruled by Mrs. Morland. Sarah is then captured by the Eastern Alliance commander, who intends to interrogate her.

Apollo, Cassiopeia, Hector, Vector, and a man named the Custodian find Starbuck and manage to place an oxygen ventilator before he passed out from deprivation. Michael finds out that the Eastern Alliance has landed – and Mr. Morland tells him that they have Sarah. They all return and rescue Sarah. Sarah and Michael reconcile, and the Colonial team returns to the Galactica in the Eastern Alliance ship.

Review and Thoughts:

Believe it or not, this is a chapter that does not fit well within the confines of Galactica. Much of the time, it feels like a pitch for a spinoff – Battlestar Galactica meets Swiss Family Robinson. And, the inhabitants of Lunar 7 fight for survival against the evil forces of the Eastern Alliance from Terra.

Redundant Complaint:

Sarah

Sarah

Sarah's child (1)

Sarah's child (1)

Sarah's Other Kid

Sarah's Other Kid

Larson and company never get tired of the “Blonde-casting” do they? Sarah, the woman whom ‘Michael’ is supposed to protect – along with her children – are all blonde-haired. Even though Michael and his daughter are “brunette” – it still ranks with the rest of them, considering how often we get close-ups of the ‘innocent’ children…and Michael’s daughter was not one of them.

Colonel Tigh – Or…Who was that guy, again?

There is one scene that describes my disappointment with the writers in a nutshell. As Adama and Apollo realize that the shuttle’s crew was going to be held captive aboard the shuttle, they decide to treat the crisis as a military situation. Starbuck immediately interjects in support of the idea, as does Apollo. Even though Sheba is somewhat baffled by the ‘change in direction’ of the conversation, the only one who protests the decisions all the way to the very end is the Colonel. On top of this, HE HAS TO BE EXPLAINED TO BE A SUBORDINATE OFFICER AS TO WHY THEY WERE TAKING THE CONVERSATION THE DIRECTION THEY WERE GOING IN.

…Sigh. Fail.

Here We Go…Again?

The last time that Boomer actually found something first was back in “Lost Planet of the Gods,” and that was a Cylon Communications Asteroid. Before and after, the pattern has always been the same: Apollo and/or Starbuck will be out on patrol and they find what will become the focal point of the episode (or chapter). Any debate that takes place on the focal point that Apollo is involved in will mean that he is ultimately right. And unless it is a Starbuck-centered episode, the guest woman is ALWAYS attracted to Apollo.

And, in this case, Sarah is so attracted to Apollo that she was willing to sacrifice her mission and his to keep him there.

Sheba: Interrupted:

Something odd seems to be occurring. Sheba’s onscreen time seems to be almost non-existent after “War of the Gods.” Is the shiny new toy starting to accumulate a little dust?

Athena…Schoolteacher?

Off of the Bridge...and into a Classroom?

Off of the Bridge...and into a Classroom?

There is a scene where Athena is teaching the children in a classroom, and they are naturally curious about what the humans mean to their journey. While it gets Athena and Boxey some screentime, the scene itself seems forced. Remember, Athena used to be a bridge officer AND a Colonial Warrior before the Girl Viper Squadron was formed. The only way this scene could work is if Athena happened to be invited down to the class, but the regular teacher is nowhere to be found.

So, Athena gets thrown off of the bridge, and made into a schoolteacher. Let’s see how long this goes.

Android Comedy:

Great...More Androids

Great...More Androids

Up until now, I’ve said very little about Hector and Vector. The reason for this is because the actors (Bobby Van and Ray Bolger) were wasted talent in this episode. Again, instead of using Boxey and Muffit 2.0 to play up the children’s angle this time around, we are given four ‘cute’ children and Hector & Vector as the comedy relief. They were given very little to work with as far as serious material; they turned in a workable performance despite this setback.

Eastern Alliance = WWII Nazi Germany Stand-ins:

Evil Space German Soldier

Evil Space German Soldier

Evil Space German Commander

Evil Space German Commander

Don’t think that the uniforms, the pseudo-accents, or the methodology used to describe and flesh out the Eastern Alliance with was any kind of accident. Much like visual cues for sympathetic characters in this series seem obvious, the cues for “Evil” characters are just as visual and obvious: In this case – leather, vinyl, and lots of black and grey colors. Also, large, rounded helmets for foot soldiers, and rounded military hats for the main officer. Much of the style of dress is based on the World War II uniforms of the German army. And since the Eastern Alliance is supposed to be the new bad guys that we are supposed to root against, they use NBC-class weapons (NBC – Nuclear, Biological, Chemical. Old shorthand for a Weapon of Mass Destruction or WMD) against civilian populations. Bonus points are awarded for mentioning the fact that the innocent children were in school when the weapons were deployed.

Something to Watch for:

The Shuttle on BSG

The Shuttle on BSG

Captain Roger's Ranger 3

Captain Roger's Ranger 3

The shuttle that Michael and Sarah fly in seems to be similar in design to the Ranger 3 shuttle that Captain William “Buck” Rogers flies in Larson’s re-imagined “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.”  While the wing fins on the Ranger 3 are not present, the space shuttles share the same twin-engine design.

The Planet of Peredine:

Another planet with no People of Color.

And While We’re On the Planet:

Yet another mother and wife was left to die on a branch. You see, John, who is Sarah’s father, left Lunar 7/Terra to settle on Peredine to begin life anew, away from the tyranny of the Eastern Alliance. There may have been a mention of what happened to John’s wife/Sarah’s mother, but I did not find one – not that I actively looked. Sarah’s husband was killed during the war with the Eastern Alliance, but so was Michael’s wife.

In other words, same plot point – for the sake of covering and advancing a romantic subplot. Or, for this episode, two.

Final Analysis:

[Just Surrender] 1.2 of 10 points. Up until this point, Galactica’s multi-part episodes were much more enjoyable than their single episode brethren. Sarah’s motives for wanting to keep Apollo left me wanting to reach for my bottle of cyanide. The Eastern Alliance, on the other hand, made me wish that the Cylons would swoop in and end it all. Blonde-casting the sympathetic characters again had me skipping through the episode – and I found that I wasn’t missing much of the plot because of it.

It is episodes like this one that feel like Battlestar Galactica has strayed very far from its original premise to something else entirely. I still feel like this episode was supposed to be some kind of spinoff pilot show. Overall, however, the premise of this episode, while somewhat plausible, loses much in its execution and gets caught up in trying to play “cute” and focuses too much on certain main characters and guests.

This chapter needs a rewrite.

This entry was posted in Battlestar Galactica (TOS) and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Say What You Mean - And Mean What You Say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s