Having not ordered an advance copy of Battlestar Galactica: The Definitive Collection from Amazon.com, I took a trip to the nearest Best Buy hoping I’d snag a copy were fortunate enough to score one from the shelves. Honesty, I figured the store wouldn’t have ordered all that many copies: the original BSG was popular only with SciFi purists of a certain generation – of which I included myself – but the Syfy-produced reboot was all the rage thanks largely to academia, politicos, and critics who pushed it whenever they had the chance, largely for political merits rather than artistic.
In any event, I didn’t see the set in the usual places, so I headed over to where some sales clerks were gathered. There were three of the Blue Shirts standing with a customer, and – lo and behold – I saw that this older fellow had a copy of the said release in his hands. As the small group was engaged in a feverish debate, I stood politely waiting … but I couldn’t help overhearing the lead clerk explaining his surprise over the popularity of the BSG release.
“Our store had six copies,” I heard him say, “and you’re the fifth customer asking for it. Was the show REALLY that good?”
I did the math, so as courteously as I could, I leaned in and asked, “Could you show me to where the sixth copy is?”
This brought on a round of laughs. One of the other employees gestured toward me, offering to lead me over to the special display of today’s television releases. He pointed toward the set, and I snatched it up.
“Now, you know that’s not the new show?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered.
“And you still want it?”
“Wow,” he said. “That’s amazing.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, you probably heard us talking,” he went on. “When we unpacked today’s stock, we didn’t figure any of those would sell. You’re the sixth person, and now we’re out. We sold out within five minutes of the store opening. That just doesn’t happen with older shows.”
Having enjoyed the original BSG when it aired live on ABC TV during the 1970’s, I was naturally hooked on it, as apparently were many others. After all, Star Wars had played to great theatrical acclaim, and it lit big fires in the imaginations of the young-at-heart around the world, a phenomenon that exists even today. For those of us of that certain generation, BSG came in as a close second, perhaps largely due to being so near and dear to Luke Skywalker’s first foray on the silver screen.
Secretly, I think TV audiences knew that we weren’t going to be getting that level of storytelling on the ‘Boob Tube’ each week. It took George Lucas years to bring ‘A New Hope’ to the masses, so there was no way a TV production schedule was going to deliver the same intensity every seven days. Still, BSG looked good, and it was definitely a worthwhile distraction while we were waiting for more of Han, Leia, and the droids.
Like so many fans of TV’s other space saga, I took the passing of Richard Hatch with some personal pain.
Hatch’s incarnation of Captain Apollo is vastly different from what Jamie Bamber turned in for Syfy, but as I kinda/sorta hinted at above nuBSG really only touched on the ideas and themes central to the 70’s version: this isn’t to say one was superior or inferior but rather to underscore how they’re clearly products of their respective eras. Hatch imbued the star pilot with a greater level of gravitas and maybe a bit more “swashbuckle,” I think, a portrayal that helped fuel much of fandom’s interest in seeing more of the original interpretation. To his credit, the actor-turned-author delivered by way of novels, convention appearances, and even an oft-hyped potential reboot that would be a sort of ‘Second Coming’ to what legendary TV producer Glen Larson started so many decades earlier.
He’s gone now, but Galactica will live on.
Fans might argue which is the better version, especially with his passing and how such good-natured debates are often spurred by reflection. Hopefully he’s somewhere up there amongst the stars – if there is such a place – where mere mortals are no longer bound by the trappings of our physical presence in this realm. If he is, then let’s hope he’s properly flanked by a squadron of like-minded Colonial Warriors all waiting to continue the good works of a lost tribe from that shining planet known as Earth.