REVIEW: BATTLESTAR GALACITCA (1978)

Starring

Richard Hatch (InAlienable)
Dirk Benedict (The A-Team)
Lorne Greene (The Bastard)
John Colicos (Star Trek)
Maren Jensen (Deadly Blessing)
Noah Hathaway (Troll)
Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Black Gunn)
Tony Swartz (Schizoid)
Laurette Spang-McCook (The Secrets of Isis)
Terry Carter (McCloud)
Anne Lockhart (Convoy)
Jonathan Harris (Lost In Space)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Lew Ayres (Holiday)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Sarah Rush (Catch Me If You Can)
Carol Baxter (The Incredible Hulk)
Dick Durock (Swamp Thing)
Patrick Macnee (The Howling)
Felix Silla (Spaceballs)
Janet Julian (King of New York)
George Murdock (Star Trek V)
Larry Manetti (Hawaii Five-0)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Red West (Road House)
Ian Abercrombie (Army of Darkness)
Christine Belford (Christine)
Richard Lynch (Puppet MAster III)
Britt Ekland (The Wicker Man)
Alex Hyde-White (The Fantastic Four)
Olan Soule (The Towering Inferno)
Rance Howard (Small Soldiers)
Lloyd Bridges (Airplane)
Kirk Alyn (Superman 1948)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Fred Astaire (Funny Face)
Brock Peters (Soylent Green)
Lloyd Bochner (The Naked Gun 2)
Melody Anderson (Flash Gordon)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Ana Alicia (Halloween II)

Since the the modern remake of this series rapidly become the next big thing in TV Sci-Fi, many people are going to be tempted to pick up this boxed set to find out how it all began. You can’t go wrong here – this represents astounding value for money, and a great opportunity to discover or rediscover a series that really does deserve its classic status. It even has some decent extras.

Battlestar Galactica was created in 1978 a year after the Star Wars, and was essentially a brazen attempt by ABC television to cash in on the mammoth unexpected success of that film. Under conditions that may never be repeated, it was suddenly considered viable to create a full-blown big-budget epic primetime family-oriented science fiction extravaganza with a budget of $1m per episode (big money in those days). The series ran for a total of 24 episodes before being canned due to its expense and sliding ratings, but it had a huge impact and is remembered with great fondness even by those who aren’t rabid fans.


The story draws inspiration from diverse mythical and religious sources, including Ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, the book of Exodus, and the Mormon upbringing of its creator Glen A. Larson. When the 12 colonies of man are annihilated by the robotic Cylons, the only surviving Battlestar, Galactica, assembles a small fleet of dilapidated civilian ships and makes a run for it with the survivors, hoping to find the legendary 13th tribe who may have settled on a distant, mythical planet called Earth.


The series is often criticised for endlessly recycling stock footage, especially during the space battles where this reaches almost unreasonable levels, and for its cheesiness (plenty of cute kids and robots in this one), but on the whole it’s much easier to forgive such faults in retrospect. It also benefits enormously from its arresting premise, strong plotting, and above all its nigh-on perfect casting. It’s worth watching the 24 episodes through as well, because it does improve as it goes along, and is serialised to a degree. Considering it ran for such a short time, it does a surprisingly thorough job of exploring its themes, so it’s debatable what its natural life would have been had it been allowed to continue. Towards the end it becomes more cerebral and interesting, as eventually Galactica moves beyond its own space and begins to encounter worlds and cultures that bear an eerie resemblance to modern Earth.

There are several documentaries on the seventh disc featuring interviews with almost all of the surviving cast and crew. These are fairly entertaining and informative, especially the production footage which reveals how hard the back-projection was to pull off (it’s a shame there isn’t more on the effects). It’s clear that Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict are still bitter that the plug was pulled so early, and they express this with some eloquence. Both campaigned vigorously, independently, to bring it back.

REVIEW: THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1977) – SEASON 5

Starring

Bill Bixby (My Favorite Martian)
Lou Ferrigno (I Love You, Man)
Jack Colvin (Child’s Play)

Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Brett Cullen (Ghost Rider)
Anne Lockhart (Battlestar Galactica)
Paul Koslo (Stargate SG.1)
James Saito (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: TNG)
Jerry Hardin (The X-Files)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th 8)
Charles Napier (The Silence of The Lambs)
Mickey Jones (V: The FInal Battle)
Lewis Arquette (Little Nicky)
Faye Grant (V)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)

Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)After watching the fourth season it’s not too difficult to see why the series was cancelled early on in the fifth. With only seven episodes to its name, the final year is a sore spot compared to the earlier ones, which featured many highlights.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)The episodes here simply weren’t very entertaining, most were poorly written, and even the actors didn’t seem as invested in it. It’s a shame that the series couldn’t have found a suitable ending and that it ended with such a whimper, but while it lasted it was a comic lovers dream come true.Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk (1978)Even if you weren’t into the comic, The Incredible Hulk was quite a show for the time it was released. The dark nature of the program coupled with Bixby’s acting skills and some “decent” writing presented a unique television experience that became an icon. While the later seasons of the show definitely weren’t the best, the first three seasons were rock-solid entertainment.Tuning in each week to see David turn into the Hulk was a hoot and reliving the show again thirty years later proves to be a nice nostalgic trip into the history of everyone’s favorite green giant.

REVIEW: SOME THINGS NEVER DIE (aka BUG BUSTER)

CAST
Randy Quaid (Kingpin)
Brenda Epperson (Follow Your Heart)
Katherine Heigl (Roswell)
James Doohan (Star Trek)
George Takei (Space Milkshake)
Meredith Salenger (Village of The Damned)
Anne Lockhart (Buried)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
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Gil, (Bernie Kopell) and Cammie Griffin, (Anne Lockhart) take their daughter Shannon, (Katherine Heigl) to the Mountview Lodge, where a recent controversy over the spraying of a chemical spray is making the residents nervous. Even worse is that cockroaches are popping up everywhere, which troubles the town’s veterinarian, Laura Casey, (Brenda Doumani) when they pop up around a series of gruesome killings. After determining that the bugs are the official cause of the deaths, the town decides to call in General George, (Randy Quaid) a TV personality bug extinguisher, to help deal with the problem.  This one actually surprised me and I quite enjoyed it. The main asset to that is it’s sense of fun. It’s one of the few that strikes the hard to master task of striking a balance between being cheesy and being serious. The situations may be cheesy, but they are taken seriously, putting them into a better sense of urgency. That mixes with the cheesiness of the situations makes for some pleasant viewing.
It also moves along quite rapidly and doesn’t really get bogged down in useless subplots, making the majority of the focus on the bugs, which is what should happen in this type of movie. A must see for any Sci-Fi Fan.

REVIEW: BURIED

 

CAST

Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
José Luis García Pérez (La verdad)
Robert Paterson (Faust)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Groundhog Day)
Samantha Mathis (American Psycho)
Kali Rocha (Buffy)
Chris Willaim Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Anne Lockhart (Tangled)

For several seconds after the opening credits of Buried have ended, the screen is dark, the soundtrack silent. Director Rodrigo Cortés holds that empty screen for as long as he can, and then he keeps holding it; we lean forward, peering into the darkness, straining our ears for any sound that will punctuate the stillness. (It’s a brilliant, if risky, tool for focusing an audience.) Finally, thankfully, there is a quiet cough, then breathing, breathing which becomes more panicked in the darkness. As Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes from a blackout, bound and gagged, he lights his Zippo and realizes what has happened. He’s been buried alive.

Conroy is a contractor in Iraq, a truck driver for a company that (he stresses at one point) is not Blackwater. His convoy was ambushed by a band of insurgents; many of his co-workers were killed. He has been placed in a rickety old wood coffin and buried somewhere in Iraq, who knows where; he’s got his Zippo and his flask, and his abductors have left a Blackberry, which they use to inform him that he is being held for ransom. They don’t seem concerned that he can also call for help, because no one can help him.

Cortés tells Paul’s story in (basically) real time, the 90 minutes or so he’s got until his phone battery, Zippo, and air all run out. So it is the tale of a man trapped, in a seemingly impossible situation, who must keep his wits about him and focus on his own possible survival, slim though his odds may be. The challenge that Cortés places on himself (and on screenwriter Chris Sparling) is borderline masochistic: he stays inside that 2’x7′ box with Conroy for the entirety of the picture. No prologues, no flashbacks, no cutaways, nothing but what is happening right there in that moment, pushed in, pressed up, squished like a vice.

Sparling’s clever screenplay seems to think through every possible action and reaction, and then push two steps ahead; he’s playing three-dimensional chess, and if there are holes in the logic or progression of events, I didn’t see them.  Reynolds, the only face on screen for the entire 90+ minutes, gives an unassuming, matter-of-fact, and ultimately effective performance.