Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Although not common, neither was it unheard of in the 60s and 70s for television producers to release select episodes of their series to theaters as feature films. The 60s spy show, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., for instance, made a regular practice of it, with each of their two-part episodes being designed specifically to be combined and released internationally as feature films.

In 1978, Battlestar Galactica was the most expensive series ever produced for television. In an attempt to get as much return on their investment as possible, Universal Studios actually released an edited version of the 3-hour premiere episode to theaters during the holiday season, augmented with their patented, rumbling Sensurround process (of course, few theaters were actually set up to employ the process, so despite the ads, most patrons got regular theater sound). This version was subsequently released on home video (and is still the version on DVD).

Universal also produced two additional Galactica features. Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack was made up primarily of footage from the two-part episiode "The Living Legend" (featuring Lloyd Bridges as The Pegasus' Commander Cain) with additional scenes spliced in from "Fire In Space." It was pretty-well executed, really, except for a poorly written, off-screen bit of dialogue dubbed in at the end to tie up some unresolved plot threads. This feature was released theatrically overseas, as a syndicated television film, and on VHS home video.

The final Galactica feature was an edited-down version of the 3-part Galactica: 1980 premiere, and was called Conquest of the Earth. This also was released to overseas theaters, independent television stations and home video. Now, as I remember it, the worst part of this particular compilation (beyond it being Galactica: 1980, I mean) is that it completely eliminates the only remotely interesting portions of the original TV episodes: the time-travel adventure with Richard Lynch (probably because it dealt with Nazis) leaving only the really dull running around Los Angeles on the flying Viper motorcycles stuff.

Apparently this strategy was pretty successful for the studio, because in 1979 they actually released the pilot to their new space series, Buck Rogers In The 25th Century, to theaters a couple of months before it debuted on television! More on that later....


  1. Be-badee-badee--buck. Wrong series, I know. I enjoyed the earlier Galactica over the newer series as well. In fact I couldn't watch the new Galactica as it lost all its charm, plus that unsteady use of camera made me seasick or space sick. Plus I tend to watch these programs for the space scenes or special effects, ships going thru space, I could care less if they are not supposed to make an engine sound, it looks and sounds cool. At any rate the newer series sort of avioded that as well, and was too political. At any rate, I know it had its fans as well...

  2. I concur. The original series was just wonderful, in spite of the advances in SFX and such that were available for the new series. The original series captured adventure; the new series captured C-SPAN. :(


  3. Actually, the worst parts of the "Conquest Of Space" feature, were the shitty post-production work done to the episodes to try to make it appear as though this mess of edited garbage was one coherent whole. I have the video, and it's laughable when they try to explain away the fact that two young actors ( first Robbie Rist, then Patrick Stuart ) played the same part ( Dr. Zee ), by describing the character as brothers, Drs. Zee, and Zen. It's also extremely obvious when they have actors Kent McCord, Barry Van Dyke, and Lorne Greene redub dialogue ( or insert dialogue in a scene where their mouths are not visible ) to change plotlines - such as adding a romance between Robyn Douglass' character and Dillon, where there was none in the series ( it's even worse for Douglass, as she suffers the indignity of having her lines redubbed or added by another actress! ). In all, a total bastardization of a series that was already a total bastardization.


  4. Although a cobbled together affair, Mission Galactica is memorable for a few good alternate FX shots, such as a cool beauty pass of the Galactica's underside, and that great alternate opening narration by Patrick Macnee: "In the seventh millenium of time, a tribe of humanoids engaged in a terrifying conflict against a race of machines...." etc.

  5. I went to a theatre that had the sounds. It was so awesome when the Galactica made that rumbling noise. Loved it. I didn't like the way Andromeda died in the movie. Being eaten by Orions, I believe.