is back, like it or not
March 18, 1999
By Franklin Harris
Some ideas are just born bad, like new Coke, the shot-for-shot remake of "Psycho" and television shows starring Tony Danza.
Others still are so bad we try just not to think of them.
So, that in mind, how can it be that there are actually two different camps fighting over who gets to make a "Battlestar Galactica" sequel?
On the eve of the new "Star Wars" film, now scheduled for a May 19 release, it's somehow appropriate that the most infamous of "Star Wars" ripoffs is once again rising from the celluloid muck.
Glen A. Larson, executive producer of 1978's "Galactica" television series, rode George Lucas' coattails before, why not again?
Variety reported last week that a $40 million, big-screen version of "Galactica" will start filming in September in Luxembourg. Larson is back as producer. He is joined by Todd Moyer, executive producer of last weekend's sci-fi film flop, "Wing Commander," itself another one of those unthinkably bad ideas.
"Wing Commander," which is best described as "Beverly Hills 90210" in space -- only with less-talented actors and less plot coherence -- is one of those movies that is so bad that it leaves a dingy residue on the movie screen. So, obviously, "Wing Commander" scribe Mike Finch is the perfect choice to write the "Battlestar Galactica" script, right?
Now, in case you forgot, or are suffering from post-Galactica trauma, "Battlestar Galactica" is, as series star Lorne Greene used to tell us each week, the story of the last of a great fleet of spacefaring battleships. Fleeing the robotic tyranny of the Cylon Empire, the Galactica leads a "ragtag, fugitive fleet on a lonely quest -- a shining planet known as (dramatic pause) Earth."
ABC cancelled "Battlestar Galactica" after one season, long before the Galactica could find the lost tribe of humanity that supposedly settled Earth long ago. A sequel series, "Galactica: 1980" was tried, but it was so roundly trashed that Larson's "Galactica" revival plans to ignore it.
Well, at least Larson isn't totally dense.
But if the "Galactica" script is all but certain to reek, at least most of the "Galactica" cast is likely to return. If they're asked, anyway.
Richard Hatch, who played ace fighter pilot Captain Apollo, hasn't had on-screen work in years. And Dirk "Starbuck" Benedict was last seen doing Sci-Fi Channel original movies, so anything is a step up for him. Unfortunately, Greene has long since gone to dish out the Alpo on the big Ponderosa in the sky.
The alleged plot of this disaster-in-the-making centers on a second Battlestar, the Pegasus, which was first featured in a two-episode "Galactica" story, "The Living Legend."
Of course, Lloyd Bridges, who portrayed the Pegasus' Commander Cain, is just as dead as Greene is. Maybe someone should tell Finch that before he gets too far into the screenplay's first draft?
Nah. Why spoil his fun?
Now, just when you think this sordid tale cannot possibly become more pathetic, fate deals from the bottom of the deck.
It seems Hatch isn't quite as happy about the "Galactica" movie as you'd think he'd be.
Hatch, as it turns out, has spent the last several years trying to get a new "Battlestar Galactica" television series off the ground. He even has gone so far as to produce a promotional trailer, designed to convince Universal Television, which owns the TV rights to "Galactica," that a second series isn't as bad an idea as everyone knows it is.
Now, suddenly, Larson, along with those guys who made a terrible movie based on a good video game, is stealing Hatch's limelight.
Hatch's production company released a statement complaining that the film's producers haven't yet contacted any of the original series' cast members. The statement also claimed that Hatch is the "heart and soul of 'Galactica,'" which, as I translate it, means Hatch specifically hasn't yet been asked to appear in the movie.
Now, in whose hands is "Galactica" better off?
Before you answer, you should know that Moyer's other production credits include the forgettable "Timecop," and "Barb Wire," a Pamela Anderson vehicle that has only two things going for it.
On the other hand, if you think Hatch knows what to do with "Galactica," try getting through the two recent "Battlestar Galactica" novels bearing his name.
No. There is only one answer: we do not need a "Galactica" movie. "Galactica" was bad TV. It'll be a worse feature film.
This whole thing is a bad idea, best never spoken of again.
Besides, if they revive "Battlestar Galactica," what's next? "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," maybe?
Gil Gerard, call you office.