Review: By Your Command - The Unofficial and Unathorised Guide to Battlestar Galactica / Author: Alan Stevens, Fiona Moore / Publisher: Telos Publishing / Release Date: Out Now
In the late ‘70’s, it was almost as impossible to ignore Battlestar Galactica as it was to be oblivious of Star Wars. It was the most expensive TV series of its time, a space opera that brought together elements of war and betrayal, mythology, religion and legend with a touch of the then-fashionable Erich Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods theories and suppositions. Or... it was a weekly chase across space featuring a ragtag fugitive fleet of bedraggled humans trying to evade and avoid extinction by a race of chrome plated malevolent robots.
Either way, it was bold, brash, and eye catching. It arrived on our cinema screens in "sensurround sound" (essentially, bigger sub woofers around the cinema) long before ITV could afford to show it - and then it was gone, after only one season that had an intriguing open ending. Then it came back a couple of years later as Galactica 1980 in a handful of cheaply made episodes with all but a couple of the regular stars missing. What happened?
Finally, the whole story of the original Battlestar Galactica and Galactica 1980, from conception to casting, filming and broadcast is examined and told in a book that needs to find its way on to the shelves of discerning fans of TV sci-fi. By Your Command is exactly what it says on the cover - an unofficial guide to the classic series, now fast approaching 35 years old.
Don’t let the word "unofficial" fool you in to thinking that this volume is anything less than an absorbing and insightful account of the rise and fall of one of the most heralded series to air on American television whose premiere showing of the first episode was watched by an estimated 66 million people. The story behind the series’ downfall and cancellation is as intriguing and cynical a tale of self sabotage as any I’ve read from Hollywood in a long time.
Full and detailed synopsis of all episodes including the unfilmed scripts are given here, along with production notes and examinations of the various themes explored, such as world building, colonial politics, and religious metaphors. There are some fascinating anecdotes and observations - who knew that particular two word rebuttal can be seen written in the city lights as the Cylons make their initial attack on Caprica?
This is volume one, with a promise that the next volume will cover the more recent reimagined series and that’s great news. If it’s written in the same style with the same attention to detail as this, I can hardly wait. In the meantime, I’m going to watch the 1978 series on DVD with a fresh insight.