Back in 1978, Time magazine published a scathing review of a brand-new TV show called Battlestar Galactica. In the wake of BSG's triumphant return to TV with Saturday night's special episode Razor, it's interesting to take a look back at where the franchise began. Costing $15 million, the original BSG was the most expensive TV series ever made. Today, the reboot version of the show runs on SciFi Channel on a limited budget. Also unlike today's BSG, the 1970s series was scorned as derivative and formulaic.
Show creator Glen Larson hired Star Wars special effects lead John Dykstra to create BSG's look, which apparently was just a bit too Star Wars for comfort. Fox, which produced Star Wars, sued BSG studio Universal for copyright infringement. The Time magazine article seems to think the suit is justified, pointing out all the ways that the original show blatantly ripped off characters like Han Solo (Starbuck), Luke (Apollo) and Darth Vader (Baltar). (By the way, Universal counter-sued, claiming that Fox had ripped Star Wars off from its own 1972 movie Silent Running.)
You'd never see comparisons with Star Wars today, after years of prequels to the original Star Wars movie changed the franchise from heroic quest to byzantine, misguided political allegory. Plus, the Ron Moore/David Eick created reboot of BSG is clearly original — there are no Darth Vader ripoffs here. BSG's origins may have been well-funded, but they are nevertheless humble by comparison with what the franchise later became.
Small-screen Star Wars [Time]