If you come to the original Galactica having only seen the gritty noughties remake, you’re in for quite a surprise. BSG ’70s-style is a much more family-orientated show. The banter-heavy bromance between Viper pilots Apollo (Richard Hatch) and cigar-chomping lothario Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) is very much to the fore. Kid-friendly moments where six-year-old Boxey wanders onto the bridge aren’t uncommon. And space opera often slides into soap opera – Hatch seems to spend about 20% of his time looking misty-eyed.
There’s also very little sense that these people are the traumatised survivors of a holocaust. But the series still stands up surprising well, especially multi-parters like the opening “Saga Of A Star World”; “The Living Legend”, in which Galactica meets another Battlestar, led by Lloyd Bridges’s Commander Cain (yes, Cain was in the original series too); and “War Of The Gods”, guest-starring The Avengers’ John Steed, Patrick Macnee, as a mysterious, mesmeric alien who turns out to be Satan. Indeed, the fact that BSG's 1978 model has aliens – some of them wonderfully outlandish – is one of its great strengths. John Colicos’s deliciously high camp portrayal of the treacherous Baltar is another.
Unfortunately Galactica 1980 – also included in this box set – brings down the average. Set 30 years later, after Earth’s been found, this silly, short-lived spin-off replaces one sprog (Boxey’s all grown up now) with thirteen: the super-intelligent Dr Zee, and a dozen “super scouts” (three of them creator Glen A Larson's own children). Featuring flying motorbikes, invisibility bracelets and kids who (thanks to Earth’s lower gravity) can leap into trees, it’s a guilty pleasure for a while, but the cheesy lunacy and corny fish-out-of-water humour soon become downright embarrassing.
Extras: Disappointingly, there's nothing new here – all the bonuses stem from the 2004 DVD. Still, they’re good. Hatch, Benedict and Herb Jefferson Jr (Boomer) commentate on the opening three-parter. An excellent 45-minute documentary features some priceless out-takes, including footage of the cast shooting the Viper cockpit scenes against back-projection screens, the chimp inside robot dog Muffit chattering away, and Hatch and Benedict getting wedgied by their female co-stars! There are also short interviews with the show's creator Glen A Larson and composer Stu Philips (11 minutes), featurettes on the Cylons and Muffit (10 minutes), and deleted scenes. Picture quality dips noticeably during effects sequences (and the second version of the Galactica 1980 title sequence looks absolutely rotten), but is generally sharp enough to show up, say, Dr Zee’s bum-fluff tache.