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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Battlestar Galactica: Lost Planet of the Gods - Review

After the success of the Battlestar Galactica pilot, ABC rushed the series into production, much to the chagrin of producer creator Glen A. Larson who had hoped to have time to properly ready the series for the long haul.  This accelerated schedule is one of the key reasons one tends to see the same stock shots of Vipers and Cylon Raiders flying around. Reusing footage was the only way they could make the deadlines and stay on budget.


Lost Planet of the Gods was a two part episode that aired September 24th and October 1st 1978 and continues where the pilot movie ended with Baltar (John Colicos) being pressed into service by the new Cylon Imperious Leader and given complete control over a Basestar with an IL-Series Drone named Lucifer (voiced by Jonathon Harris) as his second-in-command.

Don’t you think naming your evil robot Lucifer is just a bit too on the nose?

Meanwhile, aboard the Galactica, Apollo (Richard Hatch) announces over dinner that he and Serina (Jane Seymour) are getting hitched. The one person not totally happy with the news is Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) who is a little jealous as he’ll be losing his wingman to marital bliss. He’s also a bit terrified that this may give Athena (Maren Jensen) ideas about their “relationship” and thus threaten his bachelorhood. And speaking of Starbuck’s love life, there is still Cassiopeia (Laurette Spang) wandering around the edges, only she’s seemed to have changed careers. In the pilot she was a socialator, which in the world of Battlestar Galactica means space prostitute, yet all of a sudden she’s a nurse to Dr. Salik (George Murdock).

Between Johns I took a correspondence course at Caprica Med School.

We get to see her in action when Colonial Viper pilots Boomer (Herbert Jefferson Jr.) and Jolly (Tony Swartz) return from a patrol, where they had discovered a Cylon base hidden on a nearby asteroid, and returned with a nasty virus. Because they were so anxious to join Apollo’s bachelor party they skipped decontamination and end up infecting all the pilots. This results in all the pilots falling into comas and having to be stabilized in cryo-chambers.  All the pilots, that is except Apollo and Starbuck who were out on a different patrol and came back late. The reason they were tardy is that they discovered a “magnetic sea”, a massive portion of space barren of stars or planets that when entered you have no bearings and can easily get lost in.

I’m either in a black void or the rear-screen projection is on the fritz.”

With a Cylon outpost in one direction and a possibly endless void in the other things look bad for the last survivors of humanity. Much to Colonel Tigh’s (Terry Carter) surprise, Adama (Lorne Greene) orders the Galactica towards the void. Adama had found some ancient scripture in “The Book of the Word” that mentioned a black void and star that lead to the planet Kobol, the birthplace of humanity. I’d certainly fly the last vestiges of humanity into an abyss based on something I read in the Bible.

Dude, you’re Lorne Greene, not Charlton Heston.

Problems keep piling on as Dr. Salik informs Adama that the only way to save the afflicted pilots lives is to go back to the asteroid and find the source of the virus. That is a bit tricky as all the pilots but Apollo and Starbuck are in comas. Earlier we learned that a bunch of people have been going through training to become shuttle pilots. When Apollo learned Serena was one, he went into a whole “No wife of mine is going to be a pilot” spiel, but now Adama orders these rookie shuttle pilots to jump into Viper fighter crafts and fly a combat mission against a Cylon fighter base.
Strange how all the rookie pilots are young and attractive women.

Amazingly enough these women manage to take out a squadron of Cylon raiders without a single casualty. This certainly lowers the threat level of the Cylon Empire because if they can be taken out by a group that has had a total of fifteen minutes flight time then they seriously suck at their jobs. And this is no sexist slam, nobody would be able to do this, this would be like if someone learning to fly Cessna was all of sudden tossed into the cockpit of an F-16 Tomcat and was expected to take on Russian Migs. Then again, during another patrol Starbuck manages to be captured by a Cylon squadron without either side firing a shot. So I’m not sure if anybody in this universe is good at their jobs.

Oh felgercarb!

With Starbuck assumed dead (which you can’t blame the people of the Galactica for believing this, as getting captured alive while in a Colonial Viper seems vastly improbable) Serena decides she wants to get married now. I guess she assumes their days are numbered and she wants some good marital sex before she dies. Could that be foreshadowing?
Space Weddings have a surprising number of candles.

Just as the happy couple seal the deal a star appears in the void that leads the Galactica to the dead planet of Kobol. Turns out ruins of Kobol looks a lot like the Egyptian ruins of Luxor and Adama uses his fancy medallion to open the Tomb of the Ninth Lord of Kobol, only to find Baltar waiting inside. Baltar explains that he has always been on humanities side, you’d have to be insane not to be, and that he wants Adama to pretend to surrender the Galactica and then surprise attack the Cylon home world and destroy that evil empire once and for all. Adama doesn’t believe Baltar for a second, even after Starbuck shows up having been released on Baltar’s orders. Adama is sure that somewhere in this tomb is a key to where the 13th colony went, and just when they are about to give up, the star’s light shines in the tomb and through the crystal of Adama’s medallion and reveals the hidden resting place of the Ninth Lord of Kobol.
Spielberg totally ripped this off for his Map Room in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Unfortunately, Lucifer had grown impatient waiting for Baltar to deliver the Galactica and orders an attack on Kobol. When the Cylon raiders strafe the ruins, the hieroglyphics that would have revealed the route the 13th colony took are destroyed and Baltar is pinned under a massive stone slab. Adama, Apollo and Serena escape the tomb but just as they make out Serena catches a laser blast in the back from a Cylon centurion.

serina dies

Note: Jane Seymour's character was originally supposed to be dying of some form of space cancer and was to have died in the pilot, but the producers changed their minds and decided to keep her on as a regular so they cut out all the footage showing her sick. This was a surprise to Seymour who had no interest in being in a weekly series so she had them kill her off in this episode.

For me the most fascinating aspect of this episode is that we are never sure if Baltar was being sincere with Adama or if he was planning a double cross. Having been betrayed once by the Cylons and almost losing his head it is completely possible that he was being straight with Adam and wanted revenge on those walking toasters. Instead poor Baltar is left trapped in an ancient tomb screaming,“You have not heard the last of Baltar!

"Seriously, you haven't."

The day is saved when the now recovered pilots swoop in at the last minute and drive off the Cylon raiders, and the battlestar Galactica is once again free to continue its long search for Earth.


Directed by Christian I. Nyby II this is one of the better episodes of the series as it deals with a bit of the lore of the thirteen colonies as well some fun action. It also contains some great stuff from John Colicos as Baltar, everyone’s favorite Judas. There is some unfortunate sexist stuff between our male heroes and the female pilots but sadly those kinds of jokes were very indicative of television in the 70s. Overall a really good episode.

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