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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Galactica 1980: Space Croppers - Review

In this second to last episode of Galactica 1980 we get our heroes battling racism on Earth as they try to colonize the planet.  Using a science fiction show to tackle important issues is certainly nothing new, Gene Roddenberry used his show Star Trek for much the same way, but in Space Croppers any serious content is lost among the silliness and bad writing of the episode.


The show opens with the Imperious Leader (now voiced by Dennis Haysbert) telling a Centurion that he is tired of waiting for the Galactica to lead them to Earth, and orders an attack on the fleets agro ships in the hopes that it will force Adama’s hand. This once again focuses on one of the major questions I have with this show, where in the hell is the Galactica? In the first episode Dr. Zee (James Patrick Stuart) revealed to Adama (Lorne Greene) that the Cylon fleet had found them, but was trying to follow them discreetly to Earth. This led to Adama ordering the fleet to move passed Earth so that the Cylon’s wouldn't realize it was their true destination. But then where in the hell has the Galactica been hiding out all this time? Troy (Kent McCord) and Dillon (Barry Van Dyke) constantly communicate back and forth with the Galactica, and even make trips back to the fleet, so how far away can the Galactica be from Earth? How can the Cylons, who are apparently still tracking the Galactica, not notice this blue/green planet populated with billions of human beings?


“That can’t be humanities lost colony, it is littered with way too many Denny’s restaurants.”

The Cylon’s attack the Galactica fleet and destroy two of the agro ships, which should have been real difficult to do when one considers the fact that after the events in The Magnificent Warriors there was only one agro ship left. Adama orders the immediate colonization of Earth so that they can replenish their lost food stores. We then learn that one of the ways that the Galactica has apparently kept Earth safe is having decoy squadrons harass the Cylons while Troy and Dillon were making their trips back and forth to Earth. Once again this makes the Cylons out to be incredibly stupid for not realizing the Galactica has stopped its decade’s long trek through the stars, and is now just hanging around this solar system for no apparent reason. So Dagget Squadron engages the Cylons while Troy and Dillon make their way to Earth to buy up some farmland.


Where they immediately mistake this for an Earthling. *sigh*

I hate to second guess the great Commander Adama, but is he sure these two bozos are the best bet for establishing a colony on Earth? Our two “special needs” Galactican warriors then pay a call on local farmer Hector Alonzo (Ned Romero) whose farm has come upon some hard times due to the water hording of local bigot John Steadman (Dana Elcar). Turns out Steadman’s ranch controls most of the water for the area, and he’s built a dam on his property that prevents water from getting to people he deems not worthy, by not worthy  he means Hispanics.


Racist asshat in a big hat.

When Troy and Dillon partner up with Hector this angers Steadman and his goons, and so they set fire to his seed and try and trick Dillon into riding a crazed horse. Luckily our heroes’ wrist computrons detect that the horse has “disturbed wave patterns” and so they give the horse a blast of alpha waves that immediately calm it down. Unfortunately without water all the seed and calmed horses in the world won’t save the farm so in steps the super science of Galactica and Dr. Zee. Standards and Practices of the time insisted on “educational moments” in each episode, mostly this was handled with Troy and Dillon learning something about Earth and the people on it, but too often it relied on Dr. Zee explaining things to Adama as if the commander of a fleet of starships was dumber than a five year old. In this episode he actually explains to Adama how rain happens.


I’ll try and not use too many big words, but basically rain is caused by overexcited fairies.

Time is of the essences, because apparently once an agro ship is destroyed all the food supplies for the fleet vanish as well, and so Troy and Dillon are told they must have the seed planted that very night. Because John Steadman has a stranglehold on the water supply, which somehow translates into power over the Grower’s Association, no one will help Hector work the farm for fear of earning the wrath of Steadman. Sadly Troy and Dillon have an easy solution to this workforce problem.


Return of the Super Scouts *big sigh*

Hector is a little unsure a bunch of kids can work his farm, but Troy, Dillon and the newly arrived Jamie (Robyn Douglas) assure him they are stronger than they look. Later we see Adama and Dr. Zee loading his anti-gravity ship, the one he plans to create clouds and rain nutrients onto the Hector’s farm, with a team of agricultural experts dressed in Earthling farmer clothing.  In the dark of the night Troy and Dillon blast furrows with the laser guns while the Galactica Farm Team leap around the field planting seeds.

Question: If you had these guys handy in the first place than why in the hell did you need to recruit Jamie and the Super Scouts?


Not sure how leaping fifty feet into the air is an effective seed planting technique.

No one notices Steadman watching all this super powered farm work, but what is worse is that in the morning Hector and his wife are only surprised at the new workers, wondering when they arrived, but don’t question at all the fact that they have a truck full of harvested produce from a field that hadn’t even been seeded when they went to bed. I’m surprised there wasn’t a scene where the religious Hispanic family explained it all away with “Angels did it.” Steadman then arrives with the police and the head of the agriculture society, the authorities have come on Steadman’s word that there is illegal aliens *snicker* working for Hector, and demand to see some identification. When Jamie pulls out her press badge, and starts questioning Steadman on what he witnessed the night before, the idiot starts going on about flying saucers and super jumping people. Needless to say the Sheriff (Kenneth Tobey) is none too pleased with having been dragged out here under false pretenses.


“Let me tell you a thing or two about things from another world.”

This also shakes loose Steadman’s stranglehold on the Grower’s Association, and at the next meeting Steadman is ordered to remove his dam so that all the people in the valley can have the water they need. This episode has more in common with Bill Bixby version of The Incredible Hulk where David Banner would get a job with an unfortunate family, usually fighting off corrupt officials or mob protection rackets, than it does with the rest of the series. Would the show have gone more in that direction if it hadn’t been cancelled? Would each and every week have had Troy and Dillon land more colonists who would end up helping the locals against greed and corruption, or maybe we’d finally get some Cylon attacking earth action. Poor ratings would prevent us from ever finding out.


And we’d never get to see Dr. Zees cool flying saucer again.

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