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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

My First Sci-Fi

Despite being determined to get a new post up on all my blogs this week I have singularly failed to put anything together for the Quest so I've decided to just waffle a wee bit of nothing about the first sci-fi show I can ever remember watching.

While I have literally no idea when it was, I can pinpoint exactly where I was (and even the position I was in; laid on my belly in front of a roaring coal fire) and exactly what the show was - to the episode. Why? Because it's a bloody good episode and one of the finest hours of a true legend of 70's/80' TV.

Dirk Benedict. Even his name is brilliant. Not until the arrival on our screens of Benedict Cumberbatch would a name ooze arsomness in quite such copious quantities. Just say it; Dirk. Benedict. Class.

The Return Of Starbuck (although I didn't know that's what it was called at the time) is basically Enemy Mine (it predates the film but is a contemporary of the novella that spawned it) or that thing with the Yank and the Japanese dude at the end of WWII (I forget what it's called and since it doesn't have aliens or robots I'm disinclined to look it up), except with a Colonial Warrior and a Cylon Centurion, but where Return...scores over both of them (aside from having Benedict) is that, well, I watched it first so it is obviously best.

Seriously though, it's hard to believe I would be the person I am today, or that this blog would even exist, were it not for this episode. Had I lain down a week earlier and seen - looks it up, sighs in dismay - 'Space Croppers', as my first ever sci-fi, things would have been very very different.

Years later, when BBC2 was running it's veritable feast of classic and modern sci-fi every night at teatime, we got a complete run of Battlestar Galactica. I remember thinking that I was going mad, as each week I would sit down in the hopes that this would be the week I'd get to rewatch the classic I remembered so well and it never came. Then that awful, awful day when suddenly it was over and this... this abomination that was Galactica 1980 was in it's place. What had happened? Where was Starbuck? Diiiiirk! Come back Dirk!

I literally could not get my head around the fact that Starbuck/Benedict had been written out and I had still not seen the episode of my memories. Had I imagined it? Surely not. And yet the fact remained that the episode heavily featured a character that simply was not on the show anymore. Try to remember, this was in the days before the internet; I had no way of bashing a few keys and having all my queries answered. I just had to sit there, week in and week out, becoming ever more sure that I was, in fact, insane. An insane person with a hell of an imagination, but an insane person nonetheless.

Then it happened. Another week, another naff disappointment as the once great show limped ever onwards; or so I thought. But no, what's this, 'The Return Of Starbuck'. Could it be... It is! Vindication is mine, I'm not mad after all! Sadly, no further episodes were produced after The Return... I would have liked to have seen the elements introduced here explored further in the series; perhaps they could have gone some way toward redeeming it. The damage had been done though, and the cancellation axe fell. I suppose it's some grim consolation that at least being canceled at that precise point meant that it went out on an absolute high. Galactica 1980 ended on the best episode it had ever produced.


  1. I actually liked Galactica 1980 (don't judge me!), but I loved that last episode. Sci-Fi (sorry, "SyFy") used to rerun the series from time to time back in the 90s.

  2. Aaah, gotta check these comments more often. Complacency comes from never actually getting any. Comments that is.

    Anyway, no judgement here on liking Galactica '80. Truth be told I don't think it was *all* bad, certainly by the standards of it's contemporaries, just nowhere near the standards set by the original series.