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ORIGINAL BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SWIPED BY THE HAND OF GOD

year: 1978
Richard Hatch, who played Captain Apollo on the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA television series, lasting only one year before a premature demise... morphing into another shortlived venture set thirty years later wherein Apollo was long gone... energetically shared on a Cult Film Freak interview that his personal favorite episode was THE HAND OF GOD…

rating: ***1/2
“I just like the essence that there was a message from Earth. I loved being up in the Star Chamber… I loved the whole feeling of it. It wasn’t an Apollo episode necessarily, but I just liked the episode a lot, I thought it kind of left with this kind of mystical feeling of hope, of something greater out in the universe... I love the feeling of that.” So THE HAND OF GOD, a title that resurfaces in the 2004 reboot, is the final episode of the series, and reintroduced the Cylons, those silver-plated heavies that stalked the Galactica, the surviving vessel of a once-numbered host of immense battleships, and the return of the menacing Cylon Raiders, razor-like warships providing dogfights reminiscent of the original STAR WARS... Since cash ran out halfway through the BG series, the Cylons were too expensive, as were the outer space special effects… even though a lot of the same stock shots were being used again and again... In fact, child actor Robbie Rist, who would, only one year later, play Doctor Zee on the ill-fated follow-up GALACTICA 1980 – centering on an aged crew (sans Apollo) finding Earth thirty years later – described the dogfight repetition as: “One Cylon ship was always crossing my screen from left to right before it was hit by a human's guns. I guess making new FX shots was too expensive.”

Richard Hatch & Anne Lockhart
Very wise observation, Cousin Oliver, and after the laser-blasting first half of the original show’s one and only season, the crew either dealt with in-house traitor Baltar or found other antagonists to grapple with including a group of dreary Nazi-like soldiers, or met with special guest stars such as Fred Astaire... and it just wasn't the same.

HAND OF GOD brings us back to the primal roots, centering on Apollo bringing Starbuck (the devil-may-care Han Solo type), and their two lady friends, up into The Star Chamber: an isolated section of the starship located at the very top/back, somewhere near the main thrusters.

For Starbuck, this is the perfect location to score, but Apollo has his own more tactical agenda...

At that observatory vantage point, the far regions of outer space can be viewed from a silvery cockpit chair gripped inside a domed structure, where a built-in monitor picks up random signals and/or distress calls, and in this particular case, The Galactica is receiving some kind of signal from what could be… Earth!

Turns out being a possible Cylon trap, and that’s where things return to the good old days. The plot has Starbuck and Apollo preparing for a do-or-die mission to the Cylon warship… To sneak inside and disable the shield activators so the Battlestar can, like the STAR WARS Death Star, blow up the impending vessel before it destroys them. "She's an orbiting killer, capable of destroying every ship we have," a grim Colonel Tigh warns.

Cylons Return
A cool episode liken to classic WW2 perilous mission flicks, the only downside being the collection of side-characters giving long-winded farewells to the brave warriors. And finally, Apollo and Starbuck, once inside the Cylon War Ship, wind up climbing down a metallic ladder, quickly face off with a sole laser-blasting Cylon, and that’s pretty much that…

More of a rushed HIGH NOON showdown than a full-fledged action-packed battle, and yet it's nice to see the iconic Cylon in partial glory once again: Providing THE HAND OF GOD a neat farewell to a show that, to save money, had to get rid of the best thing it had going...

Making this episode not an intentional finale but an attempt to possibly venture into season two, promising Cylons would reign once again – a distress call that, like an eventual message sent from Earth after Starbuck and Apollo split for the celebration downstairs, was never heeded.
"You'll be okay, Starbuck, I see a large black man with a mohawk... Your TV future is set."
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