Episode 135: Battlestar Galactica and Mormon Theology

John is joined by Zilpha, Alyssa, Heather and Travis to discuss the Mormon Theological foundations of the original television series “Battlestar Galactica”.

Starbuck and Starbuck at Starbucks

Episode 135

28 comments on “Episode 135: Battlestar Galactica and Mormon Theology”

  1. Gthorneiii Reply

     I had no idea that Battlestar Galactica had ties to Mormonism.  I’ve got the old and new series in my Netflix queue.  Time to watch and learn.

    • Fred W. Anson Reply

      From Wikipedia: 
      “Larson later secured a then-unprecedented $1 million per episode budget for Battlestar Galactica. Originally, the series was intended to be called Adama’s Ark, and the show incorporated many themes from Mormon theology, such as marriage for “time and eternity” and a “council of twelve.” Larson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saintsin real life,[1] had been working on the concept since 1968, and Gene L. Coon had been providing guidance and mentoring to him through the writing of its earliest incarnations.

      Larson is credited with coining the word “battlestar,” a contraction of the phrase “line-of-battle starship”, after being convinced to rename Adama’s Ark to include the word “star” in the title in some way. He is also credited with creating the faux curse word “frak.”[2]Even with its generous budget, the series often recycled effects shots; it was canceled after one season.

      The pilot episode of Galactica, entitled “Saga of a Star World” in the program continuity, was refashioned as a theatrical release in North America and Europe, and in some European markets it was the top grossing film of 1979.

      After the series was canceled, Larson went on to create a relatively low-budget sequel to the series entitled Galactica 1980 which was set many years later when the Galactica had reached Earth. This series was less successful than the original and was canceled after 10 episodes.

      Larson re-used some of the sets, props, costumes, and effects work from Galactica to create the light-hearted sci-fi series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979). The feature-length pilot episode was released as a theatrical film in March 1979 and grossed $21 million at the North American box office.[3]

      In February 2009, internet media sources reported that Larson was in talks with Universal Pictures to bring Battlestar Galactica to the big screen, though any potential feature film would not be based on the recent Sci Fi Channel series remake, but would possibly be based on the original series.”
      (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_A._Larson#Biography ; retrieved date of post) 

      And for those unaware, Gene L. Coon – who is mentioned in the article – was a producer and writer on the original Star Trek TV series of the 1960’s.

      • Anonymous Reply

         Fire alarms are insane.  Zilpha unplugged it and took the batteries out and it was STILL beeping. 

  2. Ian Reply

    Where can I get a full screen picture of the Battlestar/Christus picture?  I would love to have that for my background.

    • Rich Rasmussen Reply

      Hey Ian, the size of the pic on the on-screen is 580 x 210. That is the max size as I created it for this specific purpose.

  3. Anonymous Reply

    Listening to this it sounds like Zilpha had something interesting to say around 26 minutes and we kept cutting her off.  🙁

  4. Alyssa Reply

    Hi all, it’s Alyssa from the podcast. If this blog comment had a title it would be “I watched the entire 1978 Battlestar Galactica so that you don’t have to.” This is going to be a little long, but here’ my guide to which episodes you should watch and which ones you should skip if you watch the series on Netflix Instant View:

    1. Saga of a Star World (3 part episode) – Kind of important to watch to get your introduction to how they set up the rest of the series, but be prepared for lots of 70s hair, hammy acting, and campy melodrama. But do enjoy the brief cameo from teen heartthrob Rick Springfield (“I wish that I had Jessie’s girl”) as Zac Adama.

    2. The Lost Planet of the Gods (2 part episode) – This is the one where they visit the planet Kobol (and the fallen city of Eden) and Apollo and Serina (played by Jane Seymour) get “sealed for time and all eternity.”

    3. The Lost Warrior – SKIP. Just a cheesy, badly-written excuse to for a bad Space Western.

    4. The Long Patrol – MUST WATCH. This is the one we talked about in the podcast where they see the prisoners who are in jail for the “original sin” of their ancestors. Also features CORA, the computer ancestor of KITT from Knight Rider.

    5. Gun on Ice Planet Zero (2 part episode) – SKIP. It’s just a rip-off of a WWII film called The Guns of Navaronne—although it’s not a bad set of episodes per se. No notable Mormon themes other than some guy who created a colony of clones shouting “I’m not responsible for how my creations are used!” Larson didn’t write this episode.

    6. The Magnificent Warriors – SKIP. A rip-off (sorta) of The Magnificent Seven, which is itself an rip-off of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Go watch Seven Samurai instead (or even The Magnificent Seven, for that matter).

    7. The Young Lords – SKIP. Unless you want to see a guy wearing a really bad winged helmet.

    8. The Living Legend (2 part episode) – Fans of the 2003 Battlestar Galactica should watch these two episodes. They feature Lloyd Bridges as Commander Cain who commands the Battlestar Pegasus. Also the introduction of a major character: Sheba. This episode is really solid television.

    9. Fire in Space – No Mormon themes, but again a very solid episode. If memory serves, they use an adaptation of this episode in the 2003 Battlestar Galactica series.

    10. War of the Gods (2 part episode) – MUST WATCH. This episode was loaded with Mormonisms. It’s the one where Count Ibley (Iblis?) comes to the Battlestar and tries to convince the fleet to give up their agency and follow him. When Apollo sacrifices his life (a clear type of Christ) for Sheba, he is brought back to life by the “intelligences” (also called “angels” in the show) that say: “As you are now, we once were; as we are now, you may become.”

    11. The Man With Nine Lives – SKIP. Unless you want to see a guest appearance by Fred Astaire (no, he doesn’t do any dancing, unfortunately).

    12. Murder on the Rising Star – SKIP. A lackluster attempt at making Battlestar a detective story in which Apollo must clear Starbuck’s name.

    13. Greetings from Earth (2 part episode) – SKIP. Unless you want to see a guest appearance by Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz). Just be aware that this episode introduces the idea of another war going on between the East and West inhabitants of a planet named Terra. It’s very clearly meant to be analogous to the Cold War politics of 1978.

    14. Baltar’s Escape – SKIP. It’s not a bad episode per se, but no notable Mormon themes and not all of the action sequences are as amazing as they might have been in 1978.

    15. Experiment in Terra – This is not a very good episode, but it does have some Mormon themes again. The “intelligences” return and get Apollo to do a Quantum Leap (yes, Donald Bellisario went on to do Quantum Leap) into a man’s body on the planet Terra. Apollo is given a white uniform (garments?) that are meant to be a protective guide to him and we get a few brief explanations about the intelligences.

    16. Take the Celestra – SKIP. The action sequences in this episode were decent, but the set-up for the plot was not very believable to me. (Starbuck has to chase after another long-lost love?)

    17. The Hand of God – SKIP. Unless you want to see the series finale. It has some hints that they are close to the planet earth when Apollo goes to a “celestial room” and sees a garbled picture of the Apollo missions to the moon. Nothing more to note other than that.

    Anyone else who has seen the whole series may feel free to chime in and disagree with my episode guide. 🙂

      • Anonymous Reply

        Bah.  I hated the unnecessary made up lingo.  Everything ended in “on.”  It reminded me of the Jermaine Clement’s character in “Gentleman Broncos” telling his class of sci-fi writer wannabes how to morph regular names into sci-fi names.  Lookie here: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi778568985/

    • Fred W. Anson Reply

      Boy THAT’s what I call, “Takin’ one for the team!” That 1978 series was HOKEY to the core!  I’m not sure that I could watch it without heckling it were I to try it today. 

      (Though I confess that back in 1978 I thought that it was the bomb and didn’t miss a single episode) 

      And, yes, I watch and heckle the original Star Trek series now too.  There’s just something about Bill Shatner that makes you want to heckle . . .

  5. Anonymous Reply

     I stand all amazed at the various and sundry similarities between the church and Battlestar Gallactica.  I wish all those apostates who said our leadership resembles the futuristic society of “Logan’s Run” would refer to our likeness to BG instead.

  6. Glenn Reply

    Travis and Alyssa — you two did an awesome job!  This is one of my favorite things about Mormon Expression — all these great different voices. And Travis, your comment on Lucifer’s pre-determined (would they have been pre-programmed?) tendencies — hilarious!  But I don’t remember if he had other models like himself to find companionship — he seems too high brow for the brutish cylons — unless that was sort of what did it for him.

  7. Swearing Elder Reply

    I loved this show as a kid. Never missed an episode. Funny thing: I got baptized the year it ran. Maybe my testimony was of BSG, not of the church. Hmmm. 😉 

  8. Jeff Reply

    Nice John, ripping on a 66 yr old cancer survivor saying he’s had a little work done! Jeesh!

    • Fred W. Anson Reply

      Could you explain to us how a matter-of-fact 2-second observation (yes as a matter of fact I DID time it) on something’s that’s obvious to anyone who sees the shot (see above) qualifies as “ripping on a 66 yr old cancer survivor”? 


    • Anonymous Reply

       I have no problem whatsoever with people getting work done, or surviving cancer for that matter. I was just observing that I would not recognize him as the same person in the series without the caption.

  9. Swearing Elder Reply

    I pulled up BSG on Netflix. Oh, man, I forgot how truly awful this was. And the first five minutes are REPLETE with Mormon (ahem) Expressions. I about choked on my Diet Coke when I heard “Quorum of the 12”. 

    Oh, one more similarity to Mormonism: I also forgot what a total rip-off of Star Wars this thing was.

  10. Me from Cali Reply

    “Frack!” I don’t know whether I’m really pleased or really pissed with you guys.  Ever since listening to this podcast it has been three days and nights of almost continuous viewing of all of these episodes on Netflix.  If I wasn’t retired I’d probably be fired for taking too many ‘sick days’ or showing up to work too tired to do anything (I’ve been up to 3:00 a.m. once already).

    I’m almost through Season 2 and it gets you thinking about a lot of existential / religious notions.

  11. Me From Cali Reply

    “Frack!” I don’t know whether I’m really pleased or really pissed with you guys.  Ever since listening to this podcast it has been three days and nights of almost continuous viewing of all of later episodes on Netflix (not the original run).  If I wasn’t retired I’d probably be fired for taking too many ‘sick days’ or showing up to work too tired to do anything (I’ve been up to 3:00 a.m. once already).

    I’m almost through Season 2 and it gets you thinking about a lot of existential / religious notions.

  12. Dude Reply

    Lol, Mormonism is based on other religions before it so to claim that something newer is based on it is barely going half way.  Grow up.

  13. Pingback: Remembering the Original Rag-Tag Fleet: “Battlestar Galactica” at 35 (Part 2)

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