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12 stellar things you did not know about 'Battlestar Galactica'

A chimp and a former 'Lost in Space' star were hidden in the cast.

Image: The Everett Collection

Star Wars changed everything. In May 1977, suddenly every Hollywood studio wanted its own space epic. George Lucas' influence would be felt on primetime television, as numerous sci-fi adventures quickly popped up across the networks. Even Andy Griffith hopped aboard a spaceship.

Of course, TV shows set in outer space were hardly new. Earlier that decade, series like Space: 1999 took viewers beyond Earth. Of course, Star Trek launched it all a decade earlier.

Yet, after Star Wars, science fiction took on a distinct new flavor. There was far more fantasy and swashbuckling, a return to the serial adventures of Flash Gordon. Damsels were in distress. Pistols spit lasers. Troops in gleaming armor marched in step. Adorable, furry alien sidekicks hung out with our heroes.

Battlestar Galactica was the grandest of these late-'70s space operas. Though it ran for just one season (well, two when you count the sequel, Galactica 1980) the series mesmerized children of the era, remaining a fan favorite for decades. Those Starbuck and Apollo action figures from Mattel fit right in next to your Luke and Han from Kenner.

It spawned an acclaimed remake in 2004 and still dazzles today. Let's dig into this classic show.

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1

Don Johnson was meant to play Starbuck.

ABC wanted Don Johnson in the role of Starbuck. However, series creator Glen Larson was against the future Miami Vice star — he reportedly felt the actor was too short. According to the fan site Galactica.tv, the beef between the network and Larson fed into Galactica's cancelation.

Image: The Everett Collection

2

Jonathan Harris of 'Lost in Space' was the voice of Lucifer.

Yep, the former Dr. Smith was the man behind that evil robot with the transparent turnip head. Harris was not credited in the role. The action figure of Lucifer proved to be quite hard to find and collectible in 1979.

3

Another star of a cult classic 1960s TV series provided the narrations.

Patrick Macnee is best known as dapper secret agent John Steed on The Avengers. It is he who declared at the beginning of each episode, "There are those who believe… that life here began out there, far across the Universe…"

Image: ABC / ITV

4

Muffit II was played by a chimpanzee inside a suit.

One of the more memorable creations of Galactica, Muffit was a robotic dog called a "Daggit" on the series, and the companion of young Boxey. Who needs CGI when you can put an ape inside a costume? The chimp's real name was Evolution, or Eve or Evie for short. Early concept art envisioned something far more canine, as the production considered putting a dog inside a suit.

5

The designer of the 'Star Wars' Stormtroopers also conceptualized the Cylons.

Ralph McQuarrie is an icon amongst Star Wars fans, as his fantastic concept art envisioned Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO. After working on Star Wars, the visual artist boarded the Battlestar pre-production team. McQuarrie whipped up designs of the Galactica ship, the Viper, the Cylon Raider and Basestar, as well as preliminary artwork for the Cylons, the Imperious Leader and Ovions. Check out some of his gorgeous art for the show.

Image: The Everett Collection

6

The studio behind Star Wars sued the studio behind Battlestar Galactica — who in turned countersued.

When you're using some of the same creative artists as Star Wars, there are bound to be similarities. 20th Century Fox in particular took notice. In 1978, the studio behind Star Wars filed a lawsuit against Universal, the studio backing Battlestar Galactica. Fox claimed Universal had stolen 34 distinct ideas from Star Wars. (You can read them all here.) In turn, Universal countersued against Fox, claiming Star Wars had ripped off 1972's Silent Running.

Image: The Everett Collection

7

Apollo and Starbuck are wearing real U.S. Army Intelligence pins on their uniforms.

Dirk Benedict and Richard Hatch wore some wonderful costumes on the show. If you look closely at their collars, you will see two golden pins. They depict a rose, a sun and a dagger. Those pins are in reality the insignia of the U.S. Army's Military Intelligence corps. They merely turned them upside down on Galactica.

Image: The Everett Collection

8

It was originally meant to be three TV movies.

Larson at first intended to make three movies, the first of which was titled Saga of a Star World. After the second, Lost Planet of the Gods, Larson decided to turn the endeavor into a weekly series. The production scrambled to shift gears, which lead to quick "crash of the week" episodes until the writers could rework the grand narrative.

Image: The Everett Collection

9

The pilot cost $7 million.

"Saga of a Star World" was not cheap. That was the biggest budget in TV movie history to that point. To put that into perspective, Star Wars cost $11 million. In order to recoup some of that money, Universal released "Saga of a Star World" theatrically overseas.

Image: Giphy

10

The signing of the Camp David Accords interrupted the pilot broadcast.

On September 17, 1978, President Jimmy Carter made history when he hosted Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who agreed to sign a "Framework for Peace in the Middle East." News reports of the deal broke into the broadcast. Afterward, ABC resumed Galactica where the adventure had left off.

Image: AP Photo/Bob Daugherty

11

Jane Seymour left the show after a few episodes.

Seymour portrayed Serina, the mother of Boxey (the kid with the robot dog, you will remember). However, the actress bailed on the show after filming "Saga of a Star World" and "Lost Planet of the Gods." Writers killed off her character. Serina has no analog in the 2004 reboot, though a Boxey was indeed in the update. Seymour was asked to play the role of Admiral Cain in the new series in 2005, but she turned down the part.

12

'Galactica 1980' was meant to be a time traveling series. The idea was later revived for 'Quantum Leap.'

After ABC axed the series, it filled the time slot with Mork & Mindy, which then began to struggle in the ratings. A rabid Battlestar fanbase made the network reconsider, thus the series was restarted as Galactica 1980. Lorne Greene (Adama) and Herb Jefferson, Jr. (Boomer) would be the only principle actors to return. Kent McCord of Adam-12 stepped into the role of Boxey. Larson and co-producer Donald P. Bellisario came up with an idea that would send the protagonists to a different period in Earth history each week, beginning with the modern day. After viewing the pilot, however, the network killed the idea, and forced the series to stay in 1980. Bellisario would dust off the original concept of a time-traveling do-gooder for his later series Quantum Leap.

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