Bil’s rating (out of 5): B. USA, 1978. Glen A. Larson Productions, Universal Television. Screenplay by Glen A. Larson. Cinematography by Ben Colman. Produced by John Dykstra. Music by Stu Phillips. Production Design by John E. Chilberg II. Costume Design by Jean-Pierre Dorleac. Film Editing by Robert L. Kimble, Leon Ortiz-Gil, Larry Strong.
Universal responded to the success of Star Wars with their own space opera the next year, reediting the original three hour pilot of a television series into a theatrical release that appeared after the show’s sole season ended. The result was a fiasco that would have been an embarrassment even if it did not have George Lucas’s classic to rate it against, though its schlockier qualities might explain its subsequent cult following. The convoluted but unrewarding story has human colonies being destroyed by a race of robots, forcing the survivors to travel aboard the titular spacecraft in search of a planet called Earth that acts as their promised land (these humans, it is suggested, are the aliens that built the pyramids of Egypt in accordance with that crackpot theory, hence the King Tut-like helmets the guys wear when flying their fighter jets). The journey through space is occupied with a number of bland personal relationships and more than a few breaks for battles, and it’s impossible to know which is more impossible to sit through. Apparently our ancient, alien past was populated mainly by seventies-style nightclubs and a lot of hairspray, plus add to that a series of cheap-looking sets and costumes trying far too hard to be memorable and you have something that is just disastrous. The concept was reconfigured into a richly enjoyable television series reboot more than two decades later.