Singing 'Suspension' in 1979, about the 25th century, Kipp Lennon vocalized:
"Far beyond this world I've known,
Far beyond my time.
What kind of world am I going to find?
Will it be real, or just all in my mind?
What am I, who am I, what will I be?
Where am I going, and what will I see?"
Speaking to David Houston back in 1979, Gil Gerard discussed 'Buck Rogers': "From day one there were rumors it was going to be released as a feature. We found out the film was being shot with 185 framing instead of 175 (standard for television). But we all just thought, 'Oh, these rumors probably happen with every new show; it's probably just for TV.' The first concrete thing the cast learned came from a notice in 'Variety' that said our picture would be released theatrically."
Producer Leslie Stevens recounted, "Originally, 'Buck Rogers' was produced under a huge deal with NBC, which says that so many hours of production at Universal will be allotted for NBC pilots, so many for episodes, so many for development. There are constant negotiations. In the course of wheeling and dealing, NBC traded 'Buck' back to us in exchange for other considerations.
"'Buck' is now (in March 1979) a free ball. It can later be sold to any network, or it can act as a pilot for a series – as virtually every film does nowadays. I mean, you get one picture like 'Animal House' and suddenly there are a dozen projects for TV that stem from it. From the beginning we smelled that 'Battlestar Galactica' could be a fine shot at a corner of the 'Star Wars' market. And we were right.
"In theatrical release, 'Galactica' beat out 'Grease' and 'Jaws II' in Japan and Canada. And it has been shown theatrically in this country (the U.S.) in a few test locations – after being shown on TV – and it did very good business. We could smell this kind of success because of the sheer brute brilliance of John Dykstra – who did the effects for 'Star War' before coming to 'Galactica'. This was quite apart from any considerations of story and character.
"The effects in 'Galactica' were simply dazzling. But the powers at Universal – some of them have the idea that anything produced for TV has to be of inferior quality – turned us down when we suggested 'Galactica' as a feature rather than a TV show. When it became obvious that they should have released 'Galactica' as a feature, Glen Larson went back to them and said, 'Now don't make the same mistake twice!'
"That's when we started negotiations to get 'Buck' back from NBC. When John Dykstra left 'Galactica' to go off and film Paddy Cheyevsky's 'Altered States', that left a gaping hole in 'Galactica'. We had to pull the people off 'Buck Rogers' special effects to bail out 'Galactica'. So now (in March 1979) things are moving very slowly on 'Buck Rogers'. We have 62 special effects shots yet to be done."
Gil insisted, "The picture is essentially finished, except for special effects and about 4 days of additional scenes to be shot. I'm trying to talk Glen into adding a short confrontation toward the end between Buck and Tigerman – to make the end more satisfying. Then we'll beef up the climax a little, if necessary; we'll look at it after the special effects are added. I saw an assemblage of the scenes the other day (back in March 1979), and every so often there'd be a lot of blank film, with the sign, 'Special effects to be added.'"
In July 1980, Glen Larson spoke to Karen Willson of 'Starlog', "It's very tough to get on network television. So when they say, 'Okay, you've got a shot…', you go … I hope people can be charitable when we reach for something that doesn't quite come off … One of the problem with the networks is that they tend to think of everything as a delivery date, which really is their concern. The bottom line is: have it here by June 6 and have it here in good shape. How you get it there is not their problem.
"You see – it's much harder to produce a good science-fiction show. You need more extensive research … all the optical effects, illusions, process photography – all these things take extra time and money, which creates additional pressure. Over the years, I found my interests were like everyone else's. When I was a kid, I had a profound interest in radio … I guess my first interest in entertainment came from that form. I loved the format."
Glen Larson joined Universal in 1963. Of developing his first science-fiction series, "It was a show called 'Adam's Ark', and it was kind of the reverse of 'Galactica'. All the great people from this planet were leaving Earth and going someplace else because of an imminent prediction of disaster. They were tricked into going in this particular thing, which complicates the situation.
"But it became very difficult to sell. Along came this thing called 'Star Trek' which was finding it hard to get numbers. So it remained in a drawer (until 1978 when it became 'Battlestar Galactica')." Glen also made the point, "Children grew up with the realization that you really could get to the Moon, that it all wasn't science fiction, but science future. Entertainment is very cyclical. Something re-establishes an audience interest.
"In other words, if a horror movie is made and does well, like 'The Exorcist', then you’ll have a lot of things coming along like 'The Omen' and 'Amityville Horror'. Once an audience is established for a certain type of film, it gives (investors) the courage to risk the tremendous amounts of capital necessary to get into these types of ventures. So quite logically, with the success of science fiction in the marketplace, a climate is created that will nurture science on television."
Glen maintained, "It ('Galactica') had either the good fortune or the bad fortune to be on the most successful schedule in the history of television. In the ABC schedule last year (1978-79 season), literally every show was in the 40s (share). That was just phenomenal … We happened to be on a network that misinterpreted how competitive, how tough, the 8 o'clock time slot was on Sunday night.
"The reason Sunday night is so competitive is that it's the time when the most television sets are in use. It's when you get your maximum (advertising) rate. You have to be competitive, so you throw the kitchen sink in." When the network decided to cancel 'Battlestar Galactica', Glen remembered, "It's really quite sad – people (the audience) take something seriously, then you have to take it away from them. To the networks the show is just another piece on the chessboard.
"But to an awful lot of people, it was very special. It had a life of its own. So we just kept pushing the thing. I don't think that we're limited with 'Galactica 1980' (renamed 'Battlestar Galactica' after the 2nd episode), we still have the opportunity to go anywhere in space we want, but we needed a reason to come back on the air. We needed an event and, certainly, Galactica discovering Earth was an event that would bring people back to the tube for a fresh sampling.
"We got a very good response. I think the television industry is science fiction, and, at times, I think it's pure fantasy. The ratings race has taken on such strange levels of importance that I'll be surprised if the poor audience can find anything … You'll find 'Buck Rogers' all over the schedule – and you'll find all kinds of shows with odd lengths. I don't think you talk about science fiction; you do it. Surprise everyone … I'm also looking forward to completing our shows for this season (1980-81). But we take it one day at a time here in network television. It's an amazing life."