Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Second Coming (that never came).

For those of you who missed this story back in the late 90s, here's a little nerd history for you.  At that time, nothing had been done with the much-loved 1978 TV series Battlestar Galactica since the show's (and its follow-up show's) end.  Universal held the rights to it, but still wasn't developing anything.  Richard Hatch, who played Apollo in the original series, decided he wanted to make a sequel series, one called Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming.  On a very low budget with lots of free time and resources donated from industry connections and fans, he created a 30-minute "pilot film" to show Universal how the series would look.  He even got some original cast members to come back and reprise their roles.

From this 30-minute film, he created a 4-minute-long trailer.  This was first shown to fans at DragonCon in Atlanta in 1999.  This was the first time any fans had seen any new Galactica since the ill-conceived Galactica 1980 was mercifully cancelled.  These fans went out of their minds, and reportedly the standing ovation after it ended lasted a full five minutes.

However, original Galactica producer Glen A. Larson had a grip on the rights as well, and he was concurrently pitching his own Galactica project to Universal, a feature film centered on the Battlestar Pegasus that, unlike Hatch's proposal which wisely only included material from the original series, based its continuity around both BSG and Galactica 1980.  A war began in the hearts of BSG fans, and most flocked to Hatch, who kept on the convention circuit and charged up crowds with both the trailer and his motivational speaking prowess...and passion for the project.

In the end, Universal decided not to go with either, and instead granted the rights to Ronald D. Moore's proposed re-imagining of BSG, which became, as you may know, one of the best science fiction shows ever created.  Though his version didn't see the light of day, Richard Hatch went on to play a major character in the Moore BSG series.

The Second Coming trailer was a sacred thing to fans, and they largely obeyed Hatch's wishes and did not film and post up the trailer on the internet (this would have caused legal problems).  Back then, the only way to see it was at a convention, as I did at Comic-Con in the summer of 2000.  I don't know that the ovation in that room made it to five minutes, but it lasted a long, long time.  Now, years later, the fabled trailer can finally be seen on YouTube.

Keep the context in mind as you watch this.  If you've watched the 2004 series, then this low-rent labor of love will be even more laughable to you, with its dated computer effects and dated hairstyles (nice ponytail, son of Apollo...).  But in 1999, fans had seen nothing more of their beloved show in twenty years (or "yahren", if you prefer), and to suddenly see it all come to life again, with the promise of a whole new show continuing the saga, was a near-religious experience (thank you, Lords of Kobol!).  Try to imagine their excitement and anticipation. Picture yourself in a convention center ballroom as the lights go down, surrounded by hundreds or thousands of other fans, with this mythical thing you've heard so much about finally coming to you.  Get into the excitement of it all!

A final note: Richard Hatch is writing novels based on his Second Coming vision, and continues to push for a TV series.  Having heard the man speak and having met him, I will officially follow him anywhere he leads.  We should all believe so strongly in something, and all keep fighting no matter the odds.  Launch all vipers, Mr. Hatch.  Launch all vipers.

Ladies and gentlemen...the Second Coming.

1 comment:

  1. This of course launched the mantra which some of us have repeated over the years: WWRHD? - "What Would Richard Hatch Do?"

    The answer to that question is to build a slavish fan following that virtually hijacked the Ronald Moore announcement panel for his "reimagined" BSG at Comic-con several years after the relese of the trailer.

    I seem to recall Moore, Katie Scakhoff, and Jamie Bamber were there. If I remember correctly, there was a divide in the room between the Richard Hatch fans and those who just came to see the panel (possibly Trek fans fans, as Moore was a producer on DS9 and TNG). The Hatch fans were very vocal about their skepticism over the show and there ire over the fact that Moore was making his show, while Hatch was not making his.

    As it turns out, Hatch's inclusion into the Moore show turned out well for all. Hatch got work, his fan base got redemption (of sorts), and the show was immediately elevated to another level for his character, the related storylines, and the performance he brought.

    WWRHD? As Charlie Sheen put it... Winning!