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Ultimate 'Battlestar Galactica' Guide

Become an expert in the original 'Battlestar Galactica' series with this ultimate guide!

Glen Larson—musician, screenwriter, producer—had wanted to do something like Galactica, he told us, long before he saw Star Wars. That Lucas blockbuster, though, gave Larson’s idea “legs”—as they say in showbiz—made Galactica seem a profitable notion that could stand on its own and walk away with a bundle.

Utilizing the space-opera setting and special-effects vocabulary of Star Wars, Larson proceeded to turn out the most elaborate and expensive hour-long series ever devised for television. He piled a lot of weight on those legs.

Merchandisers—who had been learning the hard way how valuable a space movie or TV property can be—flocked to the Galactica banner. Before the show had been seen, Monogram had already released kits of the spaceships (some of which actually showed up on TV as “real” Cylon discs). Mattel—who passed over Star Wars, feeling that the TV Galactica would have a longer life—came out with a vast line of dolls and toys. And Howard Eldon Ltd. had already tooled the start of an extensive line of Galactica jewelry. Not to mention posters, T-shirts and the like.

The three-hour pilot movie, about the near-annihilation of the human race by the merciless cybernetic Cylons, played in Europe, Japan and Canada as a theatrical movie around the time it aired here as a TV pilot. The box office and ratings were good, not top-of-the-mark, but quite respectable.

During the run of the TV show, however, the weekly ratings dropped from up in the top 10 to down in the bottom 20. If Galactica had been an ordinary show, with ordinary expenses, it would surely have been renewed for a second season; but nothing about Galactica was ordinary—from the spectacular special effects (begun by John Dykstra and taken over by David Garber and Wayne Smith), to the enormous settings and Lorne Greene's whopper of a salary.

So the show was canceled. Universal Television—with its marketing arrangements and the release of its theatrical version of Galactica (overseas and then in America, augmented with Sensurround)—fared well with Galactica. ABC-TV, however, saw its advertising revenues dropping below the enormous fee they were paying to Universal. When a show is canceled, all security concerning its production is lifted, as a rule. Not so with Galactica. When a member of the press calls, and executives and publicity people say, “There's nothing that we can tell you at this time,” that means something interesting is going on.

Some digging turned up the following information. None of this could be absolutely confirmed, but all sources were reliable and were connected in some way with Galactica productions.

• When ABC dropped the show, Universal attempted to sell Galactica to either NBC or CBS. Both networks expressed interest, but CBS went furthest by considering adding Galactica as a midseason replacement.

• In the final analysis, CBS did not buy the show.

• A second theatrical feature based on the TV episodes was completed and was ready for release overseas. No American release date was set. This show was a composite of the episodes “Fire in Space” and “The Living Legend.” Very little additional footage had to be shot for the movie. The one extra scene involves an astronaut floating in space who comes upon a floating book: the Galactica log.

Photo via Cinema Blend

Episode Guide

Saga of a Star World

(3-hour premiere–September 17, 1978) Writer: Glen A. Larson. Director: Richard Colla. Guest Cast: Jane Seymour (Serina), Lew Ayres (Adar), Ray Milland (Uri), Rick Springfield (Zac), Wilfrid Hyde-White (Anton), Myrna Matthews (Little Supreme), Stephanie Spruill (Other Supreme), Pattie Brooks (Big Supreme), John Fink (Dr. Payne), Sandy Gimpel (Seetol), Dianne L. Burgdorf (Lotay), Ted White (Cylon Centurion #1), John Zenda (Dealer).

In a far off galaxy, the 12 Colonies of Man have come together to end a 1000-year war with the robot Cylon race. However, the peace mission is a trap and the Cylon armada catches the fleet of battlestars off guard; all but one are completely destroyed. The remaining battlestar, the Galactica, flees the devastated star system with a fleet of 220 spacecraft containing the last survivors of their once-great empire. The Galactica's commander, Adama, hopes to find safe refuge on the lost 13th colony, Earth. With little time to escape the advancing Cylon army, the fleet is not properly equipped with food and fuel for the prolonged space voyage ahead. The Galactica heads for an ore planet named Carillon where they discover a vast resort complex populated by humans who do not know of the destruction of their home worlds. Soon, Starbuck and Apollo discover the grisly secret of the casino, which is run by the insect creatures known as Ovions, as Adama attempts to prevent a mass Cylon attack from wiping out the last remaining humans.

Lost Planet of Gods

(Part 1–September 24, 1978; Part 2 –October 1, 1978) Writers: Glen A. Larson and Don Bellisario. Director: Chris Nyby Jr. Guest Cast; Jane Seymour (Serina).

Two Viper pilots return to the Galactica from a space mission to a nearby planet where they pick up a highly contagious disease. Eager to attend the engagement party of Apollo, they skip decontamination procedures. Within hours, every Viper pilot is stricken with the mysterious disease. Apollo and Starbuck, who had not yet arrived at the party, have escaped contamination and must now lead a group of inexperienced shuttle pilots to fly the Galactica's defensive patrols. As the Cylon basestar, under the command of the traitor Baltar, forces the Galactica into a magnetic void, Apollo and Serina are married. At the end of the Void, the Galactica comes upon the planet Kobol, the legendary birthplace of humanity. There, as Adama searches for information about locating Earth, Baltar launches his surprise Cylon attack.

The Lost Warrior

(October 8, 1978) Writer: Don Bellisario from a story by Don Bellisario and Herman Groves. Director: Rod Holcomb. Guest Cast: Kathy Cannon (Bella), Lance LeGault (Bootees), Claude Earl Jones (LeCerta), Red West (Marco), Johnny Timko (Puppis).

Apollo is marooned on a Wild West-like planet where he befriends a widowed young woman and her son. The woman's husband was killed by Red Eye, the gunman thug of the evil LeCerta. LeCerta extracts money from the townspeople by demanding tribute, lest they face Red Eye. Apollo learns that Red Eye is, in fact, a Cylon Centurion who was damaged in a crash and believes that LeCerta is Imperious Leader. Apollo decides to challenge the Cylon to a duel. Armed with a Colonial blaster that belonged to the young woman's husband, a Colonial Warrior also marooned, Apollo meets the Cylon in the town square. Only the fastest draw will win.

The Long Patrol

(October 15, 1978) Writer: Don Bellisario. Director: Chris Nyby Jr. Guest Cast: James Whitmore Jr. (Robber), Ted Gehring (Croad), Sean MCClory (Assault), Tasha Martell (Adulteress), Cathy Paine (Cora the Computer).

Starbuck is assigned to test out a new Viper equipped with an ultra-fast propulsion system and a sentient talking computer named Cora. Unfortunately for Starbuck, because of the size of the new engine, the ship has no laser generators to fire the guns. He loses his ship to a crafty renegade convict. When Starbuck attempts to pursue the thief, he is captured by prison officials who mistake him for the thief. He is taken to a planet where he discovers prisoners who are the descendents of people who were imprisoned long ago.

Gun on the Ice Planet Zero

(Part 1–October 22, 1978; Part 2– October 29, 1978) Writers: Leslie Stevens, Michael Sloan and Don Bellisario. Director: Alan Levi. Guest Cast: Roy Thinnes (Croft), James Olson (Thane), Dan O'Herlihy (Dr. Ravashol), Danny Miller (Ser Five Nine), Christine Belford (Leda), Britt Ekland (Tenna).

Adama realizes that the Galactica is being herded into the path of a giant pulsar cannon by Cylon forces. Apollo and Starbuck are sent down to the icebound planet on a search-and-destroy mission with a dangerous band of criminals, who are also demolition experts. The Galactica team discovers and joins forces with an enslaved society of clones and they launch their attack on the enemy mountain fortress.

The Magnificent Warriors

(November 12, 1978) Writer: Glen A. Larson. Director: Chris Nyby. Guest Cast: Brett Somers (Siress Belloby), Barry Nelson (Bogan), Eric Server (Dipper), Dennis Fimple (Duggy).

When a food crisis threatens starvation, Adama finds he must rekindle an old flame with a woman who has the equipment the farmers on the rural planet of Serenity will trade grain for. However, the farmers steal the equipment and con Starbuck into the short-lived occupation of sheriff. It appears that a band of pig-like creatures called Borays have killed all the previous sheriffs.

The Young Lords

(November 19, 1978) Writers: Don Bellisario, Frank Lupo and Paul Playdon. Director: Don Bellisario. Guest Cast: Bruce Glover (Megan), Charles Bloom (Kyle), Audrey Landers (Miri), Brigitte Muller (Ariadne), Adam Man (Nilz).

After crash-landing on the planet Trillion, Starbuck is rescued by a band of children who intend to trade him to the Cylons who are holding their father captive.

The Living Legend

(Part 1–November 26, 1978; Part 2–December 3, 1978) Writer: Glen A. Larson. Director: Vince Edwards. Guest Cast: Lloyd Bridges (Cain), Rod Haase (Tolan), Junero Jennings (Launch Officer on the "Pegasus").

Apollo and Starbuck encounter the lost battlestar Pegasus, under the command of the legendary military leader Cain. Cain insists that the battlestars join forces and attack the Cylon base on Gamoray, but Adama is sure that it is a suicidal idea. Cain, however, is obsessed with the idea and takes steps to force Adama into agreeing with his plan. While a team of paratroopers make a surprise attack on the Gamoray base, Commander Cain attacks Baltar's basestar fleet with the Pegasus.

Fire in Space

(December 17, 1978) Writers: Jim Carlson and Terrence McDonnell. Director: Chris Nyby. Guest Cast: William Bryant (Fireleader), Jeff MacKay (Crewman).

A Cylon kamikaze attack leaves Adama critically injured as a fire spreads throughout the giant battlestar. Boomer, Athena and Boxey are trapped between the walls of flame; only Muffit, the mechanical daggit, can lead the firefighters to their rescue.

War of the Gods

(Part 1–January 14, 1979; Part 2–January 21, 1979) Writer: Glen A. Larson. Director: Dan Haller. Guest Cast: Patrick Macnee (COunt Iblis), Kirk Alyn (Old Man), Bruce Wright (Guard), Paul Coufos (Pilot), John Williams (statesman).

The Galactica and her fleet are besieged by spheres of glowing light that whip around the moving spacecraft. At the same time, a squadron of Viper pilots vanish from the Galactica’s screens as if they never existed. Apollo leads a mission to find the pilots. With Starbuck and Sheba, he follows a trail that leads him to a battle-scarred planet. There the trio comes upon the wreckage of a vast spacecraft, but before they can explore the wreck, they are confronted by the mysterious Count Iblis. The alien is taken back to the battlestar where his charismatic powers win over the trust of most of the fleet, eventually usurping Adama's command. Adama, in turn, demands a test of Iblis' power. The would-be messiah delivers Baltar into the hands of the Council of Twelve. However, Adama soon learns the true identity of the malevolent Count before a life-and-death struggle begins between the mortals and the Prince of Darkness.

The Man with Nine Lives

(January 28, 1979) Writer: Don Bellisario. Director: Rod Holcomb. Guest Cast: Fred Astaire (Chameleon), Anne Jeffreys (Siress Blassie), Lance LeGault (Maga), Robert Feero (Bora), Anthony DeLongis (Taba), Dan Barton (Crewman).

To escape from bloodthirsty Borellians, an aging con man named Chameleon seeks sanctuary aboard the Galactica by convincing Starbuck that he is the Viper pilot's long-lost father. While tests continue aboard the battlestar to confirm the story, the Borellians gain access to the Galactica by joining the Viper pilot training program. Starbuck's life is put on the line as he tries to protect Chameleon from the killers, while an ever-deepening affection grows between the surrogate father and son.

Murder on the Rising Star

(February 18, 1979) Writers: Don Bellisario, James Carlson and Terrence McDonnell. Director: Rod Holcomb. Guest Cast: Frank Ashmore (Ortega), Luman Ward (Pallon), Brock Peters (Solon), Patricia Stitch (Zara), W.K. Stratton (Barton).

Starbuck’s life is on trial as his arch rival, Ortega, is found slain after a heated game of Triad which erupted into a brawl between Starbuck and the unsportsmanlike Ortega. Apollo believes that despite the overwhelming evidence, his longtime mate is not guilty and he sets out to discover who really killed Ortega.

Greetings from Earth

(2-hour special--February 25, 1979) Writer: Glen A. Larson. Director: Ahmet Lateef. Guest Cast: Randy Mantooth (Michael), Bobby Van (Hector), Ray Bolger (Vector), Kelly Harmon (Sarah), Lloyd Bochner (Leiter), Murray Matheson (Geller).

Apollo and Starbuck intercept a primitive spacecraft that contains two adults and four children in a state of suspended animation. When the spacecraft is taken aboard and is believed to be from Earth, the council of Twelve overrides Adama’s power and demands that Dr. Wilker and Dr. Salik release the aliens from their sleep. However, when the aliens regain consciousness, it becomes evident that they cannot survive in the Galactica’s atmosphere. While the entire population becomes riotous in their demand for information from the passengers, Adama enlists the aid of Apollo, Starbuck and Cassiopea to help them escape. The trio escorts the alien to their original destination, the planet Paradeen. Arriving at the alien’s new home, they meet the android caretakers, Hector and Vector. The colonials discover that the aliens are from the planet Terra, part of which is enslaved by the dreaded Eastern Alliance, the ones responsible for destroying the majority of the population on Paradeen. Unknown to the intergalactic assemblage, an Eastern Alliance spacecraft is in pursuit of the aliens Apollo and the others have befriended.

Baltar’s Escape

(March 11, 1979) Writer: Don Bellisario. Director: Rick Kolbe. Guest Cast: Ina Bolin (Siress Tinia), Lloyd Bochner (Leiter), Lance LeGault (Maga), Robert Feero (Bora), Anthony DeLongis (Taba), John Hoyt (Dombra).

While Adama must endure the presence and interference of council representatives Siress Tinia on the bridge, Baltar plans to incite a prison break with the aid of the Alliance Enforcers and the Borellians. To save the fleet, Adama surrenders to Baltar, who demands that his Cylon fighter and its crew are made ready for liftoff, along with the Alliance craft. The Alliance Enforcers escape in their craft but Apollo and Starbuck must discover a way to rescue Adama from Baltar.

Experiment in Terra

(March 18, 1979) Writer: Glen A. Larson. Director: Rod Holcomb. Guest Cast: Edward Mulhare (John), Melody Anderson (Brenda), Nehemiah Persoff (Supreme Commander), Ken Swofford (Max).

Apollo and Starbuck catch up with the escaping Eastern Alliance craft and follow it back to Terra. But before they can make contact with the planet, they are plucked out of space by the same super race that helped them defeat Count Iblis. The alien’s representative, John, asks them to help him prevent a war that will affect them all. Apollo is sent down to the planet, assumes the identity of a Terran astronaut, and must somehow stop the war that will wipe out both sides.

Take the Celestra

(April 1, 1979) Writers: Jim Carlson and Terrence McDonnell. Director: Dan Haller. Guest Cast: Ana Alicia (Aurora), Paul Fix (Kronus), Nick Holt (Charka), Randy Stumpf (Damon), Richard Styles (Hermes).

When Starbuck enlists Apollo’s aid in helping him win back the affections of his long lost love, Aurora, they become involved in a power struggle between Kronus, the iron fisted commander of the Celestra, a power hungry junior officer and the Celestra’s mutinous freedom fighting crew who want to remove the commander from power.

The Hand of God

(April 29, 1979) Writer and Director: Dan Bellisario.

Weary of running from their encounters with the relentless Cylons, Adams and his crew choose to take on their enemy’s basestar which a long range patrol has discovered nearby. Their only hope of success is that Starbuck and Apollo can sneak aboard the enemy ship and blind its scanners. Using Baltar’s captured ship, the duo make their bid at an impossible task which may prove to be their last mission.

Vehicle Guide

Ragtag Fleet: Vehicles carrying surviving humans away from Cylons

Trans-Stellar Space Service: Spaceship

Gemoni Freight: Immense passenger vehicle

Alphashuttle & Starliner: Transport ships

Tauron Bus Lines: Small space trams

Rising Star: Luxury liner with Astral Restaurant

Sanitation Ship: Space-age garbage truck Also—Intergalactic passenger liners, freighters, tankers, buses, air taxis, troop carriers, ships of burden

Galactica: Super-speed carrier/battleship, sole surviving battleship of colonies

Colonial Vipers: Single seater fighter planes capable of exceeding light speed 

Minteral Ships: Landram party (landing party) ships on Carillon

Recon Viper: Superspeed, unarmed, interstellar exploration ship equipped with audio activated computer named CORA

Shuttle: Sub-light vehicle used to transport people or equipment

Glossary Guide

Agro Parts: Items used by farmers

Amgrosa: Scotch-type drink, delicious, rare and very valuable. Note: Do not pronounce “Ambrosia”

Astralons: Meteor-like substances damaging to starships

Battlestar: Immense fightership; a spatial aircraft carrier and battleship combined

Colony: Planet

Consumables: Cylon word for food

Crawlon: Spider

Cryogenic Suspension: Process of freezing humans in cryogen tubes until source of their infection can be determined

Cubit: Gold coin, used for money

Decontamination: Process which all pilots must undergo on returning from a space mission

Di-Ethene: Noxious gas in the atmosphere of the ice planet with the Ravashol pulsar

Edict of Extermination: Cylon's commitment to eradicate the humanoids

Fumarello: Cigar

Golden Cluster: Humans’ highest battle award

Grog: Rum-like beverage

Hydronic Mushies: Very tasty health food

Instructional Period: School

K Biscuit: Snack food

Klaxon: Siren or warning bell

Landram: Transport vehicle used on surfaces

Laser Generators: Starship mechanism that fires the lasers

Lupus: Wolf-like animal

Magnetic Sea (or Abyss): Endless black void in space

Mine: Hive-like structures on Carillon where Chosen Creatures extract tylium

Numo: Compressed air gun, ineffective except for short-distance shooting

Ovines: Sheep-like animals

Perfect Pyramid: Probably like a royal flush; i.e. a winning hand at cards

Pluton: Poisonous substance generated from fallout of neutron elements which contaminates food

Primaries: Basic, healthy food

Pulsar: (Also known as ultimate weapon, ravashol laser) Located on the asteroid Arcta, invented by Dr. Ravashol, originally to communicate across the galaxy. In Cylon hands, converted to the most powerful weapon in the star system.

Seal: Marry (used interchangeably)

Simulator: Control Room aboard the Galactica where pilots train in simulated viper cockpits

Socialator: A great date

Solium: Liquid substance used to propel vehicles

Solenite: Powerful explosive

Book of Strategy: Fighter pilots’ manual

Snow Ram: Land vehicle for use on sub-zero planets

Top Priority Scrambled Code: Method of relaying messages from space vehicles back to Galactica

Transmisison: Any radio or TV signal

Tulipian Buds: A side dish

Tylium: Volatile, valuable resource mined on Carillon

Valcron: Simple, cotton-type material used for curtains, etc.

Vapor Point: Point at which any element vaporizes

Weapons: 
Turbolaser: Viper weapon
Laser: Holstered gun, fires blast of light
Short-spans, Comas, Brain Crystals: Chemical weapons, usually encapsulated, which produce result suggested by their names

Worship of the Sunstorm: Gemonese religious ceremony noted for physical contact between genders Cylon Basestars over Caprica

Warbook: Visual reference library of all characteristics of enemy warships

Expressions

Cut through the feldergarb: Eliminate the bull

Frack: an expletive

Sniff plant vapors: Similar to “take drugs”

By your leave: Cylon response to Imperious Leader commands

Scare the pogees out of: Frighten

Jar my chips: Shake me up

For Sagan’s sake: For God’s sake

Eating ion vapors: Eating the dust of a passing fighter plane 

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