Battlestar Network: Support the Battlestar Galactica revival

raider2.gif (2016 bytes) contents the exclusive battlestar galactica concordance book reviews raiderf.gif (2002 bytes)
what's new in the battlestar zone! lost worlds of battlestar galactica BG fiction
the battlestar galactica revival effort battlestar galactica reviews interesting non-battlestar galactica web links
battlestar galactica interviews battlestar galactica articles visit the modozone, my egocentric part of the site!
battlestar galactica episodes battlestar galactica web links and web rings read my resume! hire me!

epis.gif (7825 bytes)

spacer.gif (836 bytes)capt.gif (1197 bytes)his is by no means intended as a comprehensive guide to every aspect of the episodes, only the basic dates of airing, writer/director, and some interesting facts. already has a good episode guide and Battlestar will have the definitive one once they’ve finished it. If you want more detailed info, check out those sites. Viewers used to seeing BG on the Sci-Fi Channel may wonder what I mean when I refer to “extra scenes are in the two-hour version seen in syndication.” When BG was originally released to syndication in the early 80s, one way it was available to stations was cut into 12 2-hour episodes. This led to some very strange pairings amongst the one hour episodes (for example Murder on the Rising Star and Young Lords were joined up, the end result making Starbuck look like a coward. You’ll remember how in Murder Apollo met Starbuck at his viper and talked him out of escape; in this mess Starbuck leaves anyway) but the two hour episodes were actually improved; since the opening and closing credits were run only once and the “scenes from next week’s/last week’s episode!” segment omitted, there was actually extra time into which footage edited out of the original episode could be edited back in. The 2 part episodes truly have to be seen in this format to be appreciated.

click to see a picture of the Battlestar Galactica cast

PREMIERE 3 hrs. Aired 17 September 1978; never repeated. Written by Glen A. Larson, directed by Richard Colla and Alan J. Levi.

Interesting Facts: According to director Alan J. Levi, the first draft of the premiere was actually the work of Leslie Stevens. There have been at least six different versions of this episode shown publicly, including the original cut shown only to test audiences (complete with Serina’s impending death and the Colonial Hymn scene at the very end), a cut shown in the UK and Canada during the summer of 1978, which reportedly featured the original bare-chested version of the Starbuck/Cassiopiea launch tube tryst, the 3-hour cut shown on ABC-TV in September 1978, a 2-hour cut released as a Sensurround feature in the spring of 1979, a somewhat different 2 hour cut shown on British TV, and the version shown as 3 1-hour episodes in syndication. The video of the premiere is based on the cut shown as a Sensurround feature and the version just released as a DVD is this cut as well. There is a  guide by John Larocque to some of these differing versions on the website. Also see my own article on the premiere, on this website.

Personal Opinion: There really needs to be a “director’s cut” of this, with all of the important scenes at full length and some of the edited material cut in. Universal had a chance to really do a magnificent DVD of this thing, and blew BG fans off with the 2-hour movie cut. Really a shame, because it’s never been seen as it was meant to be.

LOST PLANET OF THE GODS 2 hrs. Pt. 1 aired 24 September 1978, repeated 24 December 1978; pt. 2 aired 1 October 1978, repeated 31 December 1978. Written by Glen A. Larson and Don Bellisario, directed by Christian I. Nyby II.

Interesting Facts: Presumably the third episode in order of filming, and originally entitled Tombs of Kobol, Glen Larson has claimed that this episode was based on three different storylines from three scripts or script proposals which ABC ordered made into one episode, which does explain some of the “bittiness” evident in the wildly varying plotlines about Apollo’s marriage (in the original script proposal to a woman other than Serina, who of course was to have died off-screen after the premiere), the training of the women flight cadets, and the discovery of the lost world Kobol. In connection with this last storyline, a second-unit crew, accompanied by extras who looked nothing like Lorne Greene, Richard Hatch, or Jane Seymour (in fact Seymour’s extra was an Egyptian boy hired locally because of cultural objections to a woman wearing a Colonial “male” pilot uniform), traveled to Egypt to shoot some scenes at the Great Temple at Karnak and the Pyramids of Giza. The 2-hour “movie” version released to syndication and on video has extra scenes, including a very important one of Adama describing what happened on Kobol at the end and how it affected Colonial culture.

EPISODE ANALYSIS of Lost Planet of the Gods by Michael Daly.

THE LOST WARRIOR 1 hr. Aired 8 October 1978, never repeated. Written by Don Bellisario, story by Don Bellisario and Herman Groves, directed by Rod Holcomb.

Interesting Facts: Probably the fourth episode filmed, it bears more than a little resemblance to the classic Western Shane. After BG, Don Bellisario went on to produce Tales of the Gold Monkey (along with other, more successful shows like Quantum Leap and JAG), and rewrote this episode for a TGM episode featuring Anne Lockhart, who noticed and was amused by the resemblance. Rex Cutter, the actor inside “Red-eye’s” Cylon suit, later had the sad duty of portraying “Cy” in the final G80 episode.

THE LONG PATROL 1 hr. Aired 15 October 1978, repeated 23 June 1979. Written by Don Bellisario, directed by Christian I. Nyby II.

Interesting Facts: Probably the fifth episode filmed. Rob Hathaway, father of Noah Hathaway, portrayed the Enforcer who gave “Bootlegger 137” his ambrosa ration. The fighter flown by Croad is very similar to some early Apogee viper designs.

THE GUN ON ICE PLANET ZERO 2 hrs. Pt. 1 aired 22 October 1978, repeated 7 July 1979; Pt. 2 aired 29 October 1978, repeated 14 July 1979. Written by Leslie Stevens, Don Bellisario, and Michael Sloan, based on a story by John Ireland, directed by Alan J. Levi

Interesting Facts: The second episode in order of filming, shot immediately after the premiere, and an important glimpse at the original form of the series before ABC tinkering resurrected Serina (temporarily) and Cassiopiea (permanently). This episode was rather broadly based on a very early (November 1977) script by John Ireland entitled Crossfire. 8 tons of plastic snow was used; the crew had to wear face masks to keep from inhaling it. According to director Alan Levi, a major problem with this episode was not cold, but heat; the cast roasted in their arctic gear in spite of extra air conditioners being brought onto the sound stage. As usual, there are extra scenes in the 2-hour “movie” version.

Personal Opinion: To me this is a very interesting episode, because it is in fact original BG, largely untouched by ABC tinkering. Some have objected to the scientific ridiculousness of the episode, to which my response is, “and which episode wasn’t scientifically ridiculous?!” I definitely would have liked to see Croft return in later episodes.

THE MAGNIFICENT WARRIORS 1 hr. Aired 12 November 1978, repeated 16 June 1978. Written by Glen A. Larson, directed by Christian I. Nyby II.

Interesting Facts: The episode originally scheduled to air on November 12 was Young Lords, suggesting that it was shot first and held up because of some kind of production difficulty. The town of Serenity was a redress of the set originally seen as the deserted town in which Apollo and Boomer found Robber and his family in Long Patrol.

THE YOUNG LORDS 1 hr. Aired 19 November 1978, never repeated. Written by Don Bellisario, Frank Lupo and Paul Playdon, directed by Don Bellisario

Interesting Facts: Originally entitled The Young Warriors. Some of the Baltar/Spectre scenes were later redubbed for Universal’s dreadful G80 compilation The Conquest of the Earth. A scene attempted for this episode but not used featured mounted Cylons; the stuntmen in the Cylon costumes couldn’t see well enough to ride, however, and the scene was scrapped after they kept falling off of their horses!

Personal Opinion: This is a really ridiculous episode, but has some moments, in particular the absolute mobs of Cylons milling around and of course the presence of Specter. Recent information claims that actor Murray Matheson, who portrayed Sire Geller in several later episodes, provided Specter’s voice. Also worth remembering is that even the ‘minor’ episodes of BG had startling production values; you will look in vain to see a show today shot and edited as well as BG was.

THE LIVING LEGEND 2 hrs. Pt. 1 aired 26 November 1978, repeated 2 June 1979; Pt. 2 aired 3 December 1978, repeated 9 June 1979. Written by Glen A. Larson, story by Glen A. Larson and Ken Pettus, directed by Vince Edwards

Interesting Facts: In the version of this episode shown in syndication, the scene in which Cain shows Apollo and Starbuck his hologram of Cassiopiea has been edited in out of original order, probably because some doofus at Universal thought the low IQ viewing public would forget about it by the time Cassiopiea appears in the episode. In this episode we see the only Cylon civilians of the series (one of whom salutes Imperious Leader with a hand-over-the-heart gesture that likely was a spur-of-the-moment impulse on the part of the extra in the costume). According to Anne Lockhart, this episode was to end with the Pegasus destroyed but ABC objected, so the fate of the ship was left ambiguous and persistant rumor has it that had there been a second season of BG, Commander Cain and his ship would have reappeared. Extra scenes are in the 2-hour version seen in syndication. Clearly an idea the production team had knocked around; Don Bellisaro and Glen Larson used the basic idea as a test for Terry McDonnell and Jim Carlson when they joined the show as story editors. This has led to some suggestions that they came up with the idea and/or that Larson’s script was based on their work. It was not

Personal Opinion: I’ve never entirely understood the enthusiasm in BG fandom for Cain and for this episode. The episode itself is incredibly badly-written; we have the insane Baltar, the wild mood-swings of people towards Cain (to Cassiopeia he’s a hero one centon, the next she’s whining about the casualties he’s going to cause), the endlessly repeated five-note “Cain motif” by Stu Phillips, the doofy explanation dialogue (“You see, Adama, the Cylons are machines!” “Wow! Really, Cain?” “Yep. Means they have to follow orders.” Jim Carlson and Terry McDonnell are both eloquent about how much that exchange made them cringe), some really (and uncharacteristically) bad acting from Laurette Spang, some really horrific “special” effects (the colliding shuttles are a notable low) and of course the freakish Cain-worship of the entire script. As for Cain, it amazes me that he was allowed to keep bragging about how great a warrior he was, but no one ever stood up and said, “Uh, yes, sir, but what about Molecay?” Not to mention the continuous outbursts of insubordination. There’s some good stuff here, but also more to wonder about than most fans appear to believe.

FIRE IN SPACE 1 hr. Aired 17 December 1978, repeated 8 April 1979. Written by Jim Carlson and Terrence McDonnell, based on a story by Michael Sloan, directed by Christian I. Nyby II.

Interesting Facts: This episode and Murder on the Rising Star were very broadly based on a 2-hour script by Michael Sloan also called Fire in Space, but story editors Carlson and McDonnell never actually saw it. While the episode has some notable characterization, it is a mess from the scientific viewpoint and some of the production values are noticeably cheesy; the spacesuits are notably bad, and in the opening viper launch sequence a piece of stock footage of Sheba wearing her Pegasus helmet shows up. The dramatic original ending written by Carlson and McDonnell, featuring Apollo and Starbuck frantically laying charges under the pressure of an incoming Cylon attack, was spoiled by typical ABC tinkering. This may have been the last episode shot before BG went on Christmas hiatus, as the thrust of the series changes dramatically thereafter; the Cylons are toned down considerably and Adama begins to emphasize in his prologues how close the fleet seems to be getting to Earth. It was probably at about this time that Glen Larson realized that ABC was intending to cancel the series, so he evidently decided to go out on a high note, with the fleet nearing its goal. It is impossible to say how the series might have progressed otherwise.

WAR OF THE GODS 2 hrs. Pt. 1 aired 14 January 197, repeated 21 July 1979; Pt. 2 aired 21 January 1979, repeated 28 July 1979. Written by Glen A. Larson, directed by Dan Haller

Interesting Facts: The wrecked ship found by Apollo, Starbuck, and Sheba on Iblis’ planet was built up from pieces scavenged from sets used in Universal’s TV movie Brave New World. A scene which was filmed but cut on orders from ABC showed what the warriors discovered in the wrecked ship—the corpse of a demon-like creature The result of this editing led to endless speculation among fans as to just what the ship was (a popular rumor at the time—take it from one who was there!—is that the wreckage was the Pegasus and that was why Apollo warned Sheba to stay back. Instead, it was just Apollo’s priggish squeamishness!). The 2-hour “movie” version shown in syndication includes a longer version of the Council debate and an extra scene in the Galactica landing bay after Apollo, Starbuck, and Sheba return from their encounter with the Ship of Lights. Interestingly, in an interview actor Patrick Macnee casually mentioned that this episode was written by Michael Sloan who, if he did indeed contribute, is uncredited.

Personal Opinion: Very possibly the best over-all episode, in my opinion. Patrick Macnee has a real presence, almost a majesty as Iblis, like Lucifer in Paradise Lost. Something I’ve never noticed mentioned elsewhere is the dignity and courage shown by Baltar when he decides to go to the fleet under truce to confer with Adama, a startling contrast with the “insane, crazed” Baltar we too often were afflicted with. There could have been many interesting facets to the Baltar character, but Larson never chose to explore them. Another thing worth noticing is Colonel Tigh’s reaction to Iblis when the warriors first bring him on board; he obviously knows something’s wrong but isn’t sure exactly what. There are real depths here, and indications of what BG could have been with better overall direction and more thought.

THE MAN WITH NINE LIVES 1 hr. Aired 28 January 1979, repeated 4 August 1979—the final repeat of the series. Written by Don Bellisario, directed by Rod Holcomb

Interesting facts: This episode was written for Fred Astaire after the famous actor/dancer told Glen Larson at a Hollywood party how much his grandchildren enjoyed the show. Don Bellisario was hung on a name for his villains; in an after-work bull session story editor Jim Carlson casually remarked something to the effect of, “It’s too bad they’re not from an ice planet, you could call them snowmen.” Bellisario shot back “There’s no snow where these guys are gonna be!” Carlson replied, “Then call then nomen.” The rest is history. Working title for this episode was The Furlon.

Personal Opinion: One of the better one-hour episodes; Chameleon is a rather sociopathic character, but played with characteristic grace by Fred Astaire; Astaire’s talent is indicated by the seamlessness with which he fits into the Galactica world. One thing in this episode I find bothersome is the repeated references to Starbuck’s having been orphaned “twenty yahrens ago.” Since Starbuck cannot remember his parents, he would have been at most three or four at the time—which would put him in his twenties at the time of the series. Dirk Benedict was in his early thirties at the time of Battlestar Galactica, and I think we should assume that Starbuck was also—he certainly doesn’t look younger to me—and that the attack on Umbra took place not twenty, but closer to thirty yahrens ago. Another example of the production team not thinking things through (they always had problems with numbers anyway. Only fifty million beings in the entire Delphian Empire? Karibdis responsible for only a million deaths in Caprica City? Hmmm).

MURDER ON THE RISING STAR 1 hr. Aired 18 February 1979, never repeated. Written by Don Bellisario, Jim Carlson and Terrence McDonnell, based on a story by Michael Sloan, directed by Rod Holcomb

Interesting facts: Although Michael Sloan received story credit for this episode, Carlson and McDonnell report that they never actually saw his script Fire in Space. Sloan’s story in fact was extensively different; about the only thing it had in common with Murder on the Rising Star is the fact that a murder was committed. There were actually more similarities (including Adama’s wounding) in the Carlson/McDonnell Fire in Space. Both Carlson and McDonnell report that they wrote this episode in 36 hours straight.

Personal Opinion: A solid episode with some very nice characterization, old Black Sheep Jeff MacKay popping back up as Komma and W.K Stratton as Barton, but the Colonial judicial system portrayed here is completely inane and seems concocted for the purposes of the plot. I personally found the flashback to the holocaust rather interesting, as there was a lot of potential for story ideas around that central event.

GREETINGS FROM EARTH 2 hrs. Aired 18 February 1979, never repeated. Written by Glen A. Larson, directed by Ahmet Lateef

Interesting facts: Glen Larson evidently intended Greetings from Earth as a pilot for a more “family-oriented” series broadly based on BG; fortunately ABC did not follow up on the idea. This was the last episode for both Maren Jensen and Noah Hathaway; Boxey probably would have turned up in a second season, Athena might not have (according to Terry McDonnell there was actually some talk about killing Athena off and bringing her spirit back in the body of a man!). The model and full-size mockup of Michael’s shuttle were redressed props from the Buck Rogers premiere. Donald Mantooth, brother of Randy “Michael/Johnny Gage” Mantooth and at-the-time boyfriend of Laurette Spang appears in this episode as a medtech (interestingly, he appeared in at least one Emergency! as a paramedic!), while children of Glen Larson and Lorne Greene portray the children of Michael and Sarah (suggested story title: “Nepotism From Earth”). A second-unit crew accompanied by Dirk Benedict and the late Bobby Van traveled to Montreal, Canada, to shoot some scenes on the Ile Notre Dame, site of Expo 67. This episode started one hour earlier than usual, confusing many fans (including yours truly!) who didn’t have a chance to see the first (and slightly less horrible) hour of the show until it reappeared in syndication!

Personal Opinion: Yikes! Is this the worst BG episode? If not, it’s well in the running. It’s certainly notably poorly written. Apollo suffers in particular as his character is responsible for bringing the Lunar Seven ship on board and then spends the rest of the first hour ranting and raving that it be let go. Also notable is that much of Richard’s dialogue has been redubbed, badly (either to tone down or tone up his yelling, I suppose). The less said about Hector and Vector and Randy Mantooth’s “acting” the better. On a more positive note, George Murdock seemed to have a good time!

BALTAR’S ESCAPE 1 hr. Aired 11 March, 1979, never repeated. Written by Don Bellisario, directed by Rick Kolbe

Interesting facts: In the script, Starbuck and Apollo were supposed to dress in the uniforms (shells?) of Baltar’s centurions; the change was a good one as it’s actually more of a surprise that they aren’t in the uniforms. Rick Kolbe went on to work extensively on Star Trek – The Next Generation and directed the episode Blood Oath, which featured John Colicos reprising his classic Trek role as the Klingon Commander Kor.

EXPERIMENT IN TERRA 1 hr. Aired 16 March, 1979, never repeated. Written by Glen A. Larson, directed by Rod Holcomb

Interesting facts: None of the stock missile footage was of ballistic missiles. This script was actually written with the parts of Starbuck and Apollo reversed, but was changed when Richard Hatch complained that Apollo was being deemphasized in favor of Starbuck. To Hatch’s embarrassed surprise the script was hastily rewritten (and, I might add, sketchily rewritten—Apollo’s dialogue sounds suspiciously Starbuckesque throughout). The filmed version was badly edited; the script contains a number of explanatory scenes that were cut. ST – TNG’s John deLancie (Q) appears as a Terran guard in this episode. This was director Rod Holcomb’s last episode; he must have been pretty BG’d out by this time!

Personal Opinion: Apollo’s speech to the Nationalist assembly really goes a long way towards redeeming the Nationalist vs. Eastern Alliance storyline that to me was an unsuccessful attempt to create more “interesting” enemies than the Cylons.

TAKE THE CELESTRA 1 hr. Aired 1 April, 1979, never repeated. Written by Jim Carlson and Terrence McDonnell, directed by Dan Haller

Interesting facts: The only episode in which we see a female warrior in dress uniform. The Celestra landing bay firefight proved troublesome for the writers; ABC censors insisted that every cut to the firefight from other scenes was a new “incidence of violence,” putting the episode well over its allotment. The Celestra control stick is probably the stupidest set dressing of the series.

THE HAND OF GOD 1 hr. Aired 29 April, 1979, never repeated. Written and directed by Don Bellisario

Interesting facts: The final episode and evidently written as such, it was shot nearly a full month after “Celestra” and aired the Sunday after the cancellation of the series was announced. The ‘central core’ of the Cylon base ship is actually a mockup of the Skylab space station; it is possible those scenes were filmed in Houston.


THE BETA PIRATES by Leslie Stevens, a 2-hour screenplay dated 31 October 1977. A good look at the early form of the series (and, if Leslie Stevens is indeed the creator, as some new evidence suggests, the form of the series as he intended it); Apollo is Skyler, Boxey an orphan of unknown origin who Athena cares for. In this script Athena, Boxey, and Muffit are captured by pirates, sold at a slave auction, end up in a Cylon prison, and are finally rescued by Skyler, Starbuck, a pirate with a heart of gold, and Muffit. Despite some similarities to Star Wars, an entertaining script that should have been filmed. One element of this script seems to resurface in Gun; Boxey and Muffit stow away.

CROSSFIRE by John Ireland, a 1-hour screenplay dated November 1977 and originally entitled The Nari of Sentinal 27. Apollo is Skyler, the Cylons are reptiles, and “Lyra” (later Serina) is a member of the Council of Twelve. Similar to but shorter than Gun, which was broadly based on it; added to Gun were Dr. Ravashol, the convicts, Boxey and Muffit, and considerably better characterization.

FIRE IN SPACE by Michael Sloan, a 2-hour screenplay dated 22 June 1978. Michael Sloan told me he wrote this script in Hawaii while Glen Larson worked on a pilot at the other end of the table! This was almost certainly supposed to be the third BG telemovie in the original format, following the premiere and Gun on Ice Planet Zero. Fire in Space and Murder on the Rising Star were very broadly based on this script, which opens with Apollo, Starbuck, and Boomer undercover in a bar on an alien world. Later, Starbuck is charged with murdering the husband of a woman he’s been involved with, the Cylons attack and ram the Galactica, Apollo must lead a dangerous mission to obtain laser power packs for the wounded Adama’s surgery, aided by Starbuck dumping fire retardant on the fire with a viper, the true murderer tries to kill Boxey, who witnessed the crime, but is foiled by Apollo, and all is well in the end (whew!). Not to mention the woman our heroes rescue from the aforementioned bar, who just happens to have a Cylon tracking device implanted in her brain. Really a very good script that deserved to be shot pretty much as is.

SHOWDOWN by Frank Abatemarco, a 1-hour screenplay dated 5 July, 31 July, 3 August, and 15 August 1978. Renegade ground crewmen steal a shuttle and three landprobes—the infamous flying motorcycles of Galactica 1980, built for this apparently nearly-filmed episode—and terrorize a settlement on a newly-discovered planet before Starbuck and Apollo clean their clocks. Like most of the unshot scripts, features Athena prominently (one of the true tragedies of BG is that Maren Jensen couldn’t act).

THE MUTINY by Guy Mager, a 1-hour screenplay dated 2 October 1978. Fairly silly script in which everyone decides they’re tired of the journey and desert the Galactica and fleet to settle a convenient habitable planet. Fortunately the Cylons arrive en masse to cure the Colonials of their delusion.

I HAVE SEEN EARTH by Steve Kreinberg and Andy Guerdat, a 1-hour screenplay dated 26 October 1978, revised 3 November 1978. Concerns a prospector who is forced to abandon an asteroid with a solid gold core when the Cylons arrive; he claims to have been to Earth and endears Boxey to him with his colorful tales. Everyone doubts him, but in the end he gives Boxey a medallion with Earth’s continents engraved on it. This episode was reworked by story editors Carlson and McDonnell and was a candidate for a second-season episode.

TWO FOR TWILLY by Jim Carlson and Terrence McDonnell, a 1-hour screenplay dated 22 December 1978. Now I like Jim Carlson and Terry McDonnell, two of the nicest and most interesting gentlemen you’re ever likely to meet, but I’ve never liked this script, which is broadly based on the Alec Guinness movie Captain’s Paradise. This script was very nearly filmed—it was passed out to the cast and crew and preliminary casting was underway when it was withdrawn (Carlson and McDonnell remember a young and giggly Jamie Lee Curtis reading for one of the roles). The episode is a soap opera concerning a friend of Starbuck and Apollo who has wives all over the fleet.

FINAL FLIGHT by Glen A. Larson. I have never seen this script and in fact I don’t know of anyone who has, but according to Stu Phillips, the Galactica 1980 episode The Return of Starbuck was based on a script written for the original series. Guesswork suggests that only the Starbuck/Cy dialogue in G80 is a direct descendent of this script.

1987, 2000 by Susan J. Paxton


Hosted by