GALACTICA DISCOVERS EARTH

Written by Glen A. Larson

Three Hour Pilot. Original Airdates: Jan. 27, Feb. 3 and 10, 1980

Part One

The Battlestar Galactica and her fleet of 220 ships approach Earth. Commander Adama is informed by Dr. Zee, a child with extraordinary intelligence, that the Cylons have been following them, waiting for them to find Earth so they (the Cylons) can destroy it and wipe out humanity. Zee also reveals that Earth is far too primitive to stand against the might of the Cylon forces. A meeting in a war room is held. A screen shows a simulation of Cylon fighters destroying Los Angeles. Dr. Zee announces that the Galactica will travel past Earth to lead the Cylons away. In the meantime, the Colonials will work to slowly, secretly raise the level of Earth's technology. Lt. Troy and Lt. Dillon are among those selected to go to Earth. Troy is Boxey, Adama's grandson and Apollo's son.

Troy and Dillon fly in their vipers to Earth and are picked up by radar. U.S. air force planes attempt to shoot them down, but the vipers use their invisibility fields to disappear. They land in California and are on their way to see Dr. Mortinson at the Pacific Institute of Technology. Troy and Dillon get on their motorcycles and drive onto the highway, but their futuristic bikes stand out and attract the attention of a group of bikers. The two warriors escape by activating the installed turbos and the bikes fly into the air.

The two try to use a phone booth, but don't know how. They meet Jamie Hamilton, who is looking to get a TV news reporter job. She gives them a ride to the Institute.

Troy and Dillon try to see Dr. Mortinson to give him a formula for clean nuclear power, and temporarily stun a guard in order to get inside. They leave part of the formula on his computer and tell the secretary they can be contacted through Jamie Hamilton at United Broadcasting. They attempt to escape, but are arrested by police. Dr. Mortinson sees the formula and is shocked, realizing that the people who left it could not be from Earth. Later, at United Broadcasting, Jamie is about to have her job interview, when she gets a call from Troy and Dillon, who she saw get arrested on the news. She hangs up, and then gets a call from Dr. Mortinson. He tells Jamie he wants to meet with her. Mr. Brooks, head of the station, has been looking to get an interview with Mortinson, so he offers Jamie the job if she'll meet with him. She agrees.

Troy and Dillon escape from jail using their invisibility fields and intercept Jamie on her way to interview Dr. Mortinson outside the police station. The three greet the doctor and get into his car. Mr. Brooks is filming everything from a news van and follows them. Dillon trys driving the car and his erratic driving causes several police cars to pursue them. Elsewhere, a young boy named Willie Griffin finds the two Colonial Vipers and runs off to tell his dad.

Part Two

Willie tells his dad their are spaceships nearby. Meanwhile, Dr. Xaviar, a member of the Council of the Twelve, tries to convince Adama to use their newly developed time-warping capabilities to introduce technology in Earth's distant past, in the hope that Earth will become more technologially advanced in the present. Adama refuses to support him, siding with Dr. Zee.

Dillon crashes Dr. Mortinson's car into a store window and, using their invisibility fields, they escape with Jamie. On the Galactica, Adama and Dr. Zee are shocked to learn that Xaviar has stolen time travel equipment and traveled to 1944 Germany. They recall Troy and Dillon to the Galactica. Jamies threatens to tell the authorities everything she knows if they don't take her with them, so they give in. Jamie is shocked to find herself flown into outer space, and then taken onboard the massive Galactica. Adama explains their predicament, and Jamie offers to help because she knows more about Earth's history than they do.

Troy, Dillon, and Jamie travel into the past and find themselves flying over 1944 Germany. German planes attempt to shoot them down, but stop when they see the vipers, believing them to be Germany's experimental aircraft. Xaviar has aligned himself with the Nazis and working to build a new kind of rocket. After the trio land, an American plane is shot down and its American pilot, Major Stockwell, parachutes out and lands nearby. Despite Troy and Dillon's urgings, Jamie runs to save him from the oncoming Nazis. Stockwell refuses their assistance, not trusting them. He is caught by the Nazis, but the Galacticans rescue him, so he reluctantly joins up with them. Eventually, the four steal Nazi uniforms and penetrate the military base where Xaviar is.

Part Three

Troy and Jamie enter the bunker and confront Xaviar, but he refuses to surrender. The rocket launches, but Dillon destroys it. Xaviar is taken by the trio to their vipers. That night, they free the Jews on their way to concentration camps. As they prepare to leave, Xaviar activates his invisibility field and escapes. Unable to find him, they head back to 1980.

The trio go back to California. Later, Willie once again finds the Vipers. He calls the police, and Troy and Dillon arrive only to find the military confiscating their ships. The duo find Willie and persuade him to tell them where their vipers were taken. They find out their vipers, along with Xaviar's ship, are at a nearby air force base. Meanwhile, Xaviar locates Dr. Mortinson and tries to get his help in conquering Earth's past. Mortinson refuses, so Xaviar stuns him.

Troy and Dillon find Jamie and go to the base just as Xaviar steals his viper and escapes. Troy and Dillon stun the MPs, get in their vipers, and chase Xaviar into space. They attempt to destroy him, but he time-warps away. They return to the Galactica and Adama asks Jamie to assist Troy and Dillon on their next mission: finding Xaviar in 18th century America.

For a more in-depth synopsis, be sure to read Matthew Wharmby's review of this episode.


Galactica Discovers Earth turns out to be a watchable pilot, but watchable is about all. From the very first episode, the series looks like a cheap attempt by ABC to cash in on the Galactica name by simply reusing the expensive special effects stock footage from the original series. The other episodes would only confirm this. Kent McCord (Troy) and Barry Van Dyke (Dillon) are likable, but they still come off as inferior clones of Starbuck and Apollo. Actually, they really aren't even clones. What made Starbuck and Apollo such a great duo was that they had contrasting personalities. Apollo was the sensitive, serious, do-the-right-thing hero while Starbuck was the funny, charming, reluctant hero. Troy and Dillon have no defining personality traits; they are both exactly alike, which makes them dull despite their potential. Jamie Hamilton comes off as a carbon copy of Lois Lane. Unfortunately, we are never given any backstory to any of these characters.

The idea of the Cylons closing in on Earth and the Colonials trying to advance Earth's technology is a very compelling premise, but even if the series had stayed on this track and avoided the time travel subplots and the Super Scouts, the series still would have likely been doomed. The problem is that Dr. Zee's plan to slowly, subtely increase Earth's technology is flawed. At the rate in which the Colonials were going, it probably would have taken at least decades to get Earth's technology increased enough to be able to fight the Cylons. Long before then, the Cylons would probably tire of waiting and decide to just destroy the Colonial fleet. Even if the Cylons didn't attack, how far could the Galactica lead the Cylons away from Earth before they (the Colonials) were too far away from the planet to ever go back there? It probably would have been smarter to temporarily abandon Earth and lead the Cylons away until Dr. Zee could invent some technology that would allow the Colonials to destroy the Cylon armada. (Actually, since Colonial Vipers can now turn invisible, it should have been fairly easy for the Colonials to launch a surprise attack on the Cylons and defeat them once and for all!) The problem with the original premise of Galactica 1980 is that it would have eventually become tiresome: Troy and Dillon each week would find a way to introduce some new technology (clean nuclear power, etc.) which would make some small improvement, but do little to bring Earth up to the level it would need be to fight the Cylons. As a result, the series could never evolve to the next level (i.e. Earth is ready to fight the Cylons), because the series' budget was too small for any kind of "final battle". As a result, Galactica 1980 was stuck in a rut from the get-go. It tried to distract viewers from the main plot (the Cylon threat) with time travel and cub scout outings because there was little that could be done with the original premise. Even one of the best Galactica 1980 scripts (albeit unproduced), The Wheel Of Fire, was another time travel story. It's hard to imagine that the series could have lasted more than one season regardless of what approach Glen Larson took. The original premise of Galactica 1980 might have worked well in a single movie or perhaps a series of movies, but it's unlikely it could have ever jelled as a weekly series.

The ratings for this episode were nearly as high as the ratings for the original series' pilot.

The original script of this episode contains scenes left out of the final cut. To see them, click here.

Troy shows Dillon a picture of his parents, Apollo and Serina, revealing that he is the grown-up Boxey from the original series.

The October 1997 issue of Starlog (#243) has an interview with Glen Larson where he talks about Galactica 1980: "I regret doing that, but it was an innocent mistake. We loved Battlestar Galactica so much we were looking for an excuse to redo it, and with Galactica 1980, they were willing to give us a shot. But then Standards & Practices killed us because we had a 7pm time slot. They dictated such awful terms that it became a cartoon. It wasn't what it should have been, except for that one episode, 'The Return of Starbuck,' where Starbuck crashes on a planet and makes friends with a wrecked Cylon by rebuilding him. I loved that episode; it was my favorite."

About 30 years have passed since the events of the first series, so the destruction of the Colonies would have occurred around 1950.

Two robot daggits are seen on the Gemini freighter.

Troy, Dillon, and Jamie's time travel adventure in 18th century America was never scripted or produced.

The compelling scientific advancement of Earth premise was sadly dropped after this episode.

The May 1980 issue of Starlog had an interesting interview with Robyn Douglass (Jamie Hamilton) which took place after the three-hour pilot was shot but before it aired and it was known that Galactica 1980 would be picked up by ABC as a regular series. She mentioned she is from Chicago and that this was the only time she didn't have to audition for a part. She came in on a Friday and they started shooting the next day. Douglas talked about how rushed the production of the pilot was. Their costumes were thrown together so fast that she had safety pins in her back and both McCord and Van Dyke's pants were ripping apart at the seams. The last scene of the pilot (in Adama's quarters when he tells them Xaviar has fled to 18th century America) was filmed during the first week of shooting. It was odd because the characters were talking about what a great job they did, and yet the actors had no idea what it was they had done! Douglass would have liked the opportunity to reshoot that scene. The script had flaws that had to be ironed out, such as Jamie calling Troy and Dillon by their names even though she hadn't yet learned them. Douglas compared her character to Jane Fonda in the movie Electric Horseman. She's happy the role isn't sleazy. She also mentioned she is a Star Trek fan. She hopes that Jamie will never have a romantic relationship with either Troy or Dillon (In the unproduced Galactica 1980 script The Wheel Of Fire, Jamie does indeed get romantically involved with Dillon).

The May 1980 issue of Starlog also has an interview with Robbie Rist (Dr. Zee). Rist makes a number of comments he surely must have lived to regret. First, he mentions he's happy that the decision was made to keep Dr. Zee around after the pilot (Too bad for Rist, he was replaced by Patrick Stuart in the very next episode). He said he was a huge fan of the original Galactica series, but it was "depressing." He feels G1980 is better because it mixes humor with drama, and then he compares it with the (pathetic) humor of Buck Rogers. He said Larson is "trying to make the public feel safe with science fiction" (Unfortunately, he made it so silly and non-threatening that no one could take it seriously). Rist called Larson "a great scriptwriter" (After G1980 finished, few fans would agree). Rist's favorite scene in the pilot is when the Cylons attack Los Angeles. Rist said he contributed some little physical things to Dr. Zee's character such as crossing his legs when he's sitting (I'm not making this up) and pressing his fingers together in a pyramid. Dr. Zee is so advanced that he is "above emotion." The set lighting played an important part in the visual characterization of Dr. Zee. An aura of light is literally cast around Zee to make him appear "surrealistic." Rist also mentions he would like to see Dr. Zee get romantically involved with a gorgeous blonde female (God, no!). In the end, Rist was asked what science fiction productions are currently missing. His answer -- he would like to see "a lot more kids!" (Apparently, Larson and ABC were listening because we got an overflow of kids in the very next episode).

Adama comes across as being weak throughout the entire series. He seems unsure of himself, as he always asks Dr. Zee for advice. Many times, Zee simply gives orders without even asking Adama. It is perhaps believable since 30 years have passed since the events of the original series, and the burden of leading the rag-tag fleet through space surely would have taken a tremendous toll on the Galactica's commander. Still, it's a travesty to see him playing second fiddle to Dr. Zee who was easily the most hated character of the entire series.

The scene where Los Angeles is destroyed by Cylon raiders was done using stock footage from the 1974 movie Earthquake combined with stock FX shots of attacking Cylon raiders.

Jamie's farewell to Troy and Dillon at the bus stop is one of the best moments of the entire series (which isn't saying much).

Troy and Dillon's flying turbocycles were originally built for the nearly filmed Battlestar Galactica script Showdown.

In what must be a major disappointment for Galactica fans, it is never revealed what happened to any of the other original characters, with the exception of Starbuck in the final episode. In the outstanding unproduced script The Wheel Of Fire it is revealed that Apollo's fate was a mystery. In the Berkley novelization of Galactica Discovers Earth, it is said that Apollo was killed in battle with the Cylons. Strangely, Starbuck is mentioned as still being alive.

The Berkely novelization is written very well: It is humorous seeing Adama's reaction when he sees television images of football games, cartoons, action movies, etc; Dr. Zee knows a Cylon fleet is following them because he can read their power output from behind Barnard's Star where they are hiding.

The scene where Troy and Dillon give Dr. Mortinson a clue to perfect his nuclear energy formula was borrowed from the 1951 movie The Day The Earth Stood Still.

Although Dr. Mortinson is mentioned frequently throughout the series, the character is never seen again.

Colonial vipers now have the ability to seat two people. In the original series, they could only seat one. Presumably, the only reason for this is so Jamie Hamilton can travel with Troy and Dillon.

All of the Colonial warriors have their jackets fastened tight. In the original series, they wore their jackets unfastened.

Traveling through time causes Troy, Dillon, and Jamie's uniforms to turn white, just as Starbuck, Apollo, and Sheba's uniforms did when they were on board the Ship of Lights in the Battlestar Galactica episode War Of The Gods.

Boomer has gray hair and is revealed to be the Colonel of the Galactica.

Herbert Jefferson, Jr. (Boomer) was interviewed in the October 1998 issue of Starlog. Regarding fans' rejection of Galactica 1980, Jefferson said, "I'm with the fans. As an actor, I was happy to be employed, and there was always the hope that it would get better. At least they promoted Boomer to a lieutenant colonel. But what good is that if they give you less responsibility? I didn't get to do anything! It was very, very disappointing. Lorne and I were the only original cast members to return. I was happy to see Lorne again, but I missed my family - the rest of the cast, the crew. Dirk did come back to do one show, a Robinson Crusoe in space theme, and he was wonderful."

Dr. Zee is the only character on either series shown wearing glasses.

The opening title sequence is terrible, composed entirely of stock footage from the original series. It looks like a bunch of sequences sloppily scotch-taped together, which was undoubtedly the case since the show was rushed into production.

Richard Lynch (Xaviar) played Wolfe in the Battlestar Galactica episode The Gun On Ice Planet Zero. He also appeared as Count Iblis in Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming, the movie trailer created by Richard Hatch. Lynch is the only actor to have appeared in both series and the trailer.

Pamela Susan Shoop (Dr. Mortinson's secretary Miss Carlyle) played the IFB interviewer in the Battlestar Galactica episode The Man With Nine Lives.

Ted Gehring (the sheriff in patrol car) played Croad in the Battlestar Galactica episode The Long Patrol.

There is an early script of Galactica Discovers Earth which is very similar except Starbuck and Apollo are substituted for Troy and Dillon. Also, Baltar takes the place of the villain Xavier and is a member of the Council of the Twelve. (?) This script was written when it was believed the original cast might return to the series.

At the end of several episodes there is a message on the screen: The United States Air Force Stopped Investigating UFOs In 1969. After 22 Years, They Found No Evidence Of Extra-Terrestrial Visits And No Threat To National Security (This is yet another example of the educational dialogue required by the network).

Kent McCord (Troy) was a choice of Glen Larson for the role of Apollo in the original series, but ABC preferred Richard Hatch. McCord was not originally hired to play Troy. The original actor was fired on the first day of shooting, and then McCord was brought in.

Richard Hatch's movie trailer, Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming, ignores the events of Galactica 1980. The only borrowing from the series is Troy, the new name for the grown-up Boxey, played by Mickalean McCormick.

Galactica 1980 story editors Allan Cole and Chris Bunch were blackmailed into working on the show. They were told that if they didn't take the job, they would never work for Universal again. There is a hilarious interview in which they talk about what it was like working for Glen Larson and how screwed up the whole series was. To read the interview, click here.

Blooper 1 - During the computer simulation of the Cylon attack on Los Angeles, when we see the Cylons inside their ships, the window of the cockpit shows the blackness of outer space even though the attack is taking place during broad daylight!

Blooper 2 - When Troy and Dillon first enter Earth's atmosphere in the beginning of part one, stock footage is used from The Gun On Ice Planet Zero. As the vipers fly, a mountain appears and the reflective glare of the Ravashol pulsar can be seen.

There are amazing similarities between Galactica Discovers Earth and Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. In that movie, Admiral Kirk and crew time travel to 1980s Los Angeles and there is a great deal of "fish out of water" humor. The difference, of course, is in the execution. Also, Independence Day is similar to Galactica Discovers Earth. In that movie, aliens come looking to destroy the Earth and launch and attack on Los Angeles. In Galactica Discovers Earth, we see a simulation of a Cylon attack on Los Angeles.

A band named Ookla The Monk makes a reference to Galactica 1980 in a song called Tommy: "Everything good turns to crap. It turns to crap and I don't mean maybe, just like Galactica 1980. It turns to crap. Crap!"

Galactica 1980 is not available on home video. The only video available is the telemovie Conquest Of The Earth.


Galactica 1980 Episode Guide

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