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SAGA OF A STAR WORLD

Written by Glen A. Larson

Original Airdate: September 17, 1978

Three-hour pilot

Review by Matthew Wharmby

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

Where it all began. After a monumental betrayal that leads to the destruction of their civilisation, a battered band of human survivors gather together under the protection of one last surviving warship. Their destination? A long-forgotten sister world known as Earth.

THE PLOT:

It's the seventh millennium of time, and after a thousand yahrens of bitter war, it seems that at last peace is at hand. The battlestar fleet of the Twelve Colonies has gathered to receive envoys from the Cylon Empire who will sign an historic peace treaty. The peace overtures have been as sudden as they have been complete, however, and not all the humans present are convinced. Aboard the flagship battlestar Atlantia, President Adar is glowing with pride at his monumental accomplishment, but at the preliminary ceremony Commander Adama is less convinced. 'Forgive me,' he says wanly to the president, 'but they hate us with every fibre of their being.' Adar won't be swayed. 'They asked for this armistice. They want peace,' he insists, almost still surprised. 'Through Baltar.'

TV guide ad for Saga Of A Star World. Aboard the Galactica, you get the feeling that the weary pilots are looking forward to peace - sort of. Only young Lieutenant Zac is still mad to get into the air before he and scores of other warriors are put out of a job. We get our first glimpse of Lieutenant Starbuck, fresh out of the shower in nothing but a green towel and smoking a big fat cigar, being begged by Zac to let him take his place in the upcoming patrol. When Apollo strides in and wonders what's going on, Zac explains that Starbuck's not feeling well. When this fails to convince his older brother, Zac insists that the patrol's as easy as pie - just once round the old moon Cimtar on the flanks of the location of the peace rendezvous and back again. When Apollo agrees, Zac is elated. The two older warriors sigh. 'Were we ever like that?' they wonder wistfully at the young blood's enthusiasm. Apollo and Zac launch, and for the first time we hear Apollo's feelings about the end of the war and the unanswered question as to just what everyone is going to do afterwards. 'Once the war is over, we can get back to deep space exploration,' Apollo tells Zac, who's still just awestruck at the sensation of being in space itself. 'That's the real challenge.' When they reach Cimtar, the two viper pilots are puzzled to discover ther transmissions are being jammed. They speculate whether it could be pirates before approaching the moon's heavy cloud cover to take a closer look. There they discover two Cylon fuel tankers, empty and apparently abandoned. That still doesn't answer their question, but as Apollo dips below the cloud cover, he realises with horror that the peace process is a sham. As far as the eye can see are phalanxes of Cylon fighters, a thousand strong - ready to attack! Apollo and Zac about-turn in a hurry, but four Cylon fighters take off after them. Still unable to contact the fleet, they're going to have to run or fight - and with it being Zac's first patrol, that puts the Colonials at a disadvantage. Straight away, they execute the classic reverse thrust manoeuvre (right hand button on the joystick) which shoots them behind their pursuers, surprising the Cylons enough that a counterattack can be mounted. Zac and Apollo bag one raider each before the third pulls his own reverse on Zac and gets into position to blow away his high engine. Apollo finishes off the rest of the enemy, but Zac's ship is crippled and unable to keep speed with his brother. Zac insists that Apollo get to the fleet as fast as he can and warn them of the attack force coming, but even as Apollo does so, he's reluctant to leave his brother behind.

As Commander Adama returns from the Atlantia to his own ship, the Galactica, his XO Colonel Tigh has already picked up jammed signals from about the location where Apollo and Zac were patrolling. Concerned that it could be smugglers but pretty certain of who it really is, Adama contacts President Adar. Predictably, the president vetoes Adama's suggestion that an intercept be launched, and especially when the oily Baltar advises him against it. Forbidden from launching vipers, Adama decides to mount a battle stations drill instead.

Th sound of the klaxon ruins the card game Starbuck has turned his attention to after skiving patrol with Apollo. He'd been winning as well, but the furore of the red alert enables his opponents to make away with Starbuck's cubits, carrying them in a helmet. Still, the drill is executed to perfection and all the Galactica's pilots are in their vipers in no time, though they're not sure why.

The Galactica picks up one viper returning still unable to communicate, but far behind, the Cylon armada is gaining on Zac's ship. Adama contacts Adar again to warn him that a wall of unidentified craft is approaching, but still Adar vacillates when urged to launch countermeasures. Baltar warns of a peace-threatening misunderstanding 'with all those pilots in the sky at once,' before moving out of shot and off the bridge.

Is Jane Seymour beautiful or what!!! As Zac gets within sight of the fleet, the young pilot is thrilled to be apparently safe, despite now being rocked by shots from the advancing Cylons. It's this that stuns the President when he finally sees it for himself. Adar turns to the one person who has been clarifying all this for him for the last few weeks - and Baltar is gone. All it takes is for the closest Cylon fighter to line up Zac's viper and casually blow him out of the sky right in front of the fleet - the first casualty of billions. 'What was that?' Adar says as he sees the huge and exceptionally cruel fireball. Blankly, Adama delivers one of his finest lines as Athena collapses into sobs. 'That was my son, Mr President.'

A thousand Cylon fighters tear into the fleet and the battle is on! The Galactica immediately launches its vipers, but the other battlestars are caught napping and swiftly become unable to defend themselves. Accordingly, we see the Galactica's deck cannon crank into action, blasting away to take out a few of the raiders that have slipped by the hopelessly undermatched vipers. The Atlantia hasn't even managed to get itself on red alert as a bewildered Adar just stands there on its bridge.

Apollo has got on board the Galactica and rushes to the bridge to beg to go back and lead Zac's disabled ship in. 'That won't be possible,' is all a grim Adama can say before Tigh has to break it to him that his brother is dead. Apollo just turns away, his face racked with anguish. And out there the fleet is beginning to take heavy casualties. Allowed thirty seconds to collect himself, Apollo is then asked by Tigh for hard military facts, specifically how many base-stars the Cylons are operating from. 'No base-stars,' insists Apollo, citing the empty tankers. The Cylon strategy doesn't seem to make sense to Colonel Tigh, who argues 'Why operate this far from Cylon without baseships when it isn't necessary?' But Adama knows - the base-stars aren't supporting the attack on the fleet because they're somewhere else. One last entreaty to the President, this time to withdraw from the fleet and attempt to defend the Colonies, finds him a broken man. The realisation that the Cylon base-stars are about to attack the twelve planets themselves sends Adar into fits of weeping, oblivious to the explosions tearing up the Atlantia underneath him. 'How could I have been so completely wrong?' he sobs.

At that moment the victorious Cylons target the Atlantia specifically, performing suicide runs in raiders packed with explosives. One by one the Atlantia Death Squadron piles into the landing bays and eventually into the flagship's bridge. Adama orders the Galactica's bridge shield raised for just long enough to see the Atlantia blow completely and flare away into the night. This more than anything symbolises the disaster befalling them - but far worse is to come. This is when the Galactica's scanners locate three Cylon base ships exactly where Adama feared they would be.

We then move to the leading Cylon base ship, first following a Cylon fighter as it descends into the bowels of the ship, then tracking a pair of Cylon centurions as they enter the throne room of the Imperious Leader. 'By your command,' they utter before the throne, whch turns around to reveal the spectacularly ugly and thoroughly menacing Imperious Leader himself. 'The final annihilation of the life form known as Man,' he declaims in satisfaction, with a heavy echo adding to his evil. 'Let the attack begin.'

The Galactica falls back, pulling out of the battle to the astonishment of Starbuck and his fellow viper pilots, who think she's simply making a run for it. They don't realise Adama is attempting to defend the Colonies. Down on Caprica, the capital planet of the twelve Colonies, peace festivities are in full swing. About the last thing the happy citizens would expect, therefore, is wave after wave of Cylon fighters wading in, completely unopposed, blowing away any and everything they can target. The population runs, but there's nowhere to go, of course, as the Cylons make strafing runs at treetop height, picking off anything with a pulse. Serina, covering the peace ceremony for local television, has to turn her cameras to the unfolding holocaust as buildings come crashing down. Not far from where she's standing, a kid (Boxey) is chasing his daggit that's escaped, but a structure collapses right over it and she's only able to snatch the boy out of danger. All she can do is take cover and watch in disbelief as the planet goes up in flames.

A photo of the missing Anthem scene that was shot to be the ending of Saga Of A Star WorldAboard the Galactica, the bridge watches the attack unfold from local video feeds, completely impotent and unable to intervene. The bridge crew just sit there in tears as reports come in that every planet has been subjected to devastating attacks. Even Adama can barely hold himself together. As the Cylons complete their attack on the outer planets, Adama requests a personal shuttle to take him down to Caprica. Apollo insists he go with him in his fighter (it would have a to be a two-man variant if Adama didn't want to have to sit on his son's lap or, more likely, hang on to one of the wings!).

The devastating statistics of the holocaust begin to come in, with two-thirds of the Galactica's vipers destroyed and, shockingly, no battlestars - they've all been lost. Not far away, Starbuck is tearing through space with his throttles stuck open, his viper in tatters and completely out of control. Athena and Tigh attempt to steer him through some field repairs, but it's a crash-landing and a half. Athena runs down to the landing bay to find Starbuck furious and blaming her father for the catastrophic defeat. She has to explain to him that the colonies are gone.

A poignant scene follows down on Caprica, where Adama allows himself finally to weep as he sifts through the burned-out ruins of his home, specifically grieving for his wife, whose body is not seen but who presumably has been killed. 'I was never there for you,' he chokes. Not far away, Apollo sights refugees, with Serina and Boxey among them straggling their way across the hills, but Adama is broken. The refugees rail against Apollo for abandoning them, but Adama gets the germ of an idea, instructing them to gather in any remaining ships and get off the planets as fast as they can, rendezvousing with the Galactica. As Adama runs down the list of planet names and cultures, we see some of the rag-tag fleet assembling for the first time - the livestock ship made of three film cans, the Gemini freighter, the Rising Star and the snub-nosed Prison Barge. Not forgetting the Colonial Movers Freighter, with 'We Move Anywhere' emblazoned proudly on its flank.

Dawn has broken over a still burning Caprica, and a very pleased with himself Baltar stands in the same spot in Adama's garden that Adama himself was occupying a few hours ago. His two centurion guards apprise him of the situation, telling him that some ships are escaping. Irrespective of the fact that he is a human himself, Baltar instructs the Cylons to spare nobody. Already we get the feeling that Baltar is letting his mouth write cheques his ass won't be able to cash - or, in the more polite form, pride comes before a fall. Imperious Leader also gets wind of this through a centurion by the name of Serpentine. Irritated that Baltar is apparently letting stragglers get away towards the surviving Galactica, he orders Baltar brought to him to account for his actions.

Once the fleet is assembled behind the Galactica, Adama meets representatives of the survivors to ponder their next step. According to the religious mythology of the Colonies, human history records that their civilisation was made up of thirteen tribes who left their mother world and settled on the Colonies. The thirteenth tribe did not. They journeyed to a planet beyond their galaxy, one that may have thrived albeit in the absence of any knowledge even of where it is. The planet's name is ... (pause for effect)... Earth.

As the fleet gets going, Starbuck, Apollo, Boomer and other warriors shuttle from ship to ship assessing the supply and damage situation. Their first port of call is the Gemini, a wretched-looking industrial rustbucket crammed to the rafters with the starving, wounded and destitute. The conditions are truly shocking, with cries going up for food and water. A sick old man's wife appeals for help but in Gemonese, and when the nearest speaker of the language translates for her, she is abused by nearby refugees who look at her like scum. This is the socialator Cassiopeia, incongruous in an evening gown. A man piques Apollo's curiosity by insisting that bureauticians on the upper levels are continuing to live in luxury while the rest of the population is starving. On the way back, Apollo finds out that there isn't any food at all and that nobody's admitting to it for fear of starting riots. In a quiet corner of the Galactica bridge, Colonel Tigh places a call to Adama on a mobile telecom. 'It's starting.' Meanwhile Starbuck's taken a fancy to Cassiopeia, discovering that she's injured. He's fascinated by the fact that she's a socialator, although she insists that it's an honourable profession. The people that had been giving her stick were members of a religious sect that disapproved of physical contact except during sanctioned periods seven years apart. Suddenly it all becomes clear to Starbuck. 'No wonder those little buggers are such good card players,' he states, remembering his jackpot that got carted off in some Gemon's helmet. Since this is about the last thing you'd expect anyone to say at such a sensitive moment, Cassie can't help but smile. Cue the beginning of the series' most important, if distinctly erratic, relationship.

Apollo diverts the shuttle to the Rising Star where Jolly tells him that the food stores have been contaminated by pluton poisoning. Big trouble will be brewing if they let slip to the population that there's absolutely NO food whatsoever now, so they have to keep their mouths shut as they head upstairs. As they do, Apollo is stopped by Serina, who's managed to get aboard but explains that Boxey is so traumatised by the loss of his daggit that he's stopped speaking. She remembers that the little lad brightened when Apollo showed him his viper, and wonders if he might not be able to help again. Apollo casually asks the kid if he might not be interested in signing up as a viper pilot. It's not working, especially when Boxey says there are no daggits left, but Apollo promises him the first one that comes along, giving him a collar pin to boot. Something's happening between Serina and Apollo, an affair somewhat sweeter and shyer in manner than those pursued by the old rogue Starbuck.

Upstairs another level, Boomer has to pull his gun on a recalcitrant security guard who's preventing him from getting into the staterooms currently occupied by Sire Uri. When the warriors get inside they're disturbed to find a party going on as if nothing was amiss. The debauched Uri is sat there surrounded by loose women and drink, and Apollo orders Uri's food stocks distributed throughout the ship. That's one enemy he's gained, and a powerful one, especially since Uri is one of the newly elected replacement Council members.

Cassie's arm is fixed in the Life Center, but can't bear to go back to the Gemini. Starbuck offers to help her with accommodation.

Following the encouraging news that the fleet has for the moment slipped clear of the Cylon umbrella, the Council is convened to discuss the immediate objective regarding food. Carillon is the closest populated planet, albeit distant. Uri suggests they stop on Borallus to resupply, but Adama reckons that the Cylons have outposts there. Watching from the corner, Apollo offers an intermediate solution. The fleet can save time by taking the direct route to Carillon through the unpatrolled Nova of Madagon. Although the passage is mined by the Cylons for this reason, Apollo suggests clearing it first with viper fire. Seeing that Adama does not approve, Sire Uri agrees straightaway. Starbuck is about to skedaddle when Apollo mentions the words 'volunteer', but Apollo surprises them from another doorway, and he's got his volunteers.

A mission of a slightly more personal nature is accomplished when Apollo fulfils his promise to sort Boxey out with a daggit. Turns out that Doctor Wilker has put together a robot daggit that can be used to take the place of the trained daggits that warrior teams used to use when they visited alien worlds. When the little lad meets Muffit II, it's love at first sight - and it's not that far behind for his mum and Apollo.

Talking of love at first sight, Starbuck's lured Cassie into about the one place anybody can get any privacy on the Galactica - the launch bay. There she admires his long, hard... viper (bear with me!) and replaces his filthy old cigar with her tongue. She's so good at the socialator game that she's practically using his own lines back on him, and thereby they can get down to the most old-fashioned of pursuits, in the thoroughly romantic setting of the launch tube. On the bridge Athena asks Colonel Tigh where her boyfriend is. When Tigh remembers seeing him in the landing bay, Athena takes a look on the bridge's CCTV. Thus, she is far from pleased to see Starbuck having it away with some floozy! Down comes her finger on the Steam Purge button used for cleaning the launch tubes, and poor old Bucko is good and scalded.

Still ginger from his deep cleaning the night before, Starbuck joins Apollo and Boomer on the mission to clear the Nova of Madagon minefield. Their viper cockpits are sealed against the heat, but their scanners can't handle it and the Galactica has to take over, pointing them to where to fire. The three vipers blaze away, clearing a path '100 maxims wide' and coming out right on top of Carillon. The fleet is as overjoyed as if they'd found Earth - but Earth it isn't, as we'll discover.

Baltar meets with the Imperious Leader, who rather gleefully admits that he's put one over on the human traitor. Baltar rages that his colony, to be spared for subjugation under him, was also destroyed despite the bargain he struck, but the Cylon ruler has simply changed the bargain. There can be no survivors, and that's that. 'So long as one human remains alive, the Alliance is threatened.' And guess who that human is, standing right there. It's a good thing he's only lit in shadow, as his white robes would be swiftly turning brown by now. It's hard to believe that Baltar can have been so dumb, but that's what the promise of power does. And that's about all he has time to reflect on as his head is separated from his body by one swing of a Cylon's sword.

The Galactica's landram party reconnoitres their landing spot, looking for the disused mining site from which their ships will take on supplies, but Starbuck is amazed to sight brightly lit buildings, obviously populated. He and Boomer are even more amazed when a silly girly in an evening gown runs out and straight into them. The bimbo has a Tauron accent from the Colonies but is apparently completely unaware of what's gone on across the quadrant - her business is to score as much wealth from this apparently entirely legal casino as she can. Starbuck is more concerned that he's not heard about this place, master gambler that he is. It's a bona fide resort, the two warriors discover as they stroll in. What else is to do but suss it out by sitting in on a game or two, Starbuck suggests. Among the entertainment is a wild band with three exceedingly weird hermaphroditic singers from Tucan. Already thrilled that the odds are ridiculously fixed at this joint so that everybody wins, Starbuck eyes up the Tucanas and decides then and there to become their agent. It is here that Boomer gets his best line of the whole series. 'Every creature in the universe is out to exterminate us and you want to hire a vocal group.' But scepticism wins out and Starbuck feels bound to investigate - by talking to the girls, of course.

Apollo and Serina talk as Boxey scampers around with Muffey. They gingerly thank each other for saving various lives, realising that the human race is starting afresh and that nothing that went on before counts for much. But Boxey lets himself get too far from the landram while chasing his pet, and an insectoid hand grabs him... Trying to find him, Apollo, Serina and Jolly run slap bang into the Ovions, the owners of this little place. Taken down through what they observe must be the largest Tylium mine in the galaxy, the humans are greeted by Lotay, the queen of the Ovions, and reunited with Boxey. Now they're all penned in the casino, where they meet Boomer and Starbuck. All around, everyone is spellbound by the amazing hospitality shown to them - but aboard the Galactica, Tigh and Adama greet the news from Carillon with caution. Sire Uri has been authorising permits for half the fleet's population to visit the planet, depleting the fleet's defenses. Still, fuel shipments are coming in, albeit small in size.

Starbuck, well stuck into the tables, is collared by Cassie, who doesn't seem to hold him any ill will for being gassed in the launch tubes earlier - perhaps because she can use the accommodation he's got booked as part of Blue Squadron. Just then Starbuck's surprised by Athena, who's also offering an olive branch and more. Ever the player, he talks her around too until Cassie arrives and the shit really hits the fan. Having tried to play them both, he's ended up with neither.

Across the room, some random revellers board the lift, discussing their rapid weight gain on all the posh nosh that's being handed out free of charge. But they grow concerned when the lift goes past their floor and the button no longer works. The lift goes all the way to the bottom and opens - where it's dark as night and full of hungry Ovions... Dinner time!

The Council convenes again, where Sire Uri has an extraordinary proposal to make. Swayed by the paradise of Carillon and the seeming willingness of the Ovions to serve them without question, the solution is obvious to Uri. Settle there. Adama is further astonished when Uri proposes that they destroy their arms to prove to the Cylons that they wish to live in peace. Until the humans intervened in the Cylons' relations with other nations, there was no beef with the Cylons, but Adama counters that they had to rescue the Hasaris from enslavement. Adama storms out of the chamber with a withering remark to the council. Uri sighs 'Warriors are always the last to submit to the inevitability of change'. The council suggests that the question of whether to lay down their weapons should be put to the people, and what better occasion than a celebration to decorate the three warriors who escorted the fleet to apparent permanent safety. Wilfrid Hyde-White's nice but dim councillor Anton puts it perfectly. 'Just the tonic our people need at this moment - some old-fashioned down-to-goodness heroes.'

It's Cassie's turn to board the lift, and a Colonial warrior in dress uniform thinks he's pulled. Our Cass's seen quite enough of warriors on the make for one episode, but both their attentions are diverted when they too sink to the bottom. This time we see just what's going on. The civilians from the last scene in which this happened are being strapped screaming to gurneys and pushed into perspex lockers in the wall.

Starbuck's chatting up one of the Tucana he-shes, who looks around nervously while not giving out any info about anything. Boomer informs Starbuck that they're going to need dress uniforms when they get the Gold Cluster pinned on them, and for that they need to return to the Galactica.

The Galactica landing bay again, but this time Colonel Tigh's taking the lift there, and the chances of him getting any action are about as remote as the Cylons calling it a day. He's alerted by none other than Adama, who's sneaked down there and is inside one of the vipers. It's all a bit of subterfuge to throw Uri off the trail. 'It's just like old times,' they reminisce briefly as they sit inside adjacent vipers before Adama explains what they have to do to keep Uri occupied while they organise a more plausible defence against the insane disarmament plan. The most perfect time for the Cylons to strike would be when all the warriors were on Carillon attending the awards ceremony, as the Council have insisted - so in order to keep the Council happy, it won't be enlisted men they're sending, but anyone they can find to fill the uniforms. They won't know the difference.

Colonel Tigh sneaks into the officers' billet, lifting uniforms from the pilots' lockers, but he is rumbled by Starbuck and Boomer who have come back to collect theirs. In quite a funny scene for the normally deadly serious Tigh, he has to feign rage and explain that it's a snap uniform inspection. Starbuck and Boomer are well and truly baffled, but put it behind them. 'Gotta be the pressure,' Boomer rationalises.

Starbuck takes aimLess comfortable is Adama, who has to conceal from his son about what he's doing behind everybody's back. Apollo isn't buying it, but all Adama can say is that Apollo will understand, in time. That seems to be enough for the moment, and when Adama reminds himself that he trusted in the possibility of peace that once too often, his resolve is stiffened. On the shuttle down to Carillon, Apollo spots someone across the aisle who appears to also be in Blue Squadron, but not only does he not recognise the "warrior" but that his dress uniform's far too big. Serina certainly likes the cut of Apollo's, but the ruse is further blown when Boomer also sees someone who's not familiar. The impostors get suspicious and move away, but Starbuck starts to follow them. They get away in the lift, in front of which Starbuck reveals his doubts to Apollo before they too board a lift. Sire Uri instructs Boomer to bring back his colleagues or they'll start the ceremony without them. At much the same time Muffey runs off and Boxey takes off after him - straight into a lift.

In one of the dark lower levels, we see who's really running Carillon as an Ovion reports to a Cylon centurion. The insectoid has counted two hundred uniforms and assumes the humans are in full attendance.

When the lift doesn't go where they want it to in their pursuit of the three impostors, Apollo and Starbuck blast its control panel and hotwire it to go straight to the bottom, where the levels forbidden to humans are. Almost immediately they see Cylons milling about, but a bigger shock is when the lift opens and Boxey comes out, straight into sword range of one of the Cylons. Apollo smokes the centurion before he can get a decent slice at the little lad, and they run for it. Every surface their lasers hit blazes uncontrollably, and the warriors realise that the more they do this, the whole planet's going to go up like a bomb. Thus they're planning ahead as they fight off the Cylons, but they are stunned when they round a corner and see the Ovion dining room. Young hatchlings are feeding on the mouldered bodies locked away, and Cassiopeia is next in line to be stored in the wall! They rescue both her and Muffey and keep running, shooting the ceilings out to set more fires. As all this is going on, the Imperious Leader orders his fighters launched. Adama is proven right as the Galactica detects the oncoming Cylon taskforce.

After a mad dash through the caves and up the lift, the warriors burst out into the casino, with the Cylon troops straight behind them. Even Sire Uri grows a brain and runs for his life. Scores of casualties ensue among the civilians as the centurions pour rounds into human backs, but outside a landram joins in, with Jolly on the deck gun firing heavy ordnance into the Cylons. Even Muffey makes himself useful by biting off a centurion's leg, and before long everybody who matters has got away and is making for their vipers. It's tearful goodbyes all round for Starbuck and Cassie, and for Serina and Apollo. 'I wish he could be my daddy,' Boxey says. He will, but that's for the next episode.

I think we're in trouble now...Above Carillon the Cylons mount their attack on the Galactica and the rag-tag fleet. The battlestar has to defend itself alone, taking increasing damage to its landing bays in particular, until the vipers pour out of Carillon's cloud cover in force and get stuck in. After a pitched battle, the Colonials come out in first place and Apollo turns his attention to the base-ship that sent these Cylon fighters. Apollo and Starbuck hug the surface of Carillon and prepare an audacious plan. 'You're going to be Red and Blue Squadrons,' Apollo says to Starbuck as he prepares to switch to the Cylons' audio frequency, 'and I'm going to be Green and Yellow.' Masquerading as six squadrons (including the fictitious Purple and Orange Squadrons!), they manage to convince the base-ship to retreat behind Carillon in an attempt to evade Colonial scanners until their raiders can return. When it becomes clear that the Cylons have lost all their fighters in the last battle, the Imperious Leader orders the baseship to drop lower and lower. But by doing that he's taking the capital ship too close to the surface, which is now heartily ablaze from all the gunfire that's ignited its Tylium content. Apollo and Starbuck now sight the baseship, and as the Cylons get a visual on the warriors in return they begin to open fire with their deck guns - setting more fires. The planet is about to go up entirely, and as it does so it engulfs the baseship, killing all hands including the luckless Imperious Leader. Apollo and Starbuck pull up at the last minute and get the hell out of there.

'Let's go home,' Apollo exhales with relief, the battle won.

'Some home,' Starbuck sighs. 'Piece of metal in the middle of nowhere.'

'Beats just plain nowhere!' replies Apollo. 'Until we find Earth.'

And, with the reassuring sound of Lorne Greene's unmistakable tones comes the Battlestar Galactica sign-off that is repeated at the end of every episode. 'Fleeing the Cylon tyranny, the last battlestar, Galactia, leads a rag-tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest. A shining planet, known as... Earth.'

RATING: 4 out of 5 (Very Good). It's not actually my favourite - they were still getting started. A lot of it's rushed, the casino sequence doesn't do an awful lot for me and it's just similar enough to Star Wars for the latter's advocates to get ugly. Still, the battles are solid and it's the first time we'll be seeing any of the special effects!

THE USUAL BITS:

The finished script is substantially different. In an earlier draft Baltar gets much more action, appearing on Carillon itself with just two Cylon centurions as backup, and threatening Adama from there. It's not appreciably better than this one.

Wonder if the 'all my children' reference of Adar in the first scene refers to that fine daytime soap from which two of the regular cast (Richard Hatch and Jack Stauffer) were drawn?

I don't particularly like Cassiopeia as a socialator.

A lot of trouble went to sealing the vipers' canopies prior to traversing the Nova of Madagon, but what about the other ships in the fleet? Would they even have had shields?

Imagine some of the things those freaky Tucana singers could do with two mouths. The Star Circuit wouldn't be the only kind of game Starbuck could put them on.

How can Boomer tell what plant vapours smell like?

The Ovions bore me stiff, and represent a colossal waste of money. Apparently they were supposed to be a regular group of baddies, but can't have impressed anyone else either.

As the warriors run onto that bridge, their first couple of laser shots don't have flash effects added to them.

Did Sire Uri get away? Do we mind if he didn't?


John's Review

RATING: 4 1/2 stars out of 5

The destruction of the Atlantia. This scene with the man on fire was cut from the TV version, only appearing on the video version.There's no question on the night of September 17, 1978 that Battlestar Galactica hit television screens with a bang. Saga Of A Star World is unquestionably the most elaborate televison movie ever made (and perhaps the most ambitious as well!) When trying to rate something like this, it's important to examine it in the context of television during that time period. For sure, no sci-fi show of this magnitude had ever been done before in the history of television, and thus it deserves extra points for that alone. There are many great things that can be said about this episode (acting, special effects, music score), but I won't bother repeating what most people are already aware of. In the end, I had to decide against a full five-star rating, mostly because of the unforgivable "Star Wars" ending it was saddled with. The big explosion of the planet Carillon is a blatant ripoff of Star Wars, not to mention ridiculous as well. Setting fire to some tylium mines causes the entire planet to explode? This is ludicrous (although one could argue that destroying the massive Death Star by shooting a tiny exhaust port was equally ludicrous). Surely Glen Larson could have written a better ending than this. Ultimately, this had to reinforce many people's beliefs that Galactica was a second-rate Star Wars. Having a casino with all sorts of alien creatures also seems a little too close to Star Wars for comfort. Of course, there are also some HUMONGOUS plot holes in this story, enough for any critic to tear it to shreds. I'm not going bother writing 5 pages about the plot problems of Saga Of A Star World, but there certainly is plenty that one could attack.

The premise of the Colonial fleet seeking Earth, while interesting, is unfortunately flawed because no one (not even Adama) has any idea where it is! Apparently, Adama was the only one who even knew about Earth's existence, although he doesn't seem to have any proof. Thus the Colonial fleet is left to wander aimlessly throughout the universe looking for it. Fortunately, this problem would be addressed in War of the Gods when the Colonials finally learn the coordinates to Earth.

Patrick Macnee recites the monologue "There are those who believe..." in the beginning. He is the voice of the Imperious Leader and later plays the role of Count Iblis in War of The Gods, one of the most popular episodes. A device called a vocoder was used to construct the original voice of the Imperious Leader. The vocoder, which disguises and alters sounds, processed the sounds of a cobra hissing and merged them with the deep voice of Lou Ferrigno, the actor who played the Incredible Hulk. The results were terrifying, but Glen Larson eventually decided not to use it because he felt it might be too scary for children. The vocoder was also used to create the voices of the Cylon Centurions.

The words "F--- Off" can be clearly seen spelled out in the lights of Caprica. Watch closely just after Serina's news broadcast is cut off by the sound of explosions. The next scene shows several Cylon fighters swarming towards the city. When the third fighter reaches the center of the screen, the words can be seen to the immediate right. They are even more clear in the Battlestar Galactica photonovel published by Berkley. (Click here to see image).

In certain ways, the special effects of Battlestar Galactica are superior to those of Star Wars. Glen Dykstra did the effects for both movies, so he was able to improve upon his craft when Galactica came around. For example, Saga Of A Star World has shots of Cylon Raiders spinning as they fly. In Star Wars, Dykstra wanted to have the Tie Fighters spin, but he was unable at the time to find a way to do it. Dykstra himself has stated, "In terms of shooting spaceships in space, the effects of Galactica are easily as good as the effects in Star Wars, if not better." Dykstra was perhaps too efficient at his job. He and his crew would finish the requested special effects shots ahead of schedule, only to find last-minute script changes forcing them to redo their work completely. Frustrated by the meddling of network executives who were not qualified to make such decisions, Dykstra left the series after working on the pilot and four episodes. Dykstra was also not pleased when he learned that Saga Of A Star World would also be released as a theatrical movie because he had specifically designed the special effects to be viewed on the small screen.

The complete uncut pilot is not available on home video. Several scenes are missing, most notably the scene where Starbuck virtually proposes to Athena and she refuses. It's especially a shame since it's probably Maren Jensen's standout moment of the entire series. Other missing scenes include: Athena comforting a distraught Adama in his quarters as he tries to deal with the effects of the Holocaust; Serina's broadcast on Carillon about the armistice right before the Cylon attack. Her transmission is picked up by the oncoming Galactica; Apollo and Adama argue about Apollo's proposal to lead the fleet through the Nova Armadegon minefield. This is a good scene which demonstrates how their duties put a strain on their personal relationship; While driving a landram on Carillon, Apollo explains to Boxey the origin of the Cylons; In the Ovion mines, Starbuck tries to get Apollo to leave to warn the others of the trap while he stays to saboutage the mines. Apollo refuses to leave Starbuck behind as he did with Zac; In the final moments, the new Imperious Leader spares Baltar and tells him to go find the fleet. Baltar is then introduced to his new aid, an IL series Cylon named Lucifer. Part of this scene is repeated in the beginning of Lost Planet Of The Gods. Most of these missing scenes appear in their entirety whenever the pilot is aired on the Sci-Fi channel.

The script of this episode has missing scenes left out of the final cut. Click here to see them.

There is one scene in the video version that did not appear in the original pilot. When Starbuck's damaged viper is headed towards the landing bay, Athena tries to help him adjust some circuits to repair the damage.

In the final cut, the scene where Starbuck and Boomer sit at a casino table and watch the three alien singers takes place soon after Starbuck and Boomer first discover the casino. In the script, this scene occurs much later, immediately after Starbuck brushes off Athena and Cassiopea at the gambling table.

The final scene where the new Imperious Leader orders Baltar to search for the fleet is strange. Baltar is told to deliver a message of peace to the humans, that the Cylons will spare them. This part of the scene is completely ignored in most of the later episodes as Baltar is quite clearly trying to destroy the humans. When the scene is repeated in the beginning of the next episode, Lost Planet Of The Gods, the part of the Leader's speech about sparing the humans is completely removed, leaving the impression that Baltar is being ordered to destroy the humans. It's probably just a plot line that was changed after the pilot was shot.

The scene where Athena discovers Starbuck and Cassiopea kissing in the launch tube was originally shot with Starbuck on top of Cassiopea with his shirt off. Test audiences did not respond favorably to it, so it was reshot with Starbuck wearing his shirt.

Blooper #1: Apollo returns to the Colonial warfleet in plenty of time to warn them of the oncoming Cylon trap, yet for some reason it never happens.

Blooper #2: Athena wears a warrior's uniform for most of the early part of the movie, then later changes into a bridge officer's uniform.

Blooper #3: When Starbuck crashes his viper on the landing deck and gets out, a repair crew member tells him to get away quickly because "The ship might blow any minute!" This is the only time in the entire series that a minute is used as a unit of time.

Blooper #4: On the Galactica bridge shortly after Caprica city is destroyed, Apollo says to Adama that he is the last surviving member of the Council, yet it is not until later that Omega announces that the Galactica is the only surviving battlestar, to which Tigh is stunned (and he was present during Apollo's conversation).

Blooper #5: When Athena is trying to help Starbuck repair his damaged viper, we see on her computer screen the words: "Made in the USA".

Blooper #6: Apollo flies Adama to Caprica in his viper, yet the viper we see on Caprica's surface is only big enough to hold one person.

Blooper #7: When Apollo and Serina are on a shuttle headed to the celebration on Carillon, Serina talks about a man wearing a warrior's uniform and says, "He probably hasn't worn that in years." The correct unit of time should have been "yahrens."

It is believed about six hours of footage was shot for the pilot. After being heavily edited, the movie was quite different from the original script. There was a lot of footage shot where Serina reports on the Holocaust. Eventually, she comes down with some kind of cancer and dies at the end. All scenes of her looking sick were edited out, and Jane Seymour has said she was shocked at the final version. In the Marvel Super Special BG comic adapation of the pilot, Lyra (the earlier name for Serina) is dying of radiation sickness by the end of the story and wants Apollo to take care of Boxey.

John Colicos (Baltar) and Laurette Spang (Cassiopea) are listed as guest stars in the opening credits. With Colicos it makes sense. In the theatrical version of the pilot, Baltar is beheaded by the Cylons. The current video version of the movie contains this scene. Why Laurette Spang is listed as a guest star is not clear. The Marvel Super Special BG comic adaptation is based on an early script of the pilot and, in that story, Cassiopea does not survive the Ovions.

Unfortunately, despite being a perfect adversary for Adama, council member Sire Uri does not appear again. Some have speculated he died during the attack on Carillon, but he does appear in the well-written Berkley novelization Battlestar Galactica 11: The Nightmare Machine. Baltar and Lucifer sneak a mechanical device aboard the Galactica which causes everyone to feel severe depression. While Baltar plans to launch an attack to destroy the fleet, Uri starts a revolt to take over the Galactica. Spectre and Imperious Leader make appearances. It is a very good novel.

None of the other episodes of the series successfully portray the grueling struggle for survival that such a poor, run-down fleet would have to suffer on such a long trek through space. The only other episode that comes remotely close is the horribly boring, uninteresting Take The Celestra.

The Berkely Novelization of the pilot is very well done. There are a number of differences in the novel: The Cylons are organic underneath their armor; Athena is a blonde and Cassiopea is a brunette; Apollo creates a force field generator to hide the fleet from the Cylons; Most of the fleet is left behind when the Galactica goes to Carillon; Adama resigns from the Council; During the battle of Carillon, Starbuck and Cassiopea fly a shuttle filled with tylium through the battle. Many of the scenes and dialogue cut from the final edit survived intact in the novel.

It is uncertain how much Saga Of A Star World cost to make. Larson has said it cost $14 million to make (which would make it more expensive than Star Wars which cost only $10 million), but he has admitted this figure includes extra costs such as distribution. Other estimates have placed it around $7 million.

The Gemini freighter was later destroyed by a Cylon attack in the Galactica 1980 episode The Super Scouts. It was also destroyed in Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming, the movie trailer created by Richard Hatch.

After Tigh admonishes Starbuck and Boomer for startling him in the pilots' barracks, Boomer jokes about taking over Tigh's position as Colonel. It was quite an ironic statement because Boomer eventually would take over Tigh's position as Colonel in Galactica 1980.

Rick Springfield (Zac) was a popular pop singer and is best known for the 1981 hit song "Jesse's Girl."

The dress that Casseopia wears when in the launch bay with Starbuck was Laurette Spang's favorite. When she spins around in a circle, it was an ad lib on Spang's part. She would wear the same dress again in Murder On The Rising Star.


Regular Cast

Capt. Apollo            Richard Hatch

Lt. Starbuck Dirk Benedict

Commander Adama Lorne Greene

Lt. Boomer Herbert Jefferson, Jr.

Athena Maren Jensen

Cassiopea Laurette Spang

Col. Tigh Terry Carter

Baltar John Colicos

Boxey Noah Hathaway

Flt. Sgt. Jolly Tony Swartz

Rigel Sarah Rush

Omega David Greenham

Dr. Salik George Murdock

Dr. Wilker John Dullagham

Brie Janet Louise Johnson

Ensign Greenbean Ed Begley, Jr.

Giles Larry Manetti

Cpl. Komma Jeff MacKay

Imperious Leader Dick Durock

Patrick Macnee (voice)

Lucifer Felix Silla

Jonathon Harris (voice)

Guest Cast

Jane Seymore            Serina

Lew Ayres President Adar

Rick Springfield Lt. Zac

Wildred Hyde-White Anton

Myrna Matthews Little Supreme

Stephanie Spruill Other Supreme

Patti Brooks Big Supreme

Dianna L. Burgdorf Lotay

Ted White Cylon Centurion #1

John Fink Dr. Payne

Sandy Gimpel Seetol

John Xenda Dealer

Bruce Wight Deck Hand

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