Written by Glen A. Larson

Original Airdate: September 17, 1978

Three-hour pilot

"There are those who believe... that life here... began out there. Far across the universe. With tribes of humans... who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians... or the Toltecs... or the Mayans... that they may have been the architects of the Great Pyramids... or the lost civilizations of Lemuria... or Atlantis... Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man... who even now fight to survive... somewhere beyond the heavens..."

In a galaxy far away, the leaders of the twelve Colonies of man have gathered for a peace conference with the robotic warrior race, the Cylons. After a thousand yahrens (years) of war, the Cylons have sued for peace. Adama, commander of the battlestar Galactica, doubts that the Cylons truly want peace. As the twelve battlestars wait to meet the Cylons, Captain Apollo and his younger brother, Lt. Zac, are on patrol. They come upon two Cylon fuel tankers. Seconds later, they discover thousands of Cylon Raiders and are attacked. The two warriors realize that the peace envoy is a trap and the Cylons plan to destroy the Colonies. As they speed back to warn the fleet, Zac's viper is damaged and Apollo is forced to leave him behind. The Galactica scans the incoming Cylon fighters, but President Adar heeds the advice of Baltar, who engineered the peace conference, and refuses to bring the fleet to alert, fearing that a show of force will jeopardize the mission. Adama orders a battle stations drill for the Galactica. Meanwhile, Zac's viper is destroyed by the Cylons. The battle begins and the Galactica is the only battlestar to lauch all its fighters in time, resulting in the Colonials being hopelessly outnumbered. Baltar, who has betrayed his own race for the promise of power, escapes the Atlantia not long before the battlestar is destroyed. As the fleet is engaged, Cylon basestars decimate the twelve planets of man. The Galactica withdraws the battle and heads toward its home planet of Caprica, but it is too late to save it. The rest of the fleet is totally destroyed. Adama and Apollo go to the surface to survey the damage of Caprica. The refugees arrive and Adama tells them to head into space at once in whatever spaceships will carry them. A fleet of 220 ships is quickly assembled representing every Colony, color and creed. Adama proposes that they set out to find the legendary lost thirteenth colony of man: the planet Earth.

Shortly afterwards, Starbuck practically proposes to Adama's beautiful daughter Athena, but she refuses, saying that she's afraid to get close to someone who could die at any moment. Eventually, Apollo, Starbuck and Lt. Boomer do a survey of the ships in the fleet for damage and Apollo gets to know the beautiful former newscaster Serina and her young son, Boxey. The boy is almost catatonic because his pet daggit (dog), Muffit, was killed during the Cylon attack on Caprica. Meanwhile, Starbuck meets Cassiopea, a beautfiul former socialator (similar to a hooker) with a broken arm. They are instantly attracted and Starbuck takes her to the Galactica to treat her broken arm. Later, the warriors discover that most of the food that was brought along for the voyage was contaminated by pluton radiation during the bombing and is inedible. Finding food has suddenly become the fleet's most vital concern.

The Cylon Imperious Leader learns that a fleet of survivors has escaped. Baltar is brought before him and is told that he will be shortly executed. Adama proposes to the newly elected Council of Twelve that they should had to the planet Carillon and get the food and tylium (fuel) that they desperately need. Their only obstacle is a Cylon minefield that blocks the way to the planet. Apollo, Starbuck, and Boomer fly through the minefield in their vipers and lead the fleet safely to Carillon. As the warriors search the planet for fuel, they are stunned to find a gambling resort packed with people who are completely unaware of the destruction of the Colonies. The resort is run by the Ovions, an insectoid race who have plenty of food and tylium and are happy to share. When word of the resort reaches the fleet, the refugees scramble to the surface. They are unaware that the Ovions have lured them to the resort to be turned into food. The Council of Twelve stupidly lean towards settling on Carillon and destroying all their weapons, believing that the Cylons will leave them alone if they stay out of their way. They order a celebration on Carillon and order all of the fleet's warriors to attend. It is there the Council will propose destroying their weapons.

As everyone celebrates their good fortune at the party, the Cylons are revealed to be working with the Ovions. Starbuck and Apollo discover this and chaos erupts, causing Carillon's volatile tylium to be ignited during the fray. The Imperious Leader's Cylon basestar, hidden behind Carillon, launches its fighters against the Galactica. Apollo, Starbuck, and Boomer help the Colonials escape from the Ovions. They soon learn that Adama anticipated the Ovions' treachery and, unbeknownst to the Council, had all of his fighters docked on Carillon and ordered all of the other warriors to skip the party. Cylon Raiders attack the fleet, believing to have caught the Galactica by surprise. The Colonial Vipers launch and attack, and the Cylons turn out to be the ones caught by surpise. After routing the Cylons, Starbuck and Apollo go after the Cylon basestar behind Carillon. The warriors use a special frequency to trick the basestar into believing that several squadrons are closing in, even though in reality there are only two fighters. Despite the dangerous, volatile fires erupting all over Carillon, Imperious Leader orders the basestar to be brought down to the planet's surface in order to hide. Apollo and Starbuck find the basestar, which fires its lasers at them, striking the planet's surface and quickly escalating the exploding tylium. Starbuck and Apollo quickly retreat into space and the entire planet of Carillon explodes, destroying the Imperious Leader and the Cylon basestar with it. Starbuck and Apollo return to the Galactica. The journey to Earth continues. "Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny, the last battlestar, Galactica, leads a ragtag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest... a shining planet known as Earth." Far away on a Cylon basestar, Baltar is brought before the new Imperious Leader and is told to go in search of the humans to deliver a message of peace. The Leader says that the philosophy of the Cylons has changed and that he is willing to spare the remaining humans. Baltar is then introduced to his new aide, an IL series Cylon named Lucifer.

Battlestar Galactica is unquestionably the most elaborate televison movie ever made.

While Saga Of A Star World is certainly a tremendous movie, it is quite unforgivable the blatant 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.

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.

Richard Hatch auditioned for the role of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. When auditioning for a role in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Hatch told George Lucas how he could have made Star Wars better. Obviously, this did not endear him to the producer.

Saga Of A Star World cost $14 million to make, more than Star Wars which cost only $10 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 Starbck 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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