Saga of a Star World

Saga of a Star World
"Saga of a Star World
(aka Battlestar: Galactica)
Battlestar Galactica (1978) episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 1-3
Directed by Richard A. Colla
Alan Levi (uncredited)
Written by Glen A. Larson
Original air date September 17, 1978
(film version released in cinemas in July 1978 (Canada, Australia & most of Europe) & May 18, 1979 (U.S.))
Guest stars

Lew Ayres as President Adar
Wilfrid Hyde-White as Sire Anton
Ray Milland as Sire Uri
Jane Seymour as Serina
Rick Springfield as Zac

Episode chronology
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Episode chronology

"Saga of a Star World" (or "Battlestar: Galactica") is the pilot for the American science fiction television series of Battlestar Galactica which was produced in 1978 by Glen A. Larson. A re-edit of the episode was released theatrically as Battlestar Galactica in Canada, Australia and some countries in Europe and Latin America before the television series aired in the U.S., in order to help recoup its high production costs.[1] Later, in May 1979, the feature-film edit was also released in the U.S. (see below)



Battlestar Galactica is set in a distant star system, in an age described as "the seventh millennium of time." Twelve colonies of humans, living on different worlds, have been fighting a 1,000 year war against the robotic race of Cylons, who seek to exterminate all of humanity.

The Cylons have unexpectedly sued for peace, through the diplomatic agency of a human, Count Baltar. The human leaders and the commanders of their military fleet are all too pleased by the Cylon offer of peace, which ends so many years of warfare. The powerful "Battlestars" are assembled for armistice talks with Humanity's age-old robotic enemy. But it's all a deception – Baltar has betrayed humanity for personal gain, and the Cylons have no intention of making peace. Commander Adama, of the battlestar Galactica, suspects that the Cylons are planning a trap.

Adama is the only battlestar commander who's suspicious of the Cylons' motives. He orders a recon patrol, consisting of his two best pilots: his eldest son, Apollo, and Lt. Starbuck. Adama's younger son, Zac, convinces Starbuck to let him go in his place. The patrol discovers a vast Cylon armada waiting in ambush behind a moon named Cimtar, but the Cylons jam their communications. Cylon fighters pursue the two Vipers, and Zac's fighter is hit. This forces Apollo to leave him behind, so that the fleet can be warned. Zac's Viper is destroyed by the Cylons just before he reaches the fleet.

Baltar manipulates President Adar into prohibiting the launch of fighters as the Cylons close in on the fleet. Frustrated, Adama orders the Galactica's Viper squadrons be placed on full alert, with their fighters ready to launch. As the Cylons attack, the Galactica is able to launch its fighters first, while the other battlestars are caught off-guard. The Atlantia, with President Adar aboard, is destroyed. Galactica alone survives the Cylon assault. Apollo informs Adama that the Cylons were accompanied by refueling tankers. Adama realizes that this would allow the fighters to operate far from their base ships (known as "basestars"). The Cylon capital ships must be operating somewhere, since they aren't attacking their main fleet. He orders the Galactica to withdraw and protect the planet Caprica. But they are too late – they find the planet devastated. The Cylon fleet had launched massive assaults on all the Colonies.

With the Colonies in ruins, Adama collects as many survivors as possible, and orders every intact civilian ship to take survivors and follow the Galactica. They hope that the Galactica can protect this ragtag fleet long enough to find the legendary thirteenth human colony. It is called Earth, but the location of this lost colony is known only to the last lord of Kobol, the planet which was the original home of Man, but which was abandoned thousands of years earlier, when the Thirteen Tribes migrated to the stars.

Helping Adama in the quest for Earth are his son, Captain Apollo, commander of the Galactica's strike wing; Lieutenant Starbuck, the Galactica's best fighter pilot and Apollo's best friend; Lieutenant Boomer; and Colonel Tigh, Adama's second-in-command. The Cylon Imperious Leader, determined that no human at all shall survive, orders Baltar's execution, but he is spared at the last moment in order to help the Cylons hunt down the human fleet (as depicted in the TV series version of the film). In the feature film, Baltar is executed by beheading after the Imperious Leader explains to Baltar that he has missed the entire point of the war. All humans must be destroyed. He thanks Baltar for his assistance in wiping out most of the human race, and then orders a Cylon Centurion to kill him on the spot.

After initially escaping the Cylons across a massive starfield called the Nova of Madagon (referred to as such due to its extremely dangerous, hot environment, and Cylon mines), the Galactica and its "ragtag fugitive fleet" find brief respite on the resort planet of Carillon, where they hope to find food and fuel for their journey. As much of the fleet's food supplies were contaminated by pluton bombs during the Cylon attack, the fleet is in desperate straits, and must find a food source soon or face starvation, and Carillon has plenty.

It quickly becomes apparent that there is more to Carillon than meets the eye. The fact that Carillon has more than enough food and fuel for the fleet's needs makes Adama wary. It is also apparently the largest tylium (fighter fuel) mining facility in that part of the galaxy, but nobody has ever heard of the place. Adama questions where the Ovions are getting their food, and what the connection is between the resort on the surface and the underground mining operations. Starbuck is pleased that he is winning so much at the gaming tables, but begins to suspect that something is wrong, because the gamblers never lose their money. Colonel Tigh mentions to Adama that "some of our people are getting downright obese," because of all the food to which the Ovions have access. Carillon seems like the answer to the prayers of a people who have just experienced the destruction of their entire civilization. Sire Uri, Adama's nemesis on the Council of the Twelve, has authorized visitor passes to half the population of the fleet for the purpose of visiting the Carillon resort. Adama grows increasingly suspicious, and does some research on the Carillon outpost. He discovers that Baltar was responsible for performing the initial Carillon survey, and reported that tylium was too minimal for mining. He immediately smells a Cylon trap.

Meanwhile, the Council of the Twelve led by Sire Uri, believing the Cylons have been left far behind, propose that the humans pause to celebrate their escape and dismantle their military and weapons to prove to the Cylons that humans are no longer a threat to them. The Council arranges a banquet on Carillon, and orders all fighter pilots to attend. The Cylons, believing that all of the pilots are at the banquet, launch a fighter attack against the Galactica in orbit. But Adama has long suspected a trap, and arranges for support crew to impersonate the real pilots at the banquet. The Galactica's Vipers are launched a few at a time so as not to attract Council attention, and stay on the planet's surface until Adama is ready to spring his trap. Once the Cylon fighter contingent is fully engaged with the Galactica, Adama recalls all his Vipers from the surface of Carillon. This takes the Cylons (and the Galactica bridge crew) completely by surprise.

Indeed, the Ovions, Carillon's indigenous insectoid inhabitants, are in league with the Cylons, and the resort on the surface is a trap. The Ovions use humans as food for their young in nesting areas deep underground. Apollo and Starbuck investigate the disappearance of some of their comrades, and discover the conspiracy. Starbuck suspects that the Ovions are supplying the Cylons with tylium for their military, and suggests to set fire to it with his laser pistol in order to blow the planet apart, and deprive the Cylons of a major source of fighter fuel. Before he can do this, however, a firefight with the Cylons erupts, and both Colonial and Cylon laser blasts set fire to the volatile tylium deposits.

During the fight, Apollo realizes the Cylon fighters couldn't have come so far without a basestar. He and Starbuck go hunting, and find a Cylon basestar hidden on the far side of Carillon. In defiance of Commander Adama's recall order, they decide to attempt to destroy it, in order to enable the refugee fleet to elude pursuit. They use fake radio chatter to fool the basestar into thinking it's under attack by multiple Viper squadrons. The basestar descends into Carillon's atmosphere to avoid detection, and is destroyed when the planet finally erupts in a massive tylium explosion.

Despite their victory, however, the humans realize their enemies will still be pursuing them.

Different versions

There have been various different versions of the pilot broadcast or released theatrically. Although produced for television, originally as part of a planned series of telemovies and eventually as a television series[2], Universal Studios decided to release the film in cinemas in order to recoup some of the high production costs with producers believing the series "could be a fine shot at a corner of the Star Wars market."[2] In July 1978, two months before its U.S. television debut, the film was released in Canada, Australia, and some countries in Europe and Latin America. The release was a success following an aggressive marketing campaign from Universal[2] and influenced the decision to release the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century pilot in cinemas a year later. Later episodes of the regular Battlestar Galactica series were also re-edited and released in cinemas internationally.

Although there are many minor differences between the broadcast pilot and the cinema release, the most notable is the fact that, in the film version, Baltar is executed by the Cylons, whereas, in the television version, he is held for public execution before later being shown mercy by the Cylons, and going on to be a major character in the TV series. [3][4] The cinema release also made use of Universal's Sensurround process, the last American film to use it.

The television version was first broadcast in the U.S. on September 17, 1978. This original three-hour broadcast was interrupted for more than an hour to televise the signing of the Camp David Peace Accords between Israel's Menachem Begin and Egypt's Anwar Sadat, overseen by President Jimmy Carter. Following the coverage, ABC resumed the broadcast, right where it was interrupted. In later years, this version has often been split into three episodes, each an hour long, for syndication.

In May 1979, following the broadcast of the final episode of the regular series, the film version was released in some U.S. cinemas.[5]

In 1980, the pilot was edited again and syndicated as part of a series of re-edited Battlestar Galactica telemovies.[6]

DVD releases

Both the cinema version and the television version have been released on DVD. The television version was released as part of "The Complete Epic Series" boxset containing all episodes of the series. The film version was released in 2006.

Other media

  • A photonovel of the film was released in 1979, and is considered a highly-prized collector's item. While much of this demand was due to each image on each page being taken directly from the actual 35mm film cells, compounding the value was the scarcity of intact copies; the glossy paper used for the print stock did not adhere well to the spine glue, and after several reads the binding tended to fall apart. This was further compounded as the glue became brittle with age.[citation needed]
  • Stu Phillips' soundtrack to the pilot, as performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic has been released on various occasions in the past, including a re-recorded LP, released in 1978 by MCA Records around the time of the film's TV debut. This was followed by a dedicated CD in the boxset entitled The Stu Phillips Anthology - Battlestar Galactica containing the original film tracks for the first time.[7] In 1999, it was also re-recorded by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by Phillips himself, and issued on CD.[8] It was issued again in February, 2011, by Intrada Records featuring the complete score as recorded for the film by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
  • A paperback novelization of the film was published in 1978.[9]
  • The story was adapted into comic book form by Marvel Comics, first in a magazine format, then later in both tabloid format and as a trade paperback.
  • An audio drama version was created by editing the film's mono sound and adding narration voiced by Lorne Greene and released on MCA Records in 1979 under the title "The Saga of Battlestar Galactica", Catalog #3078. The vinyl version features a gatefold sleeve with liner notes. It runs approx. 50 minutes.


2003 television version

  • The plot of Part I formed the primary plot of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica miniseries, in which the Twelve Colonies are destroyed, and the survivors set out for Earth.
  • The reimagined series episode "The Passage" is loosely based on the plot of Part II, in which the fleet must navigate through a radiation belt.

2013 film version

Director Brian Singer has stated that the planned feature film will be based on this part of the 1978 television series but will not be a direct adaptation. The specific differences have yet to be revealed between the 1978 television and 2013 film versions of this story.


External links

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