Galactica Discovers Earth, Part I

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Galactica Discovers Earth, Part 1
"Galactica Discovers Earth, Part 1"
An episode of the Galactica 1980 series
Episode No. Season 1, Episode 1
Writer(s) Glen A. Larson
Story by
Director Sidney Hayers
Assistant Director
Special guest(s) {{{guests}}}
Production No. 85510
Nielsen Rating
US airdate USA 1980-01-27
CAN airdate CAN {{{CAN airdate}}}
UK airdate UK
DVD release
Population {{{population}}} survivors
Additional Info Script available for download (incomplete)
Information Novelization
Episode Chronology
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The Original Series Galactica Discovers Earth, Part 1 Galactica Discovers Earth, Part II
[[IMDB:tt{{{imdb}}}|IMDb entry]]
Listing of props for this episode
Related Media
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iTunes: USA

The battlestar Galactica and the Colonial fleet reach the planet Earth, but soon realize that the Cylon fleet, long thought to be gone, has trailed them to the fabled planet, and will stop at nothing to extinguish all human life.


  • Adama and Doctor Zee, a child genius that advises the Commander, discover that they have arrived at Earth in 1980, but the planet's inhabitants, descendants of the Thirteenth Tribe, are at a low level of cultural and technological development in comparison to the remnants of the Twelve Colonies of Man.
  • Dr. Zee informs Adama that the Fleet cannot land on Earth. When Adama objects, Zee notes that the Cylons have followed them to Earth. When Adama reminds him that the Cylons had not been seen in a "billion star miles"[2], Zee notes that their enemies have chosen not to be seen to allow the Fleet to find Earth for them.[3]
  • To make his point further, Zee shows the leaders of the Fleet a video simulating a Cylon attack on Los Angeles. The conclusion is clear: at its present level of technology, the Earth will be of no assistance to defending the Fleet against the approaching Cylons.
TV Guide Ad for Galactica Discovers Earth.
  • Dismayed by his ignorance in leading the Cylons to Earth, Adama orders pairs of warriors to contact key scientists with the various nations on Earth, to help them speed up the planet's technological capabilities.
  • Two of the Colonials to be dispatched are Adama's grandson Captain Troy and Lieutenant Dillon, who are tasked with contacting scientists in the United States. Dillon asks about Troy's nickname, and Troy tells more about his late father and mother as Troy shows Dillon a picture of his family when Troy was a child.
  • Adama briefs a gathering of what appear to be senior representatives of the Fleet about Earth, its solar system and habitable surface, including Quorum member Xaviar, who looks dismayed. The presentation, later led by Dr. Zee, discusses the Earth's comparatively limited technology as well as environmental problems. Throughout the presentation, Troy and Dillon quip about the strange things they see, unaware of Earth's serious limits. Dr. Zee shows the group his simulated Cylon attack, which greatly agitates the gathering.
  • Xavier challenges Doctor Zee's conclusions on avoiding habitation of Earth by moving the Fleet away and hopefully drawing the Cylon's full attention from Earth as well. Zee proposes a slow approach to encourage introduction of Colonial technology through Earth scientists willing to work surreptitiously.
  • Doctor Zee provides a team of Colonial Warriors with some gadgets to assist their infiltration efforts. One of the gadgets is an invisibility cloak that can render the warriors and their vehicles unseen. The warriors will be able to use turbines to get around on the surface, which are also able to fly, as well as stun weapons to incapacitate Earth humans without killing them.
  • It is also noted that, in the lighter gravity of Earth, the Colonials will have the ability to leap to great heights.
  • Each team will be spread about Earth's world populations to begin their mission. Troy and Dillon are headed for the United States, specifically, the Los Angeles area. Dillon laments that they didn't get Kip's pick to visit the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as it sounded more enticing from a carousing perspective.
  • Descending to the Earth in their Vipers, the U.S. Air Force detects the strange aircraft. Troy and Dillon are intercepted by Air Force fighters. As the fighters fire on the Vipers, they pull away easily and make a hasty landing in a field near Los Angeles.
  • Hiding their ships with the invisibility screens, they take to their turbines, and shortly thereafter have a run in with a biker gang, which they escape through use of their turbines flying capabilities.
  • Changing into contemporary clothes, Troy and Dillon stop at a service station to make a call to the scientist they are to contact, Dr. Donald Mortinson at the Pacific Institute of Technology.
  • While attempting to use the phone, they run into Jamie Hamilton, who's on her way to L.A. for a job interview with the UBC television network. Hamilton watches the two try to gain currency to use the pay phone when she catches them in the act.
  • When she learns that the duo is on their way to see the controversial Dr. Mortinson, who has developed a new form of nuclear technology, Hamilton offers to give them a lift to the Pacific Institute of Technology.
  • Doctor Mortinson questions himself with his aide on whether the angry mob is truly ready or willing to accept the advanced technology. When the mobs start to throw rocks, Mortinson leaves to get someone to clean the mess.
  • Pushing past anti-nuclear protesters at the campus and stunning a guard, Troy and Dillon reach Dr. Mortinson's lab. Mortinson is not present. His aide is incredulous at their supposed ability to comprehend his formulas. The aide secretly instructs the security guards by phone to arrive and soon arrest the two intruders.
  • Before being hauled away by security, Troy and Dillon leave a complex math equation on Dr. Mortinson's computer as a way of verifying they are visitors from an advanced culture.[4]
  • Troy and Dillon are hauled off to jail.
  • When Dr. Mortinson returns to his computer, astonished by what Troy and Dillon left there, he realizes that the only people capable of producing the modified formula he finds on the screen must be as important to mankind as "the coming of the Messiah".
  • Hamilton, with her career at first looking dim, is contacted by Dr. Mortinson, who asks her to help him find Troy and Dillon. Spurred on by a job offer from the network producer, Brooks, Hamilton heads off to find Mortinson, who despises the media.
  • During booking, Dorbin cannot make fingerprint records for the Warriors as they have no fingerprints. Other people are interested in the two, who are returned to their cell.
  • Using their invisibility devices, Troy and Dillon activate their invisibility shields, causing another in the cell, Moran, to think he's losing his mind. As the cell is opened by Sergeant James, the two make their escape.
  • Meanwhile, back in the field where they first arrived, the two Vipers suddenly shimmer back into view. A young boy, Willy Griffin is playing in the field with his dog, Skipper, when he stumbles upon the ships, which have run out of power to maintain their invisibility. He runs to inform his parents.

From Script to Screen

In the December 13, 1979 revision of the script for this episode, there are several noted differences:

  • In Adama's opening monologue, during his mention of "too many of our sons and daughters" having not survived the journey, a mural of Apollo, Athena, Zac and Ila is called for, thus confirming that Athena is also dead.[5]
  • The first scene between Troy and Dillon is in the form of a day-down patrol, where both reflect on it being their last patrol. Further, Troy echoes the words from his late father made to the people on Terra in "Experiment in Terra": "The opposite of war isn't always peace. More often it's slavery."[6]
  • The dialogue between Dr. Zee and Adama regarding Earth's present state of development runs longer. Adama notes Zee's age (14) and after being told to send out the patrol beyond its usual range, issues a coded battle order to Troy and Dillon. This is called "Operation Caprica," and color-coded. Using turbo-thrusters, Troy and Dillon run into two Cylon Raiders, which they destroy before the Cylons can report that they've been compromised. Dillon and Troy return to the Fleet.[7]
  • After the two Air Force jets launch missiles at Troy and Dillon's Vipers, they avoid this by using their invisibility shield (referred to at this point in the script as a "force shield").[8]
  • Pilot #2 makes a crack about McDonell (sic) Douglas and Sperry Rand, two US defense contractors.[9]
  • The turbocycles as written are "something on the order of a motorcycle, but instead of wheels, it seems to be suspended on some kind of force field".[9] This is what drives the cycles, which prompt the interest of Donzo and Willy.[10]
  • Dorothy Carlyle gives Donald Mortinson a neck massage; Mortinson agrees with the protesters on the fact that they've advanced their technology too fast.[11]
  • Dillon and Troy make it a point to hide their boots by pulling their pants over them.[12]
  • What later becomes the Pacific Institute of Technology is called the California Institute of Technology (Cal-Tech) in the script.[13]
  • Also, what is later called the United Broadcasting Company is called the Trans-World Broadcasting Company.[14]
  • Jamie Hamilton's conversation with Brooks' secretary shows us that the secretary is more amicable and understanding.[15]
  • Adama and Xaviar's conversation regarding time travel notes Xaviar's position on it more clearly, which Adama appears to respond more positively to. Xaviar posits that time travel doesn't adversely affect history.[16] In his words:
    How do we know it works that way? Maybe history isn't really changed. Maybe it all comes out the very same. Take, for example, the chance of birth. Whether your parents decide to journey from one place to another only dictates the environment in which you are born. The fact remains that you live. What difference whether we introduce marvels of science to primitive Earth...the same people will live to use them...only the quality of their lives will have changed.[17]
  • The cop, Dorbin, is referred to as "Doberman" in the script.[18] This is also reflected on the name plate worn by the actor, suggesting that the name was changed during shooting.
  • Hamilton forces her presence on Dillon and Troy at gunpoint—using Troy's laser to do so. With no choice on the matter, the Warriors agree to have Hamilton accompany them, which ends part 1.[19]
  • The sub-plot with Willie Griffin finding the Vipers in the field is not present.



  • In Adama's speech to the Quorum of Twelve, he notes that Earth is the third planet of a system of nine planets. When the episode was written, the celestial body of Pluto was considered a full-fledged planet, but was reclassified in 2007. This same "mistake" is made in "The Long Patrol" and in countless other science fiction series of the past and present. As of this writing, the solar system is comprised of eight planets, 166 moons, and three dwarf planets, of which Pluto is now a part.

Production Notes

Dr. Zee's simulation of a Cylon Attack on Los Angeles.
  • According to publications at the time, the original airing of "Galactica Discovers Earth" had some of the highest ratings in the history of the franchise. The premiere episode, which aired Sunday, January 27th, 1980, ranked 30th for the week. The second and third episodes (aired February 3rd and 10th) also did well. [1]. According to The "World Almanac and Book of Facts 1980," overall for the period that it was aired, Galactica 1980 ranked 20th out of 100 series in the Nielsen ratings.
  • Dr. Zee's video screens show a series of shots from unusual public domain sources and from other Universal properties. This is supposed to resemble a smattering of US television images, and is a decidedly strange sequence, complete with eerie sound effects, which sets an odd tone early in the program. Among the images seen is Rod Serling in an introduction to the series Night Gallery, in addition to Woody Woodpecker.
  • The simulated Cylon attack on Earth reuses footage from the movie Earthquake which was released by Universal Pictures in 1974, and also starred Lorne Greene (Commander Adama).
  • The song playing in Jamie Hamilton's car when pulling up to the gas station is Billy Joel's "My Life," which makes a brief reappearance in "The Night the Cylons Landed, Part II".

Nods to a Past Incarnation

  • This episode featured the last appearance of two robotic Muffit II-style daggits in the Original Series continuity, still apparently used as pets in the Fleet.
  • When Troy and Dillon first take their Vipers into the Earth's atmosphere at the beginning of the episode, stock footage is used from "The Gun on Ice Planet Zero, Part I". As the Vipers fly by, a mountain is seen and the glare reflection off of the Ravashol pulsar is visible.
  • The low-toned sounds coming from the computer monitor as Donald Mortinson turns it back on are the exact same sounds that are made when information is printed on the screens in a Viper's cockpit or on the bridge.

Other Trivialities

  • In the 2009 Galactica 1980 comic series, issue #1 is titled Galactica Discovers Earth, an obvious nod to this episode. The comic reimagines the events of Galactica 1980.
  • One of the bikers that threatens Troy and Dillon is played by Brion James, best-known for playing the replicant named Leon in the 1982 genre film Blade Runner (co-starring Edward James Olmos).


  • It is clearly apparent that neither Adama nor anyone else in the Fleet considered the ramifications of their flight to Earth: particularly when it concerns their essentially leading the Cylons to this planet.
  • This episode directly deals with the (now proven incorrect) assumption that Earth is capable of repelling the Cylons. It should be noted that the Re-imagined Series also faces the same story flaw, which it has yet to address.
  • Adama's comment that Earth's "proximity to the sun provides the only climate in the galaxy[20] comfortably able to support life as we know it" is technically correct, in so far as the audience is concerned. In the story, however, this claim establishes that:
    1. The Colonials are from outside the Milky Way and thus have some form of faster-than-light drive never fully shown in the series.
    2. That the Milky Way Galaxy itself has no other planets that are capable of supporting human life, in so far as the Galacticans know it. However, this claim is contradicted by the presence of the planets of Paradeen and Terra, which is outside the Colonials' home galaxy[21] and is in the Milky Way[22].
  • Adama's indication that the polar ice caps and the deserts could "easily be reclaimed by our technology" points to the Colonials possessing some form of terra-forming technology.


  • For all his intelligence, why didn't Doctor Zee forewarn Adama that he may be leading the Cylons to Earth before ever reaching it?
  • What specifically happened to the characters of Apollo, Athena, and Sheba?
  • How exactly did Troy & Dillon manage to extract change from the gas station pay phone utilizing its "Credit Card" function when pay phones with the ability to accept either credit or pre-paid cards wouldn't be created or commonly appear for well over a decade?
  • Didn't Mortinson or his workers keep backups of their work in the event they were lost or vandalized?

Official Statements

Galactica 1980 story editors Allan Cole and Chris Bunch on why Galactica was resurrected:

Q: Where did Galactica 1980 come from?

Bunch: Well, this is only mildly classified, but nobody wanted to do Galactica 1980 except ABC. Battlestar Galactica had eaten the big green weenie (deservedly) and cost Universal a ton of money, with terrible ratings. Glen Larson, regardless of what you think of his writing ability, does try hard, and when something fails he wants to get away from it. It's been said he is the best salesman to ever pitch a TV series, but ten seconds after he sold it he should've been banned from writing any scripts to give his own show at least a struggling chance. Anyway, ABC, for some unknown reason, decided that it was worth trying again. Universal, who'd deficit-financed the first time around to some humongous degree, didn't want to go for it. ABC put pressure on, and they caved in. Then Universal put pressure on Larson, and he, in turn, caved in. Money Talks and Bullsh-- Walks, so here came Galactica once more, after Larson made those so wonderful revisions in the premise which guaranteed Galactica 1980 was even worse than its first incarnation.

Cole: Battlestar Galactica was the most expensive show ever done on television at the time. It was expensive and unsuccessful. And they had legal battles with George Lucas for obvious reasons. We thought they blew it as soon as they decided that Galactica arrives on Earth in 1980 - because nobody cares! When you're living in 1980 the science fiction element is lost and there are no big surprises. It was a fatal error.[23]

Cole and Bunch on the network's required educational dialogue:

Q: Did you have problems with the censors since the show was on the "family hour" - Sundays at 7:00 P.M.?

Cole: The censors have their own ideas about what a child should see or should not see. We were told directly that a child cannot learn from their parents or their teachers, only from their peers.

Bunch: So all the schools in America can pack it in!

Cole: Censors are people with no imagination whatsoever. Everything has got to be plain as day. Network executives used to be creative. Nowadays the executives all come straight from Wall Street. When the censors demand something educational, they mean you have to stop the show and say something educational! There were a certain number of "educational beats" per episode and you had to count 'em. For instance in a car chase...

Bunch: "...I perceive that this vehicle is powered by an internal combustion engine, and an internal combustion engine, primitive though it is..." I'm not making this up!

Cole: We were given the job of putting in the educational beats in each script... which were all Larson's!

Bunch: He wasn't gonna do it! We suggested that they put an underrole on the screen saying "Why aren't you kids watching 60 Minutes?" They didn't think a whole lot of the idea!

Cole: So Glen's off in Hawaii writing scripts...

Bunch: And he'd call us up and say "What do you think?" And we'd say, "Dy-no-mite! Put that sucker through!"

Cole: We were rooting for the show to fail. We posted a sign that said "13" near the door of our trailer, meaning that when the show dropped to a 13 share we'd be free! They let it drop to a 9![24]

Cole and Bunch on working with the actors:

Q: Did you have much contact with the actors?

Bunch: Generally, the writer has minimal if any contact with actors. For instance, when we worked with Lorne Green on Code Putrid (Code Red), he came in and described his acting style to us. For instance he said, "When I lose my temper, I don't shout. I get cold and give dirty looks." That was an enormous help.

Cole: So anyway, we're watching dailies one day and the kid (Patrick Stuart - Dr. Zee) is sitting in his chair and Glen Larson is in the back saying, "What's wrong with his head? Why isn't he moving?" Well, you could see he was plainly terrified! And his lines were always addressing Adama. However, his voice was changing so he's saying in this girlish voice, "Adama! Adama!" It became a running gag between the two of us, (girlish voice) "Adama! Adama!" Why he got cast in that horrible part, I don't know.

Bunch: Why did anybody get cast in that horrible show?

Cole: Galactica 1980 was our first staff job and we received a memo which lists everyone in the crew. The stars, directors, producers. It's done in descending order of importance. Starting with Glen Larson...

Bunch: Then you get God!

Cole: Then you go all the way down the list. Down to the secretaries and the janitors. At the bottom of the list are the writers.

Bunch: We read this and said (sarcastically), "This is going to be a great experience!"

Q: Have you seen any of the cast since the cancellation?

Bunch: I wouldn't mind working with Kent McCord (Troy) again. He's a nice guy. He likes writers. He understands writers. Kent used to ask why the scripts were substandard, and we'd say "Babe, you go to Hawaii and talk to Larson!" [25]

Allan Cole on why most of the actors from the original series did not return:

Everything came apart piece by piece as they moved toward the airdate. Partly this was because of the budget. For example, everyone thought Dirk Benedict was going to be a big star and so his price was set accordingly. Schedules conflicted. That sort of thing. One of the big problems when you cancel a show [like Galactica] and let everyone go home, when you look for [the original actors] again, they aren't likely to be available. All shows are shot pretty much during the same season. So the good people are usually working the closer you get to that time.

But there were even deadlier things at work—such as the censor. Dirk Benedict smoked a cigar!!!! This is not good for the kiddies, the censor said. And the action on BG was too "gritty" for kids, they said. We want nice, clean-cut people. (One-Adam-12) And we want lots, and lots of kids. And so forth. The day I reported to work no one had the faintest idea what the series was going to be about. And it changed every day—even while the scripts were being written. Major characters disappeared. New ones appeared. Then were gone again.

It was a real mess when we finally got on the air, and it never got better. We were rewriting on the set—handing pages to the actors to memorize moments before the scenes were shot.

The network never really liked the [time travel] idea. They didn't get it. For budget reasons there was also a mad scramble to find footage of old sword and sandle movies. So they could piece in things like the Trojan War, or whatever. But when the network censor saw those scenes, with blood all over the place, they freaked big time![26]

Cole and Bunch on how they got involved with the show:

Bunch: After the pilot was produced, we sold a script called Earthquake over the phone to Jeff Freilich, when he called us to see if we had anything the day he started on the show, and we came up with some fast buzzy-wuzzy crap that might convince him to Give Us Money. Something to do with earthquakes. So he says we have a deal, come on out and let's work the details out. We jumped in the car, with nada in the way of a plot, and Thought Fast. About the time we got off the freeway, we had a couple of vague ideas to flesh out our first dumb sentence.

The first draft of the script featured Xaviar, but then it was decided that they weren't going to use Xaviar anymore, which creates a small credibility problem, like we don't believe anybody but a Major Bad Guy can create an earthquake and he better have himself a Fiendish Thingie. We reworked the script and came up with Nutball Hargreaves, underground nuclear tests, roboticized security and the rest is (isn't) film history.

Cole: Anyway, we were blackmailed by Peter Thompson, the honcho at Universal into becoming story editors on the show. We didn't want to do it because we made more money freelancing. Thompson said we'd never work at Universal again unless we took the job.

Bunch: Interesting thing is that we wrote for just about every Larson show going as freelancers, and worked for him for ten weeks, but we never met Glen. Which is true to this day. Now, ain't it odd for a producer to hire a couple of supposedly talented story editors and not ever want to say hello?

Cole: We think of him fondly because he's paid us so much money.[27]

Noteworthy Dialogue

Dillon: What's that odd-looking brown haze hanging over the city?
Troy: (shrugs) Must be some sort of defense shield.
  • Troy and Dillon make a comment about the automobiles:
Dillon: Those automobiles sure don't move very fast.
Troy: No, but it's a nice, neat formation. It must require a lot of practice and discipline.
  • Adama makes a comment that suggests the the Earth's galaxy is lifeless, seemingly implying that the Colonials come from another galaxy. The Colonials also seem puzzled by the Earth's large oceans (do the Twelve Colonies lack large bodies of water?):
Adama: (Earth's) proximity to the Sun provides the only climate of the galaxy comfortably able to support life as we know it. Seven tenths of the Earth is covered with water, however, there is plenty of room for all our people.
  • Adama talks to Troy about Earth's government:
Adama: Boxey, the cold, hard truth is that there is no central government on Earth. There's no single leader with whom we can make contact or negotiate.
Troy: Well, that's impossible. Then how do they get together for their common good?
Adama: They don't, as far as we can tell.

Guest Stars

External Links


  1. Adama uses the term "years" in the series, which is known in the Original Series by the term yahren.
  2. The use of the term "miles" rather than the Original Series's parsecs, sectars and the like is one of many continuity errors in the short span of the show.
  3. The Re-imagined Series, by design or coincidence, has their versions of Cylon using the humans in its universe to find its mythical Earth in a similar manner in season 3.
  4. This addition to the script was likely inspired by a scene from the classic SF motion picture, The Day the Earth Stood Still, where an alien on Earth on a first-contact mission visits a scientist's office and leaves a highly-complex scientific formula as a calling card as well.
  5. Script for "Galactica Discovers Earth, Part I", p. 2
  6. Ibid., p. 3
  7. Ibid., pgs. 5-8
  8. Ibid., p. 18
  9. 9.0 9.1 Ibid., p. 19
  10. Ibid., p. 22-23
  11. Ibid., p. 20-22
  12. Ibid., p. 24
  13. Ibid., p. 25
  14. Ibid., p. 26
  15. Ibid., p. 28
  16. Ibid., pgs. 36-38
  17. Ibid., p.37
  18. Ibid., p. 46
  19. Ibid., p. 59-60
  20. This emphasis is Battlestar Wiki's, not Adama's.
  21. As confirmed by the events depicted in "The Long Patrol," "Greetings From Earth," and "Experiment in Terra"
  22. As established by the Gamma frequency transmission Apollo receives in "The Hand of God"
  23. Galactic Sci-Fi Television Series Revisited. Alpha Control Press, 1995.
  24. Galactic Sci-Fi Television Series Revisited. Alpha Control Press, 1995.
  25. Galactic Sci-Fi Television Series Revisited. Alpha Control Press, 1995.
  26. Larocque, John (28 Feburary 2005). Interview with Galactica 1980 story editor Allan Cole (backup available on (in ). Retrieved on 11 August 2007.
  27. Galactic Sci-Fi Television Series Revisited. Alpha Control Press, 1995.
  28. This is deduced by the subtitles, as the wingman who talks to McNally is referred to as "Pilot 1".