Experiment in Terra (disambiguation)

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: For other items of the same name, see: Experiment in Terra (disambiguation).

Experiment in Terra
"Experiment in Terra"
An episode of the Original Series
Episode No. Season 1, Episode 19
Writer(s) Glen A. Larson
Story by
Director Rod Holcomb
Assistant Director
Special guest(s)
Production No. 50928
Nielsen Rating
US airdate USA 1979-03-18
CAN airdate CAN {{{CAN airdate}}}
UK airdate UK
DVD release 2004-12-28
Population survivors
Extended Info Re-released as a telemovie
Episode Chronology
Previous Next
Baltar's Escape Experiment in Terra Take the Celestra
[[IMDB:tt{{{imdb}}}|IMDb entry]]
Listing of props for this episode
Related Media
@ BW Media
Promotional Materials
Online Purchasing
Amazon: Standard Definition | High Definition
iTunes: USA | UK

The mysterious bright lights return again, transporting the bewildered Apollo to the planet Terra to avert war with the Eastern Alliance. Exposing a plan by the devious president, Apollo has Starbuck warn Galactica, which lends the protective powers of its shields to avoid planetary holocaust.


  • There he is told by John that he needs to help Terra and stop a war. Due to their lack of a substantive, corporeal form, they are unable to affect changes without need of a proxy (what Apollo sees is a projection or representation of their spirit). Apollo is also told by John that to the Terrans he will appear to be a missing warrior named Colonel Charlie Watts, to allow him some credibility during his attempts. After this encounter, Apollo wakes up near Terra, an incredible distance from his previous position, and well outside the Vipers' fuel range for a safe return to Galactica.
  • Starbuck and Boomer detect Apollo's distress signal at extreme range. Starbuck goes to help Apollo, while Boomer returns to Galactica.
  • Apollo is picked up after landing on Terra by Brenda Maxwell who was Charlie Watts' girlfriend and they return to her apartment. John again appears to Apollo and advises him he needs to reveal the truth about Lunar One. Whilst he is doing so, Brenda notifies the authorities of "Charlie's" return, believing him to need medical attention. Soon Officer Brace arrives and Apollo is taken into custody, and subsequently examined by Doctor Horning.
  • Back on Galactica Commander Adama decides that the battlestar will temporarily leave the fleet to investigate the beacon signal sent by both Apollo and Starbuck's Viper's, leaving behind two full squadrons of fighters to protect the civilians.
  • Starbuck, having landed and found Apollo's Viper, gets into a gun fight with the local security force, stunning them all. He then sets off to find Apollo.
Apollo is taken aboard the Ship of Lights to help the Terrans.
  • After a brief discussion with John, Starbuck rescues Apollo, Brenda and her father General Maxwell who have just been imprisoned by Brace for questioning the Nationalist President's decisions regarding the Eastern Alliance. Brenda and General Maxwell realise what Apollo has been saying is true... he is not Charlie Watts.
  • The Leaders of the Eastern Alliance confirm their plans to launch a surprise attack on the Nationalists whilst at the same time, in the Nationalist Precedium, The President announces that a peace agreement with the Eastern Alliance has just been reached. Starbuck and Brenda Maxwell leave to retrieve Starbuck's Viper.
  • The attack is begun, the Nationalist's missiles being automatically launched after detection of the Eastern Alliance's surprise move. Galactica arrives, and following Starbuck's instructions uses its weapons to destroy all missiles from both sides. This surprise turn of events forces the Eastern Alliance to sue for peace.
  • John spirits Apollo away from he Precedium so he does not have to answer any questions from the President and General Maxwell. John then goes on to confirm to Apollo that Terra is not Earth, and their search for the Thirteenth Tribe will continue.

Adama's Notes[edit]

It is now seven sectars since the escape of our captives, numbering amongst them, a group of Nomen and the dangerous soldiers from the Eastern Alliance, whose ominous destroyers apparently cruise these skies in search of any opposition to their political will. I have a recon patrol launched to track the escaping destroyer to its base on Lunar Seven. Once located, we can assess the strength of the Alliance on the outpost and determine our next step.


  • The episode's title was derived from the 1962 film Experiment In Terror.
  • An extended version of this episode was made into a television movie with the same title.
  • Many fans have speculated that this episode was the inspiration for Quantum Leap, created by Donald P. Bellisario who was a writer for Galactica. When Apollo "leaps" into the life of Charlie Watts, you would have to think this gave Bellisario a few ideas. Interestingly, Bellisario was asked about this in an on-line interview and he said it is not true and that he can't even remember what Experiment In Terra was about. Considering the amazing similarities between the two, it's almost hard to believe him.
  • John reveals that Terra is not Earth.
  • Apollo's speech to the Precidium could be called "The Battlestar Galactica Thesis" since his argument of peace through strength pretty much sums up the stance of the entire series.
  • This script was actually written with the parts of Starbuck and Apollo reversed, but was changed when Richard Hatch complained that Apollo was being deemphasized in favor of Starbuck. To Hatch’s surprise the script was hastily rewritten. The dialogue stayed mostly intact, which resulted in Apollo talking in a way that sounds suspiciously like Starbuck. The differences are subtle, but they are noticeable if you listen closely enough. Apollo actually says "felgercarb", a word he has never said before.[1]
  • The Presidium on Terra was the French pavilion left over from Expo '67. It is one of the few buildings from the fair still standing. It is now Le Casino de Montréal.
  • The same stock shot of Le Casino de Montréal in this episode appears to also have been used for the Earth Defense Directorate on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
  • Adama misuses the word "sectar" as a measurement of time; an earlier episode notes that it is a unit of distance. The word that the writer of this episode may have wanted to use either centar (an hour) or secton (a week).
  • Some scenes of this episode were filmed at night at the Vasquez Rocks, notably the scene where Starbuck lands his Viper on Terra.
  • "Charlie Watts" is also the name of the drummer for the British rock group The Rolling Stones. It is rumored but unconfirmed that Larsen had the character named after Watts as a tribute to his reportedly being a fan of the show.[citation needed]
  • The "white uniforms" were reused in Galactica 1980 as part of the "time travel" effect employed in the series.
  • In the 2009 Galactica 1980 comic series, issue #3 is titled Experiment In Terra, an obvious nod to this episode.
  • This episode reveals that a Colonial laser is capable of stunning a group of people with a single shot.
  • Edward Mulhare (John) is best known for his role as Devon on Knight Rider and the title character of the 1966 sitcom The Ghost And Mrs. Muir where he also played a spectral figure who could only be seen by a certain few.
  • Kenneth Lynch (Dr. Gordon) played Grover in Galactica 1980 episode The Night the Cylons Landed, Part II.
  • One of the buildings in the Terran city was later used as the exterior of the Defense Directorate in Buck Rogers. The actual building is in Montreal, Canada.
  • John deLancie (Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation) appears as the Terran officer who approaches Starbuck's viper with a troop of soldiers. The scene occurs at Vaquez Rocks, an overexposed TV and film location because it has been frequently used to double as other worlds.
  • The Eastern Alliance in this episode seems very similar to the stereotypical image Americans held of the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. Interestingly enough, the Soviet Union issued a protest over Battlestar Galactica, claiming the series promoted false stereotypical notions that hurt the Soviet Union's image.


  • "Experiment in Terra" finishes off the arc started with "Greetings From Earth". It also serves as the last time the Beings of Light are seen in the entire series run, though this element will be reintroduced in "The Return of Starbuck", the final episode of Galactica 1980.
  • Many of the plot elements introduced in "Greetings From Earth" are closed in the episode, prime among them being the question of whether Terra is indeed the Thirteenth Colony. However, the Lunar Colonies mentioned in both this episode and "Greetings" are never seen. The conditions on the Lunar Colonies, now apparently controlled by the Eastern Alliance, are merely word-of-mouth, forcing the viewer to presume much of what has happened on these Lunar settlements. Of course, the plight of these Colonies, from where Michael and Sarah Fowler (and children) came, is seemingly written as an afterthought.
  • Much of the episode is an allegory of the Cold War, with fascism taking the place of Communism in the form of the Eastern Alliance.
  • This episode also reintroduces the concept of governmental authority as horribly flawed and inept, a recurring theme that has stuck with the series since "Saga of a Star World" and the episodes that have dealt with the Quorum of Twelve. Interestingly enough, this theme has been running through the entire arc, from the Quorum's handling of affairs in "Greetings" to their removal of martial law (and diminishing Adama's authority) in "Baltar's Escape". As was the case in both episodes, it takes Adama and the Warriors under his command to correct the errors in judgment, thus reinstilling the message that a strong military authority can right the wrongs of government.
  • The teasing in the series thus far has reinforced the fact that there is, indeed, another group of humans in the galaxy. Whether these humans are descendants of the Thirteenth Tribe that left Kobol ages ago is still very much in question, though it is something that viewers are to assume.
  • It is noteworthy that one of the writers of Battlestar Galactica, Donald P. Bellisario, would notably use the basic theme of this episode of putting the hero in the guise of a local accompanied by a "holographic" companion that no one could see again in the 1989 television show Quantum Leap. The similarities are quite obvious, especially given the Bellisario connection.


  • If the beings on the Ship of Lights were willing to interfere and save the planet Terra from destruction, then why didn't they interfere to prevent the destruction of the Colonies?
  • Why do the Beings of Light need proxies to do their bidding? Surely an advanced race would have resolved a more elegant solution than co-opting "primitives" for their needs?
  • Bearing in mind the interest the Beings of Light had with the Terrans, did the Beings of Light share this same interest and concern in the Colonials before or during the Thousand-Yahren War?
  • Why does Galactica leave the Fleet defenseless to protect Terra, particularly in lieu of Adama's comments in "The Living Legend", where Adama voices opposition to attacking Gamoray because it would leave the Fleet defenseless from a Cylon killing force?
  • Are the Cylons still pursuing the Fleet? If they are, will they too happen across Terra and likely destroy that civilization?
  • Why did John give Apollo the guise of Charlie Watts when Apollo immediately dumps this persona and introduces himself as Captain Apollo anyway? He then even tells the Precedium all about the Colonies but then is told to not say a word at the end to the leaders. Was this a writing mishap?


  • Starbuck enters the prison complex with his gun drawn, yet when we see him inside the building in the very next shot, his gun is in his holster. It is not until he sees the guards that he draws the gun again. Why would Starbuck put his gun back in his holster when he knew he'd have to use it?
  • Starbuck is miles away from his viper helmet when John causes his uniform to turn white, yet when Starbuck returns to his viper, his helmet is white.
  • After Starbuck stuns the group of Terran soldiers, he leaves them there unconscious. When he returns later, they are gone. Where did they go? If they regained consciousness, wouldn't they have confiscated the vipers?

Noteworthy Dialogue[edit]

Apollo: What was your name?
Brenda Maxwell: [remarking on "Charlie Watts's" state] Amnesia.
Apollo: Amnesia. That's a pretty name.

  • Apollo reflects on John's sense of humor:
Apollo: That's very funny. At least you have a sense of humor.
John: In my job, dealing with primitive cultures, it's an absolute necessity.

  • Upon learning that the Vipers are transmitting emergency beacons near Terra:
Adama: Tigh, plot a course for Terra.
Tigh: What velocity, sir?
Adama: Lightspeed.
Tigh: Sir, it has been some time since Galactica has been pushed to—
Adama: Lightspeed, Colonel.
Tigh: Yes, sir.

  • Upon learning the Eastern Alliance has launched a nuclear attack:
President Arends: Well uh ... that's impossible. I have this treaty ...
General Maxwell: Well frame it! But hurry!

Deleted Scenes[edit]

See: The deleted scenes from this episode.

Official Statements[edit]

  • Richard Hatch discusses his "Starbuck"-esque role in this episode:
Richard Hatch: One of the biggest, well, kind of practical jokes was, there was an episode written for Dirk [Benedict], and I got the episode and I…I was a little upset. I felt they were, you know, knocking Captain Apollo. I felt they were really pushing him aside and I said, I think it’s time that HE had a story, that you did something for this character rather than just letting him give orders and go march around the ship. So he, Glen [Larson] said, you’re right, we really should, we need a story with Captain Apollo going down to HIS planet. So, about two hours later, the script I’d had, featuring Dirk, arrived at my house, and it had been…the two characters of Captain Apollo and Starbuck were simply interchanged, they’d put my name where Starbuck was and put Starbuck where Apollo was. And I immediately got into the car and was seeking out Dirk to apologize, because I simply had no idea, I thought, down the road, the next story, maybe a couple of stories later he’d write one for Captain Apollo. He didn’t do that, he just took the very story that had probably been in Dirk’s hands, he’d been going “what a wonderful script I have here!” and two hours later he gets a script where he was now Captain Apollo and I’m Starbuck and literally he has not changed any lines. In any case I was very embarrassed and I found him at a party and I explained the whole situation to him and how sorry I was and he said, well, I understand, I just think you should go to Glen Larson and ask him to reverse it, put it back the other way. So I tried to find Glen Larson, and I told him, I appreciate the gesture, but the next time will you be a little more subtle? Sometimes you want to expand your character, you want to bring in new dimensions to the character and they gave Captain Apollo the chance to do a few things that he didn’t normally do on that show because, as you all know, Starbuck got to run around and have fun with the ladies and Captain Apollo…kind of had fun with himself…and from that time on they actually began to change, not change the characters, but to give Starbuck a little bit of the Captain Apollo quality and Captain Apollo a little bit of the Starbuck qualities, and they started to make the characters more well-rounded, and I appreciated that.[2]

Guest Stars[edit]

External Links[edit]


  1. Sci-Fi Channel Sciography Battlestar Galactica documentary.
  2. Paxton, Susan J.. 1986 Galacon Q & A with Richard Hatch and Anne Lockhart (backup available on Archive.org) (in ). Retrieved on 12 August 2007.

: For other items of the same name, see: Experiment in Terra (disambiguation)

Universal Logo
"Experiment in Terra"
An installment of the TV movies
Episode No. Movie 2
Writer(s) Glen A. Larson
Story by
Director Rod Holcomb
Ron Satlof
Gene Palmer
Assistant Director
Special guest(s)
Production No.
Nielsen Rating
US airdate USA {{{US airdate}}}
CAN airdate CAN {{{CAN airdate}}}
UK airdate UK {{{UK airdate}}}
DVD release
Population {{{population}}} survivors
Extended Info Telemovie on "Saga of a Star World", "Experiment in Terra", "The Return of Starbuck"
Episode Chronology
Previous Next
Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack Experiment in Terra Conquest of the Earth (VHS)
[[IMDB:tt{{{imdb}}}|IMDb entry]]
Listing of props for this episode
Related Media
@ BW Media
Promotional Materials
Online Purchasing
Amazon: Standard Definition | High Definition
iTunes: [{{{itunes}}} USA]

A longer, television-movie version of "Experiment in Terra" with scenes from other episodes, such as Galactica 1980's "The Return of Starbuck".


This section covers the differences between the series episode of "Experiment in Terra" and this television movie.

A depiction of a reptilian, serpent Cylon from the "Experiment in Terra" television movie.

Original Content[edit]

  • A narration provided by Patrick Macnee provides an overview of Earth's explorations into the galaxy.
  • An astronaut (name indiscernible) happens across an object floating through space during EVA. Disregarding all safety precautions, he grabs the object, discovering it to be a written log book from the battlestar Galactica.
  • Returning to his ship, the astronaut reads through the log book (with narrations provided by Lorne Greene), which tells of the origins of the Cylons and the Thousand Yahren War with them. Adama explains about the recent events before the end of that war: the Battle of Molecay, Baltar's betrayal of humanity, the Battle of Cimtar and subsequent fall of, and exodus from, the Twelve Colonies.

Content from "The Return of Starbuck"[edit]

  • The bulk of the footage from the Galactica 1980 episode "The Return of Starbuck" is included in this television movie release, except for anything relating to Doctor Zee or Angela, and it is implied that Starbuck returned to the Fleet in the ship he constructed.

Content not included in the episodic version of "Experiment in Terra"[edit]

  • Several scenes were not included in the episodic version of "Experiment in Terra", including:
    • Tigh suggests to Adama that they bypass Lunar 7 and head toward Terra; Adama is reticent to do so, seeing as they do not have all the facts regarding the situation on Terra, and that both sides (the Nationalists and Eastern Alliance) could be in the wrong.
    • After Apollo's disappearance, Starbuck and Boomer discuss their options on whether or not to go looking for Apollo, particularly in light of the fact that they have barely enough fuel to complete their mission and return to Galactica.
    • A later scene provides six seconds of footage of Starbuck's Viper flying off, while Boomer rolls his eyes.
    • After Apollo and Starbuck talk with General Maxwell and his aide, Stone, there are various shots that include:
      • Terra as seen from space.
      • A desert on Terra.
      • The Eastern Alliance war room in an underground bunker.
      • Starbuck and Brenda Maxwell searching for the Vipers.
    • After Brenda tells Starbuck that she doesn't know what to believe, he tells her to stop the vehicle. The action then switches to an extended scene of the speeches by Arends, General Maxwell, and Apollo.



  • This movie version of "Experiment in Terra" clarifies that there were only five battlestars left by the end of the Thousand Yahren War, Pegasus notwithstanding.
  • There are contradictions with the established information which arise from information already provided in the television series:
    • The scenes of the Battle of Molecay are reused stock footage depicting the Fleet; the Fifth Fleet would likely not have been comprised of civilian ships, like the freighter Gemini or the Colonial Movers ship.
    • The scenes of a disheveled Baltar being presented to the succeeding Imperious Leader are explained as having happened before the Battle of Cimtar. It is implied that they had captured Baltar and subsequently released him based on his epistle. Of course, the footage is reused from the end of "Saga of a Star World", well after the Battle of Carillon and the death of the first Imperious Leader, hence Baltar's comment regarding the Imperious Leader's not knowing him and the Leader's comment about giving him command of a baseship entirely under his command.
  • The collage of footage provided indicates an interstellar spacefaring Terran culture, but still not one as advanced as the Colonials were prior to the Colonial holocaust.
  • The odds are astronomically against humanity ever finding that log book floating through space. The universe is a large place and thus for a human (or anyone for that matter) ever finding that log book would have been next to impossible. However, given the establishment of the Beings of Light and other forces outside of "human comprehension", the astronaut's "discovery" of the log book may have been the result of these external forces.


  • How long has Adama's log book floated through space?
  • Did Galactica ever reach Earth? Or was it destroyed just short of Earth and the logbook somehow survived intact?
  • Was the flaw in the Imperious Leader's programming deliberate or accidental?

Official Statements[edit]

Noteworthy Dialogue[edit]

Patrick Macnee: There are those who believe that life here on Earth 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. Again and again we launched our spacecraft into the solar system to probe and search for a planet having the same composition as our Earth. The planet with the air and soil so essential to life, as well as the necessary geological processes. A planet from which extraterrestrial visitors to Earth might live, or might once have lived, and although it became more apparent with each space exploration that such a planet could exist, it always eluded us.
It was on one such routine expedition that the astronaut, [indiscernible], accidentally saw an object floating in space. Disregarding the space hazards, he retrieved the object, which upon examination proved to be a log book from the battlestar Galactica.
It was the first documented proof that life as we know it, as well as other forms, exist or existed in the galaxy. But in the galaxy, as on Earth, where ever mankind is present, love and warfare prevail, as well as mankind's dream of everlasting peace.
Adama: In case we do not survive, this is a true record of the war between the Cylon Centurions and the human race in the star system. Commander Adama, Battlestar Galactica.
Somewhere in sometime in our galaxy, there evolved an intelligent race of serpents known as Cylons. First they created machines of super-intelligence: the Cylon Centurions. Then they created the ultimate in machinery technology, the ruler known as the Imperious Leader. But due to a slight error in their programming, the Imperious Leader turned against his creators and ordered his subjects to exterminate all human life forms. Thus began a war with the Cylon Centurions that erased all of the human race in the star system.
One of our greatest defeats was the Battle of Molecay. The Fifth Fleet, including its flagship, the Pegasus, under our great military leader Commander Cain was destroyed.
After a battle alleging to depict the Battle of Molecay:
Now there remains only one fleet of warships consisting of five flying battlestars, with the flagship, battlestar Galactica, under my command, to protect the tired and weary Twelve Colonies.
After the new Imperious Leader spares Baltar's life to explain to the humans his policy of tolerance:
Unexpectedly, the Cylon Centurions sued for peace, asking for an armistice conference. They chose the ruthless and treacherous Baltar as their liaison. And unknown to our intelligence force was Baltar's bargain with the Cylons, whereby he would rule over our colonies after we were conquered. Nor were we or Baltar aware of the Cylons' real plans.
After Adama warns Adar of the incoming ships, which attack the battlestar fleet:
And so we were taken by surprise as a thousand Cylon Centurions attacked and engaged our fleet in battle.
In order to protect our colonies, I left the fighter craft to defend the fleet and turned the battlestar Galactica toward our planet home base, Caprica. Unfortunately, while our fleet was under attack, a greater force of Cylon Centurions attacked our home planets and completely destroyed all Twelve Colonies.
The problems of this time seem almost insurmountable: we're short of fuel, water, and food. But worst of all we no longer have a home planet. After much deliberation, I've decided to set course in search of the only remaining outpost and colony of humanity in the universe. Now so that mankind in our galaxy can survive I shall someway, somehow seek out that Thirteenth Colony which lies far beyond our star system. A planet called Earth.
My immediate problem is to obtain food for the survivors and fuel for the ships, without endangering my people or my Fleet. Carillon is the only logical answer. It's an old mining outpost abandoned by the Cylons, but that too presents hazards. It is well known that the Cylons mined the only passage way to Carillon. I have no choice but to clear a channel.

Guest Stars[edit]

As ordered by the beginning credits.

Others that are not (apparently) credited.

For more Galactica telemovies, see TV movies

External Links[edit]


This article has a separate continuity.
This article is in the Berkley books separate continuity, which is related to the Original Series. Be sure that your contributions to this article reflect the characters and events specific to this continuity only.
Experiment in Terra
Experiment in Terra
A book of the Berkley Books line
Book No. 9
Author(s) Ron Goulart
Adaptation of Baltar's Escape
Experiment in Terra
No. of Pages {{{pages}}}
Published February 1984
ISBN 0425064182
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Greetings From Earth Experiment in Terra The Long Patrol
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For other items of the same name, see: Experiment in Terra (disambiguation)


  • The Cylons are reprogrammed and physically take the detonator from Baltar.
  • Tinia warns Adama that the Council gave him back command because they were scared, but that will soon wear off and they may try to take his power away again.
  • Brenda's last name is Farris.
  • Only two men try to take Starbuck (instead of a dozen or so) on Lunar Seven, and he stuns them.
  • Starbuck meets a redneck talking robot named Will/F (Willy) and a woman named Longsight Sue who has psi-powers.

Cover views[edit]

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