Props from this show were recycled for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979), which Glen A. Larson also produced.
John Colicos became so well-known for his role of Baltar that, reportedly, his performance as Baltar was what won him the role of Mikkos Cassadine for General Hospital (1963), for its "Ice Princess" story arc in the summer of 1981. In 1991, he was appearing in a theater in his native Toronto, and after performances, audience members would applaud him and supportively chant, "Baltar Lives!" He had also appeared as Kor in Star Trek (1966) season one, episode twenty-six, "Errand of Mercy", that introduced the Klingons, and he reprised the role in several episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993).
George Lucas and 20th Century Fox brought a lawsuit against the producers over alleged similarities with Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). Although Galactica was indeed re-worked from its original pilot to capitalize on the popularity of Star Wars, and it employed the same special effects team and the same concept designer, the lawsuit was eventually dismissed in 1980.
The classic sound of the Cylons was later incorporated to K.I.T.T. in Knight Rider (1982) (both Cylons and K.I.T.T. have only one red eye, moving side to side permanently). The sound of a Viper, when it was launched from the Galactica, was also incorporated into K.I.T.T. It sounded when Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) activated the Turbo Boost to make the car jump.
The Cylon centurions all had to be over six feet in height, to make them more intimidating, so Glen A. Larson hired a team of out-of-work basketball players.
Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo) is the only actor to appear in this series and Battlestar Galactica (2004). In the latter, however, he did not reprise his role of Apollo from the original, but instead played a different character, Tom Zarek, who was far less sympathetic than Apollo was in the original series.
Muffit Two, Boxey's "daggit" (a dog-like animal) "drone", or robot, was realized by having a trained chimpanzee inside the daggit-drone costume (which was obvious by the way that it moved). Three chimps were used during the series.
Many of the controls used on the bridge of the Galactica were standard electronic laboratory equipment manufactured at the time by Tektronix, Incorporated. This equipment was of a mainframe design, where nineteen-inch wide racks contained test equipment components such as multi-meters, power supplies, or signal generators that slid into these racks like books on a shelf. One can notice tier after tier of these racks used all over the bridge as control panels. Tektronix was even mentioned in the closing credits as having provided "test and display equipment".
Much of Glen A. Larson's Mormon religion is evident in the series. Such details include: The "Quorum Of The Twelve", also called the "Council Of The Twelve", which is the Mormon ruling body under the leadership of their "Prophet", the term "sealing" used for marriage, as in a Mormon Temple wedding, and the reference to "sealings" being "for all the eternities", as with Mormon "celestial" marriages being "for time and eternity". Other aspects of the Mormon religion are also apparent in every episode. The moral lessons of each episode are all Mormon in design.
Boxey's real name was not mentioned on this show. In Galactica 1980 (1980), he was referred to by his real name, Troy. Kent McCord, an early contender for the role of Apollo, portrayed him in the sequel series.
The synthesized robotic sounding voices of the Cylon centurions was done by Michael Santiago using the EMS Vocoder 2000. This device has become extremely difficult to find, and is very expensive. It has become even more expensive, since the turn of the Millennium, than it was in the 1970s.
The story was a complete re-write, by Glen A. Larson, of a pilot he initially called "Adam's Ark", in which Earth was destroyed and the survivors shipped out into space. The Twelve Colonies Of Kobol are all named after the signs of the Zodiac, and "Kobol" is a re-working of "Kolob", a star or planet from Mormon holy writings. Larson had developed this under the tutelage of Gene Coon, one of Star Trek's most highly successful, though, unfortunately, also one of its most obscure, show runners.
The first weekly television series budgeted at over one million dollars per episode. Unfortunately for the production, much of this lavish (for the time) sum was consumed by the visual effects. This necessitated the frequent, and often obvious, reuse of effects footage throughout the series wherever possible. Glen A. Larson ascribed this to ABC possibly having been too quick to buy the program. He had originally planned on producing it as a series of made-for-television movies.
Don Johnson was up for the role of Lieutenant Starbuck, but he lost out to Dirk Benedict because of his Southern accent.
In tribute to the series, U.S. Air Force pilots commenced to refer to the F-16 Fighting Falcon as the Viper when it entered service in 1980, there were similarities with the real-life F-16 and the Colonial Viper, where the name stuck. The Viper, however, was not based on any real-world fighter aircraft.
The Cylons were led by an "Imperious Leader" (which led to viewers giggling over how much it sounded like "Fearless Leader" from The Bullwinkle Show (1960)). The word "imperious" actually means arrogantly domineering and overbearing, but the writers chose it because it sounded different from "Imperial", a word that too strongly evoked Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). Ironically, owing to how Patrick Macnee provided the character's voice, the reference became a fitting one for the Cylon "emperor".
Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo), Dirk Benedict (Lieutenant Starbuck), Lorne Greene (Commander Adama), Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Lieutenant Boomer) and Terry Carter (Colonel Tigh) are the only actors to appear in every episode of the series.
The insignia pin worn in multiplicate on the uniform jackets and the shirt collars was the officer Branch of Service insignia pin for the U.S. Army's G-2, or Military Intelligence, Section, worn inverted. For the tan-and-brown uniforms worn by Colonial Warriors, this pin is the same gold-tone as worn on Army uniforms; for the blue uniforms worn by Core Command bridge officers, it is nickel-plated silver-tone, which is not considered an official Army regulation insignium.
Dirk Benedict modelled the character of Lieutenant Starbuck on James Garner as Maverick (1957), and never liked Katee Sackhoff's character of Kara "Starbuck" Thrace in the remake, derisively calling her "Stardoe".
The humans in the series had their own units for measuring time. A "micron" was the equivalent of a second; a "centon", a minute; and "centar", "secton", "sectar", and "yahren" corresponded respectively to hour, week, month, and year.
To construct the ragtag fleet that follows the Galactica on its lonely quest for Earth, the model makers were given a free hand to let their imaginations run wild. For example, Ken Swenson constructed the livery ship, which was supposed to carry all the livestock; this was widely thought, incorrectly, to be made out of three film cans. He scratch built it from sheet plastic.
Several character names are taken from Greek mythology, like Apollo and Athena. Starbuck and Boomer are characters from the book "Moby-Dick" by Herman Melville. Starbuck is the first officer of the "Pequod", and Boomer is a less important character, a Captain from another ship. These names (Apollo, Athena, Starbuck, and Boomer) are radio call signs for major characters in Battlestar Galactica (2004). "Adama" (Hebrew for "ground" or "Earth") is also a re-working of "Adam," Hebrew for "man"; appropriately, Lorne Greene, who played Adama, was Jewish.
The helmets of Apollo, Starbuck and the rest of the pilots are inspired in the famous mask of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun, discovered in 1922 by Lord Carnavon and Howard Carter.
Lieutenant Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) was ranked number twenty-one in TV Guide's list of the "25 Greatest Sci-Fi Legends" (August 1, 2004 issue).
When ABC cancelled the series because of high expenses, NBC and CBS expressed interest in buying it. CBS considered adding it as a mid-season replacement, but neither network ultimately acquired the series. Universal and NBC subsequently became Comcast companies, hence the remake being shown on SyFy, a Universal basic cable channel.
Throughout the course of the series, Sheba (Anne Lockhart) never fired her laser pistol.
Except for the pilot "Saga of a Star World" and the subsequent epilogue, John Colicos wore a hairpiece for the rest of the series. No canonical explanation has been given for this, or the green outfit he first wore in "Lost Planet Of The Gods: Parts 1 & 2".
ABC premiered Mork & Mindy (1978) on September 14, 1978 (four days before the debut of this show) and it became the network's most successful new program that season. Following the cancellation of this show, the network decided to revamp Mork & Mindy (1978) into a slightly more serious show, and move it from its first season timeslot on Thursday nights to the spot that this show had vacated on Sunday nights in a counterprogramming move that backfired. Instead of boosting the ratings on Sunday evenings, the show actually did worse than this show had (and despite attempts by the network to fix the damage it had done, Mork & Mindy (1978) never managed to regain its early popularity). Because of this, ABC began reconsidering its decision to cancel this show, which ultimately led to the development of Galactica 1980 (1980).
Donald P. Bellisario based episode four, "The Lost Warrior", after the western novel "Shane".
Dirk Benedict starred as Templeton "Face" Peck in The A-Team (1983). In The A-Team (1983) season two, episode eleven, "Steel", a Cylon is seen walking past Face (Benedict) at Universal Studios.
Noah Hathaway admitted in an interview that he had a crush on Jane Seymour, who played his on-screen mother.
Lorne Greene and Herbert Jefferson, Jr. were the only cast members to return for Galactica 1980 (1980). Kent McCord replaced Noah Hathaway as Captain Troy, a grown up Boxey, and Dirk Benedict reappeared as Starbuck for the series finale, "The Return of Starbuck".
In the opening credits, the words that start "Life here began out there", were spoken by Patrick Macnee, who provided the voice of the Imperious Leader.
Originally, Serina (Jane Seymour) was to be killed off in the pilot episode and was filmed being killed by pluton poisoning (radiation related food poisoning). However, test audiences had found her death "too depressing" and it was changed to Serina dying more heroically after being shot in the back by the Cylons.
Cassiopea (Laurette Spang) was not originally meant to appear past the pilot episode. When Spang was cast, "Saga of a Star World" was planned as the first of three "Battlestar Galactica" television movies, and the character she played was originally supposed to die at the hands of the Ovions on Carillon. When ABC decided to buy the series and abandon its plans of airing this show as a miniseries, the change in format also created the need for more female characters, and so Spang's death was excised, and she became a series regular. Her occupation as a "socialator" (which was deemed okay for a single guest appearance in a miniseries, but not for a weekly series aimed at families) was quickly dropped, and she became a "medtec" in the second episode.
In a DVD commentary, Richard Hatch stated that he had crushes on Sarah Rush and Laurette Spang. He never shared any face-to-face scenes with Sarah Rush, however. All of their mutual dialogue was over communications channels.
The episode "Lost Planet of the Gods: Part 2" included second unit shots of doubles for Adama, Apollo, and Serina walking amongst the ruins at Karnak and Giza in Egypt. This was the show's second link to real-world Egypt. Two weeks before this episode aired, the premiere had been interrupted for the live broadcast of the signing of the historic Camp David Accords, which led to peace between Egypt and Israel.
Evie (short for Evolution), a chimpanzee owned by Exotic Animal Trainer Ralph Helfer, played the robot dog Muffit (it's obvious by how it moved).
When John Dykstra was hired to work on this show, it was not yet planned as a weekly television series, but rather a three-part miniseries of made-for-television movies. In order to pay him a higher salary than he would have made as an Optical Effects Supervisor, Glen A. Larson made Dykstra a Line Producer. Unfortunately, Dykstra's working relationship with Larson became strained, partly due to the decision to release the first television movie (Saga of a Star World) in theaters, which Dykstra felt was not a proper way to showcase his effects work (which had been designed for the smaller aspect ratio of television). When ABC decided to buy the series, Dykstra chose not to stay, and so his producer credit only appeared on "Saga of a Star World" and the two-part "Gun on Ice Planet Zero", which were the first to be shot before the switch to a regular series format.
Respected fantasy artist Frank Frazetta was commissioned to produce four promotional paintings for the series, all of which appeared in TV Guide and various other magazines. One of the paintings (originally used for "Saga of a Star World") appeared on the cover of the Berkley novelization "Battlestar Galactica 2: The Cylon Death Machine" by Glen A. Larson and Robert Thurston, published in early 1979.
Richard Hatch admitted in a interview that episode four, "The Lost Warrior", was one of his favorite episodes.
Scripts were written for season two were never filmed, due to the series cancellation: "The Beta Pirates" written by Leslie Stevens. "Crossfire", written by John Ireland, Jr. "Fire in Space" written by Michael Sloan. "Showdown" written by Frank Abatemarco. "The Mutiny" written by Guy Magar. "I Have Seen Earth" written by Steve Kreinberg and Andy Guerdat Earth, and "Two for Twilly" by Jim Carlson and Terrance McDonnell.
Glen A. Larson claimed that the series was in works long before Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), when a lawsuit was filed against Glen A. Larson by 20th Century Fox and George Lucas.
Creator Glen A. Larson claimed they he had originally conceived the series during the late 1960s, and the series was originally titled "Adam's Ark", in which the original premise for the series was about human survivors who travel across the galaxy in search of a new home when Earth is destroyed.
The series was based on the premise that there could be another human race out there beyond the stars and human life on Earth may not had started Earth, but out there in outer space.
The exact size of Colonial Battlestars, such as the Galactica, and of Cylon base stars was never properly explained in the series, leading to some disagreement over the years. A scale measurement comparison of the Galactica to one of its Vipers provided the final answer, the Galactica and identical Battlestars were each 4,150 feet in length, with each of two flight bays measuring 1,977 feet in length and about 215 feet in width; each flight bay was thus nearly twice the length and almost the width of a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, and a Battlestar could easily carry far more fighters than the listed one hundred fifty with twenty-four shuttles, a more accurate measurement would be three hundred fighters (with perhaps a third in ready reserve; "Saga of a Star World" listed the Galactica's pilot contingent at over two hundred, while in "Lost Planet Of The Gods: Part 2", disease-stricken warriors, their treatment barely completed, hastily return to duty and fly what are presumably back-up fighters stored in ready reserve) and forty to fifty shuttles. A Cylon base star, based on scale measurement comparison, is 5,800 feet wide, and can carry far more than its listed contingent of three hundred fighters.
In Spanish-speaking countries, the series is known as "Galactica: astronave de combate" (Galactica: Combat Spacecraft). In Germany, it is called "Kampfstern Galactica" (Battle Star Galactica).
The 125 minute feature film that was released in cinemas was an edited version of the 148 minute first episode: "Saga of a Star World".
Although broadcast as the sixth and seventh episodes of the series, the two-part "Gun on Ice Planet Zero" was shot immediately after "Saga of a Star World". At the time, this show was planned as a three-part miniseries, and "Gun" (or "The Ultimate Weapon", as it was originally known) was going to air as the second of three television movies. While "Gun" was being filmed, the network decided to buy the series and abandon its plan to air this show as a miniseries, and so the production switched to a regular series format. Because their characters were not originally meant to appear after the events of the first movie, Laurette Spang and John Colicos were not on hand during the filming of "Gun" (although scenes featuring Baltar were simply shot later, and incorporated into the storyline).
Like Ben Cartwright in Bonanza (1959), Commander Adama was a widower and had three children (Apollo, Athena, and Zack). Zack was killed by the Cylons. Adama's wife Ila was also killed in a Cylon attack. Lorne Greene (Adama) played Ben Cartwright.
Series Creator Glen A. Larson is a Capricorn, which may explain why humans from the Caprica colony were so prevalent on the show.
The original draft of the "Saga of a Star World" script was written on March 11, 1977.
In 2000, Doug Naylor the co-creator of the long-running British science fiction sitcom Red Dwarf (1988) planned to bring the sitcom to the big screen. In the film which was a reboot of the sitcom with the original cast returning in their roles. The film's plot which ripped off Battlestar Galactica (1978) would be about the last Earth ship Red Dwarf leaving the solar system when Earth and all of humanity is destroyed by a race of cyborg called the Homo-Sapienoids. However, production on the film was canceled and the film was never made.
It was implied that Battlestar Galactica: The Hand of God (1979) took place after the Apollo moon landing in July 1969.