The story was a complete rewrite, by Glen Larson, of a pilot he initially called "Adam's Ark," in which Earth is destroyed and the survivors ship out into space. The Twelve Colonies Of Kobol are all named after the signs of the Zodiac, and "Kobol" is a reworking 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."
Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo) is the only actor to appear in both this series and Battlestar Galactica (2004). In the latter, however, he did not reprise his role of Apollo from the original, but instead acted out a different character, Tom Zarek, who is far less sympathetic than Apollo was in the original series.
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 the ABC daytime drama General Hospital (1963) for its Ice Princess story arc in the summer of 1981. In 1991, he was appearing in 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 "Errand Of Mercy," the "Star Trek" episode that introduced the Klingons, and he would later reprise the role in several episodes of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."
George Lucas and/or 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 reworked 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.
Dirk Benedict modeled the character of Lieutenant Starbuck on James Garner as Maverick (1957) and never liked Katee Sackhoff's character of Kara "Starbuck" Thrace in the "reboot," 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.
Don Johnson was up for the role of Lieutenant Starbuck, but he lost out to Dirk Benedict because of his Southern accent. His later, and better-known, role of James "Sonny" Crockett in "Miami Vice" could be described as being the Starbuck he never got to act out in "Galactica."
Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo), Dirk Benedict (Lt. Starbuck), Lorne Greene (Commander Adama), Herbert Jefferson Jr. (Lt. Boomer) and Terry Carter (Colonel Tigh) are the only five actors to appear, and indeed to appear prominently, in all 24 episodes of the series. All their cast-mates ended up being little more than semi-regulars, however prominent any of their parts were.
The first weekly television series budgeted at over $1,000,000 per episode. Unfortunately for the production, much of this lavish (for the time) sum was consumed by the special effects processes used. This necessitated the frequent, and often glaringly obvious, reuse of effects footage throughout the series wherever possible. Glen Larson ascribed this to ABC-TV possibly having been too quick to buy the program; he had originally planned on producing it as a series of made-for-TV movies.
Much of the controls used on the bridge of the Galactica were standard electronic laboratory equipment manufactured at the time by Tektronix, Incorporated(TEK). This equipment was of a mainframe design, where 19-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 is even mentioned in the closing credits as having provided "test and display equipment."
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 actually scratch-built it from sheet plastic.
The insignia pin worn in multiplicate on the uniform jackets and the shirt collars is actually 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.
Much of Glen A. Larson's Mormon faith is very 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 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) faith are also very apparent in every episode. The moral lessons of each episode, moreover, are all very Mormon in design.
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 are 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.
Boxey's real name is not mentioned in the series. In the sequel series Galactica 1980 (1980), which is commonly considered rather poor by comparison to the original program, he is referred to by his real name Troy. Kent McCord, an early contender for the role of Apollo, acted him out in the sequel series.
When ABC canceled the series because of high expenses, both NBC and CBS expressed interest in buying the series. CBS considered adding it as a mid-season replacement, but neither network ultimately acquired the series. Both Universal and NBC subsequently became Comcast companies, hence the "reboot" being shown on SyFy, a Universal basic-cable channel.
The robotic-sounding voice 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--indeed, it has become even more expensive, since the turn of the Third Millennium, than it was in the 1970s.
The Cylons are led by an "Imperious Leader." 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."
Several character names are taken from Greek mythology, like Apollo and Athena. Starbuck and Boomer are characters from the book "Moby Dick, Or--The Whale:" Starbuck is the first officer of the "Pequod," while 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 the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (2004). "Adama" (Hebrew for "ground" or "earth") is also a reworking of "Adam," Hebrew for "man;" appropriately, Lorne Greene, who acted out Adama, was Jewish.
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 some 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 150 with 24 shuttles - a more accurate measurement would be 300 fighters (with perhaps a third in ready reserve; "Saga of a Star World" listed the Galactica's pilot contingent at over 200, while in "Lost Planet Of The Gods, Part Two," disease-stricken warriors, their treatment barely completed, hastily return to duty and fly what are presumably backup fighters stored in ready reserve) and 40 to 50 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 300 fighters.
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 the green outfit he first wore in "Lost Planet Of The Gods, Parts One And Two."
In a DVD commentary, Richard Hatch stated that he had crushes on Sarah Rush and Laurette Spang. He never actually shared any face-to-face scenes with Sarah Rush, however; all their mutual dialogue was over communications channels.
Jonathan Harris (of "Lost In Space" infamy) provided the voice of Lucifer, the Cylon of the "I.L." (Imperious Leader) series who was Baltar's assistant, his Executive Officer aboard the base star he commanded, and, many might say, his conscience.
The episode "Lost Planet of the Gods, Part II" included second-unit shots of obvious doubles for Adama, Apollo and Serina walking among the ruins at Karnak and Giza in Egypt. This is 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 would lead to peace between Egypt and Israel.
The classic sound of the Cylons was later incorporated to K.I.T.T. in other Glen A. Larson series, 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's launched from a Galactica starship too was incorporated to K.I.T.T. It sounds when Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) actives the Turbo Boost to impulse that the car makes a jump.
Originally Serina was to be killed off and was filmed being killed by pluton poisoning at the hands of Cylons. However, test audiences had found her death "Too depressing" and it was changed to Serina dying being shot in the back by the Cylons.
After the series was canceled. Noah Hathaway made a guest role in the 2nd season of the science fiction sitcom Mork & Mindy (1978) as Jud. "Mork and Mindy" premiered the same year as "Battlestar Galactica".
Although broadcast as the sixth and seventh episodes of the series, the two-part "Gun on Ice Planet Zero" was actually shot immediately after "Saga of a Star World." At the time, "Battlestar Galactica" 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 TV movies. While "Gun" was being filmed, the network decided to buy the series and abandon its plan to air "Battlestar" 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).
When John Dykstra was hired to work on "Battlestar Galactica", it was not yet planned as a weekly television series, but rather a three-part miniseries of made-for-TV 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 TV 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 TV). When ABC decided to buy the series, Dykstra chose not to stay, and so his producer credit only appears 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.
ABC-TV premiered "Mork & Mindy" on September 14, 1978 (four days before the debut of "Battlestar Galactica") and it became the network's most successful new program that season. Following the cancellation of "Battlestar Galactica", the network decided to revamp "Mork & Mindy" into a slightly more serious show and move it from its first season time slot on Thursday nights to the spot "Battlestar" 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 "Battlestar" had (and despite attempts by the network to fix the damage it had done, "Mork & Mindy" never managed to regain its early popularity). Because of this, ABC began reconsidering its decision to cancel "Battlestar Galactica", which ultimately lead to the show's return as "Galactica 1980."
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.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Cassiopea (played by 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" TV movies, and the character she played was originally supposed to die at the hands of the Ovions on Carillon. When ABC-TV decided to buy the series and abandon its plans of airing "Battlestar" as 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.