Special Note: We will be featuring the original in depth reviews of the original Battlestar Galactica that were originally published on this, the Battlestar Galactica Fan Club site many yahrens ago!
There are those who believe That life here began out there... 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...
Some believe That there may yet be brothers of man Who even now fight to survive...
... somewhere beyond the Heavens ...
Far out in space, in a galaxy very much like our own, a bitter conflict raged over a thousand years' time. Two powerful enemies emerged: the Alliance, whose controlling powers kept spreading through the might of the oppressive Cylons, and the Colonies of Man, a prosperous community of worlds populated by the Human Race.
In space not far from the Colonial heartworlds, a fleet of battlestars-- huge, carrier-like starships-of-war --assembled to rendezvous with the Cylons. The president of the Colonies (portrayed by Lew Ayres) gathers the Quorum of the Twelve aboard the Battlestar Atlantia to toast the arrival of peace on the eve of the Seventh Millennium of Time. Among those in attendance are Adama (Lorne Greene) and Count Baltar (John Colicos). During the peace process, Baltar was chosen "by the Cylons as their liaison to the Quorum", which he insists was "an act of Providence, not skill". Adama, a career military officer and commander of the Battlestar Galactica, still clings to his suspicions about the Cylons. "They hate us with every fiber of their existence," Adama insists.
On board the Galactica, the rookie fighter pilot Zac (Rick Springfield) is eager to win a chance to go on reconnaissance patrol with his older brother, Apollo (Richard Hatch). Zac is worried that he'll miss his chance to fly before the Armistice. He frantically begs Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) to give up his flight assignment. Apollo excepts his rookie brother's request and the two board their Viper fighter ships in the Galactica's launch tubes. On the Galactica's bridge, Core Controller Rigel (Sarah Rush) signals the pilots: "Launch when ready". The Vipers, three-engined birds of prey as swift as they are laden with electronics, blast out of the tubes and into open space away from the Colonial Fleet. Zac is in awe, having finally made it into open space. "This is nothing," Apollo tells his younger brother, "When the war is officially over, we'll be able to get back to deep star exploration. That's where the real challenge is."
As the patrol continues, the Vipers encounter strange electronic interference in a cloud bank over the distant Old Moon Cimtar. Apollo swoops his ship in to investigate. He finds a couple of Cylon tanker-freighter vessels; odd they should be deserted so far from their home base. Why are they emitting all this electronic jamming? When Apollo approaches the clouds, he finds a harmless mist.
And what he finds in the mist sends him streaking away from the Old Moon. "Let's get out of here!" he warns Zac.
"Colonial Viper in Quadrant; intercepting" comes the oddly musical, cyber-mechanical voice of a metallic pilot in pursuing Cylon fighter. The Cylon "Raiders", bat-like fighter-bombers with three Cylon centurions apiece as their pilots, chase after the two vipers. Zac and Apollo do battle and destroy the Cylon interceptors, but Zac's high engine is hit in the laser dog-fight. Zac is still able to fly, and insists he can make it back to the Colonial Fleet. But Apollo must leave his brother behind: emerging from the mist is a huge wing of Cylon raiders. "It means there isn't going to be any peace," he laments as he sets off at full turbos to warn the battlestars of the impending attack.
As Adama's bus-like shuttle craft approaches the Battlestar Galactica's landing bays, his daughter and co-pilot, Athena, (Maren Jensen) warns "Something's wrong... they just put the ship on alert." Once aboard the Galactica, the two report to the bridge, where Colonel Tigh (Terry Carter), the Galactica's executive officer, warns that the patrol is under attack and communications are jammed. When Adama opens communications with the Battlestar Atlantia to discuss this incident with the president, he finds the chief executive flanked by Baltar, who urges restraint. Adama's request to launch intercept fighters is denied.
Zac is about to approach the Fleet as his damaged ship limps along. The Cylons are gaining on him.
On the Galactica bridge, Adama warns the president that a wall of unidentified craft are closing in. "Possibly a Cylon welcoming committee," Baltar gently urges the president. When Adama suggests "launching a welcoming committee of our own," both the president and Baltar scorn the idea. "My friend," the president admonishes Adama, "we are on a peace mission; the first peace man has known in a thousand years!" As the Cylon attack force draws nearer, Zac is having a harder time keeping ahead of them. Adama consults with Tigh, and they order a battlestations drill.
In the crew quarters of the Galactica, Starbuck is winning a card game. He lays a Perfect Pyramid on the table. Just then, the drill sounds and the pilots rush to their Vipers. As Starbuck climbs into his ship he tells the launch crew this is "probably for some aerial salute before the president signs the Armistice. Sure ruined a good card game." As Zac nears the fleet, he frantically pleads for help over the Cylon jamming. The shiny armor of the Cylon pilots gleam in their cockpits as they fly their ships in pursuit. Adama warns the president that "your welcoming committee is firing on our patrol!" All the confused president can do is look around him to discover Baltar has left. Zac is on final approach to the fleet when the Cylon ships open fire, ultimately hitting the crippled Viper and killing the young warrior. When a brief flash of static interrupts Adama's communiqué with the Atlantia, the president asks "What was that?" A fuming Adama responds "That was my son, Mister President" while Athena sobs at her nearby console.
The Cylons then open fire on the battlestar fleet, all of which are caught unaware except for the drilling Galactica. Adama orders "positive shield now," all anti-assault batteries on the Galactica's outer hull to return fire, and all drilling vipers to launch. All the fighters blast into space and deflect the Cylon ships as they should, but the other battlestars fail to respond. Apollo makes it to the bridge, having landed his ship. He is about to beg his father for the chance to go back and rescue Zac when Tigh gives Adama's eldest son the news.
When Tigh asks Apollo how many Cylon baseships they will be dealing with, the young warrior, still in shock, reports there are "only fighters, maybe a thousand" and a couple of tankers to refuel them. "But why operate this far from Cylon without baseships?" Tigh wonders. Then it is clear to Adama that the Cylons needed their baseships, the enemy's equivalent of a battlestar, "someplace else." He opens a communiqué to the president again, urging him that the Colonial home planets may face attack. But the president is loosing his composure, "How can I have been so completely wrong... I have led the entire human race to ruin..." Cylon ships swarm over the Battlestar Atlantia, strafing the ship as it is caught flat-footed. The Cylon's "Atlantia Death Squadron" makes suicide runs on the battlestar's crumbling defenses, and ultimately the Colonial flagship is destroyed in a huge explosion. The Galactica's flying viper pilots, who noted that "it's dangerous around here," watch in astonishment as the Cylon attack bears fruit.
Adama decides to act before it is too late. "We're withdrawing," he orders, "flank speed for home!" As the Galactica pulls out of the battle, her pilots are stunned again at the sight of their home-ship's retreat. Using the strategy chart wall on the bridge, Tigh reports that Cylon baseships have been detected at "Grids 0-3-5, 1-2-6, and 2-5-8. That puts them well within striking range of the planets Virgon, Sagitara..."
"And Caprica," Adama fumes, realizing his homeworld may be under attack.
Near the Colonial "inner planets", three Cylon baseships approach their targets. These huge vessels, each made of two saucer-like tiers joined in the center, are cracked open where the "raider" ships make their launches and landings. Aboard the command ship, two Cylon centurions enter a dark, circular throne room. "By your command," the centurions call up to the throne. High above them, an alien figure, somewhat reptilian in appearance, turns to face the armored Cylons. "Speak centurion," comes a booming voice from the throne that is much more lifelike. It is the voice of the Cylon Imperious Leader. (Voice-over by Patrick Macnee) The centurions report that all baseships are in position for the attack. "The final annihilation of the life form known as Man," the Imperious Leader hails, "let the attack begin." From launch bays fly swarms of fighters, headed for the planets.
As the Galactica approaches the Great Colonies, anxious officers stare at popular video scans (not unlike television) of business-as-usual on Caprica. In the Caprica Presidium arena, the famous broadcast journalist Serina (Jane Seymour) reports that in the early morning hours there, preparations are still underway for the coming day's Armistice celebration. Then the festive mood is shattered as Cylon raiders begin strafing runs on the capital city, demolishing the Presidium. Galactica's crew watches in a mixture of horror and sorrow as "scanners pick up wave after wave" of attacking enemy ships. "The planet's in flames, Commander," Bridge Officer Omega (David Greenan) reports.
Adama, still in shock, decides he is going to go down to Caprica. Apollo offers to take his father to the surface in his fighter. As the two depart, Rigel reports to Tigh that the Galactica is recovering fighters from the battle. "Sixty-nine in all, twenty five of our own," she says. When Tigh asks how many battlestars are approaching, Omega tells him "We're the only surviving battlestar." Tigh can only mutter, "My God."
The cities on the surface of Caprica are devastated. Fires and towering plumes of smoke are everywhere as the night gives way to morning. Adama finds what is left of his residence, and starts recovering some of his belongings. Apollo wondering if his mother was in the home when the Cylons attacked. "She was here," Adama mourns as he continues to retreat into his own personal loss amidst the mass destruction, admiring old images of Zac, Apollo, Athena and his wife. A mob of angry Caprican survivors is approaching Apollo's ship. When the mob grabs Apollo and threatens to beat him up, Serina emerges and tells them to spare the warrior. She demands to know why the warriors failed to defend their world. "We waited," she pleads, "we watched and prayed, and you never came." Apollo and Adama explain that "must of us are dead, the fleet is all but destroyed." Serina insists, "We must fight back!" Adama agrees, "Yes, we will fight back, but not here, no now, not in the Colonies, not even in this star system."
He addresses the mob, "Let the word go forth to every man, woman and child that survived this holocaust. Tell them to set sail at once in every assortment of vehicle that will carry them."
And they came. The Aeries, the Virgons, the Gemins, the Skorpois, the Piscons and the Sagitarans. In all, 220 ships representing every colony, color and creed in the star system. The human race might have one more chance but it would have to survive the dark and sinister threats that lie ahead, the elements, and the Alliance...
On the surface of Caprica, overlooking the remains of a burnt-out city as the suns rise, Baltar holds court with a pair of heavily armed Cylon centurions. "Their destruction is complete," the human gloats. But the Cylon troopers report that survivors ask to be spared so they may tell the tale of ships which escaped the Colonies. Baltar scoffs at this, believing that the Colonies, in the aftermath of the attack, "would have neither food nor fuel for a prolonged voyage," and he tells his Cylon allies, "if they exist, they're doomed".
In space, moving away from the homeworlds, the Battlestar Galactica leads the refugee fleet through space. Adama calls a meeting with representatives of all the ships in his new fleet. He tells them that he has chosen a destination for the fleet. He explains how their ancient texts tell of a parent world where human life is believed to have originated. From this world sprang the tribes which settled the Twelve Colonies. But there was a thirteenth world "far out in the universe... in a galaxy very much like our own" called Earth.
As the refugee fleet continues on its way, Starbuck and Boomer are assigned by Apollo to help the Galactica's warrior contingent survey the fleet's civilian ships for damage. During their exploration of these crude ships, these warriors discover survivors living in miserable conditions aboard the Freighter Gemini. There are people here suffering from hunger, dehydration, and even injuries. It seems that the Cylon attack poisoned many foodstuffs, wiping out the fleet's supply. One blonde woman named Cassiopea (Laurette Spang), found suffering with a broken arm, seeks refuge from the freighter's hostile passengers who consider her a "dirty socialator". The survivors also direct their resentment toward the warriors themselves, not trusting anyone to care for the common good. As the Galactica shuttle departs the Gemini, Apollo tells Boomer that he can't blame the survivors for resenting the warriors. After all, "they lost everything they had."
A Second Look
The BATTLESTAR GALACTICA pilot, "Saga of a Star World," was actually made as a television movie. There are several versions of this movie, including the three-part episodic version seen in syndication on the Sci Fi Channel. This review deals with the syndicated Part One, (the first third of a three-part story) which is almost identical to all other versions up to this point.
There are some little sound bites in the BATTLESTAR GALACTICA movie-on-video which would've been nice in the three-part mini-series, and there are some parts of the miniseries which would've strengthened the movie. One example from the movie-on-video is the scene where Apollo allows Zac to go on the patrol to Cimtar. The part where Starbuck and Apollo are left talking about what it was like to be as young and excited as Zac added a little more depth to their characters which would not be seen again until later in the series. It was a shame to leave this out of the syndicated version.
This is especially true when one considers what was left in the syndicated version's first hour: a dreadful scene in which Starbuck finds Athena taking her clothes off in the warriors' locker room. This scene makes no sense. If Starbuck and Athena were lovers, why would she hide behind a locker door? Knowing Starbuck, he's already seen anything she could possibly conceal. And wouldn't warriors on-board ship have some kind of protocol or understanding of what's private and what isn't? This scene shows how bad male-dominated Hollywood really was in the 1970's. It seems the show's makers simply needed a scene to give depth to the Starbuck-Athena relationship, so they wed some '70's-style soap lover's dialogue with a little model-turned-actress exposure.
This vignette, combined with others throughout this hour, illustrate a common problem with BATTLESTAR. It's like the show's makers break down the story into a collection of scenes, and play each one up, sound-bite style, like a micro-movie or maxi-music video. It is never quite as bad as a Beatles film, still the story seems to suffer as the viewing audience rides a roller coaster of vignette after vignette. This is evident from the beginning, when we are greeted by the introductory let's-toast-to-peace scene, followed by the Zac-wants-to-fly scene, then the viper launch scene, then back to the meet Batlar scene, followed by a string of escalating Cylon ambush scenes. The dog fighting, followed by the Cylons' hounding of Zac's ship, may seem like a logical way to introduce the Cylon threat. But it also shows how the show got off on the wrong foot by relying too heavily on fighter combat action metaphors derived from 1970's movies about World War II naval air drama such as TORA! TORA! TORA! (Twentieth-Century Fox, 1970) and MIDWAY (Fox, 1976). In BATTLESTAR, laser firepower replaces bullets and Cimtar becomes like Midway Island or Pearl Harbor. While this mechanical transformation of tried-and-true air force drama seems to give the story some wheels, it also shows how the shows makers failed to innovate. But casting their lot with expensive dogfighting and strafing scenes, they locked themselves into a metaphor which cause the show to miss opportunities and stumble over its own logic.
Consider: if the Cylon baseships dumped off all of their fighters in deep space to rendezvous with the tankers at Cimtar, wouldn't that open the door to the Colonial battlestars spotting their approach? Would it not have been more imaginative to show a small contingent of Cylons manning several pulsar-type guns at Cimtar, catching the fleet in a sniper-firefight? Such an ambush would've been more interesting for the story, made the demise of the battlestars more believable, and actually increased the tension for the characters. Think about it: several well-placed concealed batteries could chip away at the Colonial fleet, and all the vipers wouldn't be able to stop it. There would be few, if any enemy fighters to shoot down. The tanker-freighter and first dogfight scenes would be left intact; the freighters would be needed to deliver the sniper-guns and to refuel a small number of fighters to protect the snipers and draw the fleet's fire.
The money spent on special effects showing clever Cylon snipers cutting the battlestar fleet to pieces could have been recovered with scenes showing Cylon basestars in orbital bombardment runs of the home planets. The whole notion of Cylon fighter bombers strafing streets and leaving small explosions of sparks that damage buildings goes back to lameness of interpreting lasers as if they are like space bullets. They aren't. The Cylons could probably do the same thing more effectively from orbit, or simply nuke the cities with missiles. Again, a little more imagination and serious understanding of the science behind science fiction would've made the story more interesting even if the results were the same.
There are some other glaring problems with the story. How could the president of a civilian governing council issue military orders from the command deck of a battlestar? The pivotal point in the story shows Batlar manipulating the president into relaxing the fleet's defenses just as the Cylons are moving in to attack. Where's the Atlantia's commander? And don't any of the other battlestar commanders have anything to say?
The whole notion that a quorum of advanced, thriving worlds could sustain war for 1,000 years is tough enough to grasp. But the notion of disarming pacifism blundering into an ambush after the war has been in progress for so long is even more fantastic. Why would anyone collect their entire navy together in one place before the end of a conflict, then insist the fleet's defenses be relaxed? There's such a thing as poor judgement, and then there's outright stupidity.
And it's worth noting that the story makes it clear that there are several homeworlds, spread out across the orbits of at least two stars. How could the defenses of all these worlds be so totally relaxed, all at once?
Despite all these leaps of logic throughout BATTLESTAR's first hour, the story does work. It illustrates many fears people expressed during the Cold War. The exodus from the Colonies appears to borrow from THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (Paramount, 1956), but this attempt is missing one crucial element: size. Most of the time, BATTLESTAR is showing small groups of people, flyby shots of small numbers of ships, and small sets. Granted, much of this adventure takes place in the confinement of ships. The show never really showed a large crowd of people on Caprica all trying to cram themselves aboard a ship at the "spacedrome."
True to the folksy self-parody of the 1970's, BATTLESTAR tries to make a joke out of the exodus, showing a transport ship with the words marked on the hull "Colonial Movers...We Move Anywhere." This scene is cute and charming. Fortunately, it is only shown once.
The Cylons are a mixed bag from the start. The Imperious Leader never does anything but rotate on his/its throne, unmoving, like some kind of puppet, bellowing out lines like a bizarre cross between the Pope and Hitler. The name of this character is not very imaginative, almost cartoonish. The motives of this races of beings never really made sense. They are programmed to kill all humans. Why? And why do they have an alliance? If all life is their enemy, wouldn't it be a little hard for any life to ally with them? The Imperious Leader does not appear to be purely robotic. In fact, the very nature of the Cylons' physical bodies makes no sense. If these beings are pure robots, why do they need lighted, pressurized ships with artificial gravitation? And why would the Cylons need to use spoken words to communicate among themselves? Why would they need to pilot their raiders by hand? Wouldn't a wired or wireless plug-in do? Are these creatures individuals, with some organic component? BATTLESTAR's makers cop-out and never really explain any of this. In fact, they make these characters so contradictory, clumsy and cold from the beginning that they seem more like a race of pointless puppets than a fierce nationalistic force of deadly zealots.
Despite this, the Cylons make entertaining chrome-plated space Nazis. Their appearance, behavior, voices and other sound effects are an icon of 1970's pop-culture, just as BATTLESTAR GALACTICA has become. The video game-style space battles and brutal apocalyptic villains remain a testimonial to what many youths and young adults were thinking about the Cold War.
It's hard to believe now that many of the show's original detractors took aim at Lorne Greene as Commander Adama, referring to it as "Battlestar Ponderosa." Prior to playing Adama, Greene played a very different kind of leader in the nineteenth-century cowboy-like BONANZA (Paramount/NBC, 1959-73). Greene was seen as typecast for his long-standing role as Nevada homesteader Ben Cartwright. But Greene transformed himself in this pilot episode. He became the regal-but-worldly-wise Adama, a mortal man who had to use his wits to stay one step ahead of his adversaries. Greene consistently proved he could make a viewer believe he was a patriarch, a scholar of ancient legends, a military man, an astronaut and a father all at once. In some ways, he overshadowed the real star of the show, who received top billing over him:
Richard Hatch portrays Captain Apollo. His true-believer character comes to life very well, even though the pilot does not thus far give him any really flattering moments. The line "right here, you creeps", is just the kind of lapse in the authenticity of Colonial culture that plagues the pilot, and it does nothing to help Hatch's portrayal of a fighter pilot. The first hour of BATLESTAR does little to make Apollo look military. Hatch look more like a fireman-paramedic troubleshooting on EMERGENCY! (NBC/Universal-Mark VII Ltd., 1972-77) than a warrior-astronaut.
Rick Springfield's portrayal of Zac looked like it was doomed anyway. He looked more like something that belonged on THE DUKES OF HAZZARD (CBS/Warner Bros., 1979-85). Yeowwww!
Dirk Benedict's Starbuck could've stolen the show in the first hour if he hadn't been given some of the worst scenes. It is obvious that his character is still in development when all the writers could give him to do is play cards, pilot a damaged fighter into a crash landing, get into a squabble with his voluptuous girlfriend and then "discover" her in that appalling locker room scene. Despite this, Benedict proves himself very capable in making his character memorable.
Lew Ayres' portrayal of the president, though unflattering and short-lived, was adequate. He didn't have much to work with, and came across as a dupe. And cardboard.
Terry Carter uses very little material to introduce Tigh in the first hour, and yet we see the essence of this character formed more quickly than any other. To be fair, Tigh has little chance to step out of Adama's shadow while serving as Galactica's executive officer, but the character's personality is still firmly associated with the BATTLESTAR phenomenon.
Then there's Athena. Maren Jensen, literally a model-turned-actress, does more acting in the first several episodes than in the rest of the series. When she was permitted, she served well as BATTLESTAR's intentional entry into "jiggle TV" lore. Jensen may never have been in line for an Emmy or an Oscar, but she should've been utilized more effectively. This isn't just a matter of enhancing the show's sexual content, either. As bridge personnel, she could have been used to make the show's on-board content smarter by making her more of a professional, junior command presence. Athena is never shown supervising any other personnel in this first hour or in the rest of the series. We do, however, get to see a rare glimpse of her working with Tigh to guide in Starbuck's damaged fighter. While there is the appearance of her being a high-tech air traffic controller or tech support phone operator here, this could've served as the beginning of an effort to both refine the bridge-drama and make Athena more of a presence on the ship.
Sara Rush as Rigel is another opportunity missed. She seems to get all the technical "launch when ready" lines, which she rattles off like a machine. But she's not seen as a character. She is referred to in the credits as "Woman on Duty". Too bad a little of Athena couldn't be given to Rigel and vice-versa.
One thing BATTLESTAR seemed to do with little regard for military authenticity: the hair. All the younger adult characters were either wearing big, fluffy hair or the dreadful "helmet hair". While in a way this little snapshot of late 1970's fashion is a delight to revisit, it also showed how little regard the show's makers had for making the supposedly far-away culture these characters represented into something more interesting than an advertisement for perms and curling irons. They didn't have to show everyone having a "butch cut", but still one would think that astronauts going off to battle don't look like Barbie and Ken going off to a disco.
Notably absent from the first hour of this story are many of the terms and references that would serve to make the Colonial culture (and the Cylons) decidedly extra-terrestrial. Such "funk-o-babble" expressions as "felgercarb" and "frack" are missing, as are many conventionalizations, such as time units ("years" are used here, rather than "yahren") which underscored how this was still a work in progress. Methinks they should've left BATTLESTAR in the oven a little longer.
Note how Vipers appear to be small-cockpit, single man craft. How did Apollo accompany Adama to the surface of Caprica in a one-seat viper? Yet another example of how half-baked the show's pilot was.
The shots of the battlestar fleet should've been more impressive. The size of these ships was portrayed with only limited success.
The images of the Atlantia bridge under attack were far more impressive. This is the only time we see explosive decompression used in a battle scene in BATTLESTAR.
The whole fighter dogfight scenario revealed a serious, short-sighted flaw in the mechanics of combat in BATTLESTAR: if someone sneaks up behind your ship, you are in real trouble. No tail gunners, no reversible weapons. All firepower and personnel directed forward. And the landing bays of the big battlestars should all have a welcome mat on the outer end of them saying "ATTACK HERE." Couldn't a little imagination be applied to these obvious flaws?
The gleaming chrome-plated Cylon centurions were actually a semi-decent special effect on their own, but Cylon society was never fully formed in either the pilot or the series that followed. The Imperious Leader's throne room was thoroughly parodied by Robin Williams in MORK & MINDY (ABC/Paramount-Miller-Milkis, 1978-82). There are, as yet, no other kinds of Cylons shown: just the silvery centurions and the lighthouse-from-Hell Imperious Leader.
BATTLESTAR's makers missed another opportunity when they could've shown a baseship in the skies over Caprica instead of the low-swooping raiders. Aerial bombardment from a baseship would be more destructive, and since all of the fighters were busy attacking the battlestars there should not have been any over Caprica anyway.
The scenes on the overlook above the burning coastal city on Caprica were a nicely done effect. BATTLESTAR never did enough of this.
IF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA WERE NEW TODAY:
This three-part story could've been done as its own mini-series to give more time to introducing the characters and their plight.
"Jiggle TV" would have to give way to characters offering more substance.
Everyone could stand to get a better haircut, although Athena's exotic looks made her 'do acceptable.
It would've been interesting if the story started at a point before the "peace conference," back when the war was still on.
Caprica, the other Colonies, and the whole Colonial culture would have to offer better tie-ins to ancient Earth than just Egyptian-style flight helmets and pyramid-shaped buildings.
The characters would have to stop doing dumb things, like allowing their entire defense fleet to sleep-walk into an ambush. The Cylon attack would have to be much more clever than that.
TIDBITS & NITPICKS
While Starbuck was trying to land his battle-damaged fighter, he referred to himself by saying "Red Leader, in trouble..." Apparently, he was a squadron leader, and not of Blue Squadron.
The number of battlestars in formation at the beginning of this story is not entirely clear. We never see more than five at a time, but different scenes show the ships in different formations. Could the different shots be of different sets of ships in the fleet? So how many battlestars are there? Five? Ten? Twelve? Fifteen? More?
We never see any more than three Cylon baseships at a time. If one deduces from Tigh's charting of baseship sightings that there are actually three such formations of Cylon vessels attacking the Colonies, then as many as nine were involved. But there is no definite indication of this.
Apollo tells his brother that "...a thousand to one, that's not fair" when they are being pursued by the Cylon assault force. This seems to loosely imply that there are a thousand-to-one odds against their two vipers, or 2,000 Cylon fighters. Later, on the Galactica's bridge, Apollo reports to Tigh and Adama that there were "No baseships, just fighters; maybe a thousand." It could be accepted that the number of Cylon fighters attacking the fleet was either approximately 1,000 or 2,000. That's quite a difference.
When the Galactica starts recovering fighters while near Caprica, Rigel reports there are "sixty-nine in all, twenty-five of our own". This seems to indicate that other battlestars did ultimately launch at least some Vipers against the Cylons, as well as revealing that many of the Galactica's original squadrons were wiped out. So, were there any other surviving vipers? Was 69 the final fighter compliment aboard the Galactica just prior to the exodus? This is never made clear.
Omega tells Tigh "we're the only surviving battlestar." But how do they know that? If other battlestars managed to launch their own Vipers, and the surviving Galactica squadrons followed their home ship away from the battle, maybe other ships survived unknown to the Galactica recovery effort. The situation was certainly chaotic enough. Could it be that a war raged on in the Colonies after Adama led the refugee fleet in the exodus? BATTLESTAR missed a great story opportunity here.
During Serina's "talking heads" report on Caprican civilian video scan, she mentions that the Colonists expect that peace discussions "going on at this very moment on the Star Kobol". Would this be a slip-up, assuming that one of the neighboring planetary systems near the Colonies was Kobol? Or did Star Kobol imply the name of a colony, ship or space station? This is never made clear.
Didn't the Colonists believe in space stations? In a time of war, would there not always by squadrons at full readiness to launch in defense of any home port?
With all that fanfare before the Cylon attack, one would think BATTLESTAR's makers would've shown Adama's more immediate superior, perhaps a Colonial admiral.
For the record, a "battle star" is a recognition which a United States warship receives after it sees combat service.
A "centurion" in the ancient Roman army was the captain of a group of 100 soldiers.
A "viper" is a venomous snake.
The term "scan" seems to refer not only to data retrieved from military tracking devices, but from just about anything involving a video display. This seems to include Serina's broadcast.
By the looks of the Caprica presidium, even at night, Colonial society was every bit as advanced and prosperous as the grandiose nature of their battlestars.