"Experiment in Terra"
Written by Glen A. Larson
Directed by Rod Holcomb
Apollo is chosen by the Beings
of Light to save the planet Terra.
Read the complete story summary at the Battlestar wiki site
The title of this episode is probably a reference to the 1962
film Experiment in Terror.
Edward Mulhare guest stars as John in this episode. He will go
on to have an important supporting role in another Glen A.
Larson production, Knight Rider.
At the beginning of the episode, Commander Adama speaks into his
journal that it has been 7 sectars since the escape of the
prisoners in "Baltar's Escape".
This is the only time "sectar" has been used as a unit of time;
previously it was an unknown unit of distance in space.
Possibly it was miswritten in the script and was meant to be
secton, about 1 week. The later novel
that the term "sectare" is the equivalent of a day.
At 3:00 on the DVD, a brand name can be seen on the bottom of
the warbook display in Starbuck's Viper. It is
company known largely for its electronic test and measurement
equipment. The company provided much of the display equipment
for the series.
After being abducted by the Ship of Lights, Apollo meets one of
the Beings of Light, who calls himself John and says they are
"brothers...of a sort." Considering Apollo's young brother, Zac,
had a seeming encounter with a Being of Light in
"Daughter of Elysium",
with hints that his fate was intertwined with the Beings of
Light, and his subsequent death on his first mission in
"Annihilation", might John
somehow literally be Apollo's brother, i.e. Zac, in an aged and
spiritual form? (Zac will himself later appear to Apollo as a
Being of Light in
John tells Apollo that the real Charlie Watts is currently being
held captive on Lunar 1, but he'll eventually escape. This story
is told beginning in "Lunar Won".
At 8:38 on the DVD, as Apollo approaches the planet Terra, we
can see that it does actually appear to be Earth! Notice the
North and Central American continents visible through the center
of the Viper's canopy.
After incarcerating Apollo/Charlie in a cell at 18:16 on the
DVD, the guard demonstrates the effectiveness of the force field
door of his cell to discourage escape attempts. But the
demonstration is really there for the benefit of we the viewers;
Colonel Watts would already know how the cells work! And why do
so many science-fiction shows like to depict force field doors
on cells anyway? It seems like it would be much more practical
to use solid doors that would still work even in the event of a
power outage! (To give BSG credit, the cells on the fleet's
prison barge do have solid doors.)
The building used as the Presidium on Terra was shot on the abandoned
grounds of Expo '67 in Montreal, Canada (also used as the dead
city on Paradeen in
"Greetings from Earth" Part 2). This building is now Le
Casino de Montréal.
On posts behind the desk of the
President of the Nationalists are two horse busts. There
is also what appears to be some
kind of Terran (probably
Nationalist) flag, but we
never get a good look at it.
Another Terran flag is seen at 32:11 on the DVD, but is
actually a Colonial flag (seen in
"Deathtrap"). At 32:17, three
flags are seen, but at least one of them (the yellow one) is
another Colonial flag (also seen in
The series' confusing use of the term "light-speed" continues in
this episode. When Adama orders the fleet to proceed to a
certain rendezvous point while the Galactica veers off
to Terra, he orders the Galactica to increase to
light-speed. It is implied that the fleet generally travels at
sublight speeds when Colonel Tigh points out that it has been
some time since the battlestar was pushed to such a velocity.
But travelling at sublight speeds all this time would
realistically mean that they wouldn't even leave their own star
system for years! Some fans (including myself) have chosen to
reinterpret the rare references to light speed as references to
hyperlight speed; in this reinterpretation, the fleet normally
travels at the speed of light with occasional use of hyperlight
At about 22:24 on the DVD, one of the production cameras can be
seen in the bottom left corner of the screen as Starbuck walks
up to Apollo's Viper.
The officers of the People's Nationalist Force are wearing
helmets that are obviously just motocross helmets!
Recognize the voice of the lead officer pictured above? He was
portrayed by John DeLancie, best known for his appearances as Q
on the various
Star Trek series! I guess Q decided to flit around in
the BSG universe for a bit.
In a bit of dialog obviously intended to inform the television
viewers, Starbuck dictates into his comm unit that in his first
encounter with Terrans, his weapon is set for stun. This is so
we, the viewers, won't think he's just coldly killed 9 people to
escape capture! Notice that a single shot from Starbuck's gun
renders the entire group of officers unconscious.
The novelization refers to Luna 1 through 11. Since "luna" is Latin for
"moon", does that mean there are actually eleven moons in the
Terran system? Are they all moons of Terra? Or are some the
moons of other planets in the system? Do these moons
have atmospheres that support life? Or are they dead moons with
completely enclosed bases of inhabitants?
Apollo's speech in front of the Presidium isn't very convincing!
Earlier it seemed like the Beings of Light intended him to tell the
Presidium what he knew about the Eastern Alliance's attacks
against Paradeen and takeover of Lunar 7. But when he gets his
chance to speak in front of the Presidium, he talks about how
he's from another galaxy where they learned freedom must come
from strength. Imagine someone saying that in front of the U.S.
Congress or the U.N. Who would believe him?
Presumably the big map in the Eastern Alliance war room is
intended to represent land masses on Terra. Unlike the images of the globe we saw earlier in this episode and the
Terran symbol seen in
"Greetings from Earth" Part 2, these land masses
do not look like the continents of Earth.
This scene may be
intended as a subtle homage to the war room scenes in Stanley
Kubrick's 1964 film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to
Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
Notice that when Starbuck launches his Viper back out into space
to contact the Galactica, his helmet is white like the
rest of his uniform even though he didn't have the helmet with
him when John touched him and transformed his clothing!
Notes from Experiment in
Terra, the novelization of
"Baltar's Escape" and "Experiment in Terra", by Glen A. Larson and Ron Goulart
(The page numbers come from the 2nd
printing, paperback edition, published May 1984)
Pages 57-end cover the events of "Experiment in Terra".
As in the novelization of
"Greetings from Earth",
author Ron Goulart here seems to prefer using many Earth terms over
the traditional Colonial ones in this novel. He uses Earth names
for Colonial people in many cases and terms such as dog, Holy
Crow, and bon voyage. Perhaps because the book is about the possible discovery
of Earth by the fleet, he wanted to lean the reader into
thinking so by slipping in Earth words and phrases.
The book gives Brenda and her father the last name of Farris rather than Maxwell
as presented in the episode. She's also described as dark-haired rather
than blond. Also, Stone is called Storm here.
When Starbuck arrives on Terra, he meets a redneck robot named
Will/F, whom he calls Willie. This leads him to a cave where
Willie and the rest of his robot pals, plus a couple oddball
humans, live outside the general influence of the Nationalist
government. Willie helps Starbuck rescue Apollo, General Farris,
Storm, and Brenda from their holding cells in the Complex.
In chapters 18 and 19, the doctor who examines Apollo at the
Complex on Terra is referred to as Dr. Horning. In later
chapters, he's referred to as Dr. Hocking! (In the TV
episode's end credits, he is listed as Dr. Horning.)
Page 102 reveals that Terra has lost Luna 1-11 to the Eastern
On page 131, Starbuck mentions bananas. I guess that's one fruit
the Colonies had in common with Earth!
In the novel, Storm turns out to be a traitor to the General and
the rest as he tries to give away the location of their
temporary hideout in the robots' cave.
On page 138, President Arends mentions having Fireside Chat
telecasts. The term "Fireside Chat" is borrowed from the radio
broadcasts delivered by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt
during his tenure in the White House from 1933-1944.
On page 143, John appears in Starbuck's Viper while he's flying
out of Terra's atmosphere, "in the narrow extra seat". What
extra seat? A Viper seats just one person!