The Night the Cylons Landed is an episode of the TV series, Galactica 1980.
Recon Probe Delta detects an unidentified vessel heading towards the fleet which, under examination, is determined to be of Cylon design. The ship, revealed to be a fighter, is heavily armed and engages with the Viper. Unable to communicate with Galactica, the Viper is forced to engage rather than retreat and disables it. Before losing power themselves, an internal scan reveals the Cylon crew to be of a more humanoid shape than Centurions.
On Galactica, Cmdr. Adama discusses the latest developments with Dr. Zee. They have now detected the craft heading to Earth, but know nothing else of it, and have failed to get in contact with the Viper. Dr. Zee instead hypothesises the Viper and mystery craft are one and the same, and will likely be intercepted by Earth's militaries. Cpt. Troy and Lt. Dillon meanwhile have taken the scouts out to see a science-fiction film. The adults and children have radically different interpretations of the film, largely owing to the film's star alien resembling a Gorkon, a real species. They receive new orders to investigate Recon Probe Delta, and the party has to leave the film early.
As suspected, the Earth has become aware of the disabled Cylon raider, with civilian observatories and the US military theorising it to be a failed Russian satellite. The craft is calculated as being on course to collide with New York the following evening. In the morning, Troy, Dillon and the children meet with Jamie Hamilton at the Griffith Park Observatory, the media having been made aware of the craft. The two officers are confused by the lack of emergency transmissions, but this does not stop their plan to take a reserve Viper into the atmosphere to recover it. Hamilton warns the two to be cautious, having been asked questions by Col. Briggs, an Air Force officer who has started an investigation into them.
Cpt. Troy and Lt. Dillon arrive at LAX. Going by the names "Jones" and "Smith" in the event the airport was warned about them already, they receive pre-paid tickets for the 9AM "Flight 2" to New York. The two must walk through metal detectors to get to their flight, which they are taken aback by due to their unfamiliarity with hijacking, though the carbon nature of their equipment lets them through without issue. The two take their seats just before the plane is due to set off, with a couple with a baby taking seats after them.
During the flight, the nearby couple unwrap their baby, revealing it to in in fact be a doll. Taking apart some of their luggage, they quickly fit together parts for home-made firearms before getting up and taking an air hostess hostage, intent on forcing the plane to change its route to Cuba. Troy and Dillon use their machines to interfere with the plane's equipment, forcing the air bags to be released which causes a panic, allowing the two to shoot the hijackers, knocking them out. The Captain leaves the cabin to investigate the malfunction, and finds the two hijackers on the ground, without explanation. A young boy shouts out that he saw Troy and Dillon 'zap' the hijackers, but they deny it. Nonetheless, when the FBI comes to arrest the hijackers at JFK, the Captain warns them they will be questioned as well.
Back on Galactica, Cmdr. Adama receives word that the missing patrol has been salvaged and taken back to Galactica. Dr. Zee opens up communication with the crew in the infirmary, where they warn him the Cylon craft was far more advanced than any they'd encountered before. As this logically means a Cylon craft is coming to earth, it adds a whole new layer of unpredictability. Dr. Zee has now had time to analyse the data from the Viper, and reveals the Cylons have evolved into machines of humanoid appearance, and hypothesises this fighter-on-fighter encounter was an experiment to determine if they were sufficiently evolved to outmatch Galactica. On board the craft, which consists of humanoid and Centurion models, preparations are made to survive the crashing.
After a long delay, extended by busy airtraffic, Flight 2 arrives after sunset at JFK. An air hostess notifies Troy and Dillon they are expected to meet with the FBI at the galley to give a statement while the arrests of the hijackers are made. The hostess lets them use the restrooms to "comb their hair", which gives them the privacy to render themselves invisible. They make their way out, but accidentally knock over the FBI official on the way. Exiting the airport, they return to visibility and hop aboard a taxi bound "north".
Back on the Cylon craft, the crew discover they are able to pick up a large array of transmissions from the planet, their first realisation it is populated by intelligent life. Finding footage containing humans, they quickly determine this to be a human colony. The Earth's fate now rests on their ability to warn the Cylons of its location; the computer estimates a 3% chance of the craft's survival, a 1% chance of the Centurions' survival, with a slightly higher chance for the more advanced models. They crash 60 miles north of New York City, in an afforested area.
Following the crash, Andromus, one of the humanoid Cylons survives, but is trapped. He calls out to the Centurions to save him, but they are heavily damaged, with one eventually reactivating and helping him. Meanwhile, Troy and Dillon get out of the taxi and run out into the woods, leaving the taxi driver to turn back home with only a single note. Andromus activates a self-destruct device on the Raider to deny being analysed by mankind, and has the Centurion tear out the distress beacon with the hope of using it later to contact their fellows. Andromus considers playing the long-game, infiltrating mankind to gain tactical information for the eventual invasion. He considers having the Centurion destroyed to avoid detection, but they are interrupted by Troy and Dillon and leave. The two investigate the Raider, where they find the other humanoid Cylon model. They fail to drag the body out for analysis before the craft destroys.
The emergency services arrive into the area to investigate the crash, with police, fire, and paramedics all in attendance, having prepared for far worse. The lead police officer is suspicious of the two, though believes them to be the pilots of an unusual aeroplane. He does not believe their claim to have just gotten out of a taxi, and believes they were transporting drugs and crashed. The search of the craft is inconclusive due to the destruction, and they pressure Troy and Dillon to make a statement. Arrested, the two cops take out their devices to investigate. They are shocked to find a weapon capable of destroying a tree, which gives the two time to use their other equipment, and they hijack the police car after forcing them to freeze in position.
In the car ride, the two colonial warriors begin discussions their new options. In light of the Cylon incursion, the Earth militaries may have to be notified. Assuming the Raider's beacon was at comparable power to the older models, it would not be able to be picked up by the nearby Galactica, let alone a Basestar further out. Logically, any Cylon survivors would have to utilise existing equipment on Earth to boost the transmission.
Andromus and the Centurion make their way to what they believe to be a transmitter to fit their needs, which Andromus estimates to take the rest of the night and some of the daylight hours to get to. Walking near a highway, they get the attention of Shirley and Norman, who are heading into New York for a Halloween party. Shirley loves the Centurion costume, and wants to bring them along, mistaking them for party-goers who's car broke down.
Troy and Dillon are able to pick up the beacon, which determines there were indeed Cylon survivors. The speed of the beacon's movement indicates it is being transported by vehicle. They pick up a report over the police radio about the stolen car they are driving. As they make their way into New York, they are identified by other cars and followed. In Norman's car, Andromus and Shirley converse, with Shirley assuming his unusual mannerisms are simply him keeping in character. Andromus learns Norman is the General Manager of a local radio station, who has left it in the capable hands of his Program Director Arnie for the night. Andromus is interested by this development, though Norman is not at all happy with bringing in guests, and provokes his wife with talk of Arnie's obsession with meatballs at parties to lose the guests' interest. He comically warns them of Arnie and his sister, who he claims proposed to her own mugger.
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- Kent McCord as Captain Troy
- Barry Van Dyke as Lieutenant Dillon
- Robyn Douglass as Jamie Hamilton
- Lorne Greene as Commander Adama
- James Patrick Stuart as Doctor Zee
- William Daniels as Norman Blore
- Lara Parker as Shirley Blore
- Peter Mark Richman as Colonel Briggs
Special Guest Stars
- Roger Davis as Andromus
- Wolfman Jack as Himself
- Sheila DeWindt as Stewardess
- Rene Levant as 1st Officer
- Ed Griffith as 2nd Officer
- Jed Mills as Cabbie
- Timothy O'Hagan as Kanon
- Robert Lunny as Briton
The Super Scouts Alphabetically
- Michael Brick
- Nicholas Davies
- Ronnie Densford
- Mark Everett
- Georgi Irene
- Tracy Justrich
- Lindsay Kennedy
- David Larson
- Eric Larson
- Michelle Larson
- Jerry Supiran
- Eric Taslitz
- Marj Dusay as Mildred
- Heather Young as Star