BATTLESTAR GALACTICA arrived with much hype in the Fall of 1978, giving sic-fi fanatics a chance to see a close approximation of STAR WARS, for free, every week. Well done Glen.
Universal were spending a fortune on the TV show (the three-hour pilot apparently cashed-in at $12 million + and subsequent episodes, despite being noticeably cheaper, still apparently cost near to $1 million) but cashing in on sneaking out selected episodes as faux feature films in overseas markets and offering shedloads of (frequently sub-standard) merchandise.
Unfortunately, broadcaster ABC wasn't getting a piece of the merchandising action and its crack accountants quickly calculated that the hefty price they were paying for the show didn't leave much room for a stellar profit margin. So, after a year and despite none-too-shabby ratings, ABC pulled the plug.
They had a change of heart within six months and tried again with the cut-price catastrophe GALACTICA 1980. But, we'll get to that.
Marvel, flush with their STAR WARS success, were quick to snaffle-up the comic book license.
They produced an adaptation of the extended pilot (released theatrically overseas) in the Super Special magazine format. And repackaged the same material in Treasury (tabloid) and paperback formats.
Obviously produced while the show was still at the earliest stages of production, the Super Special version includes several inconsistencies compared with the final screen version.
Marvel used the same material to form the basis of the first three issues of their regular Battlestar monthly but less pressing deadlines allowed them to amend and correct the earlier version.
Cover dated March 1979
Issue 4 and 5 adapted the TV episodes Lost Planet of the Gods. The first story aired after the pilot (The Gun on Ice Planet Zero was shot first), it was originally intended to be one of the three TV movies (along with the pilot and GOIPZ) before ABC decided to commit to a full series on the strength of the rushes from the first episodes.
Marvel's license only covered the first five TV hours (which meant they were unable to incorporate any of the later characters and concepts like the Eastern Alliance), leaving it free to create its own interpretation of the series. Cue: space vampires, peckish planets, new-fangled flashback machines and space pirates. One notable difference to the TV version is that Marvel left Baltar to die in the rubble of Kobol whereas the TV show inexplicably resurrected him, albeit with a limp, the following week.
This issue is actually an unused TARZAN: LORD OF THE JUNGLE inventory story left on file after the book was hastily cancelled (29 issues, 1977-1979), reworked to fit Battlestar (with Apollo substituted for Tarzan!). Issue 17 was especially created to lead into the amended strip.
There was no UK edition of the pilot/ movie adaptation but the two-part Lost Planet of the Gods was published in STAR HEROES WINTER SPECIAL 1979 (along with THE MICRONAUTS), almost a year before it appeared on screen (and then only in the London region).
Marvel UK Editor in Chief Dez Skinn had initially planned to run the Battlestar reprints as a back-up strip in STAR WARS WEEKLY (always desperate for suitable material) but Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox (who were busy suing Battlestar for ripping-off Star Wars) got wind of the plan and swiftly put the kibosh on it.
The summer of 1980 saw the launch of Marvel UK's black and white A3 POCKET BOOK range (largely assembled of sixties reprints) including STAR HEROES POCKET BOOK, reprinting (again) The Micronauts and Battlestar beginning with US 5. With the Battlestar reprints exhausted, and The Micronauts required for the new weekly FUTURE TENSE, Star Heroes morphed into X-MEN POCKET BOOK after a year.
Selected Marvel Battlestar strips were reprinted in two Titan Books trade paperbacks: SAGA OF A STAR WORLD and THE MEMORY MACHINE.
17 September 1978 (ABC)
4 September 1980 (Thames Television/ London)
The series didn't earn a network slot and different ITV regions aired the show at very different times (or even not at all). Thames aired the pilot, The Living Legend and Fire in Space although other regions subsequently omitted them because they formed the first two theatrical releases (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and MISSION GALACTICA: THE CYLON ATTACK).
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