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"There are those who believe that life began out there, far across the universe, with tribes of humans who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive, somewhere beyond the heavens."

Battlestar Galactica was created by Glen A. Larson, prolific and successful producer/writer of American television series. Originally conceived as a science-fiction parable called 'Adam's Ark', it was based partly on Larson's own Mormon faith, with other biblical parallels drawn from Moses and the Exodus.

Lorne Greene played Adama, the Commander of the eponymous 'Galactica' - a vast craft akin to a space-going aircraft carrier - and leader of the surviving humans forced to flee their twelve planetary colonies (named after Zodiacal signs) after a massive attack by the robotic Cylons. Adama, aided by his son Apollo (Richard Hatch), daughter Athena (Maren Jensen) and roguish warrior Starbuck (Dirk Benedict), leads a ragtag fleet in search of a 'lost thirteenth colony' called... Earth!

Such was the format, which Larson hoped to make as TV movies, but after the three-hour pilot was made it was commissioned by the ABC (American Broadcasting Company) as a series, following the success of 'Star Wars'. The popularity of the Erich Von Däniken books on 'ancient astronauts' during this period probably had a similar bearing that led to the series' cult following.

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Battlestar Galactica images

To offset the huge costs of such an effects intensive and innovatively designed show, the original telemovie was edited down for theatrical film release in Canada from July 1978, in advance of the series' debut on ABC TV in September. The series continued throughout a whole season, ending in April 1979, around which time the film version was released in the UK, becoming '...the sci-fi success of the summer...' according to 'Look-In'. But this had the unfortunate knock back of delaying any rights for the pilot being available to UK television networks for over a year - without it the rest of the series made little sense.

Anticipating the series would make its television debut in the UK soon after - '...the ITV series is eagerly-awaited...' states the preview - 'Look-In' began a colour strip version from issue 43, dated week ending 20 October 1979. Written by Angus Allan, and drawn with usual dynamic flare by Martin Asbury, it is readily apparent though that this was a spin-off from the film and not the series. The Cylon's own reptiloid Imperious Leader becomes the main adversary (replacing regular human traitor Baltar, killed in the film version), risky 'socialator' Cassiopeia only gets a brief cameo, as does resident scientist Wilker (who is now a doctor!), and some stories imply the humans are looking for anywhere to live - a variation on the format of 'Space:1999'. The second strip was, unsurprisingly, a reworking of Allan's own 'Mindprobe' for the 1976 Space:1999 annual, where the Alphans/Colonials are tested for their peaceful suitability in settling on a planet (also drawn by Martin Asbury!), whereas 'Look-In' readers would know the plot from the 'Space:1999' strip in the 1977 Television Annual. Allan eschewed shorter and variable length stories to go for four 13-part strips - veritably epic by 'Look-In' standards - and maybe an indicator of trying for similarly 'film length' adventures.

Interest in the strip - with no television back-up - was maintained by the release of a sequel film, 'Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack' (compiled from episodes "The Living Legend' and 'Fire In Space') in 1980, getting a 'Look-In' feature in issue 26. A third Galactica film, 'Conquest of the Earth', was put together from episodes of the badly revamped second series 'Galactica 1980', which 'Look-In' - either wisely or by virtue of another license fiasco - passed on. Scant weeks after the embargo on a television run ended, with 'Battlestar Galactica' finally airing in the London area from August 1980 (even later by other regions), the strip ended in issue 42, dated week ending 11 October, replaced - ironically - by another US sci-fi sensation from the Larson stable: 'Buck Rogers In The 25th Century'.

(Article by Shaqui Le Vesconte)


Battlestar Galactica Chronology

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