The original Battlestar Galactica may not have been great television but thanks to the talents of famed fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, it sure did have some great ads.
Readers of a certain age will remember the original Battlestar Galactica, a 1978 television series that tried [and pretty much failed] to capitalize on the space opera craze launched a year earlier by Star Wars. It was pretty silly stuff, although in the eyes of my so-much-younger self it was absolutely “must-see TV,” and ABC pulled the plug after just one year.
But before it all fell apart, the network took a bold step to promote the series, commissioning Frank Frazetta to create three illustrations for three episodes, which were then used in ads that wouldn’t have been out of place on the back of a Golden Age pulp novel. “The ancient Tombs of Kobol hold two mysteries for the galactic adventures,” reads the text in one. “A secret which could light their way forward… a curse which could destroy them all!”
Based on what I remember of that episode, the secret was never discovered and the curse came in the form of a few Cylon raiders who blew up the stock-footage pyramid that Adama, Apollo, Baltar and the rest were stomping around in. But that’s okay, because Frazetta’s illustrations don’t have a whole lot to do with the show either; it’s pretty obvious that someone from the network threw a very general overview at him and then sent him on his way.
And as far as I’m concerned, that’s awesome. I love the idea of turning a classic fantasy artist loose on a concept as the basis for a marketing campaign. The only downside is that these images probably just helped to set the series up for failure; if Battlestar Galactica had offered up anything even close to what was promised in these ads it’d probably still be on the air but alas, it never even came close.