Bookshelf: Battlestar Galactica Scrapbook

Bookshelf is a monthly column examining printed matter relating to television. While I love watching TV, I also love reading about it, from tie-in novels to TV Guides, from vintage television magazines to old newspaper articles. Bookshelf is published on the second Thursday of each month.

The Official Battlestar Galactica Scrapbook
By James Neyland
First Published in 1978
Published by Grosset & Dunlap
104 Pages

Here’s yet another example of a book in my collection I don’t remember buying. Obviously, I acquired it somewhere at some point for some reason. I am a fan of the original Battlestar Galactica (let’s not discuss the reboot, although I suffered through every episode) but not enough to want to own The Official Battlestar Galactica Scrapbook simply for enjoyment. I’m sure I bought it with the intention of reviewing it here at Television Obscurities.

When I finally sat down to read the scrapbook, my first reaction was annoyance. Not with the writing or the pictures or the facts or anything like that. No, what annoys me about this book is the constant disclaiming of trademark and licensing. Apparently, every use of trademarked word or phrase required a “TM” sign and asterisk, with the following legalese printed at the bottom of the page: “*A trademark of and licensed by Universal City Studios, Inc.”

Weirdly, this only applies to the use of trademarks in captions to the photographs included in the book but not the main text. That means every single use of “Battlestar Galactica,” “Cylon,” “Viper,” “Landram,” or “Imperious Leader” in a caption gets a disclaimer. Even the front and back covers feature the disclaimer. It’s absurd and silly yet for some reason it bothers me more than it should.

Scan of the front cover of The Official Battlestar Galactica Scrapbook
Front Cover of The Official Battlestar Galactica Scrapbook – Copyright © 1978 Universal City Studios, Inc.

The copyright date is simply 1978 but obviously the scrapbook was published around the time the TV show premiered on ABC in September 1978 as a promotional tie-in. It includes information from a handful of episodes: the series premiere (“Saga of a Star World”), the two-part “Lost Planet of the Gods, and the two-part “Gun on Ice Planet Zero.”

The scrapbook opens with a weird “State of the Galaxy” essay written as if Battlestar Galactica was real–at least until the end when the author admits the TV show “is not reality, but the work of highly skilled artisans. It is not life, but art.”

What follows are four sections covering all aspects of the show. The first section (Creating a Galaxy: The Art of Battlestar Galactica) includes brief overviews and biographies of Glen A. Larson, John Dykstra, Jean Pierre Dorleac, and Richard Colla. The art directors and set designers are also discussed.

The second section (The Good People from the Battlestar) offers overviews of the main characters and biographies of cast: Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, Lorne Greene, Terry Carter, Herb Jefferson, Jr., Maren Jensen, Laurette Spang, Jane Seymour, and Noah Hathaway (plus Muffey). I’m not sure why Jane Seymour is covered in detail given what happens to her character.

The third section (The Weak and the Wicked) is all about the bad guys. The stupidly-named Imperious Leader, the Cylons, and Lucifer are up first. Then come overviews of the other villains and the actors playing them: John Colicos, Ray Milland, Lew Ayres, and Wilfrid Hyde-White. Here again the scrapbook devotes significant attention to characters (and actors) that only appear in the first episode.

Scan of the back cover of The Official Battlestar Galactica Scrapbook
Back Cover of The Official Battlestar Galactica Scrapbook – Copyright © 1978 Universal City Studios, Inc.

The fourth and final section (The Impact of Battlestar Galactica) covers the massive–and wildly successful–merchandising campaign connected to the show.

Throughout the scrapbook, various people express their optimism that Battlestar Galactica will run for years and years. It light of its cancellation after a single season, it’s almost amusing to read so many comments about how successful and long-running it will be. A little sad, too.

With the exception of a special eight-page color section, all of the pictures are in black-and-white, which makes the Galactica seem like a pretty dull place.

I’d be interested to hear from anyone who remembers this scrapbook from 1978. Clearly it was aimed at younger viewers.


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