Do you remember the show 'Galactica 1980'?
Actors from Gunsmoke, The Brady Bunch, Adam-12 and Diagnosis Murder starred in this flop sci-fi spin-off.
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A television show's cancelation no longer equates to its death. When a network gives a series the ax, a livid fan base will start an online petition, a letter writing campaign, a social media onslaught… whatever it takes to save their stories. This has worked quite often, with sitcoms such as The Mindy Project and Community finding new life online.
It worked four decades ago, too.
In 1978, ABC launched Battlestar Galactica. The epic space opera was a good idea at the time, as millions for hungry for more adventures far, far away after Star Wars. Star Trek remained a cult favorite, as well, with toys and games still being produced and a feature film in development. Despite the hunger for science fiction, Galactica struggled in the ratings, going head to head with All in the Family and Alice. The network canceled the show in the spring of 1979, after just one season.
Cue the angry fan letters.
The impressive write-in campaign, which was rather rare at the time, made the executives take notice. And so the idea of Battlestar Galactica was revived, albeit in a cheaper form. Instead of simply continuing the series, ABC decided to trim the cast and set the action on earth to save money. This Galactica 1980 was born, both a spin-off and sequel.
As the title suggests, this storyline took place in the modern day, with Commander Adama (Lorne Greene, the primary returning cast member from the original series) leading a defense of the earth against the Cylons that was rather riddled with temporal discontinuity.
Robbie Rist, best known as playing Cousin Oliver on The Brady Bunch, was cast as the sage teenage genius Dr. Zee. He was replaced a few episodes later with James Patrick Stuart.
This Galactica was canceled as well, not even making it past ten episodes. No write-in campaign came to the rescue. The leftover episodes were slapped together, tossed with some recycled footage from the first Galactica series, and made into a budget movie called Conquest of the Earth. (A similar thing soon happened to the series Darkroom.) Dialogue had to be redubbed to explain why two teenagers were playing Dr. Zee. Mike Brady, Robert Reed, also appeared in the film in a sort of reunion with Cousin Oliver.
The cast also included Barry Van Dyke, son of Dick, who would later team with dad in Diagnosis Murder. Kent McCord of Adam-12 was the other lead. The two zipped around on futuristic motorcycles, drawing the attention of the California Highway Patrol.
Alas, it was not those CHiPs.