Series Created by Glen A. Larson
Starring Gil Gerard, Erin Gray, Tim O’Connor, Thom Christopher, and the voice of Mel Blanc
- All thirty-two episodes of the series, including the theatrically released pilot
Released by: Universal.
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Catch it on cable to tide you over until the Special Edition comes out.
Things always go wrong on trips: you get a flat tire, you miss your connecting flight, or you forget your passport. Or like Captain Buck Rogers (Gerard), you get frozen in cryogenic suspension and trapped in an orbit that doesn’t return to Earth for over 500 years. When he awakens, he finds the destination not much better with Earth ravaged by a nuclear holocaust and surrounded by enemies, primarily the Draconian Empire led by the sultry and sexy Princess Ardala (Pamela Hensley).
[ad#longpost]Still, the future isn’t all bad. With the support of Colonel Wilma Deering (Gray) and Dr. Huer (O’Connor) of the Earth Defense Directorate, Buck finds his skills in aerospace combat and undercover work put to good use. He even has his own sidekick in the wisecracking robot Twiki (Blanc). Soon Buck finds his life filled with adventure, action, and plenty of lovely ladies wearing skintight lycra. Things are looking up for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
It was sort of fun to go back and watch this sci-fi series from my childhood. I enjoyed Buck flying around with Wilma and Twiki fighting the good fight against dastardly villains. I wondered though, how much of that enjoyment was due to nostalgia. Because when you look at the show critically, it’s not all that good. Not bad, mind you…just not good. Gil Gerard does well as the easy going 70s stud enjoying himself either with the ladies or beating the crap out of a bunch of alien thugs. It’s when the script has him be “serious” is when you can see the limit of his acting range. It comes off as “Acting.” Erin Gray’s main problem was that the writers never had a clear idea of her character. Sometimes she’s as hard as nails, but then she defers to Buck even though she outranks him. It’s not that both actors don’t have charm, but the dialogue doesn’t exactly help.
The stories are fun excuses for some action-adventure and a great opportunity for actors to ham it up. Not great writing by any means, but that’s not required here. The show had a good thing going. That makes the switch in the second season all the more strange when Buck, Wilma, and Twiki go off on the starship Seeker to find “the lost tribes of Earth” who ran off when the nuclear Holocaust was raging. Did creator Larson really want to recycle all those Battlestar Galactica scripts? Add to that the “birdman,” Hawk (Christopher), and a lot of metaphysical encounters and you lose that fun gung-ho feeling from the first season.
Wondering why they switched story concepts between seasons? How did the actors work with the outrageous costumes and special effects? Want any information on the series…at all? Well, sorry, the DVD set provides nothing. This is a shame, since many of the actors, not to mention Glen A. Larson, are still available. A commentary on the theatrically released pilot would have been superb, although even a ten-minute retrospective with cast and crew would have been choice as well. Cost was undoubtedly a factor but the extras are noticeable by their absence. So until the powers that be decide to put out some sort of Special Edition for Buck Rogers, rely on the SciFi Channel for your nostalgia fix.