Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Buck Rogers for Ten Bucks

Can you put a price on science fiction?

I guess you can put a price on anything.  Regardless, a good bargain is something this working class geek can certainly appreciate.  And man did I ever find a great one.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.  Starring Gil Gerard.  The entire series.  For just $10.

Let me repeat that so it sinks in.

Buck Rogers.  Staring Gil Flippin' Gerard.  The entire series.  Ten bucks.

Yes!  I had feared this treasure of late 70s, early 80s television had been consigned to digital purgatory, the demand for its transfer to DVD just not being large enough.  This is one instance where I'm just fine having life make me out to be a prevaricator.

Produced by the legendary Glen Larson of Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers was yet another attempt by Hollywood to cash in on Star Wars fever.  So if you're going to do that, why not go classic and draft the one of the original "space guy" heroes?  NBC revived the classic Buck Rogers franchise from the 1930s serials and gave it an updated look.  For the 70s, I mean.

The story begins with astronaut Buck Rogers (Gerard) awakening in the 25th Century after being frozen inside his spaceship.  This is quite a shock to poor Buck as he was launched in 1987 (in the story, anyway.)  He now finds himself as a man both without a time and a nation.  You see, human civilization was leveled in a nuclear exchange not too long after Buck left Earth.  Humanity now lives in futuristic, utopian, crystalline cities amid the ruins.

It is one of these Mega Cities (ahem) called New Chicago that Buck meets the cast of characters for his series.  They range from the super sexy to the annoying.  I'll start with the latter.

Remember Twiki?  He was the robot with the grating voice ("bee-dee-bee-dee-bee-dee") who was obviously intended for comic relief...but failed at it.  He was even voiced by Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, et. al.) and that still didn't make him funny.  One interesting touch was that Twiki was often tasked with carrying around Dr. Theopolis, a sentient AI contained in a disc that attached to the robot's chest plate.

Then there's Erin Gray as Col. Wilma Deering.  Not much I can say about her other than she helped get me through puberty.  Her in those skintight spacesuits were almost enough to make forget about Twiki.  Almost.


Buck was not without his challenges in the 25th Century.  Earth faced threats at home (the Sandpeople-like mutants of the radioactive wasteland) and from out there (the Draconians).  Every episode however, Buck bested each threat as an action hero capable of the greatest feats of derring-do. Then things changed up for the second season.

At that point, Buck and the majority of his cohorts joined the crew of a ship called the Searcher on a journey into space to find "lost tribes of humanity" that scattered from Earth after the nuclear war.  If that sounds like Larson's Battlestar Galactica, you'd be right.  If it weren't for the fact that each show was owned by a separate network, it's not that much of a stretch to think we could have had a kick ass crossover.

Wow.  Pardon me while I change my pants.

The second season also saw the addition of an alien named Hawk and the villainy of a space vampire.  See below:

I could go on for pages.  Really.  It is, however, getting late.

And I have a case of beer and literally hours of Buck Rogers to waste my life on.

A Gold Key Comics issue of Buck Rogers I actually remember owning.

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