Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Twiki is missing!

This blog post is respectfully dedicated to Glen A. Larson. RIP.

Twiki is missing!

Those are three words that I never wanted to encounter in science fiction.

But I did.

I found them printed on my DVDs of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Complete Series. My first reaction was one of shock and horror. Not the lovable robot voiced by Mel Blanc! Not the comic sidekick to end all robotic sidekicks! Given that I have yet to watch all the DVDs and my memory of the series is not too clear, I decided I needed to watch the episode.

The episode starts out with Col. Wilma Deering, played of course by the ever-so-hot Erin Gray, and her squadron of Starfighters guiding a hunk of ice towards Earth. As Dr. Huer explains to Buck, the purpose of the "spaceberg" is to help replenish the oxygen on an Earth ravaged by World War III. The problem is that the spaceberg needs to be brought in to land on an exact course or else it will slam into the Earth like an asteroid and instead of an eco-friendly solution we've suddenly got an Extinction Level Event.

Kinda seems like a real dangerous way to get oxygen, but I'll play along.

Meanwhile, there's a mining outfit on an asteroid. The corporate manager of the mine is backed up on production because his workers are on strike. The miners complain that work conditions are too dangerous and they're unwilling to go any further.

Here's a window of opportunity for GOPpers to complain about labor unions. I'll be waiting for Bill O'Reilly to air excerpts of the episode to underscore that point however fallacious.

There is a solution for the mining company, though. Twiki. Apparently Twiki is a particularly sophisticated robot in the galaxy (who knew?) and would be ideally suited for work in this mine. The issue then becomes obtaining Twiki by any means necessary. That task gets farmed out to three hot women with an odd, unnamed sort of psychokinetic power.

Stella Breed, the lead of the trio, shows up at Buck's shag pad...er, quarters on Earth, where she attempts to buy Twiki.

There she is, mackin' on Buck.

Buck politely points out that Twiki isn't just a robot but a friend and you just can't buy and sell such things. It's good to see that at least a few people in the 25th Century object to the buying and selling of sentients for labor. Otherwise we might end up with A Narrative of the Life of Twiki Douglass.

Alas, the hot chicks abduct Twiki and place him in a Starfighter that is being remotely piloted towards the asteroid. Buck gives chase and the CEO of the mining company fires the weapons on Twiki's fighter. Twiki ejects himself into space and we see the poor robot tumble in the void. No worries. Buck rescues him and brings him back to Earth.

The mining company then takes to the adage of "If you can't bring Mohammed to the mountain..." and instead kidnaps Buck as a leverage point with Earth to get Twiki.

They sure are going through a lot of trouble for Twiki.

On the way to the asteroid, Stella Breed becomes subject to the patented Buck Rogers charm. She reveals that she's not really a bad girl and that the company has dirt on her and is blackmailing her into doing their psychokinetic bidding.

Meanwhile, the spaceberg has gone off course and is headed on a fatal trajectory towards Earth. This added little bit is what we in the writing game call "the ticking clock." Old and cliched trope, to be honest with you.

Then again, this is Buck Rogers. Delicious, delectable Buck Rogers.

Twiki turns himself in to save Buck. Buck gets loose and a lot of quasi-Judo fisticuffs ensue as does copious amounts of running around through the mines. In the course of this, Buck figures out that the explosive ore being mined could be just the ticket to save Earth from its spaceberg peril. There's also Stella being torn between her conscience and blackmail. She is ordered to push Buck into a pit of acid as Buck cries "Stella!!" in his best Stanley Kowalski.

I don't think I need to tell you that everything turns out okay for Twiki, Stella, and Earth.

There are a few parallels I noticed between this episode and that classic entry from the original Star Trek series, "Spock's Brain." An outside force kidnaps a cast member because they are uniquely suited for a task, the kidnapping is done by a trio of hot women with extraordinary abilities, but we are eventually reunited, finding out that the bad guys aren't so bad after all, and all turns out well in the end.

I guess that last bit goes without saying for any piece of episodic television, but you get the idea.

This was a tremendous amount of fun. Sadly, Glen A. Larson, producer of Buck Rogers as well as Battlestar Galactica and numerous other fun television shows, died recently.

Rather than a standard obit, I wanted to celebrate his work with a little bit of fun. I hope I have done so. I also hope that wherever he is, he knows the joy that he brought to so many kids like me...and still does to this day.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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