Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Weekly

Last week, I finally got to the end of my Battlestar Galactica reviews, covering everything since the 1970s show up through the modern iteration's spin-offs. What do you follow that with? How about Buck Rogers in the 25th Century? It is the cousin to the original Battlestar, "disco SF" also created by the Glen A. Larson, and sharing a lot of DNA besides.

Now obviously, Buck Rogers didn't originate on television. He was created by Philip Francis Nowlan in the novella Armageddon 2419 A.D., first published in the August 1928 issue of Amazing Stories.  Within months, the story and character were adapted into a comic strip; three years later, a radio show; a movie serial in 1938; and in the early 50s, a first television series. Never mind that it inspired tons of imitators - lots of forgotten pulp, comics and live action stuff, up to and including the beloved Farscape and Futurama - but also official books, comics, a role-playing game from TSR, video games, and toys. I will be covering NONE OF THAT, except as context here. Or at least, I don't plan to.

In the original story, Buck was in a cave-in, deep in a mine, and fell into a deep sleep thanks to radioactive gas, waking up almost 500 years later. He doesn't go into space until his fifth comic strip adventure. Wilma Deering is there as love interest from the start, and she's been part of every iteration as a matter of course. If you know who Buck Rogers is, you also remember Wilma.

50 years after his creation, Star Wars fever is at peak intensity, and television is trying to capitalize on it. When Glen Larson's Battlestar Galactica was cancelled after a single season (returning as a shadow of itself in 1980), he repurposed a lot of resources (sets, props, costumes, effects) for a more light-hearted show: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. As with Galactica, they gave the pilot a theatrical release. It made 21 million dollars at the box office, which greenlit a series that would last two seasons, although the second, as we will see, is a big retooling under different producers.

So what should you expect for the next 8 months? Well my usual quote-quick synopsis, review, and rewatchability rating, of course, but I'm keeping the OG BSG's Space Disco feature since it's the same era, and repurposing All This Has Happened Before to note any elements poached from Battlestar, if I can spot them (plus riffs on Star Wars, of course). Another feature, Star Gazing, will be a spotter's guide to big name guest stars, since the show had a number of them. While several episodes were, like the movie, double-length affairs split up for syndication (I probably watched them this way, in a mix of French dub and original English episodes within a year of first broadcast), the DVD presents them in their original format, so that's how I'm going review them.

So grab your Twiki doll and strap in, next week we'll have left our crap century well behind...


Ryan Blake said...

Brilliant stuff. Looking forwards to Wilma Deering flight attendant

Siskoid said...

Let you in on a secret, I've already written reviews up through November and I am in that era. There is nothing Wilma-related to look forward to.

Mike W. said...

Cool, I haven't watched the show in years, but I loved it when I was a kid. I still can't decide who I had a bigger crush on, Erin Gray or Pamela Hensley. Did you have any of the action figures? I never had any, but my cousin did and I recall being fascinated that they had articulation in the knees, elbows, wrists, and ankles ... unlike my Star Wars action figures.

So, will you be starting with the movie/pilot? I seem to remember Col. Deering and Princess Ardala both doing sexy (and completely gratuitous) dance numbers in that one.

Siskoid said...

I will of course start at the beginning.

No toys.



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