Stargate Archives

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Rewatch Part 1


Buck Rogers in the 25th Century 
Episode 1 and 2

A long time ago in a world which indeed seems far away young Michael got took to the pictures with the rest of his family to watch a science fiction movie, not usual but rare since his father was not keen on the genre. Years later an older and wiser Michael who is still a huge fan of science fiction can look back and see that maybe dear old Dad knew a little about Erin Grey and Pamela Hensley because there was something compelling about those two up their on the big screen:) The time is right to have a rewatch of the Buck Rogers television series, the movie which certainly did ok on the big screen was like Battlestar before it a Glen A Larson production and the packaging of a movie and tv edit paid off in revenue and promotion, pretty clever really. I'm going to be watching the movie edit, it's that different to the tv version but there are few things the censors of the day though inappropriate for network television. The film kicks off with some split screen video and narration before entering into a very interesting if dated opening credit sequence and then into the story proper. Buck frozen for 500 years is found in deep space by an alien ship and brought onboard, revived and interrogated they return him to his original state and plant a tracker on his ship believing he will be safely taken to Earth and thus reveal the design layout of the planets energy based defence shield. On Earth Buck is viewed with some suspicion but one of the computer AI's who control the worlds infrastructure believes Buck's story and then benefit of the doubt leads him into a reckless adventure in the ruins of "old" Chicago. The tracker is discovered on Bucks ship and he is sentenced to be executed but when the Draconian ship under the command of Princess Ardala approaches Earth Buck along with a defence squadron led by Colonel Wilma Deering fight off a pirate attack yet the Princess denies knowing Buck again raising further suspicion. Buck gets a life line when the princess personal asks for him to attend the welcoming gala and he proceeds to boogey on down which rather shocks the more restrained humans who now like in "new" Chicago and he uses his seduction techniques to flee Earth with the princess with the aim to find the proof he needs to save himself and protect Earth. Eventually the Draconian deceit is revealed and the Draconians are sent packing with the bad guys shaking their fists vowing to return with Wilma and the council embracing Buck as one of their own albeit 500 years out of his own time. Ok then first off like BSG this is a dated show but if you can get over that style of tv production and yes even the movie felt like a tv show and of course the fashions then Buck Rogers is a lot of fun but not without it's flaws:)

We'll kick off with the opening credits, very cool but a little blatant in the sexualisation of two of the main stars but then again nothing that Bond wasn't doing so we can let that pass. It was a little silly saying Buck was frozen at temperatures beyond imagination, pretty sure they knew what absolute zero was back then but even worse the Draconians using Earth based time units, easier for the audience but come on. Also as with BSG I don't think they even attempted to convey how big the universe is, the Draconians have conquered three quarters of the universe, I don't think so, even a quarter of the galaxy would be impressive. I was seriously impressed how powerful the Earth's defence shield was, they have some uber power generation on planet which does get addressed in a later episode. It was very interesting to see that the humans have allowed AI's to make decisions on how the planet and it's cities are run yet still allow the humans the freedoms to live as they please and of course we get Twiki the little robot who acts as a mobility device for the AI's, cute and funny but networking would surely be the more efficient method.
When we are introduced to Colonel Wilma Deering she is the by the book military commander, she isn't overly impressed with Buck yet is very pro-treaty which doesn't quite make sense, from purely a military perspective an envoy from a race that has used force to gain territory and resources can't really be trusted. Buck's little trip to old Chicago did feel totally wrong, it's amazing so much was left intact after the nuclear war and the existence of the mutants made little sense, they were obviously healthy in their own reality but where was the food and water and the environment outside of the city was not viable. They messed it further up with the existence of the black market, so economically driven mutants then who value the precious metals in Theo the AI, nah doesn't work.
We now enter space and I do like the design of the Earth fighters, they do look like they are viable for both atmospheric and space flight at least upto a point and it was a good idea to have them so dependent upon combat computers rather than manual flight control, it does gel with the AI's on the plant. However as we see that pirates are fully capable of defeating the predictable tactics of the computers and only Buck saves the day even though why would he be so proficient with a vehicle he really had no right knowing how to fly with the skills required. All that is forgotten though as Princess Ardala the woman with little or no self image issues or lacks confidence thanks the Earth squadron for destroying her own ships (that's a secret) and also gets Buck off the hook with her demands for his attendance at the gala. Ah the gala in which we have to put up with some music and dancing which had no place in civilised society but no denying that Pamela looked stunning and played the role wonderfully as did Erin in dress uniform who suddenly realised she was acting a little protective of "her" man.
It was a nice twist to have Kane ( Henry Silva ) as a human, not quite sure how he got such an high position in the Draconian fleet but my guess is he betrayed his heritage and people died, he certainly wasn't to be trusted and of course he has designs on Ardala himself so not fan of her dancing display and reminds her there are 29 other daughters of the Emperor who would be happy to serve. Oh I loved the freeze ray, well Buck needed something to explain how he defeated the huge "Tigerman" and Princess and a little amusing that she suddenly got all shy and covering herself up when things started going wrong.
So Buck took it upon himself to sabotage the Draconian attack fleet by sticking a banana in their tail pipe, I kid you not that's what he did but the banana was a munition, thankfully the guards on the hanger deck were too busy doing something else. With the destruction of the fighters and the warning given to Twiki and Theo (who stowed away on the Draconian Shuttle) the Draconia comes under attack from Earth's fighters and is destroyed but Ardala and Kane escape and you know I'm fine with that, both of them are a little over the top but good comic book style villains.
Twiki looks happy
Overall I enjoyed Awakening, I don't think the movie edit is really that much of a must see over the tv edit but obviously the whole show is produced to a level of camp and tongue in cheekiness which over the years has been the downfall of too many scifi production but works quite well for Buck Rogers.

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