Watching Buck Rogers In The 25th Century

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Trinity Jinglebrocks, Oct 5, 2019.

  1. Redfern

    Redfern Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Several points have already been addressed about the second season, so here are my two cents.

    Has there ever been a more lackluster "bridge" for a fictional spaceship? There was just no cohesion to the layout, no consistent design. They appeared to have hauled out what the production considered interesting set pieces. In of themselves, okay, maybe they were, but nothing "blended". They didn't even have the theme of "scrounged" components from a scrapyard and assembled with "spit and baling wire". It was like, "Oh, here's this chrome circular desk; it can be the admiral's station. Oh, that missile launch system used by the space pirates, it can be our navigation console. Dryer tubes, can we get more dryer tubes to drape around the computer banks?" Yeah, I'm using what could be considered hyperbole because I haven't seen those episodes since they aired on NBC, so I'm sure my "details" are off. But you get the idea.
     
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  2. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I thought Dr. Huer was? :confused:

    I mean, during the party for Princess Ardala, Huer IS in uniform, so I assumed that (despite his title of "Dr.") that Huer was a member of the military. And he definitely had some kind of leadership role.

    Besides, Wilma couldn't have been the leader of the entire military, since she was only a Colonel.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I made the same observation in my reviews. As you say, they basically just stuck together some leftover set pieces from season 1. And the Searcher itself was a modification of the miniature used for the titular "Cruise Ship to the Stars" in season 1, with the windows made proportionally larger to suggest a smaller ship. It's not one of the better TV starship designs; it doesn't look good from many angles. It's basically just 2001's Discovery with a fatter middle.
     
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  4. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    Given Wilma's rank as Colonel and that she often seem to follow Huer's lead that seems reasonable. She appeared to be in charge of the (or her) fighter squadron at least.
     
  5. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Plus there are a lot of senior (most likely flag rank) military officers in the dance scene.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Huer was the head of the Earth Defense Directorate -- sort of like the Secretary of Defense, I guess. Although the uniform thing does muddy the issue. It's possible it was a change from the pilot to the series; the series kept the job title, but I don't recall if Huer wore the uniform again.

    There were a lot of changes from the pilot to the series, by the way. In the pilot, Earth was an irradiated, mutant-infested wasteland with the "Inner City" corresponding to Chicago being the only surviving enclave of civilization, and was impoverished and isolated from the galaxy so that it desperately needed a trade alliance with other worlds to survive, hence the Draconians' ploy. But in the series, Earth was a prosperous and powerful world, the head of an interstellar Federation, and had many thriving cities, with the Inner City now being called New Chicago. I guess they decided the dystopian stuff was too depressing. And it's pretty obvious that Alan Brennert really wanted to be writing Star Trek, so he nudged the show in that direction as much as he could.
     
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  7. Professor Zoom

    Professor Zoom Admiral Admiral

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    Disagree. It's amazing groovy cheese cake.
     
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  8. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Commodore Commodore

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    A few thoughts:

    Kipp Lennon's performance of the title song was bland, but in tune. A more dynamic performance would have helped, but I can understand why they didn't use one for the theatrical release, and the premise that Buck was dreaming. The series version without the lyrics would have been an ideal backing for the song, I think.

    Gil Gerard may have an ego, but he's the one that demanded the gender equity seen everywhere the first season. There are scenes in the pilot that he refused to film, especially the party/dance for Ardala, until both male and female actors were taken off to wardrobe and their costuming switched so the women could be seen in uniform and/or in more appropriate/more powerful positions. GG is no sexist pig.

    If the show had made it to a third season, it would have gone back to Earth, and had a higher concept as a science fiction show. GG extracted that promise directly from Bruce Lansbury.
     
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  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's good to know. I did feel that, for all that Buck was written a womanizer, Gerard played him as treating his various love interests with respect and being a gentleman toward them.

    On the other hand, he did reportedly insist that "Space Vampire" be rewritten to replace Wilma with a love interest of the week, until Erin Gray put her foot down and got herself written back in. Which is why the episode opens with the incongruous scene of Buck teaching one of Earth's most accomplished pilots how to fly his shuttle.

    Also, it raises the question of why he didn't do more to counter the misogyny and marginalization of women in season 2. Although maybe he did up to a point. The "off-think" sequence with Wilma in "Shgoratchx!" was originally going to be much worse. In a Starlog interview, John Mantley leeringly boasted of the scene, saying “They get her clothes off and we don’t see what happens to her" (good grief) and the scene ends with one of the Zeerdonians running through a corridor holding her bra. In the aired episode, mercifully, Buck intervened before they got much more than her belt unfastened.

    (And yes, I'm able to spell "Shgoratchx!" from memory. Hardly an accomplishment to revel in.)

    You must mean John Mantley, because Lansbury was gone after season 1.
     
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  10. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I watched a few episodes of Season 1 on Hulu years ago, and I thought it was cheesy fun. Sounds like I should be glad I didn't make it to Season 2.
     
  11. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    DO watch the first season - and keep in mind that it's only meant to be fun. There is very little in Buck Rogers that resembles high brow anything...
     
  12. diankra

    diankra Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It was rerun on BBC2 in 1995, which meant it wasn't clashing with Doctor Who. Got it on dvd now, but despite Erin and Pamela only Testirony of a Traitor seems rewatchsble now.
     
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  13. diankra

    diankra Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yep, Hawk and REM were the best things about their series.
     
  14. 21-12

    21-12 Commodore Commodore

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    I wonder if he didn't want the character of Wilma to be in the scared woman position and victim and then finally with the antagonist as she got rid of three or four guards herself towards the end. Wilma wasn't a victim any other time. I wondered how it was that she was ok at the end after the Vorvon was destroyed, but I guess you can Scooby Doo any ending.
     
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  15. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

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    The Buck Rogers 1979 motion picture / "Awakening" pilot was what the series should have been.
    • Inner City / New Chicago was the only city on Earth.
    • A Computer Council , including Dr. Theopolis, ruled the Inner City / New Chicago.
    • Earth Defense Directorate Starfighter squadrons were commanded by Col. Wilma Deering.
    • Earth's Defense Shield encompassed the entire planet like the Empire had in Rogue One so nothing could enter the Earth's atmosphere to land without the Earth Defense Directorate's permission mentioned at the 1:26 mark in the video.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
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  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    My assumption is that the character didn't become a victim until the script was rewritten without Wilma, and when the random love interest was then re-replaced with Wilma, she was still written like the random love interest had been, hence needing to learn how to fly a shuttle and acting like a victim.


    The pilot's dystopian, impoverished version of Earth wouldn't have worked well in a series, I think, and would've invited too many Logan's Run or Planet of the Apes comparisons. It certainly would've made the series grimmer and less fun.


    Those continued to be true in the series proper, though the former was de-emphasized. One later episode referred to Huer, Theopolis, and Deering as the three top leaders of Earth.

    That also could've been problematical during a weekly series -- for one thing, it would've made it harder to do stories about threats to Earth, alien infiltrators, etc.
     
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  17. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Commodore Commodore

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    Okay, I'll buy that. :) It's so much easier to remember what didn't work.

    Yikes. That would explain a lot, though making the robot sound like a child is just 100% grade A pure cringe. 1980 was a fun year in some ways but television production and season continuity, especially for big changes, was not one of them.



    I just look at it and think "That's the offspring of Battlestar Galactica's bridge with Dr Huer's old office carved up, with a bottle of valium mixed in for good measure". I recognize a dozen generic props from the Universal backlot, too.

    "Dorian"'s message was lost on me as a kid but the general tone felt cool. A rewatch, a decade later, and it's surprisingly hefty, mature stuff.

    Same for "Time of the Hawk", which for kids all they want are the cool spaceships - and Hawk's did look fairly nifty. During that same rewatch, it's very heavy material that stands up well.

    Episodes between were hit or miss, often really miss, but the one with the box that altered time ("The Guardians"?) was another high point and really utilizing the horror genre to sell itself. The ending was a little cheesy, but acceptable given it's short. The episode's overall handling was great. "Satyr" was almost ahead of its time, I got the impression they wanted to do more but 1980 censorship standards would prevent it.





    That's right! I forgot about that... and it makes perfect sense; being added on late in the day due to popularity but no time to redo existing episodes. And in a show that was deemed needing changes for the go-ahead to be given so they wouldn't do more than what they could. It is a big shame.

    There's a plus side to all this: Thankfully his mind wasn't in the gutter when looking at Twiki and thinking what he looks like.
     
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  18. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Commodore Commodore

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    Here's a fun series overview/review

     
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  19. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

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    All your thoughts about my post do make sense, but I like the elements l posted of the Buck Rogers 1979 movie pilot the best, e.g., as I prefer Space:1999 season one elements over it's season two.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I found that one mediocre. The writers didn't seem to know the difference between SF and fantasy, and gave us a weird, largely incoherent story as a result. And Wilma's fear of being blinded for life contradicted season 1's portrayal of future medicine being easily able to correct disabilities.

    That one was horrible, my vote for the worst episode of the series. The Satyrs were immensely unpleasant, toxic masculinity run amok -- and how did an alien disease not only turn them into replicas of creatures from Earth mythology, but equip them with energy whips to boot? Also, it would've worked better if Wilma and Hawk had needed to save Buck from infection, but heaven forbid that anyone other than Buck get to save the day.


    Dystopian or post-apocalyptic futures were a dime a dozen in sci-fi back then. Granted, that's built into the original concept behind Buck Rogers (based on an incredibly racist pair of 1920s novellas about a race war to free a pure-white America from its Yellow Peril conquerors, and eventually heroically exterminate them with WMDs), but I'm glad the producers decided to downplay that overused element in favor of a more Star Trek-like future, which was something we still didn't see a lot of even a decade after ST. The only other '70s SF shows I can think of that showed an optimistic future were Space Academy and Jason of Star Command on Saturday mornings.
     
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