Watching Buck Rogers In The 25th Century

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

  1. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The continuity references were impressive for the time, with writers and actors playing it with utter sincerity. That could not have been an easy task. It makes me wonder if anything more would have developed if season 2 didn't go through its format change.

    The most Star Trek ever did with that was in "Turnabout Intruder" and only as a major plot point.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Where in the world did you hear that nonsense? Modern Galactica fans have invented this mythology that it was some huge hit, but I was there at the time, and the truth is that while its pilot was a huge hit, the ratings plummeted rapidly after that and the show was a huge flop overall. Even though much of it was frequently seen in syndication repackaged as movies, it never had more than a cult following and got little attention in media magazines like Starlog that routinely covered other past shows like Star Trek and Lost in Space. There was never a fan following for it anywhere near as huge as Star Trek or Star Wars fandom, no matter what people claim today.

    The one and only reason Galactica 1980 was made was because ABC's accountants demanded it. As you say, they'd lost a lot of money investing in the very expensive flop that was BSG, so they demanded that Universal give them a cheaper show that would recycle all those expensive props, costumes, miniatures, and FX footage from BSG so they could amortize the cost, and so that they could add more episodes to the BSG syndication package and earn back more of their losses that way. There was no huge audience hungering for more BSG. And Larson and Universal sure didn't want to make more, which was why the show was so half-assed. The only people who wanted Galactica 1980 were the network bean-counters trying to minimize their losses.

    The fact is, fan letter-writing campaigns almost never work. Even the story about Star Trek being "saved" by a letter-writing campaign is a myth; while the campaign was exceptionally large (though a fraction as large as the myth would have it), there's no proof that the show was ever actually going to be cancelled; it was just "on the bubble," and what ultimately got it renewed was the same thing that's gotten hundreds of other bubble shows renewed over the decades -- the decision to cut the budget for the next season, to get by with fewer episodes, fewer guest stars, less location shooting, etc. And no other letter-writing campaign in the era was anywhere near as large, so none of them had any real chance at making a difference.
     
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  3. Pubert

    Pubert Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Agreed. I do wish they would have mentioned new Chicago and the old gang that was left behind when the 2nd season started.
     
  4. diankra

    diankra Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    There are different levels: back in the day I learnt how something can be a massive success for a con (up to 1000 people), but not neccesarily for a magazine (sales in the 30,000s), let alone on TV (millions of viewers). There was often no consistency, so a show could have a few thousand dedicated fans, yet still not sell covers, or get audiences. Or get solid audiences, yet flop as con guests.
     
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  5. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is telling, as Larson never wanted BSG to be a weekly series in the first place. It had been conceived as a series of TV movies, and Larson wanted to see the reaction to the first before making more. The story I heard/read was that the morning after it aired, ABC called Larson at home, praised the ratings, and asked him if the next episode was ready for air the next Sunday. I can imagine his reaction to that.:wtf:
     
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  6. N-121973

    N-121973 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I've heard a variation on that. The pilot came in a couple of different forms:
    1) A theatrical film with about thirty or forty minutes of footage excised for length and some additional re-editing to make it a more self-contained story i.e. Baltar's beheading, the destruction of the Imperious Leader and his Base Star above the casino planet with the insect-people.
    2) A 2 1/2 hour TV movie christened 'Saga of a Star World'.
    3) The TV movie chopped into three episodes.
    It was in this final form, couple with the two-part 'Lost Planet of the Gods' which they shot second unit work on location at the Giza Pyramid complex that was originally going to be broadcast as a five-part mini-series. And they would then decide whether to order BSG as a series as as a mid-season replacement or for the 1979/80 TV season. When they saw the ratings however, as you alluded to, they got greedy. Its part of the reason why they had a string of stories in which either Apollo or Starbuck are lost in space or on a planet and why, with the exception of the two-part 'Gun on Ice Planet Zero' (which may have also been part of the mini-series plan) they endlessly recycled space shots from the first few episodes.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    What I read is that BSG was originally planned as a series of TV movies and the network insisted on making it an hourlong weekly series. That's why the first half of the season consists of multiple 2-parters significant to the narrative interspersed with a bunch of 1-parters that are half-hearted filler. The 1-parters were basically put together on short notice.

    I think it's that initial run of weak 1-parters early in the season that was the main reason the show's ratings plummeted so fast.
     
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  8. diankra

    diankra Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ken Johnson felt the same about V.
     
  9. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Commodore Commodore

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    Case in point, there was a misguided 2004 attempt by an organization called 'Colonial Fan Force' to convince Universal that a Battlestar Galactica movie with the original cast should be made ala the 1979 Star Trek movie (similar to an attempt by Richard Hatch to launch a reunion movie.) Writer Lee Goldberg excoriated the group for wasting money and time doing this.


    And the Save Star Trek campaign was orchestrated by Gene Roddenberry with funds out of his own pocket three separate times.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2019
  10. ssosmcin

    ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I just found this thread and it’s fun! And it's not so old that my comment won't get me a warning. :) Buck Rogers was one of my favorite shows at the time and I still enjoy revisiting the series. Gil Gerard was an appealing, if not particularly engaging, lead. I enjoyed the overall atmosphere of the first season which really embraced the disco era. I never liked the pilot movie/premiere. It was far too over the top silly and very poorly plotted. I hated the fact that a guy fresh out of suspended animation, 504 years behind the times, can outfly experienced space fighter pilots. It was just too much to accept that he would be amazing at everything as soon as he woke up.

    I did appreciate the touches of melancholy and the idea that Buck was a constant smartass to cover his utter loneliness. Twiki was obnoxious and I hated that every episode of the first season just had to end with a shot of Buck smiling. Even if it didn’t make sense. However, one tag was funny/cute: when Twiki was wearing cap guns and he and Buck had a spoof of a movie shootout. The “uhhh okay, you take the horses” still makes me chuckle.

    The guest villains were almost always great. As cheesy and “Stunty” as it was, the Gary Coleman episode (not the shitty clip show) was really well done. There’s a fight between Ray Walson and the girl of the week and she throws Walston into the wall. He hits face first and covers his mouth before they cut to another angle. I swear he got legitimately hurt, but I can’t find a thing about it.

    And yeah, the Blast for Buck clip show was awful and retconned a bunch of villain deaths over to jail or on the run. So I ignore that episode.

    Season 2: say what you will, but I loved it. Time of the Hawk was not only the best episode of the run, it was Gil Gerard’s best performance as Buck. His impassioned speech to save Hawk in the court was excellent. Their fight was also really good. Bruce Broughton’s score is excellent. I didn’t mind some of the new characters and hated what they did to Wilma, but being a fan of her legs, I didn’t mind the costume change at the time. I didn’t realize Hawk was a last minute permanent addition. Now it makes sense why they went to the trouble of setting up an entire episode to introduce him, Space:1999 style, only to send him “on patrol” every week. Other than one or two really torturous episodes, I really liked the second year. I would have liked at least a guest appearance by Dr. Huer in Testimony of a Traitor, a character witness or something, but obviously – as with Space:1999 – the first year was like a fever dream to the new production staff.

    Buck’s strengths: the actors, effects and music. Weaknesses: always the writing, but when the show was good it was great.
     
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  11. Galileo7

    Galileo7 Commodore Commodore

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    Agree with all your thoughts here. Especially, Col. Wilma Deering season one was a wonderful strong impressive character , not the season two weak lesser version.
     
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  12. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This, unfortunately, has been a Buck Rogers trope from the very beginning. The first couple of chapters of Armageddon: 2419AD are devoted to Rogers (not called Buck until the comic strip) learning about his new world, and adapting to it in superheroic fashion; divining the technology on the fly, being better at using their flying belts than they are, and ultimately being a better commander of the native forces than the commanders they have that have been at it for decades.
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, that part was somewhat justified, because the 25th century "gangs" were guerilla fighters in small bands on the run, while Rogers was a veteran of the World War (there was only the one so far) and thus had knowledge of large-scale military strategy and tactics that the locals had never had the opportunity to learn.
     
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  14. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    Who wants to watch a show where a guy wakes up 500 years in the future to become 3rd Wingman on the right?
     
  15. ssosmcin

    ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh I get that he had to be the heroic lead and be great at everything, it just could have been a little less slack about it. I love the series past the pilot. His character changes somewhat to be a little more introspective and once you've accepted he's a hot space pilot, it's all good.

    Sometimes I wonder what the production order was on the episodes. At first, Buck turns down the offer to official join the Directorate. The very next episode, he seems to change his mind. But a few of the later episodes have mentions of him not being part of the group. The whole idea of Buck being uncatalogued and an ideal candidate for undercover missions was dropped early on when he was "the famous Buck Rogers from the 20th century." And since Wilma went undercover a few times, I guess that blew that concept. They really didn't seem to get a handle on what they wanted to be for a bit.

    I don't mind that they didn't really go much in the way of sci-fi concepts. Action adventure in a SF environment was also what made up a lot of Battlestar. As long as it was fun, I was in for the ride.
     
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  16. Trinity Gingerbread

    Trinity Gingerbread Time is the thief of life Premium Member

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    I didn't like the abrupt change in Wilma, from a good 2nd lead in season one to almost a damsel in season 2. The writers were on crack.
     
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  17. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    I always refer to Season 2 Wilma as Flight Attendant Wilma.
     
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  18. StarCruiser

    StarCruiser Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yep - that was a waste of a good actress, and a good part...
     
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  19. Morpheus 02

    Morpheus 02 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    But I thought the pilot made it clear that they pilots were relying on tech to guide their decisions. Buck's ability to improvise along with his air force training and lack of being confined to 25th century expectations made his heroics make sense. At least to me
     
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  20. Trinity Gingerbread

    Trinity Gingerbread Time is the thief of life Premium Member

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    I think in early season 1 the impression is that the pilots may fly the starfighters but they put all their faith in the computers and can't save their lives if they tried because the computers do all the flying and aiming of weapons. Manual control seems a very alien affair to them, at least that's the impression I got.

    Buck turned all that on its head with his mavericky flying and being able to outshoot most oponents due to his 20th Century smarts. In other words being a better pilot and not needing a computer..
     
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