Watching Buck Rogers In The 25th Century

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Cyanide Muffin, Oct 5, 2019.

  1. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    As a horror movie fan I liked that one two. I also liked that they went with an old school vampire look, more akin to the vampire in "Salem's Lot" than the more attractive versions seen in other vampire films.

    I do agree with Christopher that the make-up could have been better. But I liked the creepiness of that episode (helped, of course, by the creepy music).

    Season 1 is much stronger. It's campy and very 70'sish (obviously they thought disco would survive in that form into the 25th century ;) ). But it was entertaining and had a bit of a comic book feel, which is appropriate in this case.

    Season 2, it was meh. As some will know from my Star Trek posts, I like some continuity. And season 2 has almost not similarities to season 1 other than a couple of characters, the star fighters and star gates (referred to as plasma drive, but the effect is the same), some props and uniforms and maybe a few odds and ends. I read somewhere they originally thought of doing a transitioning episode but I guess they abandoned it since they would have to bring back some season 1 actors to make it work.

    Esp. "Testimony of a Traitor" which is mostly a decent episode for season 2--you'd have thought they would have at least thrown a token line about Huer and/or Theopolis since they were on Earth. You know something like "they provided a statement of support" or something. But it is really like they never existed. "The Dorian Secret" is a good episode though. It actually was one of the few that had a 1st season feel to it. "Time of the Hawk" was good too.

    And this drives Christopher nuts but I kind of liked "The Satyr". It's stupid and ridiculous I admit, but there is just something about it that I kind of liked. Maybe part of it is redemption. The bad guy comes to his senses and sacrifices himself for his family in one final act of atonement.
     
  2. Armus

    Armus Commodore Commodore

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    "The Golden Man" had some amusing scenes with Hawk, who was a good character, and Anthony James who appeared in "The Plot To Kill A City." It felt more like the first season than the other episodes.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    They were going for Nosferatu, but the crude makeup and the unibrow really ruined it.


    Not just disco, but roller disco -- the only 20th-century culture to survive the Holocaust, at least until they needed an Olympics episode.


    The season referred variously to plasma drive, warp drive, and star gates with no consistency. But then, season 1 was inconsistent in the portrayal of star gates too; sometimes, as in the Olympics episodes, the writers treated it like something generated by a ship like warp drive, rather than a fixed portal as it was meant to be.


    Heck, it's better than anything in the first season, since it actually tells a science fiction story with a message to it, rather than just being action fluff. It's more like a Star Trek episode, although the final twist is kind of Twilight Zone-ish.


    I just found it unpleasant. Part of it was the way the main satyr's treatment of his wife was basically spousal abuse, which was unpleasant to witness in the context of a season that had already established itself as misogynistic and lacking the strong, independent women of season 1. Plus it took its stupid concept so damn seriously, which just felt obnoxious.
     
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  4. SiddFinch1

    SiddFinch1 Captain Captain

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    Overall the first season was campy 70s fun. The second had only a few good things about it.

    I always wished that Larson could have joined his 2 shows when they got cancelled and given us Galactica finds Earth in the 25th Century instead of Galactica 1980 and season 2 of Buck
    A show that could use a remake/reboot.
     
  5. Cyanide Muffin

    Cyanide Muffin All hail Doctor 13 Premium Member


    OK I will give those two a try.

    I just realized that there's something really, really dark about the series.

    While Buck was frozen for those 500 years aliens had basically invaded Earth and plundered it. Yet not much is / was ever said about that.
     
  6. Mysterion

    Mysterion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I wouldn't mind a reboot/remake/whatever of Buck if it was done in a straight-faced manner. I don't mean grim and dark, just done seriously as good science fiction.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, humanity almost wiped itself out in nuclear war before that, and that was talked about a fair amount.
     
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  8. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Commodore Commodore

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    This show was, and still is, complete tripe; I used to love it as a kid back in the day, but now I think it's as I just said it was, tripe. There was no attempt to come up with a realistic future (IMHO) other than that they got nuked in 1988-89, managed to recover centuries later from said war (which was more total than the nuclear war in Star Trek), have AI's help them recover, manage to get spaceflight and space colonization (of a kind) started, and have starfighters like Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. Other than that, the show's not as good as the TSR RPG game based on the original property or the more recent comic book from Dynamite Entertainment also based on the original property (I will admit that the spacecraft designs on the show are better than that of the RPG or the comic book, which both use rocketships for the characters to get about.)

    I'd love to see a revival of the property in movies or on TV, but without rockets (have the spacecraft designs be based on what was seen in 2001 and its spiritual successor Venus Prime, along with the science-based spaceflight of both) and a better universe created for the property this time. Even better would be an adaptation of this stillborn version of the franchise planned for a 1975 launch, which never got off of the ground.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2019 at 9:04 PM
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  9. Cyanide Muffin

    Cyanide Muffin All hail Doctor 13 Premium Member


    Those artworks were rather amazing. I like the Space 1970 article.
     
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  10. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, true. Even in a 1979 TV show you'd think they could come up with a better make-up job. I can even live with the unibrow, but it's pretty bad when you can see the line of the mask on the actor's head.

    I think the freakiest part of the episode is when Wilma is turned--her voice reminded me of that scene in "The Amityville Horror (1979)" when Lutz finds the 'red' room with the well and their friend speaks with the voice of the devil. Very creepy. But there is a whole sense of dread through the entire episode. Oh, and when all the 'dead' people come to life (kind of reminds me of TNG's "Night Terrors" when Beverly sees all the corpses sitting up--I have to admit that scene gave me the chills, very well done there, esp. since the corpses didn't actually do anything except sit up--sometimes it's what they DON'T do that is scarier).


    Yeah, if the rest of the 2nd season was more like that one, I think it would have turned out better. Personally I thought the 2nd season had some interesting ideas. Hawk was a great, if underutilized character. And yes, Twiki is a deeper character in season 2. Once they got Mel Blanc back, even with the Biddi-Biddi lines (which I guess by that point was sort of expected) he was a better character.

    Part of the problem I think was Gil Gerard himself. I think he wanted to make the show too serious. One of the charms of the 1st season is it didn't take itself too seriously. I think had they done stories like "The Dorian Secret" with a bit of the campiness of season 1 it would have faired better.

    Yeah, I don't disagree with any of that. And yeah, that goes back to my earlier comment that part of the charm of season 1 was that the show didn't take itself too seriously. This episode lacks any of that campiness, or fun. This episode looked ridiculous, yet played it completely straight, which was a miss.

    Two things I kind of liked. I get what you're saying about spousal abuse, though that's not really Pangor's fault. One is the wife's love for her husband, so much so that she can't leave, even if her husband has become a monster (again, through no fault of his own). We see women who sadly stay with abusive spouses when it is the abuser's fault. So it's not unrealistic to think she stays there. Love makes us do strange things. And they're pretty clear that before his change he was a 'good man'.

    And like I noted his act of redemption when he comes to finally. I guess part of that is my being a Christian, and a Catholic. One of the major things my Church teaches is that no one is beyond redemption. Pangor is remorseful of his actions and he makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his family. As a father myself I can understand that as well.

    So those two things make up for some of the bad things in the episode. It's definitely not a strong, or even good episode. But I do find a few things that redeem the episode at least partially. The episode I think I hate the most is the "Schgoratz" episode (sorry if I misspelled that). That episode was bad, annoying, misogynistic, and even racist (I know it was 1981--but who thought having the lone black guy be the only non-general of the bunch--though I guess you can say he was the only one of the bunch that seemed to have a brain, but still). I'm not the type to label things racist and misogynistic over every little thing, but this episode was bad. While in "The Satyr" I can find some redeeming ideas, "Schgoratz"--there is nothing.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Fictional characters' culpability is a non-issue, since they just do what the writers decide. It's the writers and producers that I'm criticizing. The first season portrayed women as equals to men, as strong and capable and independent. The second season mostly relegated women to traditional roles like sex object and nurse and victim, when it bothered to do anything with them at all. Maybe "The Satyr" wouldn't have been quite so bad on its own, but in context it's one more example of the season's poor treatment of women. One reason "The Dorian Secret" stands out is that it's the only episode in the season with multiple well-drawn female characters.


    I liked Goodfellow's terrible pun at the end. As I said in my review, it was funnier than the entire episode before it.
     
  12. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, even Wilma, one of the main characters, is relegated to that, which was sad. I guess I was looking at "The Satyr" in a sort of vacuum. Looking at it as a single episode without considering the others around it.

    Part of it is even in the worse movies or TV episodes I've watched, I try to find something to redeem it. I can at least find a few things in "The Satyr" to make it, say, below average, instead of poor.

    Hell, I'm one of a very few people that liked Exorcist II: The Heretic. So I always try.

    :lol:

    True. But even that's not enough to save it for me. That one I have no choice but to say it's 'poor'. Some things you just can't save :rolleyes:
     
  13. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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    This is a classic piece of 80's television. That is not necessarily a good thing. I've watched other shows from that time and some hold up and some don't. I loved these shows when they were first on (yup, I'm that old) but when I go to rewatch them, some are unwatchable. I loved Knight Rider and I cant watch it. Too campy. Buck Rogers has some episodes like that, but it is saved because they aren't all like that. I can't say I like the second season, but I love Hawk and his introduction. And when you consider the original serial, this is appropriately done for the time. I hear they are doing a new version of it (they didn't get the rights so they are just taking the idea and creating some new characters, but Gil Gerard is involved in the production) that should be more in line with modern tastes.

    And I loved the vampire episode. Very campy, but it had some great ideas and that script could be reused in a modern verison with little rewriting (better production values and acting - not the 80's actors fault).
     
  14. Skipper

    Skipper Commodore Commodore

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    I remember correctly that the premise of the second season was they were searching for Earth's lost tribes or something similar? How many of them did they find?
     
  15. Cyanide Muffin

    Cyanide Muffin All hail Doctor 13 Premium Member

    Next to none ...... They just copied that off BSG
     
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  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'd say it's more of a piece with '70s SFTV than '80s, though it sits on the border. I realized midway through season 1 that it was basically the same setup as The Six Million Dollar Man -- an easygoing, wisecracking Air Force officer doing security and intelligence missions for an avuncular government boss -- but flipped around so that the hero was the normal guy and the people around him had the superpowers and high-tech enhancements.

    But yeah, it has resonances with both decades. In "Ardala Returns," when the Draconians had captured Buck and were using a holodeck-like simulation to probe and replicate Buck's combat skills, I realized it was only 7 years before ST:TNG.


    The serial was weird. It started out showing Buck's origin as a 20th-century officer caught in suspended animation, but literally within hours of his awakening in the 25th century, he's being treated as an established member of the Hidden City's fighting forces and an expert rocketship pilot being trusted with high-security missions. His first mission is an abject failure, yet he still gets promoted and before long is being treated as the most important figure in the war. Toward the end, Killer Kane is crowing that the capture of his mortal enemy Buck Rogers will spell his final victory in the war, even though he's literally meeting Buck for the second time and even though the war was going on for many years before Buck showed up.

    It's odd that they even bothered with the origin, since by that time the comic strip had been running for a decade and the young target audience would've been used to seeing Buck as a denizen of the future. So it would've made more sense if they'd skipped the origin, if they were going to ignore it after the first 2/3 of the first episode anyway. Just goes to show that movies being too obsessed with origin stories isn't a new problem.


    Essentially none. They never actually made use of that premise. The only time they came upon a lost human colony was in "The Crystals," and they weren't even looking for it. They were just on a routine refueling stop for dilith – err, thurbidian crystals, and when they found the colony, nobody seemed to care much, or to notice that it connected to their primary mission. It wasn't even really a lost colony, since all the info about it was in "the archives," just hard to find.

    Only three episodes in season 2 involved exploration missions, and none of those specifically involved the lost-colonies mission statement. "The Guardian" was just generic looking around; "The Satyr" was about a lost colony of sorts, but one that had only been established 6-7 years earlier; and "The Hand of the Goral" was about exploring the ruins of an alien culture. Of the remainder, "Time of the Hawk," "Journey to Oasis," and "Mark of the Saurian" were all military or diplomatic missions, "The Golden Man," "Shgoratchx!," and "The Dorian Secret" were rescue operations, and "Testimony of a Traitor" wasn't a mission per se.
     
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  17. Skipper

    Skipper Commodore Commodore

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    Thank you. I wonder why they even bothered to come up with a similar premise...
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I guess they needed an excuse for why Buck and Wilma were suddenly on a starship. They were pretty obviously trying to make the show more like Star Trek, so they wanted a ship on an exploration mission, and the idea of searching for human colonies that fled after the nuclear holocaust was a way to build that out of the established Buck Rogers premise.

    Also, I suspect that a lot of John Mantley's initial plans for season 2 were scuttled by network dumbing-down, given how quickly the show deteriorates after "Time of the Hawk." So maybe there was an intention to do more with the lost-tribes idea, but it never panned out. There were only 11 episodes in the season anyway.
     
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  19. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Commodore Commodore

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    A disturbingly large part of the "Let's make it like Star Trek"/dumbing down was the relegation of the women to misogynist servant roles, and the idiotic decision to put the female officers, including Wilma, in miniskirts. At least she got to wear pants off-ship.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, that's not fair to Star Trek. As backward as it looks today, it was more progressive with female roles than Buck season 2 was. It had more than two female crew members with names and dialogue, and it never played an attempted sexual assault for laughs (although Spock's leering comments to Rand at the end of "The Enemy Within" come close).