Watching Buck Rogers In The 25th Century

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

  1. Mysterion

    Mysterion Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed. And as progressive as TOS may have been in some ways, it remains that the three recurring female characters were a secretary, a nurse, and a switchboard operator who were dressed in miniskirts. And don't forget the progressive statement that Turnabout Intruder made about women.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Sure, nobody's denying that. The point is, Buck season 2 was even worse, especially in proportion to its era. In ST's time, misogyny was rampant on TV, so even Trek's treatment of women was better than that of a lot of its contemporaries. (I mean, try watching The Man from UNCLE sometime. The misogyny there is often shocking, especially in episodes by Peter Allan Fields, who'd go on to write female characters far more positively in DS9.) But Buck season 2 came along at a time when there had been numerous better treatments of women on TV, like in The Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, and of course Buck season 1. So Trek was a small step forward from the rather awful sexism of its era, while Buck season 2 was a major step backward from the feminism of its era.
     
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  3. Cyanide Muffin

    Cyanide Muffin All hail Doctor 13 Premium Member

    Some of the technobabble in "The Plot To Kill A City" felt like it was ripped right out of Star Trek especially in part 2 with the containment system.
     
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  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Only because they both used the real-world concept of antimatter -- and "City"'s use of the concept is surprisingly not awful from a scientific standpoint. But "City" interestingly hearkened back to an old-fashioned name for antimatter than ST never used, "contraterrene."
     
  5. Cyanide Muffin

    Cyanide Muffin All hail Doctor 13 Premium Member


    Oh wow OK that's a very interesting factoid. Yeah I didn't hate that episode and it did feel kind of grounded.
     
  6. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Commodore Commodore

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    Me too. That was (and still is) an amazing concept; an astronaut/fighter pilot from the past who was frozen and then lost in a freak accident during his space mission is revived in the future, 'goes back to school', and rises in the ranks of a future exploration service similar to Starfleet, eventually getting his own starship and going 'where no one has gone before' plus going further than what he was in the past. What a show that would've been to see with a legacy adventurer character commanding such a mission. Unfortunately, people (not just Glen Larson) were stupid, shortsighted, greedy, and just wanted to follow the leader.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
  7. Mr Awe

    Mr Awe Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You just have to watch this as a fun piece of 70s cheese with a wisecracking hero. If you can't get into that mindset, this series isn't for you!

    I rewatched it last for the first time since the original run. I thought it would fare badly. But, really enjoyed it for what it was. Just some fun!
     
  8. yotsuya

    yotsuya Captain Captain

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    I disagree. It is very close in a lot of ways to a great many 80's shows that I used to watch. Knight Rider comes to mind. A-Team is another. Among SF shows, it has a unique fakeness to the sets. Even TOS has more realistic sets. But in terms of writing, acting, cinmatography, and the other production values, It feels like an 80's show to me. In contrast to Battlestar Galactica (the production team's previous series) which was very well done. It is more like Galactica 1980 (except it is better written). So I maintain it is a very 80's show. The original movie was one of the best stories and was very well done for the most part. I was very much a TV addict in those years so I watched all sorts of things. I have a wide viewing experience and BR started off a string of 80's shows that can sometimes be hard to watch (BR season 2). In contrast to the very kid oriented saturday mornign fair of the 70's like Space Academy, Ark II, and Jason of Star Command (which is a more 70's variety of cheese. I feel BR has a more 80's feel to it.
     
  9. Skipper

    Skipper Commodore Commodore

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    On another thread the user @Kurosan asked for some sci-fi series with a 80s aesthetic.

    In my opinion Max Headroom is the most 80s scifi series pre-TNG out there.
     
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  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    To me, part of the '80s sci-fi aesthetic would be the switch to video-based FX and editing that led to a reduction in image quality in a lot of cases as people embraced new tech that was easier or cheaper to use but not as good-looking. By that token, I'd say Buck still has a '70s aesthetic to it, all done strictly on film, aside from the practical video screens on set. (Like in the lousy clip show "A Blast for Buck" where the onscreen riddles look exactly like Jeopardy clues.)
     
  11. Skipper

    Skipper Commodore Commodore

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    This.
    Another great example is Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future
     
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  12. Shawnster

    Shawnster Commodore Commodore

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    My idea for a reboot would have Buck Rogers be a US Navy SEAL that had a deep sea mission go wrong and Buck is trapped in the deep depths in one of those deep-sea pressure suits where he'd need to breathe liquid oxygen. He's finally discovered and rescued about 500 years later (I like keeping the 2491 date). In the meantime, Earth was hit by a massive asteroid and took centuries to overcome the disaster, although the effects of the climate change are still noticeable. Humanity has spread out across the solar system and all the stories take place here (thus avoiding FTL). NO ALIENS, although there is definitely an artificial signal being transmitted from a star in the Draco constellation. Draconians, or the Cult of Draco, have developed around trying to understand the signal. Ardala is not a Draconian but, rather, the daughter of a former pirate whose syndicate has joined forces with various humans who want to reject the Orwellian/Nanny State of EarthGov and have sought to form an independence movement out beyond Mars. Theopolis is the AI consciousness that has resulted from the networking and interconnections of all computers in the solar system. This AI has only revealed itself to Buck.
     
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  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It should be noted that Draconians were an invention of the TV series, more or less a replacement for the Yellow Peril-stereotype "Han/Mongol" villains of the original novella and comic strips. In the strips, "Killer" Kane was the main villain, a defector and Wilma's ex-boyfriend, and Ardala Valmar was his "adventurer" girlfriend/moll. For some reason, the makers of the TV series chose to turn Ardala into a clone of Flash Gordon's Princess Aura and reduce Kane to her subordinate. For your no-aliens version, maybe you'd be better off just using the original comics characters rather than trying to use the show's revisionist version as your starting point.

    Twiki and Theopolis were also original to the show, of course, though Twiki could be considered a loose adaptation of Buddy Deering, Buck's young sidekick from the strips. Maybe "Buddy" evolved into "Bidi-bidi-bidi?"
     
  14. FormerLurker

    FormerLurker Commodore Commodore

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    It should also be noted that "Killer" Kane and Ardala are inventions of the strip. While Nowlan had input, the strip writer is the one who created those two characters.

    The Buddy/Twiki connection is interesting.

    Inre: the unfair comparison between season two and Star Trek:
    It's really only unfair if you assume that Star Trek had the same opinion of women, which, even in the '60s, they obviously did not. As you said, Christopher, the women on Star Trek had a level of agency the women in BR season two could barely see above them. The comparison is superficial at best, and speaks ill of the studio and network execs who came up with it.
     
  15. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
  16. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    I said out, dammit!
    I don't know who wrote the last episode of Wild Wild West, but I was sorely disappointed in my recent rewatch that the very last line of the whole series was West joking with a chum that women belong in the kitchen. :/

    *checks IMDB* That would be Michael Garrison, Barney Slater and Louis Vittes, the last fella being the writer of the teleplay.
     
  17. Foxhot

    Foxhot Commodore Commodore

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    Artoo Detoo minus the charm.

    I'll give it this: It's still got one of the best theatrical trailers in history, thanks to the editing and music.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, but the original "Anthony Rogers" novellas are terrible. They're all plot and worldbuilding (they were published in Hugo Gernsbach's Amazing Stories, and written in the very Gernsbachian style where going into intricate technical detail about hard-to-pronounce future inventions outweighed any kind of storytelling or characterization). More than that, they're horrifyingly racist -- the sort of genocidal race-war fantasy that was sadly common in the 1920s but these days would only be published in white supremacist fanzines or the darkest corners of the web. I mean, they were so racist even by the standards of their time that they had to dial it back at the end and slap on an unconvincing retcon that "Oh, that entire race that our heroes just nuked and bioweaponed out of existence? Turns out they were part-alien, so it's okay, even though we didn't know that when we annihilated them." So the novellas are best forgotten, dismissed as a failed prototype.

    The "real" Buck Rogers -- the character that became iconic, created an entire comics genre, and inspired all the adaptations over the decades -- originated in the comics. The comics gave him the name Buck, changed the focus from Earth to space, dropped the race-war ugliness after no more than a year (and resolved the war far less genocidally), and introduced the entire supporting cast besides Wilma, as well as making Wilma more of an unattainable love interest in the Lois Lane vein (though Wilma came first), whereas the novellas' character married Buck early on.


    But that was exactly what you implied in the comment I was responding to: "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." That implies that the misogyny was an emulation of ST, which it wasn't. Look at people's opinions of ST in the '70s, and I think you'd see that most fans considered it admirably feminist. That seems surprising now, but that's because we've forgotten how much more sexist its contemporary shows (and reality) were. So creators in 1979-80 would not have seen Star Trek as an old-fashioned or sexist show, but as a progressive, feminist show. So the people trying to "make it like Star Trek" were the first-season producers and Gil Gerard, who did a good job giving the show's 25th century the kind of gender and racial equality that Trek only imperfectly attempted to portray. True, Mantley's team were trying to make season 2 like Trek in its starship-based format and (at least in the first two episodes and "The Dorian Secret") its social commentary, but they made no attempt to emulate its relatively forward-looking treatment of women.


    That's a valid analogy. Dr. Theopolis and Twiki were conceived as a knockoff of C3PO and R2D2, but in reverse. The original idea was that Twiki would speak exclusively in "Bidi-bidi" and Theo would translate, which we see to an extent in the pilot movie. But that was really annoying and they dropped it, giving Twiki some English dialogue in the pilot and a lot more (which was still pretty annoying) thereafter.
     
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  19. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I really should check out Max Headroom sometime. I see people talk about it all the time, but what you posted is literally the most footage I have ever seen from it.
     
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  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It was impressive for its day, stylistically innovative, subversive, and somewhat prophetic about the future of electronic media. But I feel it hasn't really aged that well, and it had trouble making its title character relevant to its stories. I posted a mostly non-spoilery review on my blog some years back:

    https://christopherlbennett.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/thoughts-on-max-headroom/