Watching Buck Rogers In The 25th Century

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

  1. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Didn't we already get one? IIRC, it was called Farscape. ;)
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'm glad that the '79 show didn't make Buck an old-fashioned 20th-century male chauvinist complaining about the gender equality in the future. That would've been unpleasant. And Roddenberry's Genesis II/Planet Earth did go there to an extent, as I recall.

    Anyway, the core idea of the original novellas, aside from the horrific racism, was that Anthony Rogers was a WWI veteran whose long-forgotten knowledge of military methods and tactics made him invaluable to the freedom fighters of the future. Similarly, in the Gerard series, Buck often had the advantage of 20th-century knowledge that had been forgotten in the future, or skills that nobody had anymore because they relied too much on technology. In both cases, he was more "aware" than the people in the future. (Not so much in the comic strips -- he sometimes had old-fashioned knowledge they'd lost, like archery, but there was also a lot he had to learn about the future. The Buster Crabbe serial basically ignored his anachronistic origin after the first half-episode, otherwise treating him as indistinguishable from a native of the era.)
     
  3. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I agree, but look at it this way, if it did get bogged down with modern politics (ugh), then we could say it was saddled with 2010s cheese.
     
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  4. diankra

    diankra Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh, I'm not saying it would be a good idea, just that a producer would probably pick up on that angle.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    My point is that it doesn't seem like it would fit a Buck Rogers series, since the core idea there is that Buck's present-day values give him an advantage over the future people who've lost a lot of our hard-won wisdom. So I'm not sure a producer of a BR series would have any reason to portray Buck as the backward one. That's inverting the whole core concept. Of course there are some adaptations that make a point of doing just that, but those are generally the exceptions to the rule, so I don't think it warrants a "probably."
     
  6. diankra

    diankra Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think you may have a more idealistic view of Hollywood than I do. But you may be closer to it than I am!
    Being more serious, I don't think many producers start out aiming for obvious at the cost of the original appeal, but the process can push that way.
    And as you say, Buck isn't exactly current in the public mythos (look what happened with Flash Gordon, where IIRC we both felt a dreadful reimaging got good towards its end).
     
  7. Mr Awe

    Mr Awe Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I watched that for the first time a year or so ago. Nah, it was not Buck Rogers. Not the goofy fun. True, there were some similarities but huge differences as well.
     
  8. Cyanide Muffin

    Cyanide Muffin Time is ticking away, tick, tick, ticking away. Premium Member

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    I suppose but let's not gender swap Buck please, I can bet that will be one of the complaints.
     
  9. Skipper

    Skipper Commodore Commodore

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    I remember another series where they did the opposite: Life on Mars (the American version).
    A cop, incredible progressive even for 2008's standards, regains consciousness after an accident, in the backwater early 70s...
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Can, sure. It's just the "probably" that I think is an overstatement.

    As I said above, Flash Gordon got a boost in public awareness from the '80 movie, which was more successful and influential than the '79 Buck series. So FG has had several screen adaptations since while BR has had nothing outside of print and RPGs. So while they were of near-equal prominence in the past, these days I think FG has a much higher profile.

    And I feel the 2007 FG series started getting good about 1/3 of the way through, not just toward its end. The problem was that the first 1/3 was so dire that people gave up quickly.


    Whyever not? The core idea is about a present-day person changing the future; that doesn't require the character to have any specific identity other than contemporary. And who cares if a few fragile-egoed misogynists make noise about it? Their kind has spent millennia ignoring the views and opinions of the majority of the human race, so it's not like we owe them anything different. Heck, offending people like them is proof you're doing something right.

    Indeed, gender-swapping Buck Rogers might add something interesting to it. In a way, Buck Rogers is a portal fantasy, a story about a protagonist from the everyday world swept unwillingly into an alien realm. In the fantasy genre, portal stories often have female protagonists, going back to Alice in Wonderland and Lucy in Narnia. Alternatively, portal fantasies often appeal to LGBTQ readers because of the themes of alienation, escape, and finding a place where one belongs. So there's certainly potential in the idea of reframing Buck Rogers in the vein of a modern portal narrative, which could revitalize it in ways that just trying to duplicate past nostalgia couldn't. The original BR was basically a riff on the same standard white-savior narrative as Tarzan, John Carter, and Flash Gordon, a man from contemporary Western culture proving himself inherently superior to the inhabitants of an exotic culture. To give it relevance to modern audiences, it would need to embody a less outdated and discredited trope. Maybe Buck thrives in the future, not because of inherent superiority, but because it allows him/her/them to embrace their true self in a way they weren't allowed to do in the present.

    (And before anyone objects that "Buck" is an inherently masculine nickname, I had a high school classmate named Rebecca who was nicknamed Buck. And of course there was Kara "Starbuck" Thrace.)


    Yes, that's the source of the "Gene Hunt effect" that diankra mentioned earlier.
     
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  11. Cyanide Muffin

    Cyanide Muffin Time is ticking away, tick, tick, ticking away. Premium Member

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    Oh no I was and am in total agreement here I'm just saying you can bet that would be a huge complaint if they did that.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Of course there will. There always will be. That is absolutely not a reason to avoid doing it. That's what they want -- to bully people into not challenging them. That must be fought.
     
  13. Skipper

    Skipper Commodore Commodore

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    Err, thank you. Missed it.
     
  14. Pubert

    Pubert Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I dont think it was a low opinion of the audiences intelligence at all. Campy 70s sci to shows such as Buck Rogers were soley made to entertain not to be a grand social and intellectual commentary vehicle. What these shows did really well was to entertain. The old 1930s serials such as Flash Gordon were a fantastic way to entertain kids on a Saturday and even now serve as entertainment for adults that want nostalgic entertainment. 70s sci to tended to do the same thing. I mean who doesn't like watching Steve Austin take on Big Foot played by Andrey the Giant? Goofy sure but really good fun.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That would be plausible if they existed alongside smarter SF shows, but they didn't. Trek aside, smart SF shows weren't really allowed to exist because executives didn't think audiences could handle them. David Gerrold's smart version of Buck Rogers was rejected in favor of Glen Larson's dumb version. Shows that started out relatively sophisticated and dramatic in their first seasons, like The Six Million Dollar Man, were dumbed down to pure action in later seasons, and shows that had ambitions to be intelligent, like Logan's Run, were subjected to network-mandated rewrites to dumb them down.

    And that dumbing down did not make them more entertaining most of the time. It usually just got them cancelled quickly because they were too cheesy to take seriously.

    Anyway, Bruce Lansbury came right out and said in an interview that he didn't think most audiences would like a show that ventured beyond the familiar, routine conventions of TV. "Some people can't identify with science fiction. The hardware and the futuristic setting create an anxiety in some people." By his own words, he had a low opinion of his audience's ability to handle anything beyond Mannix-style car chases and fistfights.
     
  16. Skipper

    Skipper Commodore Commodore

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    He's right. This is why a film full of hardware and the futuristic settings released a couple of years before the interview had been a complete failure. What was its title? Cosmic Battles or something similar? ;)
     
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  17. Foxhot

    Foxhot Commodore Commodore

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    I saw PLANET EARTH exactly once in the '80s. I remember Diana Muldaur showing more skin than usual and barking ''Eyes DOWN!'' at the male characters several times. Then at the end, the lead said, in different words, that men aren't as bad as they first seemed.

    Speaking for myself, the thrill is long-gone for SIX MILLION. If they didn't keep pushing that expletive deleted slow motion on us with Lee Majors, I might have felt differently.

    Not to mention placing most of them on Friday nights, which seemed to lead to premature cancellations for LOGAN, PLANET OF THE APES and FANTASTIC JOURNEY as well as KOLCHAK. I wonder how well they could have done on Sunday nights.

    Can you expand on Gerrold's BUCK ROGERS version?
     
  18. diankra

    diankra Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So long since I watched the Flash Gordon series that I can't recall when it started improving. Lowest point was the Weekend at Bernie's episode. Wouldn't have kept watching if I hadn't been reviewing it for work, which meant I did see the entire run, and it becoming something that deserved a second season.
    If anyone was still watching after the early stuff, and presumably they weren't.
     
  19. Duncan MacLeod

    Duncan MacLeod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Even with all the reused footage this is probably the best version of Flash Gordon I've ever seen. At least the 1st season was, before network interference killed it with a massive load of cutes and dumbing down in the 2nd.

     
  20. Skipper

    Skipper Commodore Commodore

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    You know, I would really like to see at least an example where network interference actually saved a show...