Thursday, 4 August 2016
457 Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
First viewed : September 1980
If one slightly annoying robot wasn't enough, Mickey was immediately followed on a Saturday evening by the extremely annoying ( if rather more mobile ) Twiki, a regular character in this sci-fi extravaganza.
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century transplanted the 1930s comic book hero to Earth five centuries later after he awakened from a cryogenic sleep. He finds Earth civilisation confined to a few biospheric cities amid a nuclear wasteland with a government determined to defend it at all costs. Buck's experience and skills as a 20th century pilot prove to be useful but he remains an outsider, often the object of some suspicion.
Very little about the series was original. The aforementioned Twiki spoke in electronic gobbledegook like R2D2 ( voiced by Mel Blanc ) and was translated by an Orac-like supercomputer Dr Theophilus that he wore round his neck like a medallion. The plots borrowed liberally from Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, Logan's Run, Marvel comics and especially Flash Gordon in having a villainess who wanted to conquer both the Earth and Buck himself.
The most original element was that Buck took most of his orders from a woman , Colonel Wilma Deering , her antique Christian name reinforcing the reactionary nature of the society she represented. As played by former model Erin Gray, Wilma was a vision in tight fitting lycra spandex and the main reason , if not the only one, for watching the show; my best mate Michael was a huge fan. She wasn't a particularly good actress but who cared ? She and Buck occasionally flirted but she remained the boss.
The series had style but not a great deal of substance. Gerard wasn't able to convey much depth to his character and the scripts were never better than adequate. By the second season ratings had dropped and it was cancelled after 11 episodes. Gerard has managed to keep his career going but has received most attention for an ongoing battle with weight problems. Gray also continues to act mainly in guest star roles on TV but she also runs a casting agency.