People, it’s time to jump on the nostalgia train and experience one of the shows that I swore by as a twelve year old, that being my man Gil Gerard in ‘Buck Rogers in the 25th Century’. What I did not know, simply believing this to be the pilot for the series that would follow, is that back in 1979 this thing actually got a theatrical release. I did not know that. I don’t think saw this movie in a theater back in 1979.
Our film opens with Cannon himself, William Conrad, narrating how William ‘Buck’ Rogers jumped in his ship in the ‘near future’ that being 1987 and being the screw up that he is somehow messed up this routine trip and found himself frozen for the next 500 years. Now while this may seem like it sucks initially, as the opening credits of the movie play out we see that for this 500 years Buck is lounging with all kinds of late 1970’s style babes, all with really big hair, scantily dressed, and of all races and
nationalities. This is great for Buck. What wouldn’t be great for Buck is if he had to listen to the opening salvo of what was being passed off as a theme song for this show for 500 years. I mean I had to listen to it for two and half minutes and I wanted to kill myself. 500 years… Dear God in Heaven… I gotta rip this tune off the DVD and link it somewhere it for you because it has to be experienced to be believed.
Anyway, 500 years later buck is found and defrosted by
the toasty ball of evil hotness Princess Ardalla (Pamela
Hensley) and her right hand man Kane (Henry
Kane thinks buck is a spy for the planet earth that he and the princess are planning to attack under the guise of establishing diplomatic ties. Of course freezing a dude and then making your enemy defrost him seems like an extreme spy technique to me, but I’m not an intergalactic warlord so what do I know? So they send Buck on his merry way to earth, Buck still oblivious that its 500 years in the future, where he is picked up and escorted back to Earth by the toasty ball of hot indifference known as Col. Wilma Deering (Erin Grey).
Eventually Buck finds out that the earth he knew is long gone since we pretty much blew ourselves up. Earth has risen from the ashes thanks to some computerized overlords… can you say ‘The Matrix’… with one of these overlords being Dr. Theopolis (voiced by Howard Flynn) who is carted around by a terribly cute robot named Twiki. While these future people have some killer technology and stuff, they’re still pretty much idiots since Buck has already casually observed that Ardalla and her folks are completely up to no good. For his concern Buck gets tried for treason and sentenced to death. You’d think a 500 year old dude would get a just a little more respect. Mind you they all agree that this man is indeed 500 years old. So I guess the theory is that this cat froze himself 500 years ago so he could join the evil empire when he is eventually defrosted and finally bring down the imperialistic earthlings. I’ll buy that.
Good thing for Buck that the completely indifferent Col. Deering, in addition to the robot overseer, have placed their trust in Buck who rewards that trust by exposing Ardalla and her crew for the scoundrels we knew they were and now Buck is the toast of the town and a TV series was now ready to be launched.
The level of awesomeness that is the thirty years later revisit of ‘Buck Rogers in the 25th Century’ is almost incalculable. But there’s a difference now. When I was twelve I thought that this TV movie was legitimately awesome. Like most twelve year olds, I would’ve been wrong. Seeing this again as a 40+ year old… ancient yes… It is awesome on a level of craptaculerness that I didn’t even know could exist in 1979. It starts with the theme song which I do believe is the worst TV theme song ever. There can’t possibly be a worst theme song than this one. Since the show is trying to ride the coattails of Star Wars, why not just find some fledgling John Williams wannabe and go with that? The there’s Erin Grey. Mmmmm… You will be hard pressed to find anybody on TV in the 1970’s hotter than Erin Grey. Except maybe Pamela Hensley. Charlie’s Angels just called and they want their 70’s hotness back. Not happening. The woman is sixty years old now and still hot. However… while Ms. Grey would eventually become a very solid actress, improving with each episode and we’re not even going to talk about her tour de force on Silver Spoons, her acting style on this show was one of benign indifference. Col Deering is pissed off… and we get slightly irritated indifference. Col Deering is jealous… less slightly irritated indifference. And at the end when she apologizes and tells Buck how things are going to be different and now he’s going to get see the woman inside… detached indifference. Plus Col. Deering is like the worst space commander ever. Her ships are getting mowed down, pilots are dying and she refuses to allow her pilots to override the super computer maneuver flight war module. I think that’s what they called it. She would’ve been blowed up to if Buck didn’t save her fine ass. Of course one could wonder why a man who was convicted of treason five minutes ago and sentenced to death was given a space ship of mass destruction to pilot around, but we’re rolling with it. And we still love us some Erin Grey.
Observe Buck sabotage the enemy ships by putting bombs in the exhaust pipes of the ships, even though they really don’t fit. I’m no physics major but I’m thinking once these ships lurch forward like six inches they’ll just tumble out and blow up, but I’m not a intergalactic bomb designer so what do I know.
Then you gotta watch the dance of the silver balls, which was awesome, only to have Buck interrupt the dance and ‘get down’. Mind you the ‘get down’ jam was almost as bad the theme song, and while you might be able to put a price on that awfulness, watching Gil Gerard cut a rug… priceless. Watching Pamela Hensley dance however… I’m thinking that woman might’ve cut her dancing teeth at establishments that had poles strategically placed throughout the joint. Outstanding.
It’s hard to believe how incredibly silly Buck Rogers was in this revisit, but the special effects were pretty good for the day and personally I thought Gil Gerard made a solid TV hero. Just saw Mr. Gerard the other day at one of those comicon things. I’m not saying anything because you know we love us some Gil Gerard, but my man might want to jump on a treadmill. Nonetheless watching this again thirty years later has only made my love for this show grow exponentially. Now excuse me while I search the Internet for nude pictures of Pamela Hensley.