Buck Rogers in the 25th Century—The Complete Series

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6.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Classic '70s/'80s TV sci-fi

Cheesy plots, poor acting, dated visuals

 
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Waking up in the 25th Century isn’t always easy…

Buck Rogers (Gil Gerard) is an astronaut on an adventure in space.  When he’s frozen, he finds himself drifting through time only to be awakened in the 25th Century.  Teamed with Dr. Huer (Tim O’Connor), Wilma Deering (Erin Gray), and a robot named Twiki, Buck finds that his 21st Century mentality could be the 25th Century’s only hope.  Buck will fight for Earth and the future of mankind!

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century aired for two seasons from August 16, 1979 to April 16, 1981.  The series was based on the Buck Rogers character created in Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Nowland in the pulp magazine Amazing Stories in August 1928.  The first season ran a full twenty-one episodes (with three two-hour episodes) and the second season was a half season (with two two-hour episodes).  The made-for-TV premiere was aired as a feature length film.  The series was generally panned by critics and but won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore) (“The Satyr”) with nominations for Outstanding Art Direction for a Series (“Ardala Returns”), Outstanding Costume Design for a Series (“Flight of the War Witch”—Part II), Outstanding Cinematography for a Series (“Hawk”), and Outstanding Costume Design for a Series (“The Dorian Secret”).

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Oh Twiki…you’re wacky!

Star Wars sparked a sci-fi resurgence both on TV and in theaters.  Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was the rather cheap version of the TV attempts to capitalize on it.  As a kid, this didn’t matter.  I watched Buck Rogers all the time and it seemed like there were tons of episodes (despite actually being less than forty).  Rewatching Buck Rogers, however, I can see the weaknesses and cheesiness of the series.

The plots aren’t always bad, but they do often seem underdeveloped for an hour (or in worse cases two hours).  The show seemed to try to be more topical than something like Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica which attempted real thinking storylines.  Buck Rogers seemed to revert to eye-candy much more often.

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Nope…thing terrifying at all here…

The series radically changed directions the second seasons with the departure of Huer and the Earth storylines and instead attempted more of a Star Trek/Battlestar Galactica storyline with Rogers, Twiki, and Deering travelling aboard the Searcher with Captain Asimov, Dr. Goodfellow, Hawk, and an irritating robot Crichton.  Though the episodes are quite weak, I will concede that “The Satyr” is probably my favorite Buck Rogers episode because it scared me as a kid.

Part of the problem with Buck Rogers is Gil Gerard as Rogers himself.  He seems a bit of an ineffective lead because he lacks charisma.  He often spouts off “holier than thou” morals and has no faults…it wasn’t a time for flawed heroes, but I wish Buck was a little less perfect.  Erin Gray is good as Wilma Deering, but she rarely had her own plotlines and simply served as a sidekick or damsel in distress.  Mel Blanc provided the voice of Twiki for season one and parts of season two (and it really is weird when he doesn’t have Blanc’s voice).  The series often relied heavily on guest stars and it was sometimes a who’s who of late seventies character actors and up-and-comers.

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Jazz Hands!

Visually the series is horribly dated.  The effects that were somewhat high tech are now pretty hard to watch.  This is true of many of early space series, but Buck Rogers seems to be hit harder since it tried to look high tech and topical…plus you get things like space rockers that don’t help the argument.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is a series that will be fun nostalgia for older viewers but virtually unwatchable for viewers who didn’t grow up with it and are old enough to realize how bad it looks.  It hurts to see a show you like exposed to the reality of today’s viewings, but Buck Rogers is one of those cases…but dang that Satyr is creepy.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

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“Awakening”

1.1       Awakening Airdate:  08/16/79

Buck Rogers (Gil Gerard) lifts off from Earth in 1987, but becomes lost in space for five hundred years.  Buck is discovered in the year 2491 by Princess Ardala (Pamela Hensley) and her aide Kane (Henry Silva) who are headed to Earth on a treaty negotiation between Earth and Draconia.  Believing that Buck could be a spy, Buck is sent back to Earth where he is believed to be a spy for pirates.  As Kane plots a secret attack on Earth, Buck must prove his innocence in order to save the Earth.

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“Planet of the Slave Girls”

1.2       Planet of the Slave Girls Airdate:  09/27/79

A poisoning of the food supply leaves Earth’s defenses depleted.  Buck finds a rival for Colonel Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) in Major Duke Danton (David Groh), but Buck and Duke are forced to work together when they are sent with Wilma to meet with Govenor Toban Saroyan (Roddy McDowall) on Vistula where the food is manufactured.  Buck discovers that Vistula is a slave planet and that the primary slave trader is a sorcerer named Kaleel (Jack Palance) who has his own plans for Earth.

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“Vegas in Space”

1.3       Vegas in Space Airdate:  10/04/79

Buck Rogers and Major Marla Landers (Juanin Clay) go undercover on the casino planet Sinaloa to locate a woman named Felina Redding (Ana Alicia) for her boss Amos Armat (Cesar Romero).  Buck and Marla find themselves facing Morgan Velosi (Richard Lynch) and his professional interrogator Carl Morphus (Joseph Wiseman) in a race to save Felina.

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“The Plot to Kill a City: Part 1”

1.4       The Plot to Kill a City:  Part 1 Airdate:  10/11/79

The Legion of Death plots against New Chicago, and Buck Rogers goes undercover as a bounty hunter named Raphael Argus to infiltrate the cabal of dangerous assassins to uncover his plans.

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“The Plot to Kill a City: Part 2”

1.5       The Plot to Kill a City:  Part 2 Airdate:  10/18/79

Buck Roger’s cover has been blown, and Buck finds himself on the run with Joella Cameron (Markie Post).  With the Legion of Death’s plans moving forward, Buck is in a race to save New Chicago from destruction and only the help from one of the Legion’s assassins may help.

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“Return of the Fighting 69th”

1.6       Return of the Fighting 69th Airdate:  10/25/79

Major Noah Cooper (Peter Graves) and his squadron are called out of the retirement that Wilma Deering forced them into when Commander Corliss (Robert Quarry) and Roxanne Trent (Elizabeth Allen) target Earth for what the Fighting 69th did to them.

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“Unchained Woman”

1.7       Unchained Woman Airdate:  11/01/79

Buck is sent undercover to a prison on Zeta Minor to spring an inmate named Jen Burton (Jamie Lee Curtis).  Pursued by an android prison guard (Walter Hunter), Buck must convince Jen to turn informant on her boyfriend Malary Pantera (Michael Delano) if they can escape Zeta Minor.

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“Planet of the Amazon Women”

1.8       Planet of the Amazon Women Airdate:  11/08/79

When Buck intercepts a distress call, he ends up on the planet of Xantia where women secretly rule with men as their slaves.  As Princess Ariela (Ann Dusenberry) tries to stage a revolution among the women, Buck finds himself sold into slavery.  Buck teams with Princess Ariela to try to free Xantia and stop a war.

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“Cosmic Whiz Kid”

1.9       Cosmic Whiz Kid Airdate:  11/15/79

A refugee genius from the 20th Century named Hieronymus Fox (Gary Coleman) is president of Genesia.  When he’s kidnapped, Deering must secretly go after him…unfortunately, Buck and Hieronymus’s bodyguard Lieutenant Dia Cyrton (Melody Rogers) are also travelling to Aldebaran II to free him from Roderick Zale (Ray Walston) and his assassin Koren (Albert Popell) who intends to use him as leverage.

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“Escape from Wedded Bliss”

1.10     Escape from Wedded Bliss Airdate:  11/29/79

Princess Ardala is back and demanding Buck Rogers be turned over to her to be her husband or Earth will be destroyed.  Buck must agree to Ardala’s demands as a means to infiltrate her ship and stop her doomsday weapon.

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“Cruise Ship to the Stars”

1.11     Cruise Ship to the Stars Airdate:  12/27/79

A genetically perfect Miss Cosmos (Dorothy Stratten) is attacked by woman named Sabrina (Trisha Noble) who seems to have superhuman powers.  Buck and Wilma are sent to the cruise ship where Miss Cosmos is travelling, and Buck uncovers Sabrina might also be a woman named Alison (Kimberly Beck) who doesn’t know she’s suffering from transformations.

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“Space Vampire”

1.12     Space Vampire Airdate:  01/03/80

Buck and Wilma take Twiki for repair to Theta Station, but when a freighter strikes the station, they find themselves under quarantine from fear of an outbreak of a deadly disease EL-7.  The real horror might be a deadly space vampire called a Vorvon (Nicholas Hormann) that has arrived on Theta Station…and is hunting again!

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“Happy Birthday, Buck”

1.13     Happy Birthday, Buck Airdate:  01/10/80

Buck’s birthday is approaching and Buck is depressed.  Doctor Elias Huer (Tim O’Connor) and Wilma’s plans for a surprise party might be sabotaged when an assassin named Colonel Cornell Traeger (Peter MacLean) targets Huer for assassination.

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“A Blast for Buck”

1.14     A Blast for Buck Airdate:  01/17/80

When Buck, Doctor Huer, and Wilma encounter a mysterious device headed to Earth, they learn that Buck’s memories might hold the key to the threat.  Now, Buck must dip into his past adventures to determine who might have returned to threaten Earth.

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“Ardala Returns”

1.15     Ardala Returns Airdate:  01/24/80

Ardala has a new plan and only Buck Rogers can complete it!  When she and her assistant Kane (Michael Ansara) need Buck Rogers’ flying skills to lead an attack on Earth, Buck Rogers and Twiki are captured so Buck’s brain can be cloned for robots, but a cloned Buck Rogers isn’t the real Buck Rogers.

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“Twiki Is Missing”

1.16     Twiki Is Missing Airdate:  01/31/80

As Doctor Huer tries to coordinate the arrival of frozen oxygen on Earth, Twiki is targeted by Kerk Belzak (John P. Ryan)…making Buck a target as well!

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“Olympiad”

1.17     Olympiad Airdate:  02/07/80

Buck Rogers is invited to the 2492 Olympics on Mycos and finds himself involved with Lara Tizian (Judith Chapman) and Jorax Leet (Barney MacFadden) who wish to defect…against the wishes of Allerick (Nicolas Coster).

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“A Dream of Jennifer”

1.18     A Dream of Jennifer Airdate:  02/14/80

Buck is haunted by a woman from his past named Jennifer (Anne Lockhart) but learns she’s really a woman named Lela Markeson.  When Buck finds Lela is the bait in a trap for the Koven, Buck might be forced to do the Koven’s bidding to save Lela.

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“Space Rockers”

1.19     Space Rockers Airdate:  02/21/80

The rock group Andromeda is inspiring riots at their concerts and the rioters don’t remember it later.  With Buck Rogers and Twiki sent undercover, Buck faces off against the musical mogul Lars Mangros (Jerry Orbach) and his assistant Yarat (Richard Moll).

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“Buck’s Duel to the Death”

1.20     Buck’s Duel to the Death Airdate:  03/20/80

Buck is believed to be a legendary warrior due to his age and recruited by Darius (Keith Andes) to do battle with the Trebor (William Smith).

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“Flight of the War Witch”

1.21     Flight of the War Witch Airdate:  03/27/80

Contacted by a race from another dimension, Buck, Wilma, and Dr. Huer find themselves forced into a battle with a warring race called the Zaad by led by Zarina (Julie Newmar).  Buck finds to survive that he might need to team with his enemy Ardala.

Buck Rogers and the 25th Century—Season 2 Complete Episode Guide:

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“Time of the Hawk”

2.1       Time of the Hawk Airdate:  01/15/81

A being called Hawk (Thom Christopher) has gone on a rampage and is killing all the humans he can find.  Buck sets out to find Hawk, but through a twist of fate, Hawk and Buck must work together to save Hawk’s love Koori (BarBara Lune).

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“Journey to Oasis”

2.2       Journey to Oasis Airdate:  01/22/81

Buck, Wilma, Hawk, and Dr. Goodfellow (Wilfrid Hyde-White) are charged with transporting Wilma’s former lover Ambassador Duvoe (Mark Lenard) to a peace summit.  When their ship is hit by a radiation storm and lost, Buck must lead the group through the dangerous wasteland which includes savage men, a blue creature named Odee-x (Felix Silla), and the Cave of the Winds…while Captain Asimov (Jay Garner) tries to keep war from breaking out.

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“The Guardians”

2.3       The Guardians Airdate:  01/29/81

On a reportedly uninhabited planet, Buck and Hawk encounter a man who claims to have been waiting for Buck for hundreds of years.  Given to Buck is a box that he must pass on to the old man’s successor.  With the box onboard the ship, Buck and his friends are plagued with visions as the ship is pulled into a quest in an unknown region of the galaxy.

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“Mark of the Saurian”

2.4       Mark of the Saurian Airdate:  02/05/81

Buck is suffering from Cygnus Fever as the Searcher hosts a delegation.  Buck senses something is wrong with the delegation and begins to see that they are lizards…but he’s the only one who can see it.  Buck is out to determine if he’s crazy or if the ship really has been infiltrated by monsters.

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“The Golden Man”

2.5       The Golden Man Airdate:  02/19/81

A trip through an asteroid field leads to a discovery of a young boy named Velis (David Hollander) whose ship has crashed.  The Searcher becomes stranded in the asteroid field and the only hope could be the boy’s companion Relcos (Russell Wiggins) who has crashed on a planet housing a penal colony…and only Buck and Velis can save him.

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“The Crystals”

2.6       The Crystals Airdate:  03/05/81

The search of the planet Ogukictetes for energy crystals for the Searcher leads to the discovery of a strange mummy-like creature and a young woman (Amanda Wyss) with amnesia.  As Buck and his crew try to collect crystals and uncover the mystery of the girl, the mummy’s attacks grow fiercer.

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“The Satyr”

2.7       The Satyr Airdate:  03/12/81

Buck and Twiki locate the survivors of a failed colonization attempt on the planet of Arcadus.  Cyra (Anne E. Curry) and Delph (Robert Lane) have been fighting for survival…and living in fear of a monster named Pangor (David S. Cass Sr.).  As Buck tries to get Cyra and Delph to safety, he finds himself facing Pangor’s fate as well.

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“Shgoratchx”

2.8       Shgoratchx! Airdate:  03/19/81

The discovery of a ship of explosives piloted by the Zardonia leads to adventures when Buck and Wilma discover that the Zardonians are more mischief than they planned.

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“The Hand of Goral”

2.9       The Hand of the Goral Airdate:  03/26/81

A mysterious planet known as Vordeeth has Buck Rogers and Hawk experiencing strange encounters.  Returning to the Searcher, Buck, Hawk, and Wilma discover that the Searcher is not all it seems.

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“Testimony of a Traitor”

2.10     Testimony of a Traitor Airdate:  04/09/81

A video tape from the 20th century surfaces showing Buck as a traitor to the Earth which led to the nuclear war.  Now, in the 25th century, Buck finds himself fighting to prove he’s innocent even though his own memories betray him.

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“The Dorian Secret”

2.11     The Dorian Secret Airdate:  04/16/81

A shuttle of passengers becomes stopped by a Dorian ship when a woman named Asteria Eleefa (Devon Ericson) stows away on the ship.  As Buck tries to prove Eleefa’s innocence, the passengers debate turning over Eleefa to the Dorians.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

2 Comments on "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century—The Complete Series"

  1. Greg June 9, 2016 at 10:21 am - Reply

    I disagree with your assessment that what you call “cheese” is a negative. BR was light-hearted and fun, which made it stand out against it’s more lugubrious contemporaries like Battlestar Galactica and Space: 1999.

    I think a slightly modernized version that tweaked the formula very slightly would do well with certain audiences who are sick of “woe, disaster, and angst” which seems to be the only emotional resonances modern SF can offer.

     
    • JPRoscoe June 9, 2016 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      I personally don’t find the cheesy nature of Buck Rogers bothersome, but I grew up with the show. I think many newer viewers (and die-hard sci-fi lovers) might have some problems with the goofy nature of the show and episode like the rock band episode have aged even worse than others.

       

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