Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
Speaking of Buck Rogers (as we were in the previous post), BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY was a 1979 theatrical release of the TV series pilot starring Gil Gerard. IMDB says that it was released in theaters because the networks chose not to air it. It’s my recollection, however, that like BATTLESTAR: GALACTICA before it, it was distributed that way to hopefully make some of those big STAR WARS sci-fi bucks while generating interest in the upcoming TV series. Locally, it only played in smaller, suburban theaters so there didn’t really seem to be much push behind it.
Gerard was likable but always seemed a bit too much the modern seventies man to match my admittedly then-limited view of the character. Using a decidedly updated (and thus now dated) viewpoint, the film retold the classic story of the man who wakes up 500 years in the future and becomes a hero. The cast, including Tim O’Conner and Erin Gray, was a good TV cast but a little light to carry a feature. The same can be said for the special effects as filmgoers were already used to ILM coolness by that point. Mel Blanc voiced the new mini-robot character Twiki, created solely to cash in on the popularity of R2-D2. The subsequent series (as seen recently on Sci-Fi) had its moments but quickly fell into set patterns and routines. Despite the stunt casting of original movie serial Buck Buster Crabbe, it was fated not to last long and only recently has been developing a not necessarily deserved cultish reputation.