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Good Ol' Buck Rogers Who Was In The 25th Century

Could have been so much better.
I own the box set to Buck Rogers and the 25th Century. I used to watch this show religiously as I did
with anything with the slightest hint of science fiction that came on television. Some shows were bad and my 11-12 year old mind new it at the time. Some shows were bad and it took the sobering effects of time to realize how bad they were. Buck Rogers was one of the latter.

One of the things I used to love about those shows and movies were the lasers and laser like effects. They were bright, vivid and cool in my mind and I used to devote a ton of time trying to figure out how they did them. That meant visiting the library many times over.

For those of you who want to know; the process was simply animating the laser blasts by hand and then painting the laser blast on an animation cell with animation paints. These were then photographed on an animation stand with a diffuse filter to soften the artwork and give it the glow look. The footage was combined with the original footage on an optical printer and, later on, sounds effects would be added. That’s it in a nutshell.

The second season of Buck Rogers had them leaving Earth and going out and exploring space. There were a handful of good episodes during this season. The first couple where they find Hawk, The one where Buck starts turning into a Satyr and the one where the telepathic/telekinetic little people come aboard the Searcher (their spaceship) and start using their mind powers to take of Wilma Deering’s clothes. “Off-think, off-think,” they chanted. Hey, I was young and horny and naked Erin Gray would have been an awesome thing to me back then. Probably still today too! I won’t lie.

I think the point where the show jumped the shark for me was an episode where a couple of character were trapped under a spiders web and a spider, about the size of a normal tarantula began descending a cave wall to eat them I guess. Buck arrives in the nick of time and shoots the spider and saves the characters. The first time he shot he missed and there was a little glow effect I believe. His second shot hits and instead of using animation to add a glow effect while the spider is cut from the film they used an explosion. It wouldn’t have been so bad if the explosion was to scale and it showed but it wasn’t. It looked as if they used an explosion from one of the space battles. The same slow motion explosion and even the same sound effect. This didn’t sit well with me at the time and I began to lose interest in the series. I think that it was canceled not long after that.

My Take on the show:
Twelve-year-old me liked the show because the ships were cool, there was combat in space, there were fairly cool robots and I had a crush on Erin Gray. There were a handful of good episodes in both seasons but that's about all.

Looking back at the show is cringe-worthy. I feel the writers and, maybe, the producers never took the show seriously. They didn't know or understand what made a show like Star Trek, a movie like Star Wars or even Battlestar Galactica (which had problems of it's own) popular. The show lacked a sense of scale and epicness. Even Battlestar Galactica with it's war against the Cylons had that. The Draconians should have been more dangerous and should have always have been a threat. Earth should have been reeling because of that. Write your episodes against the backdrop of that and the show probably could have been better. You probably wouldn't have had any silly Gary Colman episodes.

I suppose the TLDR version would be this: I liked Buck Rogers for the Pew, Pew and almost naked Erin Gray however the show was a bit shallow and they never took advantage of that it could have been epic.


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