Unlike a lot of old Sci-Fi shows coming to DVD this one includes the original two-hour pilot movie "Awakening" as it was shown in theatres. Climb into your Starfighter and join Buck, Wilma and the gang for all 37 galactic episodes spread out over 5 double sided discs. Yes that's right, five double sided discs from Universal Studios once again. The picture and sound are well done and better than I remember seeing on television, but it's too bad the soundtrack wasn't remastered in 5.1 Dolby digital like the original Battlestar Galactica.
Created by Glen A. Larson "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" with its lame special effects is really cheesy and dated by today's standards, but still fun to watch. The series premiered on September 20, 1979 after the two-hour pilot "Awakening" was successful as a theatrical movie release that I was fortunate to see at the Drive-In. Former soap star Gil Gerard stars as Buck Rogers a hot shot pilot who is accidentally time warped from 1987 into the 25th century. Following a global holocaust the Earth now finds itself embattled in an interplanetary war and its newest inhabitant has just become an intergalactic Starfighter pilot. Joining Buck in his galactic crusade to protect the Earth Defense Directorate is the Ultra hot Col. Wilma Deering played by former model Erin Gray.
Once again Universal Studios has failed miserably to give fans what they really want, bonus material! Gil Gerard and Erin Gray are still alive so why wasn't a cast interview or look back featurette included in this DVD release. It would have been nice to see the stars from the show again and get their thoughts about working together for this DVD release. Five galactic stars for "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" for a cheesy fun filled time, but four stars for the way it was released to the fans of the show. As for Wilma Deering, she could take me for a ride in her Starfighter any day and I mean any day!
Capt. Buck Rogers - (Gil Gerard)
Col. Wilma Deering - (Erin Gray)
Twiki the Robot - (Felix Silla) voiced by (Mel Blanc)
Dr. Theopolis - (Eric Server)
Dr Elias Huer - (Tim O' Connor)
Hawk - (Thom Christopher) Second Season
The Narrator - (William Conrad)
on December 9, 2014
First, in the interest of full disclosure, I did not buy my copy of this set from Amazon. I bought mine from a video store (remember those?) a few years ago for (as I recall) $29.99.
Now, to the matter at hand: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. I greatly enjoyed watching this show when it aired originally on NBC 1979-1981, (and in syndicated reruns since) so when I saw this set in the store there was no question that I was going to get it.
The series was well cast, with Gil Gerard very good as fish-out-of-water 20th century astronaut Buck. The first season also sported two of television's best assets: beautiful, sexy Erin Grey (Wilma) and Pamela Hensley (spoiled Princess Ardala) Season 1 was great fun with Buck and Wilma, along with Buck's robot sidekick Twiki (Felix Silla, voice by Mel Blanc) and their computer friend Dr. Theopolis fighting evil throughout the galaxy for the Earth Defense Directorate, lead by Dr. Elias Huer (Tim O'Connor). I agree that it was a very fitting passing of the torch to feature the original, movie serial, Buck Rogers, Buster Crabbe in Planet of the Slave Girls as ageing Brigadier Gordon (a nod to another of Mr. Crabbe's sci-fi roles, Flash Gordon), with this classic exchange after the climactic space dogfight:
BUCK: Gordon, where did you learn to shoot like that?
GORDON: I was doing this sort of thing before you were born.
BUCK: You think so, huh?
GORDON: Son, I know so.
Then there was season 2 (delayed a bit by the 1980 actors' strike). This is the reason this review is four stars instead of five.
After season 1's so-so ratings, a new producer, John Manley, was brought in. Inspired by the success of the original Star Trek series in reruns and Star Trek: The Motion Picture in theatres, Mr. Manley decided that Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was going to be the new Star Trek. (Star Trek fave Mark (Sarek) Lenard even guest starred in the 2-hour episode Journey to Babel.)
Accordingly, Buck, Wilma and Twiki were relieved of their Defense Directorate duties and assigned to the starship Searcher, on a mission (which it never seemed to be pursuing) to seek out "the lost tribes of Earth" (those who fled Earth to the stars in the wake of the nuclear holocaust that nearly destroyed the planet and subsequently lost touch with the home world.)
Ms. Hensley, Mr. O'Connor and Michael Ansara (Kane) were fired and replaced with largely uninteresting characters: an unnecessary second robot, Crichton, so arrogant he refuses to believe lowly humans could possibly have built him; Jay Garner as Admiral Asimov, a descendant of writer Isaac; and Wilfrid Hyde-White as doddering Dr. Goodfellow (no Bones McCoy he.) Incomprehensibly, a new actor was brought in to voice Twiki, but viewer complaints saw NBC quickly bring back Mel Blanc.
Since Buck Rogers was to be the new Star Trek, Thom Christopher was brought on as the new Mr. Spock, the bird man Hawk. His people originally lived on Easter Island on Earth until they fled to the stars (it's never explained exactly how) to escape oppression and violent mistreatment by humans. Hawk is introduced as being at war with the human race after his people's colony on the planet Throm was attacked and his people slaughtered by drunken humans. After being brought in and saved from a death sentence by Buck, he agrees to join the crew of Searcher in the hope of finding other colonies of bird people.
Now we come to season 2's greatest sin: the unforgivable underuse of Erin Grey. With the addition of Hawk, a sexist switch was made. Buck and Hawk were now the central team instead of Buck and Wilma. The kick-ass Wilma of season 1 is gone, the character so watered down she may as well not have been there. I was hoping for a little more development of the Buck/Wilma relationship, but no. A total waste.
Don't get me wrong. Season 2 featured some good episodes, the opening movies Time of the Hawk and Journey to Babel, Mark of the Saurian, Testimony of a Traitor and The Dorian Secret for example. It's just that Buck Rogers season 1 wasn't broken, there was no need to fix it. They tried to make Buck Rogers what it was never meant to be and, by and large, it didn't work. Little wonder the ratings nosedived.
BOTTOM LINE: While this set is a little pricey at over $100 for five discs (even double-sided), I greatly enjoy watching mine. Buck Rogers is one of the late Glen A. Larson's better shows, and I heartily recommend it.
on April 13, 2015
C'est le plus beau cadeau que je me suis fait en achetant cette compilation de Buck Rogers. L"image est superbe pour un DVD, aussi clair et soignée qu'un blu ray de très bonne qualité et de plus... je me souvenais pas à quel point cette séries télé est d'une qualité supérieur. C'est une très bonne colection les épisodes sont très distrayant et très bien écrits, pour lépoque qu"ils ont étré prodiuits et de plus, ces épisodes peuvent rivalisé avec ce qui se fait de nouveaux, sauf au niveau de la thecnologie un peu ancienne, mais c'est tellement bien fait, qu'on est hypnotisé par les personnages.
on June 22, 2013
I remembered this series along time ago. Also being a Logan's Run fan I just had to have this series. Yes it is silly, dated, laughable by today's standards, but that is part of what makes it so much fun. Gil Gerard had a certain presence and charm as the hero. Erin Gray was good in a supporting role. Dr. Theopolis and Tweekie were just silly but added to the story. The nice thing about owning this series is that one can pull it out anytime and watch it. This series had a good amount of action, certainly was not overly violent or gory, and was entertaining at times.