- Actors: Gil Gerard, Erin Gray, Tim O'Connor
- Format: Box set, Color, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
- Language: English
- Subtitles: Spanish, French
- Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 5
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
- Release Date: June 5 2007
- Run Time: 1799 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- ASIN: B0002MHDW4
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #35,795 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
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Buck Rogers In The 25th Century: The Complete Epic Series (5DVD) (Sous-titres français)
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Blast off with every groundbreaking episode of the action-packed sci-fi adventure, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century! Join legendary intergalactic crimefighters William "Buck" Rogers (Gil Gerard) and Colonel Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) as they lead the crew of the starship Searcher against a galaxy of evil from the past, present and faraway future. This must-own five-disc collection presents the entire Buck Rogers series and original theatrical pilot on DVD for the first time ever. Thrill to the epic sci-fi hit that the Associated Press called "razzle-dazzle good fun."
With its campy combination of lightweight adventure and Spandex disco chic, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is a nostalgic throwback to post-Star Wars opportunism. Series co-creator Glen A. Larson was incapable of originality, and former soap star Gil Gerard (in the title role) was a bland incarnation of the comic-strip hero, so the much-anticipated series premiered on September 20, 1979, with serious disadvantages. Although the two-hour pilot "Awakening" had tested successfully as a theatrical release, Gerard and the show's producers could never agree on a stable tone for the series, which presents Capt. William "Buck" Rogers as a jovial space cowboy who is accidentally time-warped from 1987 to 2491. Earth is engaged in interplanetary war following a global holocaust, and Buck's piloting skills make him an ideal starfighter recruit for the Earth Defense Directorate, where his closest colleagues are Dr. Huer (Tim O'Connor), squadron leader Col. Wilma Deering (former model Erin Gray, looking oh-so-foxy), the wisecracking robot Twiki (voiced by cartoon legend Mel Blanc), and a portable computer-brain named Dr. Theopolis, who's carried by Twiki like oversized bling-bling.
The series struggled through an awkward first season, with routine plots elevated by decent special effects and noteworthy guest stars including Jamie Lee Curtis, ill-fated Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten (appearing, with her voice dubbed over, less than a year before her tragic murder), Batman alumnus Julie Newmar, Buster Crabbe (veteran of vintage Buck Rogers movie serials), and several others in a show that favored vamps and vixens over credible science fiction. A full-scale overhaul resulted in a disastrous second season, but devoted fans still gravitate to Hawk (Thom Christopher), the charismatic alien "birdman" who was introduced with new characters and a new, space-faring search for lost tribes from Earth (with echoes of Larson's own Battlestar Galactica). Behind-the-scenes squabbles continued, and by mid-season of 1981, NBC pulled the plug on a breezy, still-engaging series that suffered from uneasy chemistry and never realized its full potential. Existing somewhere between Galactica and Lost in Space in the TV sci-fi food chain, this Buck--with a dearth of DVD extras--now functions as a cheesy stroll down memory lane. --Jeff Shannon
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Enjoyable other than that.
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.
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