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Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
(1979-1981 TV Series)

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Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1981):  "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" was originally a theatrically-released movie in 1979 that was popular enough to spawn a television series later in the year.  It lasted for two seasons.  The feature film was later shown on television as two one-hour episodes and entitled "The Awakening".

    This was a fun, colorful adventure series that just happens to take place in the future.  Gil Gerard as Captain William "Buck" Rogers is quite excellent.  He LOOKS like he can kick some butt.  I enjoyed Erin Gray as Colonel Wilma Deering, but I wish they would have shown more of her.  They didn't really make her a serious love interest for Buck, and she was just another heroic character.  It was hard to consider Buck and Wilma companions because they were usually in different places during their adventures.  The coolest member of the cast, I think, is Tim O'Connor as Dr. Elias Huer.  He's smart and an authority figure, but he's not a pain-in-the-butt boss.  Huer is a nice guy, occasionally funny, and sympathetic to those around him.  Mr. O'Connor shines in these kind of roles.

    And let's not forget Twiki.  WE ALL LOVE TWIKI!  He's the character we probably like to see the most.  He's Buck's funny little robot companion that can do all kinds of amazing things.  The actor who dresses up in the Twiki suit is Felix Silla (also Cousin It of TVs "The Addams Family" fame), but it is Mel Blanc who does Twiki's voice for most of the series.  Mel Blanc was always a wonderful voice actor, and he's the one I really think of as Twiki.  Mr. Silla, great as he is, is really just the puppeteer for this character.  Late in the series in 1981, Twiki's voice was supplied by Bob Elyea (for five episodes).  After protests from fans, Mel Blanc did return as Twiki for the final episodes.

    Neat recurring characters included Princess Ardala and her henchman Kane.  Pamela Hensley is wonderfully spoiled as the Buck-starved enemy.  Henry Silva played Kane in the film (aka "Awakening" episodes).  He's good as bad guys in shows, but for Kane, Michael Ansara was much better.  Ansara's Kane was a bit more calm and businesslike.  He's what we'd expect of a no-nonsense military man.

    The second season "retooled" the show and changed the premise.  This was unwise.  First of all, they deleted the Dr. Huer character from the show.  This was not a good thing, as Tim O'Connor added a lot of charm and respectability to the series.  Even more, Dr. Huer had always been a big part of Buck Rogers in any media, and now they completely ignored him.  That's about as silly as if they took out Alfred the butler from Batman.  Thank goodness they still left the characters of Buck and Wilma alone.  And that they kept Twiki.  But now, Buck and Wilma just traveled around in a spaceship having adventures.  Most fans of the show do not like the "Space Buck" as much as the "Earth Buck".  Also a bad move was the fact that Princess Ardala, Kane, and the Draconians were deleted from the series.  The first and second seasons of this show are like two different series.

Cast:
Buck Rogers- Gil Gerard
Wilma Deering- Erin Gray
Dr. Huer- Tim O'Connor
Twiki (body)- Felix Silla
Twiki (voice #1)- Mel Blanc
Twiki (voice #2)- Bob Elyea
Dr. Theopolis- Eric Server

Princess Ardala- Pamela Hensley
Kane #1- Henry Silva
Kane #2- Michael Ansara

    There were 35 episodes total for this television series.  Here they are:

Season 1
1. Awakening Part 1 (September 13, 1979)

2. Awakening Part 2 (September 20, 1979)
    PRINCESS ARDALA
    HENRY SILVA AS "KANE"

3. Planet of the Slave Girls (September 27, 1979)

4. Vegas in Space (October 4, 1979)

5. The Plot to Kill a City Part 1 (October 11, 1979)

6. The Plot to Kill a City Part 2 (October 18, 1979)

7. Return of the Fighting 69th (October 25, 1979)

8. Unchained Woman (November 1, 1979)

9. Planet of the Amazon Women (November 8, 1979)

10. Cosmic Whiz Kid (November 15, 1979)

11. Escape From Wedded Bliss (November 29, 1979)
    PRINCESS ARDALA
    MICHAEL ANSARA AS "KANE"

12. Cruise Ship to the Stars (December 27, 1979)

13. Space Vampire (January 3, 1980)

14. Happy Birthday, Buck (January 10, 1980)

15. A Blast for Buck (January 17, 1980)

16. Ardala Returns (January 24, 1980)
    PRINCESS ARDALA
    MICHAEL ANSARA AS "KANE"

17. Twiki is Missing (January 31, 1980)

18. Olympiad (February 7, 1980)

19. A Dream of Jennifer (February 14, 1980)

20. Space Rockers (February 21, 1980)

21. Buck's Duel to the Death (March 20, 1980)

22. Flight of the War Witch Part 1 (March 27, 1980)
    PRINCESS ARDALA
    MICHAEL ANSARA AS "KANE"

23. Flight of the War Witch Part 2 (March 27, 1980)
    PRINCESS ARDALA
    MICHAEL ANSARA AS "KANE"

Season 2
24. Time of the Hawk Part 1 (January 15, 1981)
    BOB ELYEA AS TWIKI

25. Time of the Hawk Part 2 (January 15, 1981)
    BOB ELYEA AS TWIKI

26. Journey to Oasis (January 22, 1981)
    BOB ELYEA AS TWIKI

27. The Guardians (January 29, 1981)

28. Mark of the Saurian (February 5, 1981)
    BOB ELYEA AS TWIKI

29. The Golden Man (February 19, 1981)
    BOB ELYEA AS TWIKI

30. The Crystals (March 5, 1981)

31. The Satyr (March 12, 1981)

32. Shgoratchx! (March 19, 1981)

33. The Hand of the Goral (March 26, 1981)

34. Testimony of a Traitor (April 9, 1981)

35. The Dorian Secret (April 16, 1981)


Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Fast Facts:

Props from the TV series "Battlestar Galactica" (1978-1979) were used for this series.

The show's theme song is called "Suspension".  It did have lyrics, but only in the feature film.  For the TV series it was made an instrumental.  I like the instrumental better.

For most of the first season Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) was a blonde.  Late in the first season and for the rest of the series she was allowed to return to her natural brunette hair color.  I think she looks great both ways.

Broadcast of the second season was delayed due to an actors' strike.  It didn't start airing until halfway through the 1980-1981 season.  During this time, it was "retooled" to make it a variation on the earlier flop series "Battlestar Galactica" (1978-1979).  This is what ended up killing the series.

Mel Blanc, the voice of Twiki, was temporarily replaced by Bob Elyea.  Fans did not like this and the vocal argument was well won.  Mr. Blanc returned for the final episodes.

The opening narration of the series tells us "In 1987, NASA launched the last of the deep space probes.".  What no one could anticipate was the January 1986 Challenger accident and because of it, no shuttles were launched in 1987.  The next launch would not happen until 1988.

Buck's ship, called the "Ranger 3", is the same name of a 1962 lunar space probe that missed the moon and was lost in space.

Michael Ansara WAS the original choice for Kane, but he was unavailable at the time of the feature film.  Henry Silva was selected to play Kane, and Ansara took the role in the later TV series.

The ship in Season 2, called "Searcher", has "Per Adua Ad Astra" on the side.  This is a misspelling of "Per Ardua Ad Astra", which means "Through Adversity to the Stars".  This is the motto for the Royal Air Force.