sound you hear is fanboys having apoplectic fits at
hearing the news that Paul WS Anderson, of
Resident Evil and
Death Race infamy, is
going to direct the upcoming Buck Rogers reboot
. . .
Plans for a Buck Rogers
reboot has been floating around for ages now. At one
point graphic novelist and sometimes director Frank
The Spirit) and the
workman-like Joe Johnston (Jumanji,
Jurassic Park III,
The Wolfman) were said to be working on the new
full-length movie version of Buck Rogers.
Now comes the news that Paul WS Anderson is going to
direct the new
To be honest one can’t think of a director more
ill-suited to the task: Anderson’s brand of violent
action just seems, well, wrong for the more
light-hearted Buck Rogers universe!
The question remains though whether Anderson will do a
worse job than producer Glen A. Larson (Knight
Rider) did with the 1979-1981 Buck Rogers in
the 25th Century TV series . . .
Blasphemy we know, yeah. But the point is that the
late-1970s Buck Rogers television series that
lasted two seasons and starred former soap star Gil
Gerard as Buck and former model Erin Gray as the foxy
Col. Wilma Deering isn’t particularly good (trust us,
we’ve recently rewatched it on DVD again).
Gen X-ers may remember Buck Rogers as the hero of a
television series made to cash in on the
sci-fi fad of back then, but the character itself is
much older than that. Buck Rogers began life as a
cartoon strip in 1929 – actually predating Flash
Gordon who made his first appearance only in 1934!
Ageing baby boomers may recall the B&W serials (George
Lucas watched them as a kid), but most people will
probably go “bidi-bidi” when you mention Buck Rogers
to them, imitating the “cute” robot sidekick voiced by
Mel Blanc, who also supplied most of the voices to the
various Looney Tunes characters such as Bugs
Bunny and Porky Pig.
It is unclear what director Anderson’s plans are for
the franchise is.
Word has it that Miller wanted to take the character
back to its roots as dashing retro 1930s hero. Maybe
Anderson wants to remake the 1970s TV series instead
in which Rogers was a womanizing Han Solo wannabe.
(“Buck Rogers is a slut,” I thought aloud watching one
The plot is a sci-fi retelling of Mark Twain’s
Connecticut Yankee in which a 20th century man
wakes up 500 years in the future. Needless to say he
becomes involved in various adventures, gets outfitted
with a ‘Seventies-style bachelor pad and a
midget-sized robot sidekick – wouldn’t we all?
THE DISC: No special features whatsoever.
Nothing. Image and sound quality aren’t too consistent
WORTH IT? It isn’t particularly good even
though nostalgic Gen X-ers who watched it as kids back
then will probably be more forgiving. The plots are
rather superficial and usually involve Buck deposing
some tin pot dictator lording it over his or her
unfortunate underlings on some distant planet. (If
only it was this easy in real life!) Not particularly
The special effects and sets may have dated, but were
pretty decent for their time (Larson recycled them
from his Battlestar
Galactica show). The show’s biggest problem – or
its best attribute if you have a highly developed
sense of MST3K-type
irony – is the costumes! The spaceships and laser guns
may have been, ahem, “inspired” by Star Wars, but the
costume department’s job seems to have consisted of
trips to the nearest S&M store! That and dusting off
designs from old Flash
Gordon serials – you just gotta love that cape
Jack Palance is made to wear in one episode! (Palance
joyously hams it up all the way of course.) Gerard
also looks like a ‘Seventies leisure suit lounge
lizard and is made to wear such tight pants that one
is amazed that he doesn’t speak with a permanent Barry
Logan’s Run zipper suits
aside, the production designers also labored under the
illusion that the 1970s will last forever and that
Disco Will Never Die.
Yup, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is pretty
cheesy all right and some of the scenes are 100%
guaranteed to make you cringe like hell. (One scene in
which a regular villain dubs her new bodyguard
“pantherman” because he is so “black and beautiful”
will make you feel so dirty that you’d want to take a
Things also aren’t helped by the reuse of stock
footage (check out that spaceship in the exterior
establishing shot now flying in reverse!) and a very
dull Gerard who famously went on to famously struggle
with his weight. (Beware: this will happen to you too
one day.) Check out the scene in which he dully reacts
to a tearful Col Deering who tells him that he is
“more than a friend” and makes her feel like a woman
for the first time – that is, despite his incessant
womanizing, which she takes with the good humor of an
indulgent asexual TV sidekick.
RECOMMENDATION: This is one nostalgia trip that
isn’t particularly worth taking unless you’re the type
who regularly page through your parents’ photo albums
to poke fun at their dated fashions. (Beware: your
kids will do this to you one day.)