In 1987 the space shuttle Ranger 3 was sent on a mission. Aboard was Captain William Buck Rogers (Gil Gerard). When his ship is suddenly engulfed in a space anomaly Buck is instantly frozen solid and sent into an orbit that returns Rogers and his ship to Earth five hundred years later.
In 2491 things have changed on Earth. After the holocaust that almost destroyed the planet, the Earth became dependent on trade with other planets. Pirates have been attacking vessels in the area. An alliance and trade agreement is being discussed between Earth and the Draconians. King Draco’s daughter, Princess Ardala (Pamela Hensley), and her aide Kane (Henry Silva) are on their way to Earth when they find Buck’s ship drifting in space.
The disabled ship is taken aboard the flagship Draconia. Buck is revived and questioned. Kane sends him back to Earth with a beacon on board. Although the Draconians say they are looking for a trade agreement, in reality they are planning an assault on Earth. The beacon will give them the coordinates of the access corridor through Earth’s defense system.
Colonel Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) is sent to escort Buck’s ship through the defense shield. When he lands he is, once again, questioned. Dr. Elias Huer (Tim O’Connor) and Dr. Theopolis (Howard F. Flynn), an Artificial Intelligence on the computer council, believe Buck’s story as does Buck’s drone Twiki (Felix Silla). Convincing Colonel Deering takes a little longer but eventually they all begin to believe that the Draconians are not as peace loving as they appear.
“Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” was released in 1979 and was directed by Daniel Haller. The movie was used as a pilot for the television series but also had a theatrical release prior to the airing of the series. The television series was on the air for two seasons. A few changes were made to the theatrical release to make it more family friendly for television.
The movie and subsequent television show were based on the character created by Phillip Francis Nowlan in 1928 in his story “Armageddon 2149 A.D.” The story was first published in the pulp magazine “Amazing Stories”. The character was then tuned into a syndicated comic strip in 1929. Buck Rogers was then adapted to radio in 1932. Buster Crabb played him in the 1939 serial. Rogers also appeared in several books.
Granted the movie, and the television series, may have been capitalizing on “Star Wars” 1977, the debate on that is still going on, but the quirky and comedic touches make “Buck Rogers” a guilty pleasure for many. What’s not fun about spaceships, an apocalypse and invading aliens? Toss in a quick witted 500-year-old man and a bunch of sexy women and you probably have a hit.
The beginning credits of the movie are shown on a background of beautiful women tossing around big hair and posing while wearing sexy outfits. The music is a song called “Suspension” sung by Kipp Lennon. Who is Kipp Lennon? Nobody. Actually, I believe he was a member of the Lennon family. They were singers on the old Lawrence Welk show from the 60’s. He also was the voice of Leon Kompowsky on The Simpsons. For the television show the sexy ladies were removed and the song became an instrumental.
The opening narration is done by William Conrad. The voice of Twiki is done by Mel Blanc.