Part of my science fiction movie watching project.
Tagline: AMAZING EXPLOITS OF DEATH-DEFYING DARING!
I confess, first of all, that I didn’t watch the whole four hours of this serial of Buck Rogers.
Twice I attempted it and twice I dozed off. On the third attempt, I watched half of the episodes. One of my co-viewers started reading a book and the other fell asleep.
Dave Sindelar from Fantastic Movie Musings & Ramblings suggests watching them over time rather than all at once. This is good advice, and if I watch another serial, I think I’ll follow it.
Buster Crabbe who plays Buck also starred in several Flash Gordon serials. It was too much to have two serials starring the same actor back to back, so I dropped Flash Gordon from the list. In fact, I shortened my list a lot. The titles I removed were the ones I had watched before or had little interest in watching now.
The Story (as much as I watched of it)
Buck Rogers (Buster Crabbe) goes into suspended animation until the 26th century. He basically hits the ground running and gets involved in a rebellion against Killer Kane (Anthony Warde) which involves flying a lot of space ships hither and yon. I stopped it about the time Buck and Prince Tallen of Saturn (Philson Ahn) were hiding from Killer Kane’s search parties.
Star Wars influence
As we started watching, one of my co-viewers said, “Hey, that’s like Star Wars.” I nodded as we sat watching the recap scrolling up the screen. There were other similarities too. The good-guy rebels on Earth were fighting the dark cloaked Kane who was setting out to create an interplanetary government. Buck is an excellent pilot like Han Solo. The Zuggs reminded me a lot of the Jawas.
There were probably many more similarities but that’s all I gleaned from the beginning of the series.
They move between floor levels in futuristic elevators which work a lot like the Star Trek transmitter.
The Zuggs are an alien race oppressed and controlled by the humans. They move slowly and react slowly which I think was an effect of their controlling devices but I’m not sure. The only part of the serial I wish I had watched was the Zuggs revolting in chapter eight.
Wilma Deering (Constance Moore) is portrayed as a competent pilot, which was nice. Buck is still better, despite sleeping through centuries of technological advancement.
Watch it or not?
It was fun to see the kind of movie that inspired Lucas.
On the other hand, it’s a show that requires patience and certain acceptance of the genre. Sindelair sums it up best:
Whole episodes will sometimes pass without any plot development or new discoveries, but will contain nothing more than a series of “thrilling” action sequences.
FilmFax – pdf
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- July 8, 1967: Buck Rogers Stops Here (wired.com)