The Boob Tube #7: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

Not long ago, I proclaimed the glory of Land of the Lost by walking through an episode step by step. Thus, we were able to taste of its greatness and learn of its splendor. This time round, we'll look at one of my favorite shows of all time, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. But before we begin, let's get a few things straight:

1. The second season was godawful - Gil Gerard took the helm, they got a feather-headed hawkman/idiot, and the show went to hell in a hurry. I'm only referring to season one.

2. The show is not meant to be taken seriously - this is pure camp and senseless fun. Buck Rogers has more in common with The Dukes of Hazzard than any serious minded sci-fi show like Star Trek or Dr. Who. Simply turn off the logic center of your brain and enjoy the ride.

To give those unfamiliar with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century a taste of its greatness, let's take a look at a random episode, "Happy Birthday, Buck" (Season 1, Episode 15) which aired 28 years ago.

After the William Conrad narration that began each episode, we find Buck at his swingin' bachelor pad in New Chicago. He's apparently getting homesick (why he'd want to go back to 1987 is beyond me) and is hanging what looks like a poorly done Thomas Kinkade.

Well, Dr. Huer and Wilma don't like seeing Buck so glum, especially with his 534th birthday coming up. So, Wilma decides to plan a birthday party for him. It'll be so exciting!

Shortly thereafter, Dr. Huer and Wilma are given the troubling news that there's a powerful criminal on the loose. Evidently, he's already claimed the life of one innocent victim and is currently prowling about the city in disguise. What type of disguise? Take a good look...

In order to obtain information on Dr. Huer's wherabouts to assassinate him, our incognito assassin (named Traeger) decides to pay a visit to a certain Dr. Delora Bayliss who is played by none other than Tamara Dobson - better known as Cleopatra Jones! So, we're only ten minutes into the show and we have (A) the biggest afro in the history of television and (B) Cleopatra Jones. Are you beginning to feel the love?

Next, we are introduced to a character named Raylyn (played by Morgan Brittany of Dallas). She is a so-called "psychic courier" - top secret info is implanted into her brain, and then extracted when she reaches her destination. I know that sounds like an absolutely asinine means to transport secret information, but hopefully you have remembered to turn off your brain's logic center and this won't bother you. The point is, Buck now has a lovely woman to keep him company.

Ahh, but we have a serious problem: Traeger and Cleopatra Jones plan to intercept this psychic courier and extract the top secret information themselves. Maybe next time the government will just encrypt the data and send it over a secure network instead of this idiotic psychic-courier business.

Not surprisingly, it takes all of five minutes to capture the psychic-courier. I swear Wal-Mart has better security than New Chicago.

Of course, Buck is hot on the trail and eventually tracks her down. He manages to beat the crap out of Traeger; however he is soon detained by a 25th century Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. This scene also highlights Gil Gerard's copious amount of chest hair - always prominently on display in each episode.

Next, Cleopatra Jones uses her special chair to extract the information from the dumb-ass psychic courier. At last! Now Traeger can finally locate the elusive Dr. Huer!... hey,wait a minute - why is Dr. Huer so damn hard to find? I mean, he's not in hiding, he's in the same old office he's in every episode... it seems like Traeger could have found a much easier way to find Dr. Huer than extracting a psychic implant from a hostage!

Oh, well. Buck soon manages to escape (big shocker), and Dr. Huer and Wilma are meanwhile waiting for Buck at his surprise birthday party. Traeger crashes the happy gathering and tries to assassinate Dr. Huer... but not before Buck Rogers storms in and blows his ass away.

After they've cleaned away the smouldering remains of the dead Traeger, the gang settle down for a nice little party. Happy Birthday, Buck!

It was all a bunch of nonsensical fun, but it was fun nonetheless. Oh, and in case you were wondering... disco will be big in 2492.

related post: The Future Was Fab


  1. Okay... Did you know it was Gil Gerard's birthday today? He is 66 today.

    "Buck Rogers" was one of my favorites as a kid. And being a kid definitely helps with watching it. :)

  2. Wings- I did NOT know that. What an odd coincidence that I choose to do a Buck Rogers post on this day!

    It's an even stranger thing that I chose "Happy Birthday Buck" as the episode to highlight!

    I swear I had no idea.... weird.

  3. Hey Gil. I was a huge fan of this show. It was one of my favorites when I was a kid. I had a big crush on Erin Grey.

  4. Gilligan -

    Wow. That is REALLY bizarre! Talk about timing!

    Great blog, by the way!

  5. I'm the opposite of Keith: I had a crush on Gil! I always loved it when they showed his chest hair. Even as a little kid, it spoke to me... What it said can't be repeated in a family blog.

    1. That is funny! He really is a hunk, to use a word from the shows era!

  6. God I love the women from this era. Thanks for the pics!

    I remember seeing the movie Buck Rogers at a drive-in double-bill with Jaws in the late '70s. Incredible night for a kid!

  7. Well at least we'll still have disco and short skirts in the future!

    I loved this show as a kid, don't know what I'd think of it today.

  8. thanks for the memories!

  9. Buck Rogers - Glue Sniffing...a connection? YES

  10. Gil was the man! What a great show!

    But I loved the second season. It was a more serious attempt at sci-fi, and I think they pulled it off really well. Shame it was cancelled so soon, but I've got my DVD box set, so I can at least go back whenever I need a fix.

  11. AnonymousMay 09, 2010

    Re: Erin Gray. What do you mean, "HAD a crush"? I had a thing for her starting with the movie, and couldn't get enough of her (still can't), and when she started wearing the miniskirted "ice cream man" uniform, I nearly swooned during every episode, lol.

  12. You left out the best line of the episode. After Buck crashes his surprise party and blows Traeger a new one with his ray gun, the partygoers notice that the dead Trager has turned blue (turned to silicon as was foreshadowed at the beginning of the episode, after Traeger fondled the innocent rube with his "hands of death".)

    In a sad, "openly-commiting-homicide-is-just-the-thing-to-put-a-damper-on-a-guy's-534th-birthday-party" voice, Buck explains, "He fell on his own hand."

    That's the most extreme cheesiness I've witnessed in any episode up to that point.