Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1980) – Olympiad, and A Dream of Jennifer

Buck (Gil Gerard) finds himself in a political mess that probably played pretty well with the folks at the time, considering it’s a story about defectors wanting to escape to a better world.

Written by Craig Buck, this episode first debuted on 7 February, 1980, and sees Buck Rogers taking in an in-person look and tour of the Galactica Olympiad, a bit of an update on the Olympics the pilot knew from his time, though there are some strange and odd changes to some events, and plenty of new ones as well.

Buck meets Lara (Judith Chapman) the astro-sled champ and favored competitor. The pair forge a friendship and she reveals that she is in love with Jorex (Barney McFadden), a competitor from another world who wants to defect from his planet, which is ruled by a vicious dictator, and come to Earth where he will happily compete for them.

If his minders learn of his plans, Lara reveals to Buck, Jorex will be killed.

Alaric (Nicholas Coster) one of Jorex’s minders, learns of Lara and Buck’s plan, and kidnaps the young woman to keep Jorex under his world’s thumb.

Will Buck be able to save the day? And how many really weird ‘sports’ are in this Olympiad anyway?

With some questionable choices this episode isn’t quite as bad as Twiki is Missing, but holy crap, is this series all about the camp rather than wanting to tell engaging stories. As much as I loved it as a kid, watching it now, even for the nostalgic value, you can’t help but realize it was definitely aimed at the younger viewers.

I mean I love the starfighters and Erin Gray as much as the next person, but damn, couldn’t we have a smart and fun story? Or do we constantly have to sacrifice one of the possibility of the other?

A Dream of Jennifer features the lovely Anne Lockhart. Written by Alan Brennert, this episode was first broadcast on 14 February, 1980.

Buck has been targeted by aliens, who want to use him for some strange plan. To catch his attention, and him, they’ve had a young woman, Leila (Lockhart), alter her appearance to look like Buck’s girlfriend, Jennifer, from the 20th century.

Which we get to see in a flashback, getting a glimpse of an awfully cramped looking apartment- you think as a pilot, and an astronaut, Buck would have been afforded a better place.

How’d they get the info to change Leila’s appearance? And really, Buck was the only one who could pull off this mission? Of all the creatures in the galaxy?

I dunno, this could have been something, poignant, a little noir-ish, and instead, it’s just disposable. Sigh. And yet, I loved this show so much as a child, not as much as I loved Galactica, but it was my space show, alongside reruns of Trek of course.

Leila comes clean about the plan, but will it be enough? And will Buck and Wilma (Gray) be able to convince the aliens that the mission they want him for was a success, until they can stop them?

Anything is aided by the appearance of Lockhart, and despite the fact that Buck hasn’t mentioned anyone he left behind before this, especially of a romantic nature, it’s fun to see her in the role.

Next time, we’ll get really campy, with Space Rockers!!

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