Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1980) – Space Rockers, and Buck’s Duel to the Death

Jerry Orbach is the baddie in Space Rockers! Written by Chris Bunch, it first aired on 21 February, 1980.

There is a music group, Andromeda (who only seem to have the one song), that has a huge influence on the youth of the galaxy today, broadcasting from their converted space fortress, christened Musicworld, and Lars Mangros (Orbach), with his henchman Yarat (Richard Moll) at his side, are planning to take over the group’s music, and insert subliminal messages into the music to control the children, and throw up violence at the universe.

Buck (Gil Gerard) heads out to find a way to stop Lars, but keep the beat rocking, with Twiki (Felix Silla, voice by Mel Blanc) in tow. And from there it’s all rock and roll to me. While trying to figure out what is going on, he insists that the concert must go on, otherwise the kids will riot. But if Buck doesn’t find a way to stop the strange attacks that happen during and after each Andromeda broadcast, there could be violent outbreaks all over the galaxy!

We are very securely placed in camp with this episode, and that seems to be where the series wants to stay. As much as some of it is enjoyable, it also comes across as more simplistic than its predecessor, Battlestar Galactica.

And Erin Gray never seems to be given enough to do. In fact, she’s rarely in any of the episodes, simply popping up now and again, always looking amazing, but never given enough to do, which is a shame, because she’s mainly written as a strong, smart woman – maybe that was why. They didn’t know what to do with her character on a week to week basis. A shame, because she’s so awesome!

Buck’s Duel to the Death is the penultimate story of the first season of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Looking back over it, it has proven very uneven with some fun moments, but never quite able to settle completely on an appropriate tone.

Buck’s Duel to the Death doesn’t fare much better. Written by Rob Gilmer, this episode first aired on 20 March, 1980, and sees Buck as the symbol of a prophecy on a distant planet that is ruled by the electrically charged and dangerous ruler, The Trebor (William Smith, who seemed to play baddies everywhere!).

He’s recently kidnapped a young woman, Maya (Heidi Bohay), the sister of Vione (Elizabeth Stack) and that is one woman too many. Beseeching Buck to come and pose as their prophesied hero, a man who is centuries old, our hero heads out to save a bevy of beautiful women (again) without Wilma (again) and confront the Trebor in a final conflict, in which Twiki lends a hand.

It’s just another run of the mill episode that doesn’t do anything new with the characters, or even tell a particularly engaging story. And while I appreciate that the series would have to be retooled before a second season, they definitely made things worse than better, and it makes me wish we could have a serious, yet fun reboot of the property.

Next time we end the first season with the two part episode, Flight of the War Witch.

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