Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1980) – Flight of the War Witch

Flight of the War Witch, written by Rob Gilmer and Bruce Lansbury from a story by David Chomsky, closed out the first season of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, with a two hour finale on 27 March, 1980.

I’ve resigned myself to the campiness of the series now, but I’m a little upset knowing there’s a complete format shift coming for the series after this episode and that we are saying goodbye to Pamela Hensley’s Ardala, Michael Ansara’s Kane, Tim O’Connor’s Huer, and Eric Server as the voice of Dr. Theopolis.

When an alien probe lands on Earth, it contains the coordinates to create a stable vortex/black hole/wormhole to allow the transition to another universe. Buck Rogers (Gil Gerard) is eager to respond to the implied invitation, and takes Twiki (Felizx Silla, voice by Mel Blanc) with him, but not before Princess Ardala and her Draconian forces show up, to steal the information from the probe, and with Wilma (Erin Gray) and Huer aboard her star cruiser, follows the 20th century man through to the alternate reality.

It seems the people on the planet Pendar are in desperate need of help, and no one in their galaxy could be bothered, so they breached time/space to reach Buck’s universe in the hope of someone there being able to lend a hand.

Once on the other side, they find the peaceful planet of Pendar. It seems they are being threatened by the imminent arrival of Zarina the War Witch (Julie Newmar), and her loyal right hand man, Spirot (Sid Haig).

To get home, both Terrans and Draconians are going to have to work together to save Pendar, and stop Zarina, but Ardala recognizes a kindred spirit in Zarina, though the witch really can’t be bothered with the princess, as Zarina fought for her title, Aradala was born to it.

It races along predictably, the baddies all scheming, Buck wooing the ladies wherever he goes, though this episode seems to be the closest we’ve seen Buck and Wilma admitting how they feel for one another, recycled effects which honestly aren’t so bad, and are only bothersome because the stories themselves don’t wish to elevate themselves to anything more than a primetime version of the Saturday matinee.

But there is still something inherently enjoyable about the series, something that is forever lost when the series gets retooled, and then relaunched in 1981 with Buck, Wilma and Twiki aboard the starship Searcher, far from Earth on a mission of exploration, seeking the missing tribes of man, you think they’ll find the Galactica?

We’ll see how it plays out, but I’m fairly sure that the best episodes are now behind us. Lets see what happens next time we take a peek into the 25th century…

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