Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1981) – Journey to Oasis

Mark Lenard guest stars in the second feature length instalment of what is Buck Rogers derided second season. Written by Bob Mitchell, this double episode first aired on 22 January, 1981, and sees Buck (Gil Gerard) leading a party – despite the presence of a higher ranking officer, COLONEL Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) in the group.

They are joined by Hawk (Thom Christopher) and Dr. Goodfellow (Wilfrid Hyde-White) and are escorting the Zykarian ambassador Sarek, I mean Duvoe (Lenard) to Babel, I mean Oasis.

That’s where most of the Trek similarities in, but not the tie-ins, because meanwhile back on the Searcher, Admiral Asimov (Jay Garner) is working to keep the ship safe alongside, Lieutenant Devlin (Paul Carr – who played Kelso in the classic Trek episode, Where No Man Has Gone Before).

En route to Oasis, the summit for the ambassadorial delegations, Buck’s shuttlecraft (you know the one, featured in Galactica) passes through a radioactive cloud and is forced down to the planet’s barren surface – which is inhabited, apparently, with discarded genetic experiments. Who would have planetary negotiations here then?

Buck and Duvo clash over leadership styles, and there’s a hefty amount of suspicion between the two characters; and there’s a couple of reasons for that. Apparently, Zykarians have a weird anatomical ability (which will be important at the climax of the episode), they can detach their heads. This is something they work to keep very quiet, and won’t share with outsiders, even those they care about, and it’s very obvious, and if it’s not, they’ll remind you, that Wilma and Duvoe have a bit of a past together.

He’s in love with her, she’s infatuated.

As the group make their way across the desert, and Vasquez Rocks (another Trek tie-in) they are watched by spear-wielding desert dwellers, as well as a diminutive creature, Odee-X (Felix Silla), who has powerful abilities thanks to radioactive storms that pass over the desert.

The story is a collection of misadventures, and semi-romantic moments between Duvoe and Wilma. There’s a strange floating lightsaber, giant lichen, a strange head-worshipping culture, and the possibility of war, as the Searcher squares off against Zykarian forces after the shuttle goes down.

Will Duvoe and company reach Oasis before war can break out across the galaxy? Will he and Wilma be able to resolve their differences and pursue a romance, and can we please get Mel Blanc back to do Twiki’s voice, cause yikes.

The episode is overlong, could have been made regular episode length, and it just drags. Lenard is very at home in the role of ambassador, and exudes authority easily, but there’s nothing really new in the episode, it’s just one little adventure tacked on to the next, to the next, to the next until they finally reach their destination with just a few minutes to spare before the end credits.

Next time we see what happens when Buck and Hawk become The Guardians!

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