Buck Rogers: Escape from Wedded Bliss

buck rogersLet me get this right: Ardala is back and she is searching for a human husband and the top of the line is a guy she met once for a few minutes?  First off, isn’t Earth the enemy of the Draconian empire?  Why would her husband be human?  Her own species looks the same.  I guess it makes a kind of twisted sense as a form of conquest perhaps but wow!

And from Buck’s point of view, it’s head off with the most sexy alien in the universe to be her plaything and save all of earth in the process or… don’t go and let earth be destroyed?  Is that really a question?  “See this gorgeously sexy woman who dresses in bikinis all day?  Either go with her to have as much fun as she wants or we will destroy your world!”  The correct answer: “Give me 30 minutes to pack…”  Instead, Buck runs off to the wilderness to meet Dr. Crater from Star Trek’s The Man Trap (Alfred Ryder) who was a former Draconian now living in hiding on earth.  Now, the logic may make sense, but the technology doesn’t.  Buck realizes this guy has knowledge about the layout of Ardala’s ship that could be helpful to them, so his plan is to get it.  Dr. Huer is able to extract the right information that comes up in his head as a picture.  How many of my memories must be images like that, I ask you?!  The reason Buck does this rather than run off with Sexy McAlien is that the Draconians are using a probe to destroy earth and Buck is hoping to disable it. 

So we have a plot that sounds interesting, if a little silly, but a lot of the episode is heavy with padding.  That sounds like a pun, but I mean the pacing of the episode is dreadful.  The Earth Defense Directorate hosts Ardala and her people to discuss terms where we get a shockingly bad roller skate disco dance as the pre-negotiation party.  Then Buck turns Ardala down but two altruistic men offer to go in his place which she turns down without a thought.  Buck goes to Ardala’s ship, flirts, knocks her out then leaves in search of what he needs to disable the probe.  She wakes and pits him against Tigerman… you know, the guy who died in the first episode?  Buck refuses to kill Tigerman who then later helps him escape to pay his debt.

What is really weird is that the dynamic between Ardala and Buck is actually really fun to watch.  I don’t mean all the smoochy bits, but the overall dynamic.  When Buck is leaving, there’s the sense of a game being played.  Ardala knows just as well as Buck that they will meet again.  Less enjoyable is Kane, now played by Michael Ansara (previously Henry Silva, which explains once and for all why I always got them confuses in my head when I was a kid!)  I love Ansara and he will forever be Elric from Babylon 5 for me, but he’s just a frowning chaperone for Ardala, yelling at her for not following her father’s wishes every other minute.  Meanwhile Tigerman confused me by even being there, but I was sure in the first episode that there were two of him (that’s because half way through the 2 part story, there is a second actor to play the part), but it lead me to wondering if this is some animalistic species from the Draconian empire, or perhaps even a clone race.  Maybe if this one dies, they just replace him again.  (More likely, they were doing their level best to make us forget he died in a previous episode, but I need internal continuity, so I’m writing him off as a clone.)

There is an interesting discussion between Ardala and Kane about the letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law and I find that an interesting concept.  I’m very much a spirit-of-the-law kinda guy myself, but I find that debate often quite fascinating.  Alas, it makes up too little of the episode to make it meaningful.  On the other hand, Twiki really clicked with me this time around when he wants to go on the adventure with Buck.  Buck declines and Twiki stands there petulantly.  Note, Twiki has no moving facial features, yet he conveys sadness expertly.  He stands in the dark room long after Buck leaves while the camera stays on him… until Buck comes back and relents.  Weirdly I found this a mix of adorable and deeply moving.  Then he later rocks the finale as he bops to Meatloaf while wearing a headset.  I begin to see why I liked that character so much when I was a kid!

Sadly, this episode feels like padding because it probably was.  Maybe it was setting up the romance between Ardala and Buck for future episodes.  Wilma is definitely jealous, but she really plays a very minor role in these episodes.  She’s going to have to get an episode where she features a bit more prominently soon or she runs the risk of becoming Helena Russell from Space: 1999.  (Well, no one is that bad, and she’s a million miles from Helena anyway.)  So far, we’ve had a number of enjoyable, pulp stories that are just that: fun but without much depth.  I don’t need it to go super deep, but I’d like a bit more meat with my meal.  Hmm… fun and enjoyable but lacking depth… two out of three ain’t bad.  I guess I got my Meatloaf after all…    ML

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1 Response to Buck Rogers: Escape from Wedded Bliss

  1. scifimike70 says:

    I remember Michael Ansara being quite a change from Henry Silva as Kane. Just as Brian Croucher was an obvious change from Stephen Greif as Travis in Blake’s 7, the recasting for a familiar role in any show is a gamble for trying to maintain the appeal of the character. Especially when it doesn’t involve a metamorphic regeneration like in Dr. Who. I like Ansara, chiefly for his previous SF roles in Star Trek: Day Of The Dove and The Outer Limits: Soldier. But Henry Silva was better as Kane. I may be a bit biased for how I favored Silva’s portrayal of the Devil in a Midas commercial. But Silva was a very good actor who is sadly no longer with us. As for how Ardala has been established for a main villainess, she may not have had the most serious kind of deviousness that was popular in 80s SF like Diana in V, Servalan or the Rani. But her connection to Buck was an attraction thanks to the chemistry for both Gil and Pamela and the fight between Buck and Tigerman (H. B. Haggerty) is one of the most timeless in the SF universe. Thank you for your review, ML.

    Liked by 1 person

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