Buck Rogers: Twiki is Missing

buck rogersYou’ve got to laugh when an episode gets a title that only really matters for the first 20 minutes of the story.  After that, Twiki may be kidnapped, but Buck is with him, knows where he is and is never actually missing.  Still, watching John P. Ryan play Mr. Belzack, an over the top villain with some sexy minions, manages to offer another fun episode even if the title is a bit misleading.  That’s not to say I’d call this a good one, but it was made better by the silliness of it all.

Belzack finds out the Buck Rogers augmented his “ambuquad” to be more than just a machine.  (That’s what Twiki is, by the way – they’ve said it since the start but it’s a silly word, so I haven’t really acknowledged it up until now.)  Belzack sends his best looking minions to coax him to sell Twiki.  At one million credits, Buck declines saying Twiki is like a friend.  Ok, so here’s what happens when Villain Mike takes over: “What if I pay you one million credits to program another Ambuquad to do be the same as Twiki?   Mwahahahahaha!”  Now, this would have solved everything.   Buck gets a temporary, well-paying job, Belzack gets his own Twiki and no one has to get hurt.  But no, that’s not how it goes.  It’s a bit like Thanos in The Avengers: wipe our half of all life in the universe to stop using up natural resources so quickly… or he could have doubled the natural resources??!  Mwahahahahahah…. I digress.  My point is, I went through the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and know to think win-win.  Alas, Belzack, or more accurately the writers of this episode, don’t think like that.  Twiki isn’t missing; logic is!

The thing is, this episode is ridiculous.  Not only is the premise truly wonky, but it has those goofy moments that just show the writer wasn’t paying much attention.  Let’s take the three women: super sexy telekinetics who… hang out in the closet?  They just stand there looking scary with their hands open and overlaying one another’s.  When Belzack calls for them, a door opens and there they are.  Most people have some kind of skeletons in the closet; this guy has beautiful women!  He then dismisses them,  realizes he needs them again, calls them back and they seem to be standing in the same place, like they were mannequins.  What is this, the Twilight Zone?  However, later, when we cut to the lead telekinetic, she’s going about life normally.  She even has a son who Belzack uses as leverage to keep her in line.  As we get to know her, she’s actually a pretty likeable woman, but you only get that after she tries to throw Buck into a vat of acid with her mind.  Sure, he convinces her to stop where, instead of using her telekinetic powers on Belzack, she shoves a guard, takes his gun and points it at him instead.  Ok, that would work… barely… if the other two telekinetics weren’t still standing with her and still in the thrall of Belzack.  Why did they go along with her?  Why didn’t they rebel against her, knowing they were still employed by Belzack?  Was it shock?  Maybe they weren’t that bright?  Maybe they were dazzled by the colorful clothing?

I have to say, barring the over the top villainy, the episode doesn’t offer much but I do realize Twiki has grown on me immensely.  There’s a moment where Buck is running to escape in his ship but runs face first into a forcefield and falls to the floor.  Twiki says “That’s why I let you go first!”  I nearly fell out of my chair with laughter.   Mel Blanc does a wonderful job bringing Twiki to life.  This little fellow has no moving facial features, but I don’t think it matters; this dude is alive!  When the series started, the adult version of me cringed at how annoying Twiki’s voice was.  20ish episodes later, and I want my own Twiki!

There is a subplot in this of Wilma piloting a spaceberg … yes, space-berg, as in ice berg in space… back to earth.  It’s frozen oxygen and if they can land it, it will help replenish the atmosphere.  I think it’s neat that there’s this background of an ecofriendly plot but it’s weak and only serves to give Erin Gray something to do.  Namely, sit in a ship turning her head from time to time, looking concerned.  The only other thing I noticed was how visually similar this was to classic Star Trek with the cave settings and the really colorful clothing.  Unfortunately, it’s a terrible example of how much fun this series could be when it tried.  This one offered too little to really exemplify it.  I suppose it was missing more than logic, come to think of it; it was missing the fun of the earlier episodes.   ML

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1 Response to Buck Rogers: Twiki is Missing

  1. scifimike70 says:

    Strangely I don’t remember seeing this episode. Though seeing John P. Ryan’s distinction in playing villains is noteworthy, reflecting on his villainous roles and especially in Runaway Train and Death Wish 4. Thank you, ML, for your review.

    Liked by 1 person

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