I realize I’m biased: when a sports themed episode turns up, I know I sort of drift away from the start but this episode really is weak. I also realized, now that I’m an adult, that most of the shows of my youth are very formulaic. Buck Rogers follows plot beats like The Incredible Hulk or The A-Team; you know when and how certain things are going to happen. You know an over-the-top baddie is going to be doing something nefarious and Buck will have to stop it, and it’s a question of how the writer pulls that off that can make or break the episode, but the plot beats are all there to anyone paying attention. When this story opens, we have two lovers who want to escape the latest bad guy who will not accept losing his star high-jumper.
You know it’s bad when the best scene of the episode is a background one. I do confess that all the Olympians doing their thing is frequently very impressive. The acrobats and gymnasts really do catch the eye with their skill and it’s evident they are very skilled, but the thing that caught my eye was the rope sliders. I’ve never seen this before. Ok, so imagine you take a rope and tether it to the ground, then run it up a wall at a 45 degree angle and tether it there, so you basically have a diagonal rope/cable that goes from half-way up a wall to the ground. Now you get someone to the top of it and have them stand on it while sliding backwards all the way down. Wow. I was mesmerized. That happens in the first few minutes. It’s the last time I was mesmerized in the whole episode.
The rest of the story follows all the standard plot beats. At one point, Buck is locked in a room with the sexy costar of the week and a ball of freezing air is thrown into the room with them. They will soon freeze to death but Buck has an idea with a mirror… it’s sort of cringe-worthy. However, there are a lot of funny moments that do add some value if you don’t mind your TV to be devoid of any thought. Twiki walks around a corner and rams into someone. Twiki, as fans know (and you can see behind Erin Gray in the picture with this article) is fairly short. His comment made me laugh out loud: “Can’t see the forest for the knees!” Also watching the two boxers with light emitting cones on their hands was next level stuff; at least in the 25th century, boxing isn’t as brutal as it is now. However, the absolute best piece of drivel was watching the karate action. A light beam freezes one guy stock still while the other acts out the actions he’s about to perform. The action then takes place on the victim without ever being touched. Coupled with the shouts, I was tearing from laughing so hard.
The biggest problem with this episode is the bad guy. Kevin Costar costars as Alaric who works for another bad guy named “Satrap” who only appears on a video camera. When Alaric fails at keeping his key athlete, who escapes with his lover, Alaric is ordered to destroy himself. Even this is done in a morbidly comic way: he’s on with Satrap telling him things as the news broadcaster comes on like an episode of Police Squad and announces first that Jorex has gone missing, then moments later that he’s in an escape craft. So Satrap tells Alaric he knows what must be done, and Alaric dutifully obeys, But that means the big bad, Satrap, is still out there. And with this series, which does seem to acknowledge previous episodes, it’s hard to gauge if that means we can expect a return or not. I hope not, but that just makes this episode even more painful to consider.
Typically, I find something enjoyable in these, and I guess the unintentional comedy does work for it, but it doesn’t have the joy that many of the others have. I will give it to Erin Gray, however: even though they give her the ugliest wigs to wear, that woman really knows how to command a scene in sexy 70’s attire. I also think she may be thin enough to slip under a closed door, but that’s beside the point. I just wish they’d used her more as Buck’s sidekick. I realize she’s supposed to be a colonel, which would mean she should really be the lead, which just means the writers wrote themselves into a corner there, but it just comes from wanting to see her in a more prominent role. All the while, I keep thinking, if a man from 500 years ago turned up today, would he be half as skilled as Buck? Would he get his own TV show? And who would be his sidekick? (I needed something to entertain my mind during this episode!) ML
I certainly agree that seeing more of Wilma as a sidekick for Buck would have made the show better. Erin Gray deserved that much. Thank you, ML, for your review.
LikeLiked by 1 person
That karate scene sounds magnificent 😀
LikeLiked by 1 person