Season two starts with new opening credits – thankfully same intro and song, but different cast – and another real feather in the cap, so to speak: no preview sequence showing what’s coming. Unfortunately, the episode is a little laughable because of the main “villain”, Hawk. Know why Hawk is called Hawk? Because he’s part hawk. Now, in fairness, they do make up for that by tackling the whole Ancient Aliens thing, explaining that Hawk’s people visited Earth in the distant past and there are still indications of them that can be found on Easter Island. Cool idea, and it actually ties in with the resolution, but it didn’t change that Hawk and his girlfriend, Koori, are a little silly looking. And does it pay to talk about the joystick in Hawk’s ship that actually has a pigeon head??
We are then introduced to a whole new cast, with the exception of Col. Wilma Deering (Erin Gray). Asimov is the captain and there’s a new robot who channels Marvin the Paranoid robot from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, name Chrichton. (Odd how their names coincide with writers from our era, huh?) Dr. Goodfellow may be the best new character, and there’s something distinctly William Hartnell about him, so this could be a lot of fun, but it begs the question: where is Dr. Huer? After the last episode, his speech was so moving, I wasn’t ready to part with him. And then there’s Twiki, now voiced by Felix Silla, and holy cow, the less said about that the better. Let’s just hope it grows on me like Mel Blanc did.
The premise is this: humans killed the last of Hawk’s people with the exception of himself and Koori, so now he goes on a killing spree. Buck is sent to find him, but finds Koori instead and takes her prisoner. Hawk swoops in (see that pun?) and using retractable claws on his ship, grabs Buck’s but inadvertently harpoons Koori. Now they have to work together to save her.
So to my utter amazement, the scenes between Hawk and Buck are electric. Thom Christopher (Hawk) plays the part so well and so menacingly, that when they were on screen together, I couldn’t take my eyes off them. We also get Lance Le Gault as Flagg, a rogue who tries to take Buck’s ship. While this ends up being little more than a throwaway part of the episode, fans of 80’s TV will appreciate seeing Decker from The A-Team. If he starts chasing Buck through the galaxy, I’ll be impressed!
As messages go, I was surprised to find one here. Koori says that the more Hawk kills, the more distant he is getting. Revenge is killing him and she doesn’t recognize the man he’s becoming. A very good message to the audience about the value of staying true to your core beliefs. I also credit the writers for doing that special thing I like so much: having enemies become friends. At the end of the episode, Hawk is finally captured after the death of Koori – she couldn’t be saved, to my sorrow. He has nothing to say in his own defense but Buck supports him explaining that from Hawk’s point of view, they were at war, but that war can now end. The court is uncertain but Buck says this: “…crimes were committed because small men served the letter of the law. Great men serve justice.” Frankly, I was stunned. The courtroom scene is somber and powerful; no music is played and all eyes are on Buck and his pleas are passionate indeed.
The episode ends with Buck offering Hawk a place on their mission: to look for some of the lost colonies of humanity; those that left before the great war that decimated our planet. Buck says that now that Earth is at peace, they are able to undertake this mission and in one brief comment, effectively explains why they are not on Earth and why there’s no Dr. Huer: the war with Draconia, resolved at the end of season 1, has allowed them to continue there while Buck and Wilma help explore the stars. Color me impressed, this show actually made sense! But it also does something else: it makes sense of why Hawk might want to join them: as humans went to the stars, so did Hawk’s people. He may not be the last of his kind after all. They two are united in common purpose and that was fantastic.
There are a number of laughable moments, like the statue of Hawk’s god: “Wonky Eye”, I called him. There’s the dude dressed as Moses who can cure anyone except Koori but gives her peace so she can die with dignity. He also uses the Vulcan hand to freeze people in place. But there are good messages here too: pride leads to downfall being a big one. (And that tarantula’s get out into space too, thus proving my discomfort around them. Conniving terrors!) And honestly, Hawk has some compelling arguments that Buck is unable to dispute: “The history of your race is written in its own blood.”
As season openers go, this is a strong one. I just hope the chemistry between Buck and Hawk can maintain throughout the season. Since the show was canceled somewhere in the 2nd season, it’ll be an experience to find out. Buck tells Hawk it’s time to look to the future. That’s what I’m doing. ML
It’s interesting to look back now after so long on how much this series suddenly changed for its 2nd season. For ET characters serving on human space crews, after Spock and Maya, Hawk could prove to be a significantly original addition to this character genre in his own right. Though I for one may remember Thom Christopher more as crime lord Carlo Hesser in One Life To Live, his performance as Hawk still showed his unique gravitas as an actor. It wasn’t the same without Dr. Huer. Yet with the new avenue for Buck Rogers’ journey into the 25th century, this new season would have a more serious tone in certain areas. If memory serves that is. So I look forward to more Season 2 reviews on the Junkyard. Thank you, ML.
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Season 2 is all but unwatchable for me. Not just the fact there’s no more Ardala, but these kind of revamps in general are always for me a slap in the face to those who generally enjoyed how things were in the first season. It’s basically Buck doing what Battlestar Galactica fans like me were subjected to with the “Galactica 1980” disaster or the Season 2 revamp of Space 1999.
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Sudden revamps for the newest sci-fi TV shows may quite understandably rub fans the wrong way. I can certainly relate because of how it made me lose interest in LEXX a few episodes into its second season. Even if one or more episodes from the revamped seasons can often peak our curiosity, it does serve a series better, as it did with Dr. Who via its UNIT phase or Red Dwarf S6,7&8, to save the revamps for much later on.
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