I must admit that this show wasn’t quite as good as I remembered it. That’s not to say it isn’t great 70’s escapist science fiction, or that I am at all disappointed in seeing it again. Buck Rogers was almost a companion piece to Battlestar Galactica. They had a great deal in common. Both pilots were released in theatres with the trendy Sensurround. The concept was mostly overloaded subs to create a shake in the room during the space battles. The f/x were done by some of the same folks. Even the control sticks to the…Rogers fighters were identical to the Viper controls in Galactica. The comparison ends, however, when we get down to the scripts. Rogers was far lighter in tone. What do you expect when one of the characters is a short little robot named Tweekie who speaks with Mel Blanc’s cartoonish voice? I do remember having my first adolescent crush on Erin Gray’s Wilma. I remember mostly thinking that Gil Gerard looked a lot like Lee Majors. A highlight of the show is the appearance of the original Buck Rogers, Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon (another original Crabbe character).
The short second year was a completely reworked show with Buck and Wilma serving aboard the “Seeker,” which was searching for the lost tribes of Earth. No doubt there was once an intended tie-in with Galactica, which featured Earth’s lost tribes searching for Earth. Thom Christopher’s birdman Hawk was a nice touch, but the reworked show was not accepted by the fans. Ratings fell, and Buck Rogers was gone.
Captain William “Buck” Rogers (Gerard) was launched in a deep space probe. A malfunction caused the ship to catapult out of control and Buck was left in suspended animation for 500 years. When Buck awakes and attempts to return to Earth he finds a war-torn future and a militaristic society. Befriended by Col. Wilma Deering (Gray), Buck attempts to fit in and help protect Earth from its many enemies.
A simple Dolby Digital Mono 2.0 track is all that has been provided. I’m a little disappointed that the sound wasn’t at least spruced up. This was certainly a show that could have benefited from a more modern surround mix. Dialogue is clear. Music cues can be shrill at times and Sub is float pretty much all of the time. I guess it sounds fine. I just can’t help but feel that there were some missed opportunities here.
Each episode of Buck Rogers is presented in its original broadcast full frame format. I’m a little confused about the pilot. The theatrical version of the pilot was 1.85:1 while the broadcast pilot was naturally full frame. The confusion is that the theatrical version is the one given here, not the broadcast pilot. I suspect there was an error here. Either someone didn’t know the two versions were not identical, or at one time both were intended as was the case with Galactica. Either way, the included version should be 1.85:1.That aside. The color is actually pretty bright and accurate for such an old television show. Blacks are also pretty impressive, again considering the age.
Nada, although there are neat episode synopsis screens in the otherwise static menus.
Nostalgia is the most redeeming quality about this DVD set. It beats syndicated cuts on the Sci-Fi channel. I’m very disappointed that there aren’t any extras. I simply can’t believe there wasn’t some fine stuff available. I had also heard that cast members were once contacted to participate. This supposedly postponed the original release date. It’s a major shame that Gerrard and Gray were not included in interviews or better yet, commentaries. Given that this set is all we are likely to get, “I welcome the opportunity to get better acquainted with our Captain Rogers”.