updated Buck Rogers was far more elaborate than the version aired on ABC
almost 30 years earlier. It benefited from much-improved technology, the
interest generated by theatrical films like Star Wars and Close
Encounters of the Third Kind, and a budget that enabled the utilization of
fancy special effects. Also, unlike earlier versions of Buck, in the
comics and on film, radio, and television, this series didn't take itself
seriously. It was a good escapist entertainment with a tongue-in-cheek quality
that prevented it from getting pretentious.
Buck Rogers was an astronaut whose deep-space probe, launched in 1987,
was lost for 500 years. Fortunately for Buck, he was frozen in suspended
animation, awakening when his craft was discovered by Draconians in the
year 2491. The
Draconians, led by beautiful but evil Princess Ardala and her henchman,
Kane, hoped to take over the Earth and thought that Buck was a spy. So, too, did
the Earth Defense Directorate, based in the city
of New Chicago. Buck, using a combination of wit, charm, brains, and brute
strength, eventually prevented the Draconians from achieving their ends (though
they did keep reappearing with new plans to defeat Earth) and became
a valued ally in defending Earth. He
became a good friend of Dr. Huer, the most renowned scientist on Earth,
and of Wilma Deering, the beautiful commander in charge of Earth's defenses.
Dr. Huer provided Buck with a small robot aide, Twiki, and the services
of talking computer, Dr. Theopolis (usually seen in the form
of a large disk around Twiki's neck). Together, they fought the Draconians
and others who threatened peace and security. Buck's acclamation to the world of
the 25th century was not always easy and his use of 20th-century slang tended to
rub off on both Twiki and his human associates.
Buck Rogers In The 25th Century returned for its second season in
1981 (delayed several months by an actor's strike), it had been completely
overhauled. No longer based on Earth, Buck and Wilma were now crew members
aboard the Searcher, an interstellar spaceship seeking survivors
of the "great holocaust" that had sent many Earthmen into space
not long after Buck's original probe had been lost. In many respects, this new
format had elements of both Star Trek and Battlestar Gallactica.
Other members of the Searcher's crew included its commander, Admiral Asimov (descended
from science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov), Lt. Devlin, Asimov's assistant; Dr. Goodfellow,
an elderly, eccentric scientist with an insatiable curiosity; and Hawk, part man
and part bird, searching
for other members of his race. In addition to Twiki, the Searcher carried Crichton,
a highly intelligent but very obnoxious robot that could not believe it
had been built by humans, and especially by it's creator, Dr. Goodfellow.
Missing from the second season, in addition to the departed cast members, was
the narration provided by William Conrad during Buck Rogers' initial
The pilot for this series,
titled Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, was released theatrically in
March 1979, six months before the series premiered on NBC.