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Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - Planet of the Slave Girls

episode 1.2

USA 1979
produced by
Jock Gaynor, David J. O'Connell, Glen A. Larson (executive) for Glen A. Larson Productions, Universal/NBC
directed by Michael Caffey
starring Gil Gerard, Erin Gray, Tim O'Connor, David Groh, Roddy McDowall, Brianne Leary, Macdonald Carey, Karen Carlson, Michael Mullins, Buster Crabbe, Jack Palance, Felix Silla, Mel Blanc (voice), Robert Dowdell, Sheila Wills, Don Marshall, Diane Markoff, June Whitley Taylor, Borah Silver, Michael Masters, Don Maxwell, Eric Server (voice)
story by Steve Greenberg, Aubrey Solomon, screenplay by Steve Greenberg, Aubrey Solomon, Anne Collins, based on characters by Philip Francis Nowlan, Robert C. Dille, music by Stu Phillips, visual effects supervisor: Peter Anderson

Buck Rogers, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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On 25th century earth, there seems to be an epidemic of panic attacks, especially among pilots of the defense fleet, and it's soon found out that the epidemic is actually caused by food poisoning. But Dr. Mallory's (Macdonald Carey) computer to create an antidote is sabotaged - which leaves the good Dr. Huer of the Earth Defense Directorate with but one option, to send earth's crack pilots Buck Rogers (Gil Gerard), Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) and Major Danton (David Groh) to the planet the poisoned food pills are produced on to investigate. Buck, Wilma and Danton are less than pleased with what they see, a governor (Roddy McDowall) who lives in blissful ignorance of everything while slavery is the favourite choice of employment. From slavegirl Ryma (Brianne Leary), Buck learns that most of the slaves are actually under a hypnotic spell from villain Kaleel (Jack Palance), and she also points him where to look for proof for the food poisoning, but while Buck's out retrieving that proof, both Ryma and Wilma are taken by Kaleel's men and taken to his hideout many miles away. Buck and Danton take a shuttle to follow Ryma and Wilma, but are shot down - but survive, and on their way to Kaleel's headquarters, they happen upon a fleet of (as for yet grounded) battleships, possibly to invade earth while her defenses are weakened. So Danton steals one of the ships to make it to earth to warn the Defense Directorate and organise a fleet to make a pre-emptive strike, while Buck sets out to free Ryma and Wilma - but of course, he falls captive to Kaleel as well, and it takes him a bit to spring Ryma and Wilma free. Back on earth, Danton must realise the defense force is in a pitiful state, with only a handful of pilots (including Brigadier Gordon, played by Buster Crabbe, the original Buck Rogers from the 1939 serial of the same name) are ready for duty. However they try a pre-emptive strike anyhow - and of course, with the help of Buck and Wilma, who have snatched two of the enemy's ships, they win the fight despite being outnumbered, as of all the fighter pilots Kaleel has to offer, most are hypnotized sheep and only one's an experienced fighter, supreme strategist Galen (Robert Dowdell), and once Galen's taken out Kaleel's fleet scatters. Meanwhile, back at Kaleel's headquarters, Ryma has staged a revolt against Kaleel and company, and it all ends happily ...


Nothing great in the traditional sense of the word, as the plot's very simplistic and even a bit silly, the special effects are on the uneven side, and sets and costumes can never fully shake a certain camp factor - that's somewhat endearing nowadays but was not intended back when. That said, the episode's also lively, with plenty happening in its 90+ minute running time, Gil Gerard continues to make a good lead despite not being the greatest actor, Jack Palance as villain gives it his over-the-top all, and of course it's nice to see Buster Crabbe in a guest role, even alluding to his run as the character some 40 years prior.


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review © by Mike Haberfelner


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