February 22, 2007

Gratuitous Buck Blogging

This is a continuation of a series of posts about the old TV show “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” that started here. Last time we visited the “Vegas In Space”, this time things take a more ominous turn in:

Ep. 1.6 & 1.7 “The Plot To Kill A City (Parts 1 & 2)” (aired 10/11/79 & 10/18/79):

This is one of my all-time favorites from the series. Unlike the pilot movie and “Planet of the Slave Girls”, this two-hour story was originally shown in two separate parts. It focuses on an assassination group known as the Legion of Death. The group is plotting the destruction of New Chicago, which is where Buck and company is based and it also happens to be Earth’s capital city. Interestingly enough, I only noticed two other cities mentioned in the series – New Phoenix and City on the Sea. The latter is the modern version of New Orleans. Obviously they couldn’t have a New New Orleans so they renamed it with reference to the Mississippi delta. Why New Phoenix though? I always thought that one to be a little obscure.

Anywho, Glen Larson reached back into the world of comic book TV and cast the late Frank Gorshin as Kellogg, the head of the Legion of Death. Remember the Riddler from the old Batman TV show? There you go.

"Riddle me this, Captain Rogers..."

Actually, I have a personal story about Frank Gorshin. Back in the days of my carefree youth – say around the late 80’s – I took my then girlfriend out to dinner in Westport, CT and that particular night I looked over at the next table. And who should be sitting there but Frank Gorshin! The girlfriend couldn’t understand why I thought seeing the guy who played the Riddler was such a big deal. Sigh.

Nancy DeCarl as Sherese

Rounding out the Legion of Death are Quince (played by beefy character actor John Quade) who has telekinetic powers and Sherese, a fetching blonde played by an actress named Nancy DeCarl. She’s tough as nails, though, and spends most of her time busting Buck’s balls at every turn. Buck needs to infiltrate this group and assumes the identity of a man named Rafael Argus who is interested in joining. He fools the gang at first but the Sherese is always suspicious.

Also in the guest cast is a very vivacious Markie Post (of Night Court fame) who plays Joella Cameron, a gal who recognizes that Buck is not the real Argus but plays along to protect his cover. The outfit she wears forms her breastesses into the shape of torpedos (maybe this is where Madonna got the inspiration).

Markie Post joella.jpg
"Oh yes, they're real. And they're spectacular."

Naturally, Buck is eventually discovered as an imposter but manages to thwart the plot with the help of Kellogg’s body guard, Varek. It seems Varek was the victim of radiation poisoning and he just doesn’t have the heart to see Kellogg succeed in creating an anti-matter explosion on Earth. What a guy.

One of the reasons I like this set of episodes is that the tone is darker than the previous plots. In fact, it may be one of the few where we get a real sense of danger from Buck whose cover is always at risk of being blown. The plot put forth by the Legion of Death is the kind of thing we might see Islamic terrorists plotting in our own century. The writing is a little tighter and we’re drawn in enough to be at the edge of our seat to see what happens next. More episodes like this would probably have helped the ratings.

Despite the fact that (as is the case in many of the early episodes) Wilma’s role is minimal, I’d recommend this one as: Must See.

Next up: It’s old-timer’s day in “Return of the Fighting 69th”.

Posted by Gary at February 22, 2007 08:55 PM | TrackBack

You are doing great work for the butcher shop. I think I once threatened to do what you're doing with the Buck Rogers series, but I never followed through. Guess I'll have to do the same with the original Battlestar Galactica series (which I also have on DVD).

One comment: MORE ARDALA.

Posted by: JohnL at February 22, 2007 11:00 PM

thanks, John.

I actually didn't get the idea for this series until I was almost done watching the DVDs from Netflix. But I was so amazed at the perspective that 25 years had given me I felt compelled to share.

Hope it brings back some fond memories...

Posted by: Gary at February 23, 2007 09:10 AM

Markie Post, Yowza!

I think that episode coincided with puberty for me.

Posted by: rbj at February 23, 2007 12:38 PM

JohnL has it wrong. MORE ARDALA MORE WILMA.

Gary, you're doing a wonderful job and I appreciate your posts on the program.

Posted by: The Country Pundit at February 23, 2007 11:53 PM