April 03, 2007

Gratuitous Buck Blogging

The show took off for the Thanksgiving break after "Cosmic Whiz Kid" and, approaching mid-season, the producers served up a second helping of a heavenly body from the pilot in:

Ep. 1.12 “Escape From Wedded Bliss” (11/29/79)

Princess Ardala is back. And she’s hornier than ever!

A lot of fans look back on the series and remember Pamela Hensley as a staple in Season One. But in reality, she only made four total appearances – the two-hour pilot movie, the two-hour season finale and two stand alone episodes, including this one.

"I've got me an itch that needs serious scratching."

I always felt a little badly for Princess Ardala. Here she is surrounded by an entire ship full of men – including her man-bitch, Kane and her eunuch bodyguard, Tiger-man. But she’s not allowed to indulge her overabundant sexuality because none of these potential baloney ponies is deemed fit to service a Draconian Princess. No wonder she’s so ornery. She’s got a fevah! And the only prescription…is Buck Rogers, who she's identified as the one specimen of man-meat closest to human perfection.

weapon.jpegSo the Princess has Kane devise a doomsday super-weapon to orbit the Earth with the threat of blowing New Chicago to smithereens unless the Defense Directorate turns over Capt. Rogers to her. She wants to make Buck her consort (for lack of a better term). Dr. Huer takes a diplomatic approach, hosting the Princess to a reception that features the gratuitous appearance of electronic-disco performers on roller skates. The roller boogie routine fails to impress Ardala, however, and she gives the Earth her ultimatum: Buck or “boom-boom”.

Now of course Dr. Huer and the Computer Council (remember those blinking smiley-faces?) don’t want to submit to this extortion but the idea of being reduced to a smoldering rubble kind of makes the decision a no-brainer. Buck decides to play along, biding his time until he inevitably figures a way out of this situation. And, hey, what’s the worse than can happen? He’ll have to have sex with a beautiful nymphomaniac? No sweat, right?


Oh, if it were only that simple. It seems that being married to Princess Ardala comes with a catch. He will have to wear a tight, though decorative, collar to identify him as her mate. That’s humiliating enough, but this is no mere gimp accessory we’re talking about. If Buck sufficiently pisses off the Princess she can activate the termination mode of the collar, which will shrink itself to one-half its size and choke Buck to death. If that doesn’t cause you performance anxiety I don’t know what will.

But before they even get to that part, Buck will have to prove his manliness in a fight to the death with Tiger-man.tiger man.jpeg Now I don’t know where this dude got this name from but to be honest I think “Pussy-man” might have been more appropriate because Buck has very little trouble righteously beating his ass. Tiger-man seems to be particularly vulnerable to kicks to the chest, something the average fighter would no doubt use as an opportunity to grab the attacker’s leg and slam him into the wall. This technique, however, is lost on the bald, burly bodyguard. Anyway, Buck has the opportunity to snuff out Tiger-man but he spares his life. Ardala bends the rules that require the fight be to the death and the wedding is on.

Buck battle.jpg
Gil Gerard's stunt double clearly has a thicker head of hair than he does.

Before the collar can be put into place, Buck pulls this smoke bomb from a concealed "area" of his person and escapes. Being so proficient in Draconian technology, he finds the control room for the weapon and destroys it. Tiger-man feels he owes his life to Buck and helps him escape – though admittedly Ardala does very little to stop him, which is a bit of a stretch. Granted the threat from the weapon is gone but I suppose the idea of holding Buck against his will just seems to the Princess to be no fun anymore. But don't worry. This won't be last we’ll see of her.

I didn’t really mention the character of Kane back in “Awakening” mostly because he was played by actor Henry Silva, who never appeared in the role again. Michael Ansara took over the part of Kane for the remainder of the series. One of his other famous sci-fi roles was in the original Star Trek, as Klingon commander Kang. And for a really obscure pop cultural reference, remember that episode of "I Dream of Jeannie" when they went to Hawaii and Jeannie conjured up the incarnation of King Kamehameha? Yep, that was Michael Ansara.

ansara as Kang.jpg
"Oh yeah, I taught Shatner everything he knows."

Ansara brought a bit more depth to Kane and often made you wonder how much authority he really had and whether or not he just let Ardala just think she was in control. I always got the impression that ultimately he took orders from her father and acted as more of a failsafe in case she ever went off the deep end. If this was the case, though, he certainly gave her plenty of slack.

Episode rating: Decent (unless your whole reason for watching the show is to see as much of Pamela Hensley as you can, in which case consider this one a “Must See”).

Next up: Buck Rogers meets a Playmate of the Year in “Cruise Ship To The Stars”.

The first post in this series can be found here.

Posted by Gary at April 3, 2007 01:25 PM | TrackBack

Where have you gone, Gil Gerard?

Posted by: Wyatt Earp at April 4, 2007 03:32 PM

Ansara is still getting (well-deserved) work as a voice actor.

Posted by: Uncle Pinky at April 4, 2007 04:58 PM