April 06, 2007

Gratuitous Buck Blogging

After a heavy dose of Ardala in “Escape From Wedded Bliss”, Buck is assigned to protect a beauty queen in:

Ep. 1.13 “Cruise Ship To The Stars (12/27/79)

Poor Buck, he always gets the unpleasant duties. On the space cruise ship “Lyran Queen”, he’s charged with being essentially a bodyguard for Miss Cosmos, a woman who is believed to be the most genetically perfect, while on her way to Earth. Why protection? Well, her perfect DNA makes her a candidate for kidnapping.

Playmate of the Year - 1980

Miss Cosmos (there is no mention of a real name that I can recall) is played by former Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratton. Stratton would soon go on to star in the sci-fi movie, Galaxina. Tragically, she was murdered by her psycho ex-husband shortly thereafter. Stratton’s life-story was made into a number of films, most notably “Star 80” with Mariel Hemingway and “Death of a Centerfold” which starred Jamie Lee Curtis (another Buck Rogers guest star).

Dorothy Stratton as "Galaxina"

So Buck, Wilma and Twiki (carrying Dr. Theopolis around his neck) board the Lyran Queen for their mission. Miss Cosmos – a genetically perfect woman - is highly interested in Buck, a 500- year old man. “Think of the permutations,” she muses. As Buck looks her over, he’s more likely thinking of the positions. But there’s no time for that right now.

Enter the kidnappers. Troubled passenger Alison Michaels is aboard the Lyran Queen for some much needed rest. She suffers from a split-personality disorder and often wakes up not knowing what has happened to her. Her boyfriend, Jay, tries to consol her but in reality he’s the force behind a kidnapping plot against Miss Cosmos. It seems Alison is unknowingly a “transmute”. That is, she doesn’t just change mentally into another person, but physically as well. In a kind of Jekyll/Hyde variation she turns into the evil Sabrina who has some impressive energy superpowers. Why Alison doesn’t have these powers is never explained. And how the Sabrina personality came about is also conveniently overlooked. It’s alluded to that Jay has done something to her that allows Sabrina to take over at will.

Jay is using them both. Alison is his alibi and Sabrina is his means of getting Miss Cosmos. But he uses his suave personality and cheesy mustache to convince Alison that he’s a supportive boyfriend and Sabrina that he’s a faithful partner in crime.

cruise ship sabrina.jpg
Sabrina is a blast!

There are several aspects of this episode that make it particularly amusing. First is the idea that when they kidnap Miss Cosmos, Jay and Sabrina will use a laser to cut her up so they can sell her parts on the black market. OK, now we have the benefit of knowing that if you want to sell her DNA all you’d have to do is take a blood sample (or even a saliva swab) and let science to the rest. Remember this is 1979. But then what good are decomposing body parts? The writers considered cryogenic freezing but not forensics? Whatever.

Wilma is a prominent part of he episode but frankly she’s not all that sexy here. She’s in disguise and her thick flowing locks are hidden under a permed wig. tina.jpgHer outfits also look like maternity dresses. Ugh. She poses as a rich passenger to try and draw out the kidnappers. We get to see 25th century dancing which involves wrapping yourself in bungee cords. Twiki even gets into the act by hooking up with a “female” ambuquad. And what is her name? Something weird like Twiki? Nah, her name is Tina. Twiki really impresses her with the moves that Buck has taught him and she responds to his “biddi-biddi-biddi” with “booty-booty”. Funny stuff.

Another observation I would make is that you would never get away with presenting a tall, thin, blonde, blue-eyed woman as “genetically perfect” these days. In fact, I can’t even imagine this kind of story line being written for 21st century television.

The actress who plays Alison, Kimberly Beck, has been a staple guest star throughout the eighties with appearances on shows like Fantasy Island, T.J. Hooker and Dynasty. She was also the lead in one of the Friday the 13th movies (the one with Corey Feldman). Sabrina is played by Trisha Noble, also a familiar face as a TV guest star. Here’s a bit of trivia I did not know. She appeared in a non-speaking role in Revenge of the Sith, as Padme’s mother Jobal Naberrie (the role on “Buck Rogers” is even listed in her bio at Starwars.com).

One last bit of miscellaneous trivia, the model used for the Lyran Queen would be recycled for Season Two as the exploration ship "The Searcher".

Episode Rating: Decent (It has such a seventies feel to it and it’s good for a few laughs). Note: this was the last episode broadcast in 1979.

Next up: My personal favorite and Erin Gray's best episode: “Space Vampire”.

The first post in this series can be found here.

Posted by Gary at April 6, 2007 11:30 AM | TrackBack