April 13, 2007

Gratuitous Buck Blogging

Buck returns from his trip aboard the “Cruise Ship To The Stars” to face a supernatural enemy in:

Ep. 1.14 “Space Vampire (1/3/80)

Of all the episodes of the entire series, this one is (to quote John Francois Kerry) “seared in my memory”. The first reason is because at the age of twelve it scared the living bejeezus out of me and the second is that this is a real breakout story for the character of Wilma Deering. More episodes like these would have helped the ratings, I’m sure.

While our heroes are on board space station Theta, a derelict ship crashes into its outer hull and essentially fuses with the station. Buck and Wilma go to investigate the crash with Royko, the station Commander and find that all the passengers and crew are dead. The station’s medical officer, Dr. Ecbar, examines them and at first believes them to be victims of a virus called EL-7. But soon he discovers that they’re not exactly dead but rather in a state of “cellular suspension”. This is the 25th Century explanation for being “undead”, a term we know from countless vampire movies.

In actuality, they were all victims of a vampire-like creature called a Vorvon.

How do you describe this guy to people who’ve never seen him? Well, take a Ferengi from Star Trek, make him taller, color him green, and give him a massive uni-brow, bulging veins in his head and pointy fangs. And, here ya go:

Egads, what a gruesome-looking bastard!

Okay, okay, I know. By today’s standards the make-up is pretty cheesy but in the context of 1980 (with the scary music and sound effects thrown in) this guy gave me the creeps.

So, the Vorvon boards the space station, the bodies from the crashed ship come to life and attack the doctor and all hell breaks loose. wilma vorvon.jpgInstead of turning into a bat, he is able to morph into this little red ball of light and squeeze his way under any doorway. The Vorvon chooses Wilma as his next victim. Hey, can you blame the guy? He stalks her throughout the station, appearing only to her. One of the things that makes him so scary is the terror that Wilma expresses as well as her utter frustration when no one else believes her…not even Buck. Everybody assumes she has been infected by the EL-7 virus, which induces hallucinations, and they do their best to humor her. In the meantime, we in the audience are sharing her sense of helplessness.

Here’s the clip where she finally succumbs to the power of the Vorvon:

One thing I notice now with the benefit of twenty-five plus years of hindsight: if the guy sucks out your life force through is fingertips, why the need for the fangs? Eh, whatever. It looks cool.

In the meantime, Buck is investigating the crash and finds a recording of one of the passengers who it turns out was hunting the Vorvon. The man, named Helson (probably a play on Van Helsing), was seeking revenge for the deaths of his family members, which he blamed on the creature. There is a confrontation in Helson’s quarters, only it seems that he’s talking to thin air. At first Buck thinks Helson is just hallucinating. But an energy beam fires at him and he is thrown like a rag doll across the room.

Buck realizes that something else is going on and through his investigations finds information about a legendary vampire-like creature that drains the life force of its victims and enslaves them. He returns once again to the ship and finds an amulet that he would later learn can be used to ward off the Vorvon (like a cross defends against a vampire). As he goes to leave the ship, he’s attacked by the walking undead, but manages to escape. Buck realizes that Wilma was right all along! But now everyone thinks he has the virus.

The best scene shows Wilma under the Vorvon influence and for the first time we get to see her express seductive desire and rage. Have a look here:

Go ahead and watch that one again. You know you want to. Gotta love the tight pink spandex outfit with the bare midriff. And they synthesize her voice so it's all deep and throaty, like Kathleen Turner.

After this scene the Vorvon and Wilma try to escape but the Theta station is able to take remote control of their ship and (on Buck's suggestion) they send it into the path of a star. The energy it emits causes a power surge in the Vorvon and manages to vaporize him (though Wilma hardly breaks a sweat). Wilma heads back to the station and everything ends on a high note. Even the creature's victims return to normal.

Again, this is Erin Gray’s best episode as she gets to portray a wide range of emotions – from terrified and vulnerable to aggressive and lusty.

Episode Rating: Must See (if you belong to Netflix, look up the series and throw Disc 4 in your queue).

Next up: Buck turns 534 years old in “Happy Birthday, Buck”.

The first post in this series can be found here.

YIPS! from Robbo: Can I just point out here that it was this episode, and especially the last clip Gary posted, that convinced me that, toe to toe, Col. Deering knocks Princess Ardala into a cocked hat? (And yes, I'm talking to you, JohnL!) Sure she's cold and alooof most of the time. But look at what's underneath! Run that ol' clip again!

Posted by Gary at April 13, 2007 03:15 PM | TrackBack

Oh, yes! the Vampire-Wilma seduction scene! Gary, you're my hero!

Posted by: Robbo the LB at April 13, 2007 06:49 PM