Mercifully, this morning’s double-length episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was nowhere as cringeworthy as that lurid and exploitative title made it sound. The villain, overacted painfully by Jack Palance, is an equal-opportunity slaver and happy to sell men as well as women. Palance had made the dopey Shape of Things to Come around this time. Two outer space masterminds in a single year, and neither of them worth a rewatch.
This episode got a little press at the time because Buster Crabbe, who had originated the role of Buck Rogers in a 1930s serial, came out of retirement to play Brigadier Gordon and fly around zapping bad guys in space along with the new kid. Brigadier Gordon never returned to the show, and bizarrely neither did Major Duke Danton, who is totally set up in this story as a buddy with whom Buck can spend some down time, and also be an occasional rival for Col. Deering’s attention. Duke is played by David Groh, who audiences at the time probably recognized most as Joe in Rhoda. Well, it really wasn’t the way of shows in this period to have a large ensemble of recurring players, but it does seem like the producers missed a couple of opportunities here.
Another familiar face is Roddy McDowall, who’s the first of a few former Batvillains to show up in this series. And as all the attention on actors on this post might indicate, the story was uninspired and left me quite bored. Our son liked it a lot more than I did.