I’m guessing that toward the end of Buck Rogers‘ first season, they started to run out of money. We haven’t seen any A-list guest stars in weeks, and not a frame of location filming. I thought that for an intergalactic Olympic games, they’d go rent the Rose Bowl, but no, it’s just a big gym.
We paused this one to explain the allegory to our son. The story concerns an athlete from the planet of Space Russia – I mean, Losseria – wanting to defect to Earth. He’s under constant guard and has a bomb in his brain, so his girlfriend, who is Space Nadia Comăneci, turns to Buck to help them. Well, the girlfriend rides a Space Bobsled and isn’t a Space Gymnast, but her home planet is effectively Space Romania, as these things go. The episode was first shown about two weeks after the United States laid down its boycott demands on Moscow, to get Soviet troops out of Afghanistan or lose international participation in the 1980 summer games, so it was a pretty timely allegory.
The young athletes from behind the Space Iron Curtain get awfully smoochy, but our son didn’t object too much. There were enough silly future sports to keep his attention, and he really enjoyed Buck beating up a couple of boxers who use sonic blasts from their gloves. As for the guest stars, they may not have been on the Hollywood A-list, but Paul Mantee, a regular “heavy” from the period, plays the number two bad guy. Judith Chapman, who’s been a regular on The Young and the Restless for the last thirteen years, plays Space Nadia.