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Buck Rogers In The 25th Century

Universal still owned the rights to Buck Rogers when Star Wars (1977) proved Hollywood was wrong in thinking that science fiction was dead. Two years later the TV-series Buck Rogers (1979-81) hit the air. Buck Rogers (Gil Gerard) blasts off from Earth in a mini-space shuttle 8 years in the future (1987) and is frozen in a cluster of uncharted comets. Their orbit returns to Earth 500 years later according to opening narration by William Conrad, and his body is found by Draconian aliens who are trying to get through the defense field around Earth.

He's rescued by Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) and turned over to Dr. Huer, who builds him a cute little sidekick robot named Twiki (voice of Mel Blanc, as a sort of cross between voices of Yosemite Sam and Duck Dodgers)

Earth is divided by old nuclear wars into the domed city of New Chicago, and mutants prowling around a devastated landscape outside. Kane and Princess Ardala suspect Buck of being a spy, but he is able to prove his time travel story while also uncovering a plot by Kane & Ardala to let in the Draconian invaders. The NBC series got so-so ratings, but NBC stayed with it as long as they could, not wanting to be too quick to cancel another Star Trek. In fact, Marc Leonard (who played Spock's father in the TV and movie series) appeared in a 2-part Buck Rogers story as an alien ambassador who loses his head - at will as I recall.

The pilot tv-movie was 88 minutes (without commercials), and the episodes were 60 minute (with ads). The pilot's screenplay was written by the series executive producer, Glen A. Larson, and cowritten by Leslie Stevens of The Outer Limits.

Additional Cast: Pamela Hensley, Henry Silva, Tim O'Connor (who you may remember from MonsterVision's Zonetroopers), Joseph Wiseman, Felix Silla
Upcoming episodes of "Buck Rogers" on the SciFi Channel:
13-NOV-03 BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
          11:00 AM  THE AWAKENING - 2 hours   
           1:00 PM  UNCHAINED WOMAN   
           2:00 PM  TESTIMONY OF A TRAITOR   
           3:00 PM  THE DORIAN SECRET   
02-DEC-03 11:00 AM  PLANET OF THE SLAVE GIRLS - PT 1 & 2   
           1:00 PM  VEGAS IN SPACE   
           2:00 PM  PLOT TO KILL A CITY - PT 1 & 2  
15-DEC-03 11:00 AM  RETURN OF THE FIGHTING 69TH   
          12:00 PM  PLANET OF THE AMAZON WOMEN   
           1:00 PM  COSMIC WIZ KID   
           2:00 PM  ESCAPE FROM WEDDED BLISS   
           3:00 PM  CRUISE SHIP TO THE STARS
12-JAN-04  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
          11:00 AM  SPACE VAMPIRE   
          12:00 PM  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUCK   
           1:00 PM  A BLAST FOR BUCK   
           2:00 PM  ARDALA RETURNS   
           3:00 PM  TWIKI IS MISSING
09-FEB-04  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
          11:00 AM  BUCK'S DUEL TO THE DEATH   
          12:00 PM  FLIGHT OF THE WAR WITCH - PT 1 & 2   
           2:00 PM  TIME OF THE HAWK - PT 1 & 2
07-APR-04  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
          11:00 AM  OLYPIAD   
          12:00 PM  A DREAM OF JENNIFER   
           1:00 PM  SPACE ROCKETS   
           2:00 PM  JOURNEY TO OASIS - PT 1 & 2   
29-APR-04  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
          11:00 AM  THE GUARDIANS   
          12:00 PM  MARK OF THE SAURIAN   
           1:00 PM  THE GOLDEN MAN   
           2:00 PM  THE CRYSTALS   
           3:00 PM  THE SATYR
 6-MAY-04  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
          11:00 AM  VEGAS IN SPACE   
          12:00 PM  SHGORAPCHX!   
           1:00 PM  THE HAND OF GORAL   
           2:00 PM  TESTIMONY OF A TRAITOR   
           3:00 PM  THE DORIAN SECRET 
 7-JUL-04  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
           8:00 AM  THE AWAKENING - PT 1 & 2    
          10:00 AM  PLANET OF THE SLAVE GIRLS - PT 1 & 2    
          12:00 PM  PLOT TO KILL A CITY - PT 1 & 2    
           2:00 PM  RETURN OF THE FIGHTING 69TH     
           3:00 PM  UNCHAINED WOMAN
24-AUG-04  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
           8:00 AM  PLANET OF THE AMAZON WOMEN     
           9:00 AM  COSMIC WIZ KID     
          10:00 AM  ESCAPE FROM WEDDED BLISS     
          11:00 AM  CRUISE SHIP TO THE STARS     
          12:00 PM  SPACE VAMPIRE     
           1:00 PM  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUCK     
           2:00 PM  A BLAST FOR BUCK     
           3:00 PM  ARDALA RETURNS
9/27/2004  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
           8:00 AM  TWIKI IS MISSING     
           9:00 AM  OLYMPIAD     
          10:00 AM  A DREAM OF JENNIFER     
          11:00 AM  SPACE ROCKERS     
          12:00 PM  BUCK'S DUEL TO THE DEATH     
           1:00 PM  FLIGHT OF THE WAR WITCH - PART I & 2     
           3:00 PM  THE GUARDIANS 
     No episodes scheduled for October
11/16/2004  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
           8:00 AM  TIME OF THE HAWKS- PT 1 & 2     
          10:00 AM  JOURNEY TO OASIS- PT 1 & 2   
          12:00 PM  MARK OF THE SAURIAN    
           1:00 PM  THE GOLDEN MAN     
           2:00 PM  THE CRYSTALS     
           3:00 PM  THE SATYR     
12/16/2004  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
           8:00 AM  THE AWAKENING - PT 1 & 2   
          10:00 AM  PLANET OF THE SLAVE GIRLS - PT 1 & 2   
          12:00 PM  SHGORAPCHX !     
           1:00 PM  THE HAND OF GORAL     
           2:00 PM  TESTIMONY OF A TRAITOR     
           3:00 PM  THE DORIAN SECRET     
01/07/2005 04:00 AM  THE AWAKENING - PT 1     
01/10/2005 08:00 AM  VEGAS IN SPACE     
01/11/2005 08:00 AM  RETURN OF THE FIGHTING 69TH     
01/12/2005 08:00 AM  UNCHAINED WOMAN     
01/13/2005 08:00 AM  PLANET OF THE AMAZON WOMEN     
01/14/2005 08:00 AM  COSMIC WIZ KID     
01/14/2005 04:30 AM  THE AWAKENING - PT 2     
01/21/2005 04:00 AM  PLANET OF THE SLAVE GIRLS - PT 1     
01/28/2005 04:00 AM  PLANET OF THE SLAVE GIRLS - PT 2 
02/04/2005 04:00 AM  PLOT TO KILL A CITY - PT 1     
02/08/2005  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
            8:00 AM  SPACE VAMPIRE     
            9:00 AM  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUCK     
           10:00 AM  BLAST FOR BUCK, A     
           11:00 AM  ARDALA RETURNS     
           12:00 PM  TWIKI IS MISSING     
            1:00 PM  OLYMPIAD     
            2:00 PM  A DREAM OF JENNIFER     
            3:00 PM  SPACE ROCKERS     
02/11/2005 04:00 AM  PLOT TO KILL A CITY - PT 2     
02/18/2005 04:00 AM  ESCAPE FROM WEDDED BLISS     
02/25/2005 04:00 AM  CRUISE SHIP TO THE STARS     
03/04/2005 04:00 AM  SPACE VAMPIRE     
03/11/2005 04:00 AM  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUCK     
03/18/2005 04:00 AM  BLAST FOR BUCK, A     
03/24/2005  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
            8:00 AM  BUCK'S DUEL TO THE DEATH     
            9:00 AM  FLIGHT OF THE WAR WITCH-PART I     
           10:00 AM  FLIGHT OF THE WAR WITCH-PART II     
           11:00 AM  TIME OF THE HAWKS- PT 1     
           12:00 PM  TIME OF THE HAWKS- PT 2     
            1:00 PM  JOURNEY TO OASIS- PT 1 & 2     
            3:00 PM  THE GUARDIANS     
03/25/2005  4:00 AM  ARDALA RETURNS 
04/01/2005  TWIKI IS MISSING     
04/08/2005  OLYMPIAD     
04/15/2005  A DREAM OF JENNIFER     
04/22/2005  SPACE ROCKERS     
04/28/2005  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
            8:00 AM  MARK OF THE SAURIAN    
            9:00 AM  THE GOLDEN MAN     
           10:00 AM  THE CRYSTALS     
           11:00 AM  THE SATYR     
           12:00 PM  SHGORAPCHX !     
            1:00 PM  THE HAND OF GORAL     
            2:00 PM  TESTIMONY OF A TRAITOR     
            3:00 PM  THE DORIAN SECRET     
04/29/2005  4:00 AM  BUCK'S DUEL TO THE DEATH 
05/06/2005  4:00 AM  FLIGHT OF THE WAR WITCH-PART I     
05/12/2005  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
            8:00 AM  THE AWAKENING - PT 1     
            9:00 AM  THE AWAKENING - PT 2     
           10:00 AM  VEGAS IN SPACE     
           11:00 AM  PLANET OF THE SLAVE GIRLS - PT 1     
           12:00 PM  PLANET OF THE SLAVE GIRLS - PT 2     
            1:00 PM  PLANET OF THE AMAZON WOMEN     
            2:00 PM  PLOT TO KILL A CITY - PT 1     
            3:00 PM  PLOT TO KILL A CITY - PT 2     
05/13/2005 04:00 AM  FLIGHT OF THE WAR WITCH-PART 2     
05/20/2005 04:00 AM  TIME OF THE HAWKS- PT 1 
06/03/2005 04:00 AM  TIME OF THE HAWKS- PT 2     
06/10/2005 04:00 AM  JOURNEY TO OASIS- PT 1     
06/17/2005 04:00 AM  JOURNEY TO OASIS- PT 2     
06/24/2005 04:00 AM  THE GUARDIANS     
07/01/2005 04:00 AM  MARK OF THE SAURIAN    
07/08/2005 04:00 AM  THE GOLDEN MAN     
07/15/2005 04:00 AM  THE CRYSTALS     
07/22/2005 04:00 AM  THE SATYR     
07/29/2005 04:00 AM  SHGORAPCHX ! 
08/05/2005 04:00 AM  THE HAND OF GORAL
08/09/2005 08:00 AM  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
            8:00 AM  RETURN OF THE FIGHTING 69TH     
            9:00 AM  UNCHAINED WOMAN     
           10:00 AM  COSMIC WIZ KID     
           11:00 AM  ESCAPE FROM WEDDED BLISS     
           12:00 PM  CRUISE SHIP TO THE STARS     
            1:00 PM  SPACE VAMPIRE     
            2:00 PM  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUCK     
            3:00 PM  A BLAST FOR BUCK
08/12/2005 04:00 AM  TESTIMONY OF A TRAITOR     
08/19/2005 04:00 AM  THE DORIAN SECRET     
08/26/2005 04:00 AM  THE AWAKENING - PT 1 
09/02/2005 04:00 AM  THE AWAKENING - PT 2     
09/09/2005 04:00 AM  PLANET OF THE SLAVE GIRLS - PT 1     
09/16/2005 04:00 AM  PLANET OF THE SLAVE GIRLS - PT 2     
09/23/2005 04:00 AM  VEGAS IN SPACE     
09/28/2005  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
            8:00 AM  ARDALA RETURNS     
            9:00 AM  TWIKI IS MISSING     
           10:00 AM  OLYMPIAD     
           11:00 AM  A DREAM OF JENNIFER     
           12:00 PM  SPACE ROCKERS     
            1:00 PM  BUCK'S DUEL TO THE DEATH     
            2:00 PM  FLIGHT OF THE WAR WITCH-PART I     
            3:00 PM  FLIGHT OF THE WAR WITCH-PART 2     
09/30/2005 04:00 AM  PLOT TO KILL A CITY - PT 1 
10/07/2005 04:00 AM  PLOT TO KILL A CITY - PT 2     
10/14/2005 04:00 AM  RETURN OF THE FIGHTING 69TH     
10/21/2005 04:00 AM  UNCHAINED WOMAN     
11/02/2005  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
            8:00 AM  TIME OF THE HAWKS- PT 1 & 2   
           10:00 AM  JOURNEY TO OASIS- PT 1 & 2   
           12:00 PM  THE GUARDIANS     
            1:00 PM  MARK OF THE SAURIAN    
            2:00 PM  THE GOLDEN MAN     
            3:00 PM  THE CRYSTALS     
11/04/2005 04:00 AM  PLANET OF THE AMAZON WOMEN     
11/11/2005 04:00 AM  COSMIC WIZ KID     
11/18/2005 04:00 AM  ESCAPE FROM WEDDED BLISS
11/25/2005    No broadcast due to all-day movie marathon
              No episodes are scheduled for rest of year
04/03/2006  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
           11:00 AM  THE HAND OF GORAL     
           12:00 PM  TESTIMONY OF A TRAITOR     
           01:00 PM  THE DORIAN SECRET 
05/30/2006  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
           08:00 AM  THE AWAKENING (2-hour pilot movie)     
           10:00 AM  PLANET OF THE SLAVE GIRLS - PT 1 & 2   
           12:00 PM  VEGAS IN SPACE     
           01:00 PM  PLOT TO KILL A CITY - PT 1 & 2   
           03:00 PM  RETURN OF THE FIGHTING 69TH     
06/12/2006  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
           08:00 AM  UNCHAINED WOMAN     
           09:00 AM  PLANET OF THE AMAZON WOMEN     
           10:00 AM  COSMIC WIZ KID     
           11:00 AM  ESCAPE FROM WEDDED BLISS     
           12:00 PM  CRUISE SHIP TO THE STARS     
           01:00 PM  SPACE VAMPIRE     
           02:00 PM  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUCK     
           03:00 PM  A BLAST FOR BUCK
08/01/2006  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
           08:00 AM  ARDALA RETURNS     
           09:00 AM  TWIKI IS MISSING     
           10:00 AM  OLYMPIAD     
           11:00 AM  A DREAM OF JENNIFER     
           12:00 PM  SPACE ROCKERS     
           01:00 PM  BUCK'S DUEL TO THE DEATH     
           02:00 PM  FLIGHT OF THE WAR WITCH -PART I & 2   
11/06/2006  BUCK ROGERS Marathon:
           08:00 AM  MARK OF THE SAURIAN    
           09:00 AM  THE GOLDEN MAN     
           10:00 AM  THE CRYSTALS     
           11:00 AM  THE SATYR     
           12:00 PM  SHGORAPCHX!     
           01:00 PM  THE HAND OF GORAL     
           02:00 PM  TESTIMONY OF A TRAITOR     
           03:00 PM  THE DORIAN SECRET 

   SciFi Channel's official Buck Rogers website (archived since 2007)
There had been an earlier TV-series by the same name that ran 4-15-50 to 1-30-51, but it was an ultra-cheap knock-off of TV's "Captain Video", "Tom Corbit", and "Space Patrol." In the 1950 version, Buck (Kem Dibbs in 1950, Robert Pastene 1950-51) operates out of a secret lab behind Niagara Falls (the city of Niagara is capital of the world), in half-hour episodes. Additional 1950s cast: Lou Prentis as Wilma, Harry Sothern as Dr. Huer, Harry Kingston as Buck's Martian crony Black Barney. After the series went off the air on ABC, some stations began airing old Buster Crabbe movie serials under the TV-series title.

Buck Rogers first appeared as Anthony Rogers in "Armageddon 2419" by Philip F. Nowlan, in the August 1928 issue of Amazing Stories. A sequel, "The Airlords of Han," appeared in the March 1929 issue, where it was seen by John Flint Dille, president of National Newspaper Service. He hired Nowlan to create and write the world's first sci-fi comic strip, "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," which debuted in newspapers on 1-7-29. It ran without a break, in up to 400 newspapers around the world, until 1967.

In 1932, Buck's radio serial began broadcasting 4 days a week at 7:15pm, and lasted until 1939. Listeners could become Solar Scouts and get such premium offers as planetary maps and sketches of principal characters by sending in "two inches of the strip of tin that comes off a can of Cocomalt when you open it." The radio series writers included Dick Calkins, the artist who drew the Buck Rogers comic strips for Phil Nowlan. In the radio version, Wilma was also from the 20th century and had been Buck's co-pilot. Buck's destruction ray gun was supplied by the sound of a Schick electric razor. By the way, that offer of a planetary map brought 125,000 requests by mail. So then the sponsor decided to require the strip of tin for a cardboard space helmet but was still met with 140,000 responses
Cast:
Buck Rogers: Matt Crowley, Curtis Arnall, Carl Frank or John Larkin
Wilma Deering: Adele Ronson
The villainess Ardala: Elaine Melchior
Dr. Huer: Edgar Stehli
Buddy: Ronald Liss
Black Barney: Jack Roseleigh or Joe Granby
Killer Kane: Bill Shelley, Dan Ocko, or Arthur Vinton
Willie, the child protege: Walter Tetley or Junius Matthews

By 1934, Buck Rogers was so popular that a Virgina department store replaced its Santa with an actor dressed as Buck. In the original comic strip, Buck was a WW1 American pursuit pilot in France. After the war, he is working as a surveyor in Pennsylvania when he's trapped inside a mine cave-in and overcome by a radioactive gas. Waking up 500 years later, he grabs a gun from outnumbered Wilma Deering and kills the outlaws attacking her. She brings him up to date about the war between us and the world's other super-power 500 years from now, Mongolia. They tour Earth's cities of "metalglass," where people eat synthetic food and travel everywhere by air - roads are a thing of the past.

Buck becomes a captain of military forces, a secret agent, and then head of the Rocket Rangers. They battled the Mongols, Killer Kane, and the malevolent / beautiful Ardala.

In 1939, Buster Crabbe starred in a 12-episode Universal serial (shown weekly in theaters) as Buck Rogers, and starred in three Flash Gordon serials as well. The serials were so similar, a lot of fans have trouble identifying a Buster Crabbe sci-fi scene as being Buck or Flash.

In the first serial, Buck wakes up in the Arctic and helps fight off invading Zuggs from Saturn, who are working with Killer Kane. The serial was seen on TV in the 1950s as "Planet Outlaws", "Destination Saturn", or simply "Buck Rogers."
Additional 1930s cast:
Constance Moore, C. Montague Shaw, Jackie Moran, Henry Brandon.

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Buck Rogers description above Buck Rogers description above Bill Laidlaw. All Rights Reserved. So there. Sources for this page included:
"The Science Fiction Image" by Gene Wright (Facts On File Pubs, New York, NY)
"The Big Broadcast 1920-1950" by Frank Buxton & Bill Owen (Avon Books, a div. of The Hearst Corp, New York, NY)
"The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows" by Tim Brooks & Earle Marsh (Ballantine Books, a div. of Random House, New York & Toronto)