Buck Rogers on Screen in the 25th Century

Hello, all you wonderful folks who have never seen the Buck Rogers television show, and possibly aren’t interested in hearing about it. I absolutely loved the show, it’s one of my guilty pleasures. BUT, I recognize that hearing a fan go on about his favorite show might not interest everyone. So, today I am going to avoid making this a geek fest and instead provide interesting non-geeky information about the show.

… let’s see… umm… something interesting. Well. The actor who played Buck Rogers, Gil Gerard, was an industrial chemist in Arkansas before he went into acting. His first paid acting job was in the 1970 movie, “Love Story”. As an extra in a scene which was cut out of the movie.

Originally Buck Rogers was to be a TV movie, but after the success of the theatrical version of, “Battlestar Galactica”, Universal opted to release Buck Rogers pilot in theater. It was a box office success!

From the television title sequence’s narration;

“The year is 1987, and NASA launches the last of America’s deep space probes. In a freak mishap Ranger 3 and its pilot, Captain William ‘Buck’ Rogers, are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life support systems, and returns Buck Rogers to Earth five-hundred years later.”

On the show Buck Rogers is piloting a Space Shuttle in which the narration claims was launched in 1987. In reality there weren’t any shuttle launches in 1987. The Challenger disaster in 1986 had made NASA reluctant to launch manned shuttle missions that year. It wasn’t until 1988 that the next shuttle missions occurred.

The first time a space shuttle flew was in 1977 when the “Enterprise” was released from a modified 747 to test the craft’s ability to land.

None of the space shuttle missions were “deep space probes”. They were all in earth orbit.

On the show, the name of Buck’s shuttle is, Ranger 3. The actual Ranger 3 was a NASA mission launched in 1962 intended to land an unmanned craft on the moon. However, in a freak mishap Ranger 3, the real one from 1962, missed the moon completely.

NASA doesn’t reuse names, so if Buck’s craft had been a Ranger mission, it would have had to be Ranger 10 or above.

Twiki, the robot which appears on the show, was voiced by Mel Blanc. The man inside the Twiki-costume was Felix Silla. Silla played, “Cousin It” on the “Adams Family” television show.

Oh! And I can’t leave before sharing the title sequence from the theatrical release. Because everyone ought to see it at least once. I believe the intention was to create something similar to the James Bond title sequences. I don’t know if they pulled it off. It’s very…. well.. you have to see it. For the television show they created a new title sequence without any women sliding down giant letters.