Monday, May 30, 2011

Buck Rogers

25th Century by jimmymcwicked
Who knows how my weird obsessions work? The latest? Buck Rogers!?!?

There have been a few instances where I have been surprised the quality of what I always took as some cheesy sci-fi franchise until I actually set my eyes upon it. One of the greatest surprises was several years ago when I finally actually watched the original Planet of the Apes. I was awed by the film quality many older films have, the feel that old westerns have.

My most recent realization came after taking time to actually watch the 1979 Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Until this recent viewing I'd written Buck Rogers off as nothing better than a campy Star Wars rip off. Getting into the original comics, discovering it was in many ways the first major sci-fi setting, rediscovering the TSR RPG, I've developed a respect for the character, the franchise and it's history. TSR actually produced two versions of the game, but we'll get into that at another time.

It's a strange show. There are many times the script is clearly simplified, seemingly dumbed down for some reason, and there are other times that through setting up the plot things get rather complex. The writers seem to have a duel agenda. It's either an interesting conflict or a brilliant marketing technique. The pattern seems to be where scenes that feature Gil Gerard are the scenes that are excessively dumbed down. The character, Buck Rogers, insisting on continuing to speak as they did in 20th Century, almost nodding to the audience, sort of breaks the 4th wall and gets old incredibly fast. Another aspect of '79 television series I never noticed before was all the beautiful women! Clearly a product of the era.

Recently, Gil Gerard and Erin Gray made an appearance in a web series called Buck Rogers Begins. Unfortunaely the series project is now dead according to Gil:

Gil Gerard: 'Buck Rogers' reboot is dead

In the age of remakes and reboots, a Buck Rogers project would seem like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, after speaking with Erin Gray and Gil Gerard, I cannot offer fans any hope.
"Buck Rogers Begins" was set to be an origin story as laid out in the comics, explaining how Lucas ‘Buck’ Rogers was propelled from World War I, into a future Earth in the 25th Century. Gerard and Gray were set to play Buck's parents and Bobby Rice will be Buck.
"My daughter was set to be Buck's girlfriend", Erin Gray referencing her daughter Samantha portraying Madison Gale.
"The story begins in the early 1900s, pre-World War I and then continues to the modern time to remake the series", Gray continued.
Gray cited "lack of funding" and "production savvy" as reasons the project fell apart. Gil Gerard wasn't as kind:
"It's done. Done. It's the victim of incompetence."
His harsh words continued stating that "The trailer is all to show of it. I don't hold any hope for it."
This is a long way from Gerard's original comments when the project began: "This is the story I wish we had been able to tell."
Buck Rogers appears to be stuck on the sideline as Hollywood cranks out superhero and sci-fi adaptations for newer audiences.

They did get as far as making a promotional scene... seen here:

However, there are reports of Frank Miller taking on Buck Rogers!


Frank Miller and Odd Lot Entertainment, the creator and production company behind upcoming The Spirit are close to teaming again on the classic sci-fi property Buck Rogers, says The Hollywood Reporter.

Odd Lot is in negotiations to option the rights to "Rogers" from Nu Image/Millennium, which obtained those rights this year from the Dille Trust. Millennium is expected to get a credit on the movie but won't be involved in day-to-day production.

Miller will write and direct his own big-screen take on the comic serial; while the creator has only begun to sketch ideas, it's expected to be a darker take, with many of Miller's signature visual elements and themes, such as corruption and redemption.

It's likely to be a priority project for Miller, though he has been mulling a Sin City sequel.

One of the first pop-culture vehicles to tackle the issue of space exploration, the story of Buck Rogers began life as a comic serial in the late 1920's and early '30's and has seen numerous film and television versions over the years.

So, Buck Rogers has not been forgotten. I'm excited to see what will happen in the end.
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