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Cult TV Essentials: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

“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, 500 years later.”

Captain William Anthony “Buck” Rogers (Gil Gerard) is a NASA/USAF pilot who commands Ranger 3, a spacecraft that is launched in May 1987.

Due to a life-support malfunction, Buck is accidentally frozen for 504 years before his spacecraft is discovered adrift in the year 2491. The combination of gases that froze his body coincidentally comes close to the formula commonly used in the 25th century for cryopreservation, and his rescuers are able to revive him.

Buck attempts to adjust to 25th-century culture and learns that civilization on Earth was rebuilt following a devastating nuclear war that occurred on November 22nd 1987, and is now under the protection of the Earth Defense Directorate.

As no traceable personal records of Buck remained, he was uniquely placed, due to his pilot and combat skills and personal ingenuity, to help Earth Defense foil assorted evil plots to conquer the planet.

Buck is aided in his adventures by his friend and sometimes romantic interest, Colonel Wilma Deering (Erin Gray), a high-ranking officer and starfighter pilot. He is also assisted by Twiki (Felix Silla and voiced mainly by Mel Blanc), a small robot or “ambuquad”, and by Dr. Theopolis or “Theo” (voiced by Eric Server), a sentient computer.

During the first season, Buck and Wilma took their orders from Dr. Elias Huer (Tim O’Connor), the head of the Defense Directorate.

The series’ chief villain was Princess Ardala (Pamela Hensley), whose goal was to conquer the Earth while making Buck her consort. She was aided by her henchman Kane (Henry Silva/Michael Ansara).

One key moment in the series is when Buck needs more pilots and gets them in the form of a lot of old retired pilots. One of whom is Brigadier Gordon played by Larry “Buster” Crabbe the original Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon from the 1930’s serials:

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