What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Buck Rogers in the 25th Century is a family-friendly, if campy science fiction show made from 1979 to 1981. Like many of the shows from this era, Buck Rogers depicts female characters -- whether central or background -- in scanty and/or revealing costumes, while male characters wear modest clothing. Viewers should also expect to hear mild double entendres and see kissing, flirting, and dating. There is some drinking onscreen, as well as joking references to alcohol and drugs. There are many fistfights, sci-fi gun battles, and conflicts onscreen between faceless members of warring armies. When combatants "die" they just fall down on the ground and don't move. Sensitive topics such as racism, nuclear war, ecological disasters, and religion are discussed on the show.
What's the story?
In BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY, Buck Rogers (Gil Gerard) was just another astronaut going on a routine mission. But a freak accident cryogenically froze his body and sent his ship into an orbit that returned him to Earth 500 years later. He finds his old planet in rough shape. After humanity was almost wiped out a few centuries ago by a devastating nuclear war, a few humans managed to survive and thrive by trading with other planets, despite frequent interplanetary hostilities. Now with the help of Colonel Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) and some friendly robots, Rogers has to learn how to get along in the 25th century. This involves wearing a tight uniform, spitting out a series of smart-aleck one-liners, fending off the advances of horny space-chicks, and foiling various nefarious plots to control Earth.
Is it any good?
Hoo boy, will kids ever get a laugh out of the futuristic-spacewear-by-way-of-Studio-54 costumes to be found in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, not to mention the hilarious "futuristic" gadgets. Sure, you can make a clipboard look like a future clipboard by using Plexiglass and gluing on a remote control! And naturally, everyone in the future will have feathered 1970s hair, metallic tunics, and satin hotpants. Hey, if you and Buck Rogers want to get along, you're going to have to either enjoy the campiness or suspend your disbelief.
If you can manage either, there's a lot to love about Buck Rogers. Lead robot Twiki (usually voiced by Mel Blanc) is unnerving to look at, but beloved by kids thanks to his "Bee-dee bee-dee" stuttering. Gerard is a likeable hero in the Han Solo mode, it's cool to see Erin Gray as a powerful military officer, and some of the episodes, written by the same minds behind the original Battlestar Galactica, offer interesting takes on topics like war and religion. Kids will love Twiki and the space paraphernalia, but given the cheapness of vintage productions there's a lot more talking about action than actual action. This may be a tough sell to kids; pitch it honestly as the small-screen's answer to Star Wars and they may give it a try. Buck Rogers makes for kitschy, but surprisingly fun whole-family viewing.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how Buck Rogers in the 25th Century reflects the era it was made in, while trying to look and feel futuristic. Do the hairstyles and clothing styles look futuristic to you? What about the attitudes towards men and women? What about the show's politics?
Watch a few modern space-themed shows such as Battlestar Galactica or Defiance. How is Buck Rogers in the 25th Century like these shows? Is it more realistic or less? More violent or less? More fun to watch or less?
Why is the exploration of space and interacting with alien cultures such an enduring staple of science fiction? What do alien races on TV or at the movies teach us about ourselves?