"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."
In 1987 NASA launches a manned probe on a 5 month trip around the solar system. The
probe's pilot is Captain William "Buck" Rogers. A system failure
life support systems to freeze and his ship off course into
a longer cycle back to Earth through deep space. When the spacecraft
returns the year is 2491. Buck awakens from his deep cryogenic sleep
to find Earth in the aftermath of a late 20th Century nuclear holocaust.
Buck's ancient piloting skills makes the five-hundred year old
astronaut a valuable member of the Earth's Defense Directorate, which is
headed by Dr. Elias Huer. Colonel Wilma Deering is Buck's fighter
squadron's commander. Among his other compatriots are Twiki -- a likable robot who
becomes Buck's pal -- and Dr. Theopolis -- a mechanical brain who is part of Earth's
The shows budget was so low they were forced to use special effects
from other shows. Imagine in the future where everything always looks new.
Production of the second season was delayed
by several months due to an actors' strike.
When production resumed in the fall of 1980, the series had a new set
of producers (headed by John
Mantley who had primarily worked on television westerns) and the
format of the series was changed. Instead of defending the Earth from
external threats, Buck, Wilma and Twiki were now a part of a crew
aboard an Earth spaceship called the Searcher. The Searcher,
which displayed the Latin motto "Per ardua ad astra"
("through adversity to the stars" or "through work to
the stars") on its side, had a mission to seek out the lost
"tribes" of humanity who had scattered in the five centuries
since Earth's 20th Century nuclear war. (This is a theme present in
Glen A. Larson's previous science fiction television series, Battlestar
Buck Rogers was a science
fiction adventure television series produced by Universal
Studios. The series ran for two seasons between 1979–1981,
and the feature-length pilot episode for the series was
released as a theatrical film several months before the series
aired. The film and series were developed by Glen A. Larson
and Leslie Stevens, based upon the character Buck Rogers
created in 1928 by Philip Francis Nowlan that had previously
been featured in comic strips, novellas, a serial film, and on
television and radio.
International Debut - he
series was shown in the UK by ITV, beginning in late August 1980
with the feature-length two-part episode "Planet of the
Slave Girls" (the pilot film, which had been released
theatrically in Britain in summer 1979, was not actually shown
on British television until 1982). ITV broadcast Buck Rogers
in an early Saturday evening slot, where it competed against,
and beat, the BBC's long-running science fiction series Doctor
Who, which started its 18th season on the same day. As a
similar effect had occurred a couple of years earlier when
several ITV stations screened Man from Atlantis against Doctor
Who, this prompted the BBC to move Doctor Who to a
new weekday slot for its next season in 1982 (even though Buck
Rogers had actually been cancelled in the United States by
that point). Ironically, the BBC would repeat the Buck Rogers
series themselves (on BBC Two) in 1989 and again in the late
production recycled many of the props, effects shots and costumes from Battlestar
Galactica, which was still in production at the same time the pilot
film for Buck Rogers was. For example, the "landram"
vehicle was made for the Galactica series, and the control sticks
used in the Terran starfighters in the pilot movie were the same as those
used in Galactica's Viper craft. The Terran starfighters were also concept
designer Ralph McQuarrie's original vision of the Colonial Vipers.