Friday, January 17, 2014

Buck Rogers 1.13: “Cruise Ship to the Stars”

Airdate: 12/27/79

On the cruise ship Lyran, Buck (and Twikki) join Wilma when she goes undercover (donning a hideous Marcia Wallace wig) to track down some big-time criminals, but the real crime occurs when a vacationing beauty queen, Miss Cosmos, is almost kidnapped. Assigned her protection, Buck can’t stop another kidnapping attempt, this one successful, by a wild, energy-beam shooting woman named Sabrina. What to do? The key may lie in the periodic blackouts of a shy, disturbed girl named Alison, whose “boyfriend” seems to offer no comfort for her whatsoever. Buck’s dogged detective work uncovers the dark secret that Sabrina is a mutant who can transform herself into Alison – thereby having a rock-solid alias that nobody, except Buck, can uncover.

Beauties aplenty in this Love Boat-inspired caper that actually uses its women for more than sexy scenery. All the major roles here (aside from the regulars) are strong, complex female characters and, as such, the show is more character-driven than previous entries of late. I was actually quite invested in the Jekyll-Hyde story that gives some serious acting opportunities to film actress Kimberly Beck (as Alison) – ones that she fulfills handily. Add to that some perfectly groovy disco dance sequences, the usual assortment of funky get-ups, and a charming romance for even Twiiki, and you get, for my money, the best Rogers episode thus far.

PS: This one is also probably noteworthy for featuring the beautiful but eerily ill-fated Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten. If you’ve never seen her before, be prepared. Let’s put it this way – she’s perfectly cast as the woman with the most perfect DNA in the galaxy.

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