Saturday, January 25, 2014

Buck Rogers 1.17: “Ardala Returns”

Airdate: 1/27/80

The Directorate finds an abandoned spaceship, appearing to be from the 20thcentury. Buck, being the best qualified, goes in to check it out – but he discovers it to be a trap… too late. The culprit: Princess Ardala, who wants to clone Buck into “Zygots” to man her new, revamped Hatchet fighter program. Oh, and there are a few fringe benefits: namely, plenty of Buck to satisfy her decidedly amorous inclinations. But the fake Buck (in New Chicago) is promptly found out by Wilma, and the real Buck manages to escape in time to stop his doppelgangers from accomplishing their fiendish mission. And anyways, Ardala finds out that there really is only one true Buck – like a sequel, it just doesn’t have the magic of the original.

Pleasant enough escapade with amusing pre-digital multiple Buck special effects. It’s a hoot to see Gerard play the android – not particularly good at human skills such as watering plants. But the endearing part of this one is seeing Ardala, as played by the always half-clad Pamela Helmsley, having genuine feelings for Buck, especially after discovering how turned-off she is by his dupes. She plays this role tottering on the line between high camp and shadowed poignancy – her episodes always entertain in multiple ways, and yes, one of those ways does appeal to the male (or at least female appreciating) sensibility. Twill be mighty sad to see her go at the end of the season. Fans just had to wait a couple for a new ABC series called Matt Houston.

BTW – Buck’s joke at the end, in which he pretends to get a 20th century idiom wrong so Huer and Wilma might suspect he’s an android, is extremely ill-advised considering Wilma vaporized his double earlier for the exact same reason.

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