Friday, January 3, 2014

Buck Rogers 1.5: “Vegas in Space”

Airdate: 10/4/79

Buck, along with female agent Marla Landers, is enlisted by the Defense Directorate to rescue the kidnapped employee, Felicia, of a corrupt privateer named Amrat, from the evil hands of Velosa, who rules the gambling planet Sinaloa (who names these things anyway?). Velosa’s plans are simple: to extract vital information from Marla that could ruin Amrat (courtesy a mind-sapping “specialist” played by Dr. No himself, Joseph Wiseman). Buck is hand-picked for the job for his gambling skills, particularly blackjack, but that’s about all that’s familiar to him once he gets to Sinaloa, where he encounters a myriad of challenges to rescue the girl, not the least of which is dealing with a beautiful, buxom casino worker who yearns to be rescued from her high-tech shackles. All’s well that ends well, especially when Amrat must pony up his part of the deal for getting his daughter (surprise!) back – hand delivering to the Directorate all the files of his dirty dealings and the secret schemata plans for the Draconians new hatchet fighters, and why they’re impervious to computerized attacks.

First single-length episode is also the first script by story editor Anne Collins. Readers of this blog know I found her Wonder Woman teleplays needlessly overcomplicated, but here the byzantine twists and turns of her plots (and subplots) feel more at home in a high-tech world. Plot is a classic “infiltrate the impregnable fortress to rescue the fair maiden” chestnut, but its spectral setting offers a fun change of pace – not to mention the continued scanty costumes of the women (one in particular will have your jaw dropping; you’ll know which one). It won’t make you forget the race to rescue Leia from the Death Star, but on its own merits it succeeds.

What doesn’t succeed is the performance by Ana Alicia as Felicia, who displays some of the more egregious overacting I’ve ever seen in any series, science fiction or otherwise. Series co-stars Erin Gray and Tim O’Connor only have a couple of scenes.

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