Friday, February 14, 2014

Buck Rogers 2.3 and 2.4: “Journey To Oasis”

Airdate: 1/22/81 (Originally broadcast as a two-hour episode)

Buck, Wilma, Hawk and Goodfellow volunteer to escort an ambassador, Duvoe, to the city of Oasis in order to arrange a peace treaty between the humans of earth and Duvoe’s alien race, the Zaccharians. A freak electrical storm, however, strikes and renders their ship completely inoperable (and invisible, after it sinks into deep crater). They must all get to Oasis on foot, braving marauding bands of savages, and aided only by a riddle-speaking gnome named OD-X. Compounding their problems is the possible rekindling of Wilma and Duvoe’s past romance, and the secret he harbors of having the ability to remove his own head, as well as the Zaccharian coalition on board the Searcher who thinks that the humans have kidnapped Duvoe and is holding him for some kind of bargaining leverage.

Third double-episode in a row is a dull, tediously protracted disaster. Say what you will about Buck’s first season campy episodes, but you can’t claim they were ever boring. Coming on the heels of a halfway decent season premiere, this one just seems to go on and on, with a storyline paper-thin and some of the shoddiest “special effects” and makeup work I’ve ever seen. The gnome that the crew meets on the Oasis planet looks like something out of Land of the Lost, while the finale, featuring Buck battling a disembodied sword while negotiating a precarious rope bridge, is derivative of old Saturday afternoon movie serials, only not nearly as much fun. Duvoe (looking suspiciously like Muammar al-Gaddafi) has the potential of being a complex persona with some interesting buried history, but instead comes off as half-baked oddball. The worst Buck so far, and if this is the trend for the rest of its truncated season, there’s no mystery as to why the show was cancelled shortly thereafter.

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