Monday, March 10, 2014

Buck Rogers 2.9: “The Satyr”

Airdate: 3/12/81

Buck heads to another Earth-like planet (how convenient!) to investigate a lost colony of humans – what he finds is a boy and his mother, who seems to be continuosly threatened by a fierce ogre-like satyr (half-man, half goat), who won’t go away until he gets his everlovin’ food and wine. Buck can’t figure out why she won’t leave, until the revelation that her own husband, the original founder of the colony, was infected with a virus and turned into one of the mean satyrs that are currently threatening her now. It’s the same virus that appears to be infecting… Buck! And now the race is on for him to help mother and son get safe and sound to another planet – before he turns whole-hog satyr and winds up joining the others in all-you-can-eat and drink debauchery. Fortunately the Searcher finds and rescues him, and gives him the shave he so desperately needs.

Wild episode weirdly vacillates between buffononish, cheap camp and, believe it or not, genuine terror as the satyrs wreak their havoc and Buck eerily starts to become one of them. Credit good makeup and effective growly sound effects for creating this effect, and give Anne E. Curry her due, while you’re at it, for imbuing her victim role with an appealing mix of vulnerability and compassion. A well crafted storyline here as well – with a bit of a tragic ending relating to the accidental but bound-to-happen death of the husband-turned-satyr. But he had a good, teary redemption scene before he met his maker, at least.

Just a brief observation regarding the continued flirting between Buck and Wilma: it’s too bad the plots never did anything with their relationship. I guess it’s not in the nature of a sci-fi series to do anything serialized or dealing with – gasp! – relationships, but some kind of romance, whether ill-fated or not, would’ve been good for the ratings. Alas, never meant to be, so the couple sadly went the way of Diana Prince and Steve Trevor.

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