Monday, April 7, 2014

Buck Rogers 2.11: “The Hand of Goral”

Airdate: 3/26/81

Buck, Hawk and Wilma explore another Earth-like planet and find a man who had crash-landed and been stranded there for several weeks. Wilma brings the man, named Reardon, back to the Searcher while Buck and Hawk continue to survey the weird, supernatural-seeming phenomenon on the “ghost world.” Upon returning to the ship, they’re even more surprised by the crew: the admiral has become a cruel martinet; Twikki a surly, resentful back-talker, Goodfellow a cranky old man and Chrichton is…. nice! Buck suspects that the ship, and everyone on it, is a fake – and when Wilma freaks out uncharacteristically, he learns she is too. When the Sracher is held by a snare beam emanating from the planet, Hawk and Buck go down to the source and there the find a wise old Asian man – the mastermind behind the “test” Buck had just gone through, and must now complete so he can take the old man’s place as 1,000-year protector of the planet. It involves finding a sabateur on the Searcher and stopping him – it turns out to be Reardon, or at least the entity inhabiting him, and so they must get to him before a bomb blows the whole ship to Kingdom Come.

Show has finally begun to hit its stride – with only 3 shows before its cancellation. Too bad, too, because we’ve hit a stretch of imaginative, challenging storylines that give Buck more to do than just spout anachronisms and one-liners. Some of these shows, in fact, do remind me of vintage Star Trek; something I’m sure the creators would take as a compliment since that what they modeled season two after. The concept of personality shifts in characters we’ve now become familiar with is irresistible (gotta love the oversensitive Wilma!) and the finale inside the engine room is a genuine nail-biter (you sure couldn’t say that about many of the first season shows). The source of all of this – a mystical Asian man searching for his successor – is sort of part Kung Fu and part Willy Wonka. A wee bit hokey, but overall it works.

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