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Buck Rogers in the 21st Century

January 13, 2009

Hey, Buck is back. And it’s the real Buck Rogers, not that Flash Gordon clone in the serials or the cheese-drenched Gil Gerard version. It’s the 1920s Buck Rogers original.

This is happening thanks to James Cawley, creator and star of Star Trek: Phase II (formerly New Voyages). That’s the web-based fan continuation of Star Trek: The Original Series. Cawley makes that not-for-profit show out of love; he’s making this one for real, as a business, with commercials and proper actors and all that.

Cawley has landed the rights to make a web-based Buck Rogers series. He’s aiming to recreate the original take on Buck Rogers, when our hero was a WWI soldier frozen for 500 years who fights evil on a wartorn Earth knocked back to the early industrial age.

This is the Buck Rogers I grew up with. As a child, I received a massive hardcover collection of the original Buck Rogers newspaper comic strips from the 20s and 30s. This was a real treasure for me, and I wish I still had it … it was fun, fast and wild, and at its best before Buck went into space. That’s the main reason I look forward to this new show (the photo of Buck with a classic pistol helps; let’s hope the characters wear jumping belts.)

However: there are two big problems.

  • In the original, the Mongols had taken over the world. They were portrayed as scarily stereotyped Asian bad guys, which wouldn’t fly today.
  • Buck was a sexist dickhead. Granted, the creators played that well, by having the thawed Buck in a steady state of astonishment that 25th-century women were doing the same thing as the men, like fighting Mongols. This would also have to be handled carefully.

I like the idea that this is being made, and I like the idea that it’s a web series. And I’m okay with Cawley being behind it; the flaws with his web series have nothing to do with his production ability (it’s the acting, okay?), and I’m confident that if he sticks with trained actors, he can make this work.

Here’s the official site. There’s very little on it as yet, but you can bookmark it for later.

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