Saturday, April 30, 2011

Buck Rogers

Last Saturday at 11:00 AM, TCM started showing the 1939 Universal serial Buck Rogers. Now, I'm much too young to have gone to the movie theater on Saturdays and watched for the latest episode in some movie serial, so to be honest, this is a bit of a new experience for me. I'm looking forward to the remaining ten parts, however.

Last week, Buck (Buster Crabbe) and his little buddy Buddy (Jackie Moran) were in a zeppelin crash and put into suspended animation, where they remained for 500 years before being rescued. Unfortunately, Earth in that time has been taken over by racketeers(!), with only a small contingent of "good guys" hiding out in the Hidden City. Their only hope for salvation is to go to Saturn and get help from the surprisingly human-looking people of Saturn. Buck escapes the racketeer's air controls and gets to Saturn, only to find out that the the Saturnians are going to side with the racketeers, who claim Buck and friends are "revolutionaries". But smart Buck takes one of the racketeers' ships and flies it back to Earth. The folks in the Hidden City think this is a trap, and not realizing it's Buck on board, try to destroy it....

Of course, to find out how Buck escapes certain doom, you're going to have to tune in for Chapters 3 and 4, which are showing this week. It's goofy, trippy stuff, though. Saturn looked amazingly like those places where Hollywood filmed the bad B westerns of the 1930s, in the days before they could go out to Monument Valley. I can forgive the filmmakers for knowing nothing about Saturn's atmosphere, but surely it should have been obvious that Saturn, being a bigger planet, would have stronger gravity; and being farther away from the Sun, would have dimmer light. Those are fairly basic flaws. But then, I presume the target audience wouldn't have noticed or cared about such mistakes anyhow.

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