Monday, October 27, 2008

Somebody send for the Zeppelin man!

I got my brother a birthday-present DVD of 20 Buck Rogers' short films from the 1930s on the weekend, and had a chance to watch some of them last night. They're pretty good, one of the best birthday presents I've never got, in fact. I have an uncanny knack of selecting fabulous birthday presents for myself and then giving them to other members of my family - good policy when I'm living in the same house with them, not so good when I'm living a thousand kilometres away.

So apparently Buck Rogers is a zeppelin pilot who crashes his vessel and is sent into suspended animation at the last moment - his buddy, helpfully named Buddy, turns on the magical suspended animation gas, and there you go. Five centuries later, they are dragged out of their zeppelin by dudes in weird suits with lasers, and made prisoners. Buck is unphased by this, apart from a brief commentary on the costumes: "What sort of uniforms are you wearing?"

They then noodle along in a rocket into a mountain that apparently doubles up as a garage door, and are taken into a hidden city helpfully named The Hidden City. They get shown this footage of an evil dictator, thoughtfully named Killer Kane, putting Amnesia Helmets on the people of the world (every evil dictator needs an Amnesia Helmet to turn the populace into robotic slaves, don't you know). For some reason, Buck's knowledge as a zeppelin pilot turns out to be just the qualification he needs to pilot a rocket ship, and... well, that's just the start of many adventures.

In Episode Two, they find themselves caught on the surface of Saturn, being hunted by Kane's men, and they are captured by an army of Zogs and taken into the caves below. This episode also has the dodgiest cliffhanger ever:

HIDDEN CITY GUY 1: That's one of Kane's ships! But how could he have found the Hidden City?

HIDDEN CITY GUY 2: He must have caught Buck and got the location out of him.

HIDDEN CITY GUY 1: Send to them on our secret radio frequency, quick!

(CUT TO: Onboard the rocket ship)

BUCK: It's a pity our radio isn't working!

WILMA: That's okay, I know the way to the Hidden City...

Episode 3, Buck and Buddy go undercover in Killer Kane's city to kidnap the Prince of Saturn who has come to sign a peace treaty with Kane and his men (they tell him 'Kane is a peaceful and just ruler' and he falls for it, you see.) After they get hold of the kid, they show him video footage of Kane's Amnesia Helmets, and he's dead against the peace treaty. Diplomacy, it's tough all right!

That's about all I saw last night. Pretty good I reckon. Here's just a few indisputable facts I learned from watching Buck Rogers last night:

- Piloting a zeppelin looks really good on your resume in the 25th century

- Radio reception is astonishingly good on Saturn. You can breathe there pretty well, as well.

- Amnesia Helmets - every responsible parent needs one!

- Lasers can do just about anything. Shoot Zogs, open doors that are jammed, bugger up the enemies radio reception, power underground space rail lines once the electricity has been cut off...

Now I'll just have to arrange for myself to go down for Christmas so I can see the rest...

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