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Monday, April 24, 2017

A Return to Buck Rogers: Ardala's First Impression

In the opening prologue of the movie "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,' we learn that Buck blasts off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, and experiences freak conditions in space that preserve his body, while his ship floats aimlessly through space for 500 years. Richard Lupoff, writing the novelization as Addison Steele, elaborates on this prologue sequence beautifully. He describes a passing swarm of meteors that surround the spaceship, and how the impact of these small pieces of space debris release a mix of gases inside the hull. 

I suppose I should take a moment to discuss the role of cryogenics here, as I mentioned it in a post last month. But I already discussed the topic at length in a post last month, so I'll just reiterate that the movie prologue, and Lupoff's writing, do their job. We're sold on the idea that Buck Rogers could awaken after five hundred years without any negative aftereffects. (I was sold far more effectively, in both instances, than H. G. Wells manages in The Sleeper Awakes, a 1910 rewrite of his earlier novel, When The Sleeper Wakes). We don't really even think about it, because we're anxious to get on with the story. So I'll shut up on cryogenics, and get on with the next topic.

Five hundred years later, Princess Ardala and Commander Kane bring the space shuttle aboard their flagship, and wake him up. This is our first impression of Buck: he's out-of-it, physically and mentally. He's in no fit state to fathom his presence on a spaceship from another planet. Nor is he aware of how much time has passed. So he asks for an aspirin to clear his head. Instead, the Draconian doctors inject him with a tranquilizer that leaves him punch drunk, and even less able to perceive his present reality from his centuries of dreams.

For some reason, this scene has always been especially memorable to me. Buck is clearly dopey, and is incapable of answering Kane's questions. Nor does he seem to notice the strange appearance of Ardala's bodyguard, the mutant Tigerman. All he can focus on is Princess Ardala's beauty. It's an interesting beginning in Buck and Ardala's relationship, one that made Ardala think less of him initially, as women tend to despise men who get overwhelmed and tongue-tied by their beauty.

Of course, Ardala changes her opinion of him later, after he has demonstrated his bravery, tenacity, and he singles her out at the Ball...

Dragon Dave

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