Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Daniel Haller, dir. Glen A. Larson, script, exec. prod. USA: Universal, 1979.
Made for TV movie "that began the popular TV series" (Video Hound for 1995), starting from an updated Buck Rogers motif—20th-c. man finding himself 500 years in the future—and borrowing heavily from Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977). Even stronger than A New Hope in stressing the necessity to go with one's instincts and feelings rather than computer logic. The mise en scène is of interest, contrasting on Earth a thoroughly modern and Modernist new Chicago with a wasteland with the standard-issue post-Apocalypse (here called "Holocaust") mutant monster-folk—and contrasting the high Modern, Terran-American city with the Oriental decadence of the invading Draconian ship (see Caution below). Willis (vol. II) notes a featured robot and "self-programming computers"; we'll add that the robot, Twiki, looks like a midget version of the Golem from Paul Wegener's Der Golem … silents (ca. 1920) and that the computers are talking AIs sufficiently micro-miniaturized that one can be worn like a large medallion by the very small robot. The featured AI minicomputer, Dr. Theopolis ("GodCity"), has a male voice, but one that makes HAL 9000 sound macho ; Theopolis also has a strong interest in Buck, hinting at a homo/mechano-erotic subtextual gender-bender" of some complexity and interest (any attraction, however, is one way and must, necessarily, remain Platonic; Buck and Dr. Theopolis just become friends). CAUTION: This film remains true to the original Buck Rogers stories in having a strong "Yellow Peril" motif, here visual. The TV series lasted 1979-81 (IMDb).