Saturday, March 21, 2009

Speculations: Buck Rogers

Feeling nostalgic about science fiction, especially after recently posting about Dirk Benedict and Battlestar Galactica, I got to pondering things Buck Rogers. What sort of movie might director Frank Miller give us? Remembering that I posted a speculative outline for a re-envisioned Buck Rogers some time ago I decided to dust off that bit of fluff. Hope you find my speculative pseudo fan-boy article entertaining. - CM

Re-envisioning a pulp sci-fi series that's enjoyed multiple incarnations over the years in various media formats from the pulps to comic books, the small screen to the big screen seems simple. Alas so many remakes fall short of expectations it's obviously not as simple as us armchair critics may think. The first step, perhaps, is to just start fresh. Given recent technological advances and scientific breakthroughs a totally new and updated version of any science fiction yarn from yesteryear could only be made better with a update, if only because it'll the projected vision of the far distant future will extrapolate from contemporaty modern theory.

But where to begin?

Building on the basic story and series premise let's move on to casting. Thus without further adieu . .


In the year 2087 the ISA (International Space Administration) launches it's first official "World Peace" mission to Mars. The joint venture sees Captain "Buck" Rogers piloting the "Endeavor 1" Mars probe. However something goes terribly wrong. The ship and crew are lost in a freak mishap.

Fast forward to the year 2458 and the re-discovery of the battered, yet intact, Endeavor 1 probe. The ship, now encased in ice, is initially mistaken for a comet. A comet that happens to be on a collision course for Earth. . .



In the year 2092 the ISA (International Space Administration) on the anniversary of the first "World Peace" mission to Mars sends a "deep space probe" out to explore the Oort cloud. The joint venture sees Captain "Buck" Rogers piloting the "Endeavor 1" which, for the first, has it's human crew in "cryogenic suspension"; thus allowing them to make the trip while conserving resources. However something goes terribly wrong. The Endeavor and her crew are lost in a freak mishap.

Fast forward to the year 2458 and the re-discovery of the battered, yet intact, Endeavor 1 probe. The ship, now encased in ice, is initially mistaken for a comet. A comet that happens to be on a collision course for Earth. . .

Those are just two possible intro hooks. Obviously I'm patterning these loosely off the 80s TV series. Whatever the intro hook is the story would proceed with:


Endeavor 1's course is coincidentally following the same trajectory as Princess Ardala's vessel. Ardala, who is an official envoy on a mission to Earth, is shocked and dismayed when it is revealed the comet is not what it appears to be. She orders the vessel brought aboard and it's crew thawed out. Unfortunately this leads to a series of misunderstandings that end with a confrontation which leaves most of Endeavors crew wounded or dead, and perhaps one member of Ardala's royal entourage.

Buck (at least) escapes, but only after an intense one on one cat fight scene with Ardala that leaves more than the character's egos bruised. Of course such a slight against a Royal Princess can't be left unpunished! But what will Ardala do? How will Buck be received back on Earth? What does this mean for galactic peace?

The above merely represents one possible intro hook. There's dozens of other ways a new movie or series could start. However, for nostalgia's sake, I kept to the basic themes of the 80s series. Now what actors to have playing which parts?


Cast (Neo-Classic Movie/Series):
Anthony William "Buck" Rogers. . . Jeffrey Donovan (or Adam Baldwin)
Colonel Wilma Deering. . . Yvonne Strahovski
Dr. Huer. . . Sendhil Ramamurthy (or Richard Gant)
Princess Ardala. . . Hayden Panettiere (or Tricia Helfer)
Ardala's Father. . . Dean Stockwell (cameo)
Killer Kane. . . Adam Baldwin
Tiger Man. . .Ray Stevenson
Panther Woman #1. . . Erin Brown (Misty Mundae)
Panther Woman #2. . . Rena Riffel

The above is an interesting line-up. Here are some of the best character actors from recent and current television series and B-movies. The only real problem is deciding whether to cast Adam Baldwin as hero or villain, he does both well. OTOH here is the cast I chose for a poster mock-up (see below). .

Cast (80s Series re-cast):
Anthony William "Buck" Rogers. . . Christian Bale
Colonel Wilma Deering. . . Yvonne Strahovski
Princess Ardala. . . Cote de Pablo
Zarina. . . Nicole Kidman

Just looking at that Christian Bale and Yvonne Strahovski are perfect fits for the characters, if you were looking to re-make the 80s series. But would Christian Bale be willing to do a TV series? Alas probably not. So how about this cast. .

Cast (Neo-Classic w/ UK Flair):
Anthony William "Buck" Rogers. . . John Barrowman
Colonel Wilma Deering. . . Eve Myles
Dr. Huer. . . David McCallum
Princess Ardala. . . Billie Piper
Ardala's Father. . . Jeremy Irons (cameo)
Killer Kane. . . Gordon Ramsey
["Buddy" Wade. . Chris Kattan]

Many of these actors have appeared in Torchwood; a series with one of the better ensemble casts that a BBC production has produced in a while. (The series spun-off from the Dr. Who series.) However when I came to the role of Killer Kane the one person that immediately came to mind was chef Gordon Ramsey (Hell's Kitchen), and while he's not an actor he'd make a wonderfully intimidating Killer Kane.

Cast (Re-Envisioned Neo-Classic Blockbuster Version):
Wilma "Buck" Rogers. . . Kate Beckinsdale
Colonel William Deering. . . Christian Bale
Dr. Huer. . . Donald Sutherland
Princess Ardala. . . Rebecca Gayheart (or Cote de Pablo)
Ardala's Father. . . Ian McNeice (cameo)
Killer Kane. . . Tobias Menzies

With inverted gender roles it's time to have some fun. Sticking with actors from recent movies and/or series in the roles we still have a decent cast. Kate Beckinsdale is a respectable action star but she may be overshadowed by Christian Bale and Donald Sutherland, actors with strong masculine presences onscreen. So. .

Cast (Neo-Classic Hollywood Blockbuster Version):
Anthony William "Buck" Rogers. . . Brendan Fraser
Colonel Wilma Deering. . . Kate Beckinsale
Dr. Huer. . . Donald Sutherland
Princess Ardala. . . Michelle Rodriguez
Ardala's Father. . . Christopher Lee (cameo)
Killer Kane. . . The Rock
Tiger Man. . .Danny Woodburn
Panther Woman #1. . . Cote de Pablo
Panther Woman #2. . . Pauley Perrette

This time she's Col. Deering. Also returning are the "Pather Women" (see below). Brendan Fraser may not be the first actor that comes to mind when you envision Buck Rogers but his naïve charm and rugged façade could take the character in interesting directions. Or, if you really want to go whole hog and do this as an speedball of action how about. .

Cast (Re-Envisioned Hollywood Blockbuster Version):
Wilma "Buck" Rogers. . . Angelina Jolie
Colonel William Deering. . . Brad Pitt
Dr. Huer. . . George Clooney
Princess Ardala. . . Jennifer Anniston (or Jessica Alba)
Ardala's Father. . . Christopher Lee (cameo)
Killer Kane. . . Mickey Rourke (or The Rock)
Tiger Woman. . . Cote de Pablo
Panther Boy #1. . . Daniel Radcliffe
Panther Boy #2. . . Kellan Lutz
Comic Relief Sidekick. . . Demetri Martin

Basically it's Mr. & Ms. Smith in space. Gun-fu, CGI, and George Clooney. What more could Hollywood want (besides the souls of virgins)?

Notes and Sundry:

* Tigerman: Be interesting to cast totally against "type" and go with someone unexpected like David Tennant or Andy Dick.

* Calling a woman "Buck" may seem strange but it wont be, because here the character will be a non-conformist type who bucks the system, thus her nickname.

* The "Panther Women" is just an idea to expand Ardala's personal body guard to including females body guards/servants that attend her in chambers.

* The "Tiger Boys" would be similar to the above, pretty boy attendants, probably eunuchs. But only in the Hollywood re-envisioning. ;-)

#end of line

Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

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