Sunday, January 25, 2015

What Memories Real?

A few days ago Jeff commented on the opening montage of the film version of the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century pilot, surmising that not only did Buck spend 500 years dreaming about scantily clad space women, but that the events of the series itself are merely a continuation of that dream. I dismissed the notion out of hand, but then I started to think about the idea more seriously, particularly after watching "The Guardians," a second-season episode in which Buck has a vision of being back on Earth before his ill-fated trip on Ranger 3.

In the vision, Buck awakens at his mother's home back in 1987. He's at the end of a two-week furlough, and Ranger 3 launches the next day. At first he's shocked to find himself back on Earth in his own time, but within a few seconds admits to his mother that his life in the 25th century must have been just a dream. The Ranger 3 mission goes forward...and ends in exactly the same way, with Buck in suspended animation.

During the course of the episode other cast members have visions of their own, and by the end the series' status quo is comfortably reached. And yet now I can't get the notion out of my mind, because the pilot movie explicitly says Buck dreams for centuries, and when he "wakes up," at least two of the women in his dreams - Wilma Deering and Princess Ardala - become, respectively, a leading figure and a recurring figure in the show. This of course suggests the events of the series are merely a continuation of his erotic dreams.

Note, too, the lyrics to "Suspension," the song that plays atop the film's opening credits. Here are a couple of lines:

What thoughts are fantasies, what memories real? 

Is it my life or just something I dreamed? 

All of a sudden the dream scenario almost seems deliberate. The only drawback to this theory is that the show itself isn't particularly dreamlike, aside from its conventional SF trappings. The storytelling, direction, visual effects and costuming are all pretty straightforward for the genre. Plus it's a pretty unhappy ending for Buck...it implies he never wakes up, and that his new relationships and adventures in the 25th century are just fantasies. In fact, you could even surmise that Buck never enters suspended animation at all, that he's simply flash-frozen and dies in a few seconds. And in dreams, instants can seem to take centuries...all two seasons of the show could simply be the last synaptic jerks in the mind of a dying man. 

1 comment:

Jeff Shyluk said...

"Dismissed... out of hand"?!?!

Insert appropriate Jeff-style growl here.

Well, Glen A. Larson productions often elicited dream states as part of their storylines. There were many times in most of his shows where you could see or at least argue that the plot was part of a dream.

Was it cheap television scripting or free-form story-telling that allowed the characters more freedom than a network syndicated series would normally allow? (Think: Life On Mars.) Probably in Larson's case, both. He was very effective at both.

And you know I like that stuff anyways.