austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Is it my life or just something I've dreamed?

The final chapter, ``War of the Planets'', opens with the revelation that Buck Rogers is not dead.

You know, Saturn's resolved to make moves against Kane before and it's resulted in the planet immediately succumbing to slave rebellion; now it's resolved again and immediately the High Council is destroyed by spaceship bombardment. Is it possible that maybe Saturn's reputation for military might is far out of line with its abilities, or at least its preparedness?

Anyway. The cylinder actually hit Rogers, falling on his foot. There's no way out unless he had a disintegrator pistol or something ... ... ... hey!

Saturn's High Council, and for that matter the whole population that I think we've seen, crouches in a cavern by the landing set, and they wait for Kane's henchman Laska to land. With ``resolving to fight'' having been a bust, the local Saturnian army guy is ready to seek terms. Laska plans to send a message from Prince Tallen begging for Saturn's surrender to save his life, which offends Tallen because ``that is not true!''. Seriously, maybe Saturn just doesn't understand how this war stuff is done.

To some merry spring music Rogers and Buddy wrestle Kane's men in the rocks until Rogers remembers he can just shoot then with the ray gun, and Laska and evildoers are quickly captured. The High Council in a hastily rebuilt Council Chamber ask what they can do to repay Rogers, who asks merely for the already-promised help. That's sure to go well.

Rogers thinks to call the Hidden City and mention he's coming in in one of Kane's ships, marginally increasing the chance he'll land without a crash this time. The Hidden City launches every ship they have to battle Kane's blockade and maybe give Saturn's ships a chance to arrive; this gives a few scenes of people scrambling to launch ships that look like every other ship launch effect we've seen so far, but they had a budget in those days. Meanwhile Rogers lands at Kane's private airfield/skyscraper/headquarters.

They sneak into the dynamo room and find Krankor, or some name like that. He's the councilor of Kane's who was sent to the dyanmo room for questioning Kane's plans a couple installments back. Rogers takes the amnesia/hypnosis/mind-control hat/watering-can off his head to propose that Krankor help the slaves rebel: they can just take off the mind-control hats and produce all kinds of higgeldy-piggeldy in the headquarters. This goes very well until a guard starts beating up Buddy, at which point it turns into fistfighting and a pretty cool swinging on a hook right out towards the camera on Crabbe's part.

While Kane --- now dressed in a fetching matador/maitre d' combination --- is ordering the destruction of the Hidden City, Kane's expeditionary force reports the Hidden City attack and how they've already lost a third of their forces. Kane rushes to do something and is met by Rogers at the head of the freed slave army. Rogers whips out one of the amnesia/mind-control helmets and puts it on Kane's head, because --- bunny_hugger may wish to pick out the correct indignant and angry icon for this --- after all mind control is only an evil technique if it's used by evil people; if good people are suppressing the wills of people forced to wear the helmets then the application must be moral and just.

It might be argued to save lives, though: Rogers has Kane order his forces to stand down, and with the removal of Kane's air forces as an active party surely the whole world's been liberated and freedom justice truth forevermore etc etc.

We switch to the giving out of medals to Rogers and Buddy and promotions and all that, and then the arrival of Prince Tallen. Rogers says that if it weren't for Tallen and his Saturnian spaceships, ``our cause would have been lost'', which is perfectly supportable except by what we've seen on-screen. From what they actually showed, Saturn didn't actually do a thing to help anybody, and actually collapsed several times over and needed to be bailed out. This also suggests that actually the Hidden City could have overthrown Kane at just about any time they wanted if only they had attempted this technique known as ``trying''.

In the last moments somebody remembered that Rogers and Deering were supposed to be entangled, I guess. Buddy sneaks off and fakes a report of an incoming attacking Kane squadron so as to get Rogers down to the other set where Deering's present, and Buddy explains he did it to get Rogers out of that pesky scene where everybody was gathered around praising his genius and heaping awards on him. With an awkward quip about being Rogers's ``fixer'' Buddy hops out of the scene and we close with nobody in the world being particularly imperiled.

Besides the utter failure of Saturn to actually play a useful role in the overthrow of Kane, I'm disappointed that a special effect seen in the Hidden City roughly every other installment didn't pay off. See, they have a booth-to-booth teleporter with a dematerialization/rematerialization effect strikingly like the one used in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Since they use it to get to places it seems like it'd be as easy to walk to, I thought maybe it was being planted for later use in things, but, no, they just have a teleporter and they want to show that off sometimes. I can understand their not re-using the invisibility ray after what's explicitly said to be experimental hardware malfunctions on its second try; they only had a few hours in-story for all this stuff to happen.

Was this fun? Sure. For all my snarking about it, and the moments where I could not believe what was going on, and for all the points where I could see they were padding, I was enjoying myself. I'm not sure if as a kid I'd have appreciated its charms --- as much as Star Wars owes to this, including the receding-perspective backstory caption openers, it also improves the breed on almost every count. I think the serial may have been more imaginative in figuring wipes from scene to scene, but otherwise I had to grow old enough to appreciate something like this.

I'm tempted to go over the follow-up serial, Ace Drummond, though I admit worrying that I'm hopelessly boring people. I might do it anyway, as I'm not boring me yet.

Trivia: When Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova was named a cosmonaut the call sight ``Golden Eagle'' was proposed for her; however, the giving of her ``the name of a predator like the golden eagle'' was protested. A communication specialist then gave her the call sign Seagull and noted they were also predators, of fish, which was apparently seen as hilarious. (Golden eagles are also predators of fish.) Source: This New Ocean: The Story Of The First Space Age, William E Burrows.

Currently Reading: Jet Age: The Comet, The 707, And The Race To Shrink The World, Sam Howe Verhovek.

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