The Buck Rogers Quiz

Mike Poteet

About This Quiz

“Bedee–bedee–bedee!” Are you ready for the 25th century? Find out with our Buck Rogers quiz!

In the 1979-81 TV series, how does Captain William “Buck” Rogers (Gil Gerard) end up in the 25th century?

As the series’ weekly opening narration explains, “In a freak mishap, Ranger 3 and its pilot, Captain William ‘Buck Rogers, are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life support systems and returns Buck Rogers to Earth—500 years later.”

In what 1928 novella did author Philip Nowlan introduce the character now known as Buck Rogers?

Nowlan introduced Anthony Rogers—a World War I veteran who awakens from five centuries of radioactive gas-induced suspended animation—in “Armageddon – 2419 A.D.” (Amazing Stories, August 1928). The story was Nowlan’s first professional sale. Its sequel, “The Airlords of Han,” followed the next year. Nowlan renamed his hero “Buck” when the newspaper comic strip debuted in 1929.

When the 1979-81 TV series’ two-part pilot story, “Awakening,” was released theatrically, its opening credits featured a version of the show’s theme with lyrics (by series co-developer Glen A. Larson). What are the song’s first lines?

The lyrics begin, “Far beyond the world I’ve known,/Far beyond my time.” As the song (titled “Suspension”) plays, Erin Gray, Pamela Hensley and other women kiss the sleeping Gil Gerard. According to Intrada Records, composer Stu Phillips wrote his own action theme for Buck because “Suspension” didn’t mesh with the rest of Phillips’ score.

In Nowlan’s original story and the newspaper comic strip it inspired, who had conquered most of the world during Rogers’ 500-year slumber?

Rogers originally fought Mongols who conquered Asia and Europe “from their great airships, held aloft by gravity repellor rays” (“Buck Rogers, 2429 A.D.” comic strip, February 8, 1929).

In the 1979-81 TV series, where is the Earth Defense Directorate headquartered?

The Earth Defense Directorate is based in New Chicago. Old Chicago is a post-nuclear wasteland, known as “Anarchia” and populated by mutants. Anarchia is never again seen, though Buck mentions it in “Return of the Fighting 69th.”

What rank did Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) hold in the Earth Defense Directorate?

Wilma held the rank of colonel. In a 2012 interview, Gray told Wired that “getting to play a military-pilot-type character at a time when female officers were just being allowed to fly for the U.S. armed forces was very inspirational to many fans.”

In “Awakening,” the first story in the 1979-81 TV series, what spaceship discovers Buck, frozen and adrift in space?

The Draconia, Princess Ardala’s ship, finds Buck. According to Peter Anderson, the show’s visual effects supervisor Peter Anderson, the Draconia was the most expensive miniature built for TV to that time, costing more than either the Enterprise or the Battlestar Galactica.

Buster Crabbe played Buck in the 1939 Buck Rogers movie serial. What other iconic science fiction character is he famous for having portrayed?

Crabbe played Flash Gordon in three movie serials. An Olympic gold medalist in swimming (1932), Crabbe guest starred as “Brigadier Gordon” in “Planet of the Slave Girls,” from the first season of the 1979-81 series. When Buck asks Brigadier Gordon, “Where’d you learn to shoot like that?,” he answers, “I’ve been doing that sort of thing since before you were born, Captain.”

Mel Blanc, who voiced Twiki, Buck’s loyal robot friend in the 1979-81 TV series, voiced all but which one of the following classic cartoon characters?

Mel Blanc was known as “the man of a thousand voices,” but Donald Duck’s was not one of them. In Glen Larson and Leslie Stevens’ original script for their Buck Rogers pilot, Twiki didn’t speak at all. Blanc’s vocal performance, combined with Felix Silla’s work in a restricting and extraordinarily hot costume, made Twiki the series’ breakout character.

What was the name of the artificial intelligence unit Twiki wore around his neck?

Twiki’s talkative partner is Dr. Theopolis, one of the sentient computers who administered Earth in the 25th century. The show’s creative team eventually dropped “Theo” from the format because the prop’s batteries consistently failed during filming.

In “Unchained Woman,” what saying does Buck suggest be made into a bumper sticker?

“On Zeta they do it right”—build prisons, that is. The same episode reveals that, in the 25th century, the penal system has gone “co-ed”; as Jen Burton asks Buck, “Do you know the problems [single-sex incarceration] would cause?”

Which villain proclaimed, “My touch is the touch of truth, the kiss of God!”

The sorcerer Kaleel, played by Jack Palance (before his career experienced new life with 1989’s Batman and 1991’s City Slickers) made this dramatic pronouncement as he killed a man in “Planet of the Slave Girls.”

For what off-screen reason does Major Marla Landers (played by Juanin Clay) appear in “Vegas in Space”?

Erin Gray originally decided against playing Wilma in the ongoing series. Marla Landers was written as a replacement character. She did not appear in any other episodes.

What popular sitcom star played Hieronymous Fox, the “Cosmic Whiz Kid” in the episode of that name?

Gary Coleman, famous as Arnold on “Diff’rent Strokes,” played Fox, who, like Buck, is from the past: He had himself frozen when the nuclear war began in the early 21st century. Coleman would make a brief reappearance in “A Blast for Buck.”

Which guest star played the beauty pageant winner Miss Cosmos in “Cruise Ship to the Stars”?

Dorothy Stratten, the Playmate who was tragically murdered in August 1980, played Miss Cosmos. Because Stratten was so soft-spoken, her lines had to be looped in post-production. Jamie Lee Curtis (who was also a Buck Rogers guest star, in “Unchained Woman”), played Stratten in the 1981 made-for-TV movie Death of a Centerfold.

Which character is said to have “developed a very active libido” in “Cruise Ship to the Stars”?

Twiki. He falls in love (or at least robotic lust) with a female ambuquad, Tina, who says “Booty, booty” (instead of Twiki’s “Bedee–bedee-bedee”). Don’t think about it too hard.

In “The Plot to Kill a City,” Joella (Markie Post) asks about Buck, “Why do all the good-looking ones have to be ___________?”

“Crazy.” Markie Post went on to fame as Christine on the sitcom Night Court. One of her Night Court costars, Richard Moll, also appeared in Buck Rogers; he played Yarat in “Space Rockers.”

How did the crew of the space freighter Demeter die?

The Demeter’s crew was killed by the Vorvon, better known as the Space Vampire (in the episode of that name). Because the Vorvon successfully enslaves Wilma, who becomes a frightening seductress—giving actress Erin Gray plenty of reason to regard this episode as her favorite.

What power does Cornell Traegar (Peter MacLean) possess in “Happy Birthday, Buck”?

Traegar can turn whatever he touches to silicon, and plans to do so to Dr. Huer, whom he blames for his 15-year imprisonment. In a bit of poetic justice at the episode’s end, Traegar dies when Buck knocks him onto his own hand.

Why is Buck’s birth date, January 7, significant?

The newspaper strip Buck Rogers in the 25th Century debuted on the date in 1929. Created by Philip Nowlan with artist Richard “Dick” Calkins, the strip ran in newspapers for an impressive 38 years.

Ray Walston played kidnapper Roderick Zale in “Cosmic Whiz Kid.” Which of these sci-fi characters in other TV shows did Walston not play?

Walston played all these characters except Henry Bemis, the bookworm whose glasses break at the end of the Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough at Last.” Burgess Meredith, another veteran character actor, played Bemis (but never guest starred on Buck Rogers).

In “A Blast for Buck,” what does Buck refer to as “an old and honorable form of literature”?

Limericks. The limerick in this episode is: “The man out of old Earth’s past/has the key to the next and the last./But you won’t solve this riddle/till the end is the middle/And Terran sands disappear with a blast.”

How does Princess Ardala lure Buck to her in “Ardala Returns”?

Ardala uses a fake 20th-century spaceship. When she asks Buck, “What did you think of my ingenious invitation, Captain?,” he replies, “I was swept away by emotion.”

For what purpose does Ardala capture Buck in “Ardala Returns”?

When Draconian pilots prove incapable of flying Kane’s new Hatchet fighter, Ardala decides that clones of Buck Rogers could. When she orders the “Zygots” (clones) be sent to her chambers for personal inspection, Kane wonders, “What could she conceivably be doing with three Buck Rogers for almost an hour and a half?”

What British rock band does Buck compare “Andromeda” to in the episode “Space Rockers”?

“Sounds like the Beatles,” says Buck. “The who?” asks Wilma. “Not The Who,” says Buck, “the Beatles!” Andromeda’s sinister producer, Lars Mangros, was played by Jerry Orbach, best known as Detective Briscoe on Law & Order and the voice of Lumiere in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

What important event does Buck attend on the planet Mycos?

Buck presents a 20th-century Olympic flag at the 2492 Olympics on Mycos. This episode, “Olympiad,” first aired on February 7, 1980, one week before the XIII Olympic Winter Games opened in Lake Placid, New York.

What guest star, well known for playing an iconic Batman (1966) villain, played Zarina the War Witch in “Flight of the War Witch”?

Julie Newmar, who was Batman’s first Catwoman (she was succeeded by Eartha Kitt) played Zarina. She out-villains even Princess Ardala, who she berates as “a child—a spoiled, arrogant child.”

On what starship do Buck, Wilma and Twiki serve during the 1979-81 TV series’ second, shorter—and final—season?

The second season’s action shifts to the Searcher, a ship on which Buck and crew go looking for lost Earth colonies. No onscreen explanation of the series’ format shift was ever offered.

Who is the Searcher’s commanding officer, and a descendant of a famous science fiction author?

Jay Garner played Admiral Asimov, a descendant of Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), author of the Foundation series, creator of the Three Laws of Robotics, and a prolific popularizer of science fact.

What was the name of the robot, other than Twiki, who served aboard the Searcher?

The robot Crichton serves on the Searcher, and is referred to as Twiki’s “father.” (Again: Don’t think about it too hard.)

What bird-like regular character did Thom Christopher play in the second season?

Thom Christopher, later a long-time presence on The Guiding Light, played Hawk, a noble bird-man who changes from foe to friend in the season’s first story, “Time of the Hawk.”

Mark Lenard plays Ambassador Duvoe of Zykaria in “Journey to Oasis.” What other science fiction character is Lenard most famous for playing?

Lenard played Sarek, Spock’s father, in “Journey to Babel” (to which “Journey to Oasis” may be tipping its hat); Star Trek III, IV and VI; and the episode “Sarek” of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Lenard also played Urko in the 1974 Planet of the Apes TV series.

Why was Buck’s mother nervous about the Ranger 3 mission, as revealed in a flashback sequence in “The Guardians”?

Buck’s mother was upset by a recent Space Shuttle accident. In real life, the Space Shuttles Challenger (1986) and Columbia (2003) were both destroyed in accidents that killed all crew members.

What actor, who would play an American president on the series 24, got an early Hollywood gig playing a crewman aboard the Searcher?

All these actors would play the Chief Executive on 24, but it’s Haysbert who served aboard the Searcher. He had previously appeared in Buck Rogers’ first season as an airport security guard in “A Dream of Jennifer.”

Buck transforms into what creature resembling a being from classical mythology in a second-season episode?

Sprouting horns and sporting facial hair and glowing eyes, Buck becomes a Satyr—half human, half goat—in the episode, “The Satyr.”

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