I caught up with Gil Gerard not long ago at the Anaheim Comic-Con and we got to talking about the Hollywood revival hopes for Buck Rogers, a character that dates back to 1928 but has been mostly gathering dust since Gerard’s television version gave up the ghost in 1981.
There was some talk of Frank Miller directing a revival, but that faded away and now, by all appearances, it’s “Resident Evil” director Paul W.S. Anderson who will be thawing out the old-school future hero for a 3D film and a video-game property that will both be conceived and produced in a truly interlocked creative process.
Gerard shrugged when I asked what he would hope for in a new “Buck Rogers” adventure, as far as tone and spirit.
“As far as a film, I’ve heard that for a while now. It’s hard to have a concrete idea since I don’t know which Buck they’re doing. There’s different versions of Buck, going back to before World War II and I don’t know which one they’re interested in doing. If they’re doing something based on the Buck we did, I’d hope they’d be true to the characters. As far as the older one, I think it’d be interesting to see what they would do with something like that today.”
I mentioned that no matter the decade, there seemed to be a sense of optimism to the Buck Rogers adventures, and Gerard agreed.
“That’s true, and I would hope that whatever new thing they do isn’t somber. So much of the science fiction today is very dark, almost hopeless. And wet. And have you noticed how much rain they get in the future now? Everything is rainy and muddy. I don’t understand, either, how come everybody is so dirty when there’s so much water around everywhere. Look at ‘Waterworld‘ — they live in a place with no land and everyone’s covered in dirt. I don’t get it. You think they’d fall overboard and get clean once in a while.”
Gerard enjoyed the J.J. Abrams revival of “Star Trek“ because it felt like a bright future where hope and duty took people to new frontiers and beyond. He said he would love to see Buck Rogers venture out into that space sector of contemporary cinema.
“With our show, the reason people liked it was the humor and the fact that it was colorful and upbeat and it had heroes in it,” Gerard said. “It was family entertainment. I think it’s great to deal with more serious issues, but you can do it with humor — look at what ‘All in the Family‘ dealt with. You can be serious without being relentlessly dark and heavy. That’s why I liked the new ‘Star Trek.’ Look, I’m not a Trekkie, I didn’t come in with any baggage. I never watched the show. And I enjoyed it for what it was and for that spirit and the humor. It’d be great if the new Buck has that going for it.”
Want to see some really old-school Buck Rogers? Here’s “Planet Outlaws,” the 1953 film that was made by stitching together installments from the 1930s “Buck Rogers” serials.
— Geoff Boucher
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