Erin Gray was asked to dye her hair blonde for the role of Wilma Deering. However, as the first season progresses, her blonde hair begins to fade to her natural brunette coloring. In the second season, she was allowed to have completely brunette hair.
Gil Gerard's waistline flexed weekly, and even daily. Gerard was warned by producer Bruce Lansbury about feasting on the company's "open all day" craft service buffet. Buck's white skin-tight jump suit plagued Al Lehman (costumer) when Lansbury asked if wardrobe could make Gerard "slimmer". Lehman gave Gerard the nickname "the white polish sausage".
United States broadcast of the second season was delayed until midway through the 1980-81 television season due to an actor's strike. During the strike, the series was retooled to make this more like Star Trek (1966) and Larson's own Battlestar Galactica (1978). The first season was based on Earth and the second was based aboard a deep space exploration vessel. The primary villains in the first season, the Draconians, are never seen in the second season and neither is Buck's friend and mentor Dr. Huer, and Hawk (a "Mr. Spock" type character) is added as Buck's sidekick.
Was originally intended to air as a series of two-hour television movies but NBC opted for a weekly series instead. This accounts for the number of two-part episodes that aired during the first season.
In the United Kingdom, the series was shown by ITV beginning on 30 August 1980, the same date that the BBC began screening season 18 of their long-running series Doctor Who (1963). With both series in the same Saturday early evening slot, Buck Rogers trounced Doctor Who which saw its ratings fall from a series high of 16.1 million viewers the season before to a low of 3.7 million viewers in November 1980, the lowest ratings in the programme's history at that time. As a similar effect had occurred three years earlier when ITV screened Man from Atlantis (1977), this prompted the BBC to move Doctor Who to a weekday evening slot for its following season, even though Buck Rogers had already been canceled by that time.
The Earth Starfighter seen on the series was designed by Ralph McQuarrie and was actually one of his original designs for the Colonial Viper on Battlestar Galactica (1978). When Galactica producers went with another design for the Viper, this design resurfaced on Buck Rogers as the Starfighter.
Buster Crabbe, who played Brigadier Gordon (aka Flash Gordon) in a first-season episode, originated the character of Buck Rogers onscreen. As they fly into battle, Gordon tells Rogers "I've been doing this since before you were born". When Buck, at 500-plus years old, asks "You think so?", Gordon's answer is a confident "Young man, I *know* so".
Written on the side of the spaceship Searcher (from Season Two) is "Per adua ad astra" , which is a misspelling of "Per ardua ad astra" (Through adversity to the stars), the motto for the British Royal Air Force ('ardua' is the plural of 'arduus', meaning 'the steep place', so the phrase could also mean "Past the summit to the stars").
Henry Silva played Kane in the two-hour pilot episode "Awakening", which was released theatrically. However, Silva was unavailable to take part in the weekly series and so Michael Ansara was cast in the role of Kane for subsequent episodes. The change had a subtle effect on Kane's relationship with Princess Ardala. In "Awakening", there is a flirtatious quality to some of Ardala's banter with Kane, such as when she asks if Kane desires "Me, or my throne?" and when she pointedly tells Kane that Buck Rogers "wouldn't have been necessary if you were more of a man." However, this flirtatious banter disappears when Ansara assumed the role, as the relationship between the two becomes more businesslike, notably in the episode "Ardala Returns" where Ardala repeatedly expresses doubt about Kane's Zygot robot duplicates of Buck Rogers and at one point she angrily orders Kane to sit down.
Before Erin Gray agreed to return to play the role of Wilma Deering from the film, Juanin Clay was considered to play the role. She later guest starred as Marla Landers, a character very similar to Wilma Deering.
The series was revamped for the second season to give it a more serious tone, a move largely pushed by Gil Gerard. Despite the series rating success during the first season, Gerard was displeased with its light, tongue-in-cheek tone, and frequently clashed with producers over content. Gerard was so disappointed that in an interview with Starlog magazine, he confessed he hoped the series would be canceled after the first season.
Johnny Harris arranged the opening theme music which was composed by Stu Phillips. The first 45 seconds where Buck is spinning is an original Johnny Harris composition up until Phillips main theme starts.
Food in the 25th century were food disks of protein nutrients as told in the storyline that food is grown on vistula would be plausable as if nuclear war did indeed destroyed cities and countries, the soil and land would be irradiated for centuries making for an accurate portrayel of real life nuclear war aftermath
Paul Peters designed the two-hour NBC film pilot, and is credited as Production Designer. MCA-Universal released the pilot as a summer film event anticipating popular (young to mid age male) audience reception; expecting the film to build a television viewing audience when the production started airing on NBC's Fall 1979 TV schedule. Universal art department's policy was to assign alternating design teams to Universal Studio TV episodic series production schedules. After the completion of the two-hour pilot, Paul Peters functioned as the supervising Production Designer over two alternating Art Director/Assistant Art Director/Set Decorator/Special Effects Supervisors/and Prop Master teams. Paul supervised the following four filmed episodes. Bill DeCinces (Universal Art Department Director) moved Paul Peters to another film project. Fred Luff had been team one's Art Director with Bill Talifero as his Assistant A.D. Bill Camden was team two's Art Director with Bonnie Scott as his Assistant A.D. With Paul Peters departure, Fred Luff became the Supervising Art Director, adding Hub Braden to head his team with Bill Talifaro as Braden's Assistant A.D. With the exception of Bill Talifaro, all of these art directors had worked together previously at NBC Burbank Color Television Tape Studios, associated with each other on shared and related television specials, game shows, syndicated programming, dramatic daily series, commercials, and network holiday events (Pasadena Rose Parade, sporting event and news specials).