|Index||3 reviews in total|
When one of their number is killed by an Earth Defense Directorate
agent, a group of assassins known as The Legion of Death vow revenge
and plot to destroy New Chicago. Buck infiltrates the gang, posing as
killer-for-hire Raphael Argus, whom the other assassins only know by
Unfortunately, Buck's cover is blown before he can inform Earth of the Legion's dastardly plans.
The first of a two-part episode, The Plot to Kill a City Pt 1 is a classic slice of dodgy 80s TV sci-fi that is thoroughly entertaining thanks to its totally daft collection of bad-guys (and gal), and its rather crap effects, unconvincing matte paintings, naff set design and flimsy props.
An indication of the pure cheesiness of this episode appears early on when Buck approaches a blonde woman in a bar, only for her to turn around to reveal that 'she' is an alien (with an elephant's trunk!). And the fun continues throughout, with a telekinetic killer, a mutant in a gold face-mask, a spaceship with a sexy on-board computer, and a scene in which Wilma uses a ridiculous surveillance device to eavesdrop on the killers (a big perspex dish with flashing red diodes).
Erin Gray, as Wilma Deering, is as gorgeous as ever, sporting a brunette wig and a purple dress split up to the thigh as a disguise, and extra eye-candy is on offer in the delightful form of Markie Post, who plays Joella Cameron, an ex-girlfriend of the real Argus, who decides to protect Buck's true identity from the villains.
And to top it all, The Plot to Kill a City Pt 1 finishes with a terrific cliffhanger, just like the original Buster Crabbe series from the 1930s.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After one of their number gets killed by an Earth Defense Directorate agent, an elite group of lethal assassins known as the Legion of Death vow revenge and devise a plan to destroy New Chicago. Buck Rogers (Gil Gerard in typically fine and engaging form) infiltrates the gang by posing as killer-for-hire Raphael Argus. Director Dick Lowry, working from a neat and engrossing script by Alan Brennert, relates the enjoyable story at a brisk pace, stages the action set pieces with a reasonable amount of energy and competence (the pitched laser gun shoot-outs are pretty dynamic and exciting), and further spices things up with an amusing sense of cheerfully campy humor (the sassy'n'sexy talking female computer on Argus' spaceship provides a wealth of good laughs). This episode also boasts a cool array of colorful guest villains: Frank Gorshin as cunning scientist leader Seton Kellog, John Quade as lecherous telekinetic Jolen Quince, Nancy De Carl as sultry empath Sherese, and Robert Tessier as fearsome ace martial artist Marcos. Moreover, James Sloyan contributes a lively and charming turn as personable rogue Barney, the adorable Markie Post brightens things up as the perky, but cynical Joella Cameron, and Anthony James elicits some sympathy as Kellog's cowed and disfigured masked bodyguard Varek. Alas, gruff New York character thesp Victor Argo is given precious little to do as Argus. As a tasty added bonus, Wilma Deering (the always delicious Erin Gray) spends a sizable amount of her screen time in a clingy and sparkly blue dress that shows off a lot of her yummy legs. The expected crummy matte paintings, tacky props, cheesy costumes (Buck wears a leather get-up that would fit in snugly at a Greenvich Village S&M gay bar circa the mid 70's!), and dodgy (less than) special effects add to the considerable kitschy appeal of this entertaining show.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Plot to Kill a City" is actually another two-part episode (how
many does that make so far?). Buck goes undercover as a criminal named
Raphael Argus to infiltrate a group known as the Legion of Death.
Fortunately for Buck, none of the other members have actually met
Raphael Argus they only know him by reputation. Buck learns that the
group plans to get revenge for one of their members who was killed by
the Defense Directorate. Unfortunately, Buck's cover is blown and he'll
have to save his own skin if he's to save New Chicago from destruction.
Overall, these aren't two of the better episodes of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century that I've watched so far (okay, I know I've only watched seven episodes, but these two would rank fifth and sixth out of seven). There are several problems, but the big one for me is the whole Legion of Death concept. The silly name, the even sillier hand signal, and following the orders of Frank Gorshin do not make for a very intimidating band of assassins. Gorshin is terrible in the part of the group's leader, Kellogg. Besides not looking the part, he continually does some weird thing with his hands that's terribly distracting. John Quade as Quince (what alliteration!) and Nancy DeCarl as Sherese fare no better. That's especially true of Quade who looks ridiculous in his sheep's wool get-up. In fact, other than a lot of boisterous talk, the group of would-be terrorists doesn't do much of anything. Buck should have been able to handle this group with his eyes closed. Without effective bad guys, you don't get a very effective episode (or episodes as the case may be).
Even with the problems, this is still Buck Rogers and there's still some fun to be had. From the always enjoyable cheese of the special effects to the outfits worn by Erin Grey (and in these episodes, Markie Post), there's enough here that qualifies as entertainment to keep "The Plot to Kill a City" from being a total disaster. So a 6/10 seems about right.
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