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Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as TV movies

lapis molari

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Ha ha! I watched my edit of the Dream of Jennifer episode with my kids (a final run through to include it on the Buck Bonus Disc) and one transition needed to be improved. Our conversation went like this:
"Kids, let me jump back a moment. I want to see that scene change again."
[Jump back 30 seconds, rewatch the transition.]
"That's what I thought. I need to cut maybe half a second at the end of that scene."
"You can see that, dad? But that's so short! That's literally less than a second."
And I'm thinking "that's not short; that could be as many as 12 frames!"

A funny reminder that it's all relative. (I ended up cutting 9 frames.)
 

lapis molari

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Several website reported this week that a new Buck Rogers movie will be developed by “Transformers” producer Don Murphy at Legendary and produced through Angry Films banner along with Susan Montford. Their declared intention is to create a platform for a full franchise, including multiple films, a TV series, and an animated TV series.

As Twiki would say: Groovy!
 

lev

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Looking forward to the first movie which will bomb after being cluttered with setup for the franchise.
It'd be great if a studio could just make a movie and see if it's successful enough to support a franchise.
 

dkerin

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lapis molari said:
Several website reported this week that a new Buck Rogers movie will be developed by “Transformers” producer Don Murphy at Legendary and produced through Angry Films banner along with Susan Montford. Their declared intention is to create a platform for a full franchise, including multiple films, a TV series, and an animated TV series.

As Twiki would say: Groovy!

Interested to see what they do!   And of course, as movie developments go, if it actually comes to be.  Been a number of similar Battlestar and even Logan's Run reboot movies announced, without much happening.   But not meaning that in a Debbie-Downer kinda way.  :)

While 79 Buck was quite different from the original serials, sure this too will be its own thing.   If anything does carry over as inspiration, would love to see the Starfighter design brought into a new feature.  Fantastic fighter design!
 

Zarius

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Oh dear...aren't the Transformers movies best known for being..well...terrible?
 

lapis molari

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Making progress on the remaining Buck edits, but it's been a lot of two-steps-forward-one-step-back. Specifically, I was unhappy with parts of the scenes I created with Huer in Season 2. To remedy that, I've extracted ALL shots of Huer that might be usable and am puzzling them together to create better scenes.
The off-screen dialog is easier to cobble together because there are no mouth movements that need to line up.

Since I'm going all-out Huer at the moment, I'm building all of his Season 2 scenes at the same time:
- Time of the Hawk sees Huer in his blue suit (on Earth with Buck, video call with Asimov),
- Journey to Oasis has one minute of Dr Huer, probably in his red suit (video call with Buck and Wilma),
- Testimony of a Traitor (which'll be in the Buck Bonus Disc) gets one scene with Huer, possibly in his white suit (video call with Wilma).

I will admit, creating these new scenes out of the available material makes me feel like this:
4ab1e058e192a820faea8f4c33142f24.jpg
 

dkerin

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lapis molari said:
Making progress on the remaining Buck edits, but it's been a lot of two-steps-forward-one-step-back. Specifically, I was unhappy with parts of the scenes I created with Huer in Season 2. To remedy that, I've extracted ALL shots of Huer that might be usable and am puzzling them together to create better scenes.
The off-screen dialog is easier to cobble together because there are no mouth movements that need to line up.

Since I'm going all-out Huer at the moment, I'm building all of his Season 2 scenes at the same time:
- Time of the Hawk sees Huer in his blue suit (on Earth with Buck, video call with Asimov),
- Journey to Oasis has one minute of Dr Huer, probably in his red suit (video call with Buck and Wilma),
- Testimony of a Traitor (which'll be in the Buck Bonus Disc) gets one scene with Huer, possibly in his white suit (video call with Wilma).

I will admit, creating these new scenes out of the available material makes me feel like this:
4ab1e058e192a820faea8f4c33142f24.jpg

I hear you on that!!!  Amazing the differences you find between shots that in your head should go together well, but the audio is different somehow, their tone doesn't blend... or any number of things.   And trying to put different dialogue in an have the lip sync look correct?   Madness ensues!!!  :)   

If you ever need an outside opinion to see if something works, give me a shout.   I know in my day to day work I can fixate on an issue I see, but then if I show someone else they might not notice it at all.    Of course the other way happens too where I think it works and someone comes back with... nope!   Back to the drawing board Kerin!
 

lapis molari

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I received my Kino Lorber blu-ray set yesterday. :heart:

Here are my comparisons between this set and the 2016 Madman set:

1) Theatrical release of "Awakening"
a) Aspect Ratio: Kino's 2K-scan is in true widescreen vs Madman's upscaled PAL being in 4:3. Madman is not pan&scan but taken from the open matte, so it shows information at top and bottom that isn't in the widescreen Kino. :arrow: Slight win for Kino. The movie looks great in widescreen, but (!) even though this was filmed in widescreen, the composition seems aimed at the 4:3 television format (e.g. actors heads are close to the top of the screen in medium shots). For the specific goal of merging the Theatrical and TV-version in a fanedit it's a clear win for Madman because the aspect ratios match.
b) Picture Quality: Kino's image is sharper, but it looks to me that they applied sharpening because the grain is showing more prominently than in the subsequent episodes. :arrow: Slight win for Kino: in most shots Kino wins convincingly, in others I prefer Madman's image.
c) Framerate: Madman's theatrical suffers from PAL speed-up. :arrow: Kino wins.

These screenshots overlap, showing the difference in aspect ratio and quality (for an explanation of the unused corners, see wikipedia's Open Matte description):
compare%20Wilma%20Kino%20(sharpening)%20vs%20Madman%20(darker,%20less%20detail).jpg


compare%20neon%20Kino%20(prominent%20grain)%20vs%20Madman%20(smoother%20skintones).jpg


2) The episodes: Kino uses the same source as Madman's. The only difference is a 10% higher bitrate. I see slightly improved crispness in the image, but only in indoor close-up shots. For other shots I see no difference (on a 24" 4K Dell monitor). I expect that is because of a little DNR, not just the slightly higher bitrate. This because Kino shows more noise in difficult shots (thin lines, lots of shades of white, low contrast in lighting) :arrow: Draw.

3) Audio:
- Kino uses DTS instead of PCM, but it's the same dual-mono track. :arrow: Draw.
- Kino applies a little Noise Reduction for the Theatrical. That removes the very light static hiss on the Madman set, but also very soft sounds such as subtle rustling of clothing and the aspiration of the actors voices. :arrow: Slight win for Madman.
- Kino mastered the Theatrical Movie at a lower overall volume but with the same maximum volume, resulting in a greater dynamic range. There's no advantage for dialog, but explosions have more oomph and sound less 'flat'. :arrow: Kino wins for Theatrical audio.
- Kino uses the identical audio mix as Madman for all other adventures, just 7.1dB quieter (I tested it by lining up audio tracks, matching volume, and inverting one of them: result is total silence). :arrow: Draw for all audio except the Theatrical.
- Kino has commentary tracks for almost half the adventures. :arrow: Kino wins. I don't find the Theatrical commentary worth it. The other commentaries are more interesting (mostly rehashing the trivia-treasure "Companion" book from what I've listened to so far).
- Madman has a dialog-free Dolby dual-mono track for all episodes. :arrow: For normal viewing: draw, because who cares? For fanediting: huge win for Madman.

4) Subtitles: Kino has subtitles, Madman doesn't. :arrow: Kino wins. Altough, I already adjusted old DVD subtitles to match the Madman set. (those'll be in my upcoming Bonus Disc).

5) Packaging. Both sets are fine. Nothing special. I will point out that Kino put Dr Huer on the back cover of Season 2. Oops!

6) Minor difference: Both blu-ray sets have fade-to-blacks where the TV-commercials would have been. Kino's black lasts a second longer (between 15 - 23 frames per time from what I see so far) than Madman's, resulting in a slightly longer runtime. E.g. Time of the Hawk is 8 seconds longer on Kino because every fade-to-black adds a bit. :arrow: No winner. Only relevant if you want to fanedit the audio track from one with the video from the other set.
 

bionicbob

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Thanks for the Blu Ray review @"lapis molari"!  Very informative.

Can't wait til my Kino set arrives, supposedly sometime next week. :D
 

lapis molari

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For my taste Bruce Broughton's first Buck Rogers score is uneven compared to his later work in the series. E.g. in the final scene of Time of the Hawk we get a stately, sombre tune to accompany Hawk's "I will join you." I've replaced it with a different Broughton cue from a later episode. The celebratory trumpets match the beaming faces of Wilma, Asimov and Goodfellow (look at those smiles, they just got bigger!). The original music is dual-mono, the replacement music starts a fraction quieter in dual-mono but opens up to true stereo (you'll need stereo speakers or headphones to notice). The closing theme that follows is now also in true stereo, otherwise it felt like the music closed up again. Pw: fanedit.org


One detail closer to completing my Hawk edit. :)
 

keithbk

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I keep thinking that someone should recompile the season 1 opening credits.

When the original was created, the composite had flaws due to the technique used to create them, including annoying spots on the screen. In fact, the blu-ray footage is much more crisp, so a new, clean opening should be possible.
 

lapis molari

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keithbk said:
I keep thinking that someone should recompile the season 1 opening credits.

When the original was created, the composite had flaws due to the technique used to create them, including annoying spots on the screen. In fact, the blu-ray footage is much more crisp, so a new, clean opening should be possible.

I looked at that, but that'd be a lot of work for little gain. You have to either:
a) rebuild the circle effect to match the crispness of the the images you take from the episodes, or
b) scale down the resolution of your images to match the visual of those circles, in which case you only 'win' the removal of the black spots on screen.

Should the studio do this? Sure, I would triple-dip if they released another blu-ray set that has a solid 5.1 surround mix, WITH a clean center channel. And cleaned-up credits would be a nice bonus. But I'm not gonna make 'm myself.
 

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I was just watching Buck Rogers "Return of the Fighting 69th" on Blu-Ray and was amazed how great it looked.

This episode takes place largely in an asteroid field. Interestingly, it aired in late October, 1979. 

"The Empire Strikes Back" would not be seen until May 21, 1980.

While both Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers are often called "Star Wars rip-offs," it's interesting to see how the asteroid effects of Buck Rogers pre-dates the second Star Wars film.

Both Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica produced more quality hours of viewing than Star Wars was able to produce in its initial run. That is not to say there were not klunker episodes in both television series, but if you grew up with Star Wars, this is what you had:

1) Star Wars (1977) - a great film, launching the franchise.
2) Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) - made for TV bomb; absolutely horrible. One of the worst two hours of television.
3) The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - fantastic; may even surpass the original.
4) Return of the Jedi (1983) - a substandard film overall, nowhere near as good as the first two. Still better than most films.
5) Caravan of Courage (1984) - the first Ewok film. Average mediocre kid fare.
6) Ewoks: Battle for Endor (1985) - the second Ewok film and again, merely average.

In all, you have about four hours of GREAT Star Wars viewing, a couple hours of pretty good Star Wars viewing (Jedi), and then four hours of average followed by one absolute two-hour stinker. 12 hours total.

In contrast, both Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers had to contend with smaller budgets and the stricter TV viewing standards, but they produced by far more quality viewing hours in both series. To their credit, they created fun, science fantasy adventures that are still enjoyable to this day. Both series would have a far-less successful second series run (Galactica 1980 and Buck Rogers Season 2), but even these never really sank to the lows of "The Star Wars Holiday Special." 

Personally, I find "Galactica 1980" to be about on par with the Ewok movies. There were some good ideas, I liked it a lot as a kid, but as an adult, I can see the shortcomings. So, while Battlestar and Buck may never have reached the heights of Empire or the original Star Wars, they definitely matched and even surpassed some of the other releases.
 

lapis molari

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@"keithbk", those are fighting words! :D

Absolutely: Buck Rogers influenced Star Wars and other sci-fi franchises. Not only the Buster Crabbe ones that George Lucas readily admits to, but also "our" Gil Gerard interpretation of Buck. E.g. Ralph McQuarrie reused his own Starfighter / concept Viper design for the Snowspeeder in Empire.
Other examples include the Jumpgate in Babylon 5 being inspired by Buck's Stargate. Princess Aura in Flash Gordon is inspired by Ardala (in 1978-1980 as well as the originals in the 1930s). For her flamboyant dresses, Servalan in Blake's 7 may also have taken inspiration from Ardala (B7 aired first in January 1978, but Servalan didn't start wearing outrageous dresses until after Buck aired).

Of course Star Wars hugely inspired all sci-fi that came after its 1977 release. Twiki and Theo are inspired by R2-D2 and C-3PO. Budgets for all these TV shows got greenlit after executives saw how profitable Star Wars was, and Star Trek was revived on the big screen.

Growing up with all that and loving it, I'm happy that they all influenced each other. I think it kept them on their toes: successful bits were copied but stinkers generally weren't. It would have been awful if the studios had indiscriminately copied the second seasons of Buck and Battlestar, or the singing and sketches of the SW Christmas Special.

Anyhow, to swing back to Buck's episodes: Space Vampire is one of the episodes in my upcoming Buck "Bonus Disc". There's a spaceship continuity error as our heroes approach the space station. I fixed it.
 

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I just think it is odd that so many "modern viewers" write off Buck and Battlestar, while praising Star Wars, when both series are just as entertaining on average.

While we are on the subject, there are plenty of B-movie Star Wars movie rip-offs (or tag-alongs) from the era that are nowhere near the level of Buck and Battlestar, like Star Crash or Battle Beyond the Stars. Of course, I collect them all (even Jason of Star Command). 

One of the things I found insightful on the commentary tracks was how Buck Rogers was created as "James Bond in Space," and that is an apt description of it. Gil Girard's Buck is very much like Roger Moore's 007.
 

lapis molari

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Oh yes! I wish they had leaned into the "Bond in Space" approach longer.

The Plot to Kill a City is Buck high-point as spy in space. It has all the ingredients:
- larger-than-life villains,
- Buck goes undercover to find and thwart their genocidal scheme,
- a very attractive BondgirlBuck-girl who immediately falls for Buck's charm,
- the villains get defeated with literal seconds to spare,
- Theo's "black light" gadgets are the futuristic version of Q's gadgets, and
- Dr Huer is a blend of Charlie from Charlie's Angels and M from 007.

Looking at Wilma's role, especially in the earlier episodes, I'd love to see the Bond franchise take a cue from Buck Rogers and create an adventure with a female "00" agent who teams with Bond and holds her own in a crisis (and doesn't sleep with Bond).

On the other shows, there was plenty of junk in the sci-fi genre. One disappointment that comes to mind is the TV series of Logan's Run. I did not care for that as a kid. And surely Star Wars stands tall over all other efforts in the 70s and 80s because it redefined the genre, irrespective of how much you like the story.
 

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Just for fun, it would be humorous to re-score Buck Rogers with James Bond theme music... just to see how it plays out.
 

lapis molari

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keithbk said:
Just for fun, it would be humorous to re-score Buck Rogers with James Bond theme music... just to see how it plays out.

Oh man! Brilliant, @"keithbk"! You and @"bionicbob" are giving me a lot of fun with Buck Rogers. A lot of work too, but I sure am enjoying it. :D

I'm adding this to my list of songs to include in a disco version of the first Buck Rogers adventure. To be honest, I doubt I'll complete that because it'll cost a lot of time to do all the sound replacement well. But I do plan on making a few clips with songs, just for the enjoyment of seeing and hearing the concept work.

The title song from 007's "You Only Live Twice" has appropriate lyrics:
"You only live twice
Or so it seems
One life for yourself
And one for your dreams
You drift through the years
And life seems tame
'Til one dream appears
And love is its name"

For the absurdity of the "dream" opening credits, I could also imagine Burt Bacharach's Casino Royale theme. :rolleyes:

Alright. A disco edit of the widescreen Buck movie (the newly remastered one on the Kino Lorber bluray) just got pushed a little higher on my wishlist.
 

lapis molari

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Playing around with adding music to Buck, I figured I should compile all the music that is already used or referenced in the series. Here it is! :D
(No password, because of Vimeo's settings for free accounts)

 
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