Sunday, 7 December 2014

EPis0dIC! - Buck Rogers in the 25th Century "Space Rockers" (1980)

Buck, Wilma, Dr. Huer, Twiki and Dr. Theopolis gather in Huers office to watch a performance by the pop group "Andromeda".
Huer explains to Buck that the group has reached an unparalleled level of popularity amongst young people all over the galaxy, which Buck points out isn't unknown, as back in the 20th century The Beatles had a similar effect on young people too.
Huer goes on to state that for some reason, whenever Andromeda makes a broadcast from their base, a former military satellite which has been repurposed and renamed "Music World", there is an almost immediate increase in youth crime on all planets that receive the broadcast, and Huer asks Buck if he can think of any reason as to why this would happen, as there appears to be nothing out of the ordinary, and they don't suspect any involvement or use of drugs.
Buck says that in his time, music generally gave young people something to look forward to, and not something to riot over, so something must be amiss, especially as for some reason, some of the young people have started wearing black uniforms and behaving aggressively.
Huer explains that they have an operative undercover on Music World, who has  managed to get a job as a sound technician working with Andromeda, and he usually sends reports hidden in the stations broadcasts, however his most recent transmission was cut off in mid flow.
Meanwhile on Music World, Andromedas manager, Mr. Mangros, kills the undercover operative and flushes his body into space with the refuse, then he and his henchman activate a device which emits a high pitched tone.
Back on Earth, the young people listening to Andromedas broadcast begin rioting and fighting, and a young couple steal Bucks starfighter from the spaceport and take it for a joyride, Buck pursues them in another ship but fails to convince them to stop.
Just as the broadcast finishes, all of the fighting and rioting ceases, and the couple joyriding in Bucks fighter come to their senses and allow him to guide the ship back to port on remote control.
The couple, neither of whom had previously been in any trouble with the authorities, say that they have no idea what came over them. Buck is initially dismissive of their claims, but allows them to go free.
Dr. Huer and Buck come up with a plan, Buck will go to music world and introduce Andromedas next broadcast, which will be their first show to be simultaniously transmitted to all planets in the galaxy, and while he is there, he is to find out what is causing the young people to behave strangely.

Mangros is planning the galaxy wide broadcast with Andromeda, where he seems to be quite charming and supportive, however behind their backs he explains to his henchman that his plan is simply to use them as a means of using his mind control device to cause the youth populations of the inhabited worlds to cause civil unrest, and thus if the governments want order to return, they will have to come to him.

Buck, Twiki and Dr. Theopolis arrive on Music World, only to find a gang of black uniformed youths waiting to ambush them. Buck easily fights off the youths but cant understand why they were attacked.
He discusses the attack with Andromeda when he finally meets them, but they say that sadly, some of their fans are like that, they don't know why but their music attracts allsorts, even the undesireable ones.

After concluding that the band are genuine and have no intention of causing harm to anyone, Buck and Dr. Theopolis review the information they have about Mr. Mangros, as it turns out, prior to becoming Andromedas manager, Mangros was a scientist who specialised in particle movement devices and theory, but that doesnt appear to have any connection with the youth problem.
Buck has a poke around in the space stations control room, finding a microchip hidden under one of the consoles, but is seen by Mangros' henchman, Mangros, still furious that the gang of youths he sent to attack Buck earlier failed in their task, decides to try again, only this time much more subtly.

Mangros has Joanna, one of his groupies go to Bucks quarters to "entertain" him, as a means of proving how much she loves Mangros. 
Buck is rather surprised when the young woman suddenly turns up and begins making lustful overtures towards him. Just as she moves in to embrace him, one of Andromedas songs begins playing through the stations speakers, and Mangros activates his hidden device again.
Joanna pulls a poison filled hypo from up her sleeve and makes to stab Buck with it, but he notices her strange behaviour and quickly disarms her. confident that his assassination plot has worked, Mangros turns off his machine, Joanna suddenly stops trying to kill Buck and give the same confused reaction as what the other youths Buck saw on Earth did.

Dr. Theopolis returns and says he has found that Mangros had previously experimented with a mind control device which used a charged particle wave to transmit a signal which can be modulated to induce any emotional state in the people it is directed at. Buck figures the mystery out, Mangros is using Andromedas music to transmit signals to the youth population to induce them to riot.

He informs Andromeda about what their music is being used for, at first they dont believe him, but are soon convinced when he gets the lead guitar player to remove the necklace Mangros gave her while some of their music is playing, and she proceeds to violently attack him. Buck explains that the band members are not affected by the signals as their necklaces block the hidden signals being piggy backed on their music.
Understandably, the band are horrified and they confront Mangros, who simply laughs at them and has them locked up, saying he no longer requires them to finish his plans as he will just use prerecorded footage for their next broadcast, and then make sure they all have an "accident" once he has what he wants.

Dr. Theopolis tracks the source of the mind control signals to Mangros' office, but says that Buck wont be able to get up there unnoticed through the waste disposal system as he is too large, but Twiki should have no trouble.
After Twiki has set off, Buck is taken away by Mangros' goons and locked up with Andromeda, and, just as Twiki tries to destroy the transmitter, the garbage disposal activates and he nearly ends up being flushed into space.

All over the galaxy, young people pour into bars and youth centres ready for the pan-galactic broadcast of Andromedas latest concert, Mangros checks to make sure that everyone is listening, and then begins the broadcast.

Meanwhile, Buck and Andromeda have figured out that they can use one of Andromedas instruments as a makeshift sonic weapon which will smash down the door of the room they are locked in and allow them to escape. The device works and Buck makes his way up to Mangros' office to stop the transmission.

All across the galaxy, the youth who are listening to the music start to become violent, Mangros instructs his henchman to wait until he appears on stage and then turn the machine up to full.

Buck manages to take the henchman by surprise and knocks him out, then smashes the machine, which causes all the youths to stop rioting. At the same time, Mangros begins a transmission instructing the assembled youths of the galaxy to begin large scale riots, as he and Andromeda will show them the way to "take control of their own lives" etc etc, however, as the mind control machine has been destroyed, all he is greeted with is raucous laughter as the youths perceive him as being a "whacko"...he walks off stage just as the real Andromeda arrive and begin playing, much to the assembled youth populations delight.
Dr Huer, much relived that Mangros' evil plan has been foiled, and thus the police didnt have to hurt anyone in quelling the riots, orders Mangros to be arrested, while Buck and Twiki listen to the concert from the sidelines.

This is one of the many "gimmick" episodes of this series, this time concentrating on issues affecting youth culture.
Its not a bad episode overall, although Buck Rogers does look a little uncomfortable "getting down with the kids" considering at the time, actor Gil Gerard was 37 years old and had to deliver lines explaining and relating to youth issues.

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