Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ep 117 Ardala Returns, January 24, 1980

Director: Larry Stewart
Writer(s): Chris Bunch, Allan Cole
Guest Star(s):
Princess Ardala .... Pamela Hensley
Kane .... Michael Ansara
Tigerman .... Hard Boild Haggerty
Pilot .... James Emery
Technician .... Betty Bridges
Guard .... Bob Minor
Full List of Cast and Crew:
Hatched Fighter stabilized at one-quarter power. "Hero" No. 7 dropped his power to half but lost control, causing to the ship to explode. Ardala scolds Kane that his design is killing all her pilots and she may have to order more Posthumous medals for the deceased. Ardala has been given permission to destroy any Terrian city she wishes to rectify the insult she received in "Escape from Wedded Bliss". Ardala, faced with either scrapping Kane's project or getting better pilots, she concludes that with Lab 23 she will be able to use Buck Rogers to pilot her ships.

Good ol' Twiki builds Buck a Ping-Pool Table. Course the table just looks like it has a flag or table cloth draped over it. Buck try's to show both Wilma and Twiki how to play ping-pong, but the little gold ball that Twiki provided for the game seems to be too heavy and doesn't bounce. I would have thought that Buck should have noticed right away when he picked up the ball that it wouldn't work. Huer calls Wilma and Buck to his office as they just discovered a Space Ship from the year 1996. They notice a Pilot in the ship and ask Buck if he may know who he is. Buck indicates that the ship was flying Recon in his time. So, sometime in 1987 before Buck disappeared, this ship was flying Recon, and in 1996 it was sent into space for the last time with an Astronaut aboard that they think that Buck should know? Wasn't Buck's ship the LAST deep space shuttle making this one highly suspect? Perhaps Buck and this Astronaut trained together at NASA? Buck and Twiki fly up to the time capsule and open the hyper chamber that the Astronaut is "asleep" in. Twiki pushes the green button and slides off the lid. Buck for some reason, reaches in and tries to pick up the Astronaut, only for its head to fall off. They have been duped! It was a trap set by Ardala. If it wasn't though, wouldn't Buck have to be a bit more cautious with a 496 year old cryogenically frozen?

The Time Capsule blasts off to the Draconia. Buck is escorted into Ardala's room, and as soon as they are alone the music changes to something more, risque. Well, their reunion is short lived, as she takes Buck to Lab 23 where she shows him their prototype of Buck Rogers himself, Zygot Mark I. The Mark I has an Alloy skeleton, vat-grown protoplasm, a microcomputer brain. They ready Buck for the Nero Duplicator to download Buck's Nero Responses into the Zygot. Buck makes a break for it, and the P.A. announces that Buck is in Sector B. Buck is overwhelmed by several Draconian Guards. One guard appears to have lost his helmet in the struggle.

New Chicago Command tries to contact Starfighter 1314. No response. Buck seems to have disappeared. Fearing something is wrong, Wilma checks-out a Starfighter to search for him (Does she not have her own assigned Starfighter that she has to check one out like a library book?). Buck is tied to a chair wearing a Neural Capacitance Suit. Buck refuses to volunteer his Nero memories, but Ardala plans to proceed anyways. They stick a helmet on him and Anesthetize Buck. Wilma finds Buck's shuttle, but not Buck or Twiki. Theopolis analyzes the ship and indicates that the Capsule left 20 minutes after Buck and Twiki arrived. Theo finds a electromagnetic pattern of the engine drive system that is characteristically similar to that of a Draconian imperial drive units that came from the Time Capsule. Why didn't they make this scan before boarding the Capsule?

Buck awakes to see a Scorpion Fighter shooting at him. He quickly returns fire upon the ship that turned into a Starfighter. Three Starfighters to be exact. Buck seeing they are hostile, destroys all three ships no questions asked. Kane and Ardala are impressed with his reaction times being twice as fast as their pilots and terminate the illusion simulator Buck is in. Now, what if it wasn't a simulation? Wouldn't three Directorate Starfighters shooting at a Hatchet Fighter be pretty normal? How would they know Buck was in the ship? Why wouldn't Buck recognize his own ships shooting at him and try to convince them of a cease fire? Luckily Buck didn't ironically kill Wilma and two other directorate pilots as they attempted to rescue Buck. Huer and Theo are able to locate Twiki from his EM Transmissions. Huer sends a transmission through Subspace to communicate through Twiki to Buck. How Dr. Huer knew that Buck was sleeping is a mystery to me. Unfortunately, Kane and Ardala bugged Twiki and distorted elements of Buck's transmission so Huer would not learn of their plans. Huer tells Buck to escape his cell, and steal a Hatchet Fighter so he could rendezvous with Wilma, who is only half a parsec away. If Buck could do all that, why could he not keep going all they way to Earth by himself? How come that Wilma's presence is enough to motivate him to try to escape?

Twiki touches the door controls, allowing Buck and him to escape. It's not along before the alarms are triggered, Guards reporting to their stations, and Sector B is flooded with security. Buck runs out of Twiki's visual range, a Zygot comes out from around the corner who Twiki thinks is the real Buck. The Zygot tells Twiki to wait in the Cargo hold while he warms up a Hatchet Fighter. Why does Twiki think that separating, and waiting in a room down the hall from the hanger is a good idea? How would he know when Buck was ready to go? Too many things could happen that being separated is a bad idea. Luckily, the real Buck is already in the Cargo hold. Yippee, they are reunited instead. The fake Buck Rogers, or Zygot, rendezvous with Wilma on the other side of a Stargate and they both fly home. Three more Roger Zygots are to fly Hatchet Fighters through Earths defenses and destroy New Phoenix. The Prototype (Mark I), is armed with a one-ton nuclear device that will detonate when it is in the same room as New Chicago's three top leaders, Dr Huer, Dr. Theopolis and Wilma Deering. But not instantly of course.

Buck taunts two Draconian soldiers training with Stun Sticks. Insulted, they challenge the Earth Trash, Buck Rogers. With some quick moves, Buck takes out the two soldiers and walks up to the two guards and takes them out too with no effort. But just when Buck thinks he is in the clear, Tigerman and four guards await him on the other side of the door. Poor Buck, he just cannot catch a break. Back in his cell, Buck finds the Bug hidden on Twiki and discards it. Then they plan to create a "flaw" in Buck by sending a low voltage current through his body to jangle his neural responses for 20 minutes or so. With this flaw, the Zygots will be flawed when they copy his Nero-responses again. How and why would he know that? Secondly, why would Kane need to go through the neural duplicating procedure for each Zygot? Kane notices these jangled responses and thinks that he may have drunk Antaraen brandy. But no matter. A Drunk Buck Rogers wont affect anything right? Why is Ardala facing the camera when she is talking to Kane, who is standing behind her?

Huer and Wilma both are convinced that Buck is not the same. Almost like his spirit has been stolen. Theopolis suggests that Buck may be a victim of Psycho-Surgery. Buck enters and miss quotes an old 21st Century Saying, then corrects himself in an off handed robotic way. It would seem that Buck's prototype is flawed all by itself. Now that the Zygot has all three of the top leaders alone in one room, it now activates its internal bomb. The Scanners in the building have detected the device and alert faculty to evacuate Level 3. Theopolis determines that it is a Draconian bomb. A Red Alert Search is being conducted at that very moment. A Technician walks with a scanner looking for the bomb. In the last few seconds, Wilma realizes that Buck is the Bomb and disintegrates him. Ardala's Plan "A" failed. Oh well. Ardala has three more Buck Roger Zygots. She orders Kane that they be sent to her chamber for a personal inspection. I guess the idea of three sex toys is too much for Ardala to pass up. Buck No 2 is all romance, Buck No. 3 is all about himself, Buck No. 4 is depressed and cannot get out of his own stupor. Buck No. 3 talks about one "honey" at Clark, when he was flying F-16's with the Widowmakers. The woman was fine, but he had more interest in the F-16's. Oh man, Ardala is in for a long boring story. On one mission, Wild Weasel's ship said there was a Sam-12 on Buck's tail. Buck then hit right rudder and grayed out. After two hours of listening to Buck No. 3 talking about F-16's, Ardala turns him off. Buck No. 2 goes in for a kiss. Ardala turns him off too after she see's his mechanical eyes. She goes to her communication mirror and contacts the real Buck. She longs for the real thing. She is actually crying. She orders Kane to launch the attack on Earth immediately with the three Zygots.

Ardala's plan: Two Zygots will engage all the Earths Starfighters, while the third is to fly through the defenses and destroy New Pheonix with an Anti-Mater bomb. "For the Empire". The real Buck and Twiki have hatched a plan that Twiki isn't to convinced will work. Ardala enters Bucks cell and informs him that the Zygots where launched 10 minutes ago and New Phoenix will be all but a memory. Buck's plan was to pretend to be a Zygot, so Ardala would leave him be, but took the chance that she would not shoot him in her anger.

The first wave (or only wave) of Ardala's attack enter Earth's sensor range. Huer orders to Scramble all Squadrons. Penetration Section Oboe 3 (what does that mean?). Colonel Deering is to lead the first Squadron and intercept the hatchet fighters. Dr. Huer wants her and her squad to destroy all of the ships. I guess if she did, there wouldn't be a need to a second or third squadron right? Or as a precaution that Deering and the first squad fail (i.e. DIE), then he has more squads to take her place. Buck escapes in a Hatchet fighter and fly's even faster than Kane's Zygots. Wilma orders Echo Element to deploy as High Squadron, and Victor Element to Fingers-four (originally sounded like gibberish to me). The real Buck radios in to any Earth outpost available and Wilma answers back. Buck is only half a light second (149,896,229 metres) behind the other three Zygot Bucks. Buck instructs Wilma and her squad not to close. Avoid getting the Zygots on their tail (good advice for anyone). The Zygots will try to bounce them from the rear quarter. The battle begins. Three of the Directorate Starfighters are destroyed, allowing one Zygot into Earth's defense shield. Buck, hot on his tail, destroys the Zygot before it can bomb New Phoenix. Turning around, Buck takes out another Zygot. Just one left, Wilma takes a risky shot and destroys one of the two Hatchet fighters fighting each other. As luck would have it, she got the Zygot and not the real Buck Rogers. I cannot believe that she just took that risk.
In Buck's apartment, Buck pulls off the table cloth to reveal a more accurate Ping-Pong table. He plays Dr. Huer, who scores two points. Buck then plays a joke on them, making them believe he could be a Zygot after all. It's a good thing they don't shoot first and ask questions later. Ha ha, all in good fun.

References to the 20th Century that the 25th does't get: Ping-Pong, Pool (bilards), hustled
My Favorite Lines: "Love isn't something that two people can try to make happen" -Buck "What can she concivably do with three Buck Roger's for an hour and a half?" -Kane
Princess Ardala's No. of Outfits: 4
Deaths: 4
Miniatures: (1) Draconia (1) Draconia Lower Launch Bay (5) Hatchet Fighter (1) Time Capsule (1) Canaris Shuttle (6) Starfighter (1) Scorpion


  1. "Fingers four" is a fighter formation. It is used by the Navy and Air Force today.

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  3. One of my favorite line deliveries from the series:
    "You're insulting a Draconian soldier...Earf trash!"

  4. Ardala is facing the camera while talking to Kane because she is admiring the three Buck Rogers duplicates on the opposing side of the room at that moment.