It looks like Buck Rogers is back to save the galaxy once more! And it’s all thanks to superfan George Clooney. After heading to the stars in Solaris, Gravity and, most recently, The Midnight Sky, George has booked himself another ticket to space, with reports that he’ll be executive producing and starring in a new reboot of the classic sci-fi series Buck Rogers.
The story of Buck Rogers, a NASA astronaut who falls into a coma and wakes up in the 25th century, first appeared in a comic strip in the 1920s and since then there have been several radio, TV and film adaptations charting Rogers’ intergalactic adventures.
It’s rumoured the Clooney reboot will go back to the character’s very first appearance in the 1928 story, Armageddon 2419 AD, where Rogers is introduced as a World War One soldier, who’s exposed to radioactive gas and wakes up nearly 500 years later. But although Flint Dille, the grandson of the original Buck Rogers publisher John F Dille, is set to produce the new spin-off, there’s nobody firmed up to star as Buck Rogers himself.
In anticipation of an exciting new adventure for everyone’s favourite astronaut, here’s our guide to all things Buck Rogers and who’s in the frame to play the hero in George Clooney’s upcoming reboot…
When can we see the all-new Buck Rogers?
There’s no date for production of Buck Rogers or casting announced yet, let alone a channel and launch date, so we’ll just have to wait.
When was Buck Rogers first seen on screen?
For those unfamiliar with the swashbuckling astronaut, Buck Rogers was first adapted for the big screen in 1939 by Universal, with a 12-part sci-fi film serial starring actor and two-time Olympic swimmer Larry 'Buster' Crabbe (who was also playing Flash Gordon in this era).
Set in 1938, the plot saw Lieutenant Buck Rogers and his friend Buddy Wade (Jackie Moran) crash their airship in a savage blizzard and wake up in 2440 to a world ruled by the outlaw army of ruthless dictator, Killer Kane. The pair ended up joining the resistance and volunteering to go to Saturn to get help in their fight against Kane.
The serial Buck Rogers was a hit, despite it’s teeny budget, which meant it had to save money on special effects by reusing material from other productions like Just Imagine and Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars.
The serial was edited together in 1966 to become the film Destination Saturn in 1966. Here's the theme tune to this 1939 serial of Buck Rogers with the legendary Buster Crabbe...
Buck Rogers: the first 1950s' TV adaptation…
Following the success of the film serial, Buck Rogers was turned into a 36-episode black and white TV series, which ran on ABC between 1950 and 1951. Three actors played Buck during the series, including Earl Hammond who went on to voice supervillain Mumm-Ra in Thundercats. But, although it stayed faithful to the original comic strip, the show’s even more miniscule budget meant it never achieved much of an audience, and only one episode of the show survives today.
Buck Rogers In The 25th Century (made in the late 1970s)…
For anyone who’s over 40 it’s the 1979 film and subsequent two-series show, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, which starred Gil Gerard and Erin Gray, that’s the definitive Buck Rogers. The fun, family-friendly series was shown on ITV in 1980 and saw Gil Gerard as Buck Rogers, a suave, slick-haired 1987 NASA pilot, whose spaceship ended up flying through some poisonous space gasses.
His cryo-freeze life support system kicks in and he wakes up in the 25th century. There Buck finds a post-apocalyptic Earth under threat from the planet Draconia, with princess Ardala (Pamela Hensley), supervising a space invasion.
Erin Gray (Silver Spoons) played crack Starfighter pilot and Buck’s romantic interest Colonel Wilma Deering, while Buster Crabbe also popped up in a cameo as Brigadier Gordon. Like in R2-D2 and C-3PO from Star Wars, Buck was also assisted in his adventures by his cute little robot friend Twiki, famous for his ‘biddi-biddi-biddi’ noises.
The narration at the start of each episode is also forever etched into the memory of every forty-something sci-fi fan.
"The year is 1987, and NASA launches the last of America's deep space probes. In a freak mishap, Ranger 3 and its pilot, Captain William 'Buck' Rogers, are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life support systems, and returns Buck Rogers to Earth... 500 years later." Take a look at this clip here:
So who could be lined up to play Buck Rogers in the new George Clooney reboot?
Although casting of Buck Rogers is yet to be announced, British actor Tom Holland is no stranger to the comic strip movie, having risen to stardom playing Spider-Man in a string of superhero films, while Chris Hemsworth (aka Thor) could also be in line to star as Buck. There’s also a chance Henry Cavill could nab the role, having starred in the blockbusters Justice League, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
But we also can’t rule out George Clooney himself playing the iconic character, perhaps as an older incarnation, who ends up handing the reins to a grandson. Watch this space…
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.