When 20th century astronaut Buck Rogers was transported to the 25th century, he discovered while many things had changed over the last 500 years, some things stayed the same — namely, that rock and roll is evil and young people are the worst. And in the insanely horrible episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century titled “Space Rockers,” Buck had to save the galaxy from both of these menaces.
We begin with the band Andromeda, a 25th century rock band that — and I can’t stress this enough — is playing nothing approximating rock and roll. They are playing a kind of weird pop-funk, no lyrics, heavy on bass and synthesizer; it’s actually pretty good, if you like that sort of thing (I highly recommend hitting play on the video above and letting the jam play as a soundtrack to the article). Of course, the band is covered in glitter and Christmas lights, because it is the future and this is what bands in the future do. Just in case you weren’t 100% certain it’s the future, the band member on “drums” is playing small glass cylinders, and the keyboardist’s “keyboard” is just a series of randomly sized and colored circles (which doesn’t stop him from spazzing out and trying to play them with his feet).
In the recording booth, a dude named Tarkas is caught by an evil music producer played by Jerry Orbach (of Law and Order fame) and Richard Moll (the guy who played Bull on Night Court, but with hair and a beard, and who looks eerily like Zod from Superman II). They kill Tarkas for “sending a report to New Chicago,” then stuff his body in the trash chute of “MusicWorld,” because that’s where they are, because THE FUTURE.
Cut to New Chicago, where Buck Rogers’ boss Dr. Huer and super-attractive co-worker Col. Wilma Deering is showing him Andromeda’s performance, and explaining how they’re “an amazing influence on the young people.” What’s the problem? Well, during Andromeda performs, there’s a 55% rise in “youth crimes,” so Buck needs to investigate. The other problem: MusicWorld is an abandoned military space fortress renovated by music producers and somehow out of the jurisdiction of the Directorate Buck works for.
Meanwhile, Evil Jerry Orbach has put a futuristic cylinder into a futuristic hole, which causes kids dancing to Andromeda’s music at a “youth center” (at wherever the hell Buck is) to freak the fuck out. They break shit, start fighting, and one couple runs off and steals Buck’s starfighter. Buck grabs a different starfighter and catches up with the kids, telling them to slow down because they’ll start “phasing” which is… bad, I guess?
Andromeda finally stops playing and the youths at the youth center stop rioting, and the teen couple who are joyriding come to their senses and wonder what the hell is happening (note: this means that the couple has somehow been listening to Andromeda music all the way from the youth center, into the hangar, into the spaceship, and then into space). Buck manages to take over his ship by remote and save the young hooligans.
Back at New Chicago, Buck questions the kids, who claim Andromeda’s music made them freak out (Buck, to his credit, calls this bullshit, but is at a loss to explain their behavior). Back at HQ, Deering reports that the man they had on the inside at MusicWorld, Tarkas, has been found dead, floating in space. Everything is going to hell!
Luckily, Buck has an idea. He’ll go to MusicWorld to investigate under the cover of being a dude from the 20th century who wants to introduce the band at their first ever galaxy wide concert, to be held at two days. No one feels this is completely bizarre, and Buck — along with his robot pal Twiki — fly off.
Meanwhile, Jerry Orbach reveals his evil plan to his henchman Bull; during Andromeda’s concert, he’ll use the “ionizer” (the cylinder) at full power (in the board) and every person under 30 will riot, seeing as 30 is the point where kids stop being horrible anarchist hooligans and instantly become responsible adults. All the governments of the galaxy will be forced to cede control to Jerry Orbach — now all they have to do is get Buck Rogers out of the way.
When Buck arrives on MusicWorld, he’s greeted by a group of Jerry Orbach’s thugs in black carrying clubs, apparently the new vogue weapon of the 25th century. Buck easily takes them out and heads off to meet Andromeda’s producer/manager. After a few smarmy exchanges — including Orbach apologizing for the “young hoodlums of MusicWorld” attacking him — Buck leaves to meet the members of Andromeda.
Turns out Andromeda are pretty cool cats. They’re sad that their fans are often lunatics, but are incredibly grateful to Jerry Orbach for helping them develop their sound and making them hits. He also gave them each pendants to wear that they’re never allowed to take off, which Buck feels is slightly suspicious.
When Buck reports in to New Chicago, Wilma has done some research on Jerry Orbach — he’s a musical genius who theorized about how to control people through music. Buck also finds this slightly suspicious, although he hasn’t quite managed to put these giant puzzle pieces together. Buck does some late night snooping in the recording studio, where he finds a microchip laying about.
Unbeknownst to him, Richard Moll sees him snooping, and reports back to Jerry Orbach, who realizes that Buck isn’t just a dude from the 20th century who stopped by to introduce a random band during a concert, but some sort of spy. Jerry’s plan? To ask his emotional disaster of an under-30 girlfriend Joanna to prove she loves Jerry by sleeping with Buck. She says yes, of course.
Buck examines the microchip — again, found in the recording studio — which contains youth brain wave patterns disturbed by some unknown cause. Still needing a bit more to solve this mystery, Buck has Dr. Theopolis — the sentient computer Twiki the robot carries around his neck — to research Andromeda’s music.
Dr. Huer contacts Buck with the disturbing realization that if Andromeda is going to play a galaxy-wide concert, all the young people in the galaxy are going to riot, which seems like something they should have figured out earlier, like when they were discussing how Andromeda music seemed to make kids riot and that they had a galaxy-wide concert coming up. Dr. Huer announces he’s going to cancel the concert, and Buck points out that the kids will riot anyways, because they love their “rock” music and are horrible, awful non-people who will always put their individual need to dance ahead of human civilization. Quandary!
This is when Joanna enters Buck’s quarters and starts the seducin’! She gets Buck alone, just as Jerry Orbach puts the peg-thing in the hole-thing and starts pumping Andromeda music into Buck’s room. Joanna, being one of those horrible, horrible young people, immediately tries to kill Buck with some kind of poison weapon that the music also somehow put in her hand. Of course, Buck can handle both young people and women, and he simply restrains her until Jerry stops the music, assuming that it would only take a minute for Joanna to do her seducto-killing. When she comes to her senses, Buck tells her to leave his room and MusicWorld.
As Joanna leaves, Twiki and Dr. Theopolis enter; Theopolis has examined Andromeda’s music and discovered pretty much the same shit that Wilma discovered earlier, but this time Buck finally understands what is being said. He runs down to Andromeda to explain that Jerry Orbach is inserting some ions into the music that cause young people to freak out. The band is skeptical until Buck plays their music for them, and takes off the bass player’s necklace, and she instantly starts trying to kill Buck. The necklaces are “filters”!
The band wants to explain to Jerry Orbach they won’t be doing the concert; Buck, although he technically knows that this whole plan is Orbach’s doing, does not stop them from informing the bad guy, giving him ample time to think of an alternative. Which is exactly what Jerry Orbach does — he says he’ll just use old concert footage as he has his thugs capture the band, planning to have them killed in an “accident” later.
After figuratively tossing the band to the wolves for some unexplainable reason, Buck knows he’ll have to stop the concert himself, specifically by making Twiki crawl through MusicWorld’s trash ducts to Orbach’s office to shut down the ion transmitter that puts all those no-good ions in Andromeda’s music. He shoves Twiki in a garbage chute just as Orbach, Bull and his thugs enter and capture him, and then shove him in a closet with the band. Although why Orbach thinks he needs to make it look like Buck and Andromeda die in an accident when he is literally moments away from bringing galactic civilization to its knees and demanding to be put in charge is anybody’s guess.
Dr. Huer calls Jerry Orbach and tells him the concert can’t go on. Orbach says it’s gonna go on. Dr. Huer says he has a “jammer satellite” orbiting MusicWorld. Jerry Orbach presses a button helpfully labeled “DETONATE” and the satellite explodes, because apparently the "Detonate” button can make anything blow up with needing to shoot it, plant explosives on it, or anything else. This is what happens when you let music producers have military grade space fortresses.
Anyways, Twiki fails to shut down the ion transmitter, because Twiki is terrible and shitty, but Buck and the band manage to use the space-keyboard to break the space door because THESE ARE THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE. Everybody sneaks backstage while evil minion Bull does the cylinder/peg/riot/thingie, and young people across the entire galaxy start freaking out, which we know because someone says this, and thus we need no visual proof.
Buck knocks out Bull with one jump-kick and breaks the ion transmitter just as Jerry Orbach gets on stage to tell the young people of the galaxy to riot and freak out and also follow his every order. But without the ion transmitter transmitting ions, the kids stop rioting and laugh at the 40-something on the screen, because young people have no respect for their elders, even when those elders have nearly used them to take over the entire galaxy.
So the young people are very mean and Jerry Orbach is sad. And then the real Andromeda plays a shitty song and the day is saved, kind of.
What Did We Learn?
• DON’T PUT IONS IN MUSIC. It’s dangerous.
• In the future, not only will people leave military space fortresses just lying around, but they will let music producers have them as if that’s not the worst idea ever.
• In the future, spaceships will have no security devices whatsoever, and will be able to fly so fast they explode or something.
• Between Buck’s constantly exposed chest hair and Erin Gray as Wilma Deering, the 25th century is one sexy place.
• In the future, young people will dance with a hose with lights in it that everyone on the dance floor must hold. BECAUSE THE FUTURE, DAMMIT.
• Although the instruments are supposed to be weird and futuristic, this episode still contains the most fake music playing I have ever seen. You could give a drunken toddler a toy xylophone and play “Stairway to Heaven” and it would look more accurate.
• In the future, people can’t just turn off the fucking TV, apparently.
• If your boyfriend asks you to prove you love him by having sex with another man, your relationship may have issues.
• In the future, people will have access to “detonate” buttons that can blow up anything. This is much less of a problem than you'd think.
• Even 500 years from now, young people are still the fucking worst.