Buck Rogers is coming to the twenty-first century. James Cawley, producer of the Star Trek: Phase II fan series, has gotten the rights to do a Buck Rogers webseries with the same attention to detail.

Cawley stresses the project isn't a fan film, because it's a fully licensed production with professionals behind the camera and in front of it. But at the same time, the project, which may start streaming online as early as fall 2010, is very much in the spirit of Cawley's earlier fan films, in terms of referencing earlier works. Cawley's working on the script for the first episode now, but apparently it'll retell the classic Buck origin: he's a World War I airplane pilot, who gets caught in suspended animation until the 25th century, where he battles fantastical enemies.


The production will have a "retro-contemporary" look using modern techniques like CG to reproduce the look of the original comics. Cawley told TrekMovie: "We will be using the technology we have today, to present The Original version of The First Sci-Fi Hero ever! Previous filmed incarnations never really captured the original Buck from the comic strips, which is what we aim to do." He'll keep all the elements of the original storyline, including the "atomic disrupter pistol," the Earth Defense Directorate and Buck's friends Dr. Heuer, Wilma Deering and her brother Buddy Deering. And villains, including Princess Ardala and Killer Kane.

Buck will be played by Buddy Rice, who played James Kirk's gay nephew Peter in a recent Phase II storyline. Both Rice and Cawley stress this won't be for camp value.

We could be about to see a Buck Rogers explosion, what with a new comic series on the way and a Frank Miller-helmed movie supposedly still in the pipeline. But the Cawley webseries might hit before the Miller movie (if it even still happens), and garner more attention than a comics series. I'm happy to see anything that brings more prominence to space opera on film, since the visual genre has lagged behind the space opera book genre in recent years. But I'm wondering why space opera always has to look retro, especially with J.J. Abrams' Trek going back to an old-school version of the future as well. [TrekMovie]