Tuesday, September 18, 2012

News: BUCK ROGERS (1979) Season 2 DVDs to Include TV Version of "Awakening"

Thanks, Universal. According to a news report at the TV Shows On DVD website today, the Buck Rogers In The 25th Century stand-alone re-release of Season Two (which was delayed until the Spring of '13) will now include the TV version of the premiere episode of the show, "Awakening" as a bonus feature.

Previous DVD/home video releases have only included the 1979 theatrical feature film version of the pilot movie. When that movie aired on NBC the following September as the first episode of the weekly series, it contained alternate footage and a new ending designed to set up the subsequent installments.

The comparatively rare TV version of "Awakening" is currently available on Netflix Instant, but this DVD release marks its first appearance on U.S. home video.

This really annoys me. While I'm glad that it's finally becoming available, I chafe at the notion of buying the eleven Year Two episodes I already purchased in the 2004 "Complete Epic Series" set again - at a price greater than that of the aforementioned complete series set - just to get the TV version of "Awakening." Apparently, this is my reward for supporting Universal nine years ago. To some, this may not be an issue, but I cannot easily afford spending another $25 for stuff I already have, just to satisfy my need for completeness.

Oh well. I guess I'll just have to wait and see what my financial situation is like next Spring, and decide then. (Hell, Buck Rogers may end up rivaling Star Trek TOS and Space: 1999 for number of times I buy the same show over and over...) For those who have already decided, the discs are already available for pre-order through Amazon: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Season Two


  1. Ugh. Fracking Universal. They have done so many boneheaded things over the years, from awkward packaging to unskippable trailers to manufacturing defects that have required me to return the same TV season set multiple times (that was Northern Exposure, I believe... one of the seasons, I took back three times before I got one that would play all the way through). They're the very worst of the major studios when it comes to their DVD products, IMO.

    So it just figures that most of my favorite TV series all came from them.

    Much as I'd love to have "Awakening" in the collection as well as the theatrical cut, I don't know that I can bring myself to buy a whole season set -- especially of such a lackluster season -- just to get that film.

    If Uni was smart (which evidence suggests they're not) they'd offer "Awakening" as a standalone disc...

  2. I agree completely with Jason's assessment of Universal's DVD division. If you don't want to reward Universal's bad behavior (and I refuse to) you could purchase it used from either an Amazon Marketplace reseller or one of the reputable online used DVD sites. That way Universal won't make a dime off of you, and used sets generally start showing up shortly after the release date. As an added bonus, I have received fewer bad discs buying used than when I was buying new. All of the studios' quality control departments have really gone down the tubes lately and the used site I buy from screens their DVDs very carefully.

  3. Christopher, like you, I will have to buy this too. I also bought multiple releases of SPACE:1999.


  4. I agree, this is ridiculous.

    Universal should have included BOTH the theatrical and TV versions on the original "Complete Series" set to begin with. I remember being annoyed by that at the time, especially since I bought it the day of release and paid like $75 or something for it. (The fact that the set is now selling for under $20 irks me as well.)

    What's even more stupid is the fact that Universal is including this as a bonus on the SECOND season set! It would still have been annoying, yet understandable if they had included it with the reissue of Season One. That would have at least made sense. (And I may have been tempted to buy that since the new set is single-sided discs as opposed to the double-sided discs of the original.) But including it as part of Season Two which barely resembles the world set up in the pilot makes no sense it all. Tells me it was complete afterthought. (Obviously, since they are delaying the release to include it.)

    Oh well, I'm sure the price on this set will drop down to $9.99 or $12.99 after it's been out a year or so. (The "Bionic Woman" season sets are already selling for $14.99 and I paid almost $30 for them when they were released.) I may pick it up then. I've been waiting this long, a few more months/years won't hurt.

    What would have made the most sense would have been releasing the theatrical cut as a stand alone disc and including the TV cuts as a bonus on that.

    And one final comment on this Season Two release. What's up with the cover art? They never wear those uniforms in Season Two nor do we ever see (or hear of) New Chicago again. While it is gorgeous art (I've always loved that picture), it is totally wrong!! Reminds me of how they used season two photos on the cover of one of the Power Records story LPs even though the stories were all with the season one characters (Bergman, Paul, etc.) That annoyed me so much as a kid!

  5. Let's face it - is there really that much of a difference between the TV and theatrical versions? I'll guess that they don't merit buying the set again. I'm perfectly happy with my "Complete Epic Series" version.

    1. You're right - the differences only amount to a few minutes and Erin Gray in a bad wig. But obviously, those differences mean enough to some fans (myself included), to make this news important.

      I don't know if I'll be re-buying the series or not. Universal's double-sided discs (as used in the "Epic Series" set) are known to be problematic. Indeed, there are two episodes on one of the disc in My set that won't play properly on some of my players. It might be worth it to switch to the less troublesome single-sided DVDs in the new set.

      Obviously, everyone will make their own choices.

  6. Like many things, I'll just wait until it's released on Blu-ray or whatever format comes next. Maybe they'll get it right eventually.

  7. This is GREAT news! I never saw the movie in the cinema - my first encounter with Buck was when it aired as a series on the UK channel ITV; so, years later, when I watched the truncated theatrical version, it left me massively unsatisfied...like that feeling you get an hour or so after eating a Chinese takeaway!:) I have the same reaction to the theatrical cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Although I saw it on the big screen, it was the extended version that I came to know letter and verse after taping it off-air, and re-watching it countless times. I wish they'd put that version out in letterbox format.

  8. I think it's great that they are finally including the original pilot version. I agree they should have done that in the first place. And I wish these were on blu-ray now. Still the inclusion gives the set a bit of extra value now. How about some deleted scenes and documentaries like they did with Galactica? I'm certain there must be lots of footage floating around like Galactica had - they were very generous with their Galactica set but very stingy with Buck Rogers.

    One thing I'll mention is that the original DVD release is well known for having serious issues with the dual-sided discs becoming unplayable over time - I've personally had that happen to my Galactica discs which were also dual-sided. This makes the new releases a must in my opinion because the originals just cannot be trusted for longevity. I've already had 3 Galactica discs replaced by Universal due to them becoming unplayable just sitting on the shelf. These single-sided discs should not have that issue. Just something to consider when deciding if this is worth re-purchasing.

  9. I have the complete Buck Rogers DVDs but noticed some of the cockpit shots have un-composited bluescreen shots. The actors are talking and the outside window is blue...no star field. Anyone else notice this?

    1. I've watched those episodes dozens of times and never noticed a single example of that. Can you specify which episodes you saw this?

      In some episodes, they're supposed to be flying through planetary atmospheres, so the back-projected footage showed blue skies. Could that be what you saw?