Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Turn Back the Clock

"Everything up until this point is in the past."

- Buck Rogers
This might be my new all-time favorite quote from a cheesy second-half-of-the-20th-century sci-fi series. For some reason TiVo thought I might be interested in watching "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" and taped an episode titled, "A Dream of Jennifer" -- which originally aired on Feb. 14, 1980 (the fact that it was Valentine's Day wasn't lost on me). In case you've been, er, on the moon, here's the Buck Rogers backstory:

"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."
Anyway, in this particular episode, on several occasions, Rogers thinks he sees his flame from 1987 in his future world. Eventually he tracks her down, but it all turns out to be a setup, as some ne'er-do-wells want Rogers to perpetrate some egregious act against some unsuspecting, innocent bunch.

Luckily, no ruffians in the future seems to pick up on the fact that Rogers gets out of every precarious situation by first creating a diversion, and then kicking his adversary to the ground. And it never fails (note: apparently 500 years from now, lycra will make an unbelievable comeback, and clothes will have that "painted on" look. I mention this because Rogers is seldom able to kick anyone above their waist; I suspect that's a combination of being a little chubby and not being able to get his leg higher than waist-level due to the restricted mobility attributable to the lycra).

The reason I mention all this is because (a) I really do think that might be one of the greatest quotes in science fiction television history, and (b) things that seemed innocuous in the 1980's aren't necessarily so today (and I'll get to the specifics momentarily).

Apparently there's a college basketball game of some note between the Tarheels and Blue Devils tonight in Durham. But there's another big game on the horizon, and it's not UConn this weekend. It's the UVa game scheduled for February 16. And while it might seem strange to call the UVa contest a "big game" -- especially when you consider that the Heels won by 34 a few weeks ago -- what you may not know is that the rematch is being billed as "retro-night." Here's the specific Q&A from the mailbag:

Q:With the upcoming "Retro-night" game against UVA, we have been told that the Tar Heels are wearing 1980s uniforms. Will the guys be wearing the 1980s jerseys only, or will be seeing them in the 1980s short shorts, like Michael Jordan, J.R. Reid, Brad Daugherty, etc.?

A:Carolina players were excited about the retro night idea, but with one reservation: only if they could wear modern-length shorts. Don't expect to see the vintage shorts that made an appearance at Late Night come out of the closet against the Cavaliers. It's one thing to wear them in front of your friends and teammates in an informal practice, but quite another to don them on national television.

Much like Buck Rogers, things in the early '80s seemed cool at the time, but with 25 years to reflect back on what actually transpired, it's not quite as cool as we thought (OK, maybe that was a long way to go for a 1980s tie-in, but the quote alone made it worth it). I can't envision a situation where it would be a good idea to break out the old-school shorts (which today I think are commonly referred to as tightie-whities). In the answer above, Adam Lucas mentions that it's "one thing to wear them in front of your friends and teammates in a informal practice, but quite another to don them on national television."

Uh, yeah. (In my best Bill Lumbergh from "Office Space"): I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with you. It's not even "one thing" to wear them in front of your friends and teammates. If UNC had worn the short-shorts all season, they still might be looking for their first win. Talk about being self-conscious. It's one thing to have to wear that Phantom of the Opera mask when you break your nose, but it's a whole different ballgame when you're asked to compete half-naked.

Of course, now that I think about it, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that all of Rashad McCants' casual clothes incorporate the really short-shorts. You know the look -- in the summer, it's the really tight white tee shirt, with the khaki cargo shorts that barely cover the tightie-whities. The outfit isn't complete without the tube socks jacked up to the knees and the loafers/dock-siders; in the winter the only thing that changes is that now McCants breaks out the blue sport jacket with the khaki elbow patches (as I re-read this paragraph, it's quite clear that I'm disturbed).

Anyway, I wouldn't mind seeing some of the players sport Phil Ford afros, and maybe Roy Williams will bust out one of his Wimp Sanderson jackets. And the good news for UVa coach Pete Gillen is that he doesn't have to do anything different -- just show up in your usual 80s attire, with your usual 80s haircut.