After starring in two successful serials as All-American Boy in Outer Space Flash Gordon, Larry "Buster" Crabbe found himself visiting very familiar territory in 1939's Buck Rogers, a 12-episode serial in which he played an young adventurer sent 500 years into the future. Buck Rogers (Crabbe), his friend and sidekick Buddy Wade (Jackie Moran), and Buck's sweetheart, Wilma Deering (Constance Moore), are piloting a new and experimental airship when bad weather sends them crashing into the Arctic wastes. A newly developed drug called Nirvano is supposed to keep this crew in suspended animation until help arrives; however, five centuries pass before Buck, Buddy, and Wilma are found by scientists working for Dr. Huer (C. Montague Shaw). Huer is an idealist who is attempting overthrow fearsome ruler Killer Kane (Anthony Warde), who rules the Earth with an iron fist. Buck and his pals throw in their lot with Huer and his staff, and attempt to find allies on Saturn; however, Buck is unaware that Saturn has already fallen to the minions of Kane. Originally released as a serial, Buck Rogers was later re-edited into two different feature-length condensations, Planet Outlaws and Destination Saturn.
by Mark Deming synopsis