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The Space Hero Files

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CAPTAIN VIDEO!

DuMont Network, 30 minutes, broadcast live 5 to 6 days per week! During the 1953-54 season there were two separate shows with different titles, one weekly, the other on Saturday morning--- Secret Files of Captain Video.

On September 21, 1953 the old Western movie segments were dropped and the program ran for 15 minutes weekdays until its final broadcast in 1955.

Broadcast history

First show, June 27, 1949
Last show April 1, 1955

Concept

In the 22nd Century (2149 to 2155), great scientific genius Captain Video and his juvenile sidekick The Video Ranger battle crime, various menaces from outer space, and strange situations on distant planets.

Creators

Larry Menkin
M.C. Brockhauser
James L. Caddigan

Producers:

Charles Polacheck, Larry Menkin, Olga Druce, Frank Telford

Directors

Larry White
Pat Fay
Charles Polacheck
Charles Fisher
Scudder Boyd
Arnee Nocks
Others

Craft

X-9 -- rocket plane
Galaxy, Galaxy II -- spaceships

Writers

(1949-51) M. C. Brockhauser, Larry Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, Carey Wilbur, George Lowther
(1952-55) Jack Vance, James Blish, J. T. McIntosh, Robert Sheckley, C. M. Kornbluth, Arthur C. Clarke, Damon Knight, Don Wilcox, Don Aggar, Sam Joe Fuller etc., etc.

Special Effects

Russell and Haberstroh--done on 16 mm film

Science and Science Fiction Consultant

Lester del Rey

Opening Theme

Wagner's overture to the opera THE FLYING DUTCHMAN

Cast

Captain Video -- Richard Coogan (1949-50)
Captain Video -- Al Hodge (1950-57)
The Video Ranger (no other name!) -- Don Hastings
Commissioner Carey -- Ben Lackland
Dr. Pauli -- Bram Nossem, Hal Conklin, Stephen Elliott
Ranger Rogers, Announcer, Narrator -- Fred Scott
Tobor -- Dave Ballard (7 feet, 6 inches!)
Prince Spartak, Blaster Martin -- Grant Sullivan
Princess Aurora -- Georgann Johnson
Lisbon Charlie -- Charles Mendick
Ranger Craig -- Gerrianne Raphael (?), billed as "Gerraine" Raphael
Hing Foo Sung -- Henry Norrel
Jeff Dawson, Ranger Hillary -- Dickie Moore
Tucker -- Eddie Holmes
Clumsy McGee -- Arnold Stang
Permes Lykos -- Tom McDermott
Cochran -- Stuart Bradley
Forbes -- Earl Hammond
Henry -- Will Schultz
Rocket McRorie -- Bruce Hall
Jet Johnson, Amos the Mastermind -- Chester Stratton
Professor Linkoff -- Stephan Schnabel
Ranger Colt -- Kenneth Nelson
Clipper Evans (1955) -- Grant Sullivan
Commissioner Bell (1949-50) -- Jack Orsen
Ranger Carter -- Nat Polen
Nargola -- Ernest Borgnine
Hal -- Bob Hastings
Other players -- Jack Klugman, Werner Klemperer, Kem Dibbs, Natalie Core, Ruth White, Elaine Williams, Barbara Ames, Laura Weber, Wright King, Sam Weston, Jack Weston, Scott Penican, Gordon Mills, Arny Freeman, Robert Middleton, Bruce Gordon, Joey Walsh and many more...

Sponsors

Powerhouse Candy
Skippy Peanut Butter (1949-51)
Post Cereals (1951-55)

Although the most popular of the space shows, and the only TV show ever to inspire a movie serial, CAPTAIN VIDEO in 1951, the program was poorly "merchandised" and very few Captain Video toys or premiums survive.

Captain Video battled more than 300 fiendish villains during the show's run. Some standouts: The Sparrow, Nargola, Mook the Moon Man, Neptune, Kul of Eos, Hing Foo Seeng, Dr. Clysmok, Dahoumie, The Beggar, Ultima Aureans, Permes Lykos, Prince Spartak of the Black Planet, Atar, Tobor, Clipper Evans, Zazarion, Radig, The Space Pirate, Gayo, Muroc, Amos the Mastermind, Sulla, Circe, Zotor, Capt. Dirk, Prof. Linkoff, Warro, Dr. Kodiak, The Klaw, Prof. Locke, Stavo of Draco, etc., etc.

Scripts involved not only space travel and adventure, but also the search for Atlantis via submarine, search for underground civilizations via subterrine, etc. Captain Video was the first space hero to fall into a Black Hole (1954), encounter a planet ruled by a giant computer (1953), or explore a giant space ark that had been travelling for many generations (1953).

Probably no TV hero has ever been more completely heroic in voice and appearance than Al Hodge as Captain Video. Trim, strong and erect in his military-style uniform, complete with lightning bolt across the chest, with deep, firm voice to match, his expression was seldom other than serious. While in character, Hodge literally could not smile, and attempts to get him to do so for photo portraits had a ghastly result. His sidekick The Video Ranger was equally serious. So competent did these two champions of freedom, truth and justice appear, that only bad guys not playing with a full deck dared to take them on. Indeed, even with an overwhelming invasion force poised to squash all resistance instantly, any would-be invader of our solar system knew that he didn't have a snowball's chance on the sun unless he could get Captain Video and the Ranger out of the way first!

Almost alone among space adventure heroes of the era, Captain Video often encountered situations which were basically scientific puzzles, and which he solved by the exercise of pure reason and his scientific genius, rather than by ray-gun blasts and space battles. This was particularly true of the stand-alone half-hour adventures recounted on SECRET FILES OF CAPTAIN VIDEO. During the last three years of the series, scripts were written by some of the best known young science fiction writers of the era, and the sophistication and intelligence of the Captain and the problems he faced rose even further. There were numerous unusual touches added to the plots and characters during this period. For example, once when the Captain and the Ranger came to the office of their boss, Commissioner Carey, they were told he was in meditation, and a shot of the darkened office interior showed the Commissioner in classic lotus posture! Pretty exotic for 1953! To avoid continuity conflicts with the daily show, SECRET FILES was a "prequel," supposedly taking place several years before the time frame of the earliest daily story-line. It's perhaps too bad that these 20 episodes were not used to fill in some of the backstory of how Dr. Pauli became Captain Video's arch rival, or how Captain Video met the Video Ranger, but there were nevertheless some fine adventures in the sequence, such as the time Captain Video, marooned in a jungle with only a flashlight and a piece of string, defeats and captures three murderous escaped criminals!

Standard reference sources have spread much misinformation over the years, particularly concerning the origin of CAPTAIN VIDEO. Though the kindness of Charles Polacheck, Michael and Kit Menkin, and James L. Caddigan, Jr., we have finally obtained a reliable, first-hand account of the program's origins. James Caddigan, the DuMont program director, needed a vehicle for showing 12-minute segments of 60-minute B westerns, daily. The heroes of these films were unknown to 10-year-olds in 1949. To keep the kids watching daily, Caddigan wanted a science-fiction-themed 30-minute daily show. This show would have its own hero, who had his own Saturday-morning-serial-type adventures, complete with daily cliffhanger. At some point during the show, with some rationale, the 12-minute segment of a Western film would be shown. Caddigan asked Larry Menkin, a producer, director, writer and all-around idea man very active in early live TV, to come up with a concept along these lines. It was Menkin who created Captain Video, the Video Rangers, and the future world they inhabited. [When the DuMont empire collapsed, it was Menkin who retained the rights to the characters, just as Joseph Greene eventually inherited the rights to TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET.] Further details were fleshed out by M. C. Brockhauser, who was hired to write the show.

Brockhauser, and star Richard Coogan, fought for outer space adventures from the very first, but drastic budget constraints kept CAPTAIN VIDEO largely earthbound for about the program's first year on the air. Things improved a bit when Larry Menkin became producer, and improved drastically when agressive producer Olga Druce took over in the summer of 1952. She hired a special effects team for the first time, and fired all the writers, including Brockhauser. Her comment: "These scripts aren't even in English!" It was she who vigorously solicited scripts from young, active science fiction writers of the day, such as Jack Vance, Damon Knight and Robert Sheckley. Although the Ranger uniform had been reworked every year since the show debuted in April, 1949, the Druce uniforms were the best looking, and they are the ones most kids of the day remembered.

During the program's final two seasons, the cast of regular characters aiding Captain Video was greatly expanded. Ranger Rogers, liberated from his duties watching old cowboy movies, actually got to participate in adventures. Two new young Rangers showed up, Rangers Craig and Hillary, the latter played by former child star Dickie Moore, the former apparently by a young woman in male drag! A space-bum named Tucker was reformed by Captain Video and hired as his mechanic. A spoiled rich kid named Jeff was straightened out when his father made Captain Video take him along on a couple of adventures. Popular young actor Grant Sullivan appeared in a variety of different roles. In one of the strangest plot turns, many of Captain Video's adversaries from the first season of the show, including Dr. Pauli and Clipper Evans, appeared reincarnated as young, handsome men! I don't remember whether their clever disguises fooled the Captain or not.

The Captain's final adventure found him duelling the villainous Murgo of Lyra with swords; the Captain won, of course, thanks to the rigorous training Prince Spartak had given him on the Black Planet! But DuMont lost its own funding duel at about the same time, and the greatest of 1950s space adventure programs vanished without warning from the friendly round picture tubes of the day. Al Hodge continued in the greatly diminished role for two more years, merely as the host of a program of cartoons and short subjects, on the local New York DuMont station, WABD. While the DuMont network died, the chain of DuMont-owned stations survived as Metromedia, and eventually formed the nucleus of the current Fox TV network. So in a very concrete sense, the fourth network created by Dr. DuMont still survives today!

For an incomplete log of the daily programs, click here.

For an incomplete log of the SECRET FILES OF CAPTAIN VIDEO, click here.

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JACK VANCE SCRIPTS FOR CAPTAIN VIDEO

According to WRITERS OF THE 21st CENTURY: JACK VANCE, ed. by Tim Underwood and Chuck Miller, (Taplinger, 1980), Jack Vance wrote the following scripts for Captain Video in 1952-3:

"Adventure On Phobos"
"Black Planet Academy"
"A Bottle from Space"
"Dark Empire"
"End of Nowhere"

The flavor of these adventures, as I recall them dimly after so many years, is virtually identical to that in Vance's Winston juvenile novel VANDALS OF THE VOID, also published in 1953. Captain Video was broadcast daily, 5 to 6 days a week. The 30-minute program expended about 14 minutes on part of an old cowboy movie and commercials, leaving about 15 minutes for live, scripted adventure. A single story generally took 2 to 3 weeks to spool out, so the adventures written by Vance probably covered 10 to 15 weeks of the broadcasts.

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TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET!

Broadcast live, 15 minutes, 3 days a week (1950-52); 30 minutes, Saturdays, (1953-55). This was the only TV show ever to run on all 4 Golden-Age networks, and to run on two different networks simultaneously. CBS (1950); ABC (1951-2); NBC (1951); DuMont (1953-4); NBC (1954-5).

Broadcast history

First show, October 2, 1950
Last show June 25, 1955

Concept

In 2350, Tom Corbett enters the Space Academy to train to become an officer of the Solar Guard. Plots depended more on hazards of space travel than on human or space-alien menaces. The creator of Tom Corbett was Joseph Greene, whose unproduced SPACE CADET radio scripts date to 1/16/46. Rights to use the Space Academy environment depicted by Robert Heinlein in his 1949 novel SPACE CADET were acquired by the program's packager, Stanley Wolfe's Rockhill Productions, in early 1950.

Directors

George Gould
Ralph Ward

Craft

The Polaris, a nuclear powered space-cruiser

Writers

Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, Stu Brynes, Albert Aley, Ray Morse, Alfred Bester, George Lowther, Richard Jessup, Frankie Thomas

Special Effects

Done by studio staff... live
Technical advisor: Willy Ley

Opening Theme

"Light of Foot" by Carl Latann (aka SPACE CADET MARCH, aka SPACE ACADEMY MARCH). Arranged by J. Hartmann.

Cast

Tom Corbett --- Frankie Thomas (command cadet)
Roger Manning --- Jan Merlin (radar deck cadet)
Astro --- Al Markim (power deck cadet)
Captain Steve Strong --- Edward Bryce
Professor Doctor Joan Dale --- Margaret Garland
Commander Arkwright ---
Carter Blake
Alfie "The Brain" Higgins --- John Fiedler (science cadet, 1950-52)
T.J. Thistle --- Jack Grimes (radar deck cadet, 1954-55)
Major "Blastoff" Connel --- Ben Stone
Eric Rattison -- Frank Sutton (command cadet, Vulcan unit)
Commander Elblas -- Joe DeSantis
Captain Cowan -- Ralph Camargo
Others: Woodrow Parfrey, Tom Poston, William Windom, Jack Lord, Jack Klugman, John Weaver, Ralph Riggs, Chet Stratton, Humphrey Davis, Bill Lipton, William Johnstone, Patty McCormick, Leon Janney, Jo Spence, etc. Michael Harvey played Captain Steve Strong in the first 6 episodes of the CBS run of the show; Pat Ferris played Dr. Dale in two episodes during the DuMont run of the show.

Sponsors

Kellogg's Cereals (1950-52)
Red Goose Shoes (1953-54)
Kraft Foods (1954-55)

The cadets' adventures were generally confined to the solar system, with an occasional visit to a nearby solar system (Alpha Centauri, Sirius, etc.) via hyperdrive. Monsters and aliens were very, very rarely encountered. The program was the first to use electronic travelling mattes for live special effects. Special effects varied widely in quality from network to network, with the DuMont series (alternating Saturdays with SECRET FILES OF CAPTAIN VIDEO) having no special effects at all.

For teenage viewers, the most attractive feature of the program was that the main characters were teenagers themselves, who attended a neat, futuristic, all-male high school. Who wouldn't mind hitting the books to get ready for finals, knowing that when finals were over, the rocket cruiser Polaris would be waiting on the spaceport, apparently just a few feet beyond the classroom exit, for a glorious jaunt through the solar system? Just like our own high school classes, Tom Corbett's had an overachiever (Tom), a troublemaker (Roger), an underachiever (Astro) and a brain (Alfie).

If Tom, Astro and Roger had graduated--- which they never did during the run of the program--- they would have become officers in the Solar Guard, a kind of interplanetary peacekeeping/police/diplomatic force. Captain Strong was always cautioning the cadets, particularly Roger, against the use of weapons or violence. While an occasional wandering asteroid or comet, not to mention recalcitrant space pirates and revolutionaries seeking the overthrow of the Solar Alliance, had to be totally blown away by nuclear space torpedoes, fistfights were usually sufficient to quiet down evildoers. When fists failed, the cadets could harmlessly paralyze their foes with mysterious paralleoray beams. During rare ship-to-ship combat, rocket cruisers were protected by "ion barriers," or "force shields," with each deflected blast weakening the shield dangerously. (Explosions of flash powder, both live on set, and from behind the cardboard-cutout models of space ships, made these battles fairly interesting to watch, despite the lack of Star-Wars-style razzle-dazzle.)

Tom Corbett was hugely popular, and extensively promoted, with toys, juvenile series books, a newspaper comic strip, a comic book, and a radio show.

Tom Corbett's final flight occurred on June 25, 1955. Roger Manning had been mysteriously reassigned to the Space Academy on Mars the year before, replaced by the annoying T. J. Thistle, and Roger had never been seen again. As usual, Astro is in danger of flunking out, and when the Polaris blasts off on a mysterious mission, it's an even bigger blow to his ego when he finds great rival Eric Rattison on the power deck with him.

In the rather routine script, the Polaris finds itself the target of space torpedoes fired by a Solar Guard squadron out to destroy a derelict. Naturally the Cadets save the day and themselves. Although Tom bravely says, "You can count on the Polaris Unit being back at Space Academy next year," and Thistle unpleasantly chimes in, "I got some stunts that will knock your eyes out," when the program faded on the Kraft Caramel logo, that was the end of SPACE CADET forever. It was also the end of the acting career of Frankie Thomas, who carved new careers as scriptwriter, novelist and bridge expert.

For information on the Radio Adventures of the SPACE CADETS click here.

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SPACE PATROL!

Broadcast live, 30 minutes, ABC, daily 1950; Sundays or Saturdays 1951-2; Saturdays, 1952-55.

Broadcast history

First network show, September 11, 1950
Last show February 26, 1955

Concept

A thousand years into the future, the Space Patrol, headquartered on the man-made planet Terra, commanded by Buzz Corry, safeguards the peace of the solar system. Aided by his comical sidekick, Cadet Happy, Buzz battles supercriminals in a series that began as a direct ripoff of Captain Video.

Creator

Mike Moser

Director

Dik Darley

Craft

Battle Cruiser 100
Terra IV
Terra V

Writers

Norman Jolley

assisted by

Mike Moser
Maury Hill
Dick Morgan

Practical Effects

Oscar, Franz and Paul Dallons (done live)

Practical and Special (also live) Effects

Cameron Pierce
Al Teany

End credits music

"Stratosphere" by Eric Spear

Cast

Commander Buzz Corry --- Ed Kemmer
Cadet Happy --- Lyn Osborn
Carol Carlisle --- Virginia Hewitt
Tonga --- Nina Bara (1950-53) (assistant security chief of the Space Patrol)
Major Robbie Robertson --- Ken Mayer (security chief of the Space Patrol)
Secretary General Edward Carlisle --- Hal Forrest, Paul Cavanaugh
Prince Baccarratti, Prince Zarra --- Bela Kovacs
Dr. Malengro --- Gabriel Curtiz
Agent X --- Norman Jolley
Mr. Proteus --- Marvin Miller
Molock --- Richard Devon
Major Sova --- Jack McHugh
Commander Kit Corry --- Glen Denning
Dr. Van Meter --- Rudolph Anders
Others -- Lee Van Cleef, Gene Barry, Larry Dobkin, etc.

Sponsors

Ralston-Purina (1951-54)
Nestle Chocolate (1954-55)

Corry and Happy faced mainly human villians. In the remote future they inhabited, there were human colonies on most of the planets and moons of the solar system, and most planets of other solar systems were inhabited by manlike beings. The 30th Century was also evidently infested by a broad spectrum of mad scientists, often working for equally mad politicians, making use of a wide range of fiendish devices of destruction, able to flatten a city or wipe out a whole planet, make men into mindless slaves, shrink them to doll size, etc., etc. There were no man-sized robots, apparently for budgetary reasons; "mechanical" men were always androids, looking indistinguishable from humans. A few true robots appeared, but they were rather small--- such as the trashcan-sized robots that protected Manza's citadel. Monsters and inhuman-looking aliens appeared seldom, but when they did appear they were impressive. Remember the dinosaurs and ice-demons infesting Planet X? As on CAPTAIN VIDEO and SPACE CADET, captured crooks and villians were rehabilitated. On SPACE PATROL, a special gadget called the "Brainograph" was used for both interrogation and rehabilitation. SPACE PATROL was by far the best looking of all the live space-travel TV shows, thanks to very elaborate false-perspective sets, impressive practical effects, and better-than-average special effects.

SPACE PATROL began as a local West Coast 15-minute daily program, on KECA-TV (Channel 7) in Los Angeles, with the first broadcast being on March 9, 1950. There seem to have been around 800 of these 15-minute 5-a-week broadcasts, stretching into 1953. There were about 210 of the weekly half-hour Saturday ABC network episodes, beginning September 11, 1950 and ending February 26, 1955. The 30-minute program continued to be broadcast in kinescoped, syndicated re-runs from about 1957 to 1959, released by Comet Productions. These syndicated kinescopes were on 35 mm film. Recent research by Beth Flood has revealed that the 15-minute daily shows were also made available to ABC affiliates, via 16 mm kinescope. In the Detroit area, on WXYZ-TV, for example, the daily show was being broadcast from October 16, 1950 to March 26, 1955. Ms. Flood remembers at least the later 15-minute shows having Ralston-Purina commercials. Further research will be needed to discover how many stations ran the 15-minute daily kinescopes. KECA-TV was on the same lot with the ABC Television Center, and eventually became KABC.

It is somewhat staggering to contemplate the thespic load carried by the SPACE PATROL cast and crew, particularly Ed Kemmer, Lyn Osborn and Ken Mayer, who were in virtually every broadcast in every format. In addition to the half-hour, live weekly TV show carried by the ABC network, they also appeared in a 5-a-week 15-minute program broadcast live only in the local KECA-TV area, and with local sponsors, for example, Dr. Ross Dog Food! The 15 minute program continued for two-thirds (1950 - 53) of the run of the 30-minute live show (1950 - 55). And in addition there was the half-hour ABC Radio Network adventure, broadast via transcription (usually) once per week, also during the same period (1950 - 55). If you've been keeping track, that's nearly 100 scripted minutes per week, not even counting the radio show, where the scripts did not have to be memorized! Only consummate professionals in perfect health could have carried a performing load for three long years! [No wonder Ed Kemmer said later, "We all prayed for that daily show to get cancelled!"]

On CAPTAIN VIDEO, Al Hodge and Don Hastings carried quite a load as well. For part of the 1950 - 55 period, the show was on 6 days per week, with about 15 minutes of scripted action per 30 minute show, or 90 minutes of scripted action per week. During one season, the CAPTAIN VIDEO program was carried on alternate Saturdays, 30 minutes long, each program telling a complete story with no serial chapters to pad out the show time, making the weekly total for this season equal to the 100 plus minutes carried by the core SPACE PATROL cast, every other week, but dropping to 75 minutes on alternate weeks.

The load carried by the core cast of SPACE PATROL for the first three years of the program remains unique in televison history, to my knowledge.

Buzz Corry's final flight occurred on February 26, 1955, with the third part of a grim story line involving Buzz, Happy, Carol and Robbie exploring an earth-like planet, Procyon IV, recently devastated by a global nuclear war. In the feeble story line, the war's only survivors Manzo and Rayzo (Bert Holland and Charles Horvath) attempt to prevent the Terra V from blasting off without them by kidnapping Happy and Carol. As with Captain Video, there was no hint that this was the final blackout for the Space Patrollers. Ed Kemmer and Lyn Osborn went on to appear in a number of low-budget SF movies during the later 50s, and Kemmer eventually carved out a long career in Soap Operas.

For information on the Radio Adventures of the SPACE PATROLLERS click here.

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ROD BROWN OF THE ROCKET RANGERS

CBS, 30 min, live

Broadcast history

April 18, 1953 to May 29, 1954.

Concept

In 2153, Rocket Rangers operate from Omega Base to safeguard the peace and freedom of the solar system.

Creator and Director

George Gould.

Producers

Bill Dozier and John Haggott.

Designer

Kim Swados.

Craft

Space Ship Beta

Writers

Don Moore, George Gould, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, Theodore Sturgeon(!)

Special Effects

Live and filmed, CBS crew.

Cast

Rod Brown--- Cliff Robertson
Frank Boyd--- Bruce Hall
Wilber Wormser--- Jack Weston
Commander Swift--- John Boruff

Sponsors

Unknown; initially "sustaining," e.g., no sponsor other than the network itself.

ROD BROWN is perhaps the poorest-remembered of all the 1950s space adventure programs. Broadcast live, its kinescopes were never rerun and have apparently been lost.

The program was a deliberate carbon copy of TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET, with the same director (Gould) and some of the same writers (Weinstock and Gilbert). Frankie Thomas says he was even initially offered the part of Rod Brown. On June 3, 1953, Rockhill Productions, which owned the TOM CORBETT copyright, initiated a plagiarism lawsuit against CBS, a suit which apparently was partially successful, since the ROCKET RANGER kinescopes were never rerun. However, the adventures of Rod Brown had far more razzle-dazzle, and owed a lot more to SPACE PATROL, than the deliberately low-key situations encountered on TOM CORBETT. The electronic travelling matte technique devised by Gould for TOM CORBETT was frequently used on the program, as Rod Brown and his cohorts encountered globe-shaped aliens from Oma, a giant Venusian ocean octopus, doll-sized inhabitants of Mercury, robots, space bugs, a giant lobster, giant men from Alpha Centauri (presumably not the same ones encountered by Tom Corbett), a giant cyclops, Neptunian stickmen, a tunnel under the ocean of Venus (presumably unrelated to the Venusian Mud Lake Tunnel project Tom Corbett was involved in), shadow creatures from the 5th dimension, a Venusian birdman, etc., etc.

George Gould tried for a style that was surprisingly cinematic for a live TV program, with many closeups, quick cuts, and inserts. Having two different space ship control deck sets helped a lot -- Gould could cut from Spaceship Beta to Spaceship Alpha or Gamma, and then to Rocket Ranger headquarters, as rapidly as he wanted.

The three Space Cadets, urrrrr, Rocket Rangers consisted of dark, competent, curly-haired Rod Brown; crew-cut, ill-tempered Frank Boyd; and... the main difference... fat, comic-relief, also crew-cut character Wilber Wormser. Their long-suffering commanding officer, Commander Swift, was appropriately deep-voiced, lean and silver-haired. Over the visual of a very convincing spaceship blastoff, shown in closeup, we heard: "CBS Television presents--- Rooodddd Brrrroooowwwn of the Rooocket Raaaangers! Surging with the power of the atom, gleaming like great silver bullets, the mighty Rocket Rangers space ships stand by for blast off! [Roar of ignition.] Up, up, rockets blazing with white-hot fury, the man-made meteors ride through the atmosphere, breaking the gravity barrier, pushing up and out, faster and faster, and then... outer space and high adventure for the Roooocket Raaaaangers!"

For a good part of its run ROD BROWN was broadcast in direct competition with DuMont's SPACE CADET and SECRET FILES OF CAPTAIN VIDEO, all running in the same Saturday time slot. Since most kids would have chosen to stay with the Captain and the Cadets, it seems unlikely that Rod Brown had as many regular viewers as it otherwise might have had. We've never encountered anyone who remembers the program well, or has much affection for it. Presumably due to the lack of a sponsor, there were never any premiums or tie-in merchandise linked to ROD BROWN, other than a membership kit offered by CBS.

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ROCKY JONES, SPACE RANGER!

Roland Reed syndicated production, distributed by United Television, 30 minutes, 16 mm film, intended for weekly broadcast.

Broadcast history

First offered January-February 1954; season one consisted of 26 episodes, of which 24 had three-part story lines; season two consisted of 13 episodes, of which 12 had three-part story lines.

Concept

In 2054, the Space Rangers defend the peace and security of the earth against mad scientists, criminals, and totalitarian alien civilizations.

Directors

Hollingsworth Morse
William Beaudine

Craft

The XV-2 Orbit Jet
The XV-3 Silver Moon

Writers

Warren Wilson
Arthur Hoerl
Marianne Mosner

Special effects

Jack R. Glass

Main Theme

Main theme: Alexander Lazlo, "Arch of Violence," transitioning into "Space Ranger March."

Cast

Rocky Jones -- Richard Crane
Winky -- Scotty Beckett
Vena Ray -- Sally Mansfield
Bobby -- Robert Lyden
Professor Newton -- Maurice Cass
Secretary Drake -- Charles Meredith
Queen Cleolanthe -- Patsy Parsons
Atlasande -- Harry Lauter
Darganto -- Frank Pulaski
Rinkmann -- Henry Brandon
Griff -- Leonard Penn
Queen Juliandra -- Anne Robinson
Pinto Vortando -- Ted Hecht
Yarra of Medina -- Diane Fauntelle
Biffen Cardoza -- James Lydon
Rudy DeMarco -- Richard Avonde
Dr. Reno -- Tom Brown Henry
Others -- Tor Johnson, Ian Keith, Reginald Sheffield, Don McGowan, Donna Martel, Vic Perrin, Gabor Curtiz.

Sponsors

As a syndicated show, Rocky Jones had different local or regional sponsors in various parts of the country. As a result there are virtually no Rocky Jones mail-order premiums, and very few tie-in store toys. The few Rocky Jones items that survive are generally associated with Silvercup Bread. There was even a Rocky Jones version of the Ralston Rocket, namely the Silvercup Bread Rocket, which was given away to a lucky kid in a contest confined to the midwestern US, where the bread was sold. This full-size rocket has recently been rediscovered, and is a remarkable ship, which as a kid's toy is far superior to the Ralston Rocket.

ROCKY JONES, SPACE RANGER was broadcast very spottily across the nation, due to its syndicated nature, and was completely unknown to most of us old Space Cadets when videotapes of a few of its episodes began to surface in the late 1970s. Since then, it has ironically become the easiest of all the early 1950s space hero series to find on videotape. The scripts range from awful to God-awful, but acting, sets, props and special effects are well above the space-hero average, and each program offers plenty of fistic action, as Rocky and Winky take down various bad guys. Rocky's space ships look like winged V2 rockets, as was the convention in 1950s space adventure. The writers never bothered to locate the outer-space locales of Rocky's adventures, other than using the word "moon" a lot. Just where Ophiuchus, Fornax, Posita, Negato, Medina, Cryko, Regalio, Prah, and the other "moons" Rocky's friends and foes come from are located never seemed to be important.

The recurring villian(ess) of the series was the sultry and voluptuous Queen Cleolanthe of Ophiuchus, whose continually failed efforts to do away with Rocky Jones seemed to result from her inability to make up her mind whether she wanted Rocky dead or as a love slave. She did a lot of frustrated pouting, and shouting at her luckless aides Darganto and Atlasande, as Rocky continually escaped trap after trap. Rocky also frequently encountered a traitor to the Space Rangers, Griff, assorted space gangsters such as Rinkmann and DeMarco, and various mad scientists, such as Dr. Reno. Rocky met so many ravishing and exotic women during his adventures that his blonde bombshell sidekick Vena Ray often paled by comparison. As on SPACE PATROL, all aliens on ROCKY JONES were completely human and spoke good English.

Rocky's scientific advisor Professor Newton seemed to be utterly senile, and furthermore had a suspicious relationship with an extremely obnoxious male child, Bobby, who tagged along with him everywhere. Rocky's boss Secretary Drake had the thankless task of sitting back at Space Ranger headquarters watching what was going on on a large wall TV. When self-destructive actor Scotty Beckett was sent to prison, Rocky's sidekick became Biff (aka Biffen Cardoza), not to be confused with the renegade Space Ranger Griff, who appears in many episodes.

The art direction by McClure Capps is often effective. Viewers today will appreciate how the control room of Rocky Jones' spaceship (which somewhat resembles the control room of Captain Video's Galaxy I, although far more elaborate) is economically redecorated to serve as the control room of any other space ship involved in the same episode. The only things changed are the seat backs and the rim of the rear door! But at least they are changed!

In the late 1950s or early 1960s, the three-part ROCKY JONES adventures were released again as 80-minute TV movies, often with different titles than the original episodes. Video companies often offer the programs in both formats, e.g., as three individual episodes or as a single "movie." If you have a choice, the three-program set is best, because the "movies" have generic, nonspecific credits.

Recent correspondence with fans who watched these programs as children suggests to us that kids who were from 8 to 10 years old in 1952 - 4 preferred SPACE PATROL and ROCKY JONES, while kids who were 11 to 13 in the same period preferred CAPTAIN VIDEO and TOM CORBETT. This is hardly surprising, since SPACE PATROL and ROCKY JONES offered pretty much the same brand of slam-bang action, whereas the appeal of CAPTAIN VIDEO and TOM CORBETT was (at least by comparison) considerably more cerebral. Actually, there is not a whole lot of difference between ROCKY JONES and SPACE PATROL, and both are completely enjoyable. The characters are (mainly) likeable, the special effects ok, the sets good, the adventures often action-packed, and the scripts... well, uninspired, but generally acceptable. Considering that ROCKY was filmed and SPACE PATROL broadcast live, and that there are hundreds more half-hour episodes available for SPACE PATROL than for ROCKY, we must give SPACE PATROL the edge.

The correct chronological order of the Rocky Jones episodes has been a subject for some debate in recent years. Here is the order as established by Rocky fans Mike Elmo and Jack Stinson:

    Season 1
  • Beyond the Curtain of Space
  • Bobby's Comet
  • Pirates of Prah
  • Forbidden Moon
  • Escape into Space
  • Rocky's Odyssey
  • Kip's Private War
  • Silver Needle in the Sky
  • Crash of Moons
  • Blast Off

    Season 2
  • The Cold Sun
  • Inferno in Space/Magnetic Moon
  • Vena and the Darnamo
  • Out of this World
  • Trial of Rocky Jones

The 90 minute feature films created from the various episodes usually have different titles. In the same order as above, these are:

    Season 1
  • Beyond the Moon
  • Menace from Outer Space
  • Manhunt in Space
  • Forbidden Moon
  • [Escape into Space]
  • Gypsy Moon
  • [Kip's Private War]
  • Silver Needle in the Sky
  • Crash of Moons
  • Blast Off

    Season 2
  • The Cold Sun
  • Magnetic Moon/Inferno in Space
  • [Vena and the Darnamo]
  • Robot of Regalio/Out of this World
  • Renegade Satellite

(Titles in brackets "[]" are stories complete in one 30-minute episode, not included in the 90 minute features.)

For an incomplete log of the ROCKY JONES programs, click here.

For a complete list of cast and crew, click here.

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BUCK ROGERS!

Broadcast history

First show, April 15, 1950
Last show January 30, 1951

ABC, 30 min, live from Chicago, WENR, Saturdays from 4/15/50 to 7/15/50, and then from 8/19/50 to 1/30/51, mainly on Tuesdays.

This series remains one of the great mysteries of Golden Age live TV broadcasting, since virtually nothing is known about it. Clearly, it was the first attempt to bring the famous 1930s comic strip hero to television, and the aim was obviously to give ABC a space adventure series to compete with the wildly popular CAPTAIN VIDEO on DuMont. [Ironically, CAPTAIN VIDEO was not then broadcast in the Chicago area; it would not be carried until about 2 months after the start of the BUCK ROGERS series. West-coast-based SPACE PATROL was added to the ABC lineup about 6 months later. All episodes were directed by Babette Henry and written by Gene Wyckoff. If kinescopes survive, they have been locked in the vaults of fanatic Buck Rogers collectors for half a century; none are available for viewing.]

Broadcasts began with Earl Hammond playing Buck Rogers, Eva Marie Saint playing his lovely sidekick Wilma Deering, Harry Southern playing a very senile-looking version of Buck's scientific advisor Dr. Huer, and Harry Kingston playing comical sidekick Black Barney Wade, a reformed space pirate. After 4 episodes, Hammond was replaced by Kem Dibbs and Eva Marie Saint by Lou Prentis. After 8 episodes, Sanford Bickart replaced Harry Southern as Dr. Huer. Dibbs lasted about 8 episodes before being replaced by Robert Pastene. Contemporary newspaper accounts agree that this series was very short on action and interest, and drew very low ratings. The frequent cast changes suggest a frantic and desperate effort to find actors with the same charisma as Al Hodge and Don Hastings. However, BUCK ROGERS would ultimately have been doomed by the great popularity of SPACE PATROL... the producers should have been looking for another Ed Kemmer and Lyn Osborn. Joe Sarno notes that on 9/12/50 the series was shifted from Saturday at 6 PM to Tuesday at 7 PM. This was the "time slot of death," because it was overwhelmingly dominated by the most popular TV program of the era, Milton Berle's TEXACO STAR THEATER; no amount of star power could have saved the Buck Rogers series after that; it had clearly been written off just 5 months after its initial episode.

Virtually nothing is known about the story lines, but what little survives suggests that Buck's 25th Century TV adventures were based fairly closely on the 24th Century adventures of Captain Video, and not on the long-running BUCK ROGERS comic strip or the one Universal BUCK ROGERS serial starring good old Buster Crabbe. Buck and his friends operated out of a secret mountain headquarters hidden behind Niagra Falls. Action seemed to be too often confined to a set representing this headquarters; no stills showing it are known to survive. Costumes pretty much followed the lead of the comic strip, with Buck and friends wearing tights, and slightly futuristic versions of the 1920s aviator's cap favored by the comic-strip Buck. The caps sported large transparent visors that covered the whole face. Following the lead of Captain Video and his Rangers, Dr. Huer wore no helmet but did have a large pair of aviation goggles on his forehead... not the thick eyeglasses worn by the comic-strip Huer.

But unlike Captain Video in 1950, Buck Rogers had a space ship, made all-too-obviously entirely of cardboard. There were actually two space ship sets, an interior set cluttered with cardboard control panels and bits of 1930s radios, and an exterior cockpit set resting on giant rockers; the latter looked not unlike Buzz Corry's "Battle Cruiser 100" of the same era. Buck was apparently the first live TV space hero to battle alien monsters (a Lobster Man appears in the "Space Monster" episode of 6/3/50), but like Captain Video he mainly dealt with spacegoing criminals and the threat of interplanetary invasion.

There is a very strong suspicion among historians of TV space heroes of the early 1950s that it was competition from BUCK ROGERS which finally sent Captain Video into space in his own space ship. Up until Buck hit the small screen, DuMont's extreme budget constraints had precluded a space ship or other-worldly sets, despite pressure from writer M. C. Brockhauser and actor Richard Coogan to do space adventure. The fact that Buck dared to venture into space on a budget no larger than Captain Video's seems to have turned the trick, and soon Captain Video discovered that his rocket plane, the X-9, was at least capable of reaching the moon, and that war surplus cannister gas masks and raingear with hoods made effective space suits! When SPACE PATROL also came along, the Captain invented a much niftier space ship, the V-2-like Galaxy I.

For a very incomplete log of BUCK ROGERS, click here.

Two memories of this program have recently surfaced! To read them click here.

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FLASH GORDON!

Syndicated, 39(?) 16 mm films, 30 minutes, late 1953 - late 1954.

Essentially forgotten by the early 1980s, when videotapes of episodes of the series began to appear in toy stores, this US/West German/French production was briefly notorious in its day when a childrens' programming watchdog committee testified before a Senate subcommittee that the program featured "nearly continuous violence." The same watchdog group found CAPTAIN VIDEO equally violent, which induced Al Hodge to appear before the subcommittee and testify that his scriptwriters never even used the word "kill," and that all the Captain's adversaries were ultimately reformed and rehabiliated. [He seemed to forget that Dr. Pauli generally wound up "disintegrated to atoms" at the end of each story line in which he appeared. But Dr. Pauli was always revived or reanimated, after all, at least once by Captain Video himself.]

The German/French FLASH GORDON, as a matter of fact, owes far more to CAPTAIN VIDEO than it does the classic newspaper strip by Alex Raymond, or the equally classic three Universal serials starring Buster Crabbe. "Flash" Gordon (Steve Holland), Dale Arden (Irene Champlin), and Dr. Hans Alexis Zarkov (Joe Nash), in something like the 30th Century, are agents of the Galactic Bureau of Investigation, sent out in their spaceship Skyflash to battle a wide range of Continental-looking bad eggs, including the Queens of Cygni, of Lyra, of Prudentia, and of Fulvia, Prince Klangor, and civilians Zaldu, Fizdar, Tridon, Rabeed, Zydereen the Mad Witch of Neptune, and the god Em of Odin(!). Irene Champlin makes a surprisingly plain and unattractive Dale Arden, and the script writers seen to stretch themselves to invent various tortures for her to undergo. Also, Flash is certainly the only 1950s space hero to have a talking parrot as a sidekick! Just as Captain Video takes his orders from Commissioner of Public Safety Carrey, Flash takes his from GBI Commissioners Herric and Erickson.

There were some scripts by mystery writer and amateur magician Bruce Elliot, who took over THE SHADOW's pulp adventures after Walter B. Gibson, and others by Earl Markham. Direction is credited to Wallace Worsley, Jr. and Gunther von Fritsch. At some point the production switched from Inter-Continental Film Productions studios in West Berlin, to La Telediffusion studios in Paris. Crews, sets, costumes and guest casts were totally different for the two different production centers. The special and visual effects for the German series were done by F. W. Wintzer; the space ship "Skyflash II" used in the Paris films looks quite different from the German version, called "Skyflash," which appears to be animated rather than an actual miniature like the Paris version. In early episodes, GBI costumes resemble the strange outfits worn by Space Patrollers in 1950-51, including blouses with large, puffy sleeves.

Male model Steve Holland's most famous "role" is probably Doc Savage, since he posed for the painted covers by James Bama that decorated the famous Bantam reprints of the adventures of this greatest of pulp heros during the 1970s. Ironically, he also seems to appear as Captain Video on at least the first of the the early photographic covers of Fawcett's CAPTAIN VIDEO comicbook!

The initial appearance of FLASH GORDON on TV, however, came in 1951, when DuMont broadcast the original 1936 Buster Crabbe Universal serial on its Serial Theater series. Lame-brained New York Times television critic Jack Gould, who had apparently never seen a serial before, was so aghast at the incessant combat shown in the first two episodes that he launched a direct personal attack on Dr. Allen B. DuMont for "reckless social behavior." With parents following Gould's lead, DuMont pulled the serial, the first instance in which critical and parential pressure caused a drastic change in TV programming. Needless to say, when the serial was shown in its entirety a few months later, by another New York station, there was no comment at all, and the three Universal FLASH GORDON and the one Universal BUCK ROGERS serials, starring good old Buster Crabbe, were shown over and over, becoming the most consistently popular of all the classic serials broadcast during TV's Golden Age.

For a very incomplete cast list and a far more complete crew list, click here.

For a complete list of the titles of all 39 known episodes, click here.

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ATOM SQUAD!

NBC, July 6, 1953 to January 22, 1954; broadcast daily, Monday-Friday, 5:00 to 5:15 PM.

This was not a space adventure program but is remembered fondly by a number of Space Hero fans and merits a description here. The Atom Squad was a secret government agency which dealt with Cold War threats to US security involving radiation and nuclear weapons. The cast and sets reminded youthful viewers of CAPTAIN VIDEO, and for very good reason! The Atom Squad scientists, Steve Elliot and Dave Fielding, were played by Robert Cortleigh and Bob Hastings, their chief by Bram Nossem. Bob Hastings had played "Hal, the Ranger's brother" on CAPTAIN VIDEO, and was the actual brother of The Video Ranger, Don Hastings, while Bram Nossem had played the first incarnation of Captain Video's arch-nemesis, Dr. Pauli. It's even stranger than that, because the last actor to play Dr. Pauli was named Stephen Elliot, not to be confused with "Steve Elliot," the leading Atom Squad agent! The Atom Squad's secret New York headquarters lab also looked very much like Captain Video's secret mountain headquarters control room, except that the Atom Squad, with an NBC rather than DuMont budget, had many more controls and flashing lights on their panels. The program's opening sequence showed a man in a "radiation suit" lumbering very slowly toward the camera, a fairly accurate representation of the not-very-action-packed story that usually followed.

Story lines were usually completed in 5, or sometimes 10 broadcasts. Paul Monash was the chief writer for the series and possibly its creator. The foes of the Atom Squad were usually mad scientists and evil Communist spies and saboteurs. However, they ran into aliens from outer space in at least three different story lines.

ATOM SQUAD originated from the studios of WPTZ in Philadelphia. The director was Joe Behar, and producers were Larry White and later Adrian Samish. (Since Larry White was the director for the first couple of years of CAPTAIN VIDEO, it is tempting to suppose that this is the same White; it would explain the many similarities between the programs -- however, Larry White is a common name.)

While ATOM SQUAD kinescopes were probably made, for West Coast rebroadcast, none are known to survive today.

For more on ATOM SQUAD, click here.

For an incomplete log of the ATOM SQUAD programs, click here.

Main theme: Miklos Rozsa, "Tumult and Commotion."

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COMMANDO CODY, SKY MARSHAL OF THE UNIVERSE

NBC, weekly, Saturdays, 11:00 to 11:30 AM, July 16 to October 8, 1955

Republic Pictures was the king of motion picture serials during the 1940s, but there were two things they didn't have a clue about: (1) how to do serials with science fictional themes, and (2) how to adapt to the rising popularity of TV in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Most of their science fiction serials used the Rocketman character from their 1949 KING OF THE ROCKET MEN (see our, serial page for more details), who had received the weird name Commando Cody in 1952's RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON. COMMANDO CODY recycles the RADAR MEN concepts, except that this time the villain is from the planet Mercury rather than our moon. The 12 episodes that go to make up COMMANDO CODY were filmed in 1952-3 and released to theaters in 1953. Serials were being killed by the lack of regular Saturday Matinee attendance, so the 12 episodes were all independent of one another. There were no cliffhangers and if you saw only a few of the episodes you missed nothing important. Strictly speaking, COMMANDO CODY was not a serial but a series of 12 "short subjects," as 15-25 minute films were dubbed in the movie industry. (The THREE STOOGES shorts are the best-known examples today.)

Two years after their (very unsuccessful) theatrical release, the 12 films were sold to NBC, which ran them during the late summer and fall of 1955, only after all other space adventure TV programs had vanished completely from the air. At 12 episodes the series was only half or one-third the length of the usual syndicated series (26 to 32 episodes). Since the series took 13 weeks to spin out, one episode must have been repeated.

Judd Holdren appeared as Commando Cody, with Aline Towne as his sidekick Joan Gilbert and Gregory Gay as the villain, The Ruler. There was a fairly long break between the filming of the first three and the last nine episodes. In the break, Cody lost his sidekick Ted Richards (William Schallert) and gained a new sidekick, Dick Preston (Richard Crane, a year before his tour of duty as ROCKY JONES, SPACE RANGER). The Ruler also gained a female sidekick, played by Gloria Pall. There were a large number of changes in props and sets, as well. In each episode, the Ruler tried to take over the earth with a new scheme, each one designed to make the maximum use of Republic stock footage of various disasters.

The writers (to use the word loosely) were Ronald Davidson and Barry Shipman, and the directors (to use the word even more loosely) were Franklin Adreon, Fred Brannon and Harry Keller. At the time of the TV broadcasts, Republic re-released RADAR MEN to theatres, in hopes of increased audiences for both TV and movie incarnations. Those hopes were cruelly dashed. CODY is certainly the low point of early 1950s TV space adventure.

For further information about COMMANDO CODY, and a log of the programs, click here.

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MEN INTO SPACE!

CBS, 1959-60, 30 min, 16 mm film, 38 episodes.

Aimed at adults, and with the cooperation of the US Air Force, "technical advisor" Wernher von Braun, and space artist Chesley Bonestell, this series supposedly tried to give a "realistic" picture of space flight in the near future (say, 1970). Colonel Ed McCauley (William Lundigan) was virtually the only regular cast member, as he supervised the construction of a large manned space station and a small lunar base. Like most other ZIV/Ivan Tors productions, the series was painfully dull, and the story lines usually extremely unimaginative.

Several episodes hinted not only at life on other worlds, but at another space-travelling civilization. A few scripts were written by well-known science fiction writers Jerome Bixby and David Duncan. Other scripts were by James Clavell(!) and Ib Melchior. A few episodes were directed by the great William Conrad, and by Ivan Tors favorite Richard Carlson, but most direction was in the hands of "get it in the can yesterday" hacks such as Franklin Adreon, Nathan Juran, Lee ("Roll'em") Sholem and Herb Strock. Angie Dickinson (in the pilot) and later Joyce Taylor had the thankless role of Col. McCauley's long-suffering earthbound wife, while General Norgath (Tyler McVey) issued stern but fair orders.

Chesley Bonestell's designs were not often actually used in the program. His space shuttle and moonship are seen in the second episode, as models, in an effective liftoff sequence, and a fair lunar landing, but in 16 later episodes, taking place on the moon on a very cramped moon surface set, the ship is usually seen only as a rear-projected still photo. Bonestell's design for a Mars expedition ship was not used in the series at all, but can be glimpsed at the end of episode 24, represented as a "reconstructed alien spaceship!" Bonestell clearly did give the series permission to use his space art from the book CONQUEST OF SPACE, and his paintings of the earth and moon from orbit, as well as the lunar surface, are frequently used as background plates onto which tiny models and their exhaust flames are crudely matted. However, essentially all vehicle liftoffs save one, as shown in the series, are newsreels of Atlas missile blastoffs. 15 episodes use a tiny space shuttle prop (similar to an Atlas with dinky fins), and a corresponding full-scale prop, for various tedious hi-jinks in earth orbit and near-earth space. Two episodes involve the wheel-shaped manned space station whose construction is featured in episode 3. And two episodes feature the tiny shuttle exploring a distinctive turd-shaped asteroid. Finally, one episode (number 32) shows a USSR Mars expedition ship, represented by a Strombecker kit of a Krafft Ehriche-designed Nova-like space shuttle! (This model, available in those days at any 10-cent-store, stands in for Russian and also British space vehicles in two different episodes.)

Special effects are credited to Irving Block, Jack Rabin and Si Simonson, who specialized in ultra-low-budget special effects, as seen in FLIGHT TO MARS (1951), WORLD WITHOUT END (1956), KRONOS and INVISIBLE BOY (1957), WAR OF THE SATELLITES (1958), and ATOMIC SUBMARINE (1959). However, they actually look more like the work of Charles Duncan, who used an apparently identical space-shuttle model (and full-size prop), and even the same distinctive turd-shaped asteroid, in the dreadful 1961 turkey, THE PHANTOM PLANET. Duncan also worked on PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1958), THE COSMIC MAN (1959) and THE SLIME PEOPLE (1962). As you can see from these credits, one would not expect the special effects in MEN INTO SPACE to be very special, and except in a few episodes clearly designed as showcases, such as Episode 2, they are indeed very unimpressive. Louis DeWitt apparently handled the few competent-looking photographic effects that are seen. Art design was credited to Robert Kinoshita.

There was no second season for the program, but the season proposed by Ivan Tors and ZIV to CBS would have evidently featured an expedition to Mars, with several episodes representing the journey (258 days via an economical orbit), several episodes representing the exploration of Mars (alloted 455 days if an economical return orbit is used), and several episodes representing the return (another 258 days, for a total of two years and eight months!). Perhaps as another showcase of special effects, which had been fairly thin in the 37 episodes to date, one additional episode was filmed in which, preposterously, the tiny space shuttle prop is seen headed for Mars but forced to land on Mars' moon Phobos! [The space shuttle prop is simply matted into a background plate of a Bonestell painting of Mars seen from Phobos.] This episode was never shown on CBS, but was included in all later syndication packages. The first episode was broadcast September 30, 1959, the final and 37th episode on September 7, 1960. [The program was not broadcast from June 7 to August 17, 1960.]

Despite (or perhaps because of) its lack of thrills, adventure and space derring-do, MEN INTO SPACE is still warmly remembered by some folks who were circa 10 years old in 1960 (too young to remember the Golden Age of Space adventure of 10 years before). A very nice site with an episode guide and many frame captures from each episode to be found here.

Main theme: David D. Rose, "Men Into Space."

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