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Greetings, and welcome to CLASSICS ON THE TUBE. Here you'll find capsule reviews of vintage TV series episodes from the early days of television through the 1970s, with a special emphasis on sci-fi, horror, and mystery series. Be sure to check out the Pages links, where you can find an index of episodes reviewed for each television series.

I also cover vintage movies at my sister site, VIEWING THE CLASSICS, so please feel free to check that out as well.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

DARK SHADOWS: Episodes 5-8

Starring Alexandra Moltke, Nancy Barrett, Joan Bennett, Louis Edmonds, Mitchell Ryan
Guest Stars:  Mark Allen, George Mitchell, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Elizabeth Wilson, Joel Crothers
Directed by Lela Swift
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Victoria, after having had her fill of Collinwood, is ready to head back to New York, but stays after discovering a possible connection between her past and Carolyn's missing father.

The dense plotting of the initial storyline of the series becomes evident in these episodes as the focus shifts from the mystery of Burke Devlin's past, to that of Victoria Winters, who we learn was raised by an orphanage and supported by a mysterious benefactor, all beginning 18 years before, when Carolyn's father disappeared.  On top of that, we meet Sam Evans who was very much involved in the fear and guilt Roger Collins has regarding the return of Burke Devlin, we meet young David, son of Roger, who is very much against the presence of Victoria, and a groundskeeper who has maintained Collinwood since the servants were dismissed, again 18 years before.  We also start to doubt in Elizabeth Collins' honesty and see she might be manipulating events.  There's an awful lot of trails to keep track of, but I guess that's common for any soap opera.  Thus far there hasn't been much of the supernatural, other than references to ghosts and a sobbing sound only Victoria admits to hearing.  It will be interesting to see how the unexplained will be introduced into the storylines, and how long I'll have to wait before it is.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

DARK SHADOWS: Episodes 1-4

Starring Alexandra Moltke, Nancy Barrett, Joan Bennett, Louis Edmonds, Mitchell Ryan
Guest Stars:  Kathryn Leigh Scott, Joel Crothers, Frank Schofield, David Henesy, Conrad Bain
Directed by Lela Swift
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Victoria Winters travels to Collinsport, Maine to take a job as governess for the wealthy Collins family in their creepy mansion, but also arriving on the same train is an old enemy.

Dan Curtis' supernatural soap opera launches without the star the series will become known for, Jonathan Frid, but Moltke's innocent Victoria Winters makes a fine entry character for the audience to follow, as she begins to discover the secrets and the mysteries behind the Collins family.  Bob Cobert's eerie music sets the tone from the start, and although like most soap operas, it becomes clear that things aren't going to unravel quickly, I was entranced and engaged by the story and the characters.  It will take some time to get through the 1,000 plus episodes but I'm intrigued thus far.

Monday, October 29, 2018

LIGHTS OUT: The Passage Beyond

Narrated by Frank Gallop
Guest Stars:  Stella Andrew, Ralph Clanton, Monica Lang, Byron Russell, Sherry Bennett
Directed by William Corrigan
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A manor's ghost, who killed her cheating husband before her own death, shows herself on a night when the new lord of the manor has eyes only for his wife's best friend.

Well-filmed by Corrigan on a handsome set, there's not a great deal surprising in the plot, as it becomes inevitable that Clanton's character is going to be confronted by the ghost, but fine performances and impressive use of shadow during a live broadcast elevate the tale.  There's also an eerie moment when the ghost walks by other characters in the tale which was appropriately creepy.  There aren't really any special effects used, but it's a tight little thriller effectively presented.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

SUSPENSE: A Cask Of Amontillado

Announced by Rex Marshall
Guest Stars:  Bela Lugosi, Romney Brent, Frank Marth, Ray Walston
Directed by Robert Stevens
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A European man fears a fascist general will kill him to possess his wife, and lures the man down into the catacombs of his estate, promising to show him a rare vintage wine.

Edgar Allan Poe's classic horror tale is adapted for the series by writer Halsted Welles, updating the setting from Poe's original of a carnival celebration to a land that General Fortunato (played by Lugosi) is now ruling, presumably with an iron fist.  Like all of Suspense's episodes in the early days of television, this was presented live, and cleverly uses fade outs to change settings, and the set for the catacombs is well-done with a lengthy sequence featuring Brent and Lugosi descending down flights of stairs believably presented.  I was a little disappointed that Lugosi was not given the role more suited to him, that of Count Montressor, who in Poe's original exacts a horrible revenge for a mere insult, while Brent plays a much more amiable Montressor, who does what we does here to save his own life.  Still, it's a rare opportunity to see Lugosi in a television role, and he's good in it, showing off his range.  We also get to see My Favorite Martian's Ray Walston in an early role, playing an American soldier who Brent confesses his actions to.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

WITCHCRAFT: The Doll In Brambles

Hosted by Franchot Tone
Guest Stars:  Blanche Yurka, John Baragrey, Darren McGavin, Annemarie Roussel, Robert Middleton
Directed by Harold Young
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

An American visiting France intervenes on a friend's behalf, when a witch promises to put a curse on him if he ever sees her daughter again.

A pilot episode for a series set to adapt "true" tales of the supernatural from the works of author William Seabrook, I enjoyed the episode and regret they weren't able to make more.  Tone makes for a very affable host, and it was a treat to see McGavin in a supernatural tale years before his first iconic performance as reporter Carl Kolchak on television.  There's no special effects to speak of, but Yurka is finely cast as the witch, I enjoyed McGavin's performance as the American, and the setting of the old house on a precipice, and its basement full of her evil devices lent enough atmosphere to the tale.  

Thursday, September 27, 2018

THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN: The Case Of The Talkative Dummy

Starring George Reeves, Phyllis Coates, Jack Larson, John Hamilton, Robert Shayne
Guest Stars:  Tris Coffin, Syd Taylor, Pierre Watkin, Robert Kent, Phillip Pine
Directed by Tommy Carr
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Clark, Lois, and Jimmy stumble upon a criminal scheme which uses a ventriloquist's dummy to send armored car routes to a secret gang's members.

An enjoyable episode which introduces Robert Shayne as the gruff but dependable Inspector Henderson, and features the Superman movie serials' Perry White (Pierre Watkin) in a guest role, this installment entertains without too much action for the Man of Steel.  It also foreshadows that Superman would pretty much be dealing with criminal gangs as his sole adversaries throughout the first season of the series.  Guest star Pine would become a familiar face on television series through a long career, including playing Colonel Green in Star Trek's episode, "The Savage Curtain."

Friday, July 13, 2018

THE OUTER LIMITS: The Invisibles

Guest Stars:  Don Gordon, George Macready, Dee Hartford, Walter Burke, Tony Mordente
Directed by Gerd Oswald
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A secret organization recruits criminals and exposes them to alien creatures' venom before placing them in assignments across the country. 

I liked this episode, even though plots to take over by alien intelligences via human agents were becoming a bit commonplace not just for the series, but for science fiction in general by this time.  Jospeh Stefano's screenplay also doesn't make it quite clear what the aliens' role in the plot is or how they control their human captives.  However, Gordon is fine in the lead, there's lots of familiar faces in the cast from George Macready to Richard Dawson to Neil Hamilton, and it's well directed by Oswald with plenty of suspenseful scenes.  So it's definitely enjoyable, but think it could have benefitted from some fresher ideas.