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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!

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.

Monday, June 18, 2018

STAR TREK: What Are Little Girls Made Of?

Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy
Guest Stars:  Michael Strong, Sherry Jackson, Ted Cassidy, Majel Barrett, Nichelle Nichols
Directed by James Goldstone
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Captain Kirk successfully reunites Nurse Chapel with her long-lost fiancee, Dr. Roger Korby, but Korby has secret plans for technology he's discovered that require keeping the captain hostage.

Famed author Robert Bloch wrote this episode, which has a creepier feel to it than others, and re-introduces Majel Barrett to the series in her new role as Nurse Chapel.  Although Strong is good as Korby, trying to convince Kirk and Chapel of the benefits of his technology, and Sherry Jackson turns heads in her revealing costume, the standout guest star is Ted Cassidy as the ancient android Ruk.  Best known for playing Lurch on The Addams Family, he's an even more fearsome presence here, with speed and strength easily subduing Shatner on more than one occasion, and doing away with the Enterprise's security guards in one of the earliest examples of the well-known redshirt trope.  The theme presented of giving up humanity in exchange for a chance at immortality would be one the series would revisit again and again.

Monday, April 2, 2018

THE OUTER LIMITS: ZZZZZ

Guest Stars:  Philip Abbott, Marsha Hunt, Joanna Frank, Booth Colman
Directed by John Brahm
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A hive of bees in a entomologist's laboratory succeed in transforming their queen into a beautiful human woman, and she pursues the entomologist in order to spawn a new race of bee-people.

Although we never get a sufficient explanation as to how the bees were able to transform their queen, Frank gives such a good performance that I forgot about that, her hairstyle covering one eye in mystery, and her joyful gaze making her seem like a true innocent, while her expressions convey the opposite.  Abbott and Hunt are also very good, making us believe they are in a loving marriage, while also believably oblivious to how each other feel about Frank's character.  Although Frank is introduced through a winning special effect overlay, I was a bit disappointed that she wasn't showcased in a creature makeup at the climax, making the ending somewhat unsatisfying.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

THE OUTER LIMITS: Don't Open Till Doomsday

Guest Stars:  Miriam Hopkins, John Hoyt, Russell Collins, Buck Taylor, Nellie Burt
Directed by Gerd Oswald
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A strange box with an alien creature inside brings tragedy to two pairs of newlyweds decades apart.

A very creepy episode, contrasting the joy of the beginning of a marriage to the tragic loss of a partner, is well scripted by Joseph Stefano, though I must confess I didn't put together all the pieces of the backstory in his teleplay until well after the episode ended.  Miriam Hopkins, whose career dated back into the 1930s, is an interesting casting choice as the denied bride who has aged while her young groom-to-be has not, held captive by the alien creature.  Although we can't see any hope of a happy reunion between the two because of the age difference, Hopkins convincingly brings across a still vivacious character who has no doubt that she will be able to pick up where she left off more than 30 years prior.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN: The Haunted Lighthouse

Starring George Reeves, Jack Larson
Guest Stars:  Jimmy Ogg, Allene Roberts, Sarah Padden, Maudie Prickett
Directed by Tommy Carr
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

While staying with his Aunt Louisa on an island off the coast of Maine, Jimmy soon discovers mysterious goings on, including a lighthouse that may be haunted and a strange cry for help.  

The first season of Superman's adventures on television begins with a dark atmospheric mystery, something we wouldn't see too much of in later seasons, but I certainly welcomed it.  Surprisingly most of the cast is absent this time around except for Clark/Superman and Jimmy, and the rapport between Reeves and Larson seems genuine right off the bat, a rare achievement in such an early episode.  Although things are kept straightforward enough for the young audience to follow, down to Reeves narrating most of the story in the style of one of the Man of Steel's radio adventures, there's still creepy chills to be experienced, which should keep adults interested as well.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

STAR TREK: Balance Of Terror

Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy
Guest Stars:  Mark Lenard, Paul Comi, Lawrence Montaigne, DeForest Kelley, Grace Lee Whitney
Directed by Vincent McEveety
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

The Enterprise is called in to investigate attacks on outposts along the Romulan Neutral Zone, and soon engages in combat with a Romulan ship that has the ability to turn invisible.

One of the best early episodes of the series, this installment not only introduced the Romulans and showed us their resemblance to the Vulcans, it established concepts that have been embraced in Star Trek canon for many years to come.  I've heard others draw parallels between the strategic combat here and that in classic submarine films, and there's enough taut suspense for the episode to be complimented in that comparison.  There's also a lot happening behind the scenes on both ships which enriches the viewing experience, and Lenard is simply wonderful as the Romulan commander, who would return to Star Trek again with pointed ears as Spock's father Sarek.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

PORTRAITS OF TERROR: Final Curtain

Guest Stars:  Duke Moore, Dudley Manlove, Jeannie Stevens
Directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr.
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

An actor finds himself alone at night in an empty theater and as he roams the building, he tries to fight the feelings of fear and dread in his mind.

Notorious filmmaker Ed Wood apparently made a foray into television in this unsold 1957 pilot for a supernatural anthology series.  Those who poke fun at Wood's work will find much to belittle here, but his fans should enjoy this for similar reasons.  Wood, who also scripted and produced this entry, tries to tap into an Edgar Allan Poe-like psychosis for his character, played by Duke Moore, who also portrayed gruff police lieutenants in Wood's movies.  But Moore never speaks and the narrator representing his thoughts is voiced by Dudley Manlove, who had some dialogue that brought unintended laughs in Wood's magnum opus, Plan 9 From Outer Space, and is a hoot here.  Wood's attempts to convey the creepiness of the empty theater involves much intercutting between Moore and empty rooms in the theater that aren't all that creepy, including multiple shots of a water cooler.  The series obviously didn't sell for a reason, but this pilot is quintessential Ed Wood through and through, and a gift to fans looking for more of his work.