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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!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

H.G. WELLS' INVISIBLE MAN: Shadow On The Screen

Guest Stars:  Lisa Daniely, Edward Judd, Greta Gynt, Redmond Phillips, Andre Mikhelson
Directed by Pennington Richards
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

The Invisible Man's help is sought by a rescuer of refugees, trying to help a sailor being held captive aboard his ship after trying to escape.

With the villains using a rather ingenious form of radar to catch and trap the Invisible Man, this is a well-visualized and stronger than usual outing, even though we realize Brady will eventually outwit them as he always does, in typical fun fashion.  Brady's voice also seems rather different this time around, perhaps meaning someone was filling in for actor Tim Turner.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

H.G. WELLS' INVISIBLE MAN: Play To Kill

Guest Stars:  Lisa Daniely, Helen Cherry, Colin Gordon, Hugh Latimer, Garry Thorne
Directed by Peter Maxwell
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A celebrated actress accidentally kills a pedestrian with her car, but a bystander's insistence to forget the incident ever happened weighs heavily on her conscience.

Something of a departure from past episodes, with a more intricate plot and a more minor role for Brady, this installment is also perhaps non-coincidentally in the hands of a director other than Pennington Richards, who helmed each of the series' earlier adventures.  Although it doesn't wander far from the series' typical formula, there is a bit of a fresh approach, which I found welcome.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

H.G. WELLS' INVISIBLE MAN: Picnic With Death

Guest Stars:  Lisa Daniely, Deborah Watling, Derek Bond, Faith Brook, Margaret McCourt
Directed by Pennington Richards
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

After the existence of the Invisible Man is made public, a friend of his niece's appeals to him for help, fearing that her stepfather and his sister are trying to do away with her mother.

Although something of a pivotal episode as the first in which Brady's secret is revealed to the world at large, there isn't much else that stands out in this installment, even though it's a well-acted and staged adventure.  Still, it's good comfort food for fans of the series and a fun time-passer.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

H.G. WELLS' INVISIBLE MAN: The Locked Room

Guest Stars:  Lisa Daniely, Deborah Watling, Zena Marshall, Lloyd Lamble, Rupert Davies
Directed by Pennington Richards
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A foreign scientist speaks her mind during a conference in London, and is consequently imprisoned by her oppressive government in their embassy, but the Invisible Man comes to her rescue.

This episode suffers from too many noticeable wires during the effects sequences, but provides another engaging story, and a rare bit of romance for our invisible hero.  Guest star Marshall is very good conveying the appearance of being led or carried by Brady, especially in scenes where she's supposed to be unconscious.  There's not much to the story, but it's another winning outing.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

H.G. WELLS' INVISIBLE MAN: Behind The Mask

Guest Stars:  Dennis Price, Deborah Watling, Edwin Richfield, Barbara Chilcott, David Ritch
Directed by Pennington Richards
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A disfigured wealthy collector begs the Invisible Man to make him invisible as well, but has a secret agenda to use his new ability for murder.

Dennis Price turns in a fine guest performance under makeup and a partial mask in a well-scripted episode from Leslie Arliss and Stanley Mann.  Although this installment features fine effects work, it's what's not shown which is most effective, leaving Price's disfigurement up to the audience's imagination, and his quest for revenge explained through dialogue alone.

Monday, November 23, 2015

H.G. WELLS' INVISIBLE MAN: Crisis In The Desert

Guest Stars:  Adrienne Corri, Eric Pohlmann, Martin Benson, Peter Sallis, Howard Pays
Directed by Pennington Richards
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

The Invisible Man is sent to the Middle East to rescue a government agent captured by a cruel officer who plans to torture him for information.

Although the heavy makeup used to pass the British cast off as Arabs is unfortunate, this episode remains a fine adventure with a colorful foreign backdrop and some nice suspenseful scenes.  Corri turns in a strong guest performance as Brady's contact, and the special effects, including an invisible Brady parachuting into enemy territory, are top notch.

Friday, November 20, 2015

H.G. WELLS' INVISIBLE MAN: Secret Experiment

Guest Stars:  Lisa Daniely, Deborah Watling, Lloyd Lamble, Bruce Seton, Ernest Clark
Directed by Pennington Richards
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Dr. Peter Brady accidentally turns himself invisible during a lab experiment, and seeks out the aid of a colleague in finding a cure.

Despite H.G. Wells' name in the titles, this series is not very faithful to his famous novel, featuring a kinder and more heroic protagonist, unlike Wells' creation who turns murderously insane.  Nonetheless it's great fun, with a likable cast and impressive special effects.  Occasionally you may able to spot some wires, but other than that, the effects hold up well, and the uncredited American voice of Peter Brady is well-suited to the Invisible Man's adventures, although it stands out somewhat oddly among the British cast.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE: Spider, Inc.

Hosted by Truman Bradley
Guest Stars:  Gene Barry, Audrey Totter, Ludwig Stossel, Robert Clarke, Herbert Rudley
Directed by Jack Arnold
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A scientist working for an oil company neglects his wife searching for a breakthrough at home, and may have found it in the fossil of an ancient spider.

I enjoyed this episode, which features a strong teleplay by Jerry Sackheim, and a good cast, including familiar sci-fi names Barry and Clarke, and also Stossel in a standout charming performance.  As with other episodes of the series, its imaginings may not have come true in the real world, but it's well-presented with the real practice of carbon-dating nicely incorporated into the story.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE: The Brain Of John Emerson

Hosted by Truman Bradley
Guest Stars:  John Howard, Ellen Drew, Joyce Holden, Robert Simon, Michael Fox
Directed by Leslie Goodwins
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A police officer survives a dangerous brain injury, but after being released from the hospital, he's shocked to discover his IQ has increased exponentially.

Not a bad concept, and not a bad story, but the teleplay lacks the mystery included in some of the series' better episodes, and relies on dialogue to advance the story, without anything notable in photography, direction, or performances to make this installment special.  Not bad, but not a distinguished effort.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE: The Lost Heartbeat

Hosted by Truman Bradley
Guest Stars:  Zachary Scott, Walter Kingsford, Jan Shepard, Thomas McKee, John Mitchum
Directed by Henry S. Kesler
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A scientist dying of a bad heart tries to convince a brilliant pupil of his to try an experimental new surgery on him.

Walter Kingsford returns to the series in a different guest role in this installment concerning medical technology powered by solar batteries.  Several episodes of the series thus far have focused on imagined technology in the years to come rather than flights of fantasy in a distant future, and this one is no exception, and while I don't think solar batteries have come into play the way the teleplay imagines here, it doesn't make for a bad drama, although as Kingsford's daughter, Shepard's protests about the evils of science seem a bit hard to believe.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE: Stranger In The Desert

Hosted by Truman Bradley
Guest Stars:  Marshall Thompson, Gene Evans, Lowell Gilmore, John Mitchum, Ralph Bennett
Directed by Henry S. Kesler
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A pair of men hunting for uranium ore find a giant lode of radioactivity near a mysterious old man's shack.

A middling entry in the series which could have been better off with more fantasy or some special effects, the episode nonetheless features fine performances by the principals, particularly Gilmore as the enigmatic stranger.  I understand the limitations of the series' budget and appreciate the talents on display, but can't help wanting more than the producers and directors are able to deliver.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE: Y.O.R.D.

Hosted by Truman Bradley
Guest Stars:  Walter Kingsford, Judith Ames, Louis Jean Heydt, DeForest Kelley, Kenneth Tobey
Directed by Leon Benson
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

When the men serving at a military post in the Arctic report being able to read each other's thoughts, a scientific expert in mental telepathy is brought in to determine the cause.

Good scripting and acting take center stage in this episode and make for a winning formula with a cast of sci-fi veterans including Kingsford (The Invisible Ray), Tobey (The Thing From Another World), and Kelley (Star Trek's Dr. McCoy), who even plays a doctor!  The teleplay unveils an engaging mystery revealing a little at a time without spoiling the ending.  Viewers hoping for special effects will be disappointed, but the production engaged my interest.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE: Out Of Nowhere

Hosted by Truman Bradley
Guest Stars:  Richard Arlen, Jess Barker, Carlyle Mitchell, Irving Mitchell, Jonathan Hale
Directed by Herbert L. Strock
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

When bats crash into a high-rise building, scientists try to determine what interfered with their sonar, as it could be a threat to the nation's ability to detect enemy attacks on radar.

As with some other early episodes of the series, this one's more science than fiction, but does offer a worthwhile concept, kicking off a mystery to be solved.  It's very logical in its investigations as the scientists go through their paces trying to find the answer, and the climax is just as logical, but a departure into more fantastic territory would have been more fun in my opinion.

Monday, October 12, 2015

SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE: No Food For Thought

Hosted by Truman Bradley
Guest Stars:  John Howard, Otto Kruger, Vera Miles, Stanley Andrews, Clarence Lung
Directed by Jack Arnold
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A medical investigator checks into the mysterious death of a man looking younger than his age, and discovers a secret laboratory where scientists are experimenting with a dangerous nutrient.

Although this installment starts out with an intriguing mystery, the payoff is not quite as satisfying, despite a good cast of character actors, including Hitchcock film veteran Vera Miles.  It's not badly put together by director Arnold, but could use some more suspense or spectacle or visual ideas.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE: Time Is Just A Place

Hosted by Truman Bradley
Guest Stars:  Don DeFore, Marie Windsor, Warren Stevens, Peggy O'Connor
Directed by Jack Arnold
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A scientist working on a military base becomes intrigued by the strange man next door, whose startling inventions make him wonder where he's really from.

A big improvement over the series' first episode, this is a memorable tale from a science-fiction story by Jack Finney well-adapted to a television budget, and featuring a fine cast, including sci-fi veterans Windsor and Stevens.  Although the special effects aren't particularly impressive, they're believable due to the strong teleplay and convincing performances by the actors.  This one's a winner.

Monday, October 5, 2015

SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE: Beyond

Hosted by Truman Bradley
Guest Stars:  William Lundigan, Bruce Bennett, Tom Drake, Ellen Drew, Basil Ruysdael
Directed by Herbert L. Strock
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A test pilot tries to convince his superiors that while flying an experimental jet he witnessed a flying saucer alongside him.

The debut episode of this anthology series is a less fantastic outing than one would imagine to launch the series, focusing more on speculation about flying saucers than committing to showing one, and is largely assembled from stock footage, including shots from the producers' film Riders To The Stars. Nevertheless Lundigan does a good job of portraying the pilot who's convinced he's seen a UFO, and the script seems well-based in scientific theory.  However, I'm hoping future episodes have a bit more adventure and fantasy.

Friday, September 11, 2015

THRILLER: Rose's Last Summer

Hosted by Boris Karloff
Guest Stars:  Mary Astor, Lin McCarthy, Jack Livesey, Dorothy Green, Hardie Albright
Directed by Arthur Hiller
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

After a former movie star dies mysteriously and her body is found by strangers, her friend and her ex-husband begin to look for answers.

A late-career showcase for Astor, best known for her role in The Maltese Falcon twenty years earlier, this episode at first seems routine with a too-obvious plot twist.  But as the story settles in and shifts from a mystery to a suspense thriller, it becomes exciting and leads up to a worthy climax, with Astor turning in an exceptional performance, abetted by some camera trickery and great work by makeup artist Jack Barron.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

THRILLER: The Mark Of The Hand

Hosted by Boris Karloff
Guest Stars:  Mona Freeman, Jessie Royce Landis, Shepperd Strudwick, Rachel Ames, Judson Pratt
Directed by Paul Henreid
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

After a gunshot rings out within a house, the murder victim is found dead on the floor along with a little girl holding the gun.

Although a fairly well-paced mystery, with more than a few parallels to "The Bad Seed," the shocking novel/play/movie about a murderous little girl, the story suffers from some plot holes that aren't adequately filled in at the climax.  There are still fine performances all around, particularly from Pratt in a familiar role as a police detective.  Director Henreid, better known for his acting role in the classic Casablanca, acquits himself well here, with a memorably staged sequence in which Shepperd is told something by Pratt in the background while Freeman in the foreground tries to guess.

Friday, September 4, 2015

THRILLER: Worse Than Murder

Hosted by Boris Karloff
Guest Stars:  Constance Ford, John Baragrey, Christine White, Harriet E. MacGibbon, Dan Tobin
Directed by Mitchell Leisen
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A manipulative golddigger, after discovering a secret in her dead uncle's diary, tries to blackmail his wealthy sister.

Actress Constance Ford gives a convincing performance as the money-grubbing woman who stops at nothing to gain the inheritance she believes she's been cheated out of in this installment, resorting to increasingly violent acts.  It makes for a compelling and entertaining hour, and it's a credit to Ford and director Leisen that they build her character's menace without going over the top.  A subplot featuring the handyman who rents Ford's character her apartment doesn't seem to go anywhere, but the rest of the script is pretty tight and well-constructed.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

THRILLER: Child's Play

Hosted by Boris Karloff
Guest Stars:  Frank Overton, Bethel Leslie, Tommy Nolan, Parley Baer, George Werier
Directed by Arthur Hiller
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A couple experiencing marital strife and their 11-year-old son spend their summer in a cabin in the woods, not realizing that the son's resentment towards his father is about to explode in violence.

This isn't one of my favorite Thriller episodes, but it certainly is suspenseful, with young Hank aiming to punish the imaginary "Black Bart", but with a real gun and a real victim, and Nolan's performance is convincing enough that we can't guess just how far he will go.  Despite this, Leslie has perhaps the best showcase in the episode, her wrinkled brow and measured words showing the effects age and an absentee husband has had on her life.  Robert Dozier's script does an excellent job of capturing the ways husbands and wives take arguments to heart, but focuses more on how they feel than what exactly their son is thinking or feeling, which I thought should have been the main concentration here.  Nonetheless, it's a well-crafted episode.

Monday, August 24, 2015

THRILLER: The Twisted Image

Hosted by Boris Karloff
Guest Stars:  Leslie Nielsen, George Grizzard, Natalie Trundy, Dianne Foster, Constance Ford
Directed by Arthur Hiller
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A married executive becomes the target of two people in his building, a young woman who's become infatuated with him, and a mailroom clerk who covets his life.

This single episode feels more like two, and might have been better served focusing solely on either Grizzard's or Trundy's character, rather than the both of them, with a bit too much emphasis on developing the multiple characters rather than ratcheting up the suspense.  Nonetheless it is still entertaining, moves along well with Hiller at the helm, and features a good group of actors.  There's some interesting visual ideas employed as well, especially during the climax.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

THE TWILIGHT ZONE: Mr. Denton On Doomsday

Hosted by Rod Serling
Guest Stars:  Dan Duryea, Martin Landau, Jeanne Cooper, Malcolm Atterbury, Ken Lynch
Directed by Allen Reisner
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A drunk in an old western town, tormented by the local toughs, is given the gift of a gun by a mysterious peddler.

This was the first of numerous period pieces on The Twilight Zone that brought supernatural occurrences to America's historical past.  It was bit of economical cleverness on creator Rod Serling's part to frame these tales so that they traded in on the popularity of the western genre, and avoided the more costly special effects and makeups of his science fiction plots.  With fine camerawork and editing, especially during the episode's climactic showdown, this installment also compares favorably with any television western, and veteran actor Duryea plays the title role admirably, conveying genuine weariness and shame through his performance.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

THE TWILIGHT ZONE: One For The Angels

Hosted by Rod Serling
Guest Stars:  Ed Wynn, Murray Hamilton, Dana Dillaway, Jay Overholts, Merritt Bohn
Directed by Robert Parrish
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

An aging pitchman who sells his wares on street corners encounters Mr. Death, who notifies him his time on this world is up.

This installment is a nice character showcase with classic comedian Ed Wynn turning in a fine performance, immediately capturing the audience's sympathy from his first moments on screen, and plays off Hamilton quite well.  Serling's script for this episode gets perhaps a bit too over the top in the final moments, but this is a quality tale of fantasy which sells itself to the audience convincingly without special effects, not unlike Wynn's pitchman.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

THE TWILIGHT ZONE: Where Is Everybody?

Hosted by Rod Serling
Guest Stars:  Earl Holliman, James Gregory, Paul Langton, James McCallion, John Conwell
Directed by Robert Stevens
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

An amnesiac wanders into a deserted town, and tries to remember who he is while he searches for anyone he could talk to.

The first episode of The Twilight Zone is one of the best in my opinion, with a good performance by Holliman, and a terrifically eerie premise, tapping into our fears of loneliness.  The production is as cleverly staged as it is written, with the photography showing us the town through Holliman's eyes, startling us along with him when something unexpected comes into view, and suspense being generated by Bernard Herrmann's excellent score along with the unsettling moments of silence on the soundtrack when it's absent.  The series could not have gotten off to a better start.