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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!

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.