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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, March 25, 2016

TALES OF TOMORROW: Blunder

Guest Stars: Robert Allen, Ann Loring, Phil Faversham, Alan Drake, Michael Keene
Directed by Leonard Valenta
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A physicist prepares to split an atom, eager to create a new power source, but his colleagues race to warn him he may be unleashing armageddon.

Although this subject matter was more timely in the 1950s, and doesn't seem much like science fiction today, the story tells a timely moral that mankind would still be good to heed, about the dangers of unchecked progress, and is delivered by a competent cast.  A nicely staged sequence has the physicist's worried wife turn off the radio saddened by a performance of "September Song" reminding her of their possible impending doom just before a warning to her husband is broadcast.  It's far from the series' best episode, but it's an episode of quality.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

TALES OF TOMORROW: Verdict From Space

Guest Stars: Lon McCallister, Martin Brandt, William Lally, Bernard Lenrow, Watson White
Directed by Leonard Valenta
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A young inventor finds himself on trial for murder after helping a scientist unlock a mysterious door in a strange underground cavern.

The debut episode of this science fiction anthology series from the early days of television still makes for interesting drama, even though it apparently aired live, so there's no special effects to see, and the most fantastic sights take place off camera.  But the script and actors do a good job of creating enough mystery to intrigue the audience, and even though the episode's climactic set piece is not especially effective, the ideas behind it are.  Filmmakers of today who rely on fantastic CGI to impress the audience could learn some lessons from this production.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

THUNDERBIRDS: Pit Of Peril

Starring Ray Barrett, Peter Dyneley, David Graham, David Holliday, Shane Rimmer
Directed by Desmond Saunders
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

When an experimental army vehicle becomes trapped in a subterranean pit, International Rescue dispatches Scott, Virgil, and Brains to rescue the army pilots.

Gerry Anderson and crew deliver another well-designed adventure in this installment, which has the teleplay placing several characters in high-stakes danger, as tremendous heat surrounds the fallen vehicle, hospitalizing those who airlift down to try and tether the craft to a cable.  Although we know they're inanimate puppets, the tension is still palpable thanks to the anguish in the voice actors' characterizations, singed costumes, and the clever placement of the puppets' hands over their eyes.  It's these little individual touches that really make Anderson's world come alive.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

THUNDERBIRDS: Trapped In The Sky

Starring Sylvia Anderson, Ray Barrett, Peter Dyneley, David Graham, David Holliday
Directed by Alan Pattillo
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

International Rescue launches its first rescue mission when they discover an atomic bomb has been planted aboard a new passenger jet.

A very strong pilot sets the stage for this series from Gerry Anderson who built a career making exciting action series like this one starring marionettes and impressive model vehicles on miniature sets.  Those who would label this a simple "puppet show," couldn't be more wrong, as Anderson and his team's attention to intricate details creates drama, suspense, and thrills, despite the limitations of his wooden "actors."  Although character development is secondary to the action sequences, name another action series in which that wasn't the case.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

THE INVADERS: The Leeches

Starring Roy Thinnes
Guest Stars:  Mark Richman, Diana Van der Vlis, Arthur Hill, Robert H. Harris, Theo Marcuse
Directed by Paul Wendkos
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

The executive of a technology company informs David he believes the aliens are going to try and kidnap him, and David suggests he let them, so he can trail them to their secret installation.

Some good sci-fi action and a strong story in which the aliens are kidnapping scientists to extract information from their brains highlight this episode, although a romantic triangle between the executive, his wife, and his best friend doesn't come over as well.  While the special effects don't particularly stand out, the extraction machine's display of key plans and blueprints on its screens as the victim writhes in agony is well executed, and distinguished actors like Harris and Marcuse, portraying the scientists, do an excellent job of showing how the aliens are destroying their minds.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

THE INVADERS: The Mutation

Starring Roy Thinnes
Guest Stars:  Edward Andrews, Lin McCarthy, Suzanne Pleshette, Roy Jenson, Rodolfo Hoyos
Directed by Paul Wendkos
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

After hearing of a reported UFO landing south of the border, David travels there and persuades a beautiful dancer to show him what she saw, not realizing he's been drawn into a trap.

Although this episode reveals a good deal more about the aliens, including the revelations that they're without human emotions and possess deadly ray guns, it's a shame that Pleshette's character, a mutant alien born with feelings, isn't given a bigger role or more time to explain her history.  Pleshette, who is absolutely beautiful, isn't even given a chance for romance with Thinnes, which I think was a wasted opportunity.  Nevertheless, it's an engaging hour.