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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!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

THRILLER: The Guilty Men

Hosted by Boris Karloff
Guest Stars:  Everett Sloane, Jay C. Flippen, Frank Silvera, John Marley, Anne Barton
Directed by Jules Bricken
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

An Italian immigrant becomes a titan of organized crime, but when he tries to phase out his illegitimate businesses, one of his partners aims to get rid of him.

Although not a bad mobster tale, and featuring some fine actors in the guest cast, this episode suffers a bit without any real mystery or suspense, which were supposed to be the series' hallmarks.  Sloane and Flippen both give good performances, but Silvera's characterization borders a bit on caricature.  I can see why the story appealed to the show's producers, structured like a Greek tragedy with a "violence begets violence" plotline, but it doesn't seem to mesh with the rest of the season's installments.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

THUNDERBIRDS: The Uninvited

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

After Thunderbird 1 is shot down by enemy planes, Scott is rescued by a pair of explorers searching for a lost pyramid, who soon find themselves in danger of their own.

A refreshing twist to the usual formula, this episode finds Scott Tracy being the one who needs rescuing at the open, and introduces the Zombites, a new enemy for International Rescue, whose motives and plans remain a mystery at the adventure's end.  The desert setting is very well-realized including some impressive sets and scenery once our heroes reach the pyramid, and those concerned about John Tracy being stuck up on the space station all the time will be glad to see he finally gets a break.  

Saturday, April 23, 2016

THUNDERBIRDS: Sun Probe

Starring Shane Rimmer, David Graham, Christine Finn, Peter Dyneley, David Holliday
Directed by David Lane
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

While Brains works on refinements to his robot, the rest of International Rescue is captivated by a space mission to capture a piece of the sun.

Some interesting outer space effects highlight this episode, with Gordon Tracy and the space-worthy Thunderbird 3 taking center stage, and Tin-Tin Kyrano apparently for the first time takes on an important role in the mission.  Per Wikipedia, the Tracy brothers were named after real-life astronauts, so creator Gerry Anderson's interest in the space program likely provided a strong inspiration for this adventure.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

THUNDERBIRDS: City Of Fire

Starring Sylvia Anderson, Shane Rimmer, David Holliday, David Graham, Peter Dyneley
Directed by David Elliott
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A giant tower catches fire, and Scott & Virgil determine to save a trapped family, they need to use a dangerous new gas.

Another well-crafted episode, this installment depicts a giant skyscraper said to contain a complete city inside, which we unfortunately don't get to see, but there's plenty of action and drama to satisfy any Thunderbirds fan.  Perhaps showing its age, the script does take a dig at women drivers and showcases a particularly dangerous one.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

TALES OF TOMORROW: Age Of Peril

Guest Stars:  Phyllis Kirk, Don Briggs, Dennis Harrison, John McGovern, Maurice Burke
Directed by Don Medford
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Fifteen years in the future, a government agent tries to solve the mystery of how criminals are able to beat lie detector tests and escape punishment.

Although Kirk is billed as the star of this episode, and was likely the biggest name among the cast, she rather curiously plays a fairly minor supporting role.  I know that there were gender inequities at the time, but still it seems strange that the producers wouldn't try to showcase her.  Nevertheless, it's an episode with a pretty interesting hook, predicting a legal system where lie detectors would become a critical component in criminal cases.  Although that didn't come to pass, it's well utilized as a launching point for the plot of this installment, but unfortunately the climax isn't as effectively realized.

Friday, April 8, 2016

TALES OF TOMORROW: What You Need

Guest Stars:  William Redfield, Edgar Stehli
Directed by Charles S. Dubin
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A reporter investigates a curio shop where wealthy men have been paying large sums for ordinary items, and discovers the proprietor can look into the future. 

A fine morality play well-written and acted, this episode has the feel of a Twilight Zone drama, and with good reason, as per Wikipedia, the story was adapted for that series as well.  As the teleplay takes us between settings and even forward in time and back, a challenge for any live broadcast, there's some clever transitions between scenes including the camera panning up and down calendar pages.  Redfield and Stehli are both very good, convincingly bringing to life the morally challenged reporter and the noble shopkeeper, who are both corrupted by the power of an incredible machine.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

TALES OF TOMORROW: Frankenstein

Guest Stars:  Lon Chaney, Jr., John Newland, Mary Alice Moore, Peggy Allenby, Raymond Bramley
Directed by Don Medford
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Victor Frankenstein secretly assembles an artificial man and brings it to life, but its hideousness and propensity for violence make it a fearsome monster. 

We have here an ambitious undertaking for the series and its budget, especially knowing it would be compared against the film adaptations of the story of Frankenstein, and in particular, Boris Karloff's classic performance.  However, Chaney, who had played the monster before, does manage to bring forth a childlike innocence in a convincing makeup.  Newland, better known for hosting One Step Beyond nearly a decade later, isn't a bad Frankenstein either, although the story is seriously condensed and confined to the castle set housing his laboratory.  It's nowhere near the same league as Karloff's classic films, and doesn't quite capture the themes Mary Shelley described in her novel, but the production certainly does make for interesting viewing.

Monday, April 4, 2016

TALES OF TOMORROW: Sneak Attack

Guest Stars:  Zachary Scott, Barbara Joyce, Theo Goetz, Royal Beal, Richard Shankland
Directed by Leslie Gorall
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

An American spy ends up a prisoner in a hospital overseas where a foreign power is coordinating a sneak attack against the United States.

A taut script and a fine performance by Scott anchor this outing, although it's a bit coincidental that the hospital where Scott is being treated is in the same building where the military control center is located.  Although stock footage is relied upon for the exposition that reveals the plot against America, it's used effectively and well-integrated into the broadcast.  This generally isn't my preferred kind of sci-fi, but can't quibble with the quality of the presentation.

Friday, April 1, 2016

TALES OF TOMORROW: Test Flight

Guest Stars:  Lee J. Cobb, Vinton Hayworth, Cameron Prud'Homme, Harry Townes
Directed by Charles S. Dubin
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A corporate executive sets his sights on launching an interstellar rocket, and despite his stockholders'  protests, spends millions of his company's assets to do so.

Lee J. Cobb, best known for his long film career, including roles in On The Waterfront and 12 Angry Men, is well-cast as the fame, money, and power hungry Wayne Crowder, turning in a believable performance as a man who's conquered Wall Street and now wants to conquer space.  He notably flubs some lines in the early scenes of this live broadcast, but otherwise carries the production, and has strong support in Hayworth, Prud'Homme, and Townes, whose character's secret agenda is finally revealed during the climax.  It's not an especially strong script, and the ending is somewhat predictable, but the actors more than engaged my interest.