Greetings!


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, December 30, 2016

STAR TREK: The Cage

Starring Jeffrey Hunter, Majel Barrett, Leonard Nimoy, John Hoyt, Peter Duryea
Guest Stars:  Susan Oliver, Meg Wyllie, Malachi Throne, Laurel Goodwin, Jon Lormer
Directed by Robert Butler
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

While responding to a distress call on the planet Talos IV, Captain Pike is abducted by the advanced beings who live there, and placed in a cage alongside other specimens of alien life.

We have here the initial pilot episode of the series, which was ultimately rejected by NBC who commissioned a second more action-packed pilot in which William Shatner took over the role of captain of the Enterprise, but this is still a worthy science fiction drama.  It may well be the best episode Gene Roddenberry ever wrote, and it's fascinating to guess how differently the series would have evolved had "The Cage" been sold, and if Hunter and the rest of the cast would have been able to return.  Only Mr. Spock would remain from the original cast on display here, although Barrett would return in a different role as Nurse Chapel, and one can see the origins of Dr. McCoy in Hoyt's portrayal of the ship's chief medical officer.  Although rejected, Roddenberry would make good use of the pilot film in the later two-part episode The Menagerie, revealing the ultimate fate of Captain Christopher Pike.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A Study In Scarlet

Starring Peter Cushing, Nigel Stock
Guest Stars:  Joe Melia, George A. Cooper, William Lucas, Edina Ronay, Larry Cross
Directed by Henri Safran
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Holmes and Watson are recruited by Scotland Yard to help them solve a baffling case, where a man is found dead with no marks on him, but a bloody message is written on the wall.

An adaptation of the very first Sherlock Holmes tale by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and it offers an engaging mystery, a sparkling teleplay, and fine performances.  However, it is not a faithful adaptation of the novel, omitting the introduction of Holmes and Watson, and condensing the story to completely ignore the flashback that tells the tale of Jefferson Hope and his ill-fated love affair.  Given the episode's hour long running time and being presented as a later installment in the series, that approach makes sense, and it avoids controversy by not recapturing Doyle's less than rosy portrayal of the early days of the Mormon religion.  What remains though is a fine television drama, with many fine scenes for Cushing, notably one in which he fills the room with voluminous smoke from his pipe as he welcomes a visitor to his lodgings.

Monday, December 5, 2016

THE OUTER LIMITS: The Man Who Was Never Born

Guest Stars:  Martin Landau, Shirley Knight, John Considine, Maxine Stuart, Karl Held
Directed by Leonard Horn
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

The lone survivor of an apocalyptic future travels back through time to the 1960s where he tries to prevent the man who doomed the human race from ever being born.

While a nice showcase for Landau, who has scenes both in and out of a hideous mutated makeup, the teleplay for this episode is a little puzzling in not allowing Landau to explain why he tries to break up the wedding of the couple who will give birth to the man who created his terrible future.  However, the photography and editing are top drawer, tracking from an unblemished Landau to his twisted true form in several memorable shots.  The makeup itself effectively hides the actor's true features, making each transition when he uses his mental powers to disguise himself very striking.  The production's climax utilizes some of the same ideas employed in Ray Bradbury's famous short story A Sound Of Thunder to illustrate the effect Landau's had in interfering in the past, although nowhere near as memorably.  Nonetheless, this installment offers a worthy opportunity for the viewer to weigh how they would act in order to prevent our annihilation decades in the future.