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, January 27, 2017

STAR TREK: The Corbomite Maneuver

Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy
Guest Stars:  Anthony Call, Clint Howard, DeForest Kelley, Grace Lee Whitney, George Takei
Directed by Joseph Sargent
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

After the Enterprise destroys a mysterious cube blocking their journey, the crew find themselves confronted by a gigantic spaceship whose commander threatens to destroy them. 

In the first episode filmed after Star Trek was ordered to series, we see the debut of the familiar uniforms of the Enterprise crew for the first time, the characters of Dr. McCoy, Lieutenant Uhura and Yeoman Rand are introduced, and Fred Steiner's score presents some familiar music cues we'd hear in multiple episodes.  Jerry Sohl's script also features elements that would reverberate throughout the series, from McCoy's questioning of Kirk's judgements, to the captain's coolness under pressure that melts a junior officer, and Kirk risking his ship and crew on a dangerous bluff.  Listen for the voice of Ted Cassidy (The Addams Family's Lurch) and watch for Ron Howard's brother Clint.

THE OUTER LIMITS: The Human Factor

Guest Stars:  Gary Merrill, Harry Guardino, Sally Kellerman, Joe De Santis, Ivan Dixon
Directed by Abner Biberman
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A scientist at a military outpost in the Arctic develops a means of linking human minds, but when he uses it on a paranoid officer, an accident causes the two men's minds to switch bodies.

Although it's hard to figure why a scientist who's created such a revolutionary device is working at a base dedicated to launching atomic weapons in the event of an enemy attack, I was entertained by this episode, with a fine roster of guest actors on display, with Kellerman in particular giving a fine performance.  The teleplay is by David Duncan, a veteran science fiction writer who scripted many memorable movies including The Black Scorpion, The Time Machine, and Fantastic Voyage, and although there's not much in the way of special effects in this outing, or the philosophizing found in other episodes, it's still an interesting adventure.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN: Superman On Earth

Starring George Reeves, Phyllis Coates, Jack Larson, John Hamilton
Guest Stars:  Herbert Rawlinson, Stuart Randall, Aline Towne, Frances Morris, Danni Sue Nolan
Directed by Tommy Carr
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

As the planet Krypton faces its destruction, the scientist Jor-El sends his infant son in a rocket to Earth, where he grows up to become the super-powered protector of Metropolis.  

This pilot episode for the series doesn't have a particularly high budget, mixing in plenty of stock footage, but still it's a fitting introduction to the Man of Steel, with guest star Robert Rockwell making a fine impression as Superman's father Jor-El.  Most of the Kryptonian council's costumes look like they were recycled from past productions, and one of them exactly resembles the costume from the 1941 serial Adventures Of Captain Marvel, whose character was a rival of the publishers of Superman's comic book adventures at the time.  According to Michael J. Bifulco's book, Superman On Television, this was actually the last episode of the season filmed, but it's a good kickoff to the series, demonstrating its hero's noble upbringing through the selfless sacrifice of his Kryptonian parents, and his tender adoption by the kindly couple who takes him in when he crashes on Earth, accompanied by a soft and gentle melody.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

SHERLOCK HOLMES: The Boscombe Valley Mystery

Starring Peter Cushing, Nigel Stock
Guest Stars:  John Tate, Nick Tate, Jack Woolgar, Michael Godfrey, Heather Kyd
Directed by Viktors Ritelis
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Holmes and Watson journey to the inquest of a young man accused of bludgeoning his father to death, and Holmes is determined to find the facts behind the crime.

This installment is a fairly close adaptation of the original story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which isn't one of the more intricately plotted adventures for the great detective, but I still found it enjoyable with Cushing at the forefront of the tale.  It's unfortunate that some of the guest stars in this episode deliver their dialogue in very thick accents, making it difficult to understand some key snippets of information, but Ritelis does a good job of presenting the tale visually which helped compensate.  Ironically, per IMDB, real-life father and son John and Nick Tate appear in the episode, but not as father and son.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

STAR TREK: Where No Man Has Gone Before

Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy
Guest Stars:  Gary Lockwood, Sally Kellerman, George Takei, James Doohan, Lloyd Haynes
Directed by James Goldstone
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

Upon leaving the galaxy, the Enterprise travels through a cosmic storm that transforms the ship's navigator into an advanced being with the power to read minds and manipulate objects.

This is the "second" pilot commissioned by NBC which was ultimately accepted and launched the series after they rejected the initial pilot, The Cage.  Although the uniforms and props in this episode would be retooled for subsequent episodes, most of the elements of the Star Trek we've come to know are here, first and foremost William Shatner's portrayal of Captain Kirk.  Although Shatner's acting style has been teased and parodied often during the years, he's perfect here as Kirk, authoritative but with conflicting emotions for the fate of Gary Mitchell, when his navigator begins to change.  Samuel A. Peeples' teleplay offers a fine sci-fi drama and Alexander Courage's score adds both eerie themes and stirring movements for the episode's action-packed climax.

Friday, January 6, 2017

THE OUTER LIMITS: O.B.I.T.

Guest Stars:  Peter Breck, Jeff Corey, Joanne Gilbert, Alan Baxter, Harry Townes
Directed by Gerd Oswald
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A senator leads an investigation into a murder at a top-secret scientific laboratory, and discovers the surveillance equipment there is contributing to the staff's low morale.

It's curious that this episode reveals the secret behind the O.B.I.T. device so early in the story- if it had not been revealed until the climax, this could have made for an even more gripping teleplay, but that would have probably been more suitable for the twist endings of a series like The Twilight Zone.  Nonetheless, it does rob the episode of some dramatic heft, although there's still some suspense as to what exactly the agenda is behind the device, and the moral the story imparts is a worthy parable for our times.  Another plus is that the acting is uniformly fine throughout- this is the best performance I've ever seen from Peter Breck, and Jeff Corey is almost unrecognizable under heavy-framed glasses.