SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE (1955-1957)

sci fi theatreSCIENCE FICTION THEATRE (1955-1957) – In Balladeer’s Blog’s Forgotten Television category here’s a look at Science Fiction Theatre, which was a syndicated series that lasted from 1955-1957. The program did 39 episodes in each of its two seasons, however, so there are 78 episodes in its history. Season One was in color, Season Two was in black & white.

Truman Bradley hosted Science Fiction Theatre and would open each program with a scientific presentation that often cited incorrect science or was outrightly faked to get the results the showrunners desired. 

Unlike The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits, this half-hour show didn’t produce as many classic episodes which became cultural reference points to this very day. That can be a positive factor if you’re in the mood for sci fi tales that don’t require as much concentration as those other two programs.

science fic picA viewer knew going in that no supernatural or “mystical” stories would be involved, just science, whether grounded or futuristic or extraterrestrial. This can make Science Fiction Theatre as fun to watch as some of the old B-movies of the 1950s, while not ruling out the occasional thought-provoking story.

Many genre stars and future genre stars appeared in the program’s 78 episode run, like Kenneth Tobey, Whit Bissell, Beverly Garland, DeForest Kelley and many more. Some of my favorite episodes –

SEASON ONE

BEYOND – (With Douglas Kennedy) While piloting a craft in which an experimental new fuel is being tested, a pilot is forced to eject to avoid a UFO headed straight for him, but his story is doubted since no other vessel appeared on radar.

TIME IS JUST A PLACE – A married couple notice that their new neighbors seem unfamiliar with most modern-day devices but have futuristic inventions functioning inside their home. Time travel from the future is suspected.

Y.. O .. R .. D.. – (With DeForest Kelley) An expert on telepathy and his beautiful female assistant are rushed to the North Pole when the men at a military weather station inexplicably gain the power to read each other’s minds. They also begin receiving telepathic messages from space.

THE BRAIN OF JOHN EMERSON – A policeman recovering from brain surgery seems to have had knowledge from his now-deceased surgeon’s mind transferred into his before that doctor passed away.

SPIDER, INC – (With Gene Barry) A disgraced scientist tries to turn around his sinking fortunes when he finds a 50 million year old piece of amber in which a spider has been imprisoned. The scientist uses the preserved spider to invent a method of cheaply producing mass quantities of petroleum.

DEATH AT 2 A.M. – Police investigate the murder of a very muscular blackmailer in which the only potential suspect is a scrawny scientist who could not possibly have overpowered the dead victim. Early on, the detective learns that the scrawny scientist has developed a formula which increases the strength in lab animals. 

MARKED “DANGER” – (With Arthur Franz) A prospector in the desert finds a sealed container with two lab mice inside. Opening the container causes the mice – and humans – to begin transforming into plants.

A VISIT FROM DR PLINY – (With William Schallert) Two humanoid aliens posing as Americans try to give Earth scientists advanced science but paranoia over the eccentricities of the duo threatens to ruin the entire exchange.

DEAD STORAGE – A baby mammoth found preserved in ice in the far north is revived by scientists. The confused creature must be protected from assorted modern-day dangers.

THE HUMAN EQUATION – (With MacDonald Carey) Scientists dabbling in antibiotics and LSD (seriously) begin to undergo extreme personality changes which they cannot remember when their colleagues bring up the subject.  

THE HASTINGS SECRET – (With Barbara Hale) Dr Hastings, a scientist researching termites and insecticides in Peru, uncovers a new species of termites who are able to eat through stone and steel.

POSTCARD FROM BARCELONA – Researchers going through the papers of a recently deceased colleague discover that the man’s theories and breakthroughs really came via postcards from a figure in Barcelona … a figure who seems to be not of this Earth.

PROJECT 44 – This episode is enjoyable strictly in bad movie terms and in outdated science and cultural norms. Four men and four women are subjected to assorted tests to prepare them for a mission to Mars.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOON – (With Beverly Garland) An astronomer discovers evidence of atomic testing on the dark side of the moon. An unmanned craft is sent to investigate but is destroyed, deepening the mystery.

SEASON TWO

THE GREEN BOMB – (With Kenneth Tobey and Whit Bissell) A government scientist is suspected when four pounds of fissionable materials AND a dog exposed to radiation disappear from the lab where he works.

WHEN A CAMERA FAILS – A scientist discovers that certain rocks act like film in movie cameras, recording moving images from assorted time periods. Some show actual dinosaurs, the building of the pyramids and even the earliest A-bomb test.

BULLET PROOF (With Gene Roth) – A criminal uses metallic material from a UFO to fashion a bullet-proof outfit for himself which he wears to rob banks. He becomes a media sensation but ultimately tries to sell the suit to a suspicious scientist.

THE FLICKER – An obscure technical glitch in a movie hypnotizes a man into committing a murder. It seems like the showrunners were hinting at subliminal messages being used to brainwash people but had to shy away due to network concerns or some other reason. 

THE UNGUIDED MISSILE – (With Morris Ankrum) A female reporter is suspected of “remote viewing” when her news stories begin to contain missile technology secrets that come to her during sleepwalking trances.

END OF TOMORROW – A scientist missing in the jungle for 20 years returns to civilization with a medical solution to nearly every ailment in the world … but eventually it seems this miracle cure could spell the end of the human race.

THE MISSING WAVEBAND – The secrets to successfully launching satellites are being transmitted to Earth receivers from hundreds of millions of miles beyond the Earth.   

THE HUMAN EXPERIMENT – (With Claudia Barrett and George Barrows from Robot Monster) A female scientist uses enzymes from bees to treat the mentally insane. The nightmarish side effect is that the treatment reduces the human subjects to specific castes – workers, soldiers and a ruling queen.   

THE MAN WHO DIDN’T KNOW – A scientist who is the sole survivor of an experimental plane crash over the Pacific Ocean resurfaces months later with no memory of how he survived. It turns out hostile Communists have turned him into a human bugging device broadcasting Top Secret information to them.

THE PHANTOM CAR – A driverless car is reportedly running into pedestrians, injuring and killing them. The vehicle is being remotely controlled by radio waves from a mysterious source.

BEAM OF FIRE – (With Frank Gerstle) Scientists in Earth’s space program are being assassinated by aliens via fire beams transmitted over the telephone.

THE LEGEND OF CRATER MOUNTAIN – A teacher discovers that three sinister siblings among her students possess incredible abilities. Their father fears what the scientific community might do to them.

LIVING LIGHTS – A husband and wife team of scientists recreate the environment of Venus in their laboratory and spawn fluorescent life-forms of a kind which may also live on that planet.

JUPITRON – A romantic couple are transported to a moon of Jupiter where they meet a long-vanished scientist who was abducted by aliens and forced to use their science to create a substance called Jupitron.         

SOUND THAT KILLS – A group of scientists discover that they are being targeted for death by way of sonic weaponry.

THE LAST BARRIER – An unmanned spacecraft is launched which comically (to us viewers) turns into rocket footage from old Flash Gordon serials as the episode rolls along. Mysterious flying lights appear around the rocket as it circles the moon, and a rash of UFO sightings plague the country.

SUN GOLD – A male-female scientist team (a repeating theme in Season Two) investigate Incan ruins in which were discovered green glass from a nuclear explosion. Evidence indicates the ancient Incans learned about atomic energy from a mysterious visitor from the sky. An “ancient aliens” tale.

THE MAGIC SUITCASE – A mysterious hitchhiker leaves behind his odd suitcase which generates enough electricity to power an entire cabin household. Watch this with the Kiss Me Deadly fan in your life.

THE STRANGE LODGER – The final episode of the series. Scientists testing a device which can monitor what television channels a household is watching from a vehicle outside detect a man tuned into “Channel 84” which does not exist. Further investigation reveals the strange man is not receiving a transmission but sending transmissions … to outer space. 

FOR MORE FORGOTTEN TELEVISION CLICK HERE:   https://glitternight.com/category/forgotten-television/ 

2 Comments

Filed under Forgotten Television

2 responses to “SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE (1955-1957)

  1. Interesting. I didn’t know there was a prequel of sorts to MST 3000 I saw years, years ago. I suppose I should have assumed.
    Also, I forgot about “The Outer Limits.”

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