Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Tales Of Tomorrow







Last October I wrote a blog entitled  Tales Of Tomorrow, which carried with it 4 episodes from the radio anthology series, which ran on the ABC radio network in 1953, and a half dozen episodes from the television series, which ran from 1951 to 1953.


The 4 radio shows were:


Jan 15, 1953  Thu    3  "Betelgeuse Bridge"

Mar 12, 1953  Thu   11  "Martians Never Die"  

Mar 19, 1953  Thu   12  "The Girls From Earth"

Mar 26, 1953  Thu   13  "The Old Die Rich"  

And the 6 television episodes were:
Tales of Tomorrow #16: Frankenstein
Tales of Tomorrow - Past Tense (Karloff)
Tales of Tomorrow #15: The Dune Roller
Tales of Tomorrow #9: The Crystal Egg 
'Tales of Tomorrow' - The little black bag (1952)
Tales of Tomorrow - The Window


Since that time the Internet Archive has added nearly two dozen new episodes to their collection, and all are available to watch or download.

These shows were performed live (no retakes), and recorded using the kinescope technology.   While produced on a shoestring budget, stage bound, and with virtually no special effects . . . these shows are remarkably well written and acted.

Many aspiring stars would work on shows such as these, picking up a couple of hundred dollars, and adding an acting credit to their resume.  Sure . . .it wasn't the legitimate theatre . . .but it beat washing dishes while you waited for your big break.

And besides, there were actually some people who regarded the fledgling television industry as being more than just a fad, a flash in the pan.


Young actors like Darren McGavin,  Paul Newman, Leslie Nielson, and Lola Albright got a chance to work along side veterans like Boris Karloff, Gene Raymond, and Thomas Mitchell.




Here, a very young Leslie Nielson confronts an equally youthful Brian Keith (billed as Robert Keith, jr.).


Many of the stories are thinly veiled cold-war stories, brimming with paranoia, and in some the propaganda is noticeably heavy-handed.   This was a nervous era for the world.   World War II had ended, but the world was hardly at peace.

The Soviet Union, an ally during the war, had become a feared enemy, as was the doctrine of communism.    The arms race was heating up, and we lived under the threat of atomic warfare.  

Hollywood, spooked by the McCarthy hearings in Washington D.C., and reeling from the black listing that was going on, sought political cover by producing these thinly disguised propaganda pieces.

None of which should seriously detract from your enjoyment of these shows, as long as you accept that they come from a very different time and place.

These shows also contain the original commercials. 

In the 1950's, shows were quite often sponsored by a single company (or rotated sponsorship).   Some of these nearly 60-year-old commercials, particularly the ones for Kreisler Watch bands, are as entertaining as the show.


Age Of Peril

Flight Overdue 

Sneak Attack

The Dark Angel

The Invader

The Search For The Flying Saucer

Verdict from Space

Test Flight

Ahead of His Time

Red Dust

Time to Go

Plague from Space

The Duplicates

The Golden Ingot

Appointment on Mars

The Childrens Room

World of Water

Tales of Tomorrow - Ice from Space 

Tales of Tomorrow - A Child is Crying

'Tales of Tomorrow' - Blunder (1951)

'Tales of Tomorrow' Miraculous serum (1952) 

'Tales of Tomorrow' - What you need (1952)

'Tales of Tomorrow' - All the time in the world (1952)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have recently discovered Tales of Tomorrow (via Hulu) and can't agree with you more about the unexpected entertainment value of both the episodes and the included commercials (not to mention the ABC "program notes"). The first episode I watched, totally at random, "Another Chance," showed me a very young Leslie Nielsen, only a week after we learned he had passed away in the present day. What a coincidence! The commercials were especially effective: I was sad to learn that Kreisler Watchbands went out of business some years ago, and that their products can now only be found in the vintage jewelry market. Anyway, ToT is certainly worthwhile viewing for any fan of either vintage SF or vintage TV. I'm going to stretch this pleasure out as long as I can.