Tales of Tomorrow

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(6/10) In a nutshell: Tales of Tomorrow aired on ABC in the US from 1951 to 1953 and was the first exclusive science fiction anthology series. Adult, intelligent and genuinly unsettling scripts are intermingled with more staple mystery and sci-fi fare. The live broadcast sets limits for direction, but genius camera work and editing sometimes surpass these limits. Leslie Nielsen dominates the cast, and watch out for the masterclass in method acting between Rod Steiger and James Dean.

Tales of Tomorrow (1951-1953). Created by Mort Abrahams and Theodore Sturgeon. Directed by Don Medford, Charles Rubin, et. al. Written by Man Rubin, Mel Goldberg, Frank de Felitta, Alvin Sapinsley, David E. Durston, Max Ehrlich, Gail Ingram, Theodore Sturgeon, Fredric Brown, Henry Kuttner, et. al. Starring: Leslie Nielsen, Cameron Prud’Homme, Walter Abel, Edgar Stehli, Theo Goetz, Olive Deering, Edith Fellows, Bruce Cabot, Rod Steiger, Gene Lockhart, Una O’Connor, Boris Karloff, Eva Gabor, Veronica Lake, Joanne Woodward, James Dean, Lon Chaney Jr, James Doohan, Paul Newman, et. al.  Produced by George F. Foley Jr, Mort Abrahams, Richard Gordon for George F. Foley, distributed by ABC. IMDb score: 7.4

Opening credits for Tales of Tomorrow.

Opening credits for Tales of Tomorrow.

I’ve been reviewing a lot of television lately: there was the first televised sci-fi series, Captain Video and His Video Rangers (1949, review), the first anthology series featuring science fiction, Lights Out (1949, review), but now we get to the third one, and the last one I’ll be reviewing in a while: Tales of Tomorrow, which ran on ABC from 1951 to 1953. This has the distinction of being the first television anthology series to feature exclusively science fiction, foreshadowing legendary TV shows like The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) and The Outer Limits (1963-1964). Continue reading

Captain Video and His Video Rangers

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(3/10) In a nutshell: The first science fiction TV show, the first TV show to feature a robot, spaceships, aliens and ray guns, the first TV show to be adapted for the big screen. This live broadcast kiddie show aired six days a week in the US for over five years between 1949 and 1955 and had a number of prolific sci-fi authors as screenwriters. It was hugely popular and created an avalanche of similar shows. It was also very shoddily made, extremely cheap, sometimes mind-bogglingly dumb, badly directed, awfully acted and had unrelated clips of old western films spliced into the action to pad out time, save cost and allow for set changes.

Captain Video and His Video Rangers. (1949-1955). Created by Lawrence Menkin and James Caddigan. Directed by Steve Previn et. al. Written by Maurice C. Brachhausen, Jack Vance, Damon Knight, James Blish, Isaac Asimov, Cyril M. Kornbluth, Stephen Marlowe, Wabrocklter M. Miller Jr, Robert Sheckley, J.T. McIntosh, Robert S. Richardson, et. al. Directed by Steve Previn, et al. Starring: Richard Coogan, Al Hodge, Don Hastings, Ben Lackland, Brain Mossen, Hal Conklin, Fred Scott, Ed Condit, Edward Holmes, Jack Orrison, Mary Vallee, Dave Ballard, Ernest Borgnine, Arnold Stang. Produced by Maurice C. Brachhausen, Olga Druce, et. al. for DuMont Television Networks. IMDb score: 7.2

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The opening shot of the early Captain Video episodes, showing the Video Ranger Headquarters.

You won’t see me reviewing many TV shows, since this blog focuses primarily on sci-fi films. But occasionally I will pick up one or two TV shows, as I have done with film serials, if they have an especially important role in the history of the sci-fi genre. Ultimately you can’t pretend to give any cohesive resumé on the history of sci-fi films unless you at least mention TV shows like The Twilight Zone, Star Trek and The X-Files. Now, granted, Captain Video and His Video Rangers aren’t perhaps quite all the way up there with those shows, but it is central to the history of sci-fi as the first science fiction TV show in the world. Continue reading