Science Fiction Theatre – One Hundred Years Young (07/02/55)

I get the impression this was the go-to show for scientifically-minded young people in the 1950s, although that is largely based on the endorsement of George McFly.  But it amazes me how they get the simplest ideas wrong.  The host starts a small steam engine which produces pressure in a tank.  He then says he will “increase the speed of the engine by stepping up the pressure.”  The host, the writer, no one on the set saw this was backwards? [1] 

The host tells us “A young lady [Bernice], the brilliant chief of the company’s Research Department, is working on a project.”  Well this is sci-fi.  Just sayin’ in 1955, this had to be shocking to the viewers.  Mr. Lyman, the president of this crazy upside-down company drops in.  They hear a noise next door.  Maybe it’s the real chief of the Research Department tied up.  C’mon Sci-Fi Theatre, stop pulling my leg!

The president of the company apparently packs heat as he guns down the stranger in the supply room.  They recognize the man as employee John Bowers.  However, the man claims not to know them.  He had worked at the company and even retired on good terms with them at age 70.  Strangely, he doesn’t look a day over . . . well he doesn’t look 70, but they should have cast a guy who did not look like 50 year-old death warmed over.  He was looking for an herb in the lab that enabled his supposed youthful appearance.

The police detective has no problem bringing Bernice along to sack Bowers apartment looking for answers.  They find his home looks like one from the 18th century.  They find a letter from a woman to him threatening to leave him for being so secretive, but it is dated in 1816.  They also find a solution that contains more of the herb he was stealing and determine that it contains a poison.

They visit him in his cell.  He wants the solution, saying that he has built up an immunity to the poison.  He grabs the bottle and chugs it.  He reveals that he is over 200 years old.  His parents were killed by the Iroquois and he was adopted by the Mohicans.  A medicine man taught him about the secret herb as thanks for his people’s treatment by the white man.  Wait, what?

He complains that it has been a “hollow life.”  He has outlived all his wives, his friends, and their daughters.  Bernice is excited about what this could mean for humanity, but Bowers feels cursed. He feels even worse when Bernice gets him a job at the lab and Lyman says he can have it “for life.”  He finally confesses to accidentally killing a woman by bungling the dose of his miracle solution.

He and Bernice work unsuccessfully to replicate the formula he has replicated 400 times during his life.  When he sees the detective and Bernice have started dating he gets very depressed.  When he doesn’t show up for work one day, and doesn’t answer his telegraph, they go to his house.

He is dead but left a note.  He envies them for the happiness he can never have. He apologizes for not successfully making the solution, but not for the needless slaughter of 3 dozen guinea pigs.  He says mankind is not ready for this knowledge, which is probably right; certainly the Earth isn’t.  “We must first learn to appreciate the time God gave us.”

Once again, it seems like they had the elements of a good story and just poorly executed it.  I’m sure the awful quality on You Tube contributes to my negative assessment.  Also the stilted acting of the era is just terrible.

I rate it 30 years young.


  • [1] The point was to show the engine would crash under greater pressure, and that human beings also explode under the increased pressure of modern society.
  • Just to make sure we get it, he tells us, “Man has not changed since he evolved.” So he steps in it again with a tautology — true, man has not changed since he changed.  Maybe they need to go one studio over to Freshman English Theatre.
  • And don’t get me started on that -re on the end of theater.
  • Title Analysis:  Can’t these people get anything right?  He is over 200 years old!
  • For a better take on the same basic idea, check out The Man From Earth.  Ya better like people sitting around talking, though, because that’s the whole movie. It’s still pretty good.


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