Science Fiction Theatre – Stranger in the Desert (05/07/55)


“Ethernet doesn’t have a valid IP configuration.” What the hell?

Truman Bradley tells us how physicist Antoine Becquerel worked with Pierre & Marie Curie to first extract Radium.  But this not their story.

A couple of uranium prospectors in a jeep are pulled over to the side of the dirt by the sheriff. He tells them 7 men have been killed in this area in the last few months; 200 if you include radiation sickness.  After checking their gear and — God bless America — firearms, the Sheriff sends them on their way.

As they drive up the mountain, the Geiger Counter starts clicking.  They see an eagle on the ground that seems to be the source of the radiation.  Sadly the bird is dead.  The prospectors throw a blanket over the dead corpse and decide to “keep him for luck”.

They throw the eagle in the Jeep and it not only comes back to life, it is no longer radioactive.  They get the bright idea to use the eagle as a Geiger counter.  This is a great idea except unlike a Geiger counter, you must feed it, keep it from flying away, listen to it squawk, and have it shit on your arm all day.  Oh yeah, and you have to check it with a real Geiger counter to see if it is radioactive.

They find what they believe to be a $10 million deposit of uranium.  They decide to file a claim on it, but notice a miner’s shack nearby with smoke billowing out of the chimney.  They grab their guns and kick in the door.  Inside they find a man named Ballard calmly tending to some plants.  He claims to be a naturalist, not a prospector.  He tells the men that the spot they found does not contain uranium, but some other form of radioactive energy.

Nevertheless, one of the men goes to file the claim while the other keeps an eye on Ballard,  He continues working on the plants which he plans to “take home.”  His home is lacking these life forms that breathe carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.

200 years before the Weyland-Yutani shake and bakes, this sets up an interesting premise that I suspect not many people in 1955 had ever considered — terra-forming.  Unfortunately nothing is done with this intriguing premise.  Nothing.

In fact, such a nothing is done with this that I have to wonder if the episode is complete.  It only runs 22:25 on YouTube whereas some episodes run 3 – 4 minutes longer.  They had everything going for them — a mostly exterior setting, an eagle, interesting actors, and a great premise.

Having all that and blowing it earns them a rating of Death Valley.


  • Meh.

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