Science Fiction Theatre – The Lost Heartbeat (08/13/55)

Dr. Richard Marshall gets a strange 2 AM visit from Dr. John Crane.  He has just read an article Marshall published and wants to discuss it. Marshall begins telling him about replacing an aorta in an orangutan. Crane decides they need to move the discussion to Marshall’s lab.

Crane:  “You’re still not a true scientist, Richard.”

Marshall introduces Crane to Alice the Orangutan.  He says, “Alice is 16 years old.  Her heart was worn out — a typical case of old age.”  It’s easy to take cheap shots at writers who did not have access to Google or even Ask Jeeves, but the life expectancy of an Orangutan is 35-40 years in the wild and in the 50s in captivity where they can ride bicycles with helmets.  So cut the writer some slack and use the time to marvel at how far Dr. Zaius got in life at such a young age.

Alice was the subject of the transplant Marshall performed.  Crane criticizes him for his half-red-orangutan-assed accomplishment.  He says Marshall should try implanting an entire mechanical heart.  Marshall asks, even if such a procedure is possible, what energy source could keep it running?  Crane’s interest is self-serving as he shows Marshall an X-Ray that indicates he has about 6 months to live.

Like every aged scientist on SFT, Dr. Crane has a hot daughter — the sole redeeming feature of this series. Are these guys all killing their wives like AHP?  Joan Crane comes up to Marshall’s lab.  She asks that Marshall get the old man to take it easy.  Within seconds, Dr. Crane arrives and she is hustled out the back exit.  Crane wants him to place an artificial heart in his chest, but Marshall says it is too risky.

Crane:  You’re not a scientist!  You’re a coward!”

Crane doubles his efforts to improve the artificial heart.  Somehow this requires Alice to flap her arms like a bird, but I ain’t no doctor.  As he is finishing up with Alice, a mysterious package arrives containing a clock.  It has lights, but no electrical plug, no wind-up mechanism, and is completely sealed, so maybe it is from the Apple Store. Three days later, Marshall notices the clock is still working.  Curious about what is fueling it, he takes an X-Ray.  He discovers a solar battery powered by the rays of the sun.  But one o’ them solar batteries what doesn’t need to be exposed to the sun, I guess.

Only one person could have sent it — he goes to see Dr. Crane.  He says to Marshall, “I knew sooner or later your scientific curiosity would bring you here.”  That’s a pretty cavalier use of time for a guy who was given six months to live.  Crane wants him to use the battery to fuel the artificial heart, but there are still many hurdles.

Marshall tells Crane his heart can only be stopped for 45 seconds without damage.  The operation must take place in that time-frame.  So far, he has the procedure down to 59 seconds and the billing down to six hours. While further researching, Crane has a heart attack. Fortuitously, Marshall is far enough along on his research that he can’t do any harm.  They slice that fat bastard up.

Marshall is able to install the artificial heart in exactly 45 seconds.  Crane’s heart begins beating again.  Marshall goes out to tell Joan her father could last a few hours or a year. The end.  Really, that’s it.

That’s all we get for our seems-like 2 hours?  A non-committal maybe it worked?  Well it is up to SFT’s standards, which is to say dreadful.  Crane is just a nasty curmudgeon hardly worth the effort to keep alive.  Marshall is one of those actors so old timey that he seems to have a British accent.  Joan is beautiful, but is given nothing to do. Literally, her big scene is interrupting Marshal when he is trying to trim seconds off the procedure.

Just a waste of time, and I’m only 17/39ths through the season.


  • Title Analysis:  No idea what they were going for.

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