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.


Science Fiction Theatre – Hour of Nightmare (06/25/55)

Note: The video quality is so poor, it is not worth grabbing any pictures.

Editor Ed Tratnor assigns his two best photographers Mel & Verda Wingate to get pictures of a UFO.  The married couple is exploring mysteries just like Ed & Lorraine Warren only less fictional.  There have been reports of strange lights from airline pilots in southwestern New Mexico.  Mel shows he has no future in paranormal research by asking a perfectly reasonable question, “How far are the sightings from the White Sands Testing Facility?”  Ed says the military assured him there was no testing in that area; but they said the same thing about the ocean off New York on July 17, 1996 so who knows.

Editor Ed is willing to finance this trip because up to now “most pictures of UFOs have been taken by amateurs and other handicaps.”  What?  Ed Ed hopes they can get some professional shots that experts can actually analyze.  I hope he didn’t book their return flight because we’ve been waiting 60 years for these pictures.  While there, they are also supposed to look into the disappearance of some people from a Mexican village near the US border.  Yeah, there’s a mystery; where ever could they have gone?

Ed Ed suggests they look into reports of a spacecraft in the mountains and turn that into a “picture story” about the “birth of a rumor”.  Mel understands, “I get it — optical illusions, a little superstition, and jumping to conclusions.”  I’m all for skepticism, but why even take the trip if the story is already written?  The Dewey Beats Truman headline was only 7 years earlier; did journalists learn nothing?  Clearly not.

The Wingates take a plane to Los Cruces, then rent a car to go south of the border. They visit the Commandancia de la Policia and ask the about the reported disappearance of several villages, but the chief replies that the stories are exaggerations.  Only one man has disappeared, and that was probably due to a flash-flood. They ask if the chief can recommend a guide, and he sends them to Ramon Sanchez.

They arrive at Sanchez’s desert shack which is the same shack from Stranger in the Desert.  Despite being dissed by Mel calling him “Raymond”, Ramon Sanchez agrees to lead them into the mountains for $5 per day.  While stopped to photograph a mountain lion, they see a flying saucer, but it quickly disappears.  That night they actually do get some pictures of lights in the sky.

The next day, Sanchez finds a rifle with his brother’s initials on it.  He was the man who went missing.  Sanchez believes the lights in the sky killed his brother.  Later the horses refuse to go on.  Looking for what might have spooked them . . . a snake, a cougar, an Elmer’s Glue factory, Mel spots a bleeping dead alien.  Where to start?

  • For the first time, Mel pulls out the video camera.  So to recap: It is still pictures for moving spacecraft and motion picture film for a dead alien.
  • Mel refuses to allow Verda to see the alien.  He twice warns her to stay back.
  • The viewers also never see the alien as it is hidden behind a boulder.
  • It might have died from a shot that idiot Mel blindly fired into the brush that day. Did they learn nothing from Trial by Fire?

Sanchez suggests maybe it is time to head back home.  Mel agrees, but says they are taking the alien with them.  Sanchez is worried the aliens (which he calls caballeros [1]) might come back looking for their amigo.  He is so scared that he pulls a gun on the Wingates and begins unloading the alien from the horse.  The aliens shoot a laser frying him like a . . . hmmm, any food I mention will be deemed racist.  Let’s just go with juevo — I mean egg.  A fried egg.

The Wingates make it back to their hotel.  While Mel develops the pictures, Verda calls Ed.  Mel discovers every one of the pictures is ruined, destroyed by radiation.  The Commandante shows up looking for Sanchez and Mel tells him that, like his brother, Ramon was killed in a flash-flood.  When they finally reach Ed, Mel tells him it was all rumors.

  • So Mel killed an alien, possibly triggering a galactic war resulting in the destruction of Earth and the enslavement of humanity.
  • He doesn’t bust the Commandante for not telling him Ramon was the dead man’s brother.
  • Mel lies to his editor for no good reason when the destruction of the film is still a better story than the rumor-angle.[2]  Not to mention, who could question two eyewitness accounts bearing the credibility of the journalistic profession?
  • The Wingates will soon be dead from radiation poisoning.

More junk.


  • [1] My high school Spanish was German, but Google tells me this means a Mexican gentleman or a horseman, neither of which make sense.  I could understand a basic Hombre, but why elevate the aliens to gentlemen?
  • [2] The alternate interpretation is that they made up the flash-flood story to satisfy the Commandante who was overhearing the call.  It would even be a nice winking non-admission to the Commandante.  Sadly, I don’t think SFT has the level of sophistication necessary for that to be likely.
  • Title Analysis:  No idea what they were going for.  The time period of one hour was not significant.  The only thing nightmarish was Ramon and the horse getting blown up, but that’s not really the main thrust of the story.
  • Unless the horse was a Pinto.

Science Fiction Theatre – Marked ‘Danger’ (06/18/55)

There is a modern struggle going on in the desert.  “The covered wagons have been replaced by the Jeeps and trailers of Uranium prospectors and mining engineers.”  Fred Strand is one of the new pioneers.  His wife Lois asks how he can stand the horrible incessant sunshine.  She must really hate it as she is wearing her sunglasses indoors.

While Fred is out breaking rocks, he spots a yellow parachute on the ground.  It is attached to a box which says it is property of Indian Flats Rocket Proving Grounds.  There is a $250 reward for its return because it is “scientific equipment of the highest value technical value.”  Well if it’s worth more the $250, so-long sucker!

Fred opens the box and finds two white lab rats in a glass container with a valve on it. He says — to the mice — that he will give up his hunt for tungsten today.  Which explains why he is not a more successful uranium prospector.

Not to nitpick, but it is NOT marked ‘danger’

Fred takes the mice back to the trailer and shows them to Lois. He tells her they can use the reward — $2,200 in 2016 dollars — for their Vegas vacation.  His pal Moe Green said 1955 would be the best year ever! [1]  Lois is worried about the mice being cooped up and wants to give them some cheese.  Fred says, “Unh-unh.  The instructions said ‘No Tampering'”.  After noting a green tinge to the mice, he heads over to the sheriff’s office to use the nearest phone.

Fred’s muffler is barely out of earshot when Lois turns the valve on the container causing to a gas to shoot out.  “Darn it.  Why did I do that?” she asks the screenwriter. He replies in her next line, “Never tell a woman not to do something if you don’t want it done.”

Fred and the sheriff return to the trailer in his truck, although I wonder how the sheriff plans on getting back home.  They find Lois asleep.  Fred shows the container to the sheriff, but the mice are gone.  Uh-oh, did someone tell Lois not to eat them?  All that is left is a green stain on the bottom; or maybe it’s relish.

A couple of doctors from Indian Flats show up in a hideous black car. [2] They are not too happy that the mice are gone.  They ask to speak to Lois, but she has apparently gone for a walk.  Fred says that is unlikely because she hates the sun.  They step outside and spot her walking in sunshine [3] about 100 yards away.

They run after her.  Despite their calls, she just keeps walking.  When they catch her, Fred asks her what is wrong.  She cries, “The sun, the sun!”  One of the doctors notices a greenish tinge in her eyes.  They rush her to the hospital.

Lois is taken to Indian Flats for “medical research”.  The green residue in the container is also analyzed.  They identify it as chloroplasm which seems to be the same as chlorophyll.  One of the doctors says, “This is against every scientific principal we know. Chloroplasm is plant life.  It just doesn’t grow in animals.”  They suspect this is the reason for the greenish tinge of the mice and the greenish tinge in Lois’s eyes.  They believe it explains her “plant-like craving for the sun.”  They even find green cells in her blood.  They go to see Lois in the hospital.

Lois:  “I did something I shouldn’t have done.  I’m so ashamed.  I just couldn’t fight  my curiosity.”

Doctor:  “Yes, I know.  I’m a married man.

She describes turning the valve, and the gas escaping.  Lois is turning into a plant and she is given 15 days to live.  She briefly escapes, but Fred carries her back inside.  The doctor says this jaunt outside might have cut her life expectancy in half because plants thrive in the sun, which sounds like exactly the opposite of the effect her escape should have had.

They somehow deduce that they should give her a glucose IV which puts her into a diabetic coma.  Amazingly, this works.  She wakes up and that is it.  She does, however, demand that Fred become a vegan; and not just for Christmas and her birthday.

Another lackluster episode.  To be charitable, I did like that they had some actual scenes outdoors.  It might have really been in back of the commissary, but it looked like they were out running in the desert.

This series defies rating.  $29.95 for that third Tales of Tomorrow disc is sounding more and more reasonable.


  • [1] Moe Green was killed by the Corleone family in 1955 with a bullet through the glasses.
  • [2] Seriously, this beast was ugly.  Black, with no wheel wells for any of the tires.
  • [3] Weird, the Walking on Sunshine video was filmed on a very dreary day.

Science Fiction Theatre – Conversation with an Ape (06/11/55)

Dr. Guy Stanton (Beaver’s dad, Hugh Beaumont) brings his new wife back to his home in the Florida Everglades.  He apologizes for it being a dump, saying he is just now seeing it with her eyes.  Did he get her out of a catalog?  How could she never have seen it?  Oh, she mentions she met him at a convention a week ago.

Nancy assures Guy that she is on Cloud 7. [1]   SFT actually comes so close to making a pretty good joke that I’m envious.  Nancy smacks a pillow and an absurd amount of dust flies from it.  She smirks at Guy, “Cloud # 1.”

Still, she is prepared to be the dutiful 1950’s wife and vows to turn the shack into a castle — at least until they hear a truck go by.  Guy sheepishly informs his new wife that it was a prison truck, “There is a penitentiary about 10 miles down the road, just beyond the swamp.  We’re sort of located here in the heart of a swamp.”  This seems to come as a surprise to Nancy.  Was she blind-folded on the trip there?  Alligator Alley is a miraculous achievement, but you only end up in the middle of the Everglades after going through miles of nothing (hence, the ever part).

This is not the titular ape

They go for a kiss, but are interrupted by a screeching noise. Guy leaves the room and returns with his ape Terry.  Then there is another screeching noise — Nancy is horrified! Guy assures her Terry is harmless and is his star pupil.  He tells Terry, “Go on out to the kitchen and have a banana.”  He reminds Nancy he is an Animal Psychologist.  He keeps hundreds of animals.  She becomes hysterical and runs right up to the bedroom in tears even though she has never been in the house before.

Foreshadowing what will happen later that night, Guy pleads with her in the bedroom.  He convinces Nancy to meet the gang.  He has actually been teaching Terry to recognize certain words and he even read a few.  Guy even claims to communicate telepathically — the X-Factor, he calls it.  Nancy is not impressed.  She says this marriage is not going to work.  Guy asks her for just one week to finish up his experiments.  Even though Guy makes a breakthrough with Terry, Nancy packs her bags.  As Guy prepares to drive Nancy back to normal civilization (i.e out of The Everglades Florida), an escaped prisoner barges in with a gun.

This is not the titular ape

He is filthy after crawling through the swamp for 18 hours, and demands food and keys to the car.  He hears a noise and Guy tells him there is a chimpanzee in the kitchen.  The prisoner’s reaction is more like Guy said there was a refrigerator in the kitchen.  They bring Terry out to the living room.  As they are held at gun-point, Guy sends telepathic signals to Terry.

When the humans go into the kitchen, Terry goes upstairs and fetches a pistol as Guy wordlessly commanded.  He gives Guy the pistol and Guy disarms the prisoner.  Now that Terry has saved their lives, Guy asks Nancy if she is still going to leave.  She looks at the chimp and simply says, “Terry?”  Terry puts on her hat, picks up her suitcase and takes it upstairs.  “The X-Factor!” they say in unison, chuckling, until Terry shits in her hat.

This episode got a bit of a boost from the cast.  It was fun seeing Ward Cleaver in a different role.  Barbara Hale was pretty snappy as Nancy, just 2 years before she became Della Street on Perry Mason.[2]  And, of course, apez is funny.  Aside from that, it was the usual tripe.

Terry the ape


  • [1] This is the second time that phrase has been used in this series.  What happened to Cloud 9?
  • [2] The Perry Mason books have the most misleading covers in publishing.  I got suckered in by The Case of the Long-Legged Models (1958) and The Case of the Foot Loose Doll (1958) before wising up.  I doubt the stories inside were titillating even 60 years ago.  However, I did not take a chance with The Case of the One-Eyed Witness (1950).  
  • For man, woman or ape there just aren’t many more blah names than Terry.  Although, there is the occasional Teri exception.
  • Whether for the censors or the carpet, Terry is wearing a diaper, although it seems to be taped to his butt rather than wrapping around.


Science Fiction Theatre – Death at 2 AM (06/04/55)

sftdeathat2am1In the alley at 300 Lincoln Place, a fight is taking place.  All we see are shadows on the wall, and it looks a little like the arm-swinging, jete-ing fight style of the Jets and Sharks. One man is killed, and the other beats it.

At the Hall of Organic Science (est. 1906, BTW), Detective Cox is looking for Bill Reynolds.  His hot assistant Paula explains to Cox that Reynolds and Professor Avery are busy investigating the electrical properties of nerve tissue.  When they come in, Cox begins patting Reynolds down.

Cox asks where he was last night.  Reynolds said he was conducting a seminar on “the motor skills of the guinea pig.”  He has a list of 10 students and a lacerated rectum to prove it.

The dead man, Eric Munson, was strangled.  Reynolds is a suspect because stole a car when he was a kid and Munson was blackmailing him to stay quiet about it.  This is back when a college’s faculty actually tried not to embarrass the school.  Avery vouches for Reynolds as a brilliant bio-chemist, although his research to discover a college president with a spine seems quixotic at best.

sftdeathat2am2After Cox leaves, Reynolds asks Avery if he purposely scheduled that seminar so Reynolds would have an alibi.  Reynolds had earlier told Avery about Munson’s blackmail scheme.  Avery counters that he could not possibly have strangled Munson because “Munson was a giant.”

The next day, Cox comes back in wearing the same clothes.  Hmmm . . . Paula is also wearing the same clothes.  You don’t think?  Cox asks to see the animals they do experiments on.  Avery takes him to the lab zoo.  Reynolds stays behind and tries to move a box that Avery just lifted with ease.  He discovers it weighs 250 pounds.

In the zoo, Cox discovers a cage where the bars have been pushed apart.  Avery says the monkey must have escaped.  Cox says the detective found five animal hairs on Munson’s clothing — a rabbit, a lamb, and 3 from a monkey or 3 monkeys who shared a comb.

Avery later calls Cox and warns him that the monkey is “under the influence of experimental drugs and is extremely dangerous.  Give your men orders to shoot it on sight.”  Avery confesses to Reynolds that he killed the giant Munson.  For years he has been “researching factors that increase muscle efficiency.”  He then gives Reynolds a ludacris demonstration which mostly proves his brain is not a muscle.  He shows that his new serum can make “a frog as strong as a lamb.”  Reynolds hilariously exclaims, “This is one of the most important discoveries of the century!”

sftdeathat2am3Avery cautions that the serum must remain secret.  Reynolds agrees that “It could upset a lot of things.  Make a champion out of a mid-class pug, put a claiming horse [?] in the winners circle at the Kentucky Derby.”  So far, I’m only seeing how it would be dangerous to bookies.

Avery continues, “Quacks and fly by night drug companies would have a field day with it.”  Avery has been grooming Reynolds to continue his research.  He shamefully admits to taking the drug; he “forgot the traditions of science, the lessons of Pasteur and Leeuwenhoek.”  In his fury at Munson, he took the drug enabling him to kill the much larger man.

They find the monkey dead, and rush Avery to the hospital.  He describes the sensations to Reynolds as his body fails and he dies.  Reynolds calls, “Death at 2 am”.

More SFT dreck.


  • Title Analysis:  Just lazy crap.
  • Unless this gang had a Jack Baueresque 24 hours, they wear the same clothes to work every day.
  • The next SFT episode is Conversation with an Ape.  Will the title turn out to be the best thing about it?  Yes.  Yes it will.