Galactic Fleet Admiral (site admin)
Joined: 14 Dec 2013
Location: North Carolina
|Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2021 7:02 pm Post subject: DESTINATION SPACE — 1959 Unsold Sci-Fi Pilot Film
Holy Molly, did I already know about this unsold TV series and just forgot about it?
Actually, that's exactly what happened. I remember posting about this on the Old ASF (2007 - 2014), but it got lost in Great Crash, and I just stumbled over the video below today.
I disparately wish that this had become a successful series, because the pilot is amazing!
It uses FX and music from Conquest of Space in the show's introduction. And just look at some of the familiar names in the cast for classic sci-fi movies and series!
John Agar - A large number of 1950s sci-fi movies
Cecil Kellaway - Them!
Robert Cornthwaite - The Thing from Another World
Harry Townes - The Invaders (TV Series), Star Trek: The Original Series (TV Series) The Return of the Archons
Frank Gerstle - Disnet's Man and the Moon (1955) (captain of the moon rocket), The Wasp Woman, Killers from Space, plus episodes of Science Fiction Theatre
Whitney Blake - The lovely wife in Hazel when Robby guest starred. (She's absolutely gorgeous so I couldn't resist including her . . . )
However, I'm sad to report that neither of the two versions on YouTube play very well, despite the reasonably good pictures. They are both plagued by a horrible jerkiness that make them absolutely unwatchable! It's like a GIF that never ends . . .
And yet, the production values are excellent, the sets are superb, the direction is great, and the editing is terrific.
This series seems far superior to Men Into Space, a series I love and own the DVD box set for.
However, if you watch the first ten minutes of the video below you'll realize that the production was prohibitively expensive — even with the skillful use of footage from Conquest of Space!
On that note, I was extremely impressed by the way the footage from Conquest of Space was blended with the new footage shot for the series! If I'd never seen the George Pal movie, I'd wouldn't have realized that it was borrowed from a movie released four years earlier!
It wasn't just a matter of cutting periodically to space scenes from Pal's movie. For example, an early scene showing preparations to launch a ship — which orbited next to the space station — included both new and borrowed scenes from the movie that depicted a meteoroid which struck the space station during the countdown, aborting the launch!
It included several scenes of crewmen inside the space station during the emergency — but I wasn't sure which shots were new and which were taken from the Pal movie!
The result was a dramatic scene composed of elements from Conquest of Space (converted to B&W for the program), interspersed effectively with the new footage!
Perhaps the network executives who shot down this promising series weren't convinced that the series could continue "mining the money shots" from the George Pal movie, thus preventing the series from having to produce new (and expensive) special effects!
Whatever the reason may have been for this promising production to die an untimely death, I can't help wishing it had been a rousing success just when the Mercury program captured American's imagination and turned astronauts into the nation's new heroes!
I suspect that President John F. Kennedy — who was elected just one year later in 1960 — would have loved this series and told the network executives to approve it for broadcast . . . or he'd have the IRS audit the tax returns of all those clueless dimwits!
DESTINATION SPACE. 1959 Unsold Sci-Fi Pilot Film
Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?