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My favorite science fiction series from the 50s

 
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2021 1:33 pm    Post subject: My favorite science fiction series from the 50s Reply with quote



This is not meant to be a comprehensive of list of the most highly regarded science fiction TV series for the 1950s, it's just the ones I personally enjoyed. Very Happy

Taken chronologically, here's my list of favorites which I saw on TV. The titles include links to the threads for each series.

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The Flash Gordon serials

They weren't TV series, but they weren't movies either, and in the early 1950s a TV station in Atlanta filled their Saturday morning program with these great serials from the 1936 to 1940.

I have vivid memories of sitting on the living room floor and watching chapter after chapter of these wonderful sci-fi adventures, which they showed in groups of four, with the commercials between each chapter.


___________ Flash Gordon 1936 Chapter 1 / 13


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Science Fiction Theatre

Next there was that great anthology series which tantalized us with new concepts every week. We got an interesting science lesson at the beginning of each episode which set up the premise of the story that followed. I never missed it.

___________________ Science Fiction Theatre


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Adventures of Superman

And of course, what kid in the 1950s didn’t love Superman? There are pictures in my old family album of me playing in the back yard wearing a towel pinned around my next . . . and the official cardboard Space Patrol helmet. Very Happy

This five minute video is wonderful. And I noticed that even though the official title of the series is “Adventures of Superman”, the announcer at both the beginning and the end each episode says “THE Adventures of Superman!”


_ Adventures of Superman opening/closing & clips


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Captain Midnight

This was actually my favorite1950s series, and I watched it religiously! The stories often introduced some new invention that the Captain’s residence scientist (played by Olan Soule) had either invented of was investigating, and then that same invention would be featured prominently in the story.


__________


In the late 1980s, Blockbuster video had a few VHS tapes of the episodes, and I introduced my kids to the show. We pretend we’d joined Captain Midnight’s “Secret Squadron”, the nationwide network of kids who had small communicators the Captain could call them on when he needed information about their era, or when he’d issue a general call to be on the lookout for specific bad guess.

Read the All Sci-Fi thread about the series here. Before posting this, I added a few new posts after finding 17 episodes on YouTube from the same YouTube member. The picture quality is poor, but spent an enjoyable after noon watching about six of them.


______ Captain Midnight S1E05 Death Below Zero


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Men into Space

The difference between this series and all the other space adventure series from 1950s was its serious, realistic approach. It wasn’t particularly exciting, but it certainly feed my hunger for intelligent science fiction.

__________ Men Into Space e01x38 Moon Probe


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The Twilight Zone


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Strangely enough, one of the most popular “science fiction” series on television in the 1950s only had about 20 true sci-fi episodes out of 159 total! And yet, like all good science fiction fans in the 1950s, we watched it every week — hoping to see one of those ~20 episodes that had the kind of story we really wanted.

Notice that in the video below, 7 of the “top 10 twist endings” are from that small list sci-fi stories. And that’s about one third of all the sci-fi stories from the whole series!
Shocked

_ Top 10 Shocking The Twilight Zone Twist Endings


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There were plenty of other sci-fi shows on television in the 1950s that I missed or didn’t watch often enough to remember, but two two series I’ve become fans of in recent years (and own on DVD) as Space Patrol and Rocky Jones, Space Ranger.

Tell us about some of your own science fiction favorites on TV in 1950s.

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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2024 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

______________________________________________

Gee whiz, guys! I was sure this swell post would inspire a few replies! Gosh, what happened — did you forget your happy days as an enthusiastic sci-fi fan?






Golly . . . that's real sad. Sad
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Pow
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2024 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I only saw some of these series in reruns since I was too young to remember them in their first run.

Sure, Adventures of Superman was a big fav. The tragedy being that in its first season it was played with grim seriousness, which was terrific. Then the show became lighter & comedic as the seasons went on until they were outrageously bad. "Flight to the North" with guest star Chuck Connors is unwatchable.
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tmlindsey
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2024 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heck, Pow, I wasn't even born when these were first aired Laughing

The Adventures of Superman was a favorite as a kid, as was The Twilight Zone when it eventually started airing as reruns in my area.

There weren't a lot of things accessible as a a kid (1950s rerun-wise), since my parents controlled the TV. Also, growing up in the age of color television, most local stations didn't want to air B&W stuff very often.

I'd never even heard of shows like Space Patrol and Rocky Jones until I was a young adult. Same for most of the Gerry Anderson marionette stuff.

But I guess you're never really too old to be 'the weird kid'
Laughing
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Pow
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2024 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hear ya, tmlindsey. When I was growing up we only had the 3 networks (excluding PBS). Science fiction on television back then was definitely in the minority, so we were lucky if each new fall season had one or two sf shows that were on the schedule. And some of those shows were not very good.

Syndication came along and that gave us a few more sf options. Now we have an entire SF Channel! Although I have to say, I find I rarely watch it these days. They show non-sf films and I just shake my head. They do on occasion serve up some original productions that I've enjoyed. Their very first original series was Mission Genesis, which was quite good given its limited budget. The Ark is their newest show. I've enjoyed it and now look forward to its second season. However, I'm saddened that when they first created the SF Channel, I thought it was a gift from heaven for this sf aficionado. Other than a few movies or programs here and there, I find not too much on it that draws me.
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tmlindsey
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 02, 2024 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pow wrote:
Now we have an entire SF Channel! Although I have to say, I find I rarely watch it these days. They show non-sf films and I just shake my head.<snip> However, I'm saddened that when they first created the SF Channel, I thought it was a gift from heaven for this sf aficionado. Other than a few movies or programs here and there, I find not too much on it that draws me.


My wife was the Director of Fan Relations at the Sci-Fi Channel when they were first starting up (and was when/how we first met). The original plan was always to do nothing but SF, some Fantasy and some Horror. But the couple that started the channel (who knew next to nothing about SF) were in the habit of starting companies then selling them as soon as they got up-and-running. Same ended up being true with Sci-Fi, unfortunately.

When I was growing up we had the big 3 networks, PBS and 2 local stations, which were the two places that I saw most, if not all, re-runs of 50s & 60s SF and Japanese anime, Johnny Sokko and Ultraman. My wife says we were spoiled because we had 6 - count 'em 6 TV channels!
Laughing
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