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In the mid-50's, even prior to the launching of Sputnik, America's interest in science was increasing. This anthology came along in syndication for two years in 1955-56, and to a young 10 year old it was a revelation that few things were as endlessly fascinating as science. Even though the plots often spun off into the realm of the fantastic, they all revolved around some basic scientific principle, demonstrated at the beginning of the show by the host Truman Bradley. You couldn't watch him, surrounded by all that neat looking electronic equipment, and not want to be a scientist. Many of the shows were quite literate, and the acting usually top notch. Of course, now the show looks dated almost a half century later, but it's still better than the ridiculous shows that abound today about channeling the dead, bleeding statues, and other pseudoscientific bunk. Come back, Mr. Bradley.
A 225 mph super-hurricane--a stone that froze ancient, terrified voices
Pompeii--the odd new neighbors from next door who vanished one night
an electrical storm!---What an impact these stories had on a 9 yr. old
I never forgot them. What a blast to be able to see these shows again.
you, Mr. Bradley for making them resonate for all these years!
And what thought-provoking titles, too! And then of course, there was that theme music---!!
Saturday night, at 11:00P.M. was a special time in our house. In the
years of 1955-57, we had "SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE". It was one of the
more successful of the early Syndicated Series*.
In our market, Chicago, it was available for viewing over the local NBC TV Affiliate, WNBQ TV, Channel 5. (The station is still going strong today, albeit with a minor surgical alteration to WMAQ TV**.
And we can well remember just who was the sponsor for "SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE" in our town was. It was that outstanding scientific marvel, Bromo Selzer. The commercials were done with the host, Mr. Truman Bradley.
As to Truman Bradley, he was the host who gave us the premise with which we would be working, during the following half-hour. Hisir carefully set-up demonstrations and equally contrived explanations, all meant to cover no more than 2 minutes of screen time. Of course then, we would sit amazed at the skills demonstrated by this Scientific Wonder, even greater than Don Herbert, aka 'Mr. Wizard'! So it was that every Episode would open up with the sounding of a very distinctive and appropriate theme. This was a trademark of Ziv Television Productions, as well as their use of Syndication, which seemed to be a method of getting the stories out which just about every one of the Ziv Series used.
As the Theme (by Hollywood Veteran Screen Composer, Jack Shaindlin) continued, we a given a downward moving, panoramic view of just about the neatest collection of cool science stuff that you would ever see! Of course, we didn't know what one from the other, as to their uses, but, SO WHAT! After this introductory sequence, it was off to the story! Being science fiction gave it a real wide selection of topics and the creative team did pursue the widest of parameters imaginable. Approximately 22 minutes and two Acts later, it was back to Truman's neat Science Lab, the moral of the story and the final closing.
With the closing, we got this admonition: "Well good-bye for now, until next week, from the World of Fiction and Science!" And then we would hear that Jack Shaindalin Theme once more, and have an upward moving Panaramic View, just bass-ackwards of the opening. While this was happening, we observe our Scientific Wizard, Mr. Truman Bradley, sitting at his huge desk, studiously reading some unknown periodical, a highly esoteric Scientific Journal, no doubt.
The series had quite a few episodes over its two full seasons' run in spectacular Syndication, and we are hard pressed to remember their repeating stories or themes, even. And in addition to the Science Fiction aspects, their stories held up a great hope for the future dignity and tolerance of all of man's ideas.
And just imagine the shock when we found our own personal Scientist of Scientists, Truman Bradley, helping out Spencer Tracy(as Major Robert Rogers) in waging the French and Indian Wars in NORTHWEST PASSAGE (MGM, 1940)! Truman, how could you!
NOTE: * Some of the most successful Syndicated TV Series of the Era were: "SEA HUNT"(1958-61), "HIGHWAY PATROL"(1955-59), "I LED 3 LIVES"(1953-56) and "RAMAR OF THE JUNGLE"(1955-57). Of the 4 series all but Arrow Productions' "RAMAR OF THE JUNGLE" were Ziv/United Artists Television Productions.
NOTE ** Several years later, WNBQ changed its call letters to WMAQ, which were the call letters of the now defunct NBC Radio Station-a Flagship Station of the NBC Radio Network
In the mind of this 10 year old during the fifties, sci-fi was as much or perhaps more, science fantasy. Back then the possibility of 'Martians' could still not be discounted.!! True. What space travel and science that lay in store for the future was open to one's imagination. Truman Bradley, who opened the show from his laboratory somewhere alone and high in the western desert, would discuss a particular science fact and its possible ramifications and speculations. From this seed a teleplay would ensue. I loved the show. Real science and fantasy all in the same 1/2 hour program. Wish I could see them again.. Alas and alack..
I think I first saw "Science Fiction Theater" in about 1961 or 1962 (so I was 11 or 12)sitting around my family's den on an early Saturday morning or perhaps Saturday afternoon. I think the show was already considered "re-run filler" at that point and only on local stations, but I really enjoyed the stories...they were as good as anything else being shown at the time...the acting was pretty good and the stories interesting and thought-provoking...I recall the Space colonists test episode a little and bits and pieces of others...there was one where a scientist was trying to enhance human physical strength and endurance by using animal hormones...I specifically recall the main character in it was trying (and succeeding) in running a mile in under 3-minutes. But the hormones did a number on him in other ways and he died as a result. Anyway, I'm glad it's around on DVD, the other thing I recall about the show was that the music to the opening sound-track was ALWAYS warped and distorted when I saw the show...I even remember the first few distorted notes and how they sounded...I wonder if the DVD versions have cleaned that up...I might not recognize them if they did...
This terrific, imaginative sci-fi anthology TV series was the first intelligent, dramatic sci-fi anthology series made for television, and lasted two seasons, 1955-1957. It was produced by legendary sci-fi and nature film producer Ivan Tors, for Bernard Ziv, of ZIV-TV Productions, and featured well-written half-hour episodes, many based on sci-fi short stories from sci-fi pulp magazines of the 1940s and 1950s; what it lacked in visual effects was often made up for by fine writing, acting, production values and direction. Host Truman Bradley was perfect to announce each eerie story of the week, as well as add a few words at the end of each program on how science could solve a mystery. Underrated by today's standards, this was one of TV's finest dramatic series of the 1950s, featuring many famous B-movie stars in fascinating roles. Highly recommended!
Science Fiction Theater was one of my favorites when I was a kid. (Sea Hunt, also from Ivan Tors and Ziv, with Lloyd Bridges, was another) I, born in 1950, remember hurrying home from school to see the show. I'm not sure what year this was--late '50s probably--it must already have been in reruns, being on in the afternoon. My mom wasn't thrilled that my brother and I watched it--science fiction was inherently not to be trusted--but it was good enough that she tolerated it in preference to things like the forbidden "Wednesdayville"--on, not surprisingly, only on Wednesday afternoon, showing Three Stooges shorts--and frankly, I preferred it myself. Much more better to a kid interested in sciences. I remember the intros with Truman Bradley--I can almost conjure up his face, but not quite--and, though I remember most of the shows mentioned by other writers, the one I remember especially was about a young mammoth found in the permafrost, thawed and revived, and what this led to for the animal and the people involved with it. I remember Truman Bradley's intro to that show, taking a fish frozen in ice, dropping it in water, and, when the ice melted--just a few seconds--the fish swimming away. That was the sort of thing that fascinated me.
I was only about 6 or 7 years old when I first watched Science Fiction Theater. Even my folks watched it. It is a fantastic series, and found where I might purchase it, but I don't know if I want to put out $80.00 or not for the two seasons! I sat on the edge of my seat every time it showed, totally enthralled with every episode. True, it wasn't always fiction, but even when the episodes didn't exactly fit with the Science Fiction Theater genre, it still provided an engaging show. For even then, much of the science fiction was still based on some simple fact. I would recommend anyone interested in the old SF series programs, Science Fiction Theater is one. Don't forget Commando Cody.
Saturday night were not the same unless I and my friends watched Truman Bradley with his sonorous introdyctions to thoughtful, CLEAN, decent, law-abiding stories. On Mondays in school we would all buzz likes busy bees telling each other how we would change the story...and well as look up in some ponderous encyclopedia the information we gleaned from the program; was there really a star called Alpha-Centauri A? To mimic the laboratry scenic design, I stuck an icepick into the center of a Lloyd Harris pie pan and created my own "radar" antenna- Wow!!! It looked JUST LIKE MR. BRADLEY'S! The program inspired my curiosity about things scientific and I also began to memorize the names and faces of the character actors. I finally found some of the programs on CDs and ordered them immediately. How my brain was re-stimulated and pleasurized by those episodes. Thank science that we denizens of the Theatre's fantasy-land can now enjoy Mr. Bradley and those wonderful stories.
When this show came out I was in the 3rd grade and we would make sure to watch it.The reason being is that our teacher would ask us questions about it the following day.This show was so ahead of it's time that everybody in our school room wanted to be a scientist.the show itself did not last long,but it left a big impression on all of us.Even the theme song was nice to listen to,it made you feel that it was written especially for it.I wish they'll bring back that show like they,ve done with so many other shows as reruns.I miss those shows very much.
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