|Index||5 reviews in total|
I give it an 8 because it is an episode that sticks in my mind, even 50 years after I first saw it - not counting innumerable re-runs. Still, what stands out in this episode? At least 3 times, Superman FLIES off screen. I fast forwarded to the scene where Superman is chasing a runaway school bus and told my 19 year old to "watch this". His comment - "WOW". Presumably, George Reeves was in a flying rig, but you can see his feet leave the ground as he moves off in the air. Ever after, Superman just runs off screen and is followed by the standard swishing sound and a blast of air. Whether it was too hard on the actor, or just too expensive to set up, the effect was rarely, if ever, used again in the series. Coupled with catching a falling airplane, this is the most "super" I can recall seeing the George Reeves TV Superman. (As I go thru the DVD's after so many years, I may have to correct that comment.)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Truly great episode of TAOS, and that's no exaggeration. The story goes
like this...Clark and Lois are covering a senate subcommittee's
investigation into organized crime. While on the stand, Wagner, the
witness, suddenly changes his mind about whether he knows Lou Kranek,
the alleged Kingpin. He abruptly bolts out, and hijacks a car, with
Lois and Clark in tow. He then hijacks a bus, with children on board.
Superman shows up and stops the bus from careening down a mountain. He
tells Lois that Wagner's mind was somehow tampered with and that his
brain was fatally injured. Turns out that Kranek, in an attempt to
manipulate the hearings, stole a machine invented by a doctor that can
put suggestions into peoples' minds from afar. With the doctor
kidnapped, Kranek had forced him to user the machine on Wagner, who he
tuned in on the machines screen. Kent then works with the doctors
assistant, Hadley, to try and find the transmission point of the
machine (Kranek took it to the Blue Hills along with the doctor) In the
meantime, Lois is due to take the stand, and there's no doubt Kranek
will use the machine on her. While scouting the area by plane, Kent
learns that she is on the stand. He knocks out Hadley,and puts the
plane on automatic. Superman shows up at Kraneks hideout just in time,
and beats up Kranek and his gang, while the doctor ,feeling guilty over
how his machine was used, destroys the machine. Superman, realizing the
plane has run out of gas, brings it down safely with Hadley still
Absolutely flawless episode...really exciting, with a great script, acting, and directing. I especially like the political slant of the story, reflecting, perhaps, the HUAC investigations of the 1950s. And, the greatest punch Reeves gives of the entire series.
The end of World War II left us with a real sense of aw about Science;
both that of today and that on the horizon of a new tomorrow. Small
wonder there is that we should be so affected. We had just been
introduced to a couple or three of new concepts. These scientific
marvels are the following three: Jet Engine Powered Air Craft, Rocketry
and Nuclear Power.
This of course fed the 1950's trend toward not as President Dwight David Eisenhower would later warn us about a "Joint Military-Industrial Complex"; but rather a "Joint Science Fiction-Heroic Military Film combination." After all, just how many movies of that period had us all in peril from some thawed-out prehistoric gargantuan specimen or invaders from other worlds? In the end of each, we usually were saved due to one very simple, but ultimately highly successful equation. That little item most certainly would be: Science + the Military = Our World Saved! It seemed to work each and every time, except for THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (20th Century-Fox, 1951); but that's another story, Schultz.
So this was another influence that the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (National Comics/Motion Pictures For Television, 1951-58) had to contend with. The first season's shows in particular were especially susceptible. Already steeped in the Film Noir tradition, those episodes from the show's "Shakedown Voyage" were surprisingly violent, cold and really not strictly kiddies' fare. As fantastic as a plot like for example today's title under our literary microscope are; they're really quite "grown up", mature, intelligent and sophisticated, even. And that weekly adventure would be .
OUR STORY ..In THE MIND MACHINE (1952) a benevolent Inventor-Scientist, Dr. Edward Stanton (Griff Barnett) invents a machine that is intended to be an aid for those inflicted with certain types of mental illness. The wonder invention applies some super-intensive electro-magnetic radio waves in carefully measured minor doses applied to the patient via the machine. The inflicted one's mind is given gentle therapeutic suggestion by the M.D. or other Medical Professional who communicates with the deepest parts of ones brain via a microphone attachment. All is fine in these small, controlled and pharmaceutically administered treatments. The deeply planted suggestions act as therapeutic agents to the troubled mind.
But the story about the Mind Control Device is soon found out by Metropolis Underworld Kingpin, Lou Cranek (played by CASABLANCA veteran, Dan Seymour), who has another use for the new technology in mind. Cranek is facing some open Senate type Crime Hearings and the elimination of one witness with particularly damning testimony would most likely get the Crime Boss off, Scott Free. Cranek and his Gang kidnap the Scientist and take his invention along. As the hearings are convening and being broadcast on Metropolis Radio, Boss Cranek himself operates the machine and zeroes in the convenient tele-viewer screen in on the important witness, Carl Wagoner (Harry Hayden). As Mr. Wagoner is asked important question in his testimony against him, Cranek loudly shouts orders countermanding all the good that Mr. Wagoner had intended to impart to the committee.
The sudden turn of events (which was a remarkable precursor to the similarly situated Senate Hearings scene in THE GODFATHER, PART II, Paramount, 1973) startles Daily Planet Reporters, Clark Kent (Our Guy, George Reeves) and Lois Lane (Phyllis Coates woo, woo, woo, woo!) who are present covering the event. Wagoner, obviously suffering serious brain damage, flees the building and takes a School Bus full of kids on a wild, nearly deadly high speed ride with a bus having bad brakes. Superman shows up to save the children and to discover Mr. Wagoner now slumped over, dead from the experience.
After some scary situations, the Man of Steel eventually catches up with the Cranek Mob and frees the still captive Dr. Stanton. While Superman is putting some king sized dose of whoop-ass on the Cranek Boys (including our favourite, Ben Welden as Curly), the Good Professor destroys the machine of his that has been so hideously misused. Superman, shocked by the Scientist's behaviour, asks him, why? The Doctor replies that the world is better off without his invention. Superman still strongly disagrees, but does so in mild manners; stating that just because Cranek misused it, that it was still a good innovation. Perhaps we were given a little morale here; but in no hard sell or heavy-handed terms.
We can vividly recall seeing this installment, probably on its first showing. It was on ABC's Channel 7, which had the call letters of WENR or WBKB at this time. It's now known as WLS TV and still an ABC owned station.
The story of THE MIND MACHINE is at once horrifying and also at the same time reassuring. It cautions its viewers that there are truly murderous, hateful and truly out and out EVIL. But we also have the majority of our fellow humans are basically good. The trick is to have more of them stand up and be heroic as did our story's hero, Superman.
A really entertaining episode! This appears to be the first instance of Superman "ducking the gun", wherein the bad guy empties his revolver firing at Superman, then, out of bullets, he throws the gun at him. Superman proceeds the duck out of the way of the pistol. Funny every time. Also, it sure looks like a stunt double for Superman during the fight scene in the cabin. His back is somewhat to the camera as objects are broken over his head. Superman's hair seems curly and and doesn't look like George Reeves at all. By the way. Loved Lois Lane's car...a really cool ride. Anyone know what model it was? The hearing room has the same style doors and corrugated walls as the Daily Planet.
The bad guys kidnap a famous scientist and take his machine. The machine has the ability to invade the minds of anyone from a great distance and tell them what to do. The fellow who does the kidnapping is a crime boss who is to be testified against in front of a grand jury. Three people that are testifying against him are invaded by the forces of the machine and change their stories. There is a side effect from this invasion of the mind. It ends up killing all three. Now Lois Lane is ready to testify and her colleagues are dead against it. But being strong willed, she isn't having any of this namby pamby hesitation. When Clark/Superman finds out what is going on, he needs to locate the site of the machine, rescue the doctor, and allow Lois to testify without imminent danger. Kent goes up in a plane with the kidnapped doctor's assistant and the radar reveals their position. How does he get Superman into the act? That's the question. The solution is novel. The had part for me was the fact that such a machine would even be possible. But, then, it's just an old TV show.
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