Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (TV Series 1954– ) Poster

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Great Show
EitoMan2 January 2005
Don't listen to the negative reviews. Rocky Jones Space Ranger is a great series. As basic juvenile oriented entertainment, it is terrific fun. There are spaceships, travels to different planets, weird science, and girls in mini-skirts. As a Science Fiction television show, it is pioneering, and arguably one of the most enduring.

There seems to always be a rift between those who want their sci-fi to be "smart" and those who are looking for action and/or special FX. This series was made before the genre was divided. It's an early 50's sci-fi adventure t.v. show aimed primarily at juveniles--take it for what it is. Despite it's "limitations" it sure seems to have a lot of elements that would later be used by Gene Roddenberry on Star Trek.

Rocky Jones Space Ranger portrays a future where interplanetary travel is routine. The show employs an ensemble cast with a family-like camaraderie. Rocky and his crew (Vena, Bobby, Biff, and Professor Newton) are sent out as emissaries of the United Worlds. The UW is portrayed as a peaceful alliance of planets, yet outside threats from rogue elements & planets require a force of Space Rangers. Diplomacy is always the first resort, but Rocky is definitely able to go fist-city with any bad-guy. Also of note is the fact that this series routinely cast women in important roles as both rulers, villains, and sidekicks--fairly unusual for 1954.

Rocky Jones is a truly enjoyable sci-fi adventure t.v. shows for those young at heart. It's well written, filmed (as opposed to shot on video) and the special effects are actually pretty good for something produced in 1954. If you're not a sci-fi snob, you'll definitely enjoy this great, pioneering show.
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It used to be state of the art.
brolsky9 June 2002
While there is little about "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger" to justify recommending it today, there is a certain value to considering the historical importance of what it was in 1954.

I should say, that I grew up watching this program. I and one of my friends, joyfully, wrote away to the show and were rewarded with a Rocky Jones, Space Ranger Fan Club kit, which included a large, blue, scroll-type banner with gold tassels, a selection of cheaply reproduced head shots of the actors in character, and if I recall correctly, a couple of code rings that were nice but had no relation to the show.

We both watched the show religiously and were thrilled by the adventures and the wonder of space travel. We both read science fiction and we were both precocious little intellectuals who understood just how poorly these shows approximated quality in that area. Still, it was fun, it was science fiction, it was for kids, and it was 1954-55.

If you consider the plots, such as they were, and consider the headlines of those days then it should not be hard for you to recognize how idyllic Rocky's problems seemed to us.

Yes, Rocky Jones KNEW what was right, but the '50s was a time when knowing what was right was very important. There was a certain amount of social commentary built into the show that said that doing 'the right thing' was more important than political concerns. Rocky Jones doesn't seem human to us today, because he is not paralyzed by doubts, he is serious about what he is doing, he is dedicated to fighting the bad guys who are clearly 'bad' guys. That a woman was aboard was ground breaking just as having a mixed crew was shocking when "Star Trek" hit the air waves. It was futuristic, and though it didn't go nearly far enough, it pointed the way to where our society has actually begun to go.

Rocky was a hero. He was not an ordinary guy with some extra training. He could do no wrong, by definition. Heroes are always in short supply, so it is not surprising that others went to him for advice and took what he gave. The only real difference between a hero story then and one now is that today's heroes need to fight the system to do their heroic deeds and they are tortured by the fear that they may die alone because no one understands their truths.

Certainly, there is more depth to a modern hero, but the question is, how often does that depth advance a hero story?

As far as cheap sets and cheap effects go, they weren't for that day and time. They were pretty much state of the art for weekly television in the '50s. We, today, are spoiled by our current technology which makes much better effects cost effect where they were impossible before. Compare "Star Trek" to "Enterprise", both relatively low budget for their times. Consider "Bewitched" versus "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer".

So, for a proper appreciation of "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger" in the context of what it was versus what it is now, let me say that it has no depth or artistry that survives its original time. There is no great artistic merit to the shows which would justify a week long retrospective. It was an afternoon syndicated children's show, which added wonder and hope to my life as a child. I would joyfully sit through an episode or ten, to revive old memories and to ruefully remark on how sophisticated I have grown and how technology has advanced. But, then, I am currently re-reading the Shadow and Doc Challenger novels for much the same reason and with much the same recognitions.

There were great space operas in the literature that still hold up today for all their lack of modern sophistication and they reach all the way back to the '30s. There have not been many great science fiction films and fewer television shows until much more recent times. If you need examples, consider "Metropolis", "Things to Come", "Destination Moon", etc. as big budget films for their day compared to modern science fiction movies. (We'll skip movie serials completely.) As far as television goes, till the '60s, all I can remember are this one, "Captain Midnight/Jet Jackson", "Superman" and "Science Fiction Theatre" and none of these others offered adventures in space. I'm sure that others of us, can think of more, but I'm willing to bet, not many more.

So, if anyone wants to put out a bunch of episodes on DVD, they've got one purchaser ready, with cash in hand.
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That Cleolanta Scared Me
bkoganbing16 August 2005
I used to love Rocky Jones as a lad, it debuted in 1954 when I was a mere 7 years old. Rocky was a chiseled hero of the space age, a space ranger working for the United Worlds. The United Nations was in its first decade and the world hoped it would help bring lasting peace to the planet. Those hopes were certainly transported into the future with the United Worlds. Note the similarity between the crowd Rocky and his crew worked for and the United Federation of Planets that employed the Enterprise a dozen years later.

I also don't think it was an accident that actor Charles Meredith played the future Secretary-General of the United Worlds. His resemblance to the current president named Eisenhower residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, could not be missed.

Rocky's crew consisted of co-pilot Winky, navigator Vena, scientist Professor Newton and a young kid named Bobby who Professor Newton took quite an interest in. Vena was always in short skirts and heels, not exactly regulation for space travel, but I guess she was there for the Dads. What Bobby was on those missions for still eludes me except as a boy toy. To hear Winky tell it he had a girl on every planet, but Rocky showed no discernible interest in the opposite sex.

Of course special effects were pretty chintzy, but given that television was still in its own adolescence, understandable. The show was not terribly good in predicting scientific advancement. No computers or lasers are seen in this futuristic program. I recall one episode in which an abandoned moon was blasted with something called a tortanic missile to alter its orbit. Didn't work.

But one thing I will always remember Rocky Jones for. There was a ruler Queen on one of the planets named Officius and her name was Cleolanta. That woman was pure evil and deliciously played by an actress named Patsy Parsons. Cleolanta used to give this seven year old nightmares. But I still watched the show.
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Watched As A Child
shulma200223 March 2005
I viewed Rocky Jones, Space Ranger as a child 50 years ago. By today's standards the SPFX are inferior but the stories were great: good against evil. It was entertaining and exciting. I'm sure that science fiction films and TV series made in the 60's and 70's, such as "Star Trek", have to thank Rocky Jones for many story lines. There was one episode where Rocky's ship becomes invisible due to a scientific breakthrough; a similar plot was used in "Star Trek" as well as in "Star Wars". We owe a lot to shows like Rocky Jones. It brought pleasure to many youngsters who could only dream about space travel. I still remember the plots and titles of many of those episodes; yet I cannot recall plots of shows I've viewed within recent years!
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I thought that this was great 50 years ago
TEXICAN-219 October 2002
Okay, it's been almost 50 years since I blasted off with Rocky every Saturday morning. And, even then, I can tell you the special effects weren't terrific, and the stories were probably 50's simple, but, it was good entertainment, and an exciting way to start the day. We didn't have Star Wars (etc.) back then, and this was still ahead of Forbidden Planet, so, you didn't expect much, you weren't let down. AND, most kid shows even at the theater were black and white (except maybe Disney), so the black and white TV wasn't a problem. I'm sure that if I viewed this series today, I might cringe at it, but, then again, if you make the effort to try to look at something this old the way you looked at it originally (thru the eyes of a youngster), it just might still be that fine entertainment it was then. Hopefully, someone will put all 39 episodes on DVD, that would be great.
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Great show for it's day
resres27 April 2006
For the nay sayers out there... C'mon folks, lighten up! This was just a TV SHOW, remember? It wasn't some high-budget waste of celluloid. The shows were brief morality plays and they did exactly what they were intended to do: entertain kids, make sure the "good guys" always win, and (let's not forget) sell a product or two.

I was only five years old at the time, but the show helped ignite a spark that still hasn't faded. I eventually worked at NASA. Although I certainly wouldn't site the show as the sole reason for that decision, it was one of many such shows that helped spark the young imagination and ignited an interest in space travel and science in general. I, for one, will always consider this show a treasure.
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One of my favorites.
rudge4929 November 2005
I will start by saying that I have no memories of watching the other space operas of the 1950s, such as Tom Corbett, Captain Video, Rod Brown or Space Patrol, so I have no standard of comparison. I saw Rocky Jones on NYC TV as late as the early 60s, if VCRs had been available then I would have recorded it faithfully. I recall it being sponsored by Silvercup bread-anyone from the NYC area remember that? One of the other reviewers described the stories as 1950s simple, a good description, but remember it was a kids' program, and I have seen plenty of recently made so called adult programs that were simple and unrealistic. And Sally Mansfield as Vena Ray still looks good even today. The SFX are a little crude in this CGI era but were pretty good for the day and remember they had budget limitations, and I read in a book about SF movies and TV than when you don't have a big budget you have to use your imagination. I still find these programs enjoyable today, that says it best.
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Early SF
tomhuber-15 May 2011
I was a kid when these showed up on KING in 1954. They aired three times a week, Mon-Wed-Fri, so in one week, we saw an entire serial. I was disappointed when one Monday, it failed to show up at its regular time. I was admittedly hooked as a ten-year old.

By today's standards, RJSP can't be fairly judged. Ships that fly through an atmosphere to streak upward and land on a jet of pure rocket power? Calculating a course using nothing more than a triangle, pencil and paper? Fights in which nobody loses their hat? A magnetic grappling system to capture and seat a ship in a space station docking port? Dodging asteroids (where have we seen that before? Oh, yeah -- Galaxy Quest).

Yeah, there's a lot that is wrong with the series.

But there's a lot that is right. One of the things are the wonderful alien planet paintings that serve as backdrops to alien landscapes. The idea that a flying saucer uses some kind of magnetic drive (I remember that from when it aired -- I think it is in the final series "Trial of Rocky Jones" -- Add: It wasn't. According to another post, the series was called "Blast Off" and served as the final episode to the first season -- the show was canceled in the second season for a number of reasons -- see the discussion thread for more information). Truly good versus truly bad. Espionage. Kid mistakes.

This is seat-of-your-pants entertainment that looked real enough to be believable, back then. The stories are campy, but so are some of the scenes in George Pal's War of the Worlds and Forbidden Planet. They are aimed for the kids, and for a kids show, the FX were very futuristic for the time. Watch some of the other syndicated shows of the time -- many are available on Netflix or via streaming video on the internet.

Television in the 1950s was very puritan. To have Rocky show a love interest toward Vena wasn't going to happen, not in 1954 when you seldom saw inside a married couples' bedroom and when you did, they each had their own bed. So a lot of the criticism toward this series is based upon today's television standards (Think Ozzie & Harriet, I Love Lucy, and other shows with married couples).

7 stars is being generous, but I believe a fair assessment for the show at the time it was aired. By today's standards, it would be much, much lower. But for the TV buff who is interested in vintage television, you really can't get much better. It is too bad that most of the episodes available on DVD are from video tape. It would be really nice for someone to dig up any of the vintage copies and do a job to restore the entire series to pristine shape.
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Fond memories
denmark-427 April 2006
I first discovered the Rocky Jones series in mid 60's (thank you WJZ TV BAL) at the time it was a great excuse not to do my after school homework. Having seen pictures of Gemini capsules I recognized that the sets were "real primitive" and my grade school science knew something was wrong with a planet traveling through space without it's star, but with all shows a little bit of license is expected. The show really moved along quickly, (with a serialized TV show how could it not) It reminds me of the storytelling style of George Lucas. Lucas described his storytelling style as very fast you can almost see a young Lucas thinking keep the story moving. The show was entertaining, and after all, what else is a TV show supposed to do?
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Fondly remembered from childhood.
opsbooks7 April 2003
I loved this show when it aired on Australian TV in the late 1950s. Even then the 'scripts' seemed pretty lousy, but it was Rocky, in his cap and t-shirt, and Vena, in her short skirt, who kept me watching. I think 'Forbidden Planet' owes a lot to their outfits. There's a definite similarity. I think we of that generation should keep the memory of such ground-breaking television alive.
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Rocky's Horrid Picture Show
zmaturin11 June 2001
Rocky Jones is an emotionless space ranger who is never wrong. Everyone he knows follows his every whim, even his superiors in the Space Ranger chain. He's smarter than everybody and knows everything about everything. Nothing fazes him, nothing is beyond his control. He looks like Kirk but acts like Spock, only not as excitable. He's about as fun to watch as a dead hamster. On the opposite end of the spectrum are all the other characters, who are so inept and annoying that you wonder why Rocky even bothers with them. There's tow-headed, chipmunk-toothed Bobby, a know-it-all kid who sucks up to everyone and comes along on all the missions for no discernable reason. Also along for no reason is Vena, who is someone's sister. Vena wears a lot of short skirts, which is nice, but she's also dumber than a stick, which is not. And don't forget senile old Professor Newton, who is one of those movie scientists who doesn't specialize in any specific realm of science or medicine, but is called upon for everything from astrophysics to childcare. Worst of all is Rocky's effeminate sidekick Winky (yes, Winky), who constantly yammers on about his swingin' social life with the ladies. He claims to be girl crazy and quite the player, but spends 24 hours a day with chiseled and asexual Rocky, chirpy man-boy Bobby, and platonic gal-pal Vena. All the male characters wear really tight pants.

Their adventures seem to be aimed at kids, but they're shot so drably and acted so woodenly that it's the visual equivalent of Nyquil. The mind-numbingly-simple plots are over-explained to the point where you can't tell what's going on. People get captured and recaptured by their nemesis over and over again until you can't tell who's a captor, who's a captive, and who's just pretending to be a captive. The "futuristic" sets show all the ingenuity and imagination as a Sears catalog. The scripts are written by people who cannot grasp simple human interaction, let alone the science of space flight. They're technically inept, which should be funny on some level, but they're also boring and made by people who just didn't put any heart into their work, so I guess television hasn't changed much since 1954.
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My Grampa had this on tape, it was awful but funny.
jsalden12 February 2008
I give this a one out of ten but mostly just because it is bad now because it is so old. It was not an awful show at the time I'm sure. But even my Grampa laughed at it when we watched it because it was so dated and funny. The main character, Rocky Jones, was like a Buck Rogers type character who fearlessly goes into space leading his men. I only saw two grainy episodes on an old tape with my Grampa like I said but it was okay considering how really old the show was. The funny parts were the "futuristic" equipment and all the enemy space men they found because the effects were so lame, actually there were no effect really. Worth it for a laugh if you like out of date stuff with bad effects.
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TV's First Celluloid Spaceman
redryan6415 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
BACK IN THE day, the early days of Television, that is, the notion of space Travel, not new to Science Fiction, was a hot genre for exploitation in the ever growing network and local channel schedules. There was, of course, two ways to obtain their desired "Space Operas." They could be either be culled from old theatrical movies; or they could be produced brand new, just for TV.

ALTHOUGH THERE WEREN'T exactly very many old, previously released movies that dealt with space travel; there were some-even dating back to the silents. Among the backlog of oldies, as big as life and with double dosed action, was the movie serial.*

ALTHOUGH THERE WERE quite a few space oriented serials available for the TV*, there are four that were the most durable and popular. They were BUCK ROGERS (Universal, 1939) and the trilogy of FLASH GORDON (Universal,1936), FLASH GORDON'S TRIP TO MARS (Universal,1938) and FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE (Universal,1940). These four were playing for years on local stations.**

THE SECOND AVENUE of acquiring the coveted programing was to produce it just for TV. Hence, we had live & in studio classics as CAPTAIN VIDEO, BUZZ TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET and SPACE PATROL. The in studio, live production had many drawbacks and limitations. The next step surely would be filmed series; which was much more akin to the theatrical film. Well the filmed series did become a reality when ROCKY JONES, SPACE RANGER debuted in 1954.

AS WE RECALL it featured diverse stories, impressive special effects and an energetic and talented cast. Richard Crane gave a credible and energetic performance in the lead; supported by Sally Mansfield, Scotty Beckett, Robert Lyden and veteran Maurice Cass. We know by way of our friends in the neighborhood that Rocky Jones was tops.

IN RECENT YEARS, we've seen at least one "movie" that was constructed through a compilation of several ROCKY JONES Episodes. The acting, the special effects, costuming and stories were good enough for the big screens of the nation's movie houses. It begs the question; so why was it canceled after one season of 39 episodes? Go figure!

NOTE: * There were many serials with space travel and rocket ships. some, like BRICK BRADFORD (Columbia, which never made it to the small screen in your living rooms. On the other hand, Republic Pictures opened the floodgates giving the TV Stations such titles as: KING OF THE ROCKET MEN, THE PURPLE MONSTER STRIKES, FLYING DISC MAN FROM MARS, ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE and others.

NOTE: ** Just what is the common thread that runs through these four chapter plays? Well, other than the studio's being Universal, it is the Star Male Lead. Can you say Buster Crabbe?
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A Low Point of 1950s Space Adventure
coker-23 April 2000
If it were not for COMMANDO CODY, SKY MARSHAL OF THE UNIVERSE, we would consider ROCKY JONES, SPACE RANGER to be the low point of 1950s space adventure series. Unlike the other shows of the day it was filmed and syndicated; that meant far better sets, props and special effects. But the writers seemed never to have understood what science fiction, or space adventure, was all about. The actors are good and deserve better material. They also deserve better directors. The art direction is quite good, but there are very few "practical effects," far fewer than even on the live space adventure shows. (When a ray gun fired on CAPTAIN VIDEO, we saw flame and smoke... when a ray gun fires on ROCKY JONES we hear a kind of farting sound.)
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