Science Fiction Theatre

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Science Fiction Theatre
Science-Fiction-Theatre.jpg
Also known as Beyond the Limits
Genre Anthology Sci-Fi Drama
Directed by Jack Arnold (director)
William Castle
Eddie Davis (director)
Tom Gries
Paul Guilfoyle (actor born in 1902)
Leigh Jason
Lew Landers
Herbert L. Strock
Presented by Truman Bradley
Composer(s) Jack Shaindlin
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 78
Production
Executive producer(s) Frederick W. Ziv
Maurice Ziv
Producer(s) Ivan Tors
Cinematography Monroe P. Askins
Curt Fetters
Robert Hoffman
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 25–26 minutes
Production company(s) Ivan Tors Productions
Distributor Ziv Television Programs
United Artists Television
Broadcast
Original channel Syndication
Picture format Color (1955–1956)
Black-and-white (1956–1957)
Audio format Monaural
Original run April 9, 1955 (1955-04-09) – April 16, 1957 (1957-04-16)

Science Fiction Theatre is an American science fiction anthology series that aired in syndication from April 1955 to April 1957. It was produced by Ivan Tors and Maurice Ziv.

Overview[edit]

Hosted by Truman Bradley, a 1940s film actor and former war correspondent, each episode introduced stories which had an extrapolated scientific, or pseudo-scientific emphasis based on actual scientific data available in the 1950s. Typically, the story lines related to the life or work of scientists, engineers, inventors and explorers. The program concentrated on such concepts as space flight, robots, telepathy, flying saucers, time travel, and the intervention of extraterrestrials in human affairs.

Airing a total of 78 25–26 min. episodes, the series was also known as Beyond the Limits in second run syndication during the 1960s and alternatively as Science Fiction Theater.

Opposite to what happened in the 1960s, the first season was filmed in color, but to cut costs the second season was in black & white. The producers had originally thought that color TV would progress faster than it did.

Science Fiction Theatre was a forerunner of similar shows, such as The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.

The show is probably best known to modern audiences for having been prominently referenced in the movie Back to the Future (1985) as George McFly's favorite television program.

Intro and Outro[edit]

Each episode was introduced by a stirring brass, string, and woodwind fanfare ("Tiara Overture", by Frank D. Cofield) while the camera panned over a science laboratory. Then Truman Bradley showed a simple scientific experiment which was related to the topic of that week's show. Mr. Bradley's demonstrations were often staged, but yielded results consistent with the outcome of true experiments.

Because of the limited budgets and intense production schedules of ZIV episodic television shows, most of the scientific, and not-so-scientific apparatus appears again and again as props with many different functions.

First lines of each episode:
Host: "How do you do, ladies and gentlemen? I'm your host, Truman Bradley. Let me show you something interesting."

Last lines of each episode:
Host: "I hope you enjoyed our story. We'll be back one week from today with another exciting adventure from the world of fiction and science. Until then, this is your host, Truman Bradley, saying, see you next week."

Broadcast History[edit]

The series aired Saturday nights in syndication.

Episodes[edit]

Season 1[edit]

No. Episode First airdate Starring Summary
1-1 Beyond April 9, 1955 William Lundigan, Ellen Drew, Truman Bradley Traveling at three times the speed of sound, a test pilot bails out. His report: another craft was about to collide with his.
1-2 Time Is Just a Place April 16, 1955 Don DeFore, Marie Windsor, Warren Stevens, Peggy O'Connor A young couple discovers that their neighbors, who possess a sonic broom and many other technologically advanced household items, are fugitives from the future who have fled to the past to escape an oppressive government.
1-3 Out of Nowhere April 23, 1955 Richard Arlen, Jess Barker When bats begin colliding with skyscrapers, the Continental Air Defense Command is alerted. They fear that the "radar" that protects bats from collision has somehow been cut off.
1-4 Y.O.R.D. April 30, 1955 Walter Kingsford, Rachel Ames, DeForest Kelley, Kenneth Tobey, Louis Jean Heydt The Magnetic Pole Weather Station receives a strange distress message and launches one of the greatest rescue missions of all time.
1-5 Stranger in the Desert May 7, 1955 Marshall Thompson, Gene Evans, Lowell Gilmore Two uranium prospectors meet a stranger from another land who is searching for oxygen-producing plants.
1-6 No Food for Thought May 14, 1955 John Howard, Otto Kruger A biologist and his staff test synthetic foods that have proved fatal to animals on themselves.
1-7 The Brain of John Emerson May 21, 1955 John Howard, Ellen Drew A police sergeant escapes death from a bullet in his brain but finds himself changed.
1-8 Spider Inc. May 28, 1955 Gene Barry, Audrey Totter A young geologist discovers a giant spider enclosed in a piece of transparent rock.
1-9 Death at 2 A.M. June 4, 1955 Skip Homeier, John Qualen, Ted de Corsia A scientist uses an experimental strength serum to murder a man who is blackmailing him.
1-10 Conversation With an Ape June 11, 1955 Hugh Beaumont, Barbara Hale A telepathic chimp saves a scientist and his wife from a killer.
1-11 Marked 'Danger' June 18, 1955 Otto Kruger, Arthur Franz, Nancy Gates While doing field work in the desert, a mining engineer finds the payload from a high altitude rocket experiment. He takes it home and leaves it in his wife's care while he goes into town to contact the authorities. As soon as he's gone, his wife fiddles with the payload and releases a toxic gas....
1-12 Hour of Nightmare June 25, 1955 William Bishop, Lynn Bari, Charles Evans Two top freelance photographers go to Mexico to photograph mysterious flying objects and find a dead alien.
1-13 One Hundred Years Young July 2, 1955 Ruth Hussey, John Archer, John Abbott A retired man confides to a fellow research chemist that he is over two centuries old.
1-14 The Strange Dr. Lorenz July 9, 1955 Edmund Gwenn, Donald Curtis, Kristine Miller The story of a beekeeper whose bees manufacture a wonder drug instead of honey.
1-15 The Frozen Sound July 30, 1955 Marshall Thompson, Marilyn Erskin, Ray Collins, Michael Fox A paperweight is found to reproduce sounds from 2000 years ago.
1-16 The Stones Began to Move August 6, 1955 Basil Rathbone A murder and the secrets of the Pyramids combine.
1-17 The Lost Heartbeat August 13, 1955 Zachary Scott A dying scientist needs time to finish his experiments.
1-18 The World Below August 27, 1955 Gene Barry, Marguerite Chapman The survivors of a submarine disaster claim that they saw a city on the sea floor, but are ridiculed by investigators.
1-19 Barrier of Silence September 3, 1955 Adolphe Menjou, Warren Stevens, Phyllis Coates, Charles Maxwell, John Doucette Professor Richard Sheldon has been returned to the United States in a confused, altered state of mind after enemy agents hypnotized him in an environment of absolute silence while visiting Milan. His friend, psychiatrist Dr. Elliott Harcourt, reasons that placing Professor Sheldon in a similar environment will reverse his condition. He is placed in a wheelchair in the "Cone of Silence", consisting of a raised circular platform suspended by 3 wires tied to a common vertex. Although the cone's surface is open, anyone sitting inside would experience a deafening silence due to the phased ultrasonic noise generators located just below the vertex. Anyone speaking inside the cone could not be heard outside. With Dr. Harcourt's guidance, the treatment works, and Sheldon regains his memory.
1-20 The Negative Man September 10, 1955 Dane Clark, Beverly Garland After receiving a near-fatal electric shock from a computer, a technician exhibits enhanced sensory and intellectual abilities.
1-21 Dead Reckoning September 17, 1955 James Craig, Steve Brodie, Arleen Whelan A pilot lost in a geomagnetic storm is forced to navigate by a thermometer, a coffee pot and the earth itself.
1-22 A Visit from Dr. Pliny September 24, 1955 Edmund Gwenn, William Schallert The eccentric Dr. Pliny visits a university where he builds a device purported to provide free energy from cosmic rays.
1-23 Strange People at Pecos October 1, 1955 Arthur Franz, Doris Dowling, Dabbs Greer A radar expert suspects his next-door neighbors are spies from another planet.
1-24 Dead Storage October 8, 1955 Virginia Bruce A baby mammoth revives after being frozen in the Arctic for 500,000 years.
1-25 The Human Equation October 15, 1955 Macdonald Carey A team of scientists looking for a new antibiotic are driven to hostility by exposure to the drug.
1-26 Target: Hurricane October 22, 1955 Marshall Thompson, Ray Collins, Margaret Field A freak super-hurricane, more powerful than any hurricane that has ever been seen before, threatens the Miami coastline. Then, just when it seems that Miami is doomed, a freak high-pressure system forces the storm back out to sea, where it dissipates over colder waters. Subsequent tests reveal that the storm was triggered by the explosion of an exceptionally large meteor when it splashed into the ocean, whose unusually warm waters were unable to drain off the meteor's excess heat energy (built up by atmospheric friction) fast enough to prevent the blast. The prevailing weather conditions at the time combined with the blast to produce the super-storm.
1-27 The Water Maker October 29, 1955 William Talman, Virginia Grey, Craig Stevens A researcher is killed in an explosion while attempting to create water from tritium. His friend is summoned to complete the research.
1-28 The Unexplored November 5, 1955 Kent Smith, Osa Massen The doubting wife of a psychic researcher locates a missing colleague through clairvoyance.
1-29 The Hastings Secret November 12, 1955 Bill Williams, Barbara Hale, Morris Ankrum A scientist discovers a species of termites that consume minerals instead of wood.
1-30 Postcard from Barcelona November 19, 1955 Keefe Brasselle, Walter Kingsford, Christine Larsen A scientist dies suddenly from a heart attack. While examining his laboratory and unfinished work, members from his institute discover he had been receiving his discoveries from extraterrestrials orbiting 1,500 miles above the Earth.
1-31 Friend of a Raven November 26, 1955 Richard Eyer, Virginia Bruce The tale of a strange little boy who can communicate with animals.
1-32 Beyond Return December 3, 1955 Zachary Scott, Joan Vohs, Peter Hanson A medical researcher isolates a compound that regenerates damaged tissue. When he tries it on a terminally ill patient, she recovers completely in three days and now has the ability to change her appearance and fingerprints seemingly at will.
1-33 Before the Beginning December 10, 1955 Dane Clark, Ted de Corsia, Judith Ames, Phillip Pine, Emerson Treacy An obsessive scientist is unaware his wife is gravely ill as he works to develop a machine for generating high energy photons. He believes the photons, similar to those ejected from the sun, were the origin of life on Earth. When his "photon gun" generates living matter, he uses it to treat his wife's degenerated endocrine system with positive results. But was it the technology or his renewed love for his wife that caused her to rally? Episode is heavy with 1950s religiosity and tacit Frankensteinian warnings about man meddling with things he should not.
1-34 The Long Day December 17, 1955 George Brent, Steve Brodie, DeForest Kelley, Sam Gilmore, Robert Barton "Project Torch", an experimental missile containing an artificial sun, is launched in early evening over the desert. When the craft mysteriously fails to return to earth, the intense light banishes night. Fortunately, the extended daylight keeps an unscrupulous housing developer from attacking an ex-convict's family to force them out of his newly constructed neighborhood. The developer "sees the light" and has a change of heart about discrimination. But what caused the artificial sun to remain in the sky long after it should have fallen?
1-35 Project 44 December 24, 1955 Bill Williams, Doris Dowling, Biff Elliot, Mack Williams, Kenneth Drake A new rocket fuel makes interplanetary travel possible. But the effects of the hostile environment of outer space on man are still unknown. "Project 44" gives a husband and wife research team one year to determine if a select group of specialists has the right stuff to go on a manned mission to Mars. But something seems to be undermining the project. Is it bad luck or sabotage?
1-36 Are We Invaded? December 31, 1955 Pat O'Brien, Anthony Eustrel, Leslie Gaye "That which we do not understand sometimes causes apprehension." A reporter and the daughter of a respected astronomer, watching the stars one evening from their parked car, see what they consider a flying saucer. A stranger appears at the door of the car saying he too saw the light in the sky, and asks if he can be given a lift down the hill into town. Later, the astronomer refuses to believe the couple saw anything more than an optical illusion. To prove the existence of UFOs, the reporter films a documentary of witnesses, while the astronomer promptly demonstrates scientific explanations for each witness's sightings. But the mysterious stranger has dropped off a photograph at the astronomer's lab- a photograph of our solar system taken from deep space. The stranger has disappeared, but left a forwarding address: Centauri 6. The sixth planet of the star Alpha Centauri, 4.3 light years from Earth.
1-37 Sound of Murder January 7, 1956 Howard Duff, Russ Conway, Wheaton Chambers, Christine Larson, Whit Bissell, Edward Earle, Ruth Perrott, Charles Maxwell The senior scientist on a top secret government project is found murdered in a hotel room. The notes and formulae for the project have been stolen by foreign powers. The project's brilliant engineer is arrested and imprisoned for the murder, and for espionage, because a number of witnesses heard him on the telephone asking the senior scientist for a meeting in the hotel room shortly before the murder took place. To prove his innocence and his theory of how the crimes were committed, the accused engineer constructs a voice synthesizer. He uses it to have himself released from prison by duplicating the voice of a government official over the phone. The engineer also calls the other members of the team to the government official's office and uses the machine to trick the guilty team member into confessing.
1-38 Operation Flypaper January 14, 1956 Vincent Price, George Eldridge, John Eldridge, Dabbs Greer, Kristine Miller A group of scientists from many disciplines are met in secret conclave to develop a method to mine the Earth's oceans. But as they begin to share their theories and devices, the materials suddenly vanish. They notice that not only equipment and files are gone, but time has also disappeared. A brief conversation begun at 11 pm ends over an hour later, with no awareness of the intervening time having passed. A spy has found a way to move among the scientists at will and take what he wants without anyone perceiving him. In an effort to capture this thief, "Operation Flypaper" is quickly set up. A false lab is outfitted with hidden cameras and microphones, and technicians begin simulated work on another piece of vital equipment. As the room is observed, the occupants suddenly freeze in mid-stride. A man enters with a device that can put subjects into total sleep with no after effects, and begins to steal the equipment. The observers reveal he is being watched, and in a rage he shatters his machine and is captured. The man was a brilliant but paranoid scientist who wanted to be recognized for contributions to science and was stealing mining ideas and equipment he would later "invent". Ironically, his sleep machine, now totally destroyed, would have insured his place in scientific history as the greatest method of surgical anesthesia ever invented.
1-39 The Other Side of the Moon January 28, 1956 Skip Homeier, Beverly Garland, Philip Ober A picture of the dark side of the moon finds men from other worlds at work on its surface.

Season 2[edit]

No. Episode First airdate Starring Summary
2-1 Signals From the Heart April 7, 1956 Walter Kingsford, Peter Hanson, Joyce Holden Scientists work to save a man's life by remote control.
2-2 The Long Sleep April 14, 1956 Dick Foran, John Doucette, Nancy Hale A research scientist is forced to perform a strange experiment on an ailing youngster.
2-3 Who Is This Man? April 21, 1956 Bruce Bennett, Harlow Wilcox, Charles Smith Hypnosis to help a shy college student reveals a frightening mystery.
2-4 The Green Bomb April 28, 1956 Whit Bissell, Kenneth Tobey, Robert Griffin A breathtaking search for stolen atomic materials.
2-5 When a Camera Fails May 5, 1956 Gene Lockhart, Mack Williams, Than Wyenn A geophysicist discovers that rocks can take pictures.
2-6 Bullet Proof May 12, 1956 Marshall Thompson, Jacqueline Holt, John Eldredge A pair of metallurgists is approached by an escaped convict with samples of a light and flexible metal that will stop bullets. He claims to have gotten the metal from a spot where a UFO landed to make repairs.
2-7 The Flicker May 19, 1956 Victor Jory, Michael Fox A graduate student in sociology commits a murder after watching a badly flickering movie.
2-8 The Unguided Missile May 26, 1956 Ruth Hussey, Peter Hansen, Francis McDonald Military secrets about a missile guidance system are being received by a journalist while she sleeps.
2-9 The Mind Machine June 9, 1956 Bill Williams, Cyril Delevanti, Brad Trumbull, Sydney Mason, Lonie Blackman, Fred Coby, Jim Sheldon, Helen Jay A project to decipher signals from the brain gets a boost when an aging scientist suffers a stroke and offers use of his dying brain to decode the brainwaves.
2-10 The Missing Waveband June 16, 1956 Dick Foran, Stafford Repp, Gene Roth, Michael Fox A scientist builds a transmitter that operates in a never-before attained frequency band. Using the new device he and his colleagues receive ground-breaking scientific information from a voice that refuses to identify itself or its country of origin.
2-11 The Human Experiment June 23, 1956 Marshall Thompson, Virginia Christine, Claudia Barrett Taking inspiration from the insect world, a psycho-pharmacologist elicits an enzyme that can turn mentally defective humans into useful hive workers.
2-12 The Man Who Didn't Know June 30, 1956 Arthur Franz, Susan Cummings, Bruce Wendell, Voltaire Perkins An experimental atomic powered aircraft explodes over the Pacific ocean. The crew is assumed lost, but the captain appears six months later after having been treated by an anonymous expert surgeon. As soon as he returns to work on the project classified information begins to leak...
2-13 End of Tomorrow July 7, 1956 Christopher Dark, Diana Douglas, Walter Kingsford, Dabbs Greer A mysterious and vaguely menacing medical researcher develops a vaccine that both cures and prevents all microbial infections known to man. The entire world is to be inoculated when it is discovered that the drug has a side-effect: All offspring of vaccinated animals are female.
2-14 The Phantom Car July 21, 1956 John Archer, Judith Ames, Tyler McVey, Herbert C. Lytton, William Fawcett A car with no driver is running around in the desert and occasionally hits people but does not stop.
2-15 Beam of Fire July 28, 1956 Wayne Morris, Frank Gerstle, Harlan Warde Two scientists working on a top-secret rocket fuel are murdered by high-frequency sound beams. Government security agents manage to track down and destroy the sonic projector, but the only recoverable part of the debris is melted beyond recognition and is composed of a material unknown on Earth.
2-16 The Legend of Crater Mountain August 18, 1956 Marilyn Erskine, Brad Jackson, Jo Ann Lilliquist A young rural schoolteacher finds that her three star pupils are more than human.
2-17 Living Lights August 25, 1956 Skip Homeier, Joan Sinclair, Michael Garth A graduate student attempts to reproduce the conditions on the surface of Venus. His experiment results in the creation of seemingly living balls of light.
2-18 Jupitron September 15, 1956 Bill Williams, Toni Gerry, Lowell Gilmore A scientist and his wife have a vacation, or maybe an hallucination, that includes a terrifying visit to a moon of Jupiter.
2-19 The Throwback September 22, 1956 Peter Hanson, Ed Kemmer, Virginia Christine A genetic research scientist attempts to prove that memories can be inherited. He uses a remarkable series of coincidences as evidence.
2-20 The Miracle of Dr. Dove September 29, 1956 Gene Lockhart, Robin Short An eminent biologist holds the key to the strange secret of three scientists who disappear from the face of the Earth.
2-21 One Thousand Eyes October 6, 1956 Vincent Price, Jean Byron The inventor of several innovative image projection technologies is murdered. His wife says an unknown caller threatened his life unless he turned over his current project. His lab assistant is found dead in a car wreck with plans, but all the plans are for inventions patented long ago...
2-22 Brain Unlimited October 13, 1956 Arthur Franz, Diana Douglas, Doug Wilson A scientist takes two weeks off from his current project to develop brain-acceleration technology. With his accelerated brain, he finds the key to his original project.
2-23 Death at My Fingertips October 20, 1956 Dick Foran, June Lockhart, John Stephenson Fingerprints "prove" a man murdered, even though he was in another city at the time of the killing.
2-24 Survival in Box Canyon November 3, 1956 Bruce Bennett, Susan Cummings, DeForest Kelley The Civil Air Patrol searches for a small airplane that crashed near an atomic bomb test range.
2-25 The Voice November 10, 1956 Donald Curtis, Kristine Miller, Anthony Eustrel After being paralyzed in the crash of his small airplane, a lawyer finds he has telepathic powers.
2-26 Three Minute Mile November 17, 1956 Marshall Thompson, Martin Milner, Gloria Marshall A university professor conducts secret experiments in heart-rate acceleration.
2-27 The Last Barrier November 24, 1956 Bill Ching, Bruce Wendell A hoax to conceal a rocket launch reveals startling facts.
2-28 Signals from the Moon December 1, 1956 Bruce Bennett A surgeon directs an operation to save the life of an important visiting diplomat by television.
2-29 Dr. Robot December 8, 1956 Peter Hanson, Whit Bissell, Doug Wilson A computer scientist uses his firm's main frame to seek out the optimal treatment for his ailing wife.
2-30 The Human Circuit December 15, 1956 Marshall Thompson, Bill Ching, Joyce Jameson A night club dancer exhibits clairvoyance.
2-31 The Miracle Hour December 22, 1956 Dick Foran, Jean Byron, Charles Herbert A stage lighting director and his physician friend teach a blind little boy to perceive colored light.
2-32 Sun Gold December 29, 1956 Marilyn Erskine, Ross Elliott, Julian Rivero, Paul Fierro Government scientists, working in Peru, discover evidence of an extraterrestrial at work in the Inca Empire.
2-33 Facsimile January 5, 1957 Arthur Franz, Aline Towne, Donald Curtis Members of a team developing an ultra-sensitive transistor are afflicted by maladies of patients in a nearby hospital.
2-34 Killer Tree January 12, 1957 Bill Williams, Bonita Granville, Keith Richards A scientist investigates a tree with an ancient reputation of breathing death.
2-35 Gravity Zero January 19, 1957 Percy Helton, Lisa Gaye, Walter Kingsford A university professor nullifies gravity with a magnetic field.
2-36 The Magic Suitcase January 26, 1957 Charles Winninger A stranger arrives in a remote dwelling with a small suitcase. It has an electrical outlet on the outside and, in the stranger's absence, the homeowner's son plugs his electric train into it. He is scolded by his father but, after the stranger disappears without the suitcase, the man refers it to scientists because the energy the suitcase puts out seems unlimited. Unable to pierce the material of the suitcase, the scientists use the suitcase's own energy to break it open. They do not fully understand what they find inside (a block of solidified hydrogen) and the suitcase no longer produces energy. A "killing the goose that laid the golden egg" tale.
2-37 Bolt of Lightning February 2, 1957 Bruce Bennett, Kristine Miller, Sidney Smith A university laboratory and the building housing it are completely vaporized when an experiment gets out of control.
2-38 The Strange Lodger February 5, 1957 Peter Hanson, Jan Shepard, Cyril Delevanti A peculiar old man is found to be transmitting an encyclopedia on a non-existent television channel.
2-39 The Sound That Kills April 6, 1957 Ludwig Stössel, Ray Collins, Charles Victor A murderous spy is stealing secrets at an international convention of scientists.

References[edit]

External links[edit]