Clear Horizon, The

Tagged: TV

US television series (1960-1962). CBS Television Network. Created by Manya Starr. Writers included Starr, Carol Warner Gluck, and Irving Vendig. Cast included Phyllis Avery, William Berger, Beau Bridges, Ed Kemmer, Ted Knight, Eve McVeigh, Lee Meriwether, and William Roerick. 254 episodes. Black and white.

This daily soap opera, first performed live and taped when it was revived, involved the lives of astronauts in the American space programme residing in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its protagonists were Air Force officer Roy Selby (Kemmer) and his wife Anne (Avery), who interact with other military personnel attached to the space programme; the dramas that ensued included Anne falling in love with another man and Roy being imprisoned by Russian sailors.

Little information is available about this short-lived series, and only one episode is known to be preserved. Still, its depictions of the daily lives of purported astronauts in training and others involved in preparations for Space Flights, and its interpolated footage of actual space launches, mean that this series, like I Dream of Jeannie (1965-1970), qualifies as a fictional history of America's space programme – perhaps the first of its kind – and hence it is relevant to sf. The series is in a way an extension of Men into Space (1959-1960) that excludes that series' missions into space to focus exclusively on the Earthbound domesticity that typically began and concluded each of its episodes. Series star Kemmer also appeared in the series Space Patrol (1950-1955) and Earth vs the Spider (1958), while regular Lee Meriwether's sf credits included 4D Man (1959) and Batman (1966) (see Batman Films). The Clear Horizon was briefly revived after its early cancellation, suggesting that it had attracted some loyal viewers, but its failure to thrive may indicate that the genre of soap opera, dealing almost entirely with interpersonal relationships and problematic romances, is fundamentally antithetical to the imaginative speculations and futuristic environments that are characteristic of sf. Still, a later soap opera with fantastic elements, Dark Shadows (1966-1971), proved more successful by emphasizing the supernatural phenomena characteristic of the Gothic novel (see Gothic SF) with occasional excursions into sf. [GW]

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