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Rocky Jones, Space Ranger

Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

American tv series (1954). Syndicated. Produced by Roland D Reed. Directed by Hollingsworth Morse. Written by Fritz Blocki, Carl K Hittleman, Arthur Hoerl, Marianne Mosner and Warren Wilson. Cast includes Scotty Beckett, Maurice Cass, Richard Crane, Robert Lyden, Jimmy Lydon, Sally Mansfield, Charles Meredith, Patsy Parsons and Reginald Sheffield. 39 30-minute episodes. Black and white.

Rocky Jones (Crane), commander of the Spaceship the Orbit Jet, leads a crew usually consisting of his assistant Winky (Beckett), navigator Vena Ray (Mansfield), elderly Professor Newton (Cass), and Newton's young ward Bobby (Lyden), collectively functioning as an ersatz family made up of unrelated individuals. While he occasionally dons a spacesuit to deal with some emergency in space, Jones spends most of his time on Earthlike planets and Asteroids in the Solar System and beyond, interacting with human allies and battling human-like Alien enemies, most frequently the evil ruler of the planet Ophesia, Cleolanta (Parsons). His activities are monitored by Earth's Secretary of Space Drake (Meredith). After 26 episodes were filmed, Beckett's arrest for armed robbery, and Cass's death, led to their characters being replaced by Biffen Cardoza (Lydon) and Professory Mayberry (Sheffield).

It is not the best of America's early 1950s sf series, but Rocky Jones, Space Ranger is probably the best known, primarily due to two prescient decisions made by its producers: first, unlike other series that were broadcast live, this series was filmed, so that every single episode has been preserved; and second, most of the series was structured as three-part episodes that could later be reedited as purported "films" and shown on television. Altogether, ten three-part episodes were reedited in this fashion, listed in some references as films released in 1956 with the titles Beyond the Moon, Crash of the Moons, Duel in Space, Forbidden Moon, Gypsy Moon, The Magnetic Moon, Manhunt in Space, Menace from Outer Space, Renegade Satellite, and Robot of Regalio. Unpretentious, cheerfully unscientific, and performed with a modicum of conviction, episodes of this series are somehow not as objectionable as they should be. [GW]


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