Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, May 31, 2022


 Running from 1949 to 1955, Captain Video and His Video Rangers, only five of the original 1537 episodes are available to the public; an additional 19 episodes are stored in the UCLA Film and Television Archive.  The live half-hour show ran from five to six days a week, leading off Dumont's prime-time scheduling.  The show was originally filmed in an office in the same building as Wanamaker's department store in Philadelphia; when props were needed. the crew would go downstairs to the store for time, often just before filming.  Despite its low budget and production values, Captain Video was very popular with adults as well as with kids; Adlai Stevenson once postponed a televised interview because he was afraid many viewers would be otherwise watching the show.  To save money, Captain Video would often interrupt an episode to "check in" on what some of the other rangers were doing; the show would then jump to footage from various films -- mostly westerns -- from the Dumont library for a few minute of action scenes, reducing the time the live actors were on the air.  The actors were paid peanuts, making more money from appearing in character at supermarket openings and the like.

From about 1952, the production standards and the writing improved and many well-known science fiction writers were brought in the script the episodes:  Damon Knight, Jack Vance, James Blish, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, C. M. Kornbluth, Robert Sheckley, Milton Lesser, Walter M. Miller, Jr., J. T. McIntosh, and Robert S. Richardson among them.

Three of the five available episodes star the original Captain Video, Richard Coogan, and two star Al Hodge, who replaced Coogan after he quit after seventeen months, in a pay dispute.  The dates of these five episodes is unknown to me.  The episode below, from 1950, stars Coogan  as Captain Video, Don Hastings as the Video Ranger, and Hal Conklin as the villainous Dr. Pauli.  The episode was written by Maurice C. Brackhausen.