Lost Forever? Out There – a 1951/1952 Science Fiction TV Series

Fans of classic science fiction have only infrequently been able to see adaptations of written science fiction on television or in movie theaters. Even more, rarely have these adaptions been done seriously with any attention to the source material. The results can rise above the original work – such as ‘Blade Runner’ adapted from Philip K. Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’. The results can also be execrable – such as ‘The Brain Eaters’ which was plagiarized from Robert A. Heinlein’s ‘The Puppet Masters’.

In 1951, CBS Television broadcast an anthology series that attempted to take science fiction seriously and adapted twelve short stories as half-hour episodes. In some cases, the original authors adapted their own work. The series was one of the first to mix special effects with live action. It included episodes of stories written by Robert A. Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon, John D. MacDonald, Murray Leinster, Ray Bradbury and others. Robert Webber, Eileen Heckart, Whit Bissell, Kim Stanley, Leslie Nielsen and Rod Steiger were just some of the stars who appeared on the show.

The show was launched without a sponsor, quite unusual for the time for television shows, and unfortunately appeared in the 6pm Sunday slot. These factors likely contributed to its quick demise.

Criminally, there appears to be no collection of this series available on any media. Unlike many other classic science fiction series, eg: Science Fiction Theater, Tales of Tomorrow, etc., you cannot find these on Blu-Ray, DVD, Netflix, Youtube or anywhere else so far as I can determine. Due to the technical limits of the time, if the show was preserved it would have been on Kinescopes, and may not have been preserved at all. Perhaps someone might find it preserved in the UCLA archives or the Library of Congress.

The following episode guide gives you an idea of what we’ve lost.

Episode Title Written by Original air date
1 “The Outer Limit” Elhu Winer, after Graham Doar October 28, 1951
2 “Ordeal in Space” Edward Waldo, after Robert A. Heinlein’s Ordeal in Space November 4, 1951
3 “The Sense of Wonder” Howard Rodman, after Milton Lesser November 11, 1951
4 “Misfit” Joseph Kramm, after Heinlein’s Misfit November 18, 1951
5 “Susceptibility” David Shaw, after John D. MacDonald November 25, 1951
6 “The Green Hills of Earth” Raphael Hayes, after Heinlein’s The Green Hills of Earth December 2, 1951
7 “Mewhu’s Jet” Edward Waldo, after Theodore Sturgeon December 9, 1951
8 “Seven Temporary Moons” Murray Leinster December 16, 1951
9 “The Man” Howard Rodman, after Ray Bradbury December 23, 1951
10 “The Bus to Nowhere” Reginald Rose December 30, 1951
11 “Guest in the House” Frank Long, from Guest in the House (short story) January 6, 1952
12 “The Castaway” Raphael Hayes January 13, 1952

(Episode List Courtesy of Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out_There_(1951_TV_series )

Further references online:


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