The Thunder Child
Science Fiction and Fantasy
Non-Fiction Book Reviews
by Caroline Miniscule
Caroline Miniscule has traveled around the world. She now stays in one place and reads science fiction. She is a graduate of D'Illyria University.
March 9, 1950: Space Patrol made its debut as a 15-minute a day, 5-day a week serial on a local Los Angeles TV station. Nine months later it had grown so popular that it was purchased by a network and aired nationwide.
Television was in its infancy and there was no such thing as videotape. Families who crowded around their television sets were in essence watching live theater. If an actor forgot a line or a prop failed to work properly, it happened in full view of millions of people...and it was the actor's job to cover those lapses. And for the most part they succeeded admirably.
FileWhenAuthor Jean-Noel Bassior's book Space Patrol: Missions of Daring in the Name of Early Television, is more than a history of the classic science fiction program ? it's also a history of some of the most exciting years in the history of television itself. More than that, it's a memoir - a history of Bassior's decade-long quest to find and dialog with the cast members and production personnel of the show ? with a presence at her shoulder every step of the way.
Lyn Osborn, who played Cadet Happy, died of a brain tumor at the age of 32, just 3 years after the show had gone off the air. But his presence is very much felt by Bassior as she interviews the actors: Ed Kemmer (Buzz Corry), Virginia Hewitt (Carol Carlisle), Nina Bara (Tonga), Ken Mayer (Major Robertson) and Bela Kovacks (Prince Baccarotti).
She also interviewed Norman Jolley - the writer for most of the televison programs, whom she titles "the Soul of Space Patrol", Lou Huston who wrote the radio programs, and Dick Darley, the director, as well as actors who guested on the program.
At 357 pages (plus an additional 80 pages of appendices), this book is jam-packed with photos of the cast and crew, the premiums which kids could acquire from eating the sponsor's products, and behind-the-scenes shots, as well as memories and reminiscences from the men and women who worked long and hard hours to bring the program to life.
Space Patrol was ostensibly aimed at children, but because the actors and writer took it seriously, and because of the dedication of the crew who filmed the show, it was much more than that.
The actors? The characters - each one willing to die for the others - were true heroes in the eyes of the audience.
The episodes? Cast your eye on the Episode Guide at the back of the book and a few of those synopses will remind you of Star Trek adventures. The plots were sophisticated (for the most part) and well thought out and exciting!
Space Patrol's legacy lives on in many ways.
This book is highly recommended to all fans of television history, science fiction history, and to those who just like a good read about fascinating people.
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