A Voyage Into Television's Outer Limits

Posted: December 13, 1994

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to answer the following 20 questions about science-fiction programs that have been broadcast on TV since 1949.

This fun feature is prompted by tonight's two-hour sci-fi compendium on Channel 29, with a title almost as long as the show: The Museum of Television & Radio Presents: Science Fiction: A Journey Into the Unknown.

One of its unknown issues is how hefty co-host William Shatner can get. As he appears tonight, he wouldn't even qualify for chuck-wagon duty in the Star Fleet, much less captain status. Other co-hosts are Leonard Nimoy, Carrie Fisher and Dean Cain.

The show is clips and more clips that represent some of the best telecasts in history, and some of the worst - sometimes disappointingly brief, less frequently too long, often just right. It's fun to try to identify all the actors in this entertaining TV history, though frustrating that they're not identified for you.

May your voyage into the outer limits of TV be less frustrating. The idea is to name the show and, for extra credit, the years it ran and its network. The answers come after all the questions are listed. People who know all the answers should find a mad scientist to remove their cathode implants. Those who know none of them should come in from the fifth dimension.

1. The phrase that begins this article originated on a popular spy show that only nibbled at the fringes of science fiction. Two of its stars graduated to the real thing in what series?

2. "We have come because we need your help," said the lying lizard leader in the mini-series that set the stage for this series, with the shortest title in TV history.

3. A science-fiction sitcom? Nah. New talent got a big boost, however, from this show that got its start in outer space but ended up in Boulder, Colo.

4. Space Academy, USA, was the place where this cool cat hung out.

5. Parts still in working order, the pricey title characters of these two shows got married just weeks ago in another one of those nostalgic telefilms.

6. Ten years before "super-marionation" would power the Saturday-morning kids show Fireball XL-5, this puppet, from the folks who brought you Howdy Doody, lit up the Saturday nighttime tube.

7. T-T-T-TV within TV-V-V-V-V, the lead of this show lost his head in a parking garage.

8. One of TV's favorite father figures in the '60s left his ranch for even more wide-open spaces in this budget-buster.

9. Tobor was the name of the mechanical sometimes-sidekick of this mighty adventurer, in a show that recycled football helmets and other refuse.

10. Which show had the phrase science fiction right in the title?

11. The producer of this anthology series got his start in show-biz in 1969, directing the pilot for Rod Serling's serio-comic Night Gallery.

12. Offbeat short-story writer Roald Dahl hosted this show, which had a title to which all the cats and chicks could groove.

Many sci-fi shows had distinctive openings or buzz phrases. Name the shows

from which these came:

13. "The truth is out there."

14. "Strange visitor from another planet (who) fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice and the American way."

15. "It is the middle ground between shadow and substance, between science and superstition."

16. "Warning! Warning!"

17. "Its five-year mission (is) to explore strange new worlds."

18. "Its continuing mission (is) to explore strange new worlds."

19. "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered."

20. "There is nothing wrong with your television set! Do not attempt to adjust the picture!"

Answers:

1. Space: 1999. Produced in England, the show starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, who had played Rollin Hand and Cinnamon Carter in Mission: Impossible, ran in syndication in 1975 and '76.

2. V. It stood for "Visitors." All the humans liked them at first; then all the humans hated them; then it turned out that some of the lizard people

from outer space were really nice guys. 1984-85, NBC.

3. Mork & Mindy. Na nu, na nu. 1978-82. ABC.

4. Tom Corbett, Space Cadet. One of 29 shows in TV history that ran on three networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), it premiered in 1950 and moved to Saturday mornings in 1952 before leaving the air in 1955.

5. The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. He ran - very fast - from 1974 to 1978 on ABC. She only lasted two years (apparently a cheaper model), 1976-78, but made it to two networks: ABC and NBC.

6. Johnny Jupiter. This show got short shrift even on the DuMont Network, which closed down in 1956. Johnny and his earthling janitor pal, Ernest P. Duckweather, didn't even last three months in the spring of 1953.

7. Max Headroom was just too futuristic for the masses, but it was a cult and critical hit from March to October 1987 on ABC.

8. Battlestar Galactica. Lorne Greene transformed from Pa Cartwright to Cmdr. Adama. He lasted a couple of years, 1978-80, on ABC, although the show

went on hiatus in fall 1979, and was completely retooled.

9. Captain Video and His Video Rangers. One of the cheesiest programs in history, it was a big hit with budding baby boomers from 1949 to 1955 on DuMont.

10. Science Fiction Theater. The syndicated show, which gave considerable play to real science, aired 1955-58.

11. Amazing Stories eked out an audience on NBC from 1985 to 1987, but poor Steven Spielberg has never had a TV hit.

12. 'Way Out tried to capitalize on the popularity of other spooky

anthology shows. But it finished way out of the ratings race, lasting only

from March to July 1961, on CBS.

13. The X-Files. Headed to historic status in the sci-fi pantheon, the Fox fave premiered last year, and features its printed truism on truth in the opening credits.

14. The Adventures of Superman. Syndicated between 1952 and 1957, the show so typecast George Reeves that, apparently depressed at his inability to get acting work, he shot himself in 1959.

15. The Twilight Zone. One of TV's best shows, it ran 1959-65 on CBS. The New Twilight Zone (1985-87, CBS) proved that color was brighter, but not necessarily better, than black and white.

16. Lost in Space. The alarmist robot, who had no name, tried valiantly to protect the space-family Robinson from 1965 to '68 on CBS.

17. Star Trek never made it to the end of its five-year mission. It lasted only three years on NBC, 1966-69, in originals, but has been orbiting ever since.

18. Star Trek: The Next Generation. The child did better than the father, warping around for seven years in syndication before ending this year.

19. The Prisoner. The cult favorite would not be spindled, but he was not much watched, either, on CBS in 1968-69. Quirks wrapped in an enigma, the show remains a television standout.

20. The Outer Limits. 1963-65, ABC. We now return control of your TV set to you.

THE MUSEUM OF TELEVISION & RADIO PRESENTS:

SCIENCE FICTION: A JOURNEY INTO THE UNKNOWN

Written by Scott Goldstein and Mary Wallace, and executive-produced by Goldstein and Robert M. Batscha. Airs at 8 tonight on Fox (Channel 29).

Hosts: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Carrie Fisher and Dean Cain.

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