August 29th, 2009

Let’s hear it for the “Science Fiction Theater” theme

This is for those among you who, like me, were huge fans of the early TV show “Science Fiction Theater.” It was the forerunner to a much better (and better-known) series, “The Twilight Zone.”

But “Science Fiction Theater” had its own charm. I was practically a tot at the time (yeah, right), but for me it was one of the most eagerly-awaited and anticipated half-hours of the week.

Not the least of the attractions—it actually may have been the greatest one, for me—was the intro to the show. It featured sweeping music that had an exhilarating quality. I always felt a thrill and a chill on hearing it. Host Truman Bradley, although nowhere near as mysterious, biting, and wonderful as Rod Serling to come, had a trustworthy demeanor that gave gravitas to the otherwise-flighty proceedings.

I was very pleased to find this clip at You Tube—hadn’t heard that music in centuries (or is it millenia?):

20 Responses to “Let’s hear it for the “Science Fiction Theater” theme”

  1. huxley Says:

    Last Christmas I bought a low-budget version of Science Fiction Theater on DVDs for my sister. She wept when she heard the music intro.

    She associated it deeply to our father, who loved the show.

  2. Promethea Says:

    I LOVED Science Fiction Theater!

    Thanks for a little trip to the past.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    huxley: How interesting. I, too, had (and have) an emotional reaction to the music, but not because of my father. I think that it’s because to me it captures a combination of things that appealed to me very deeply in my childhood: the majesty and beauty of science and the wonder of fantasy and the imagination.

  4. physicsguy Says:

    Wow, now does that bring memories. I hadn’t thought of that program in years. I have to credit that show, and also some authors such as Clarke and Asimov for propelling me along my eventual career track.

    Twilight Zone was a cut above the rest. I never really liked Outer Limits; a bit hokey. However, I had great fun in high school after learning to use an oscilloscope recreating the opening for Outer Limits: “WE will control the HORIZONTAL! WE will control the VERTICAL!” , followed by wonderful Lissajous figures.

    Yeah, once a nerd, always a nerd.

  5. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    Noticed Deforest Kelly in the credits.
    I was surprised that I have no recollection of that show, or music. I thought I watched all that stuff.

  6. huxley Says:

    I must say though that show doesn’t hold up as well as the music and narrator’s intro.

    The plots are thin and the characers are cardboard. The shows were a lot like those old non-superhero DC comics.

  7. Nolanimrod Says:

    Gosh, Neo – had I not known it was sci-fi that music would have had me waiting for Loretta Young to come down some stairs.

    Nice, that Deforest Kelly credit. “Bones” is now bones. Seems a poor trade: Mr. Wizard for a Science Czar.

  8. Jim C. Says:

    It was very impressive when I saw them on TV as a child. But I have to agree with huxley above. I saw the show when The Sci-Fi channel aired the series a number of years ago (obviously the source of the clip). The effects and the stories were very cheesy, even ones I remembered as particularly scary as a child. Also, some of the more impressive science demos which occasionally appeared at the beginning of shows (like the one in the clip) were clearly faked. Disappointing.

    It was interesting to see some familiar faces. Among the episodes I saw, Jean Byron and Edmund Gwenn showed up more than once. And William Schallert appeared once (with Gwenn, as a matter of fact).

    Whatever Bradley is supposed to be reading at the end looks to be about the size of a comic book, not some scientific treatise!

  9. kcom Says:

    “or is it millenia?”

    Well, actually it’s millennia.

  10. Bob Sykes Says:

    Thanks for the memory! As a boy I loved all these shows. Twilight Zone was clearly the best, but that’s because Rod Serling stole from the best– Ray Bradbury.

    The current crop of SciFi, including the new Battlestar dissapoints, but maybe because I’m older.

  11. Janet Says:

    As soon as I read “Truman Bradley” I could hear that music in my head!

    So why can’t I remember what I wanted to do when I just climbed the stairs to the second floor of my house?

  12. rickl Says:

    I don’t remember that show. What years did it run? The beginning clip was in color which would seem to date it to the early to mid 60s.

    I’m too young to have seen any of those shows when they first aired; or if I did see them I was too young to remember them. I discovered Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and One Step Beyond through reruns as a teenager in the early 70s. Maybe Science Fiction Theater was never shown much in reruns.

    Now that I think of it, it’s been ages since I saw an episode of Outer Limits or One Step Beyond, although the Sci Fi channel still shows Twilight Zone.

  13. GeoPal Says:

    Science Fiction Theater ran ’55 to ’57 (first run). Liked it a lot, remember it fondly, cheap production values and all (what did I know). Here’s more information from IMDB:

    And get that a load of that rating – almost 8.5.

  14. anonymess Says:

    Hearing the theme music from Science Fiction Theatre produces an immediate wave of nostalgia in me. It takes me back to the mid-1950s when my three brothers and I would stop our squabbling for half an hour as we huddled together to watch Truman Bradley take us on an enjoyable, sometimes scary, journey of science and imagination.

    Production values, etc., meant little to us at the time. It never occurred to me, for instance, that the science demos were staged. But I do agree with Jim C. that many were—including the voice activated typewriter in the demo here; it is typing a word to a word-and-a-half ahead of Truman Bradley’s introduction speech. Well I can’t fault the show too much, after all it was Science FICTION Theatre.

  15. Wallace Says:

    And in episode 1-10, escapees from other popular TV series of the day, explain how “a telepathic chimp saves a scientist and his wife from a killer”. Really! Sorry I missed that one.

    The episode starred Hugh Beaumont from “Leave it to Beaver”, and Barbara Hale from “Perry Mason”.

  16. Sam L. Says:

    I don’t remember that show at all, likely because we only got 2 TV stations and neither carried it.

    But the music–it seems familiar.

  17. Adrian Says:

    I know this isn’t the place for such debates, but I’m baffled that anyone could label Outer Limits as hokey! Save maybe a casual viewer catching an off episode. On the whole it was brilliantly conceived and thought provoking compared to the sheer entertainment of Twilight Zone. With the excellent camera work of Conrad Hall, and great story’s like the Architects of Fear, The Premonition and Demon with A Glass Hand, it provided some truly (for its day) terrifying moments in television.

    sorry- had to get that out of my system. Meanwhile Youtube’s greatest benefit is providing access to those little nostalgic bits we never expected to see again.

  18. John Costello Says:

    We have SF Theater around today because it was syndicated and, therefore, filmed. Tales of Tomorrow was kinescoped, as were most of the other shows. SF theater filmed a Zenna Hendersoin =peoople story (no credit given) while around 1960 a sunday night anthology seriies did “A is for Android,” an adaptation of Bester’s Fondly Farenheit starring the late Suzanne Pleschette and Rip Torn.

  19. Michelle Says:

    There is a book about SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE due for release in early 2010. Documents the entire history of the series, with complete episode guide. The web-site features LOTS of behind-the-scenes photos of the series which are really cool.

  20. Brian Says:

    Not only do I remember watching that show, but in high school band, we played the theme song! I don’t remember the full title but it was ‘Tiara …” (something – symphony, overture, something like that).

    I WISH I could remember the full title!

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