Thursday, 21 March 2013

Men Into Space (1959)

I know very little about this American TV show except it ran for 38 episodes from 1959 to 1960 and was about men in space.  I don't think we got it over her on this side of the pond but the little I've read online make it sound quite interesting for its time.
 
Enjoy the rest of the gallery and then contemplate if this is the same space helmet as worn by Danz Borin in Star Wars IV








 
And this is Star Wars' Danz Borin...
  
So what do we think?
 
 
Steve 

16 comments:

  1. Not quite convinced, sorry...
    But on the other hand:
    Dear Steve,
    In recognition of your awesomeness, it is my pleasure to bestow upon your blog The Liebster Award!
    (please scroll down in my post for an explanation; thank you!)
    http://lernerinternational.blogspot.com/2013/05/in-praise-of-jack-kirby-and-weve-been.html

    —Ivan

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  2. Thanks for the selection Ivan, I'll try to find the time to play the game although it's going to be a while due to other commitments outside of blogging.

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  3. No rush or obligations! I just wanted to let you know your site is appreciated.
    --Ivan

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  4. many thanks, as is yours.

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  5. Interesting! Yep IMO I think it's a match. BTW here are the 38 episodes just posted on youtube
    Men Into Space (1959-'60 TV Series) 38 Episodes
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPmIfry8Yvr4MLgT1Fa7j2x6nyV3jpahV

    Cheers

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    1. Cheers VTV&M, I'll pop on over and have a look-see

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  6. One of my favorite series as a teenager, but my dad liked it, too, because it was thoughtful, dramatic, ultra-realistic (e.g., depicting free-fall, multi-stage launches). Many of the plots foreshadowed events years later in the real space program, like the endangered Apollo 13 mission. The series is hard-headed and often uses a narrator to describe what were then aspects of space travel unfamiliar to average viewers. The series however also has a humanistic and philosophical side, with the characters interacting with their earthbound families and colleagues. Even though in this series the US space program is run by the military and not a civilian agency like NASA, the program is portrayed as scientific, with few military objectives ever mentioned. Only one character is seen in every episode: US Air Force Col. Edward McCauley, who apparently in this fictional universe is the USA's chief astronaut. He makes the first moon landing, helps build a moon base, and then begins building a wheeled space station. His crews spend much time exploring and exploiting the moon, also visiting asteroids and the Mars moon Phobos. They also test new techniques, like tanker refueling in orbit. McCauley also teamed up with British and Russian spacefarers on occasion. All well staged with superior special effects for show or movies in the 1950s that still hold up reasonably well. The series worked closely with the real US Air Force for technical accuracy and was allowed to film at real US space facilities and use footage from real launches. A strong air of verisimilitude, although some plot holes and glitches occurred -- you'd have to expect that from an ambitious weekly series that produced 38 half hours in less than a year. Many interesting guest stars. The space suits and USAF spacecraft seen in this series were later resued in varoius episodes of "The Outer Limits" about five years later. Beside poor VHS quality episodes available on YouTube, there are several DVD pressings. At least one of these is also of poor quality, taped from syndicated broadcasts in the '80s. One claims to be digitally remastered. In any event, even the YouTube vids are watchable, albeit with variable quality. Several web sites and Wikipedia devote articles to the series and one book covering the series has recently been published. Highly recommended for SF fans who also like well-made TV, if you can get past the relatively poor recordings available in most cases.

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    1. A massive; thank you, Man MKE. Just about everything anyone might wish to know about the series. Also, I do love when people add their own memories to the facts and figures. As a cultural history, Say Hello Spaceman is as much about the when and where it was seen, as it is about the suits themselves. Really appreciated.

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  7. If you encountered this show when it was new and you were young it had quite an impact. It was one of the first American attempts to set a show in outer space and try for realism and some degree of scientific accuracy. The pilot episode had an entirely different space suit design when they were experimenting with shooting the space stuff in color to pull mattes for B/W composites. The lighter (in color they were a pale gray) suits were adopted and they went with density mattes (black-backing or luminance mattes in the digital world) for the astronauts and the spacecraft. Since the (practical as there was an actual flame coming out of the rocket miniatures) rocket exhausts were so much brighter than the miniature you will see a black fringe on the flames. This show was big on split-screens (usual set-up: an EVA when the astronauts were on the full-scale section of the spacecraft and a stationary matte added the moving star-field added) and the miniatures were quite elaborate for a show of its vintage and budget. The TV syndication producer Howard ZIV (ZIV Productions was NOT and acronym but the man's name) cranked this out for all of $50,000. an episode which was quite modest even then.

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    1. Wonderful detail, I'm still really surprised we never got an import of this show over here. Many thanks for your comments, opticalguy

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    2. I am NOT surprised at all since it was a syndicated show and considered a very minor show. I may be one of the few folks that gets a little shiver of excitement when I see an episode due to the fact that I did encounter it when I was five and the show was brand-new. It's worth getting one of the "gray market" DVDs just to be a sci-fi completest. It is very low-key and everyone plays stuff as if it were a documentary. The show became more ambitious they had a permanent Moonbase and the standing sets of it and the moon's surface which were pretty good given how low their budget was. They were then going to have the characters go to Marsbut the show was just not selling. So after 38 episodes they called it quits. It was shot at the current home of KTLA channel 5 in Hollywood which was the original home of Vitaphone. Marvelous B/W photography and … if memory serves … the optical work (compositing) was done primarily by Ray Mercer, INC and Jack Glass (an ace optical guy himself) supervised the miniature photography. The tidbit about the shooting the space stuff in color to help with pulling mattes came from Jim Danforth. Since … other than the first/pilot episode … 37 of the 38 episodes used the light-colored spacesuits and density mattes I assumed Jim made a mistake. Nope. I watched the pilot episode and saw the different suits and said, "Holy shit! He was right!" Since I used to do A LOT of bluescreen work I recognized the look of something that was red BUT in a blue separation. They shot it against black but in color. The helmets and the logos on the ships were red as were the shadows (one side lit red and one side blue resulting in a VERY flatly-lit foreground. Without filtration all the red and blue stuff looked pretty clear in a panchromatic B/W copy of the scene making it pretty easy to get a clean silhouette of the foreground. They then took the positive, color image of the foreground to "burn-in" the foreground on the B/W composite BUT they used a blue filter to turn the red stuff dark. Pretty cool but too pricy. A redesign of the suits and they went back to B/W black-backing with pretty good results.

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  8. Because of the season; I watched "Christmas on the Moon" and I was impressed, especially given the age and budget of the show. This is one of those shows where more work went into than money. I wasn't around for the run, but for people who were it must have had an impact.

    My impression is that this is "Moonbase 3 done right." The characters are faced with a nasty unexpected emergency and neither fall to pieces or fall asleep; they're clearly agitated and stressed, but they're taking the right steps. I can imagine these guys on a multi-billion dollar mission.

    From a space geek perspective, the only thing I flat out don't believe is that the only way to cross 50 miles of lunar terrain is a 12 hour forced march. I guess the effects budget didn't provide a moon crawler.

    The episode does have a atheist converting on Christmas, but it was probably inevitable in a Christmas episode made in 1959. Besides, he didn't start off as Scrooge.

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    1. Cheers John. I've still not watched an episode yet but I may well go and seek one out. Loving the level of these comments. Good technical stuff and some good honest reviews - thanks chaps

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  9. This show got me started in what has turned out to be a lifetime of addiction to Science Fiction. I have the entire series and still periodically watch it. One episode was about sending women to the moon to see how they would do. Even though I grew up in this time, I did not realize how sexist we were. In one scene, the female that is going to the moon (the wife of one of the astronaunts) asks " Well what would I do on the moon" to which the lead character, Col. Edward McCauley, says "the same thing you do here, cook, clean"

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    1. It makes you laugh now to hear lines like that. It's outrageous to our modern ears but you're right when we grew up in those times we just didn't "hear" it. We have to forgive them for what they didn't know but it can bump you out of the moment when re-watching the old shows.

      And thanks for the comments and opinions - keep them coming.

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    2. Yeah, the only defense possible is that it was made in 1959.

      Still, I'll point out that the character McCauley is talking to is a 1959 housewife. I'm not sure what else she could bring to a Moon expedition. If I had to write about a housewife on an early all-male Moon mission, I'd want to make it more explicit that she really had a good impact.

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