Love Star Trek, Firefly, Fringe, Twilight Zone, Battlestar Galactica, The Outer Limits or Quantum Leap? Doff your metaphorical chapeau to the program that started it all: Captain Video. Today in 1949 marked the premiere of American television’s first foray into science-fiction, and it became a phenomenal hit. It was the first televised science fiction program to be turned into a movie, and the writers’ list of the TV show is a who’s who of science fiction literature, including Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Sheckley, Isaac Asimov, James Blish and many more.
Captain Video and his Video Rangers protected all that was right and good on the DuMont Network daily for six years. Watching early episodes now can make even the creators of Lost do their best RCA dog impersonations, because padding each episode was footage from old cowboy movies in between the live segments. The Old West clips gave the crew time to quickly set up or move sets, and the cowboys were supposedly “undercover agents” for Captain Video.
The switch between interstellar adventure and a posse on the trail didn’t faze kids of the 1950s, though; it became daily Must-see TV for kids and adults alike. Celebrate by watching an episode below complete with 1950s-era commercials, or head to the Internet Archive and download a few to watch later. It’s trippy, historic fun.