Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Rocky Jones, Space Ranger: Menace From Outer Space

(Bobby's Comet, 1954)

Many years ago I wrote a trilogy of novels about the adventures of one Cirocco “Rocky” Jones. They sold reasonably well, and everybody assumed that the name was a play on this old serial. But it wasn’t! I swear to you, I had never heard of it! Or, to be fair, if I did know of it, I had forgotten, and the choice of name was entirely a subconscious one.

I found this DVD at Goodwill, where I do most of my shopping. Wiki informs me that there were fifteen episodes, all broadcast in 1954. And the reason they survive is that they were shot on film, unlike all the other “Space Cadet” shows, which were live. This one cluttered up the airwaves on April 6, 1954. And boy, is it awful. It makes things like Commando Cody’s Radar Men From the Moon look like Gone With the Wind. People stand around and speak their lines like the worst of amateur theater. The fight scenes are laughable, with punches missing by a mile.

Rocky has a sidekick named Winky. (I’m not making this up!) He’s there for comic relief, and doesn’t have one funny line. There is a “professor” who dresses like it’s 1890 or so, and has a “ward,” a ten-year-old named Bobby that you instantly want to strangle. Most of his lines begin with “Gee, Rocky!” Inexplicably, he accompanies Rocky on all his dangerous missions. All we need to make the picture complete is a dog named Astro. And this is often quoted as a good ‘50s TV science fiction series, because they had more money for sets and special effects. I will say that the rocketships are better than the one in Plane Nine From Outer Space. But just about everything is.