CONELRAD: Mutated Television
The End of the Beginning of the End - or the Sequel - or a 12 hour mini-series


Mutated Television: Other Series

There were, of course, many other episodic dramas (that do not fit into our previous categories) that were influenced by the Cold War. CONELRAD has narrowed the field down to five representative shows. These programs run the gamut from outright Red Scare paranoia ("I Led Three Lives" and "Amerika") to sly allegory ("The Invaders"). At the bottom of the list are a couple of programs that didn't fit anywhere.

Lenin and Lincoln on parade in Amerika...AMERIKA
1987
ABC
12 hour Miniseries (shown in five parts) / Color
Written and Directed by Donald Wrye
Starring: Kris Kristofferson, Robert Urich, Sam Neil, Mariel Hemingway and Ivan Dixon.

SERIES PREMISE
It is 1997 and the United States is entering its tenth year under Soviet domination. Apparently, there was some kind of an invasion in '87, though we never really get the full back-story on this important point. "Heaven's Gate" star Kris Kristofferson portrays an imprisoned resistance fighter who eventually leads the triumphant revolution to free the country and replace that annoying "K" with its rightful "C." Aired during the waning days of the Reagan presidency, this program is believed to have extended the Cold War by roughly twelve hours.

THE FBI
1965 - 1974
ABC
60 min. Color
Executive Producer: Quinn Martin

Inspector Lewis Erskine: Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
Arthur Ward: Philip Abbott

SERIES PREMISE
In each episode the FBI solves crimes ranging from Communist subversion to drug running. Occasionally, the real Director of the FBI would appear at the end of an episode and seek help from the audience in apprehending a fugitive.

I LED THREE LIVES
1953 - 1956
Syndicated only
30 min. Black & White
117 episodes

Herbert Philbrick: Richard Carlson
Eva Philbrick: Virginia Stefan
Spec. Agent Jerry Dressler: John Zaremba

SERIES PREMISE
The opening narration of this program said it all. A booming announcer came on after the title card and said: "This is the fantastically true story of Herbert A. Philbrick, who for nine frightening years did lead three livesóaverage citizen, member of the Communist Party, and counterspy for the FBI." Some of the Communist schemes Philbrick supposedly foiled in real life: industrial sabotage; the stealing of government documents; the Communist infiltration of labor unions, university faculties, and even churches; and dope smuggling to poison American youth. In one episode a concerned mother reported her daughterís boyfriend as being a Communist because her daughter had begun talking about how much she hated war. Philbrick investigates and finds that the real culprit is an art dealer the daughter knew. In the closing, third person narration, Philbrick intones that the girl is safe and sound and "cured of her Communist infection."

THE INVADERS
1967 - 1968
ABC
60 min. Color
43 episodes; One two-part TV movie featuring a cameo by Roy Thinnes
Created by Roy Huggins
Executive Producer: Quinn Martin
Some episodes of this program are available on home video

David Vincent: Roy Thinnes
Edgar Scoville: Kent Smith

SERIES PREMISE
Architect David Vincent witnesses the landing of a flying saucer and subsequently learns that there is an advanced guard of aliens from a dying planet intent on taking over the earth. He spends the run of this show trying to warn people of the invasion. Inevitably, he is thwarted by the devious beings. Aliens can be detected in several ways ("How to Spot an Alien"?): An alienís pinky finger is slightly crooked; an alien doesnít have a pulse; an alien occasionally begins glowing when it is need of regeneration (to retain human form).

THE PRISONER
1968 - 1969
CBS (Produced in Great Britain)
60 min. Color
17 episodes
Created by Patrick McGoohan
All 17 episodes of this series are available on home video

The Prisoner, No. 6: Patrick McGoohan
The Butler: Angelo Muscat

SERIES PREMISE
A British secret agent abruptly resigns from his intelligence agency. Moments later he is sedated and abducted to a picturesque penal colony known as "the Village." There are many other former agents in this prison, but they have all either succumbed or gone mad. Over the course of 17 installments a succession of Village administrators (known as "No. 2") attempt to extract their resistant prisonerís reasons for resigning. It is suspected that he was intending to defect. The methods used to discover the Prisonerís motives grow increasingly bizarre and extreme. The final episode during which certain mysteries are resolved is still considered one of the strangest hours of programming ever aired on a major network. And, yes, this takes into account "Twin Peaks." "The Prisoner" updates Kafka for the Cold War and definitely requires and rewards repeated viewing.

LASSIE
1954 - 1971
CBS
30 min. B&W and Color
There is an episode from this long running family show titled "The Space Traveler" (orig. airdate 01/10/60) in which Timmy (Jon Provost) finds a downed experimental space rocket and its guinea pig cargo. Timmy handles the guinea pig, which could be radioactive. Soon the military is trying to locate him in order to test for radiation exposure. Eventually, thanks as always to Lassie, Timmy is found. After being examined it is learned that he has been exposed to low doses of radiation. The military decontaminates him and everything turns out just fine. In fact, Timmy remained on the show for another four years with no discernable hair loss.

WOOPS
1992
FOX
30 min. Color
This sitcom featuring six people who survive a nuclear war premiered after the official end of the Cold War, but we felt honor bound to include it somewhere. In the pilot episode an unlikely assortment of humanity winds up in a farmhouse just in time to survive the end of the world. Later, they have to fight off a giant, mutated spider. In a rare example of good artistic judgment, FOX cancelled this series after only a few episodes.

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