Ya snooze, ya lose.

For ages I’ve been toying with the idea of taking a look at some of the serials of the 30s and 40s…and while toying was was still as far as I’d gotten, Ken nicked in with his hilarious take on The Green Archer for our Edgar Wallace Roundtable.

Ah, well…

Plenty of early serials called themselves “science fiction”, but a closer look reveals that they were rather action-adventure stories built around the struggle for possession of a “scientific” doo-hickey like a death-ray or a new poison gas, or the repeated kidnapping and rescue of a scientist with a “formula” (who usually spent all his onscreen time protesting that he only intended his death-ray / poison gas to be used for peaceful purposes).

However, they got there eventually…even if the definition of “science” remained just a trifle flexible…

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TPE35-gene3b.

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THE PHANTOM EMPIRE (1935)

…in which a lost civilisation located many thousands of feet below the surface of the earth finds its secrets under threat from a trio of unscrupulous scientists seeking to make their fortunes by locating the rich radium deposits which fuel the civilisation’s many marvellous scientific advances.

None of which is nearly so important as that fact that if a singing cowboy doesn’t perform at exactly two o’clock each day, he will break his radio contract, and he and his partner will lose their ranch…

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Liz Kingsley is the insane genius behind And You Call Yourself a Scientist!


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