A 1954 Science Fiction TV series, following the adventures of the titular hero and his group of friends. The program was a Television Serial, its episodes arranged into definitive story arcs (commonly three episodes each, though there were a few stand-alone episodes scattered in as well), a number of which have been edited together into movie format. Two such Compilation Movies, "Manhunt In Space" and "Crash Of The Moons", were featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000; several others are available on DVD.
The show starred Richard Crane as square-jawed Rocky Jones; Scotty Beckett as Plucky Comic Relief "Winky"; Sally Mansfield as Vena Rey; Robert Lyden as Tagalong Kid Bobby; and Maurice Cass as Professor Newton. Other regulars and semi-regulars included Rocky's boss, Secretary Drake, and frequent villain Queen Cleolanta (she prefers the title "Suzerain"), along with her primary henchman Atlasan; Atlasan's wife Trinka also plays an important role in one arc.
Story arcs available on DVD include:
- "Beyond The Moon" (aka "Beyond The Curtain Of Space")
- "Crash Of The Moons"
- "Gypsy Moon" (aka "Rocky's Odyssey")
- "Manhunt In Space" (aka "The Pirates Of Prah")
- "Menace From Outer Space" (aka "Bobby's Comet")
- "Silver Needle In The Sky" (aka "Duel In Space")
This series has a recap index.
Other DVD collections featuring various episodes are also available.
This show provides examples of:
- As You Know: In the "Manhunt In Space" arc, a pirate traps Vena's spaceship in orbit. He then has to explain to Vena (who is, mind you, an astronavigator) what an "orbit" is.
- Bedsheet Ghost: A Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit IN SPACE! is trying to steal the land rights to some sort of space gold-mine, and is thwarted not by the Space Rangers, but by a couple of kids throwing a sheet over their remote-control airplane so he thinks it's a ghost.
- Big Bad: Cleolanta
- Brown Note: The Nagato Siren in "Rocky's Odyssey".
- The Cast Show Off: Scotty Beckett wrote the lullaby that he sings to Bobby in "The Pirates Of Prah".
- The Chick: Vena
- Colony Drop: "Crash Of The Moons"
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Winky is nominally the Plucky Comic Relief; but when the chips are down, he mops the floor with guys twice his size.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: Space Adventures, Issues 15, 16, 17, and 18. This seems to be a Type 2 or 3 adaptation.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Atlasan; later on, Cleolanta.Servo: [sarcastically] Oh, suddenly we're friends now?
- Dull Surprise: Rocky, as the MST guys say, what he lacks in expressions he makes up for with hat tips.
- Future Slang: "Sparkling stardust!" "Roaring rockets!" "Jumping satellites!" "Super cosmic!" "Mighty meteor!" "Rattle my rocket reflexes!" and the like. Now with Added Alliterative Appeal for extra annoying!
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Queen Cleolanta
- Gravity Sucks: Surprisingly averted in "Crash of the Moons" and "The Pirates Of Prah" in which spaceships get trapped in planetary orbit.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Trinka easily slips past the inattentive guard to reach Rocky and Winky. However, it's also subverted later in the episode, when this self-same guard checks in on Winky and Rocky; Winky pretends to be asleep, but the guard can't help but notice that Rocky is missing.
- Have a Gay Old Time:Winky: Now for me, let me relax with a little black book and the gay nightlife.Joel: Uh... insert joke here.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Winky will not shut up about his sexual conquests. Gains bonus points for being a Running Gag throughout the "Pirates Of Prah" arc, right after Winky mentioned his "gay" nightlife.
- HeelFace Turn: Atlasan. He'll decry his wife as a traitor to her country, but he won't stand for genocide.
- Heel Realization: Torvac in "Rocky's Odyssey" comes to see how horrible the Nagato Siren Song is. In his defense, he himself was also under its influence.
- The Hero: Well, whose name is it in the title again?
- Human Aliens: The FX were notoriously expensive, and they apparently didn't have enough money left over for Rubber Forehead Aliens.
- Aliens Speaking English: Lampshaded at one point with alien ruler Bovarro and his wife who occasionally lapse into their own (German/Russian-esque) language. Partially averted in "Menace From Outer Space" in which differing alien societies are shown to have their own languages, though they also speak English.
- Two of Your Earth Minutes: Averted; apparently, planet Ophecius uses the same Gregorian calendar as
the U.S. Earththe United Worlds.
- Invisibility Cloak: Professor Newton's "Cold Light" device from the "Manhunt in Space" arc.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum:
- The aforementioned Cold Light device works by reversing the principle that mirages are caused by the desert's intense heat distorting the light itself.
- The VisioGraph works by reflecting "positive rays". But even its magic is limited by some unspecified range and some shielding in walls, basically as the plot demands.
- Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Rocky expresses once that he much prefers fisticuffs over using diplomacy tactics. He also never fires a gun, but that could be due to it being a children's show in The '50s.
- Minimalist Cast:
- How many people work at the Office of Space Affairs? As far as we see, its Secretary Drake and his assistant. Other worlds' HQs fare little better.
- In "Manhunt In Space", there's only ONE guy who runs the control room. Though, to be fair, there seem to be only three landing pads for ships, as Joel and the Bots are keen to point out.
- The Mole: Ken the Casa 7 controller in "Manhunt In Space"
- Negative Continuity: Shades of this.
- In the first story arc, Newton Observatory is a place on Ophecius, but in the second story arc, it is on Earth. Either there are two identical observatories, one on each planet, or the location inexplicably moved between planets.
- Griff is exploded while driving away in a car on Earth by a magic Deus ex Machina button. By the next episode, he has his own spaceship and is a space pirate.
- Neutral Females: Hey, it is The '50s!
- Particularly notable example: When Rocky and Winky get into a brawl with guards during a prison break, collaborator Trinka does not grab a vase or some such to klonk the guards with; rather, she runs off to hide in a corner. To be kinda fair, after the fight she does help lock the guards in a room full of sleeping gas.
- Also poor Cleolanta's henchmen are pretty much all contemptuous of the idea of a woman in charge; they condescend to her constantly. No wonder she's evil.
- One World Order: Ophecius; the two Gypsy Moons; Fornax.
- The Professor: aptly named "Prof. Newton".
- Reading Ahead in the Script: A non-comedic example in "Rocky's Odyssey," a Whole Plot Reference to the Greek epic. Bobby figures out early on that their adventure is suspiciously similar to the adventure he's reading for homework, and by act three he's outright looking up in his book what they should do next.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: the Gypsy Moons Pozita and Negato, and their respective world governments. Appropriate since they are metaphors of the positive and negative poles of electricity and magnetism.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: It's implied, if not outright stated, that most of the series takes place in — and thus that the United Worlds are confined to — our solar system. Let's see: in addition to our nine planets (one of which got Demoted to Extra), we also have Fornax, Casa 7, Prah, and Ophecius, not to mention the Gypsy Moons; and Ophecius is stated to have a number of allies as well. To be fair, some of these are stated to be moons (Fornax) and some are called "planetoids", possibly large asteroids (Casa 7, Prah).
- Series Continuity Error: Manages to get a lot of little things with their science wrong from story arc to story arc. Things like how the spaceships work, where and how the VizeoGraph functions, locations/functions of instruments, and duties of personnel. Then again, most of these are dictated by the plot.
- Shown Their Work: The series seems to have had writers who knew something about space as multiple scientific theories come into play. For example, there's the previously mentioned aversion of Gravity Sucks, as well as in one episode it is pointed out that two moons orbit around each other, which is a theory as to how Pluto has its moon, Charon.
- Space Clothes
- Fashion Dissonance: Cleolanta's guards. "So why are you dressed as Liberace's chauffeur?"
- Space Cold War: the United Worlds vs Ophecius.
- Space Is Noisy
- Space Opera
- Spider-Sense: In "Crash Of The Moons". Attributed to the baby, of all people.Mrs. Bovarro: You know, somehow our baby knew about the Crash of the Moons!"
Servo: Yeah, everyone's baby is so smart!
- Star Trek Shake
- Stupid Scientist: Professor Newton says in the beginning that the moons will not collide. When he learns that he's wrong, he changes his mind very, very quickly.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: the so-called "VisioGraph". Also crosses over with Magical Security Cam, but more the former than the latter.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Two examples for the show's second season. Winky was replaced by a new sidekick, Biffen "Biff" Cardoza (Jimmy Lydon), as actor Scotty Beckett was serving a jail sentence at the time. Professor Newton was replaced by Professor Mayberry (Reginald Sheffield) following the passing of Maurice Cass.
- Trapped In A Bomb Shelter: "Oh, this is like that Perfect Strangers/Family Ties/Full House episode where they get locked in the basement!"
- Tagalong Kid: Bobby
- Third-Person Person: Pinto Vortando in "Kip's Private War".
- Translator Microbes: The ticker tape machine used in "Rocky's Odyssey" to communicate with Bovarro the Positan.
- Unexplained Recovery: The space pirate Griff, in the first storyline of the series, is a spy for the evil Ophecians entrenched in the Space Rangers ranks. Rocky finds out about the traitor Griff and disposes of him via magical Deus ex Machina button, which causes him to explode! But by the next episode, Griff is all better and being a villain.
- The United Worlds: But Cleolanta's having no part of that, thank you.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: The comic adaptions of the show spells it "VizeoGraph". The TV show, admittedly, never tells you how these things are spelled.
- Walk-In Chime-In: In "The Pirates Of Prah", Vena is holding a couple of pirates at gunpoint...Vena: Get over there. Move! I'll use this [gun] if I have to.
[as the pirates scuttle into the corner, the airlock opens behind Vena and disgorges the pirate leader]
Pirate Leader: No, Vena, you'll drop it!
- We Will Use WikiWords in the Future: VisioGraph, AstroPhone
The MST3k presentations of "Manhunt In Space" and "Crash Of The Moons" provide examples of:
- Fan Nickname: Atlasan; Joel and the 'bots call him "Ampersand".
- Hypocritical Humor: While pointing out some of the problems with the film.Servo: And did you get a load of those really cheap props made to look like bona fide space equipment? Haha...(Joel and the bots look around)Crow: ...Yeah...
- Noodle Implements: From the opening segment with the MadsTV's Frank: For years now Dr. Forrester has been trying to get me to not brush after eating! He's tried everything: pleading; scolding; electroshock therapy; attaching a clothespin to my -Dr. Forrester: That's enough, Frank.
- Techno Babble: Crow's latest spec script, inspired by Rocky Jones and Star Trek, takes this to extremes, prompting Servo to flip out.Servo: Why don't you light a match to this stinkburger and never put pen to paper until the mountains crumble into the sea!
Joel: ...Servo, c'mon; we've got "blankacrukensnorken" sign.
Crow (offscreen): I heard that!
- Ironic, in that the movie itself contains precious little Techno Babble.
- Well, except for the explanation of Cold Light. Just as a mirage is caused by hot light, "cold" light makes things invisible! (Mary Jo Pehl: "Well, I can see how tha-HUH?!?")
- Ironic, in that the movie itself contains precious little Techno Babble.