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Gene Roddenberry’s The Secret Defence of 117 Script

Years ago, I wrote about a “lost” television episode written by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Titled “The Secret Weapon of 117,” it first aired in syndication in March 1956. Viewers may have seen the episode while watching Stage 7, Chevron Hall of Stars, or Don Ameche Presents, depending on where they lived and the regional sponsor in their TV market. The last known broadcast came five years later in April 1961. The episode then seemingly disappeared. Roddenberry supposedly sold copies of the script through his Lincoln Enterprises company.

Earlier this year, Michael contacted me with the news that he had a copy of the script. His wife found it at an estate sale in Virginia in 1996, part of a larger collection of scripts and material from various Roddenberry projects (including the unsold pilot “Genesis II” from the early 1970s). Michael’s copy of the script is dated December 1953 and bears the title “The Secret Defence of 117” (note the British spelling).

Curiously, the script is also marked “FOUR STAR THEATER,” which is most likely a typo. Four Star Playhouse, produced by Four Star Productions, aired on CBS from 1952 to 1956. Four Star later produced syndicated dramatic anthology series Stage 7, which aired in parts of the country as Chevron Hall of Stars and Don Ameche Presents.

Click on one of the thumbnails below to view the cover, title page, and first page from Michael’s copy of “The Secret Defence of 117” script:

Did Roddenberry write “The Secret Defence of 117” in 1953 as an potential installment of Four Star Playhouse? Why did it take so long for the script to be filmed? Most importantly, does a copy of the episode, broadcast under the title “The Secret Weapon of 117,” still exist?

May 2018: The Month in Home Media

The Month in Home Media highlights short-lived or rare TV shows released on DVD or Blu-ray in the United States during the previous month.

I’m late with this month’s column for two reasons. First, I’ve been busy redesigning the Television Obscurities website and catching up on e-mails. Second, and more importantly, TVShowsOnDVD.com shut down on May 24th. It has been my primary source for TV on DVD news and without it, putting this column together every month will be more difficult. But I will keep at it, gathering information on new releases from various sources. The TVShowsOnDVD.com Facebook page has been reactivated. I also keep a close eye on the TV on DVD and Blu-ray section of the Home Theater Forum. I will also be relying on my readers to let me know about DVD announcements and release dates.

Two somewhat obscure TV shows came out on DVD in May 2018. One season wonder A Man Called Shenandoah (ABC, 1965-1966) and the more recent, and short-lived, Level 9 (UPN, 2000-2001). Plus, Alpha Video released five new titles, including episodes of The George Burns Show (NBC, 1958-1959) and a compilation of car commercials from the 1950s and 1960s.

DVD/Blu-ray Releases

Highlight of the Month: A Man Called Shenandoah

Robert Horton stars as an amnesiac gunfighter searching for clues to his identity in this half-hour Western that ran for 34 episodes on ABC during the 1965-1966 season. Guest stars include Leonard Nimoy, Ed Asner, DeForest Kelley, and Martin Landau.

Support Television Obscurities and purchase A Man Called Shenandoah from Amazon.

Other Releases

Level 9
Clutch Cargo, Volume 5 [Alpha Video]
Car Commercials of the 50s and 60s [Alpha Video]
The George Burns Lost TV Collection [Alpha Video]*
Great Hollywood Actors on Television, Volume 2 [Alpha Video]**
Atomic Attack [Alpha Video]***

*Contains two episodes of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (CBS, 1950-1958) and three episodes of The George Burns Show (NBC, 1958-1959).
**Contains one episode each from, The Star and the story (syndicated, 1955-1956), Errol Flynn Theatre (syndicated, 1957), General Electric Theater (CBS, 1953-1962), and the long-running religious program The Christophers.
***An installment of The Motorola Television Hour (ABC, 1953-1954).

News

Alpha Video plans to release two volumes, each containing four episodes, of Captain Z-Ro (syndicated, 1955-1956) on June 19th. The company’s website claims this is the “first authorized release of this groundbreaking series.” But the same episodes are available on Mill Creek’s Classic Sci-Fi TV – 150 Episodes box set, released in 2009.

Mill Creek will release Born Free – The Complete Collection on September 11th. The set includes the feature films Born Free (1966) and Living Free (1972), the short-lived TV series Born Free (CBS, 1974-1975) (NBC, 1974), and the 1996 made-for-TV movie Born Free: A New Adventure. Sony released the 1974 TV show on DVD in 2012 but it is out of print (TVShowsOnDVD.com on Facebook).


Hit the comments with reviews of recently released DVD/Blu-ray sets or news about upcoming releases.

15 Years of Television Obscurities

Television Obscurities celebrates its 15th anniversary today. Although an early version of the website launched in late 2002, the current incarnation dates back to June 11th, 2003. For the past three or four months, I spent most of my free time working on a redesign for the website, which went live a few days ago. I haven’t given much thought to this anniversary, to be quite honest. Back in June 2013, when Television Obscurities turned 10 years old, I wrote a two-part history that you can find here and here.

With one or two major exceptions, not much has changed over the past five years. In September 2013, hackers struck Television Obscurities, forcing me to switch to a professional layout for the first time. In response to the hack, I started actively using my Twitter account, which now has over 1,800 followers. One of my most popular projects to date, A Year in TV Guide: 1964-1965, ran from September 2014 to September 2015. In December 2014, I finally published my article about Kyle MacDonnell, a forgotten television star from the late 1940s and early 1950s.

My other recent articles all examined forgotten television shows: My Life and Times, The Tammy Grimes Show, and The Americans.

As always, I have dozens and dozens of ideas for new blog posts, special features, articles, and other content–I just don’t have the time to research and write them all. I need to be better about focusing on a single project and finishing it rather than spreading myself too thin trying to juggle multiple things at the same time.

I can’t believe Television Obscurities has survived for so long. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and my obsession with short-lived television over the past 15 years.

The New Television Obscurities

If you’re reading this, I’ve successfully rolled out the new and improved Television Obscurities, which I’ve been working on for the past three or four months. As if so often the case, it took me much longer than anticipated. My original goal when I decided to redesign the website was to find a professional (and free) layout that wouldn’t require me to constantly troubleshoot issues. I’d hoped to simply switch to the new layout. That’s before I realized how much altering it needed to fit my vision for the website.

It’s not perfect but it’s as close as I’m going to get, unless I hire a professional to design a custom layout from scratch.

I’ve tested the new layout as best I can and haven’t seen any significant problems. There was an issue with the logo that I think I’ve fixed. You may have to refresh your browser a few times or even clear your browser cache. Please let me know if you come across any broken links, missing images, or error pages. And if you have any general feedback or comments about the new look for Television Obscurities, I’d love to hear them.

Finally, if you’ve sent me an e-mail at any point during the past few months, I apologize for the lengthy delay in responding. I’ve spent most of my free time working on this redesign. Next week will be devoted to catching up on e-mails. There are also a few blogs posts I need to write. Once they’re done, I’m going to take a week or two off to rejuvenate and then dive back in.

There is still work to be done behind-the-scenes cleaning up old blog posts. My next big project will be starting a Television Obscurities channel on YouTube. Also, my long overdue guide to short-lived and forgotten TV shows on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime should be completed by July.

Later this summer, look for similar guides to short-lived and forgotten TV shows available on DVD and currently airing on television. And coming in September is another edition of A Year in TV Guide, this one focusing on the 1988-1989 TV season.

Unaired Episodes from the 2017-2018 TV Season [Updated]

June 12th, 2018 Update:

CBS has announced plans to burn off unaired episodes of both Me, Myself & I and Living Biblically on Saturdays in July. On July 7th and 14th, back-to-back episodes of Me, Myself & I will air from 8-9 ET followed by a back-to-back episodes of Living Biblically from 9-10PM ET. Then, on July 28th, the final three new episodes of Me, Myself & I will air from 8-9:30PM ET followed by the final new episode of Living Biblically from 9:30-10PM ET.

Original Post:

The 2017-2018 TV season is over. It began on September 25th, 2017 and ended on May 23rd, 2018. The networks released their schedules for next fall last month. With one or two exception, the fate of every new and returning TV show has been determined.

Four new TV shows from the 2017-2018 were pulled off the air due to low ratings with episodes left unaired. Will fans of these shows get the chance to watch the unaired episodes?

Me, Myself & I

CBS
September 25th, 2017 – October 30th, 2017
13 episodes (7 unaired)

CBS has yet to announce plans to burn off the unaired episodes of this short-lived sitcom.

Ghosted

FOX
October 1st, 2017 – January 7th, 2018
16 episodes (7 unaired)

Ghosted returns Sunday, June 10th with two new episodes airing 8:30PM ET and 9:30PM ET. New episodes will continue to air weekly at 9:30PM ET starting June 17th.

The Mayor

ABC
October 2nd, 2017 – December 12th, 2017
13 episodes (4 unaired)

The four unaired episodes may not have aired on TV, but ABC did make them available. They made their streaming debuts on Hulu in January but have since been removed. They have also been pulled from the official ABC website. You can buy one of the unaired episodes as a digital download from Amazon.

Living Biblically

CBS
February 26th, 2018 – April 16th, 2018
13 episodes (5 unaired)

CBS planned to debut new episodes of Living Biblically starting Monday, May 28th. The network then pushed the return date back a week only to later change its mind entirely. Will the unaired episodes air later this summer?


Were you a fan of any of these shows? Do you hope to have the opportunity to watch the unaired episodes? Hit the comments with your thoughts.

Steve Canyon Airing on Decades Starting May 22

Diginet Decades starts airing one season wonder Steve Canyon next week. On Tuesday, May 22nd, the show will join the two-hour “Lost TV” block on Decades. The block runs from 4-6AM ET on weekdays (or Tuesday through Satuday, depending on your point of view). It includes so-called “lost” TV shows like The Loretta Young Show, Decoy, Trouble with Father (aka The Stu Erwin Show), and Life with Elizabeth.

Based on the comic strip by Milton Caniff, Steve Canyon ran for 34 episodes on NBC during the 1958-1959 season. The half-hour adventure show starred Dean Fredericks as Steve Canyon, a U.S. Air Force pilot. It has not aired on TV since 1960. The Caniff estate released the show on DVD in three volumes between 2008 and 2015.

According to the Steve Canyon On DVD blog, Decades will air Steve Canyon in its original broadcast order with closed captioning.

(via Home Theater Forum)