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I've never seen it, now I want it: PANIC!/NO WARNING! (1957-58)

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#1 of 4 ONLINE   Peter M Fitzgerald

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Posted March 26 2008 - 10:17 AM

I was watching THE MIST on DVD the other day, and in the disc's Special Features interview segment with Stephen King and director Frank Darabont, King briefly recalls the half-hour suspense anthology series, PANIC!, with some fondness.

That was enough for me to do a little research. It ran for two seasons, though was renamed NO WARNING! in its truncated second season (or perhaps for later syndication airings), with a combined total of 31 half-hour episodes (18 in Season 1, 13 in Season 2). The series producer, Al Simon, is best known for producing THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, GREEN ACRES, PETTICOAT JUNCTION, and MISTER ED. Each episode was narrated by Westbrook Van Voorhis, best known as the voice of the MARCH OF TIME newsreels of the 1930s and 1940s.

According to imdb.com poster "crabturtle", a typical episode would open like this:

“(Van Voorhis) introduced a character and gave a time in minutes and seconds when he (or she) would become involved in a harrowing situation. For example: "This is Mr. Smith. In 2 minutes and 36 seconds, he will be in PANIC"! Then, in that announced time, the character would get into some unforeseen trouble, and would indeed become panicky! The title then came on the screen and shattered into hundreds of pieces. The rest of the show would be how the victims of the situation were saved from their predicament.”

Among those who appeared on PANIC!:

James Mason
James Whitmore
Robert Vaughn
Barbara Billingsley
Carolyn Jones
Alan Napier
Strother Martin
Mercedes McCambridge
June Havoc
Ann Rutherford
Marsha Hunt
Everett Sloane
Leon Ames
Whitney Blake
Elisha Cook, Jr.
Bruce Bennett
John Anderson
Richard Jaeckel
Keye Luke
Lola Albright
Brian Kelly
Richard Bakalyan
Mark Damon
Steve Brodie
Len Lesser
Robert Fuller
Norman Alden
Virginia Gregg
Kathy Garver
Darryl Hickman
Marshall Thompson
Lawrence Dobkin
Eduardo Ciannelli
Paul Burke
Robert Quarry
Paul Picerni
Irene Hervey
Kent Taylor
Milton Frome
Parley Baer
Jack Lambert
John Doucette
Eduard Franz
Whit Bissell
Ted De Corsia
Stafford Repp
Paul Birch
Kenneth Tobey
Richard Erdman
Ralph Moody

As for the specific episodes’ plots, the recollections of the imdb.com posters, and the listings at imdb and tv.com, are scattershot and vague. However, I managed to find a page that has decent descriptions and actor/character listings for virtually all of the episodes:

PANIC Episode Guide

--that said, here are better descriptions of a few episodes than that page provides:

* “Nightmare” (S1, Episode 7) In New York, a woman dreams that her husband is inexplicably driving a car on a rainy night in California, with a strange woman in the back seat, and will be killed in a crash. She awakens to find circumstances gradually drawing her unconvinced spouse closer and closer to that terrible fate.

* “Reincarnated” (S1, Episode 18) A dancer (June Havoc) is threatened by an insane knife-thrower (Alan Napier), who believes her to be the reincarnation of the wife he killed.

* “Hear No Evil” (S2, Episode 2) A young deaf-mute woman’s doctor solves her hearing problem with a hearing aid. She arrives home to tell her husband and sister the good news, only to overhear them plotting her death.

PANIC! / NO WARNING! Originally aired on NBC, but it is unclear who controls the series now, other than that it was from Al Simon Productions, Inc and McCadden Corp.

Has this fallen into the public domain? Or was it swallowed up by one of the majors (thus subsequently locked away and ignored)? Have any episodes surfaced in a multi-series set from Mill Creek, Alpha, Timeless, et al? Or is it a “lost” show?

If anyone here has seen it, how does it stack up? Is it a forgotten gem, a humdrum ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS wannabe, or is it laughable cheese?

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#2 of 4 OFFLINE   Hank Dearborn

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Posted March 26 2008 - 06:20 PM

I have a few of them but I can't say that I've ever watched one. Your post has gotten me interested. I'll see if I can pull them out and watch a couple and I'll let you know what I think. BTW, they used to be on the Republic syndication list via NBC so Paramount would have the broadcast rights to it. DVD rights might still be owned by NBC, not that there is a chance in hell it would come out. But the copyrights are renewed on it, by NBC.

#3 of 4 OFFLINE   Tom.W


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Posted March 28 2008 - 07:43 PM

I have a few episodes of Panic. Definitely a forgotten gem, too bad chances are virtually nil of any kind of release. The episode called The Subway features a memorable performance by Eduard Franz as the witness to a murder on a subway. The focus was on the psychological impact as well the physical predicament of his situation. The episode Mayday had Richard Jaeckel as a paraplegic trapped in a burning house. Somewhat similar to One Step Beyond. And seeing the word PANIC shatter into pieces was a great effect.

#4 of 4 OFFLINE   docdoowop


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Posted March 31 2008 - 02:01 AM

I very much remember viewing the "Marooned" episode (4/30/57) where a family is stranded on the 22d floor of an unfinished building over a long weekend. It was quite intense.

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