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Lights Out (Early 50s TV Series) (1 Viewer)

mattfire64

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Are there any fans of this series on here? I couldn't find any other threads about the show so I figured this would be a good place to discuss some of my findings related to the series and vent a few frustrations in the process. Also the IMDB forum for the show has been dormant for almost three years, so I wouldn't expect too much discussion to take place on there.

Here's some background on the show itself for those that are unaware. Originally adapted from a radio show that started in the 30s, the actual TV series began in 1949 and ran for a total of 4 seasons until 1952 on NBC. It was actually one of the top rated shows on Television in 1951 according to Billboard Magazine, but the debut of I Love Lucy over on CBS squashed the ratings for Lights Out and caused it's cancellation.

Lights Out, like many other early 50s TV series, has fallen into the public domain and is available to watch for free on the internet. Episodes have also popped up on DVD sets from time to time as well. However, despite running four seasons only about 30 episodes remain in circulation around on the internet. These episodes are all from the 3rd and 4th seasons of the show. I would probably assume that the earlier episodes are either now lost, or have been damaged beyond repair to ever see the light of day again (no pun intended). Now here is where the interesting part begins...

Back in the late 90s, Sci Fi Channel aired a block called Retro TV on late Friday Nights/Saturday Mornings at 4AM. The block had several other series on it, but for it's final years two shows were regularly aired, Tales of Tomorrow and Lights Out. From my research, Sci Fi acquired and aired 26 episodes of each series. Coincidentally enough, it's those 26 episodes of Lights Out that circulated around. Sci Fi, as they did with the majority of acquired series that they aired, also cut the running time of both series down from 25 mins. to 22 mins. for commercial time.

Here's the kicker. About 10 years ago, Alpha Video started releasing several DVD volumes of Lights Out episodes. There's currently 8 volumes overall with 4 episodes on each volume (although the first volume only has 2 episodes, making 30 released overall) Because of the show's public domain status rips of the episodes from these DVDs are available to view on both YouTube and the Web Archive. Upon viewing these Alpha Video episodes, I immediately noticed that the run time of each episode was only a hair over 22 mins. Watching clips from the opening of these episodes also give away clues that these Alpha Video versions are nothing more than recordings of what aired on Sci Fi. Alpha Video appear to have used several "tricks" to hide this fact though. The openings of each episode are played in a slideshow like fashion in an attempt to cover the TV rating in the top left of the screen, although sometimes they appear to be outright blurred. Most annoyingly however is this, in an attempt to cover up the fact that these are nothing more than TV recordings, Alpha Video cut off the bottom 3/4" of the original video image and zoomed the picture in to hide the Sci Fi Channel logo in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. This ultimately means that the majority of the episodes that are available to view are missing both the bottom and extreme right side of their original image, even though they were originally broadcast on Sci Fi with the entire screen image present. I intend on uploading a few pictures of visual proof to highlight this fact if enough people are interested.

Here's what I'm wondering about the whole situation. Who did Sci Fi get their prints of the show from and why haven't they been more upfront about getting those episodes released in someway? Tales Of Tomorrow has been released from better quality sources since then, so why can't the same be done for Lights Out? Ultimately, I wish whoever provided Alpha Video with their tapes of Sci Fi's late 90s broadcasts could come forward and make them available so we wouldn't have to view 9/10ths of the available episodes with a compromised screen image. Even better would be for whoever provided Sci Fi with those episodes 20 years ago to come forward and release them without the added cuts too. Sadly though I think I'm only pipe dreaming though...
 

Dick

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I was a bit too young to remember this series (I was born in1950), but I have heard of it, and would enjoy seeing the series at some point.
 

Neil Brock

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Addressing the original poster. Good information but not surprising that Alpha would do this. They are unscrupulous with regards to the sources that they use and how they acquire them. They will put out anything they can get their hands on.

As for the SciFi airings, if the show was of that much interest to you, why didn't you record them when they aired? They ran through them a couple of times.

As for who has prints, I believe Wade Williams has a bunch of episodes of this and Tales of Tomorrow. Both are completely PD but like many, he tries to claim ownership.
 

mattfire64

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Oct 20, 2015
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Matthew
Sadly my family didn't have cable for the majority of the 90s, plus I was too young to have any interest in this kind of show back then anyways.

As for Tales of Tomorrow, I'm guessing Image Entertainment looked around for nearly complete prints to put out on disc? Or did they contact Williams for his copies?
 

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