Sunday, January 27, 2013

From Primetime to Daytime: Suspense Theatre (1963)

In the 70's, local stations scrambling to fill time when network sports programming was light, would toss up reruns of any old primetime show they had available to fill an afternoon slot.

In my district, one such case came when the current NBC affiliate, then aligned with ABC, picked up rerun rights to Kraft Suspense Theatre, which was repackaged without sponsor identification when it aired in syndication. The series shuttled back and forth between late night and afternoon viewings, a bullpen entry as noted.

More recently, I had the opportunity to rediscover the series when it aired on Retro (no longer available on Time Warner Cable in upstate NY---check your listings). The theme, composed by future Oscar winner John Williams, came back like an old memory. However, the offering I will present to you, picked up with commercials intact, even, was one I ran across when it was repackaged as a feature film!

The episode, "Once Upon A Savage Night", was first shown in the spring of 1964. Fans of our You Know The Voice feature will get a two-for-one special here, with Ted Knight making one of his first primetime appearances, co-starring with Robert Ridgely (12 years before Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle and 16 before Thundarr the Barbarian). Philip Abbott is better known from his work on the other side of the legal fence on The F. B. I., which came along a couple of years later. I remembered seeing it one late night under its movie title, "Nightmare in Chicago", with additional footage used to pad out the time.

Now, enjoy "Once Upon A Savage Night"......



Edit, 8/29/17: Had to replace the video, and the new copy not only plays this episode in its entirety, but restarts at the 59 minute mark. Don't ask.

When Suspense Theatre returned for its 2nd and final season, they changed the theme. That would establish a pattern with Williams repeated in two series he scored for Irwin Allen---Lost In Space & Land of the Giants.

Rating: B.

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