The Dimension X Radio Program
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Billboard article of March 11th 1950 cites all four major networks scrambling to jump on the 'science' trend of the era.
Announcement of NBC's Out of This World as the original title of Dimension X
NBC's announcement of the 15-minute special entitled Preview to the Future to air immediately before the premiere of Dimension X
Astounding Magazine ad for Dimension X episode
General Mills' Wheaties sponsored Dimension X for three months
From the July 2, 1950 Coshocton Tribune:
Sidewalk Cynics Sneer at Saucermen
Who's Afraid of Big Bad Spacemen? Nobody, at Least in Westchester, Where 'Invasion' Gets Only Laughs
By RICHARD KLEINER
"Calling all Flying Saucers Calling all Flying Saucers OK lads, you can come in for a landing now. The coast is clear."
NEW ROCHELLE, N. Y.--(NEA)--In an experiment to see if the average American is ready for an interplanetary invasion, two guys who looked like they just parked their saucer down the street paid a surprise call on Westchester county, a New York suburban area.
And what happened? Everybody laughed. Nobody got scared. Nobody called the militia. Even the police thought it was all a big joke.
The two pseudo-spacemen looked the part. They were all dolled up in space suits complete with the latest electronic gimmics worn by the boys of Mars, Venus, Saturn and points north.
They wore heavy boots, padded space suits, great spherical helmets. Strapped in front was a panel with a complicated-looking collection of dials and switches. In back they had a couple of oxygen tanks and a radio antenna sticking up a couple of feet.
Their faces were stained a bright red. And, being good actors, they clomped down the streets of Larchmont and New Rochelle with a weird walk, making ugly faces and gesturing belligerently at passers-by. They looked like DP's from the Moon.
But the Westchesterites weren't having any panic that day.
The first man who spied them did a double-take, chuckled and walked right up to them.
"What are you guys advertising? Oh, I get it--advance men for Alcoholics Anonymous, eh?"
The two hot saucer pilots stomped over to a super-market and stared thru the plate-glass window. The customers turned around, looked interested for a few seconds, then turned back to their heads of lettuce.
The only excitement in Larchmont, the first town invaded, came when a dog in a parked car sighted the strange characters. He began howling. So did some high school girls passing by, but a different kind of howl. They were laughing. It was a big joke.
"If he comes near me" one of them said, "I'll scream."
"They must be mad men from Mars," said another.
Two radio patrol cars passed by. The policemen shrugged and drove on.
The spacemen moved their base of operations three miles to New Rochelle and began ambling down a busy main street.
"Those guys get around" said a street-corner loiterer. "There are more of them over in Larchmont."
Somebody asked a policeman directing traffic, to grab the spacemen when they began walking down the middle of the street.
"Aaah, they're just having fun," said the cop.
Two little boys walked up to one visitor and asked him, "What are you?" The kids just laughed when he made an angry grab at them.
"You know something?" one kid said, "They're funny."
The experiment was just what it sounds like. A press agent stunt. It was to publicize a new movie "Destination Moon," and a radio program called "Dimension X."
If it proved anything, it was that an interplanetary invasion will be a funny thing.
There'll be no hysteria or panic, just a lot of laughs. Apparently the average American's equilibrium has improved since the days of Orson Welles' Man from Mars broadcast, when people ran from their radios, screaming in the streets.
Who's afraid of the big, bad flying saucer? Nobody.
"Calling all flying saucers." "Calling all flying saucers." Drop down any time boys. Everything here is under control."
This article might well have been titled ''Out of This World''. That's the name NBC first selected for its new science fiction drama anthology for an adult audience, destined to transport its listeners to ''a million could-be years on a thousand may-be planets.'' We won't quibble about the fact that NBC fell about 954 may-be planets and 9,999,954 could-be years short of it's stated goal. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Apparently NBC Television had other plans for the title Out of This World, since within 48 hours of teasing the title for the new sci-fi program in local newspapers, NBC announced the final title for its new Radio program: Dimension X. To help kick off the new sci-fi series, NBC also assembled a special presentation directed towards science junkies, to precede the first Dimension X broadcast on April 8, 1950. Titled ''Preview to the Future'', the 15-minute prequel proposed to bounce radio signals off of the moon, then record the sound of their impact on the moon as the speed of sound reflected them back to sensitive recorders here on Earth.
Dimension X's premiere promotion was just about all the attention that NBC ever paid to Dimension X from that point forward. Indeed, as long as it remained a network-sustained program, NBC moved the program all over it's programming schedule at the drop of a hat. Dimension X was heard, variously, on Saturday, Sundays, Thursdays, and Fridays. As an offer of proof, its longest run in a fixed time slot was under Wheaties sponsorship between the beginning of July 1950 and the end of September 1950--a total of about three months. If get you the general impression that NBC could take Dimension X or leave it, you've pretty much hit the nail on the head.
This wasn't necessarily a reflection on Dimension X, itself. NBC was infamous throughout the industry for its failure to promote its programming. Apparently it was NBC's view that its adoring public was darn lucky that NBC was even producing a new program for them in the first place, let alone tell the public where and when to find it. Indeed, they should be grateful enough to NBC to search endlessly for the program on their own from that point forward. A strategy to be sure. Not a particularly intelligent or helpful strategy, but a strategy, nonetheless.
Nor, apparently, did NBC feel entirely obliged to let the public know when it was going to pull the rug out from under them yet again. So it was, that even finding Dimension X on the Radio schedule became something of an early 'Star Trek' unto itself. The die-hards generally found it in the end, perhaps missing only an episode or two in the process, but that was their business, not NBC's. NBC's seven rescheduling experiments during Dimension X's forty-six original scripts amounted to a schedule change for every five episodes. Kind of exciting if you look at it from NBC's perspective--like a new Easter Egg Hunt after every five airings.
Dimension X's Real Stars: The Authors
The real beneficiaries of Dimension X were the authors whose works were adapted for the Dimension X radio plays:
- Graham Doar
- Jack Williamson
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr
- Frederic Brown
- Robert Bloch
- Murray Leinster
- Ray Bradbury
- Donald Wollheim
- Robert Heinlein
- Villiers Gerson
- Jack Vance
- Fletcher Pratt
- L. Ron Hubbard
- E. M. Hull
- Paul Carter
- Stephen Vincent Benet
- Isaac Asimov
- William Tenn
- H. Beam Piper
- Clifford Simak
- Nelson Bond
- Frank M. Robinson
Of course, by logical extension, the 'co-stars' would be Dimension X's brilliant adapters, Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts. Tapping its production partner, Street and Smith's Astounding Science Fiction magazine, NBC had a ready supply of science fiction stories to adapt for as long as Dimension X might air. This wasn't a particularly novel relationship. Radio and magazines had long collaborated via cross-promotional arrangements in the past, for all manner of programming from pulp westerns, to juvenile adventures, to supernatural mysteries, to detective stories. Extending the mutually beneficial arrangement to the Sci-Fi genre didn't seem such a leap at all.
Indeed, the relationship worked so well that when it came time for NBC to take another run at a sci-fi drama anthology four years hence, they partnered even more formally with, first Street and Smith yet again, then directly with Galaxy science fiction magazine.
|AFRTS END-204 'Dimension X'; Beyond This World; Beyond Tomorrow
||Anthology of Golden Age Radio Science Fiction Dramas
||NBC; The AFRTS
||Audition Date(s) and Title(s):
||Beyond This World 50-02-23 The Outer Limit
||Premiere Date(s) and Title(s):
||50-04-08 01 The Outer Limit
||Run Dates(s)/ Time(s):
||50-04-08 to 51-09-29; NBC; Fifty-two, 30-minute programs; Saturdays, then Thursdays.
||General Mills' Wheaties; Astounding Science Fiction magazine; Sustaining
||Edward King, Jack Kuney [Director]
Fred Weihe [Director/Transcriber]
Van Woodward, William Welch [Producers]
||Joe DeSantis, Joseph Julian, Philip Bourneuf, Peter Capell, Bryna Raeburn, Alexander Scourby, William Quinn, Edwin Jerome, Karl Weber, Santos Ortega, Bob Hastings, Wendell Holmes, Lawson Zerbe, John McGovern, Arnold Moss, Luis Van Rooten, Joan Alexander, Rita Lynn, Jack Grimes, Matt Crowley, Roger De Koven, Harold Huber, Kermit Murdock, John Larkin, Jan Miner, Guy Repp, Staats Cotsworth, Berry Kroeger, Dan Ocko, Elaine Rost, Joseph Boland, Agnes Young, Butch Cavell, Denise Alexander, Peter Lazer, Wililam Griffis, Ralph Bell, David Anderson, Adelaide Klein, Bill Lipton, William Zuckert, Cameron Prud'Homme, Charme Allen, Ed Prentiss, Ethel Everett, Joel McCrea, Luke Appling, Raymond Edward Johnson, Larry Haines, Les Damon, Lotte Stavisky, E. A. Krumschmidt, William Keene, Gregory Morton, Leon Janney, David Anderson, Ian Martin, Joseph Curtin, Nancy Olson, Donald Buka, Stefan Schnabel, William Redfield, Les Tremayne, Ed Latimer, Mason Adams, Robert Dryden, Lawrence Kerr, Nelson Olmsted, Gregory Morton, Patsy Campbell, Gertrude Warner, David Anderson, Joan Lazer, Lesley Woods, Martin Wolfson, Anne Sargent, Bernard Lenrow, George Petrie, Joyce Gordon, Sarajane Wells, Rod Hendrickson, Owen Jordan, Lyle Sudrow
||Graham Doar, Jack Williamson, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Frederic Brown, Robert Bloch, Murray Leinster, Ray Bradbury, Donald Wollheim, Robert Heinlein, Villiers Gerson, Jack Vance, Fletcher Pratt, L. Ron Hubbard, Paul Carter, Stephen Vincent Benet, Isaac Asimov, William Tenn, H. Beam Piper, Clifford Simak, Nelson BOnd, Frank M. Robinson
||Ernest Kinoy, George Lefferts, John Dunkel, Clarice A. Ross, Howard Rodman [Adapter/Writers]
||Albert Buhrman [Music]
Manny Segal, Sam Monroe, Max Russell [Sound Design]
Bill Chambers, Don Abbott, Don Albert [Engineers]
Wes Conant [Engineer/Sound Effects]
||Bob Warren, Fred Collins, Arthur Gary, Martin Ruby, Lionel Ricou, Bill Rippe [Announcers]
Frank Martin, Ed Prentiss[Commercial Spokespersons]
Norman Rose [Host]
Robert Trout [Newscaster]
||Estimated Scripts or
|51 (includes promotional teaser)
||Episodes in Circulation:
||Total Episodes in Collection:
||47 (see Provenances)
||RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.
Notes on Provenances:
The most helpful provenances were the log of the radioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.
We invite you to compare our fully provenanced research with the Dimension X log from the '1,500 expert researchers' at the OTRR, which they claim to be correct according to their 'OTTER log'. Quite simply, the OTRR's Dimension X log is a work of deliberate fiction. We've also provided a screen shot of their current log for comparison, HERE, to protect our own further due diligence. As the self-styled 'most authoritative and accurate vintage Radio authority in the world' one might have expected the OTRR to have at least attempted an explanation of their utter absence of verifiable provenances, dates, titles and episode order.
There are several problems with the OTRR "Certified Complete" log and collection at archive.org, and by natural extension their commercial surrogate site, Calfkiller OTR:
- The OTRRpedia log incorrectly cites the title for the Episode No. 23 of Dimension X as "First Contact(Rebroadcast of 50-04-08)." The correct title is "The Outer Limit" a rescripting of the 50-04-08 premiere broadcast.
- Both the OTRR "Certified Complete" collection and the Calfkiller OTR collection are far from complete:
- Both collections' Episode No. 10, "The Green Hills of Earth" are doctored copies of the later rescripted broadcast of "The Green Hills of Earth" aired on Christmas Eve, 1950.
- Both collections' Episode No. 33, "Mars Is Heaven" are doctored copies of the earlier broadcast of "Mars Is Heaven" aired on July 7, 1950.
- Both collections' Episode No. 42, "Universe" are doctored copies of the earlier broadcast of "Universe" aired on November 26, 1950.
- In addtion to the preceding misrepresentations, both entire collections on archive.org and Calfkiller OTR are up-encoded recordings. The entire nominal set of original 64kbps - 44000hz - 11:1 recordings have been up-encoded to make them appear to be genuine 128kbps encodes. The adulterated OTRR and Calfkiller OTR recordings are all encoded as 128kbps - 44000hz - 5.5:1 encodes. The resultant recordings double the size of the entire collection by almost 500 megabytes of storage of nothing but 'digital fluff.' Thus, if you're an iPod user or you enjoy your digital recordings on another type of portable .mp3 player, you're giving up just over half a gigabyte of storage to the OTRR's fraudulent encodes.
- For the uninitiated, a nominal, 64kbps/44mHz/11:1 recording can, indeed be upencoded to yield a 128bps/44mHz/5.5:1 recording--from the same source mp3, but all that process nets is double the storage requirement for the precise same original recording. The fidelity for both encodes is identical in every human-discernible way. All the upencoding accomplishes is defrauding the recipient of any such encode, as well as doubling the storage requirement for each fraudulently encoded recording.
Contrary to a long-standing misconception, and owing primarily to NBC's utter mismanagement of Dimension X over the course of its run, most extant logs of Dimension X fail to cite the following broadcast of Dimension X:
51-01-28 -- Nightmare
The Nightmare episode has traditionally been placed only at Episode No. 36, but as the provenances below indicate, it was orginally broadcast on January 28, 1951, in yet another of the NBC misfires concerning this remarkably popular science-fiction program of the waning years of The Golden Age of Radio.
Much had been made of an audition of the proposed program, Beyond This World, as the supposed audition for either Tales of Tomorrow or Dimension X. The element purportedly linking the two programs is the host. The host of Tales of Tomorrow is 'Omentor', portrayed by Raymond Edward Johnson. The Beyond This World host was called 'Ascritor' or 'Astrator.' The story selected for Beyond This World audition was Graham Doar's science fiction story The Outer Limit. We're more persuaded that Beyond This World may have been an audition for Dimension X, rather than for Tales of Tomorrow. The short story selected for the Beyond This World was the same story adapted for the season premiere of Dimension X. The polish, apparent west coast origination, sound engineering and the quality of the Beyond This World adaptation are more reminiscent of Dimension X than Tales of Tomorrow. George Foley reportedly never envisioned Tales of Tomorrow as a Radio series in 1950 and Tales of Tomorrow never adapted Doar's The Outer Limit as Tales of Tomorrow script. We can't determine an accurate answer to this question as of this writing.
[Update 2010-08-27:] We're now fairly certain that Beyond This World was not an audition for Dimension X. Further complicating the riddle, we've rediscovered four episodes of a program by the name, Beyond Tomorrow--an audition and three episodes. The audition is The Outer Limit, stars Frank Lovejoy, is directed by William N. Robson, written by Fine and Friedkin and is scored by Del Castillo. In other words, it's identical to the Beyond This World suupposed audition, except for the 'Astrator' character. Graham Doar's 'The Outer Limit' first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post as a short story on December 24, 1949. One of Radio's most compelling introductory science fiction stories, it was heard in Dimension X, Escape, Suspense, and X Minus One, as well as being employed in tests or auditions for the Beyond Tomorrow and Beyond This World projects.
[Update 2012-03-13:] Contributor at large, Richard Cohen, directed us to an interesting Billboard article [top sidebar] from March 11th 1950, describing all four networks attempting to throw together science drama features to meet an emerging demand for science fiction over Radio. The MBS production referred to would seem to have been the contemplated Beyond Tomorrow audition/series. The NBC contributions were to be one of two competing auditions: one, Out of This World, written by Kinoy, and directed by W. Grayson, and the other written by Ray Bradbury and directed by Warren Lewis. NBC was to have compared the two auditions before deciding the ultimate direction of what eventually became Dimension X.
Here's what we know so far:
- A program by the name of Beyond Tomorrow aired between at least August 7, 1949 and January 18, 1950 on MBS
- The circulating supposed first program copy of Beyond This World appear to be the audition for Beyond Tomorrow--an eventual CBS vehicle.
- Both Beyond This World's audition and Beyond Tomorrow air the identical script and cast version of The Outer Limit. The Beyond This World has the 'Astrator' emcee and the supposed third episode, The Outer Limit, from Beyond Tomorrow airs without 'Astrator'
- None of the three circulating Beyond Tormorrow exemplars feature 'Astrator'. Two of the circulating Beyond Tomorrow exemplars have a CBS aircheck after the credits.
- We have yet to find any proof that Beyond Tomorrow ever aired over CBS.
- We think a case can be made that CBS was developing Beyond Tomorrow for the CBS network to counter Dimension X. We believe CBS ordered the audition of Beyond This World to test audience rection of the concept and the Astrator character. We think they abandoned the Astrator character and perhaps even test-aired Beyond Tomorrow, terminating it after three episodes. This may have been in either 1949 or 1950. Perhaps CBS scrapped the project in favor of a Television version, then scrapped that. We have no idea whether there's a connection between the Beyond Tomorrow program over Mutual and the audition and three circulating CBS versions of Beyond Tomorrow.
- Dimension X was clearly an NBC production. We find it a stretch that NBC would have picked up a failed or abandoned project from either/both Mutual and/or CBS during this particular era.
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