Variety Weekly - April
(Article under copyright)
ROD BROWN OF THE ROCKET RANGERS
With Cliff Roberston, Bruce Hall, John Boruff, Jack Weston, others
Executive Producer: William Dozier
Producr: John Haggott
Director: George Gould
Writer: Don Moore
30 Mins,; Sat. 11:30 a.m.
CBS-TV, from New York
This new space opera is in the w.k. interplanetary rut, with clean and courageous Rod Brown (Cliff Robertson) licking pirates and other evil doers of the cosmos almost single-handedly in a gadget-filled future that has the cruder plot-and-character elements of a grade-B movie.
Kids may take Brown to their bosoms, as they have the Captains Videos and others, for Robertson starring in the title role has a gee-whiz enthusiasm and a boyish look, with which the younger viewers may find it easy to identify themselves. But the kids need a better deal than this offering, the better elements of which are George Gould's neat direction and scenic designers Kim Swados' modernistic interiors.
In this story by Don Moore (he was credited with the first and presumably other will be scripted by other project writers Gould, Ted Sturgeon, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert), the world of tomorrow turns out to be extremely militaristic, which is perhaps an omen and nobly concerned with combatting manifestations of eon-old human evil and greed.
To nicely cut-in film clips and diagrams of outer space, junior Ranger Rod Brown joins the force - his duty is to be "undercover agent, diplomat, fighter, and peace-maker" - and proves himself a man by subduing a space pirate in an old-fashioned fist fight. It's interesting to note that he gets into the adventure accidently, through a mistake by fellow Ranger Wormser, an ineffectual and bumbling comedy character role played with heavy comic touch by Jack Weston.
John Boruff, as Commander Swift acts his part as if he believes it - sternly military, gray-haired and lean. Bruce Hall, as another Ranger, had only a bit to establish the fact that the hero will have later trouble with him. Shirley Standlee was attractive and decorative in the thankless part of the girl in a kissless action drama for kids.
The action parts had the standard hokum of a badly faked fist fight, a "half-charge" gun shot, and such technical jargon as "magnetic couplers" while some good attempts at unusual effects - such as Ranger Brown floating in space - were unconvincing.
More technical hocus-pocus will be needed to strengthen the show, plus a lot more of originality in the writing. Then maybe Rod Brown, in the personable form of Roberston, can send enough moppets rocketing to carve a sizable audience for this rear-guard entry in the universe sweepstakes.
Incidently, Al Capp, more usually to be found on NBC-TV, popped up in the middle of the show with a defense-bond plug and a sketch of Li'l Abner.
[After giving up Tom Corbett, Space Cadet CBS tried to recapture its audience by producing this show. It is interesting to note that Gould also wrote and directed TC while Weinstock and Gilbert were writers for the show. I have not yet heard if Sturgeon wrote any TC episodes.(GT)]