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Rocky Jones, Space Ranger

Rocky Jones, Space Ranger was a syndicated science fiction television serial first broadcast weekly in 1954. The show was recorded on film rather than being broadcast live as were most other TV "space operas" of the day, which allowed it to be syndicated and thus distributed to a wide audience. The film format also allowed more elaborate special effects and sets, exterior scenes and much better continuity.

The 30-minute long episodes were aimed mainly at children, so the plots were fairly simplistic and usually involved heroic space ranger Rocky Jones (played by Richard Crane) outsmarting and outfighting the bad guys. Although he regularly destroyed enemy rocketships full of unseen villains, his trusty space pistol was never fired at people and fights were always resolved with fists, as was typical of family fare at the time.

By contemporary standards for television science fiction, the Rocky Jones serials seem crude and simplistic. But for its time, the sets, props, and optical effects were remarkably well done. Many of the effects that have become standard sci-fi fare, such as the forward view screen and automatically opening doors, were seen first on Rocky Jones. The show's depiction of rocketships blasting off and landing vertically on their tail fins accurately predicted by over a decade how real spaceships would operate.


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