Show: Remembering When

Episode: 868-047 Lights Out.mpg

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Episode Description:

Lights Out was an extremely popular American old-time radio program, an early example of a network series devoted mostly to horror and the supernatural, predating Suspense and Inner Sanctum. Versions of Lights Out aired on different networks, at various times, from January 1934 to the summer of 1947 and the series eventually made the transition to television.

In 1946, NBC Television brought Lights Out to TV in a series of four specials, broadcast live and produced by Fred Coe, who also contributed three of the scripts. NBC asked Cooper to write the script for the premiere, "First Person Singular", which is told entirely from the point-of-view of an unseen murderer who kills his obnoxious wife and winds up being executed. Variety gave this first episode a rave review ("undoubtedly one of the best dramatic shows yet seen on a television screen"), but Lights Out did not become a regular NBC-TV series until 1949.

Coe initially produced this second series but, for much of its run, the live 1949-1952 program was sponsored by appliance maker Admiral, produced by Herbert Bayard Swope, Jr., directed by Laurence Schwab, Jr., and hosted by Frank Gallop. Critical response was mixed but the program was successful for several seasons (sometimes appearing in the weekly lists of the ten most watched network shows) until competition from the massively popular sitcom I Love Lucy on CBS helped to kill it off.

The 1949-1952 series featured scripts by a variety of authors, including a young Ira Levin. In 1951, producer Swope even bought a few stories from Cooper and Oboler. "Dead Man's Coat," starring Basil Rathbone, appears to be adapted from one of Cooper's 1930s plays (and not to be confused with his Quiet, Please episode "Wear the Dead Man's Coat" with which it shares a similar premise). Oboler's "And Adam Begot," adapted by Ernest Kinoy from a radio play, starred Kent Smith. Among the young actors employed was Leslie Nielsen, who appeared in several episodes including "The Lost Will of Dr. Rant," based on an M. R. James story. These and many others are available on DVD.

In 1972, NBC aired yet another TV incarnation of Lights Out, a TV movie pilot which was not well received. In fact, Oboler (who was then syndicating his The Devil and Mr. O radio show) made a point of announcing publicly that he had nothing to do with it.

In 1995, the network announced it was developing a TV movie and "potential miniseries" called Lights Out which, it was stressed, was "not being adapted from the radio series ..." Although Oboler managed to retain the rights to his radio scripts, NBC apparently still owns the rights to the series' title.

Despite its modest television success, radio historian John Dunning is probably right to suggest that the legend of Lights Out is firmly rooted in radio.

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SD (Standard Definition) File

File Name of SD Episode: 868-047 Lights Out.mpg

Total SD Episode Video Runtime (hh:mm:ss): 00:24:57

File Size of SD Episode Video: 1,162,712,660 Bytes

Resolution of SD Episode Video: 720x480

Date SD Episode Video Uploaded: Monday, January 14, 2013 - 23:00

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