Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Dimension X

By the early Fifties, Old Time Radio was in decline. In metropolitan areas where there were already television stations, radio often found itself losing its audience to television. This situation would only grow steadily worse as the Fifties progressed. As more and more television stations opened throughout the United States, Old Time Radio would lose more and more of its audience to the younger medium. That is not to say that classic Old Time Radio shows did not continue to debut in the Fifties. One of the best remembered radio shows of the Fifties was the science fiction anthology series Dimension X.

Prior to the Fifties, most science fiction shows on American radio, such as Buck Rogers in the 25th Anniversary and Flash Gordon, had been made for a juvenile audience. The year 1950 saw the advent of the first American science fiction radio show made for adults when 2000 Plus on the Mutual Broadcasting System on March 15 1950. The following month would see the debut of Dimension X on NBC on April 8 1950. Newspaper radio listings include another adult science fiction show, Beyond Tomorrow, but it is unclear if it ever aired on CBS or if it announced but cancelled before it ever aired. Regardless, only four segments of Beyond Tomorrow (including the audition show were produced).

Fortunately Dimension X would last a bit longer, although for a show that is well remembered by many its run would be brief. The show debuted with an adaptation of Graham Doar's short story "The Outer Limit." This would set the pace for the rest of the series. While Dimension X would feature some original episodes, the majority of its episodes were adaptation of stories by such writers as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, H. Beam Piper, and Jack Williamson. A highlight of the show's first season was an adaptation of Robert A. Heinein's novel Destination Moon, in conjunction with the movie of the same name.

The announcer and narrator on Dimension X was Norman Rose, who would provide voices for the Saturday morning cartoon Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales and work on the radio show CBS Mystery Radio Theatre. Its episodes were directed by Edward King and Fred Weihe. Among the actors who appeared on Dimension X were Mason Adams, Ralph Bell, John Di Santis, and Jan Miner.

Dimension X ran from April 8 1950 to January 14 1951. The show was then off the air for five months, but returned on June 3 1951. Its final episode, an adaptation of Isaac Asmiov's "Nightfall," aired on September 29 1951.

While Dimension X had ended its run, it would return after a fashion. On April 24 1955 the science fiction radio show X Minus One debuted on NBC. X Minus One began as a revival of Dimension X, so that its first 15 episodes were new versions of old Dimension X episodes. While X Minus One, like Dimension X before it, would continue to features episodes based on stories by famous science fiction writers, with its sixteenth episode it began adapting new material. Over all, X Minus One would prove to be more successful than Dimension X. It would run for 126 episodes until January 9 1958. Dimension X only ran for 50 episodes.

While Dimension X only ran for 17 months in total, the show remains well remembered to this day. Most of its episodes still exist and are available both online and on CD. While it was short-lived, Dimension X proved science fiction could be more than juvenile entertainment.

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