Space Ranger Rocky Jones and his crew visit a planet where the residents live in an underground city. Soon he finds himself arrested for attempted murder and the theft of a spaceship…
It’s the final mission for Rocky Jones and the loyal crew of the ‘Silver Moon’ as they police the space lanes one last time on behalf of the United Worlds of the Solar System and Roland Reed Productions of Hollywood, Calif. This was TV’s very first space opera, available weekly in 25 minute episodes, most of which told a complete story in three parts. Many were combined into ‘feature films’ and given a new title for rebroadcast.
This adventure was originally called ‘The Trial of Rocky Jones.’ And that’s exactly what we have here. Rocky (square-jawed, twinkly-eyed Richard Crane) intervenes when old friend and ‘lovable’ rogue Pinto Vertando (Ted Hecht) gets on the wrong end of a beating on the street. As a result, he’s arrested for attempted murder and banged up in the big house (or a small set in this case.) His list of crimes increases when he breaks jail and is caught afterwards in the captain’s chair of a rocket that’s been launched into space! The rocket doesn’t belong to him, of course, and neither does its valuable cargo.
With a record like that, it’s hardly surprising that he’s up before the beak pretty sharpish in the shape of no-nonsense planetary potentate Volga (Dayton Lummis). Luckily (I suppose!) Rocky’s co-pilot Biff (Jimmy Lydon) has read a book on law overnight and so is perfectly qualified to be his defence attorney! The rest of the story focuses on the trial, with Biff cross-examining both friendly and hostile witnesses, having his objections overruled and generally getting a bad time off Lummis on the bench.
Most of this involves a lot of talk, of course, as Lydon tries to besmirch the good name of Griff (Leonard Penn) the trader whose cargo ship Crane had ‘accidentally’ appropriated when drugged up to the eyeballs by person or persons unknown. Apparently. It’s not much of a defence if you ask me. Originally, Griff had been a space ranger himself, who betrayed the Earth a bit in much earlier story ‘Silver Needle ln The Sky’ (1954). Our ‘only’ traitor, Rocky muses, conveniently forgetting all the others that betrayed them on almost every episode of the show. Next to be subjected to Lydon’s crude attempts at character assassination are other principal prosecution witnesses Rudy Di Marco (Richard Avonde) and Dr Reno (Thomas Browne Henry). Just because they had tried to take over the planet Herculon in ‘A Cold Sun’. That was all just a misunderstanding. Obviously.
Of course, all this means a lot of verbal testimony, most of which is aided by a little cinematic device called ‘the flash back.’ Yes, it’s what old movie serials used to call the ‘recap’ episode, or, in more modern vernacular, a ‘clip show’! It’s a pretty cheap way to bring the curtain down on the series but, if you can believe it(!) the show was apparently quite expensive to produce, mainly due to the fact that it didn’t have the backing of a major network.
So it’s goodbye to the two-fisted Rocky Jones, blonde but dim navigator Vena (Sally Mansfield) and annoying young brat Bobby (Robert Lyden) as they sail off into the galactic sunset aboard the ‘Silver Moon.’ It’s nice to believe that they’re still out there somewhere in the cosmos; matching wits with alien queens who wear tiaras and sit behind big desks, watching out for strange, magnetic forces that pulverise spaceships made with wooden parts, putting on their goggles to prevent radiation getting in through their eyeballs, and beating the crap out of unnamed stunt players in uniforms decorated with lightning bolts. And that Secretary Drake (Charles Griffith) is still Earthside at Space Ranger HQ, worrying about everything, and getting betrayed by every minor functionary that happens to be hanging around in his office. And that Ranger Clark (William Hudson) is still on the astrophone on board Space Station OW9 privately wishing that the Service could afford at least one other member of staff to help him out, and, every now and them, dreaming of a 50-foot Allison Hayes…
‘Rocky Jones calling the Office of Space Affairs…come in, Secretary Drake!’