The Secret Files Of Captain Video (lost science-fiction television spin-off series; 1953-1954)

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Logo for Captain Video and His Video Rangers.

Status: Lost

The Secret Files of Captain Video is an early science-fiction television series. A spin-off of Captain Video and His Video Rangers, the show was designed to capitalise on the main show's appeal with children, airing 20 episodes on Saturday mornings from 5th September 1953 to 29th May 1954.


Following a slow start in 1949, DuMont science-fiction series Captain Video and His Video Rangers became a hit television show for the station during the early-1950s.[1][2] Starring Al Hodge as Captain Video, the show on average pulled around 3.5 million viewers an episode across 24 stations.[1] While it also enticed adults, the real key demographic was children, who became especially dedicated by writing into DuMont about the show, joining the Video Rangers Club and consuming the various merchandise sold throughout the years.[1] DuMont soon realised that the Captain Video franchise could further appeal to the children's market, especially if it ran during Saturday mornings rather than exclusively in primetime slots.[1][2]

Thus, The Secret Files of Captain Video was conceptualised.[1][2] Aside airing on Saturday mornings, there were a key few differences that helped the show stand out.[3][4][2][1] Firstly, whereas episodes of Captain Video and His Video Rangers were typically serial-based, The Secret Files of Captain Video often consisted of self-contained 30-minute stories, with the exception of two episodes dedicated to "The 'Q' Effect".[3][2][1] Additionally, details from TV Guide issues indicate the spin-off was also somewhat a prequel, with certain episodes focusing on historic events within the Captain Video universe.[3][2][4] For instance, "Blaster Martin" revolved around humanity's first encounters with space travel, with one ship aiming to travel to Jupiter for the first time.[3] In "Beginnings", which was also the final episode, teenage sidekick and second-in-command The Video Ranger, who is played by Don Hastings, explained how he successfully met all criteria to climb the order of the Video Rangers.[3]

Alas, some episodes' narratives, particularly those broadcast in February and March 1954, are completely lost to time as TV Guide issues could not elaborate on their stories at the time of being published.[2][3] However, it is noted that the episodes were often written by younger and somewhat well-regarded science-fiction writers. By the time the series ended after 29th May 1954, 20 episodes had been aired.[3][4] The main show would also be off the air after 1st April 1955, with DuMont suffering financial troubles that caused its folding on 6th August 1956.[5][1][2]


The Secret Files of Captain Video's preservation, like with the main show and other DuMont programs, was negatively impacted by two damaging events.[6][7][8] In 1958, phoenix company Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation began dismantling many of DuMont's kinescope recordings, with the intent of acquiring the silver stored within them.[8] But the worst was yet to come; in the early-1970s, Metromedia, which took over Metropolitan Broadcasting Company, began negotiations surrounding a buy-out.[6][7] However, debates raged between lawyers over who would become responsible for preserving the remaining kinescopes and 2" inch tapes.[6][7][8] Eventually, one lawyer decided to take matters into his own hands, transferring three lorries filled with the recordings from New Jersey to a barge that travelled to the Upper New York Bay.[6][7][8] There, the tapes were deposited into the bay, and have never been recovered.[6][7][8]

It is unclear how many, if any, episodes of The Secret Files of Captain Video were destroyed in 1958. If any did survive, the destruction of nearly the entire DuMont library in the early-1970s likely claimed them. While Captain Video and His Video Rangers has around 24 episodes preserved at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, none of the spin-off episodes are known to have survived.[9]

See Also

External Link


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Television Academy Foundation providing a quote from Encyclopedia of Television which detailed the success of Captain Video and His Video Rangers and the creation of the spin-off. Retrieved 1st Apr '23
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Crime Fighting Heroes of Television summarising the inspiration for creating the spin-off, and noting most episodes were standalone. Retrieved 1st Apr '23
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 The Classic TV Archive listing the episodes of the show, providing TV Guide summaries where possible. Retrieved 1st Apr '23
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 From Daytime to Primetime summarising the spin-off and noting most episodes were written by younger science-fiction writers. Retrieved 1st Apr '23
  5. Clarke Ingram's DuMont Television Network detailing the end of the DuMont Television Network. Retrieved 1st Apr '23
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Television/Video Preservation Study: Los Angeles Public Hearing, March 1996 where Adams discussed the massive loss of DuMont television media. Retrieved 1st Apr '23
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Clarke Ingram's DuMont Television Network relaying Adams' story and noting how some DuMont television media has survived. Retrieved 1st Apr '23
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 29th May 2003 issue of Metropolitan News-Enterprise detailing the destruction of the DuMont archive in 1958 and the early-1970s. Retrieved 1st Apr '23
  9. Clarke Ingram's DuMont Television Network listing the surviving tapes at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, with none being from The Secret Files of Captain Video. Retrieved 1st Apr '23