Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fredric Brown on TV Part Nine - Episode Guide

by Jack Seabrook

Fredric Brown’s professional interest in television began in 1949, when he plotted his novel, Here Comes a Candle, during bus rides between his home in Taos, New Mexico, and Denver, Colorado.  He visited the Denver library to research how TV scripts were written, and bought a TV technique book in Denver, according to his wife’s book.

An experimental novel, Here Comes a Candle (1950) contains a section that represents Brown’s first attempt to write in the format of a teleplay.

According to Beth Brown, her husband was approached in the early 1950s to write a weekly, half-hour detective show featuring a young, male-female detective team.  Brown wrote the pilot for the series, a story called “The Traveling Room,” but the series deal fell through and Brown sold the plot to television a couple of years later.

Brown’s stories began to sell to TV early in the 1950s.  He and his wife lived in Taos, New Mexico, where there was no TV reception, so they could not watch the shows when they were broadcast.  The anthology shows that were so popular in TV’s early days were the perfect showcase for short stories, and most of the adaptations of Fredric Brown’s work for TV came in the 1950s.

While Brown lived in Southern California from 1952 to 1954, was said to have commuted to Los Angeles in 1960 to write scripts for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and lived in Hollywood from 1961 to 1963, there is little evidence that he did much writing for television.  If he did, very little of what he wrote was produced.

What follows is an episode guide to Fredric Brown’s TV work.  It is as complete as I can make it, but I welcome additions or new information.

Episode title-“The Last Man on Earth”
Series-Tales of Tomorrow
Broadcast date-31 August 1951
Teleplay by-Reginald Lawrence
Based on-“Knock”
First print appearance-Thrilling Wonder Stories December 1948

Episode title-“Age of Peril”
Series-Tales of Tomorrow
Broadcast date-15 February 1952
Teleplay by-A.J. Russell
Based on-“Crisis, 1999”
First print appearance-Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine August 1949

Episode title-“The House Nobody Wanted”
Series-Pepsi-Cola Playhouse
Broadcast date-13 November 1953
Teleplay by-Lawrence Kimble
Based on-“The House Nobody Wanted”
First print appearance-none
Notes-probably written for TV

Episode title-“The Motive Goes Round and Round”
Series-Pepsi-Cola Playhouse
Broadcast date-11 December 1953
Teleplay by-Lawrence Kimble
Based on-“The Motive Goes Round and Round”
First print appearance-Thrilling Detective October 1943

Episode title-“Miss Darkness”
Series-Pepsi-Cola Playhouse
Broadcast date-1 January 1954
Teleplay by-Fenton Earshaw and Richard Collins
Based on-“Miss Darkness”
First print appearance-Avon Detective Mysteries #3 (1947)

Episode title-“The Traveling Room”
Series-Studio 57
Broadcast date-12 October 1954
Teleplay by-James Gunn
Based on-“The Traveling Room”
First print appearance-none
Notes-Brown wrote the story for TV

Episode title-“The Thin Line”
Series-Four Star Playhouse
Broadcast date-1 December 1955
Teleplay by-Frederick Brady
Based on-“I’ll Cut Your Throat Again, Kathleen”
First print appearance-Mystery Book Magazine Winter 1948

Episode title-“The Cream of the Jest”
Series-Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Broadcast date-10 March 1957
Teleplay by-Sarett Rudley
Based on-“Last Curtain”
First print appearance-New Detective July 1949

Episode title-“His Name Was Death”
Series-Robert Montgomery Presents
Broadcast date-18 March 1957
Teleplay by-unknown
Based on-His Name Was Death
First print appearance-1954 novel

Episode title-“The Night the World Ended”
Series-Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Broadcast date-28 April 1957
Teleplay by-Bernard C. Schoenfeld
Based on-“The Night the World Ended”
First print appearance-Dime Mystery Magazine January 1945

Episode title-“The Dangerous People”
Series-Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Broadcast date-23 June 1957
Teleplay by-Francis M. Cockrell
Based on-“No Sanctuary”
First print appearance-Dime Mystery Magazine March 1945

Episode title-“Cry Silence”
Series-ITV Television Playhouse
Broadcast date-31 January 1958
Teleplay by-Milton S. Gelman
Based on-“Cry Silence”
First print appearance-Black Mask November 1948
Notes-UK series

Episode title-“Human Interest Story”
Series-Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Broadcast date-24 May 1959
Teleplay by-Fredric Brown
Based on-“The Last Martian”
First print appearance-Galaxy Science Fiction October 1950

Episode title-“A True Account”
Series-Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Broadcast date-7 June 1959
Teleplay by-Robert C. Dennis and Fredric Brown
Based on-“Curtains For Me” by Anthony Gilbert
First print appearance-London Evening Standard 3 October 1951

Episode title-“Knock Three-One-Two”
Broadcast date-13 December 1960
Teleplay by-John Kneubuhl
Based on-Knock Three-One-Two
First print appearance-1959 novel

Episode title-“A Little White Lye”
Series-General Electric Theater
Broadcast date-5 February 1961
Teleplay by-unknown
Based on-“A Little White Lye”
First print appearance-Ten Detective Aces September 1942

Episode title-“Fun and Games”
Series-The Outer Limits
Broadcast date-30 March 1964
Teleplay by-Joseph Stefano/Story by Robert Specht
Based on-“Arena”
First print appearance-Astounding Science Fiction June 1944

Episode title-“El cumpleaňos” (“The Birthday”)
Series-Historias para no dormir (Stories to Keep You Awake)
Broadcast date-4 February 1966
Teleplay by-unknown
Based on-"Nightmare in Yellow"(?)
First print appearance-Dude May 1961
Notes-broadcast in Spain

Episode title-“Arena”
Series-Star Trek
Broadcast date-19 January 1967
Teleplay by-Gene L. Coon
Based on-“Arena”
First print appearance-Astounding Science Fiction June 1944

Episode title-“Daisies”
Broadcast date-25 December 1981
Teleplay by-unknown
Based on-“Daisies”
First print appearance-Angels and Spaceships

Episode title-“The Human Interest Story”
Series-Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Broadcast date-17 November 1985
Teleplay by-Karen Harris
Based on-“The Last Martian”
First print appearance-Galaxy Science Fiction October 1950

Episode title-“The Geezenstacks”
Series-Tales From the Darkside
Broadcast date-26 October 1986
Teleplay by-Nancy Doyne
Based on-“The Geezenstacks”
First print appearance-Weird Tales September 1943

Other TV episodes without detailed information:

Episode title-“Town Wanted”
Series-The Ken Murray Show
Broadcast date-between January 1950 and June 1953
Teleplay by-unknown
Based on-“Town Wanted”
First print appearance-Detective Fiction Weekly 7 September 1940
Notes-mentioned by Beth Brown; probably a skit in the middle of this variety show

*Beth Brown wrote that The Screaming Mimi was adapted twice for television in the 1950s under different titles.

Other unproduced teleplays:

“Death of a Martian”
“The Laughing Ghoul”
“Report to Earth” (reprinted in Happy Ending, 1990)
“A Woman’s a Two-Face” (reprinted in Happy Ending, 1990)


The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Web. 23 July 2011.
Brown, Elizabeth.  Oh, for the Life of an Author's Wife. Print.  Unpublished typescript.
Galactic Central. Web. 24 July 2011. <>.
Seabrook, Jack. Martians and Misplaced Clues: the Life and Work of Fredric Brown. Bowling GreenOH: Bowling Green State University Popular, 1993. Print.


George said...

Wonderful posting on Brown's TV work! I'm most familiar with his famous ARENA, but all of these other episodes will be worth tracking down.

Peter Enfantino said...


If you think this is good, you should read Jack Seabrook's book-length study of Fredric Brown, Martians and Misplaced Clues. An amazing piece of research. Jack continues to do an astounding job here keeping Brown's name alive. One of these days, I've got a feeling that Jack and I are going to tackle Alfred Hitchcock Presents on this blog. Right, Jack?

Jack Seabrook said...

Peter, that's actually my plan for the next post! Stay tuned!

michael said...

As a fan of Brown's writings I enjoyed this post, especially the links to the TV shows.

But I really want to find that "TV technique book" available in 1949. Do you know the title?

How did Brown develop an interest in television while living in New Mexico?

Great post.

Jack Seabrook said...

I don't know what book he got in 1949. His wife just wrote that he bought a book. I can't imagine there were many choices then! As to how he got interested, I assume he saw it as a coming thing and, as a working writer, wanted to get in on the ground floor. He had lived in NYC before moving to Taos so perhaps there was some very early TV there.

Holger Haase said...

Wow! Only now discovered this blog. Congrats on the amount of info about Fredric Brown. Great stuff!