‘Space’ 1959: Binge Discovery

Star Trek has long been a gold mine for Paramount Pictures, but the first season of the original series – which premiered 50 years ago today — was actually produced by Desilu Studios. Gulf & Western, which had recently acquired Paramount, bought Desilu a year later and rechristened it as Paramount Television.

Perhaps ironically, prior to the Desilu merger, Paramount’s most recent solo attempt at TV success had been with another sci-fi show a full seven years earlier. In 1959, the studio made a pilot for CBS called Destination Space. This realistic (for its time) exploration into the future of space travel was directed by Joseph Pevney, who would later helm 14 episodes of Star Trek, including “The Trouble With Tribbles.” The pilot was written by Rip Van Ronkel, we kid you not, who had previously penned the realistic (again, for its time) 1950 flick Destination Moon. So, in honor of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, here’s a look at what might have been instead:

Instead of Destination Space, CBS in 1959 picked up another realistic space exploration drama, Men Into Space, which is The Savvy Screener’s binge discovery. You can watch all 38 half-hours on YouTube. Here’s episode one, the pilot that beat out Paramount’s show for a spot on the CBS schedule (with Angie Dickinson making her only appearance as the lead astronaut’s wife):

Men Into Space also airs Saturdays and Sundays at 7:30 am ET on Comet, which you can watch online or over-the-air.

About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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