Dimension X

1950 -1951

Norman Rose (circa 2000) was the narrator/ host to this trail blazing science fiction anthology series in 1950.

Dimension X was the first science fiction show for adults that really caught on. (2,000 Plus started sooner, but wasn't as sophisticated or popular.) Dimension X was hosted by Norman Rose. His calm and deadly serious voice usually spoke over a slow pounding bass drum, which added a fatalistic air of a death march in the background. These stories were not kiddie space shows like Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon. They were thoughtful and sometimes down beat stories based on the more serious science fiction found in pulp magazines of the day, like Astounding Science Fiction Magazine (which eventually sponsored the show). Since they were anthology shows with no recurring cast, characters could (and often did) die. Classic tales by Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Bloch, and Isaac Asimov were brought to life in the minds of listeners. The fantastic worlds sounded great on radio and provided Dimension X an advantage that it wouldn't have had on TV at the time. While other shows were losing audiences to the boob tube because people wanted to actually see their favorite characters perform, televsion in the 1950s had a way to go before it was able to provide special effects that could compete with the rich imaginations of radio's audience. The visual medium could create dramatic and comedy atmosphere fine, but the technology that was needed to create convincing alien worlds, elaborate space ships, and better monsters would not come around for another decade. The extremely elaborate visual effects we see today are made by computer programs that would not even start to emerge for another two decades. However, such imaginative aspects in radio shows were easily conjured with words, music and sound effects which allowed for this series to conquer the universe much sooner.

Dimension X employed two-- and sometimes three-- sound men, plus an excellent music composer (Albert Berman) to create effective atmosphere for stories that were literally "out of this world". The series was originally produced live for the first 13 episodes but was taped for the remaining 37 shows. According to The Big Broadcast, the taping process was so new at that time, that an NBC engineer actually erased the recording of Bradbury's "Mars is Heaven" three times in a row before he was able to edit it properly (Buxton, 69). Lucky for the cast, they were paid for each performance-- that's four times as much as they were originally expecting! Fortunately, the same engineer didn't erase any of the other shows. All fifty episodes were preserved in good quality for listeners to hear today (Dunning, 200). In addition to that, Dimension X spun off a sequel of sorts, the equally exciting science fiction anthology series, X Minus One.


 

A scene from one of the especially popular episodes, "Zero Hour," courtesy of Tune In For Terror ©1992.

The Standard Intro:

(Drum roll.) "Adventures in time and space... Told in future tense!

(Echo voice.) "Dimension.... X... X... x.... x....

(Organ flairs and a crescendo sting. A slow pounding drum march plays in the background while narrator describes the opening scene.)

An Opening Narration:

"It happened during a routine skirmish in the Great War. Patrols advanced from the defense perimeter under jet cover and proceeded with Napalm Throwers. The Enemy defended in depth and mopped up with guided 98s fired from forty miles to the rear. The blast area was ten miles in circumference. And the medics didn't find much to pick up over five hundred yards in..."

 

An Ending Narration & Closing:

(Drum pounds in march cadence.) "Homecoming is a joyous word. But when the home you're returning to is a burned out radioactive planet, and when you cannot even imagine what terrible changes you'll find there, the word then takes on a very different meaning...

"Next week, Dimension X brings you a strange story called 'Dwellers In Silence.'"

 


Hear it now, FREE!

Hear up to 32 different episodes of Dimension X in RealPlayer courtesy of OTR.net!

(RealPlayer allows you to continue to browse other sites while you listen.)


Some Suggested Samples

The Parade - An advertising man is approached by a stranger with a really odd request: He wants to spend big bucks advertising an upcoming Martian invasion.

The Knock - The last man in the world waits alone in a room, when suddenly there's a knock on the door...

The Martian Death March - When Mars is colonized by humans, where to move the native Martians becomes a nuisance.

Mars is Heaven - Man's first landing on Mars is plagued with confusion when the landing crew discovers it is populated with husmans who have died on Earth.

Read OTR Plot Spot synopsis of more Dimension X episods at http://www.otrplotspot.com/DimensionX.htm


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