1936 - 1937
Above image courtesy of Tune In For Terror © 1992
Of all the rare horror programs listed here, none of them are as mysterious in origin or have as sinister sounding as Dr. Satan. There is virtually no information on the series anywhere, except in Hickerson's Guide to Circulating Shows (Hickerson, 128). All it gives there is the title of the show, the 1936 - 1937 airdate, and an indication that the show was syndicated. That's it! There's no mention of any cast, the genre, or if any surviving shows exist.
The title alone suggests it was a horror program, and a rather creepy sounding title at that! Satan is the more inflammatory name for the devil, loaded with Biblical inferences of blasphemy and evil. "The devil", on the other hand, almost sounds friendly in comparison. Calling someone "devilish" isn't near as bad as calling them "satanic". The devil suggests a mischievous force-- untrustworthy, sure, but at least someone civil. Satan, however, means just one thing: EVIL. If you had to sit next to one or the other in a flight, picking the devil would be a no-brainer. He somehow seems less demonic. In folk lore, the devil was often presented in a gentleman-like fashion. Not so with Satan. He never got good press. The two may actually be one and the same, just as God and Jesus represent the same entity on the other side of the spectrum. In a similar fashion, God is presented as being more stern and powerful, while Jesus is seen as being more forgiving, and therefore, approachable. Whenever there is a natural disaster, no one ever says it was an "act of Jesus." (That would sound sacrilegious.) Instead, it is an Act of God. So God, it would seem, becomes angrier and is more prone to violence. And so it is with Satan, the biggest, meanest version of bad. Darker than Lucifer, crueler than Beelzebub, and far less diplomatic than the devil.
This still doesn't tell us much about the series itself, but it does suggest the producers were not afraid to provoke the religious community, which would likely react to the name alone in a very negative manner. The 1930s was an influential time for religion in 20th century America. They had been largely ignored during the roaring 20s, but they bounced back with a vengeance during the depression when Americans sought hope and help from a higher plane.
I've asked several OTR researchers, and I also have inquired about Dr. Satan on the OTR forums, but so far, no one can remember anything about the series or any controversy it caused. No old ads, no old articles, nothing. The silence gets a little spooky after a while, almost like it's a conspiracy or cover-up. How does the old adage go? "Satan's greatest power is his ability to convince man that he doesn't exist."
So we better keep looking... just in case.
Another reference to this series (with no details) is found in Digital Deli Too.
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