I'm Andrew. I write about the past and future of tech, music, media, culture, art, and activism. This is my blog.

Archiving Space Patrol

Posted: December 12, 2023

I spend a lot of time and energy digitizing and cataloging episodes of Space Patrol (1950), and I haven’t talked about that much recently, so I’m going to talk about that today. Space Patrol was an American science fiction Space Adventure television program that aired from 1950 to 1955. For most of it’s run, it aired 6 days a week, producing a 15 minute episode every weekday in the tradition of the soap opera (or I suppose, the Space Opera), and a half hour episode every Saturday. It aired 52 weeks a year, producing more than a thousand episodes of television (in addition to several hundred episodes of the Radio Program!) All of these episodes were produced Live, with little rehersal, and broadcast live out to the world. Video tape would not enter in to common use until 5 years after the show went off the air.

They were Kinescoped for re-broadcast on the east coast, and for future re-runs, but most of the 15 minute daily episodes and many of the half hour weekly episodes are lost, and there has been no officially sanctioned release of any episodes of the show, although various purveyors of DVD-Rs have released collections of wildly varying quality and completion, and Kinescopes appear on the secondhand market with some frequency.

I have personally digitized dozens of episodes of the show from the original film elements, including many episodes of the half hour show. I have additionally undertaken an effort to digitize various semi-official and unofficial VHS tapes and DVD releases that I have picked up from conventions, video stores, and online fan communities.

As I work I am sharing the episodes we digitize with New Ellijay Television.

Here are the current New Ellijay Television Collections:

Weekly Episodes

Daily Episodes

These collections are nowhere near comprehensive, they do not include most episodes currently available on the internet (such as this excellent collection of more than 80 episodes) but they do include many episodes that are otherwise entirely unavailable online, or that are only available in much worse quality.

We are adding new items on a regular basis. Most of my efforts right now are centered around some homemade (circa 1985) VHS tapes of 15 minute daily episodes that I acquired from the collection of a long time fan. These take a lot of work, because we have to babysit the transfer, and because there is so little information about the daily show that identifying the broadcast date is often an exercise in futility.

When we’re out of Daily Episodes, we’ll get back to updating the weekly episodes. My ultimate goal is to build the definitive collection of the show, identifying which episodes exist, and which ones are still missing, and pointing to the best available sources for the episodes which survive. I have a long way to go, but we’ve also made some significant progress.

Check back often to see how things go from here.

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