At Newton’s Observatory Professor Newton (Maurice Cass) and his ward Bobby (Robert Lyden) and Verna Ray (Sally Mansfield) see what, at first blush, appears to be a comet or meteor heading for Earth. When he investigates further the professor realizes that the comet is actually a missile. He notifies Secretary of Space Drake (Charles Meredith). Drake determines that the missile will land near the observatory. It hits the Inter-nation Airport. A second missile lands near Tibet.
Rocky Jones (Richard Crane) and Winky (Scotty Beckett) are called back from space where they have been trying to find the trail of the traitor Ranger Griff (Leonard Penn). It is determined that the missile came from one of Jupiter’s moons, Fornax. Professor Newton believes that an advanced civilization is there and they have developed an incredible energy source to fuel their missiles.
Rocky decides that they need to go to Fornax to determine if there really is an advanced civilization there and if they can establish trading with them. Rocky and his crew take off for Fornax unaware that Ranger Griff had been in Tibet and knows about the missiles with their special fuel.
Eventually they reach Fornax and, due to combat in space with Griff, have no more fuel for the return trip home. They do find an advanced civilization led by Zorovak (Walter Coy) as well as an Earthling called Professor Cardos (Nester Paiva). Professor Cardos, having a checkered past, brings out Rocky’s suspicions. Staying behind to check the ship Rocky and Winky do a little eavesdropping using the ship’s visiograph.
Rocky and Winky learn that Professor Cardos has filled Zorovak’s head with lies about Earth people. He tells Zorovak that Earth people like to take over planets and rule them making the planets part of the Earth’s empire. Cardoss wants Zorovak to take over the spaceship and conquer Earth. Added to the mix is Griff who goes to Ophesia and tells queen Cleolanta about all the power on Fornax. Now Rocky really has his hands full trying to gain Zorovak’s trust and outwit Cleolanta and Cardos.
“Rocky Jones Space Ranger: Menace from Outer Space” AKA “Rocky Jones Space Ranger: Bobby’s Comet” was released in 1954 and was directed by Hollingsworth Morse. It was part of an American science fiction television series originally broadcast in 1954. It is a compilation of three of the series shows repackaged as a standalone film and released on VHS and DVD. The science fiction story is part of the space opera subgenre. “Menace from Outer Space” is either the third or second story in movie form in the sequence of the series depending on your source.
There are a lot of questions concerning the order of the episodes. Many believe that the story order for the television series is 1. Beyond the Curtain of Space, 2. Bobby’s Comet, 3. Escape into Space (a one episode story) and 4. Rocky’s Odyssey. They base their decision on the casual uniform worn by both Rocky and Winky. In all the stories noted above as one, two and three the rangers wear white t-shits and gray hats. After that in all episodes, including Rocky’s Odyssey they wear gray t-shirts and dark hats. That made sense to me.
Some also noted that some episodes were broadcast in different sequences depending on the station, when it went into re-runs, whether or not the time slot changed, etc. etc. If the Rocky Jones nerds are correct, and I have no reason to doubt them, then this is the second story and “Rocky’s Odyssey” AKA “Gypsy Moon” is actually third. Does it really matter? It depends on who you talk to and I’m not going there.
Rocky Jones was the creation of producer Roland Reed. Roland Reed Productions was founded in 1950 and in 1951 Warren Wilson wrote the screenplay for the Rocky Jones pilot. By the end of 1951 they had selected a cast. Rocky Jones was being played by the square-jawed one time leading man Richard Crane. The at one time “Our Gang” member comic relief was Scotty Beckett as Winky Rocky’s co-pilot. Of course merchandising for the show started before the pilot was even shot. A coloring book was produced in 1951. It sold nearly a half million copies in its first printing.
At the end of each show a narrator advised the viewers to: “Be with us next week, same time, same station, when we again take you into outer space for further adventures with Rocky Jones.”
And so you should.