9 January 2008 | redryan64
"Remember all of you Secret Squadron members, it's Justice through Strength and Courage!" Hey, that'd be a real good motto for today's America!
CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT had been a popular kids' adventure program which started in 1938 and ran locally in Chicago, in Syndication and in varying times on the NBC, Blue, Mutual and ABC Radio Networks. It was long-lived and very popular; surviving the waning years of Great Depression Years as well as World War II. The series had undergone a continuous metamorphosis in scheduling, time slots, sponsor and ownership.
With the rights of the show being owned by Ovaltine, the series was adapted to Television in 1954. It was a production of Screen Gems, the Television Subsidiary of Columbia Pictures Corporation. By this time, the origin and identity was get just a little long in the tooth and the series underwent some cosmetic surgery, in order that he will seem a little more up to date.
For one thing, the name of "Captain Midnight" was hung on the hero following a desperate mission he completed in The World War (as the European Conflict of 1914-1918 was called prior to 1939.). In this engagement with the enemy, the hero left for his appointment with destiny at the very stoke of 12 Midnight. 12 Midnight, Captain Midnight; hmmmm, they're clever, these Americans! In "modernizing" a character, a lot must be jettisoned away from the character and the core elements of the story line. Hence, we had a mountain top secret headquarters and a newly updated Jet Aircraft, dubbed 'The Silver Dart. Supporting characters resident Scientist Aristotle "Tut" Jones and side-kick/airplane mechanic Ichabod "Ikky"Mudd were portrayed by Olan Soule and Sid Melton, respectively.
Tall and tan, young and lovely, with an excellent speaking voice and excellent acting credentials, athletic Richard Webb garnered the title role of the good Captain. I can well remember thinking that Mr. Webb would have made an excellent choice to portray the DC Super Hero, Green Lantern (Silver Age); but before we knew it, he was off and portraying Chief Don Jagger on BORDER PATROL TV Series.
Our "modernized" fighting team had gone through the same sort of revamping that is oh so common in the Comic Book business does all the time. Be it at DC or over at Marvel, they are all big on keeping their charges up to date. And after all, be it a Comic Book, Pulp Magazine Character or Radio/TV/Motion Pictures, they are all pretty much alike.
The TV series did not have any sightings of old nemesis of the Captain's, the evil Ivan Shark. Nor were there any continuities in story requiring continued story lines as we always saw in the Movie Serials.* Because of the rights to the Captain Name, likeness and all related material was in the hands of the Ovaltine people, Columbia/Screen Gems could do nothing to put the old series episodes into syndication. So we saw another case of celluloid, not plastic, surgery. All they did at Screen Gems was to change the name of the character and the show to "JET JACKSON and they were in business.
They got the series out in syndication, but it had the worst case of obvious dubbing in the history of sound film. It was so obvious and jerky when for example, Mr. Webb would sign off mouthing "This is Captain Midnight", but the dubbed sound said, "This is Jet Jackson" that is was laughable, even to us dumb kids.
NOTE * Yes there was a cliffhanger serial of CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT (Columbia, 1942)starring stuntman-actor Dave O'Brien in the title role.