Early television series seemed to have very similar themes at times. While some of the very first television shows might have been drama-based, there were quite a few that delved into suspense, murder, and even insanity themes. ‘The Clock’ was one of these, also being based on a radio series (under the ABC channel) that had the same titles and the same genre.
The Clock was aired first in 1949 and ended in 1952, while its parent radio series started in 1946 and ended in 1948. The television series was mostly made up of original dramatized story episodes, each being around half an hour long. The themes for each episode usually feature suspense, mayhem, insanity, murder, and other related concepts. Those who are fans of the modern show ‘Murder, She Wrote’, will probably be interested in knowing about ‘The Clock’, which probably paved the way for such shows.
Host Larry Semon was the only regular of the show, introducing and occasionally narrating the episodes as they happened. The actors in each episode regularly changed from one telecast to the next, though some did come back for more than one role.
The title ‘The Clock’ came from an actual clock. This was a prop that became an important plot element within every episode. The musical theme for the show was ‘The Sands of Time’, which was another reference to a clock.
In total, the show ‘The Clock’ had about 91 episodes aired between 1949 through to 1952. Most of these were aired on the NBC channel; however, the last season would air on the ABC (American Broadcasting Company) channel.
Fred Coe was among the directors. At the time, he was among the pioneering directors in what we now know as the First Golden Age of Television. This was the era when live television production was increasing rapidly within the United States, around the late 1940s to the late 1950s. Some sources recognize that this Golden Age came to an end by 1960. By then, both TV audiences and television programming had moved to either filmed or taped shows. There were other Golden Ages of Televisions as well, but modern and classic series are very different.
Coming back to ‘The Clock’, this show had a lot of guest stars. Since there was a new cast every episode, it isn’t surprising that several stars among them are well-known names now. Some of the most notable names include Cloris Leachman, Jackie Cooper, Charlton Heston, Eva Marie Saint, Grace Kelly, Robert Sterling, Anna Lee, Jack Albertson, Raymond Massey, Leslie Nielson, and George Reeves. In fact, this show saw the first appearance of actresses Natalie Norwick and Grace Kelly. One of the episodes in the first season also starred actor John Randolph in his television debut.
While it doesn’t seem like there are any surviving episodes of ‘The Clock’ now, there are still some episode descriptions that might interest viewers of murder and mystery shows. Who knows, they might even inspire remakes for more contemporary shows today. Let’s have a look at some of them now:
- The second episode of the first season (name not known) revolved around a young woman who suspects her elderly aunt of murdering a salesman. She catches her aunt washing an axe and also hears that a lunatic has escaped the asylum recently.
- The 23rd episode, called ‘Payment on Time’ is about a man who sells his own body and then signs a murder confession. He expected to pass away within a month as per his doctor’s diagnosis. As it turns out, the doctor had made a mistake, but the strange bargain still stood, with complications arising after 30 days.
- The 24th episode, called ‘The Fighter’ is about a boxer who gave up the game for love, but now wanted to make a comeback. However, a murder messes up his plans.
- The 26th episode, titled ‘The Hitchhiker’, is about a couple who are headed to the bedside of their sick son. They pick up a hitchhiker who isn’t as innocent as she seems.
- The 27th episode, called ‘The Web’ revolved around a man who gets caught up in a plot for sabotaging his own mental health.
- The 28th episode, called ‘Reverse’, is about a detective who was travelling with his prisoner. Something happens, and the two wake up on an island. The prisoner then becomes the detective’s keeper.
- Episode 29, ‘Cousin Maria’ is about a refugee from Europe who hatches a scheme to stay on in her cousin’s household even after she was told to leave.
- Episode 30, ‘Maniac At Large’, is about three people who take shelter in a country shack during a snowstorm. One of the characters is supposed to be an especial lunatic.
- Episode 31, ‘Lease of Death’ is about a murder committed by a mother and son team. The murderers had rented a townhouse during the summer and wanted to stay on even though the owner was returning.
- Episode 32, ‘Romance’, is about how fate wreaks havoc with the plans made by a young couple.
- Episode 33, ‘Mark Wade, D.A’ is about how the central character learns his lesson when he believes circumstantial evidence and sends someone innocent to prison.
- Episode 34, ‘The Firebug’, is about a pyromaniac who sets several buildings on fire.
- Episode 35, ‘The Bookseller’ is about a married woman who is lonely and ends up falling for a salesman who works with her at a motel and gas station.
- Episode 36, ‘Who Is This Man?’ is about two female friends who play a game of guessing the jobs of people riding the subway with them. One of the girls, Laura, says that a certain man was a murderer. Later, the same man shows up at her door to return her purse and there’s a radio announcement about a murderer being at large.
‘The Clock’ certainly seems like an interesting television series. One can still hope that some tapings or recordings of this show might have survived in someone’s personal collection. For now, however, we can only read the synopses and watch other classic TV series with similar concepts.