Film Serial Review: Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe (1953)

Release Date: February 17th, 1953 (first chapter)
Directed by: Harry Keller, Franklin Adreon, Fred C. Brannon
Written by: Ronald Davidson, Barry Shipman
Music by: Stanley Wilson
Cast: Judd Holdren, Aline Towne, Gregory Gaye, Craig Kelly

Republic Pictures, NBC, 300 Minutes total (12 episodes)

Review:

Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe is a sequel to the 1952 Republic Pictures serial Radar Men From the Moon. One thing that is very different about this series is that it was produced with the intention of being a syndicated television series, as opposed to a standard theatrical serial. It was released as a serial first, however. Then it found life on NBC in 1955.

The episodes, on average, are longer in duration than a typical serial, due to it being made for the television format. Also, the series was lacking the cliffhanger element that drove serials. It featured a series of episodes that saw their stories build off of one another. While this worked well for the medium of television, it didn’t work so well for theater audiences.

Also, Commando Cody wears the outfit used in the 1949 Republic serial King of the Rocket Men, as opposed to the Commando Cody suit used in Radar Men From the Moon, a year earlier. The series also features stock footage lifted from King of the Rocket Men. Additionally, Republic Pictures used stock footage from their other serials, most notably The Purple Monster Strikes.

All in all, Commando Cody isn’t a bad experience. The television format makes it inconsistent with the serial formula but it is still enjoyable, overall. Being that it is visually inconsistent with its predecessor kind of sucks, as Radar Men From the Moon was pretty enjoyable and a follow-up should have probably been more in tune with it.

Commando Cody is a more refined production, however. It does look better and you soon forget about its predecessor and just get pulled into it. It does feel like a new and separate adventure from Radar Men and you don’t really need to see one to see the other. But maybe, it should have just used a different title and changed the names of its characters.

Ultimately, I don’t like Commando Cody as much as I liked Radar Men but I know people that prefer this series. Realistically, Republic Pictures had multiple “Rocket Man” properties at the time and this just follows that trend. All of them are good in their own way and I will probably end up reviewing them all in the future.

 

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