Every once in a while, life imitates art and fiction becomes reality. Outlandish plots of yesteryear suddenly seem prophetic in retrospect. We’re not suggesting that TV writers are ever going to be confused with Nostradamus, mind you, but for some classic TV shows, there is just that sort of prescient aura surrounding the scripts.
Let’s take a look at some examples of TV fiction that became real-life technological fact:
- Shazam! – This live action adaptation of the comic book hero was also known as The Shazam!/Isis Hour for 5 seasons. In a show that preceded cell phones by a full decade, one character, Mentor, was known to make phone calls from a mobile unit in his RV, with help of a mobile operator.
- Space:1999 – The comlock device was a hand-held unit with a small television screen and camera which could provide computer access, open doors ans communicate as a mobile device. Sound familiar, anyone?
- Knight Rider – An anthropomorphic car with interactive menus, GPS capability and high-tech security features. What a concept. Nice to see that some very positive developments came from a TV show we thought was kinda cheesy and far-fetched at the time.
- Star Trek – Who could possibly miss the resemblance between those communicators and modern-day flip-phones? We think the Enterprise could have been sponsored by Motorola, and maybe could have even gotten a decent deal by signing up for their 5-year mission phone plan.
- Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea – The concept of a vessel that can both fly and swim is not the stuff of fantasy any longer. The FS-1 flying sub on this series has a real-world counterpart, or at least DARPA has funding to build one.
- Get Smart – OK, so his shoe phone was rotary, but still, the fact that it was mobile and had the ability to ring at the worst possible times – just like in real life – tells us that someone was forward-thinking on that writing staff.
- The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – Remember those pens the spies could talk into on this show? How totally cool was that? Of course, there are spy shops and websites now where you can buy these things, with cameras to boot.
- Lost in Space – Robot technology has come a long way. Modern versions can be made to look and move like humans and without a lot of sarcastic backtalk. But the B9 robot was way ahead of its time as a defensive device, bomb diffuser, soil analyzer and all-around helpful domestic aid.