The Outer Limits-Season 1 (1963) (NTSC)
|Category||Fantasy||Main Menu Audio & Animation|
|Year Of Production||1963|
|Running Time||1646:14 (Case: 1642)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (4)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,4||Directed By||Various|
Twentieth Century Fox
Robert Van Eps
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||None||Smoking||Yes, One pack per character, per episode!|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
When it comes to short subject speculative television, there are two benchmark programs to consider: "There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man", The Twilight Zone and "Do not attempt to adjust the picture", The Outer Limits. While The Twilight Zone ran for 6 years from 1959 to 1965, The Outer Limits ran for just a couple of years, from 1963 to 1965. Because of this, The Limits is very much more a product of its era than The Zone is. This was the time of increased paranoia in the United States from several areas, including fear of the atomic bomb, fear of communist aggression, especially from the USSR, and also increased anxiety about our place in the universe and perhaps there being malevolent forces whom might be watching our world with envious eyes. It would be a culmination of these increasingly pronounced fears that would make this series quite memorable for an entire generation.
While The Zone would be remembered for its startling twist endings, The Limits were more morality tales, as if each story was there as a modern version of Ĉsop's Fables. Perhaps simplistic in their presentation, they still told stories which embodied truths that are timeless, such as tolerance, the necessity of peace among peoples, and the futility of conflict, both personal and between nations. This is probably why this series struck a cord with the 'baby boomer' generation; the subject matter would often be very close to the mark in terms of current events and concerns of that generation. It's no surprise that influence of the series would be felt to this day.
Here, over 32 one hour (okay, 51 minute) episodes, we have the hopes, dreams, fears and concerns of a generation as they began the journey into the latter half of the 20th century. Classic television that is still interesting 40 years later.
Disc 1, Side 1
1. The Galaxy Being - 51:26 Written and Directed by Leslie Stevens
Starring: Cliff Robertson, Jacqueline Scott, William O. Douglas and Charles MacQuarry (as The Galaxy Being), Lee Philips, Allyson Ames, Roy Sickner, James Frawley, Bill Catching and Allen Pinson.
Allan Maxwell (Cliff Robertson) is obsessed with the existence of life beyond our own world. As the SETI program would do in future years, Allan has taken to monitoring the skies for any incoming signals that might be transmitted from extraterrestrial beings. He does this using his radio station's broadcast antenna as a transmitter/receiver in the hope of eventual first contact. To increase his chance of finding the ever-elusive incoming signal, Allan has resorted to 'borrowing' power from KXKVI's transmitter and diverting it to his own operations. While this contravenes FCC regulations, he is not concerned as with his continual diligence in searching for the eventual signal and his newly developed 3 dimensional visual receiver, the chances of contact from beyond this earth must be high. And he is, of course, right.
After much searching the heavens for a signal, Allan finally receives the message he has been waiting for: contact with a being from the Andromeda galaxy. After much discussion through a binary language translator Allan has constructed, he is called away to a civic reception held in his honour, much to his annoyance. As he leaves the radio station, he admonishes the substituting announcer not to increase the transmission power of the station. The being from the Andromeda galaxy has warned that any increase of power in transmission could cause serious problems, though these problems are never explained. Needless to say, some people can't help themselves and the power goes up, with unexpected (expected) results.
This was the pilot episode of a series that was to be called Please Stand By (Beyond Control was apparently another alternative title) and would eventually become The Outer Limits.
2. The Hundred Days of the Dragon - 50:31 Written by Allan Balter and Robert Mintz
Directed by Byron Haskin
Starring: Sidney Blackmer, Phillip Pine, Nancy Rennick, Joan Camden, Richard Loo, Mark Roberts, Aki Akeong and Clarence Lung.
How do you achieve a dramatic influence on an enemy nation? The first thing that might come to mind would be assassination. Take out the head of a nation and you achieve a certain level of instability that you may be able to take advantage of. But what if you wanted to go further? What if you wanted to go beyond assassination, and instead attempted replacement?
Li Chin-Sung is the iron-fisted leader of a powerful South East Asian nation that has been at war with the United States for years. All that stands between Li Chin-Sung and victory is one valley, protected fiercely by US forces. If these forces were to withdraw, nothing would be able to stop him. There seems only one way to get the US to withdraw, and that's for the President of the United States to call on his own troops to come home. The US is in the middle of an election period and from the minds of its ruthless Asian enemy comes a terrifying plot: replace the sure-thing candidate for President, William Selby (Sidney Blackmer), with an agent who has been able to change his appearance using a revolutionary dermal plasticizing chemical injection. With the exchange complete and the election falling his way, 'Selby' begins to do his dastardly work. Will those around him be able to tell the difference, and if so, will they do so before it's too late?
Life in early 1960s America must have been a paranoid existence. Communist proliferation and the increasing power of the USSR had many 'Reds' seemingly jumping out of the shadows for years, and the 'communist aggressor' from Asia posed yet another threat. This story takes that fear and runs with it. An interesting look at the state of the perceived threat from both East and Far East.
3. The Architects of Fear - 51:17 Written by Meyer Dolinsky
Directed by Byron Haskin
Starring: Robert Culp, Geraldine Brooks, Leonard Stone, Martin Wolfson, Douglas Henderson, Janos Prohaska and Lee Zimmer.
Mankind has a terrible record of uniting. Ethnic, religious, regional and economic structural differences have divided man since the beginning of history. However, the one thing that does seem to unite peoples is a common threat. Threaten a group and existing enemies will come in to assist in the kill. Threaten an entire society and all rise to a common defence. It's sad that it takes this kind of threat to bring mankind together, but that is the way of human psychology. It is to this end that a group of scientists have gathered together to create just that common threat.
Allen Leighton (Robert Culp: I Spy, The Greatest American Hero) has been selected to be transformed into a being of threat personified. Using the latest advances in genetic and surgical manipulation, the group of scientists, working clandestinely and without the knowledge of government authorities, have elected to transform one of their own into a creature from another galaxy. That same person would leave Earth's gravity, travel into orbit and return again to Earth at the United Nations building in New York and proclaim that more are coming to conquer the world.
As Allen begins the transformation from human to extra-terrestrial, he wonders if he will succeed and if his sacrifice of human life and love will be worth a chance to save mankind...from itself.
An interesting concept that covers many of the different aspects of a grand conspiracy theory. We have all the different elements here including the hope for peace, the loss of humanity and indeed sanity as we know it, and the hope for a better tomorrow. But at what cost? One of the best episodes of the series.
4. The Man with the Power - 51:17 Written by Jerome Ross
Directed by Laslo Benedek
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Priscilla Morrill, Edward C. Platt, Fred Bier, John Marley, Frank Maxwell and Pat O'Hara.
Harold J. Finley (Donald Pleasence) has always been an underestimated man. His employer doesn't think much of him, while his wife is also unimpressed. So there is some degree of scepticism when Harold announces that he has been accepted by a space research centre to be a integral part of their matter control and manipulation program. With the desire to mine the vast recourses of the asteroid belt in deep space, man has sought to harness the power that surrounds man and channel it effectively. A team of scientists have done just that, by implanting a new device into the brain of none other than Harold Finley.
With the new device implanted, Harold is anxious to begin his work in the control of matter and energy around him with the means to eventually effectively mine the asteroid beLt But no one, especially Harold, could imagine the power that can be tapped and focused by the human mind. As Harold's conscious mind is able to focus energy, so is his unconscious mind and it's this unforeseen element that creates the most danger for everyone, including Harold himself.
This episode features a very young Donald Pleasence as well as the familiar television star Edward C. Platt, better known as The Chief from Get Smart.
Disc 1, Side 2
5. The Sixth Finger - 51:25 Written by Ellis St. Joseph with Joseph Stefano
Directed by James Goldstone
Starring: David McCallum, Edward Mulhare, Jill Haworth, Constance Cavendish, Robert Doyle, Nora Marlowe and Janos Prohaska.
The course of evolution of man has progressed steadily over the centuries. Over tens of thousands of years, the creature that is now the Homo Sapiens eventuated because of simple and steady changes that made each succeeding generation smarter and therefore more successful. This was due to the simplest law of them all: survival of the fittest. The strong survive and take with them the genetic material to spawn similarly strong and successful offspring. But what if this course of evolution, is in fact pre-coded in each person's genes, and all it takes is the right stimulus to bring about rapid evolutionary progress? Professor Mathers (Edward Mulhare: Knight Rider) is on the verge of creating just that stimulus. His work on primates is promising, but he has yet to try it on a human.
Gwylim Griffiths (David McCallum : The Man From U.N.C.L.E., TV) has wanted more from his life than just a life in the coal mines, but as that is the the main employment in the town, that is where most men end up. After hearing from his girlfriend Cathy that a local doctor and scientist is looking for a fit young subject for an experimental procedure that might increase intelligence, Gwylim jumps at the chance.
After the procedure is performed, Gwylim is endowed with an incredibly enhanced intellect, and a startling new physical appearance with his head becoming much larger to accommodate his new highly evolved (and larger) brain as well as the development of a sixth finger. But the stimulus that has been triggered by Professor Mathers isn't confined to just one quantum jump in the evolutionary progress of man. In fact the process has been triggered into a perpetual enhancement state where the evolutionary advancement is increasing all the time. Now, with Gwylim at millions of years in advancement over normal humans, the local townsfolk, Cathy, and even the Professor, are startled and alarmed at what Gwylim has become, and they fear that he may have the power to destroy them with just a thought.
This episode borrows thematically from the 1959 short story Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. His story would go on to become a novel in 1966, and later the film Charly in 1968, and would star Cliff Robertson (star of the first episode in the Outer Limits series) in the lead role. Of course this is a far-fetched plot line. The evolutionary cascade enhancement triggered by the professor would in fact be impossible as evolution is by nature a progressive physical reaction and adaptation to external stimuli and conditions. Still, this isn't exactly the series to pick on for being far-fetched. Instead of the mechanics of the whole transformation of Gwylim into a super being, we are asked about what does it mean to be human, and how far can we progress down the evolutionary path before we can no longer identify with what would be our former selves. An interesting episode.
A footnote: This would be the first episode of the series that featured the shorter introduction. The first 4 shows in the series featured the line, "If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper." The new introduction goes much faster and skips straight from "We are controlling transmission" to "We will control the horizontal..." with the volume line now gone. Many would probably not even remember that there was any mention of volume in the intros and most documents of this television show quote the newer, shorter version.
6. The Man Who was Never Born - 51:20 Written by Anthony Lawrence
Directed by Leonard Horn
Starring: Martin Landau, Shirley Knight, John Considine, Karl Held, Maxine Stuart and Marlowe Jenson.
How far would you go to save humanity? Would you give your life? Would you kill? Who would you kill? A man? A woman? Perhaps a pregnant mother whose child might go on to bring death and destruction to mankind? How about the child itself? In the year 2148, the last pitiful remnants of man have had 200 years to ponder just these same questions. After the world had been ravaged by a mutated microbe, the last vestiges of man, living in a desolate and lifeless wasteland that has become planet Earth, have committed to memory the name of the one who brought death to all but a few unfortunate mutant survivors. All who remain alive in the year 2148 know the name Bertram Cabot Jr. and they know that he was responsible for the life they now live.
Captain Joseph Reardon is returning from a deep space mission. During his journey to Earth, he encounters a special anomaly that transports him to the far future. Landing on a barren planet, Captain Reardon thinks he has landed of a foreign world, only to discover that he has not only returned home, but travelled into the future as well. It is a bleak world that he has found. Reardon soon comes into contact with a horribly disfigured soul named Andro (Martin Landau) who explains what has happened. Andro persuades Captain Reardon to take him back through the anomaly to our present day. He wants to kill the horrible monster Bertram Cabot Jr. and prevent him from creating the microbe that would unleash the horror plague.
Once on earth, Andro must use his physic abilities to hide his horrible appearance from those around him. Settling in a boarding house, Andro soon finds the friendship of another resident, Noelle Andreson. The two quickly become friends, but to Andro's horror, he finds that she is engaged to a Bertram Cabot, the father of the yet to be born Bertram Cabot Jr. Now, Andro must choose whether to kill Bertram Cabot or his new friend and future mother. With a possible romance blooming between Andro and Noelle in spite of her looming marriage to Bertram, the future is completely up in the air, and no one could predict the consequences of their actions.
A very good episode that was reportedly one of the inspirations for James Cameron's Terminator series. Features screen legend and Academy Award winner Martin Landau in the main role of Andro.
7. O.B.I.T. - 51:19 Written by Meyer Dolinsky Directed by Gerd Oswald
Starring: Peter Breck, Jeff Corey, Alan Baxter, Harry Townes, Joanne Gilbert, Sam Reese, Konstantin Shayne, and William O. Douglas, Jr. (as the O.B.I.T. creature).
Senator Jeremiah Orville (Peter Breck) is in charge of a senatorial sub-committee investigating a top secret government facility. After the death of a worker at the facility, Senator Orville has begun an inquiry into the operations of the facility. It is during this investigation that the Senator begins to suspect that there may be more than meets the eye to this government centre.
After much stonewalling and half-hearted co-operation, Orville demands that he is allowed to see the inner workings of the centre. To his amazement and surprise, Senator Orville is shown the main purpose of the centre: the operation of a secret device called the O.B.I.T. (Outer Band Individuated Teletracer). The O.B.I.T. can locate and view the actions any individual within a 1000 K/m radius. This is possible because the device is able to lock in and receive the human body's electro-chemical transmissions, and convert these transmissions into a viewable picture. With this device, there is no privacy. Any person, government, corporation, or organization could lock in to a person's signal and determine what they were doing at any given time. The concept of privacy would effectively be dead.
Only one person remains who can unlock the secret of the O.B.I.T. centre, former researcher and now resident in a psychiatric institution, Dr Clifford Scott. Only he knows the secret of the device that nobody wants to talk about. That secret could be the undoing of humanity.
I didn't think this episode worked as well as it could have. The element of the courtroom drama is interesting, but the plot seemed too drawn out to suit the length of the show. This is one of the faults of the series: what should be a half hour episode is stretched into 50 or more minutes, which for some episodes is really 20 minutes too long. Still, quite in keeping with the tone of the series and it raises some interesting issues.
8. The Human Factor - 51:28 Written by David Duncan Directed by Abner Biberman
Starring: Harry Guardino, Gary Merrill, Joe de Santis, Sally Kellerman, Ivan Dixon, Shirely O'Hara and William O. Douglas, Jr. (this time as the Ice Ghost).
The one thing that makes us individuals is the fact that what we perceive and experience is an entirely personal thing. Our experiences, desires, emotions and fears are our own, and while these might be shared in conversation with another, they cannot truly be experienced by another person...until now.
Dr James Hamilton, a researcher and doctor on an isolated Arctic base, has perfected the technology of trans-mind communication.Two minds can become one in experience through a new computer device. A trial between Dr Hamilton and his assistant reveals that she has had an attraction to him over their time working together. This is something that comes as a surprise to Dr Hamilton, but his assistant tells him that while she is attracted to him, he is in turn attracted to science and his work and she could never be a substitute for his research.
Major Roger Brothers is traumatized by the death of one of his soldiers. He blames himself for the soldier's death, and now suffers from delusions of a creature that seeks to kill the entire base. In an effort to stop the creature, Major Brothers attempts to use a nuclear device to destroy everyone in the base, and the creature as well. Seeking to help the apparently delusional Major, Doctor Hamilton decides to use his mind connection device to enter the mind of this disturbed man. It's during the inter-mind connection that something goes wrong. The machine suffers a power surge and the minds of the Major and the Doctor become transposed. Now in the body of the doctor, Roger Brothers has the ability to destroy the base and his nightmare once and for all. With the doctor in the body of Major Brothers, it is now a race of time to convince the base's staff that there has really been a switch, and that the person now in the body of Dr James Hamilton seeks to destroy everything. The question is now whether the doctor can convince anyone to help him stop Major Brothers before it's too late.
This episode reminded me very much of the film The Thing by John Carpenter. Too many people stuck on an Arctic base with far too little contact with the outside leaves for a claustrophobic and revealing experience.
Disc 2, Side 1
9. Corpus Earthling - 51:28 Written by Orin Borsten with Lou Morheim and Joseph Stefano Based partially on the novel "Corpus Earthling" by Louis Charbonneau. Directed by Gerd Oswald
Starring: Robert Culp, Salome Jens, Barry Atwater, David Garner, Ken Renard and Robert Johnson (as the voice of The Rocks).
Dr Jonas Temple is a scientist working on the properties of various forms of rock. Boring to some, but fellow doctor Paul Cameron (Robert Culp) is about to find out that rocks can be more than they appear, and far from boring.
During a visit to Dr Temple's lab to visit his wife, Dr Cameron attempts to help with an experiment Dr Temple has started but left unattended. As the gas burner that is heating a chamber has gone out, Dr Cameron innocently re-lights the flame. There has been a gas build-up, and this results in a large explosion that sends the poor doctor reeling. After Dr Temple and Paul's wife Laurie (Salome Jens) come to his aid, Paul thinks that everything is okay. It's not long after the accident, however, that Dr Cameron begins to hear strange voices. At first, he puts these disembodied voices down to shock from the explosion and fall, then perhaps to overheard phone conversations. But as time goes on, he is more and more convinced that the voices are actually coming from within the laboratory where the accident happened. Amazingly, the voices are coming from intelligent rocks within the lab. Moreover, the rocks seem to be aware that Dr Cameron is able to hear their conversations and discussions about the eventual domination of the world.
Unable to rest and continually fearful of the disembodied voices, Paul locks himself in his house. Laurie is anxious to get her frightened husband out of the closed house and into an environment that perhaps might be conducive to some sort of recovery. After much discussion, Laurie is able to get her husband to pack up his things and head out with her on the honeymoon they never had the time to have.
Thinking that they have left their home without a trace, not even taking the time to pack, the pair head to Mexico and to what would normally be a quiet time to relax, recover and enjoy each other's company. What they don't know is that The Rocks really do have world domination on their minds and they are not as immobile as one might think. They vow to track the doctor down no matter what and kill him before he can convince anyone that what he had heard was not an hallucination, but the truth. The Dr is unaware that his honeymoon might not be as relaxing as he thought.
Although silly to read about, this episode actually works better than you might think. With another 'out there' premise, the show's producers pull out some tricks that could make you believe that rocks could come to life and attack. Robert Culp, star of The Architects of Fear (episode 3 in this first series) does another good job as a doctor seemingly on the edge of madness, yet more sane than ever.
10. Nightmare - 51:25 Written by Joseph Stefano Directed by John Erman
Originally titled Ebon Struck First.
Starring: Ed Nelson, James Shigeta, John Anderson, Martin Sheen, Bill Gunn, David Frankham, Bernard Kates and Lillian Adams.
Earth is at war. For years, Earth has faced conflict with the Ebonites. This has resulted in thousands of Earth troops flying into battle with an almost unknown enemy over and over again. Another troop has flown into the Ebon system to battle the unseen foe, but as the men are about to learn, the battle is over before it has begun.
They are captured upon landing on their enemy's home world. The human soldiers, from various nations of the United Earth, face a hostile imprisonment, constant interrogation and and uncertain future. Not knowing what they may face, each vows not to reveal any information to their hideous foes. In a effort to escape, Private Arthur Dix (Martin Sheen) is restrained by the Ebonites and had his ability to speak disabled, after which he is allowed to rejoin his troop. Another resister looses his sight. Now aware of the power of their new captors, the men face interrogation, one by one.
With each passing hour, the troop faces more and more pressure to divulge information under more and more devious means employed by their captors. Each claims that they haven't cracked under the pressure, but who is to be believed, and what will the captives do under the strain?
This is a great episode. Featuring a very early performance in the career of Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Martin Sheen, this is a real high point of this show with some great performances and a really intriguing storyline. This show delves into the true heart of humanity and shows how culture and civilization can be judged from a different angle. One of the very best of the series.
11. It Crawled Out Of The Woodwork - 51:20 Written by Joseph Stefano
Directed by Gerd Oswald
Starring: Scott Marlowe, Michael Forest, Kent Smith, Barbara Luna, Ed Asner, Joan Lamden, Gene Darfler and Lea Marmer.
The scientists and employees at NORCO, a Californian energy plant, are finding out the hard way that sometimes energy is very difficult to transform, and impossible to destroy.
Professor Stuart Peters (Michael Forest) has landed a new job. Employed as a researcher for NORCO, a large power plant, he and his brother Jory travel to have a quick look at his new place of employment. When they arrive, the guard at the gate seems apprehensive and encourages them to go away. The pair decide that they may have come to the site too early and leave, but not without the guard slipping them an ominous message scrawled on a book of matches, a message unnoticed at first.
On his first day of work, Professor Peters learns about research at the facility. He all too soon realizes that things are not what they seem. After not hearing from his brother in days, Jory travels to the facility to enquire about his whereabouts. It's days later when a subdued Prof Peters returns to his apartment. Brother Jory begins to question just what is going on at NORCO. Then, in a split second, he realizes that what is going on could be a matter of life and death.
A fascinating concept again too drawn out to fit the 50 minute format when the story is suitable for a 30 minute episode. I'm surprised that the show never employed the dual episode style where some programs were two shorter segments put together. Still, an interesting plot and some quite effective special effects. Features the actor Ed Asner, star of the early 70s classic The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its later early 80s spin-off Lou Grant.
12. The Borderland - 51:27 Written and Directed by Leslie Stevens
Starring: (Peter) Mark Richman, Nina Foch, Gladys Cooper, Alfred Ryder, Phillip Abbott, Barry Jones, Gene Raymond and Noel DeSousa.
There was once a television series that started with the line: "There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man". A related question was "What is the fourth dimension?" Here, a grieving father looks to the beyond to find a message, some sort of signal from his departed son.
Scientist Ian Frazer (Mark Richman) has had an encounter with the fourth dimension, one that would mark him in an unmistakable manner. He goes to a dinner party hosted by his employer Edgar Price. Frazer, and those with him, unmask a charade by an invited clairvoyant whom has been engaged by Mr Price to contact his dead son as at this point, Price will stop at nothing to find some communication with 'the other side'. After the charlatan is debunked, Frazer tells Price about a fantastic discovery he and his fellow researchers have stumbled upon: a window into the fourth dimension!
The only problem is: to open this window takes an almost impossible amount of energy, electricity to be exact. Mr Price proposes a deal: the group may have access to the state's largest power plant and all the electricity they need, in exchange for what he wishes for most, contact with his son. Perhaps the fourth dimension is a world where we travel to when we pass on, and Price wants the first person that travels through the window into this new dimension to call out for his son and pass on a message. Although the group doubt that Price's son is indeed on the other side, it is nonetheless an attractive trade as it provides them with the power they need to complete their research and they agree to try to contact the younger Price if possible.
As the day of the great experiment comes closer, the group become more and more apprehensive, especially Frazer's wife Eva. But Ian Frazer is committed to crossing the boundaries into a place where no man has gone before. The question is whether there is anything on the other side, and once there, will he be able to return again?
This episode features popular television star Mark Richman (now known as Peter Mark Richman), whom many might remember from shows such as Mission Impossible, Starsky and Hutch, Vegas up to Beverly Hills 90210. In 1999, Peter wrote, produced and starred in a one man show called 4 Faces, which was directed by his wife Helen Landess and scored by his son Lucas Richman.
Disc 2, Side 2
13. Tourist Attraction -51:25 Written by Dean Riesner, Directed by Lasio Benedek
Starring: Ralph Meeker, Janet Blair, Jerry Douglas, Jay Novello, Henry Silva and Willard Sage with Roger Stem, Noel de Sousa and Shelley Morrison as the creature (Ichthyosaurus Mercurius).
John Dexter (Ralph Meeker) is a billionaire playboy with too much money and too much time on his hands. When he's not travelling the globe looking for the next large corporation to take over, he spends his time in a small Central American country spear-fishing off his new boat. It sports some of the most sophisticated underwater monitoring equipment available. Just before one of his dives Dexter sees something on the monitor, a man-sized creature with arms like a human but with the head and tail of a fish. Not being able to resist a closer look, he dives in to see more of this strange creature. But as he gets to the bottom of the lake, he is unable to find it. The creature, however, clearly sees Dexter and watches him all the while, almost knowing that this man from above the surface will be back again.
While Dexter and his entourage are staying in Central America, they attend a reception held by the country's brutal dictator General Juan Mercurio (Henry Silva). They learn about the supposedly mythical creature that lives in the lake. Armed with the certainty that what he saw was real, Dexter returns to the lake with his assistants Tom and Lynn to capture the creature, whatever the cost. Dexter and Tom dive into the water, spear guns in hand and ready to confront the terror that waits for them below.
Once captured, the creature is held in a tank at a scientific facility where Dexter has made plans for it to be shipped back to the United States. The Central American Strongman General Mercurio has different plans, and will not stop at nothing to keep the creature (which he has named after himself) in his home country. This will be a power struggle between the might of American money and influence, and the gun power and brutality of General Mercurio. Neither camp envisions another power in this struggle, but the fight for this newly discovered creature will be fought between three groups, not two.
A familiar storyline that we have seen in many a television show is played out here. Features a very young Henry Silva whom would be seen again in the Outer Limits series (episode 15 - The Mice) and Ralph Meeker whom passed away in 1988 but is still remembered on the website www.meekermuseum.com.
14. The Zanti Misfits - 51:29 Written by Joseph Stefano, Directed by Leonard Horn
Starring: Michael Tolan, Robert F. Simon, Claude Woolman, Bruce Dern, Olive Deering and Mike Mikler.
What does a society do with its most dangerous criminals? Imprisonment? Death? For the authorities on the Planet Zanti, the options available are not adequate for the calibre of criminal they have. The death penalty is not an option, as the concept of killing is completely abhorrent to them. The only option left to them is exile to a place where they can no longer be a threat: Earth.
The United States military has received specific instructions from the Planet Zanti, instructions that Earth are obliged to follow upon a threat of total annihilation. The military is instructed to zone off an isolated desert area, make it devoid of population, guard it from intruders and allow the prison transport ship the Zantis have sent to land. This will be the new home for the interplanetary outcasts. All the military has to do is ensure that no one gets in...or out.
Ben Garth (Bruce Dern), with his girlfriend Lisa Lawrence (Olive Deering), are on the run from the law. They have carried out several hold-ups and made away with thousands of dollars in cash. All the pair need now is a place to hide; somewhere where the law will never find them. Finding an isolated military restricted area, the two run down the guard standing watch at the gate. They make a quick dash inside with their car to what should be, at least for the short term, a place to rest and plan their next robbery. At this same time, the US military is guiding in the Zanti prison ship to its landing point on the base.
Just as the ship lands, the report of the killed guard reaches the military headquarters. Those in command now fear that the base is no longer the isolated and unpopulated area demanded by the Zanti. Will the Zanti see this as direct defiance and destroy the Earth? Or will the military be able to negotiate with the extraterrestrials in an effort to ensure peace? Not even knowing what the Zanti look like, the army waits to see what terrible outcome might befall the intruders within the base.
This episode is a real hoot, with some obvious but effective stop motion effects used to create the genuinely creepy Zanti prisoners. This is monster invasion at its best and a great episode. Features a very young Bruce Dern, whom would later go on to star in the 1972 sci-fi classic Silent Running, The Great Gatsby and the Tom Hanks comedy The 'burbs.
15. The Mice - 51:29 Written by Joseph Stefano from a script entitled Exchange Student by Bill S. Ballinger and a story idea by Lou Morheim.
Directed by Alan Crosland Jr.
Starring: Henry Silva, Diana Sands, Michael Higgins, Ronald Foster, Don Ross, Gene Tyburn, Dabney Coleman and Hugh Langtry (as the Chromoite).
History is often a document of firsts: the first person to sail around the world, the first to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, the first to fly around the world, to go into orbit, to land on the moon. In instructions received by Earth from the peoples of the planet Chromo, a device has been constructed that would enable someone to be transported from our world to Chromo in a matter of seconds. It is proposed that mankind send a volunteer through the device to their world, while the Chromoites would send one of their own to ours. The question is who do we send, and who would be willing to be the first to go?
Prisoner Chino Rivera (Henry Silva) has been given a chance to taste just a little bit of freedom, but at a cost. Asked whether he would be interested in being the first to travel via teleportation to another planet, Rivera has the attitude of 'why not'. On the outside, it might seem that he is interested in the prospect of being the first human to set foot on another inhabited world, but is this really the case, or is he just looking for the opportunity to escape?
Soon, the day of transportation has arrived and it is the Chromoites who send their traveller through. A hideous blob that walks upright and has claws for hands, the traveller from Chromo is a terrible sight. Soon after the Chromoite arrives, a doctor working on the project is found dead and those connected to the project begin to wonder just what the Chromoites have sent to Earth, and what fate awaits the man sent from Earth to Chromo.
A mixed bag, this one. We get some good performances from sinister looking Henry Silva and Diana Sands as one of the doctors assigned to the project. Also featured is a very young Dabney Coleman, star of the film 9 to 5 and the television show The Guardian. The thing that really lets this episode down is the really unbelievable monster from another world, the Chromoite. The costume is really silly with a suitably otherworldly 'blob'ish upper body and two human legs complete with leather boots at the other end. When the creature walks or runs, the gait of the creature is unmistakably human and this continually interrupted my suspension of disbelief.
16. Controlled Experiment - 51:28 Written and directed by Leslie Stevens
Starring: Barry Morse, Carroll O'Connor, Grace Lee Whitney, Robert Fortier, Linda Hutchins and the voice of Leslie Stevens as the Martian Computer Control.
The Martians have been watching us...from closer than many would care to think. It is not for the purpose of invasion, but rather for research. The Earth is an overpopulated, irrational planet with certain practices and tendencies that are unique. For many years, the Martians have struggled to understand the reason for the act of murder. Earth is the only place in the known galaxy where this strange practice of premeditated life eradication takes place. Wanting to understand this unusual practice, Martian authorities have sent Senior Solar System Inspector Phobos-One (Barry Morse) to meet with long time Earth observer Accredited Earth Caretaker Diemos (Carroll O'Connor) whom has been stationed on Earth in the guise of a pawn broker.
The pair plan to travel to the scene of an actual murder and using a time control device, carefully observe what takes place in an effort to learn why humans kill each other. Using their superior technology, the Martians determine that a murder will take place just a few blocks from where they are, in a hotel lobby. The pair race to the hotel and set up a vantage point to observe the strange act of intentional killing.
Waiting in the hotel lobby is Carla Duveen (Grace Lee Whitney), who is sick of the constant philandering of her man Bert (Robert Fortier). She awaits his coming to the lobby with a gun hidden in her purse. She intends to make him pay for all hurt and pain he's caused. While she debates whether to kill him or not, the two Martian inspectors observe her actions and listen to her thoughts using sophisticated equipment. As the elevator door opens and Bert enters the hotel lobby, Carla jumps up, raises her weapon and fires. In a split second, Bert is dead on the floor and Carla wonders if she's done the right thing.
Meanwhile, our Martian inspectors have activated their time control machine. It is able to fast forward, reverse, slow down or pause time at will. The pair reverse time and watch the murder again, making careful notes and measurements in an effort to comprehend the actions they are witnessing. To their increasing frustration, the reason and motivation for the act of murder continues to elude them. In desperation, Inspector Phobos slows time and deflects the bullet, stopping the murder from taking place. They then return time to its normal flow and observe the results, which compounds their confusion. They also receive a message from Martian Control warning of the consequences of the alteration of time. Their time control machine is overheating. The pair might not be able to reverse the changes they've made in the time continuum.
A light-hearted (despite the subject matter) episode that features some good performances from popular television and screen actor Carroll O'Connor, best known for his role as Archie Bunker in the classic television show All in the Family. Also featured is Barry Morse who many would remember as Professor Victor Bergman from the the television show Space: 1999. Last, but certainly not least, is Grace Lee Whitney (who looks great in what must have been a red dress in this episode), remembered for her part of Yeoman Janice Rand in the Star Trek (the original series) television show and some of the subsequent films.
Disc 3, Side 1
17. Don't Open Till Doomsday - 51:17 Written by Joseph Stefano
Directed by Gerd Oswald
Starring: Miriam Hopkins, John Hoyt, Russell Collins, Nellie Burt, Anthony Jochim, Melinda Plowman and Frank Delfino as the Creature.
Wedding days are meant to be a time of celebration and enjoyment, as a couple live their first day of life together as husband and wife. Mrs Kry (Miriam Hopkins) never had that opportunity. Her husband was taken from her the very night of her wedding. On her wedding night, a man anonymously left a gift for the pair. The doorman dutifully took the gift to the couple's upstairs room and left it on a table already filled with other unopened presents. New husband Harvey Kry has run upstairs to get his bags before he and his new bride make a quick getaway. As he makes to leave, one of the presents left on his table attracts his attention. Checking the label, he finds that the package is anonymous with only the inscription 'DON'T OPEN TILL DOOMSDAY' left to identify the 'well wisher'. Thinking that this must be some sort of silly prank, Harvey opens the package. He looks through the small opening in the box that was the gift, and is immediately stricken with a horror that is unspeakable. Harvey falls to the floor, the box firmly held to his face. That night would be the last anyone would see Harvey Kry.
More than 25 years later, the house that was meant to be the home of Mr and Mrs Harvey Kry is now the home of just one occupant. Mrs Kry has lived here by herself, never accepting the turn of events that left her to a life of loneliness. Still, she does hope that one day her husband will join her and they can begin their life together as if they'd never been apart. In fact, this is almost a certainty...as long as certain circumstances fall her way. A phone call she receives harks the arrival of the required 'circumstances'.
Gard and Vivia have come to the justice of the peace to be married. They look a bit young (especially Vivia) to tie the knot, but the birth certificate presented to the justice seems to be authentic and he performs the marriage ceremony for the couple. After the ceremony is concluded, the justice and his wife, a wheelchair bound woman, ask where the couple will stay for their honeymoon night. There are no reputable hotels in the town and the ones on the highway are ghastly, according to the justice's wife. There is a house in town with a large and completely unused wedding suite, belonging to a Mrs Kry. The young couple is told by the justice's wife that in a recent phone conversation Mrs Kry had expressed a desire to rent out the suite to anyone requiring accommodation. Just the thing the young couple need. They make their way there. They have no idea what awaits them.
This episode really reminded me of something from the mind of enigmatic director David Lynch with some of the characters, locations and thematic concepts quite reminiscent of films such as The Lost Highway and Mulholland Dr This one had me guessing as to what was going on until the very end, and even then there is a certain amount of vagueness left as to the final outcome. A startling and fascinating episode and one of my favourites in this first series.
18. ZZZZZ - 51:27 Written by Meyer Dolinsky, Directed by John Brahm
Starring: Joanna Frank, Marsha Hunt, Philip Abbott and Booth Colman.
Bees have never really been a threat to mankind. Their sting can hurt, and can sometimes be fatal for those who are allergic to the poison. Swarms can sometimes plague small areas and communities, but on the whole, humans and bees have lived for thousands of year in relative harmony. We have even had the privilege to enjoy the fruits of their labour: honey. But bees are not the benign little creatures we imagine them to be, and they have definite ambitions and a desire to dominate the entire world.
Entomologist Ben Fields has been on sabbatical studying the language of bees. He is fairly sure he has finally worked it out. But the work load he has taken on is far too much for one man, and so he has applied for an assistant. The woman, named Regina, whom responds to the call is more qualified that Dr Fields could ever imagine. In a daring move, the bee population has engineered their queen into human form that would enable her to seduce the right man and help bring into being a thousand man / bee hybrids that would be the vanguard of an overpowering force the human race couldn't withstand. Now their queen is a perfect replica of a human woman, and working with the premier bee authority in the United States. It only remains for the queen to seduce Dr Fields as her perfect drone mate. Ben's wife Francesca suspects something is wrong with Regina, but will she be able to do anything before it's too late? Will her husband be able to withstand the charms of the creature that spans two species and has her sights firmly set on Dr Fields?
An interesting concept, where the invaders come from here on Earth and are a creature that we are all familiar with but never suspect as an equal foe. As the main character in the story "Lenigen vs the Ants" says 'Always credit your enemy with equal intelligence'. Here we have an enemy that no one would ever suspect. This episode features (yet again) an effective bee to human computer translator, and as this series demonstrates, about 25% of the episodes rely on some sort of impossible language-translating computer to bridge the communication gap. Still, interesting, and Joanna Frank as Regina the Queen Bee in human form really looks like a bee. Good casting.
19. The Invisibles - 51:30 Written by Joseph Stefano, Directed by Gerd Oswald
Starring: Don Gordon, George Macready, Neil Hamilton, Dick (Richard) Dawson, Tony Mordente, William O'Douglas Jr. and Walter Burke.
Men have always sought positions of power and influence. At the top, one can do anything one wishes. But what if some unseen force was controlling those at the top, and what if those controlling the leaders of the world were in fact aliens whom seek to control the Earth?
Luis Spain (Don Gordon) is a secret agent sent on the dangerous task of infiltrating the shadow organization only known as 'The Invisibles'. Very little is known about the group, other than the fact that ever increasing numbers of world leaders and captains of industry are being inducted into their group, and what they have planned might just be the most terrifying thing ever to confront mankind. With this in mind, Spain and two others are taken by the secret order to an isolated camp where they are introduced to the inner workings and motivations of 'The Invisibles'. The group is trained and instructed in how they will serve a particular leader, and, when the right time comes, to expose that leader to the very thing that makes up the network of 'The Invisibles'.
Each of the three men is inoculated to be immune from the thing that infects...nay, infests the human hosts. But sometimes the inoculation doesn't work, and each man must be tested to see whether they can resist the alien thing that can control men's minds.
This episode has shades of several different films and television shows, and particular episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation come to mind, such as Conspiracy and Phantasms. This show also bears a likeness to the Vincent Price film The Tingler.
20. The Bellero Shield - 51:19 Written by Joseph Stefano and Lou Marheim and based on a short story by Arthur Zagat.
Directed by: John Brahm
Starring: Sally Kellerman, Martin Landau, Neil Hamilton, Chita Rivera and John Hoyt.
Richard Bellero (Martin Landau) has struggled to achieve in the world of science. He has also struggled to achieve in the eyes of his father. Bellero has just constructed a laser device that has been aimed into the heavens. It could be used as a defensive weapon or a communication device. In spite of its potential, Richard Bellero's father, an influential corporation head, has refused to give his son the large research grant he needs to continue. Richard's father fears that the new technology will be used by the government as an offensive weapon. Because of his strong anti-war stance, he will not fund his son's project, no matter how worthy it might be. Richard is strong in the face of yet another form of rejection by his father, but his wife Judith (Sally Kellerman) is livid. Richard's father never approved of her marriage to his son, and she sees this latest rejection by her husband's father as a affront to her as well as Richard. But after a chance happening with Richard's new laser device, the world could soon come to learn the name Bellero.
Richard's laser has created a pathway for a being of incredible power and intelligence to travel from his world of light and energy to our world of plain matter. It is Judith whom first meets the creature, and she reacts in the predictable manner: she tries to shoot it. This fails. Richard comes to her aid. The pair face a being whose powers are far greater than that of man. One impressive power that the alien possesses in the ability to create an impenetrable shield around itself instantly. This is controlled by a device that the being holds in its hand. It is a device that Judith takes a very keen interest in.
Richard relishes in the opportunity to speak with a being from another world, but the creature is anxious to return to his own universe. Judith cannot allow this before she gets something to better her husband's career: the shield generator. Richard momentarily leaves Judith alone with the creature. He attempts to return to his world. She uses a conventional pistol to shoot the being and takes his shield generator. She plans to give it to her husband, so he can offer it to his father as his own invention. As she activates the shield in demonstration, she realizes that while the being had told her how to activate it, he never revealed how to deactivate it. She faces a certain death inside an impenetrable shield that cannot be opened.
Martin Landau and Sally Kellerman again appear in this episode. This show raises some fascinating ideas, such as how mankind might deal with his first contact with another intelligent species, and how we might use superior technology that they might bestow upon us (or that we might steal).
Disc 3, Side 2
21. The Children Of Spider County - 51:21 Written by Anthony Lawrence
Directed by Leonard Horn
Starring: Lee Kinsloving, Kent Smith, John Millford, Crahan Denton, Benny E. Gatteys, Dabbs Greer and Burt Douglas.
Since the beginning of time, there have been reports of visitors from other worlds to Earth. From Ezekiel in the Old Testament to the reports we read in today's papers, men have told of beings from another world visiting our own. Along with accounts of visitors from the sky in the Old Testament are the accounts of beings from beyond mating with women from Earth and bringing forth offspring. The United States Space Intelligence Bureau suspects that this may in fact be a far more recent phenomenon than we might think.
Over recent months, four young men have disappeared without a trace. In a nation the size of the US, this might not be such a strange occurrence, but there is more to these disappearances than meets the eye. All were born in the same year, in the same state, in the same county (Spider County to be precise) to women who met and married a man who fathered their only offspring only to disappear without explanation. The four men, all high achievers in the fields of science and academics, all have the same middle name: Eros. There might just be a chance to discover the truth behind the strange disappearances. There is still one young man, Ethan Wechsler, remaining who fits the description of the others. Same birth date, same state, same county and same middle name, but with one difference. This one isn't the scholastic achiever, and with a creature from another world coming to claim him, he isn't about to go without a fight.
Another good episode that supplies the 'monster from outer space' quotient that is so much the hallmark of this series. As with many, there is just a bit too little story to fill out the entire 51 minutes and as I've commented on several others, this one could have been told in half the time, but still it's good fun.
22. Specimen: Unknown - 51:31 Written by Stephen Lord with additional material by Joseph Stefano and Leslie Stevens.
Directed by Gerd Oswald
Starring: Stephen McNally, Richard Jaeckal, Russell Johnson, Arthur Batanides, Peter Baldwin, Dabney Coleman, Gail Kobe and John Kellogg.
Life exists in the strangest places. Man has always been surprised to find that a place which seems to be totally inhospitable can in fact be teeming with life. Space is no exception.
While working of the Adonis Space Station, Lt Rupert Howard (Dabney Coleman), a scientist aboard the space station, finds a strange growth on the outer hull. He breaks it off the side of the station and takes it to his lab for further investigation. The Lieutenant is unprepared for what happens. He is quite surprised to note a terrific rate of growth and that this strange form of plant life has already flowered. Instead of a attractive plant, this is more of a poisonous weed that sprays spores and a noxious and eventually fatal mist. The crew discover the body of the now dead scientist but draw no correlation between his death and the new plant. The next shuttle is leaving for Earth and a new crew is about to start their tour on board the space station. The departing crew take with them the plant samples and discover, too late, their deadly secret.
Space Command on Earth has been following the events in space. They have finally worked out that the soon-to-arrive shuttle might contain a contagion that threatens Earth. The choice is whether to destroy the ship before it lands, or attempt to save the crew. The ground staff are left with little choice as to their course of action. The shuttle crash lands before any decision is made. When the rescue crews arrive at the crash site, they find strange flowers growing everywhere at an alarming rate. Will Earth survive? If so, how?
This is reported to be the highest rated episode of the Outer Limits series, and it's no wonder, as this one is a belter! We get a bit of a slow start, but as the show continues, and the shuttle makes its way to Earth, things really pick up. A modern version of this episode would feature quite a bit of CG work to show the ever increasing growth rate of the space flowers. The same effect is achieved in a much more subtle and effective manner. With each successive camera shot, there are more and more of the deadly flowers and while you never really see them growing en masse, the result is still the same: creepy. Features a young Dabney Coleman and also Peter Baldwin whom went on to direct many television shows such as The Wonder Years, Murphy Brown and News Radio.
23. Second Chance - 51:29 Written by Lou Morheim and Lin Dane
Directed by: Paul Stanley
Starring: Don Gordon, Janet de Gore, Simon Oakland, John McLiem, Angela Clark and Yale Summers.
Sometimes people wish they had a chance to do things again, to start over afresh. But when it comes right down to it, we are creatures of habit and comfort. Sometimes to start anew requires coming out of our comfort zone and into something we can't fully understand. That's why some will stay in a job they don't like or in a relationship they aren't happy in, because in spite of the desire for change. It all just too hard. A group of strangers, all in some state of limbo, or at a crossroads in their lives, are about to be gathered together and a choice will be made for them, for better or worse.
'Captain' Dave Crowell (Don Gordon, seen in the episode The Invisibles) and his assistant Mara (Janet de Gore) are guides in an amusement part attraction. They guide an imaginary tour of the galaxy on a full size flying saucer mock up that is part slide show, part planetarium and part theme park ride. Guests enter the ship, buckle in and are taken on a round trip across the universe, all under the informative guidance of 'Captain' Crowell and Mara. On a day like any other day, a group of people have been given tickets by park staff for a free trip in the flying saucer. A young high school student and his girlfriend, a disillusioned man and his wife, and others, all whom enter the craft with a hope of a bit of escapism and fun. But little do they know that the person whom has given them the tickets is in fact an alien, and he's refitted the park's ride to be an operating space ship. All aboard have something that they'd like to forget or change about their lives, and this is why they have been chosen; to begin again on a new world that the alien has in store for them. He needs them to help his society in defeating an impending disaster. This group has been chosen as they would have nothing to return to on Earth and should relish the chance at a fresh start. Now, as the craft heads to deep space, will the people on board embrace their new start or is this new journey into the unknown too much to bear?
A good episode that makes one think that if our lives were so bad, would we be happy to drop everything and leave it all behind forever?
24. Moonstone - 51:31 Written by William Bast with Lou Morheim and Joseph Stefano
Directed by Joseph Stefano
Starring: Ruth Roman, Alex Nicol, Tim O'Connor, Curt Conway and Hari Rhodes.
Earth's moon may be devoid of native life, but that doesn't mean that there is no life to be found on its surface. Man has populated the surface for some years with scientific outposts housing hundreds of personnel, all studying the lunar surface and the mysteries of the solar system. But man isn't the only form of life on the moon, as an expedition finds out
General Lee Stocker (Alex Nicol) and his team have found a strange sphere, about the size of an average globe, on the moon's surface. Unsure as to whether it's a natural phenomena or something made by intelligent beings, the team take it back to the lunar base for further examination. While studying the object, they discover that it is in fact an alien ship containing several crew. Upon setting up a universal translator, the moon base crew discover that the globe craft contains some of the greatest minds of a distant and powerful alien civilization. These beings are refugees from their home world and are at that very moment being hunted by others from their planet. The refugees on the moon are scientists who have amassed a great deal of knowledge. The hunters from their own planet represent a government of repression, conquest, and tyranny. If the hunters are able to find, capture, and assimilate the refugees' knowledge. They will stop at nothing short of universal domination. When the hunters do arrive, the personnel at the base have a tough decision: give up the refugees to the hunters or face total extermination!
A good episode that features some genuinely creative effects for the aliens within the globe ship. This episode also features a young Tim O'Connor whom many would recognize as Dr Huer from the popular late 70s television show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.
Disc 4, Side 1
25. The Mutant - 51:17 Written by Donald S. Sanford Directed by Alan Crosland Jr.
Starring: Larry Pennell, Warren Oates, Walter Burke, Betsy Jones-Moreland and Robert Sampson.
Mankind has searched the galaxy for a second home. Overcrowding on Earth means that a second place has to be found that can support human life, and just such a place has been located: Annex One, similar to Earth in gravity, oxygen content and vegetation. There are some dramatic differences, though. For one, the sun never sets on this world and every waking hour is a daylight hour. Secondly, periodic rains sweep the landscape which in itself isn't a real problem, except that the rain is radioactive and anyone caught outdoors when the rains come can suffer the most horrific injuries, or worse.
When authorities on Earth send an inspector to investigate the progress of the new colony on Annex One, he finds the personnel strangely reluctant to talk openly, and the more he digs, the less he learns. Seemingly at the forefront of the stonewalling is base leader Reese (Warren Oates), who seems to have something to hide. One by one, the base personnel begin to disappear and the suspicious gaze of the inspector soon turns in the direction of Reese, who strangely never removes his sun goggles which are required on the planet because of the 24 hour glare. Is it the sunlight, or something more sinister?
Warren Oates, star of films such as In the Heat of the Night, The Wild Bunch, There Was a Crooked Man... and the 1981 Bill Murray comedy Stripes, features in this episode.
26. The Guests - 51:27 Written by Donald P. Sanford Directed by Paul Stanley
Starring: Gloria Graham, Geoffrey Horne, Nellie Burt, Vaughn Taylor and Launa Anders.
There is a place where time stands still, and those who live in this place never grow old. Desirable? Perhaps, but the only catch is that once you enter this place, you can never leave. Wade Norton (Geoffrey Horne) is about to find out by accident what a truly terrible thing forever could be.
Driving down a deserted road, Wade stops to aid a fallen elderly gentleman who seems gravely ill, incredibly old and almost unable to speak. Looking around, Wade spies a large house and runs to it in order to use the phone. But once inside, he finds a household of strange people and annoyingly, no phone. After asking several questions of the house's strange occupants, Wade decides to leave. Easier said than done as an irresistible force compels him up the stairs of the house against his will. There, in the upper levels of the house resides an alien who has kept the house's occupants captive while occasionally interrogating them for answers to the human condition and the mysteries of the universe. Wade has been 'invited' to join in this group, some whom have been in the house for hundreds of years!
Not content to stay, Wade seeks a way out. But as he slowly learns, those who live in the house might be better to stay, because even though time stands still in the house, it doesn't outside, and there are several in the house that cannot afford to leave upon pain of instant age and death.
Hugely derivative of the James Hilton novel Lost Horizon (which has been made into a film twice, both in 1937 and again in 1973), this covers some of the same territory, but in bite size fashion. Okay in terms of the series, but alludes to questions that are never answered (Who is the alien? Why these people only? Why over such a long time? Why does the house look like a brain?) and suffers from being based around subject matter that needs much more time to flesh out.
27. Fun And Games - 51:30 Written by Robert Specht and based on his story, with Joseph Stefano Directed by Gerd Oswald
Starring: Nick Adams, Nancy Malone, Ray Kellogg and Bill Hart.
Former boxer Mike Benson (Nick Adams) has always had his back to the wall, both during his time as a professional boxer and now as a man caught up in the world of gambling, fight fixing and organized crime. Because of a fixed fight gone wrong during his prize fighting days, Mike has always been wary of those around him. He was asked to throw a fight, but couldn't do it in the end. A crime boss with too much at stake ended up losing the lot, and he never forgot the score that had to be settled. Mike has just had the score settled as, during a card game, shots are fired and a man lays dead...with Mike as the prime suspect. Despite his innocence, Mike does the first thing his instincts tell him to do - run, and quickly - for the police will not be far away. Making his way from room to room in the apartment block, Mike encounters Laura (Nancy Malone), a single woman alone in her home. Not wanting the drama of involving the woman, Mike quickly leaves her apartment and selects another door in search of escape. The door he enters does take him away from the police and danger, but not to the safety he seeks. Instead, Mike finds himself millions of miles from Earth, and in the presence of a strange being.
The planet Earth has been selected to be represented in a game of supreme gladiatorial combat. The Anderans have evolved past the desire or need for war, and now live in harmony and prosperity on their home world. But in spite of their civilization, the Anderans have a primal need for the excitement and thrill of combat. It is something that they do not do themselves, so this primal need for the fight is enjoyed vicariously in games of life and death. Planets are selected, with each being represented by two of its inhabitants: one male, one female who will be transported to an isolated moon of Andera to face another pair of inhabitants from another world. The outcome: death for the loser...and the total destruction of their world over a five year period of devastation, and life for the winner and exemption from the destruction meted out to the losers and their world. It is in this scheme of things that Mike finds himself the representative of the planet Earth with its fate on his shoulders. Selected to be his team-mate is the woman Laura, who is also transported from her apartment to Andera.
But this whole scenario isn't to Mike's liking and he'd rather face death and the destruction of Earth over five years than become the entertainment for some strange alien race. It's up to Laura to convince him that the world and his life are worth fighting for. And when the fight does come, will Mike and Laura have what it takes not only to survive and save Earth, but to kill in order to do so?
I've seen this episode before, and reading the synopsis you might, too. This has more that a few similarities to an episode of Star Trek (The Original Series) called Arena, where Captain Kirk is taken and forced to fight to the death with another starship captain from the enemy planet Gorn. This battle is overseen by the powerful Metrons who decide that the best way to decide the conflict between the two races is a battle to the death that will result in the destruction of the loser's ship and all aboard. Like I said, sound familiar? Features Nick Adams, friend of actor James Dean and Oscar nominee for his supporting role in the 1963 film Twilight of Honour. Nick passed away in 1968 after an overdose of prescription drugs.
28. The Special One - 51:31 Written by Oliver Crawford Directed by Gerd Oswald
Starring: Richard Ney, Flip Mark, Macdonald Carey and Marion Ross.
Kenny Benjamin (Flip Mark) is a bright young man. Identified by the Educational Enrichment Program, Kenny receives special tutoring that will enable him to make the best of his special talents. However, more than just the government have taken an interest in the young man's gifted intelligence. Mr Zeno, a being from another world, has come to Earth to prepare the way for invasion. In order to make the planet hospitable to those of his world, Mr Zeno must first begin the work of changing Earth's atmosphere into one that is conducive to his race. This involves the manipulation of sound waves that can be amplified and focused to change the weather. The gifted youth of America are among the chosen few who are able to operate the equipment that can facilitate the climate change. But this can't be done overnight, or overtly, and Mr Zeno presents himself to Kenny's parents as a special instructor sent by the Educational Enrichment Program to oversee the instruction of the boy.
At first, Kenny's parents Roy and Agnes (Macdonald Carey and Marion Ross) are thrilled by the extra attention and opportunities that have come their son's way because of his gifted status But as time goes on and Mr Zeno spends more and more time with Kenny, the parents, especially father Roy, begin to have doubts about what is happening to their ever more secretive son. And after Roy speaks to the Educational Enrichment Program leader (Edward C. Platt), he learns that the Program doesn't employ private home tutors and the man in his home must be an impostor. Now, Roy must confront the dangerous Mr Zeno in a battle not only for the heart and mind of his own son, but for the fate of the entire world as well.
More aliens watching Earth with envious eyes as they slowly and surely draw their plans against us. A common theme in the series, but made a bit more frightening with the battle taking place in a normal home instead of outer space. Features a cast of popular television stars including Macdonald Carey whom most will remember by his famous line 'This is Macdonald Carey, and these are The Days of Our Lives' which introduced the almost immortal soap opera Days of Our Lives. Also featured is Marion Ross who will be remembered for her role as Mrs Marion Cunningham in the long running 70s sitcom Happy Days.
Disc 4, Side 2
29. A Feasibility Study - 51:27 Written by Joseph Stefano Directed by Byron Haskin
Starring: Sam Wanamaker, Phyllis Love, David Opatoshu, Joyce Van Patten, Ben Wright, Robert Justman, Frank Puglia and Glenn Gannon.
Earth is being watched (yes, again...still) by a race of people from the planet Luminos. Their world has been ravaged by a disease that has infected every inhabitant of the planet. Its debilitating effects are profound, and render the sufferer almost immobile because of the copious and irreversible growths that cover and distort their bodies. There is only one thing that can save the Luminoids: healthy slave labour from the planet Earth. The question is whether the Earthlings can survive on the surface of Luminos and carry out the work the Luminoids are unable to do themselves.
As a feasibility study, the Luminoids have decided to take a sample population from Earth, six city blocks to be exact, and this is cut from the Earth and transplanted to Luminos. The citizens that inhabit these blocks wake the next morning unaware that anything has happened.
Everybody begins their day as they always have, each with their own challenges and difficulties, problems and possibilities. But all this falls to the wayside as the transplants begin to suspect that things are not quite right. The sky is all wrong, the phones don't work and a thick fog surrounds their homes and streets. And soon, some begin to see people who are horribly disfigured and terrifying to look at. As the truth sets in, the group of transplants begin to understand what has become of them, and what is expected of them, and that the fate of the entire world rests with them (again).
Okay, so this might sound like another invasion scenario, or a variation of same, but this is quite a good episode and it fulfils one of the things that sometimes seems lacking with this show: the twist ending. Here we have a neat show with a creepy (if somewhat overused) storyline that really works.
30. Production And Decay Of Strange Particles - 51:19 Written and Directed by Leslie Stevens
Starring: George Macready, Singe Hasso, Leonard Nimoy and Allyson Ames.
Life exists almost everywhere, even places where it shouldn't. During the investigation of a strange and powerful radioactive compound, a group of nuclear researchers become exposed the effects of the compound and become themselves conduits of a race of energy beings that have been able to transverse from their extra dimensional world to ours through the strange radioactive compound that has become a door from one dimension to another. With each passing hour, more and more people are infected and the threat of a total chain reaction meltdown, massive radiation poisoning or a catastrophic nuclear explosion becomes more and more possible. It rests with the administrator of the nuclear facility to overcome his fears and stop the increasing rate of infection before it's too late.
Now this one just plain runs too long. There isn't enough story and character development to sustain this episode and we have quite a bit of boring footage of the infected workers standing in front of the isolation chamber manipulating the strange compound that has opened the door for the energy beings to come through. Cut this one right in half and it might have worked, but in its final form it is one of the lesser episodes in the bunch. Even the appearance of Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy is too little to help. About the only saving grace is the nuclear detonation footage seen at the end, which has always fascinated me with its terrifying power.
31. The Chameleon - 51:27 Written by Robert Towne, Joseph Stefano and Lou Morheim Directed by: Gerd Oswald
Starring: Robert Duvall, Howard Caine and Henry Brandon.
Aliens are among us, but this time it is we who are the watchers. A flying saucer has landed on Earth, seemingly in need of repairs. The government has found the downed saucer and has set up round the clock surveillance to keep an eye on the strange intruders. But the alien's intent is indeterminable, and because of the risk of nuclear contamination, the military dares not risk a pre-emptive strike against the craft and its occupants. It is determined that the only way authorities can get an idea as to the motives of the aliens is to send in an infiltrate into their midst. No small task this, and there is only one man who is capable of even coming close to being able to do it: Louis Mace (Robert Duvall). There are those that think Mace to be near the brink of madness, yet others think he is at the brink of genius. There is a fine line between the two, and Mace walks it well. When the proposition comes to him and he is made fully aware of the requirements and implications, he agrees instantly and without hesitation.
The question is: how do you make a man into an alien? The answer is: revolutionary genetic retro-therapy, where the human genetic structure can be altered to match that of another, different code. The subject's original DNA data is saved on computer tape and can be replicated at a later date, restoring the altered person to their former self. All that is required is a sample of the alien DNA, and this the military has been able to obtain during their many days of watching the every move of the visitors from space. With replica clothing, tape recording and broadcast equipment all ready, the only thing left is the genetic transformation of Mace, and this goes ahead without a hitch.
Now, it is up to the newly transformed Mace to enter the downed ship, interact with the crew and determine whether they are threat or foe. But can he pull it off, and will the aliens accept him as one of their own?
With similarities to the episode The Architects of Fear, this has some good things going for it. One of these is Robert Duvall in the main role of Mace. The only problem with this is that for half of the episode, Duvall is covered in prosthetic appliances, and this is quite a hindrance to any actor as their most expressive tool, their face, is completely covered making it hard to convey the range of emotions need for the role. Still, it is good fun to see the aliens being the ones watched for a change.
32. The Forms Of Things Unknown (The Unknown (pilot version title), Lovers and Madmen (working title) - 51:19 Written by: Joseph Stefano Directed by: Gerd Oswald
Starring: Vera Miles, Barbara Rush, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Scott Marlowe and David McCallum.
Love and death make strange bedfellows. Throw in a bit of madness and you have quite a combination. Kasha (Vera Miles), Leonora (Barbara Rush) and Andre (Scott Marlowe) are a strange triangle of youth and deceit. While the playboy Andre travels with the young ladies in his Rolls-Royce, partying and drinking, the women (especially Kasha) have planned to kill Andre. This they do with a poison slipped into his drink. Although Leonora is apprehensive about the murder, Kasha is more confident and quickly cleans up and gets the body into the trunk of the car. All that is needed is a quick burial and the pair will be free of the overbearing Andre forever. But as the pair drive through the night in a heavy thunderstorm, the truck of the car opens and Leonora is convinced that Andre is still alive and seeking escape.
The pair pull to the side of the road and check that the body is still there. It is and Kasha looks for a spot to dispose of the body. Later, the pair find an isolated house and are allowed refuge from the elements by a kindly blind gentleman and his young house mate, Mr Tone (David McCallum). Mr Tone has been working on the theories of time and its manipulation. He has devised a device that can 'tilt' time and bring the dead back to life. As Kasha and Leonora discover when they find the body of Andre missing, the dead really can live again, but will they in turn make it out of this alive?
This is one of those 'out there' episodes, almost bordering on the psychedelic. Filmed originally as a pilot for a show to be called The Unknown, this show is just that little bit more late 60s in feel than the rest of the series. It looks as though the producers of the Outer Limits were toying with the idea of a show like the limits, but pitched at a younger, hipper audience. In the end, this pilot failed and the show never eventuated with the episode making up the end of series one of The Outer Limits. An interesting episode, but a bit too much style and groovy camera work paired with too little coherent story to really work. Neat to look at, but you get too many questions and too few answers. I'm not sure as to what form the series The Unknown was to have taken, and perhaps we were meant to follow some of the characters here, but as a stand-alone episode, this one doesn't seem to work. David McCallum, star of one of the earlier episodes, The Sixth Finger, appears as the mysterious Mr Tone.
End of Series 1.
And there you have it. More than 27 hours of awe and mystery that reaches from the inner mind to The Outer Limits. This series will always be seen in the shadow of the longer running and perhaps more successful Twilight Zone, but for many, this series will be fondly remembered. Many future stars of both the small and large screens got some of their earliest notable work on this show, and in that respect this series can hold its head high. While the budgetary limits do show at times, this is not a huge issue as it is the subject matter and writing that make this series really stand out. It will be interesting to see if this current generation will find any relevance in this show without the benefit of nostalgia. I think that it takes a bit of work to adequately suspend disbelief in the light of some of the limited set design and props. Reuse of sets, props and locations is quite evident from time to time, but this would be nit-picking as many of the most memorable television shows (as this one surely must be) could be accused of the same thing.
The legacy of this show lived on into a second series running over a further 17 episodes before it came to an end in 1965. In 1995, the show would be revived with new episodes again looking at the strange and unknown, and featuring many popular stars of today's films and television. It still airs in the US today and many of the new episodes are available on DVD in Region 1. It's in part thanks to this revival of the show that we are able to have this first series available on DVD, and I for one look forward to the second series, which is reportedly coming later in 2003. Until then, pop one of these discs in, sit back and enjoy as the 'way back' machine takes you on a journey into The Outer Limits.
These discs present the programs in their original and intended aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and as such, there is no 16x9 enhancement. Also note that these discs are formatted using the NTSC colour system, so you really need to ensure that your playback equipment is able to handle the signal.
The level of sharpness seen here varies quite a bit from episode to episode, and indeed it varies greatly sometimes within a particular episode. The main factors for this would be: MPEG pixelization, grain, and focus issues including the very prevalent use of the soft focus or 'frost lens' technique. Overall and for the most part, the image is reasonably sharp and completely watchable. However, we get some overkill use of the 'frost lens' during the episode The Man Who Was Never Born with 6:36 to 9:30, 18:50 to 20:01 and 25:48 to 27:59 as a prime examples. These focus changes are quite abrupt at times and can be distracting. A more consistent use of the technique can be seen in the episode ZZZZZ at 5:30.
Shadow detail varies greatly during the many episodes in this series. From the sometimes light and washed out image seen at times (especially the outdoor shots) in the premiere episode The Galaxy Being, to the quite dark and detail obscured image seen in the episode The Sixth Finger, we get the full range of detail and clarity as well as obscurity. At no time did I find the image unwatchable or so lacking in shadow detail that I was unable to watch it, but the huge range of fluctuations in the lightness or darkness of the image was quite noticeable throughout the show. I didn't have any real issues with low level noise.
There is no colour use in any of the episodes here with the original programs intended to be shown in black and white. The shading seems appropriate, as the episode Controlled Experiment demonstrates, and after a while you tend to forget that you are not watching colour (at least I did).
MPEG artefacts are visible throughout this program. For the most part, these exist as a fine pixelization that is very noticeable on flat, even coloured (shaded) surfaces. These artefacts, combined with grain and the NTSC colour system tend to make the image shimmer and flicker more that one might like. Having said that, MPEG artefacts aren't a huge problem, with two exceptions: the episodes Tourist Attraction and The Guest. Both of these episodes suffer from pronounced MPEG compression artefacts with particularly problematic sections in Tourist Attraction at 15:32 to 15:33 and in The Guest at 23:21. Not terrible and not the worst I've seen, but definitely visible.
There are quite a number of different video and film artefacts that litter the screen throughout the program. In the video realm, a moiré effect is visible during The Man Who Was Never Born at 25:04. Our old friend, edge enhancement, is faintly visible throughout the series, but not as much as I would have expected. Film artefacts are a different story. These are quite prevalent and range from burn marks (The Galaxy Being: 27:29, The Bellero Shield: 24:57), badly scratched film (A Feasibility Study: 25:51 to 26:29, The Human Factor: 23:55), and splotching (Architects of Fear: 19:11, 20:45). Probably the worst film artefact visible on these discs is a quite pronounced cracking of the film frames. This has the appearance of fine line cracks that have gone through each frame in the original print, perhaps due to exposure to a heat source or some other factor that has made the film stock brittle enough to crackle throughout a frame. This artefact is most prevalent during the episode The Mutant from 8:38 to 8:49, and again at 16:49 to 17:03 and further at 17:47 to 18:09. This same deterioration is noticeable during the episode Fun and Games at 16:29 to 16:54 and 48:37 to 48:47. This marks a dramatic and worrying deterioration of the original print and one would hope that this material will undergo some sort of restoration work before the damage becomes too great. There are many more instances of flaws, nicks, scrapes, flecks, burns, hairs and the like and I have a notebook with dozens more flaws that I could detail. Suffice it to say, the material is in serious need of preservation, if not total restoration. Having said that, I can also say that at no time did any of these flaws detract or hamper my enjoyment of the programs and you can rest assured that the entire 27 plus hours is completely watchable.
There are no subtitle options available on these discs. This was disappointing, as at times I had a hard time making out some of the dialogue.
The discs in this collection are formatted dual sided-dual layered, with each side presenting four 51 minute (approx.) episodes; two shows per layer. As each layer handles 2 episodes, we never see any layer changes. The utmost care must be employed in handling the discs in this collection as there is no room for error in regards to scratches and marks.
The audio on offer with these discs is adequate, but nothing exceptional. The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0. This is the only audio option on the discs. Overall, the dialogue quality is reasonable, but there are some clarity issues from time to time throughout the series. Because of the limitations of the recording equipment of the era, the end product we have here tends to suffer from lack of dynamics and fidelity. The spoken word is okay, but overmiking is a continual problem with distortion heard during dialogue throughout the series. The producers also failed to adequately shield their microphone during the episode Specimen: Unknown with the end result a terrible crackling heard any time a character delivers their lines, while the rest of the time, the mike audio is turned down so only the music and sound effects are audible. Audio sync is for the most part reasonable, although there are some instances of out of sync and bad ADR. The sync is out in the episode The Architects of Fear at Most of the music for the show comes from film and television scorer Dominic Frontiere, whose work includes television show such as "Branded", Rat Patrol, and Chopper-One (a childhood favourite of mine) as well as films such as the Bruce Willis thriller The Color of Night. Additional music for the episodes Don't Open Till Doomsday and Tourist Attraction comes from scorer Robert Van Eps, whose work didn't seem to extend outside the 50s and 60s. The tone and style of the score for the shows works, but has a quite dated sound with much of the music reused over the 32 episodes. Still, reasonable and suitable for the material. There is no surround activity to be derived from the audio tracks here, and my subwoofer was silent throughout the series.
The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0. This is the only audio option on the discs.
Overall, the dialogue quality is reasonable, but there are some clarity issues from time to time throughout the series. Because of the limitations of the recording equipment of the era, the end product we have here tends to suffer from lack of dynamics and fidelity. The spoken word is okay, but overmiking is a continual problem with distortion heard during dialogue throughout the series. The producers also failed to adequately shield their microphone during the episode Specimen: Unknown with the end result a terrible crackling heard any time a character delivers their lines, while the rest of the time, the mike audio is turned down so only the music and sound effects are audible.
Audio sync is for the most part reasonable, although there are some instances of out of sync and bad ADR. The sync is out in the episode The Architects of Fear at10:40 and this looks to have been part of the original print soundtrack and not an issue with the audio as committed to the DVD. Obvious ADR is heard in the episode It Crawled out of the Woodwork at 13:35. Not terrible flaws, but again, noticeable.
Most of the music for the show comes from film and television scorer Dominic Frontiere, whose work includes television show such as "Branded", Rat Patrol, and Chopper-One (a childhood favourite of mine) as well as films such as the Bruce Willis thriller The Color of Night. Additional music for the episodes Don't Open Till Doomsday and Tourist Attraction comes from scorer Robert Van Eps, whose work didn't seem to extend outside the 50s and 60s. The tone and style of the score for the shows works, but has a quite dated sound with much of the music reused over the 32 episodes. Still, reasonable and suitable for the material.
There is no surround activity to be derived from the audio tracks here, and my subwoofer was silent throughout the series.
|Surround Channel Use|
With over 27 hours of programming over 4 dual sided-dual layered discs, this whole package is one giant extra. Some production notes would have been nice, along with some bios of the major stars in the series, but in the end we have only the program material to enjoy. The full retail version reportedly features a booklet (12 pages?), but as I was only provided with test pressings to review, I cannot comment on the content of the booklet.
After the distributor's logos and copyright warnings, we are taken to the disc's menu. This is animated with a voice-over that is in the style of the opening introductions heard at the start of each episode. Selectable at each of the corners of the screen are the episodes on that side of the disc. Selecting an episode will take you to a chapter page that features 5 selectable chapter for each episode, with a static image and chapter title available. Icons for Play Episode and Main Menu also feature.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
As far as I am able to determine, we have the exact same package here as that made available in Region 1, right down to the NTSC formatting. The only difference would be the region coding. As this is the case, I'd call this a draw with the Region 4 disc coming out ahead in the affordability and availability stakes.
After 40 years, here it is. THE big monster show from the golden age of television. Many 'baby boomers' will probably have fond memories of watching this program (and getting scared witless) as it took the viewer on a journey into the strange and unknown each week. If you have nostalgic memories of this series, get out and pick it up. It's well worth it. The video is adequate, with a reasonable image that suffers from some film degradation issues. A full restoration would be in order for this material here. The audio is limited and suffers from some overmiking and lack of fidelity. Listenable, but unremarkable. This package is one huge extra. They couldn't possibly fit more onto these discs if they tried. Well, okay, they probably could, and it might have been nice, but all we do get is the programs themselves.
The video is adequate, with a reasonable image that suffers from some film degradation issues. A full restoration would be in order for this material here.
The audio is limited and suffers from some overmiking and lack of fidelity. Listenable, but unremarkable.
This package is one huge extra. They couldn't possibly fit more onto these discs if they tried. Well, okay, they probably could, and it might have been nice, but all we do get is the programs themselves.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD RA-61, using S-Video output|
|Display||Beko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||VAF DC-X Fronts, VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)|