There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt
to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. We
will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical.
For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all you
see and hear. You are about to participate in a great adventure.
You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches
from the inner mind to... The Outer Limits...
know more than a little about the original version of The
Outer Limits. Believe it or not, I'm too young to remember
its first airing in 1964, but it was sporadic at best. In
1980 BBC2 showed every episode. They were out of sequence,
and moved from a regular early evening slot to a late night
one for no explicable reason. But I didn't care. I couldn't
get enough of them. I've loved this quality anthology series
ever since, and it has for years sat in my all-time top five
so I appreciate the show. But why is it so good? Well, first
and foremost the scripts are so strong; even those considered
to be weaker knock spots off other shows of this format. Although
The Outer Limits was devised by producer Leslie Stevens
(he also wrote the pilot The Galaxy Being), the show's
major success was undoubtedly down to Joseph Stephano, one
of the best scriptwriters of his time. Not only did he write
many of the best episodes, but also received co-credits for
many others for his tightening of those scripts, making them
compatible with the show.
"Bear", which was what insiders called the monster of the
week, was almost universally well-handled. Simple optical
effects and good camerawork combined to make the creatures
more threatening or otherworldly. One of the reasons why this
series works so well is that everything is played straight.
There is no underlying tongue-in-cheek "No, we're not convinced
by the monster either!" attitude.
This first season DVD set incorporates 32 45-minute self-contained
stories over eight discs (four titles on each disc). This
differs slightly from the region 1 version which has been
around for at least a couple of years now. That had four unlabeled
two-sided discs, with only a microscopic A or B to distinguish
each side. Don't expect any extras here (Isn't more than 27
hours of viewing enough, for goodness sake?!), and there is
only the original mono sound. I surmise that to cleanup the
picture would have significantly increased the cost of the
set, but rest assured that only a couple contain minor scratches.
On the whole, the picture is pretty much pristine.
I were to list every good story it would take over this entire
review, so here's just a few classic episodes. In The Zanti
Misfits, a Zanti official contacts Earth saying that a
penal ship will land and that they should not approach it.
The area is cordoned-off, but a criminal and a runaway wife
break through and end up stumbling across the craft. A Zanti
creature emerges to warn them off and in the confusion the
Zanti criminals make a bid for freedom. This is a well-written
tale by Stephano, but the appearance of the Zanti turn it
into a classic. The ant like creatures with humanoid features
are creepy but make you smile at just how well they are realised.
In The Invisibles an undercover government investigator
infiltrates a secret society where humans are hosts to parasitic
creatures which are taking over positions of power. Again
this is credited to Stephano, but shame on the producers for
not crediting Robert Heinlein, because this is undoubtedly
based on his novel The Puppet Masters.
In The Sixth Finger, a man volunteers to undergo a
scientist's experiments in advancing man's evolution hundreds
of years. He becomes much more intelligent, but to others
his metamorphosis makes him so unhuman that he appears to
them as a monster. Guest stars in this season include: Robert
Culp (the ultimate jobbing actor), David McCallum, Martin
Landau and a multitude of other faces many of whom you will
recognise (Neil Hamilton, Commissioner Gordon in the camp
sixties Batman series, is one of them).
short, this is pretty near brilliant stuff. Go out and buy
it. "We now return control of your television to you, until
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