29 May 2003 | zippgun
An outstanding' intelligent 60's Sci-Fi anthology
From reading the comments many people love this series,and I am another "Outer Limits " fan.The 60's show is far superior to its 90's namesake and the cliched special effects driven SF programs being made today."The Outer Limits" had none of the technological wizardry available to t.v.now, nor even the recources Irwin Allen's productions at Twentieth Century Fox and"Star Trek" at Desilu/Paramount could draw upon in the 1960's.The series was made by Leslie Steven's "Daystar" productions(a small independent),in black and white and on very tight budgets using the Hollywood soundstages of KTTV(and later Paramount Sunset), with some external scenes shot at the MGM backlot at Culver city.The special effects and makeup vary in quality ,some are very good indeed bearing in mind the limitations in budget (examples-the "Sixth finger", "Nightmare","The chameleon", "A feasability study","The galaxy being" "The Bellero shield" and "The keeper of the purple twilight"--what a title!). The show comes from a period when an unusual amount of high quality writing was evident on American t.v.drama (despite what the F.CC. were saying about t.v. being a "vast wasteland").In my view the first season produced by Joseph Stefano is generally superior to the second when Ben Brady of "Perry Mason" took over.Stefano, who had in 1960 scripted "Psycho" for Hitchcock, wrote quite a number of episodes and extensively re-wrote many of the scripts provided by others during the first season. Not just the writing, but the cinematography (often by Conrad Hall),direction and music gives the show a brooding, moody "otherworldly" quality.Gerd Oswald, a minor film director, was used extensively on the show and his episodes are often the most striking. Even the best series will have it's quota of poorer episodes.In my opinion, among "The Outer Limits" worst are "The Probe"(the final episode,with a notably pathetic monster), "The duplicate man"(an interesting idea poorly executed,with another rotten monster), "Behold Eck", "Cold hands, warm heart", "Tourist attraction","The mutant" and "Specimen unknown"(fiendish extra terrestrial plants which sure aint Triffids!--oddly the highest rated episode of the series).Among my favorite shows are "The sixth finger", "A feasability study" ,"Nightmare", "The chameleon"( with Robert Duvall), "Fun and games"(with a great performance by Nick Adams),and "The Inheritors"( a two parter with Duvall again, and featuring a terrific speech at the end, beautifully delivered by Steve Ihnat). A special mention for four outstanding episodes.In "Obit","The Outer Limits" , back in 1963,was warning about that unpleasant instinct in people which leads them to want to spy into the personal lives of others,and which t.v. has sunk to pandering to today with the likes of "Big brother" and "Survivor"."The forms of things unknown",is a stunning piece, an object lesson in what can be achieved by talented people with a limited budget.The car recklessly driven down the road, Andre's poisoning in the lake, and Tone's weird clock machine are all images that you don't easily forget."The man who was never born", a sci -fi variant on "Beauty and the beast", is full of poetic writing and dreamlike scenes.Martin Landau is superb as the soulful mutant from the future, and the poignant final shot where the camera pulls back from a bereft Shirley Knight who is left in a tiny box of light with the dark all around, is the kind of ingenious moment which starkly sets "The Outer Limits" apart from most t.v. productions."The Guests" is a show I often return to.Within the framework of a Sci-Fi horror tale, we find an elegy on the passage of time, love and loss, beautifully filmed with an outstanding musical score. The performances, from Gloria Grahame( cast in type), Luana Anders( cast rather against type),Geoffrey Horne(among others), the direction by Paul Stanley and script by Donald S. Sanford reward re-viewing with further insights and appreciations.A landmark series.