30 May 2004 | hung_fao_tweeze
Alas the plight of a unicorn
Let me take you back. Let me pull you there. A male human child of 6 cycles. It is 1963. Dad was cool and suggested we watch this new 'weirdo' show. We did that sort of thing together - bonding, don't you know? From the very first second the show was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The set up? We just lost control of our TV sets and 'they' were going to show us something - 'awe and mystery'. I'm all for that. 'The Twilight Zone' had already done this...yet this was something different. The visuals combined with the truly subversively semi-subliminal (I hope) sound effects - very compelling. It pulled you right in, teased and hypnotized. Then, that gut wrenching music slowly wanders in and disorients. Hurry up, commercial! Get over already! (Commercials were somewhat shorter back then as I recall)
I believe the first episode, which I haven't seen in years, segued right from the sine-wave intro. I also recall the intro as being a bit longer with the first few episodes. I could be wrong. These were on TV and - you know - TV takes liberties. Later episodes started right in on the action...a prologue to tease you for what's to come. Then - a crescendo note of surprise, awe and mystery - the 'sine-wave- intro. I want to watch this! This same technique was later adopted by such peers as 'The X-files'.
Folks! The original Outer Limits intro was fun! It was almost art...the first season anyway. I do like the 'new' Outer Limits on occasion - but that intro of theirs? Ugh, I can't wait til it's over and the show starts. The intro of the original series came as a part of the package.
Then we have those stories. A child of 6 expects monsters to be monsters. Many of these monsters - each horrific in a surprisingly memorable way - turned out to be well-meaning or benign. That will certainly screw with the perceptive 6 year old mind. So, the monster under my bed might not be a monster at all? Wow!
Yes, those stories were assisted by the most symbiotic music I had heard at the time. Those dirges piped in at just the right moment, working the mood into a niche, and making the plot point. You know, we, the audience, were being seduced by the notes to 'listen up! You might learn something'. The second season unfortunately lost these tunes and were replaced by this wavering 1950-ish B-movie ilk. I shouldn't bash it. It wasn't bad - it just wasn't the Frontiere-groove anymore, man.
I could adorn each episode with praises. Even a bad one was better for me than anything else on TV then. If they were on today I would still watch a bad episode. They still made you consider your place in the Universe. Sometimes they even scared the crap out of you. But the good episodes were gems! Those creatures were fantastic. At the time our local station edited 'Architects Of Fear' so we never got to see the creature since it was deemed too scary. The story still held together even without the extra boost a fearsome face would provide. Many years later I finally saw what the creature looked like. I can see why the stations did what they did for that innocent era. I probably would have screamed myself to sleep. 'Zanti Misfits' had me doing that anyway. The 'Bellero Shield' had me upset for years. I think I actually understood the ending at 6 years old.
So, I am not going to keep listing episodes. I like them all and will be owning them in my library.
Bottomline, folks! If you haven't seen any of these - DO! Unfortunately short-lived, these early episodes are a one-of-a-kind example of good TV. Rare and perhaps extinct. A series that didn't underestimate its audience and nearly always challenged them. Giving this an 8 because of the poor second season - though the first season is frequently easily a 9 or above.