26 October 2005 | Minerva_Meybridge
Uneven, Doom and Gloom Series
One of the stand-out features of the original Outer Limits series was the consistency of good writing. Oh, there were some bad episodes like the one with the telepathic rocks, but overall it was an amazing achievement in science fiction.
The New Outer Limits saw just the reverse. Mainly, the episodes were formula and, where the endings in the original series brought hope, the new series primarily brought doom and destruction. The reason for this comes from a lack of writing skills. Science fiction writing is like writing mysteries. Of course, there are always the murder shows where the killer gets away with it, but then there is the clever side, as with Columbo or Agatha Christie, where the writer creates a difficult situation, but has figured out how to resolve it in the end. The endings in the New Outer Limits were, for the most part, unresolved and left the viewer with a sense of despair.
There were a few exceptions, though. One was entitled, "Tribunal" and told how a man used a time watch to go back to Nazi Germany to a concentration camp, to try and save his half sister from certain death. It is a four handkerchief ending.
In another brilliant episode entitled "A Stitch in Time", Amada Plummer uses a time machine to go back in time and eliminate serial killers before they ever killed. Each trip back to a rewritten present slams a lifetime of memories into her head, causing brain damage, a concept "borrowed" for the film, "The Butterfly Effect".
Finally, in an episode entitled, "Think like a Dinosaur", the concept of what happens to you when you are teleported is measured to the extreme. Perhaps inspired by the Star Trek Next Generation episode where Will Riker is split into two separate persons by a transporter beam, each of which go on to lead two distinct and separate lives, something goes wrong with the teleporter and the original is not destroyed but revived. So which one is actually real? While one of the doom and gloom episodes, this one still raises enough questions as to the nature of the human soul that it manages to transcend the poor resolution of circumstances at the end.
The fact of the matter is that the New OUter Limits more closely resembled the original Twilight Zone than the series whence it derived its name.