10 October 2004 | ryon-2
A Sad Commentary On Our Times
When I was growing up, the two great sources of what for me was "real" science fiction was the Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits. Some of those episodes just creeped me out, and years later, they still do. While the Twilight Zone occasionally had morals to its stories, the Outer Limits stories were more often an exercise in fear and terror, bereft of any moral.
This was because the stories created by the chief writer of the Outer Limits was going through psychological problems of his own, and the stories that he wrote came to him in his car as he drove along. Had his psychologist been more successful, the earlier Outer Limits would probably be like the dribble that is the new Outer Limits today.
Some how all the terror has been leached away and what we see are a series of predictable episodes that have ham-fisted morals that fit right in with the cynical '90s. There are only a few basic themes in the new version, and all the rest is just a predictable variation of "virus destroys all but a few people," "Mankind is bad and must be dealt with" (by alien or androids-- it changes each week), "Don't watch out or what you create may end up controlling you," and a few other limited themes. There was nothing really new here.
And to make the series all the more depressing was that nobody ever on. The good guy/hero thinks he does but no! -- he dies, everybody dies, and then there's the moral. It's '90s cynicism that's just there to hammer down dull, and downbeat episodes where almost nobody ever comes out alive and happy.
While 90 per cent of the episodes are a waste of time, there are a few good ones; you just have to sit and wade through all of the crappy ones to find a good one. For good science fiction, go and buy the videos or DVDs of the original series; those will either terrify you or give you things to think about. Unlike with the new series where you've seen a few, you pretty much have seen them all, with the originals they are all uniquely different from the others.