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In July 2005 the original season of the classic American science-fiction programme The Outer Limits was finally released on DVD. The box set contains 8 discs featuring 32 episodes varying in quality. Some episodes have stood the test of time well but others haven't. Here's my take on the best and the worst of season one of the Outer Limits. The Best: The Sixth Finger in which David McCallum is used as a guinea pig in a professor's experiments with evolution. McCallum ends up with a huge head and becomes a brilliant pianist. The Bellero Shield sees Martin Landau star as a frustrated inventor whose new laser machine fails to impress his father. Landau's wife (played by Sally Kellerman) fires a laser gun at his invention and manages to intercept an alien from outer space! In The Man With The Power Donald Pleasance is Harold Finley, who invents an apparatus that can manipulate the electromagnetic spectrum (I know what you're thinking now. What the hell is that?!) He ends up zapping his nagging wife and hard to please boss with his rays. The Worst: The Zanti Misfits features some laughable giant spider- like creatures and The Special One sees some totally irresponsible parents allow a strange man to go into the bedroom with their son who is supposed to be incredibly intelligent. This 8 disc box set retails for around £20 and is a vital piece of science fiction history.
THE OUTER LIMITS was an anthology series in a similar mould to THE TWILIGHT ZONE, running from 1963-1965 for a total of 49 episodes. However, unlike THE TWILIGHT ZONE this series primarily focused on horror stories, and featured a monster in every episode. The show was created by Leslie Stevens, but a primary mover and shaker in the background of the series was Joseph Stefano, who had written the script for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movie PSYCHO. The show featured a number of guest appearances by actors who went on to become household names, including David McCallum in the episode THE SIXTH FINGER. McCallum would soon become famous in the show THE MAN FROM UNCLE. One of the best episodes of the show was entitled THE ZANTI MISFITS, which featured giant ants which were saddled with ugly human faces, and the episode OBIT featured a flat faced alien with one eye in a storyline about a plot by aliens to demoralize the population of the Earth with television screens (hasn’t that already happened!?). Sadly THE OUTER LIMITS is difficult to catch these days – I’m not sure that any channel in the UK is running it, although BBC2, Sky and the Sci Fi Channel sporadically show episodes of the 1990s version of the show. It would be nice to see a DVD release for the series as it appears that the release of episodes from the original episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE has been quite successful.