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The second and final season of the science fiction fantasy horror series The Outer Limits - first broadcast in 1964/65. There are seventeen episodes here spread over five discs and while this is often said to be a weaker year for the short lived series (principally because of the creative loss of Leslie Stevens and Joseph Stefano) I didn't personally notice a major difference in quality between this and the first season. As ever this is a somewhat frustrating mixture of the brilliant and the prosaic with some fantastic episodes and some rather dull ones. Many familiar faces too before they were famous. William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Adam West, Robert Duvall, James Doohan, Robert Culp. I still prefer The Twilight Zone but The Outer Limits certainly has its moments and was a great show at its very best. My major criticism would be that many of the episodes here are too long at fifty minutes. I think The Outer Limits would have worked better in a thirty minute format - just as The Twilight Zone wisely did. "Time is fluid. The waters of forever close -- and passage may not be completed. The present and the future are for a moment united. And the Enemy, half-today, half-tomorrow, is locked between..." The first episode - Soldier - was written by cult science fiction author Harlan Ellison and directed by Gerd Oswald. Eighteen hundred years in the future, two soldiers fight in a desolate smoke hazed landscape before two beams of light suddenly appear and hurl them into a time vortex. One of them, Qarlo Clobregnny (Michael Ansara), suddenly finds himself hurled back to 1964 and lands on a city street where his sudden appearance (he's wearing armour, an anachronistic steel helmet and has a ray gun!) is highly alarming to the population as you can imagine. Qarlo is the ultimate soldier - "Trained from birth by the State, he has never known love, or closeness, or warmth. He is geared for only one purpose: to kill the Enemy." He is eventually restrained and thrown in a lunatic asylum (the "G.I.C.D. Psychiatric Security Section") but a philologist named Tom Kagan (Lloyd Nolan) manages to establish a connection to Qarlo and starts to "tame" him of his aggressive tendencies and conditioning. However, the other futuristic soldier (Alan Jaffe) appears in 1964 too and is intent on hunting down Qarlo.
Does the plot of Soldier sound vaguely familiar? Harlan Ellison took legal action against Orion Pictures when he saw the 1984 film The Terminator. James Cameron had heavily borrowed from Soldier and The Terminator was ordered to include an acknowledgement of Ellison in the credits. One could go further and argue that Cameron was also heavily influenced by Ellison's other episode here - Demon with a Glass Hand. Soldier is a solid and clever episode that manages to overcome some of the weaknesses of the production (chiefly the future soldier costumes here which look a bit risible) with a compelling central concept and some nice ideas. The narrations by Vic Perrin at the beginning and end are enjoyably melodramatic too in the usual Outer Limits tradition. Treading a fine line between being poetic and unintentionally amusing. "The spidery beams of light in the sky are the descendants of the modern laser beam -- heat rays that sear through tungsten steel and flesh as though they were cheesecloth." The duel between the soldiers is very atmospheric and well staged. It was shot at Paramount Studios on a huge sound stage with fog machines to the fore and a mountain backdrop (artificial of course). It's not Lord of the Rings but it is well done for the time and budget of the show. Maybe the story drags a little in the end and becomes more familiar when Qarlo is taken in by the Kagan family (one always feels this series would have been much better with 30 minute episodes) but Michael Ansara is very good in the lead role here. I like many of the ideas and flourishes by Ellison, especially on the future society the soldiers come from. There are self lighting cigarettes and a sort of Newspeak language (very 1984). It's also interesting how the two soldiers don't look very different. It suggests a future world riven by perpetual civil war. Soldier is an above average episode and a good way to start season two.
"The most brilliant planet in our solar system is Venus, named for the goddess of love. It is closer to Earth than any other planet--twenty-eight million miles away. Until sometime in the last half of the twentieth century it is still a planet shrouded in mystery, enveloped in a heavy blanket of clouds and steam. Because its surface temperature was believed to be several times that of Earth's, it was not thought possible for Man to reach Venus and come back... until one day, somebody did it." Cold Hands, Warm Heart was written by Dan Ullman and directed by Charles Haas. Astronaut Jefferson Barton (William Shatner) is acclaimed as a national hero after the success of his mission to orbit the planet Venus. His next project is the proposed mission to send a colony to Mars - something which he must use his influence and fame to try to secure funding for. However, something strange is happening to Barton since he returned. He can't seem to ever get warm no matter how much he whacks the heating up and he begins to have recurring nightmares about his mission to Venus - as if he has suppressed memories that are slowly filtering out. As if this wasn't enough he has also developed webbed fingers! What in the name of Mr Spock is going on? This is a decent enough episode that seems to have been very obviously influenced by Quatermass. It doesn't really go anywhere in the end and has no Twilight Zone style twist or especially memorable coda at all but it's always watchable. It's interesting to see Shatner here playing a space explorer before the creation of Star Trek and he's serviceable enough as the troubled astronaut. Shatner was a pretty solid and reliable television actor in the sixties and doesn't ham it up an awful lot all things considering. Maybe once or twice. "My mind seems to wander... I have a horrible dream... I don't remember it, I just know it was horrible. What's happening to me?" Hmmn. My guess would be that you are turning into a lizard maybe? I like the sauna scene here too where he locks himself in and cranks the heat up. Barton just can't get warm no matter how much hot coffee he guzzles or layers of clothing he puts on. There is a rubbish alien monster but the effects are more effective for being used sparingly. Most of the episode is Shatner on Earth trying to get funding for the mission to mars (codenamed Project Vulcan - a prescient title given Shatner's future career) and trying to work out what is happening to him. Not a great episode but certainly watchable. Look out for Hill Street Blues star James B Sikking in a supporting role.
"Since the first living thing gazed upward through the darkness, Man has seldom been content merely to be born, to endure, and to die. With a curious fervor he has struggled to unlock the mysteries of creation and of the world in which he lives. Sometimes he has won. Sometimes he has lost. And sometimes, in the tumbling torrents of space and time, he has brief glimpses of a world he never even dreams..." Behold Eck! was written by John Mantley and directed by Byron Haskin. This is quite a nutty episode. Dr Stone Peter (Lind Hayes) is a brilliant optic engineer. After a break in at his optometric facilities, his spectacles are broken and he uses a pair of lenses made from meteoric quartz which he designed himself for people with double vision. To his astonishment the glasses allow him to see "Eck" - an alien from a two dimension world. Eck seems to be composed of pure energy (he looks like a piece of electrified Fuzzy Felt!) and nabs the prescription book that contains all the patients who were prescribed the meteoric quartz spectacles (and so can therefore see him now). As Eck begins bumping these patients off, he also creates rifts and tensions in our dimension by his mere presence. Dr Stone must somehow communicate with Eck and find a solution to this pesky interdimensional dilemma. Behold Eck! is alright but feels like it is treading ground that is already well worn and maybe treading it not so well as before. The Borderland did this much better in the first season and The Twilight Zone also with Little Girl Lost. Parley Baer is good as Stone's brother (they have numerous scientific debates) but the Eck creature is not terribly inventive and - with some dodgy special effects - seems derivative of several energy beings we've already seen in the first season of The Outer Limits with his monotone all knowing wisdom and warnings to humanity. "You could not understand, it is too different, too far removed from anything you could imagine. It is not even a world at all, as you think of it." This episode seems somewhat inconsistent to me too. Sometimes comic and sometimes (trying to be) scary but never really making its mind up.
"As far back as men have recorded their history, veils have been lowered to disclose a vast new reality--rents in the fabric of Man's awareness. And somewhere, in the endless search of the curious mind, lies the next vision, the next key to his infinite capacity..." Expanding Human was written by Francis Cockrell and directed by Gerd Oswald. This is a riff on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with what seems to be a subtext about LSD. Bit cheeky for the time that I'd imagine. It's not a great episode to be honest but well directed by Gerd Oswald nonetheless. At his university campus, Dr Roy Clinton (Skip Homeier) experiments with a prototype drug named CE which is designed to expand the mental capacity of the brain. As ever, all does not go according to plan. It alters his genetic structure and turns him into a mutant criminal and murderer, effectively splitting his personality. This is a rather laborious episode that hasn't dated terribly well although I like the film noir direction at times. Outer Limits episodes always start with a pre-credits teaser that shows you a glimpse of the monster or a tense scene which we'll only then get to about half way through the actual episode. Here it's Clinton in his mutant dribbling state. Actually, he just seem to have head bumps like a Star Trek alien and is fairly composed (if admittedly a trifle megalomaniacal). He tries to enlist his brother in law Professor Wayne (Keith Andes) is his nefarious schemes once the experimental drug has driven him bonkers. "Why not, if God's too busy? Who's to say that it's not his will, that we're not his agents!" The weird and creepy potential of the episode is rather sunk in the end as it descends into a run of the mill campus whodunnit. Look by the way for James Doohan (Star Trek's "Scotty") as the police detective investigating the case.
Demon with a Glass Hand was written by Harlan Ellison and directed by Byron Haskin. This is one of the most highly regarded of all Outer Limits episodes for its fast pace, invention and powerful twist ending. Trent (Robert Culp) is a man with no memory who finds that his left hand is now a computer - a robotic see through crystalline sculpture with fingers. Only three fingers are missing. Strange. Trent is told by the computer hand (!) that he must locate the missing fingers before he can be told what is going on. Not only that but strange humanoid aliens are trying to kill him! He hooks up with Consuelo Biros (Arlene Martel), a woman trapped in the same empty huge Baroque office building by an invisible force field, and tries to both stay alive and make sense of it all. "I was born ten days ago. A full-grown man, born ten days ago. I woke on a street of this city. I don't know who I am, or where I've been, or where I'm going. Someone wiped my memories clean. And they tracked me down and tried to kill me. Why? Who are you? I ran. I managed to escape them the first time. Then the hand, my hand, told me what to do." Inspired by the myth of Gilgamesh ("Through all the legends of ancient peoples -- Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian, Semitic -- runs the saga of the Eternal Man, the one who never dies, called by various names in various times, but historically known as Gilgamesh, the man who has never tasted death ... the hero who strides through the centuries ..."), Demon with a Glass Hand is a very arresting and ultimately moving piece of television. I still think this series would work better at 30 minutes but this has a faster pace than many others as Trent battles weird aliens (they have hoods and look like an army of the dead) and begins to understand the significance of who he is. I don't think this is quite as great as its reputation would suggest but Culp is excellent and the film noir direction is superb. Harry Lubin's off kilter score is fantastic too and I think the third act moves into the territory of a previous Outer Limits episode called The Man Who Was Never There to really good effect. Both are essentially about loneliness. Once again we get intimations of a bleak future reality. The future is never a nice place in The Outer Limits!
"In the not-distant future, the sound of Man will invade those unknown depths of space which as yet we cannot even imagine. In his own world there are no places left beyond the reach of his voice. His neighbor is no longer just next door, but anywhere at the end of a wire. And it all began when prehistoric man discovered the art of communication..." Cry of Silence was written by Robert C Dennis and directed by Charles Haas. Andy and Karen Thorne (Eddie Albert and June Havoc respectively) are in the country looking for a farm to purchase. When they hit a rock and their car conks out in a desolate area they find themselves being attacked by what appear to be malevolent and sentient tumbleweeds! I hate it when that happens. Anyway, they meet a nutty farmer named Lamont (Arthur Hunnicut) who says that things have been mighty strange in these here parts (I don't know why I'm suddenly speaking like that) ever since a meteor came down nearby. Lamont wants to leave but it feels like inanimate objects and nature herself are no alive and won't let him leave. Needless to say the Thornes are now trapped too and things are going get a lot stranger. Cry of Silence is not the best episode here by any stretch of the imagination and seems to have been inspired by Jack Arnold's 1953 It Came from Outer Space. There are one or two enjoyable chills but on the whole this is fairly forgettable. It's too similar to the first season episode Corpus Earthling (where aliens took refuge in rocks) and the central theme of the inability of people to communicate is lost in what is often a very silly fifty or so minutes of television. Nice to see Arthur Hunnicut though, a likeable actor who always played these rural backswoods type characters (including a Twilight Zone).
The Invisible Enemy was written by Jerry Sohl and again directed by Byron Haskin. This is a fun episode and the only one that seems to be set on an another world (which is a bit strange for a science fiction series). "In the vast immensities of cosmic space, bold adventurers streak their way to join battle with strange enemies on strange worlds -- the alien, the unknown, perhaps even the invisible, armed only with Man's earthbound knowledge..." In the year 2021, a space mission to Mars ended mysteriously when the crew vanished, their last transmission consisting only of screams and terrified confusion. A new space mission by the M2 spaceship and led by Major Charles 'Chuck' Merritt (Adam West) heads for Mars to investigate and find out what happened to the first crew. However, when their engineer examines the wreck of the M1 (the ship that carried the first lost crew) he screams in terror too and vanishes. There is something very strange about Mars and the answer may lie in the sand. This is an enjoyably unpretentious action packed episode that anticipates films likes Jaws (seriously) and Tremors. The special effects aren't always up to par but there is a good sense of atmosphere and plenty of tense situations. Adam West (before he became famous as Batman) is decent enough as the solid leader of the astronauts but Rudy Solari as Captain Buckley is the most compelling character I think. "Funny thing that sand, isn't it? Looks just like the ocean at the Cape... I used to love to look at the moon on the water." Buckley is entranced by the "sand ocean" and his reveries are nicely done. The Invisible Enemy has some tension too when the remaining crew must hole up in their ship and survive until take off. I liked this episode a lot. It's good fun and a fairly straight ahead science fiction horror entry.
"There is a theory that Earth and sun and galaxy and all the known universes are only a dust mote on some policeman's uniform in some gigantic super-world. Couldn't we be under some super-microscope, right now?" Hmmn. Wolf 359 was written by Seleg Lestor and directed by Laslo Benedek. This is a pretty good episode that reminds me somewhat of The Twilight Zone story The Little People. Professor Jonathan Meridith (Patrick O'Neil) has constructed a miniature replica of a planet from the distant solar system Wolf 359. This artificial world has its development accelerated (by dint of being so tiny I suppose) and Meredith painstakingly studies the progress and changes through his microscope. "Who are we looking at? At a planet, eight light years away. I mean that's so far that the finest telescopes we've had can't pick it out. We have to use second-hand informations we've had. We've had to make assumptions until now. But now, right here, in our laboratory, we can see what's going on up there. We can... we can watch, we can watch Evolution, at work!" However, when the tiny world reaches the present time in terms of its technology a strange ghostly glowing spectral creature emerges from the experiment and seems intent on punishing Meredith. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. The weary and engaging performance of Patrick O'Neil, the little world going through its various stages of development to mimic our own world. Including - most chillingly - nuclear tests. "The refinement of evil... scientific warfare." One is always interested to see where the world will go and if they will realise they are a mere dust particle in a lab being watched under a microscope. Will they get the secret of space travel and work it out for themselves? Maybe the emergence of the blurry Scooby-Doo ghost fogs some of the possibilities but it's quite spooky anyway and Sara Shane is good as Meredith's increasingly worried wife. As ever, it's the wife who realises they might be meddling with things they don't understand and becomes the voice of reason as the professor becomes ever more obsessed with his study. This is a very watchable anthropological evolution themed episode and certainly one of the more enjoyable ones here.
I, Robot was written by Robert C Dennis and directed by Leon Benson. This is a borderline dull episode with obvious parallels to Frankenstein. A robot named Adam Link (Read Morgan under the tin can suit) is arrested on the charge of murdering its creator Professor Charles Link (Peter Brocco). Misanthropic but liberal Defence attorney Thurman Cutler (Howard Da Silva) is brought out of retirement to defend the robot. This episode is a windy exploration of what it means to be human and sentient and about prejudice versus science and understanding. Or something. It all bogs down though into a fairly dull courtroom drama with the robot sitting there as Cutler tries to defend him on the grounds that he has essentially been a child who had to learn his own strength and the nuances of human behaviour. The Frankenstein theme is heavy with the robot subject to a witch hunt at the start (in this episode robot hating hillbillies are rife and the police are all stupid and prejudiced too) and Adam appears by a lake and scares a little girl - a la James Whale's famous film version. Howard Da Silva is good and gives this most of its juice (his courtroom speeches become quite poetic at times) but this is far from my favourite story here and not one I'd return to an awful lot given a choice. Look for Leonard Nimoy as a journalist named Judson Ellis ("Frankenstein killed by his own monster! Sheriff, this is the space age!"). It seems as if Star Trek got their entire cast from watching The Outer Limits episodes! One other thing I noticed here is that the ending is identical to a Twilight Zone story called I Sing the Body Electric. Neither are the finest hour in the history of either show.
"In the troubled places of the world, the Devil's Hunter finds rare game. For man-made savagery is only the instrument for a secret terror stirring from its dark place of ambush..." The Inheritors Part 1 & Part 2 were written by Seeleg Lester and Sam Neuman and directed by James Goldstone. These are two of the best episodes here with a strong central performance by Robert Duvall. In Vietnam, four combat soldiers are wounded by bullets laced with meteorites and alien DNA. They should have been killed by their wounds but mysteriously are all still alive and hearty. Secretary of Science Randolph Branch (Ted de Corsia) and his assistant Adam Ballard (Robert Duvall) investigate and soon learn that the four men exhibit new and unusual brainwaves that make them incredibly intelligent. The four men begin working on a secretive project that involves a distinct skill from each of them and the kidnapping of children. Ballard becomes determined to get to the bottom of it. He fears that the men are now working for aliens! "Whatever that project is, I got the impression that these men hate what's happening to them! Hate what they're doing even if they're unwilling to do it! Not just frightening it but it is terrifying! These men are tormented and unable to control themselves..." This is an excellent double entry in series two and works well as a two hander. Duvall has just the right mix of determination and desperation and one is always curious to find out what the soldiers are really up to. It has a well staged prologue in Vietnam too where Lieutenant Minns (Steve Ihnat) is wounded (slightly documentary in style) and then cuts to Ballard watching him being operated on through glass. A very stylish couple of episodes. Good use of inventive camerawork throughout and a gripping plot that builds to a compelling finale in the first part to lead into the second. I quite like the way you can view this as a feature length film with both episodes back to back. Maybe part two isn't quite so strong (mainly because they have to reveal their hand) but it's still as good as any of the other stuff in this collection.
Keeper of the Purple Twilight was written by Milton Krims and directed by Charles Haas. It's not bad at all and has one of the most memorable monsters. Physicist Eric Plummer (Warren Stevens) has been driven to the verge of a nervous breakdown trying to complete a magnetic disintegrator (we've all been there and these magnetic disintegrators are sooooo pesky) and decides to commit suicide because he can't fathom the final set of equations. However (there is always a "however" in The Outer Limits) an alien scientist (Robert Webber) who looks like a fish and is called "Ikar" appears and offers him a pact. He will give Plummer the final set of equations to complete his project in return for the human gift of emotion. He will take Plummer's human psyche and give him an alien intellect. Ikar comes from a planet with a hive mentality where individuality is frowned upon. Plummer accepts the pact and gets to work on his project in his new Vulcan way while Ikar learns about emotions and begins to develop feelings for Plummer's girlfriend Gail (Jane Lane). He's obviously disguised in human form though. She isn't going to go on a picnic with a giant fish! Anyway, matters become complicated when aliens turn up because Ikar has betrayed his mission to study humanity before an invasion. This is a derivative episode reminding one of several stories The Outer Limits has already done and Invasion of the Body Snatchers but it works principally because of the performances of the three core cast members and the always interesting effects the personality swap has on the two lead characters. In a sense Plummer is being manipulated by a foreign power (lot of subtext obviously given the era) and while the interaction about love and human emotions seems trite at times it was probably a lot fresher at the time. "The human beings are all-alike, disorganised, indisciplined, wasteful of time and energy, disorderly, illogical." Very Mr Spock!
"Since the first day that Man stared up at the stars and saw other worlds, there has been no more haunting question than this: What will we find there? Will there be other creatures, and will they be like us? Or when that ancient dream comes true, will it turn into a nightmare? Will we find, on some distant, frozen planet, an alien life of unimaginable horror?" The Duplicate Man was written by Robert C Dennis and directed by Gerd Oswald. In the far off future year of (ahem) 2011, crooked rich space anthropologist and academic Henderson James (Ron Randell) has smuggled an alien known as a Megasoid to Earth with the help of Captain Karl Emmet (Sean McClory). This is a forbidden species as it is highly dangerous. This being The Outer Limits the creature escapes and takes refuge at a space zoo. James lacks the courage to hunt down the alien himself so comes up with an inventive solution. He has a clone of himself made and orders it to go and kill the alien instead. This "duplicate" is illegal so James is now in big trouble on two counts if his activities are rumbled. The duplicate begins to have flashes of vestigial memory and becomes more interested in studying those memories than finding the alien. James meanwhile tries to bribe Emmet into killing the alien for him. Anyway, the academic has got himself into quite a mess. I quite enjoyed The Duplicate Man overall. As far as contract killer plots go this one is certainly unusual! Henderson James is a wonderful doomed character in the biggest amount of trouble that anyone has ever got into ever (to the point where it's amusing). It is the eye-patch wearing Captain Karl Emmet who is the greatest character here though. Ron Randell is good in the dual roles (this is vaguely reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode called In His Image) and I like many of the flourishes here like the space zoo and the telescope shot that opens the episode. The depiction of 2011 is enjoyable (videophones, light fountains, ties with no knots) but the story does suffer somewhat from a fairly risible monster in the telepathic Megasoid. For reasons best known to the make-up department it has a beak! The Duplicate Man is not top table Outer Limits but I enjoyed it as far as it went.
The Counterweight was written by Milton Krims and directed by Paul Stanley. Six people (made up of Michael Constantine as Engineer Joe Dix, Jacqueline Scott as an Anthropologist named Alicia Hendrix, Larry Ward as Newspaper Keith Ellis, Charles H Radilac as Botanist Michael Lint, Crahan Denton as Dr Matthew James, Sandy Kenyon as Professor Henry Craif) are chosen to spend 621 days in isolation on a simulated space journey to the planet Antheon to test their ability to cope with it. However a strange presence seems to have infiltrated the experiment and slowly turns the crew against one another. Another "controlled experiment" episode only this time they really do lose control. It's not a bad premise but far too slow moving for its own good and once again the fact that Outer Limits episodes are 50 minutes long rather than the more economical 30 minutes deployed by The Twilight Zone is a weakness. There are some nice ideas here though. Dr Craig manipulating the simulation to try to induce stress and watching them all on a video monitor like Big Brother. The characters are essentially stereotypes and are soon bickering in slightly tiresome fashion. Perhaps I had half dozed off by the time I got to The Counterweight but I didn't find this to be the most memorable or exciting episode despite the mildly intriguing premise. You do get a monster here though that is quite creepy. A fanged snake creature! "With the world growing more crowded, the great powers strive to conquer other planets. The race is on. The interplanetary sea has been charted; the first caravelle of space is being constructed. Who will get there first? Who will be the new Columbus?" The Brain of Colonel Barham was written by Robert C Dennis and directed Charles Haas. Colonel Barham (Anthony Eisley) is dying of a terminal illness and confined to a wheelchair. He's bitter because he was selected as the best candidate to be the first man on Mars. This being The Outer Limits it is decided that he will go anyway. Or rather his brain will go. Barham's brain will be removed from his body and kept alive through neural implants. It will be placed into a robotic device and go and land on Mars. That's the plan anyway. Problems arise when the disembodied brain rebels and becomes megalomaniacal! This is a rather dull episode lifted from the novel Donavan's Brain. It's too static and talky and takes too long to do anything. When the brain turns two men into zombies through lightning bolts (or something) it feels like too little too late. If you are going to have a super brain villain at least give it something to do! The brain communicates with a voice box by the way in case you wondered. There are some interesting questions posed here (well, ok, not that many) but it's too flat and feels like a monochrome hospital drama for far too much of its running time. The Brain of Colonel Barham is one of those episodes where you've forgotten most of it almost as soon as it has ended.
"On the fabulous spawning grounds of Man's ever-increasing knowledge of science and technology, ancient, half-forgotten legends seemingly have no place. Except one: The legend of the Gordian Knot, a knot so intricate and convoluted that no man could untie it. For there are problems so perplexing that they are seemingly impossible to solve, when Man ventures to the outer limits of his experience..." The Premonition was written by Sam Roeca & Ib Melchoir and directed by Gerd Oswald. This is much more like it. Ace test pilot Jim Darcy (Dewey Martin) flies a NASA experimental supersonic jet so fast it go through a time portal and crashes near his base. He survives but finds that apart from him and his wife Linda (Mary Murphy) the entire world is frozen in time! It seems though that time moves one second every thirty minutes for the frozen people and world. Strange. The worst thing is that they find their daughter Janie (Emma Tyson) frozen too and about to be hit by a truck. They can't seem to intervene with frozen people so now face the problem of somehow rescuing Janie before time catches up and the truck hits her. They are effectively in limbo and if they aren't careful - as a mysterious stranger tells them - they could be trapped forever in this bizarre world. "If you'll miss your chance to return--one-millionth of a second behind time, your chance will pass you by, and leave you where I am now--in forever-now. A black, motionless void. No light, no sun, no stars, no time--eternal nothing! No hunger... thirst... only endless existence. And the worst of it... you can't die! So, fellow man, you challenge me for a wish to take your place? You, both of you, would feel no different if you were caught in this black oblivion... if you were not back in your plane... in your car... at the exact instant." Every one has done a spin on this frozen time device by now. Star Trek (more than once), Twilight Zone (more than once), Red Dwarf, Stephen King. It's a bit sugary with the little girl in crisis plot but I like this one because it feels very Twilight Zone. There are no monsters or aliens. Just a very weird an apparently impossible mystery that characters have to solve and grapple with. The direction by Gerd Oswald is excellent and Dewey Martin (of The Thing From Another World and I Shot an Arrow into the Air) is a likeable hero at the heart of it all.
"The persistence of Man's curiosity led him into new worlds. Without conquering his own, he invaded the sub-world of the microscope, and the outer-world of space. It is said turnabout is fair play... but is it?" The final episode is called The Probe - written by Seeleg Lestor (what a great name!) and directed by Felix Feist (what a great name too!). This is not bad at all and reminds me a bit of a more modern film called Cube. Four passengers on a plane to Tokyo fly into a hurricane and end up in the ocean in a life raft. They unwittingly enter an alien space probe that was sent to take water readings and become trapped inside. They must solve a series of puzzles if they want to escape. This episode has an enjoyable fifties science fiction feel that is very This Island Earth (I love the decompression chambers they are placed into) and although it recycles hardware and ideas from previous Outer Limits episodes it always works fairly well and manages to hold your attention over the fifty or so minutes that it runs too. The retro pulp sheen is good and even if the special effects are obviously constrained by the budget it's all part of the charm I suppose - especially in this CG festooned age we live in where most films look like cartoons now. Like The Premonition, The Probe is something you can imagine The Twilight Zone doing. Peter Mark Richman is good value in the nominal lead role of Jefferson Rome and the score by Harry Lubin is a definite plus. A decent way to end the series. The Outer Limits series two is a mixed bag again but worth a look if you have a weakness for these old Twilight Zone style shows. The two Harlan Ellison episodes alone are worth the price of admission and it's always enjoyable to spot the famous faces. Spooky late night fun if you are in the right mood. There are no extras with this collection (you do get a small booklet though) and at the time of writing you can buy this for around £10.