Out of the Unknown (1965 series)
Out of the Unknown was a British science fiction anthology series similar to The Outer Limits which featured science fiction stories; in its fourth season/series, the format was changed to feature supernatural horror stories. The similarly-titled science fiction anthology series Out of this World (1962), hosted by Boris Karloff, can be thought of as a sort of precursor series, as they are both British science fiction anthology series produced by the same team; it began its life as a spin-off of the British Armchair Theatre series. Both series featured genre stories by a variety of science fiction authors; mostly Isaac Asimov, but also some stories by authors like Philip K. Dick, Terry Nation, Nigel Kneale, John Wyndham, and Ray Bradbury. Many episodes of both programmes are believed to now be lost due to the BBC wiping and re-using the tapes for other purposes, but a couple surviving episode descriptions are tantalizing.
- Release Date: 1962 (Out of this World), 1965-1971 (Out of the Unknown)
- Country/Language: UK, English
- Genres/Technical: Science Fiction (most episodes), Fantasy, Horror (fourth/last series/season)
- Runtime: (generally formatted for a 1-hr television slot)
- Starring: (various); Out of this World hosted by Boris Karloff
- Director: (various)
- Writer: (various)
- Producer/Production Co: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and ABC Weekend Television
- View Out of the Unknown Trailer: (link)
- View Out of the Unknown Image Gallery: (link)
- View Out of this World theme song: (link)
- Rated: (not rated) (probably equivalent to a TV-G with mild Violence)
A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:
- s____ (One Half Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian, at best)
There's really not much in the way of Lovecraftian content in either of these series, and most of them were wiped by the BBC a few decades ago with only a few surviving episodes; I'm including it in this wiki out of the sake of completism, since I've got most other science-fiction/horror/fantasy themed anthology series already catalogued, and a few episode synopses might suggest some RPG scenario ideas; some stories were written by the likes of Nigel Kneale, John Wyndham, and Ray Bradbury, who sometimes write vaguely Lovecraftian material, and perhaps some of these episodes are a bit more Lovecraftian than I expect (the first couple seasons of the show do sound slightly more avant-garde and experimental than typical for a science fiction anthology series).
Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.
- (review needed)
Synopses of Sample Episodes
Some episodes of Out of this World (1962) with suggestive descriptions:
- "Dumb Martian" (John Wyndham) - An Earthman on a solo tour of duty on one of Jupiter's moons buys a Martian woman as a companion. He mistreats her, assuming her to be just a "dumb martian", but learns, to his cost, that she has more intelligence than he gave her credit for.
- "Pictures Don't Lie" - A radio researcher picks up signals coming from a spaceship hovering near Earth and succeeds in communicating with his 'opposite number' aboard the ship. Speech and pictures are received showing that the occupants are humanoid - and friendly. But can they trust us? Disaster strikes when the spacecraft lands in a "safe" area and the aliens report betrayal when they are attacked by Earth's monsters....
- "Botany Bay" - A doctor believes that the patients at the criminally insane institute he works for are being controlled by aliens. After killing one of 'the possessed' he finds himself in the same institute, this time as a patient.
- "Vanishing Act" - A third-rate conjurer becomes a sensation after buying the vanishing trick box from the estate of the 'Great Vorg' a once famous magician. However, he can't explain exactly where his assistants or objects are going once they have entered the box- as they don't return.
- "The Dark Star" - A mysterious disease sweeps London, altering its victims and seemingly using them to target victims in increasingly greater positions of authority, forcing Scotland Yard and scientists to work fast to stop its spread before it infiltrates the highest ranks of the government.
- "Immigrant" - An investigator is sent to the planet Kimon, which selects only the brightest as immigrants, who then make great wealth to send back to their families, though the immigrants themselves are never seen again.
- "Target Generation" - On board an interstellar colony ship, now governed by an oppressive theocracy that forbids reading as heresy, an oral tradition handed down through the centuries by successive generations prophecies a tremor signifying the Beginning of the End, and a forgotten community guards an ancient letter marked 'to be opened only in an emergency'. When the tremor shakes the ship, these elements come together for a passenger who can read, and he must decide whether the End is enough of an emergency to confess to heresy and share the letter's contents with the rest of his society.
Some episodes of Out of the Unknown (1965) with suggestive descriptions:
- "No Place Like Earth" (Ep. 1x01) - Earth is no more, destroyed by nuclear war; but itinerant handyman Bert Foster, wandering the canals of Mars, is possessed by a restlessness for a home which no longer exists. Perhaps the isolated outpost on Venus retains something which could satisfy this hunger; or has the madness which shattered a world merely settled in a new location?
- "The Counterfeit Man" (Ep. 1x02) - An expedition to Jupiter's moon Ganymede is plagued by an alien life form that consumes and mimics human beings nearly perfectly; the thing must be detected and stopped before the mission returns to Earth, or the infection will endanger the entire world.
- "Time in Advance" (Ep. 1x05) - Imagine a future where you serve your prison sentence before you commit your crime, in the various hells of savage new planets just being colonized. If you survive, like Nick Crandall and Otto Henck, you can return home with carte blanche to commit murder...
- "Sucker Bait" (Ep. 1x07) - History threatens to repeat itself when an expedition sets out to discover what has happened to a lost colony on a distant planet, and the least-trusted member of the crew, an unpleasent youth with specially trained powers of memory and logic, may be the crew's only hope for survival.
- "The Machine Stops" (Ep. 2x01) - In the far future, the material needs of humankind are tended by the omnipresent Machine, which makes their environment, in vast tunnels beneath the earth, comfortable and safe. But safe from what? And what if the Machine Stops?
- "Lambda 1" (Ep. 2x03) - A futurisic form of travel meets disaster, leaving its passengers entombed deep within the Earth, and threatening the very sanity of its rescue party.
- "Target Generation" (Ep. 3x11) - Aboard a generation ship which has been traveling space for generations, only one inheritor knows what must be done when a prophecied tremor is felt throughout the metal cylinder. (A remake from the Out of this World story by the same name.)
- "The Sons and Daughters of Tomorrow" (Ep. 4x05) - The small East Anglian village of Plampton has one distinction - a famous unsolved murder. A cynical journalist decides to go there to see what he can stir up. But Plampton is a community linked by telepathy and led by a witch.
- "The Last Witness" (Ep. 4x07) - A man, Harris, wakes up in a hotel on a small island after a shipwreck. He keeps recognising flashes of what he sees, until he realises his visions are of actions yet to come - culminating in murder. (Readapted as "A Distant Scream" for Hammer House of Mystery & Suspense.)
- "The Uninvited" (Ep. 4x10) - A Middle-aged couple are disturbed during the night by a series of unwelcome visitations. (Readapted as "In Possession" for Hammer House of Mystery & Suspense.)
Comments, Trivia, Dedication
- Both programmes suffered from the BBC's lack of a proper archiving policy until 1978. It was BBC policy before 1978 to wipe master tapes and reuse them for other programmes, hence saving money and storage space. The only Out of this World episode known to exist is for the story "Little Lost Robot"; the total number of complete episodes of its follow-up Out of the Unknown known to exist on film or videotape stands at 20 out of 49 (additionally, half of the story "The Little Black Bag" and and visual excerpts from eight episodes are held, plus various off-air audio sequences from 16 installments.)
Associated Mythos Elements
- TO DO