Outer Limits (1963 series)
The Outer Limits (1963), AKA Beyond Control or Please Stand By; The Outer Limits (1995), AKA The New Outer Limits
"There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We can reduce the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... The Outer Limits!"
The classic science fiction anthology series ranged from a mix of sci-fi and horror that feature "scary monster" motifs to episodes focused on the sci-fi aspects of the stories, with the most highly-regarded episodes tending toward a noirish avant-garde aesthetic. Episode writers include such notables as series creator Leslie Stevens and Harlan Ellison.
A long-lived 1995 revival of the series updated the format to colour and added adult content and mature themes and focusing on the human impact of science fiction topics over the original ambitious and artistic monster-of-the-week formula, losing much of the charm of the original series as a result, but apparently survived on its own merits in spite of that theoretical shortcoming.
- Release Date: 1963-1965, 1995-2002
- Country/Language: US, English
- Genres/Technical: Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Adventure (monster-of-the-week), Art/Experimental, Anthology, black-and-white
- Runtime: (generally formatted for a 1-hour commercial television slot)
- Starring: (various), Vic Perrin as narrator "The Control Voice"
- Creators: Joseph Stefano and Leslie Stevens
- Producer/Production Co: Villa Di Stefano, Daystar Productions, United Artists Television; Alliance Atlantis Communications, Atlantis Films, CFCF-TV
- View Trailer: (link), (link), (link), (link)
- TVTropes: (link), (link)
- IMDB Page: (link), (link)
- Rated: (not rated) (ranges from equivalent to a TV-G for the original up to TV-MA for the revival)
The original series would be equivalent to a TV-G/TV-PG for mild off-screen violence and occasional mild adult content, but the revival series (when uncut) would be the equivalent of a TV-MA for Violence, Profanity, Adult Content, Nudity, and Sexual Situations.
A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:
- Ss___ (One and a half Tentacles: Barely Lovecraftian)
None of the stories in the original anthology series would have been particularly "Lovecraftian", though the series did tend to at least border on cosmic horror in many episodes.
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 Suggested Episodes
From the 1963 original series:
- "The Galaxy Being" (1963, Episode 1x01) - An adventurous radio operator contacts a fellow experimenter in another dimension, locking in 3D communication; a hot-shot DJ at the station, unaware of the experiment, boosts the station's signal to impress his girlfriend, accidentally conjuring the alien from its electrical alien plane into our world.
- "The Architects of Fear" (1963, Episode 1x03) - A group of scientists secretly conspire to alter one of their members into a fake "alien" in a plot to convince the world that an alien invasion is imminent, hoping to force all governments to make peace with each other. The plan backfires when the volunteer's wife stumbles into the conspiracy.
- "Nightmare" (1963, Episode 1x10) - A stranded team of soldiers are captured and experimented on by demonic looking aliens.
- "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork" (1963, Episode 1x11) - An energy-being, created by accident, overruns an experimental power station. Personnel whom it has killed, are restored to life, with electronically-controlled pacemakers and are forced to service the being, by a fanatical scientist, who pretends to be looking for a way to destroy it. After the force kills a security guard, and a newly-hired scientist, 2 men; the first being the psychologically disturbed brother of the recently-killed hire, the other, a cop, attempt to uncover the station's secret.
- "The Zanti Misfits" (1963, Episode 1x14) - The perfectionist rulers of the planet Zanti, incapable of execution, have solved the problem of dealing with their undesirables: their misfits are exiled to Earth. Their first colony of exiles is threatened when fleeing criminals invade the territory set aside for the misfits, threatening an interplanetary incident.
- "Don't Open Till Doomsday" (1963, Episode 1x17) - A tiny space creature, bent on destruction, is captured by a scientist while the scientist's rival convinces the media that the scientist's claims are bogus. The vengeful scientist boxes up the evil invader's miniature spacecraft as a wedding gift, presenting it to his rival's son.
- "The Invisibles" (1963, Episode 1x19) - Aliens plan to take over the U.S. by recruiting disaffected loners who are themselves "invisible" to normal society. The alien crab-like creatures attach themselves to human hosts and control them. The recruits are assigned low-level jobs of highly appointed government officials so they can get the alien in close proximity to them. A U.S intelligence agent infiltrates the alien organization, but it may be too late.
- "The Bellero Shield" (1963, Episode 1x20) - A scientist's laser experiments ensnare a light being from outer space and reels it down to Earth, where it runs amok while learning everything it can about Earth.
- "Specimen: Unknown" (1963, Episode 1x22) - Astronauts on an orbiting space station discover a strange and deadly type of plant life attached to the outside of their spacecraft. Higher ups are left to consider: should the craft be destroyed with the four men aboard, or allowed to land, knowing the plants could destroy all of mankind?
- "Moonstone" (1963, Episode 1x24) - Researchers at a moon base discover an alien organism. They find out it's a vast repository of an alien intelligence that has fled the tyranny of its home world. When the alien tyrants arrive to take back the organism the researchers have to decide what should be risked in the pursuit of knowledge.
- "The Guests" (1963, Episode 1x26) - A drifter enters a lonely house, unaware that it is actually an alien creature in disguise. Soon he realizes that he is a prisoner, along with several other half-mad inhabitants, but he is determined to escape.
- "Production and Decay of Strange Particles" (1963, Episode 1x30) - An accident at a nuclear research facility creates a dimensional doorway in which aliens need to widen to invade our world. A scientist races to discover a way to reverse the damage and close the doorway.
- "Cold Hands, Warm Heart" (1963, Episode 2x02) - Following a mission to Venus, an astronaut finds himself constantly cold and has strange dreams about encountering an alien outside his spacecraft.
- "Behold Eck!" (1963, Episode 2x03) - A two-dimensional alien inadvertently causes havoc in Los Angeles. The alien is stranded in our three-dimensional world and only a mild-mannered optician and his secretary have to power to help.
- "Demon with a Glass Hand" (1963, Episode 2x05) - A man awakens with no memory of his past, and since then, sinister men have pursued him constantly. He manages to stay one step ahead of them by following the advice of his hand, which is made of glass and apparently capable of speech and artificially-intelligent though. Based on a story by Harlan Ellison.
- "The Invisible Enemy" (1963, Episode 2x07) - The first manned expedition to Mars finds itself being killed one by one by an alien predator.
- "Wolf 359" (1963, Episode 2x08) - A scientist creates a tiny model of another solar system's planet, seeding it with life, to study planetary development. The miniaturization allows the simulation's evolution to advance much faster. A ghostly bat-like creature hovers on the in-closed model watching the humans, while emitting waves of fear terrifying them.
- "Keeper of the Purple Twilight" (1963, Episode 2x12) - A driven scientist is approached by a unearthly being who offers to exchange his alien intelligence in return for the experience of human emotions. Their experiment however has unforeseen consequences for both of them and soon a team of alien enforcers has arrived to destroy both of them and the scientist's wife.
From the 1995 revival series:
- "Sandkings" (1995, Episode 1x01) - When his research project is closed down, Simon Kress rescues a few of its living subjects and transplants them to a recreation of their native Martian environment in his barn. They grow and learn, but then Kress makes an error with disastrous implications. From a story by George R.R. Martin.
- "Corner of the Eye" (1995, Episode 1x09) - Father Jenescu is struck while ministering to the poor and looks up to see a vision of Hell - a leering demonic creature. An eye blink later he sees an ordinary patrol officer trying to help him. He dismisses the apparition until he sees another one in his church. Then he goes to the doctor to learn what's wrong and discovers that one must be careful who one trusts.
- "Under the Bed" (1995, Episode 1x10) - A police psychoanalyst and a police detective must solve the case of a missing boy, who according to his baby sister was eaten by the bogeyman, before whatever took him comes back for the sister.
- "Dark Matters" (1995, Episode 1x11) - A cargo ship is forced from hyperspace into a strange region of "dark matter" where some of the normal laws of physics seem not to apply - even the dead linger, unable to find their reward. Worse, contact with these specters is fatal to the living. If the crew can't escape quickly, they'll join the current residents, human and alien, eternally denied whatever lies beyond death...
- "The Voyage Home" (1995, Episode 1x15) - On the last day of their mission to Mars, three astronauts - Ed Barkley, Alan Wells and Pete Claridge - discover a cave with hieroglyphics on one wall. They also find a pod-like object but they are knocked out after trying to move it. They make it back to their ship and begin their voyage home. Five months into that return trip they begin to have equipment malfunctions and find a small growth of alien origin. Soon, one of the astronauts begins to believe that the others are aliens who have taken over the bodies of his shipmates.
- "If These Walls Could Talk" (1995, Episode 1x19) - Physicist and professional debunker Leviticus Mitchell agrees to help professional psychic Lynda Tillman investigate the abandoned mansion where her son and his girlfriend have mysteriously disappeared.
- "Unnatural Selection" (1995, Episode 2x03) - A young couple are expecting a baby and are considering the possibility of black-market genetic enhancement which will result in a perfect super-baby with a 1 in 10,000 of creating a monster. But what do their neighbors keep in the basement?
- "From Within" (1995, Episode 2x13) - A town gets possessed after a dinosaur skeleton that hides ancient parasites that affect the brain and cause madness is unearthed. The only hope is an immune mentally challenged boy who must learn how to destroy them.
- "Tempests" (1995, Episode 3x09) - After being bitten by an alien spider, a crewman of a crashed spaceship has difficulty distinguishing between his hallucinations and reality.
- "Music of the Spheres" (1995, Episode 3x14) - A college student records what he believes to be an intelligent transmission from outer space, but when younger people are drawn to listening to it, they begin to undergo a terrifying transformation.
- "The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson" (1995, Episode 3x15) - Becka Paulson accidentally shoots herself in the head, survives and suddenly becomes more intelligent. And strangely, a photo is talking to her. From a story by Stephen King.
- "The Inheritors" (1995, Episode 5x17) - A man is killed when a meteor strikes him in the head. When the coroner examines him, tentacles exit the hole in his head and then the corpse gets up and walks off.
- "Nest" (1995, Episode 6x20) - A scientific team based in the Arctic discover an ancient species of Polar Mites that infest humans and cause them to go insane.
Comments, Trivia, Dedication
- Series intro: "There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We can reduce the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... The Outer Limits!"
Associated Mythos Elements
- TO DO