THE OUTER LIMITS- THE ORIGINAL SERIES
"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 will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image; make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: There is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to THE OUTER LIMITS."-- The Control Voice.
I don't want to take anything away from THE TWILIGHT ZONE, but THE OUTER LIMITS- THE ORIGINAL SERIES could quite possibly be the greatest anthology series to ever air on network television. THE OUTER LIMITS was powerful, thought provoking science fiction television, with a very human quality. Debuting on ABC Television in the fall of 1963, THE OUTER LIMITS was the brainchild of writers Leslie Stevens and Joseph Stefano, who served in both as both writers and producers. During that first season, an astounding thirty-two hour-long episodes of quality television were produced.
Many of the first season episodes were gripping science fiction tales, which made some sort of allegorical political or social statement, but in a veiled way that wasn't always immediately apparent. In addition to their own contributions, Leslie Stevens and Joseph Stefano brought in other top writers, who also created intelligent teleplays that told stories of real ideas with sharply drawn characters. At the time that they were producing the show, I donít think Stevens or Stefano had any allusions about THE OUTER LIMITS making television history, but over the course of time the show has been elevated to classic stature. MGM Home Entertainment has made all thirty-two first season episodes of THE OUTER LIMITS available on DVD in a four disc boxed set by for the price of $79.96.
Disc one, side one contains the episodes The Galaxy Being, The Hundred Days of the Dragon, The Architects of Fear and The Man With the Power. The Galaxy Being stars Cliff Robertson as a radio station engineer whose broadcasting experimentations allows him to make contact with a being from the Andromeda galaxy. However, when the power surges, the galaxy being is transported to Earth with dire consequences. The Hundred Days of the Dragon features Sydney Blackmer in a tale of an Asian nation replacing a U.S. presidential candidate with one of their agents, one whose appearance has been radically altered with the help of a newly developed serum. The Architects of Fear stars Robert Culp as a scientist who volunteers to be transformed into an alien, in hopes that an extraterrestrial threat will unite the people of the Earth against a common enemy. The Man With the Power stars Donald Pleasance as a professor that invents an apparatus that gives him incredible power over the electromagnetic spectrum. Unfortunately, his unconscious mind is able to tap into the power and acts upon its submerged hostilities.
Disc one, side two contains the episodes The Sixth Finger, The Man Who Was Never Born, O.B.I.T. and The Human Factor. The Sixth Finger stars Edward Mulhare and David McCallum in this tale of the dangers of tampering with the human evolutionary process. The Man Who Was Never Born, which stars Martin Landau as one of the last survivors of the human race, who travels back in time to prevent the birth of the person responsible for mankind's impending extinction. O.B.I.T. is the story of the demoralizing effect of a surveillance device that eliminates the privacy of every person, everywhere. The Human Factor stars Gary Merrill, Harry Guardino and Sally Kellerman in a story of a crazed Army major that scientists hope to treat with a new machine that can connect two human minds, that is, until a malfunction switches his mind into a different body.
Disc two, side one contains the episodes Corpus Earthling, Nightmare, It Crawled Out of the Woodwork and The Borderland. Corpus Earthling stars Robert Culp and Salome Jens in a tale of a man with a metal plate in his head, who ventures into a geology lab, where he overhears two strange samples of rocks plotting to take over the world. Ed Nelson, James Shigeta and Martin Sheen star in Nightmare, a tale of human prisoners of war who are brutally interrogated on the planet Ebon by their alien captors. It Crawled Out of the Woodwork stars Scott Marlowe, Michael Forest, Barbara Luna and Edward Asner in a story of an energy creature accidentally created at a research lab with an appetite for human life. Philip Abbott, Peter Mark Richman, Nina Foch, Gladys Cooper and Gene Raymond star in The Borderland, a story in which scientists have cracked open a door to another realm. Needing funding to throw the door wide open, the scientists turn to a wealthy industrialist, who has been seeking a way to contact his dead son.
Disc two, side two contains the episodes Tourist Attraction, The Zanti Misfits, The Mice and Controlled Experiment. Tourist Attraction features Ralph Meeker, Henry Silva and Janet Blair in one heck of a fish story about a captured amphibious creature, whose fellow creatures go to great lengths to rescue it. The Zanti Misfits stars Bruce Dern, Michael Tolan, Robert F. Simon and Olive Deering in a tale of what happens when the Earth is coerced into becoming the new home for a prison ship from another planet. The Mice stars Henry Silva as a convicted murderer who volunteers to participate in an exchange experiment that would send him to the planet Chromo, while a denizen of their world comes to Earth. Barry Morse, Carroll O'Connor and Grace Lee Whitney star in the somewhat comical episode Controlled Experiment, in which two Martians investigate the quaint Earth custom of murder.
Disc three, side one contains the episodes Don't Open Till Doomsday, ZZZZZ, The Invisibles and The Bellero Shield. Don't Open Till Doomsday features Miriam Hopkins and John Hoyt in the tale of newlyweds that happen upon an embittered old woman, who lost her husband on their wedding night, and the alien monster responsible for his disappearance. Philip Abbott, Joanna Frank and Marsha Hunt star in ZZZZZ, which tells of a queen bee that transforms herself into beautiful woman for the sole purpose of turning an entomologist into a human drone. Don Gordon stars in The Invisibles as a government agent who discovers a conspiracy involving alien parasites that have taken control of the rich and the powerful. Martin Landau, Sally Kellerman, Chita Rivera, John Hoyt and Neil Hamilton star in The Bellero Shield, a tale of a scientist who captures an alien capable of protecting itself with an impenetrable shield.
Disc three, side two contains the episodes The Children of Spider County, Specimen Unknown, Second Chance and Moonstone. The Children of Spider County features Lee Kinsolving as a brilliant young man who was born on the same day in the same town as four other brilliant young men, all of who have mysteriously vanished. Accused of their murders, he is able to escape the law with the aid of a stranger, who claims to be his father. Specimen Unknown stars Stephen McNally, Russell Johnson, Richard Jaeckel and Dabney Coleman in a tale of a deadly plant found growing on the outside of space station orbiting above the Earth. Simon Oakland stars in Second Chance, a story about a group of people that get on an amusement park ride to discover that it is an actual space ship piloted by an alien, who needs their help in averting the destruction of the Earth and his own world. Ruth Roman and Tim O'Connor are featured in Moonstone, the story of a lunar expedition that discovers a strange rock on the moon's surface that turns out to be an alien spaceship.
Disc four, side one contains the episodes The Mutant, The Guests, Fun And Games and The Special One. The Mutant stars Warren Oates as a scientist caught in a rainstorm on an alien planet, who is mutated into a creature with the ability to read minds and kill with his touch. Gloria Grahame and Geoffrey Horne star in The Guests, the story of a man seeking help after an accident, who discovers a strange house, with even stranger occupants. Fun And Games features Nick Adams and Nancy Malone as two humans that are abducted and forced into a deadly competition with two inhabitants from another world. The stakes are rather high, since the losing team's planet will be destroyed. The Special One features MacDonald Carey, Richard Ney, Marion Ross and Edward Platt in this story of a gifted child's tutor turning out to be not quite human.
Disc four, side two contains the episodes A Feasibility Study, The Production And Decay of Strange Particles, The Chameleon and The Forms of Things Unknown. Sam Wanamaker and Joyce Van Patten are featured in A Feasibility Study, the story of a small suburban neighborhood transported to another world to determine if humans are suitable as a slave labor force. George Macready, Leonard Nimoy and Signe Hasso star in The Production And Decay of Strange Particles, the story of an accident at a nuclear research facility that opens a dimensional doorway, which allows energy creatures to invade the Earth. The Chameleon stars Robert Duvall as an assassin, who is genetically altered to appear like an alien creature, so he can infiltrate and kill a group of aliens that have crash-landed on the Earth. David McCallum, Vera Miles, Barbara Rush and Scott Marlowe star in The Forms of Things Unknown, the story of two woman that face the man they have murdered, after an eccentric scientist undoes their crime with the time altering apparatus that he has invented.
MGM Home Entertainment has made all the season one episodes of THE OUTER LIMITS- THE ORIGINAL SERIES available on DVD in their proper full screen aspect ratios. The black and white transfers look very good, rendering a crisp and well-defined image. A lot of the cinematography is a bit stylized, but still looks quite good on DVD. The film elements used for the transfers display very few age related blemishes and noticeable film grain is very minor. Blacks are very inky and solid, while the whites are clean and the image produces a rather nice grayscale. Contrast can be a bit stark at times, depending upon the intended look of a particular episode, but otherwise it is reasonably smooth. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed on the four dual sided, dual layered DVDs.
THE OUTER LIMITS episodes are presented with their original soundtracks in Dolby Digital monaural. The soundtracks are either very well preserved or have been digitally cleaned, because the sound is very crisp, without appreciable background hiss or traces of surface noise. Age and recording technology of the mid-1960s does limit the fidelity of the monaural tracks, but they still manage to sound quite good and are worth amplifying for Dominic Frontiere's main theme and episodic scores. There are no other language track or subtitle options encoded onto the DVDs. Animation and sound serve to enhance very cool interface for the interactive menus. Through the menus, one can choose a particular episode to view, as well as chapters within each episode.
Without a doubt, THE OUTER LIMITS- THE ORIGINAL SERIES is one of the greatest shows to ever air on television, be it anthology, or otherwise. MGM has done a terrific job bringing season one of THE OUTER LIMITS- THE ORIGINAL SERIES to DVD. The presentations look and sound great, plus the DVDs offer fans all thirty-two episodes; totaling twenty-seven hours and twenty-two minutes of entertainment for a bargain price of $79.96. This is a must have collection that belongs in just about every DVD library.
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