Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Robert Duvall, Dabney Coleman, Martin Landau, Leonard Nimoy, etc., and featuring Vic Perrin as the famed Control Voice
Produced by Leslie Stevens and directed by various
“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.”
When I was kid, those words were music to my ears. “The Outer Limits”, simply put, was a pulpier version of “The Twilight Zone”, and for my money it was better in every way. There were complex stories, fine actors, and best of all — tons of monsters!
For two seasons between 1963 and 1965, hungry viewers were served up forty-nine episodes of the strange and the macabre. Fantastical tales of time travel, alien beings, and strange monsters that were sprinkled with enough Sci-Fi and Horror flavor to sate even the most maniacal of monster movie maniacs!
In fact, I’d hazard to say that had ABC not been so crazed in terms of moving around its time slot with reckless abandon, thus confusing fans, it may have lasted as long as “The Twilight Zone” did. Sadly, time slot shifting was only one of many injustices committed by the network. Because of their constant tinkering, one of the series’ biggest creative forces, writer Joseph Stefano, left after Season One, and the production staff that filled the void for Season Two only managed to crank out a few episodes that were on par with the originals. As a result ABC dumped the struggling series in the then shittiest time slot imaginable, and it crawled off into the night.
Thankfully MGM/Fox has snatched the show from the jaws of obscurity and repacked the whole shebang together to celebrate its forty-fifth anniversary. That’s right, you get every episode! Classics like “The Sixth Finger” and “The Zanti Misfits” as well as everything in between and beyond. Unfortunately there are no special features to be found here, but who cares? We get forty-nine episodes of obscure goodness. Color me satisfied!
Which show was better — “The Twilight Zone” or “The Outer Limits” — is debatable, and fans will probably war over this for many years to come. Honestly, though? I think author Stephen King put it best in his book Danse Macabre. King wrote that “The Outer Limits” was a purer manifestation of its vision, unburdened by “Zone”‘s tendency toward smarmy, simplistic, or almost painfully corny tales of morality that were nothing more than really sentimental riffs on old supernatural themes. I couldn’t agree more.
4 1/2 out of 5
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