Outer Limits, The

Tagged: TV

US tv series (1963-1965). A Daystar/Villa di Stefano Production for United Artists, ABC TV. Created by Leslie Stevens, also executive producer. Produced by Joseph Stefano (season 1), Ben Brady (season 2). Writers included Stefano (many episodes), Stevens, Louis Charbonneau, David Duncan, Robert Towne, Harlan Ellison, Meyer Dolinsky, John Mantley, Jerry Sohl, Otto O Binder (see Eando Binder), Clifford D Simak and Ib Melchior. Directors included Byron Haskin, Leonard Horn, Gerd Oswald, Charles Haas. Two seasons, 49 50-minute episodes. Black and white.

The Outer Limits, which featured a new sf story each week, is often regarded as the classic sf-anthology series. Though leaning towards the Horror or Monster-Movie end of the sf spectrum, the series was often innovative in both style and subject matter, and many of its writers either were sf professionals or knew the genre well. The pilot episode, "The Galaxy Being", written and directed by Stevens, concerned an Alien made of pure energy who is accidentally absorbed into a 3D radio transceiver on Earth. Harlan Ellison contributed two well-remembered segments: "Soldier" (1964), about an ultraconditioned soldier from the future who is projected back in time and finds himself in a typical 1960s US household – a precursor of The Terminator (1984) – and "Demon with a Glass Hand" (1964), perhaps the finest episode, about an Android, pursued by aliens, who has the entire human race coded in his internal circuitry. Actors who appeared in the series – many of them then unknown – included Leonard Nimoy, Robert Culp, William Shatner, Bruce Dern, Donald Pleasence, Martin Landau and David McCallum. The bizarre make-up that was such a feature of the series was the work of Fred Phillips, John Chambers and, primarily, Wah Chang.

Dominic Frontiere composed the theme tune and the first season's incidental music. The talented cinematographer Conrad Hall also worked on the first season, and the series was visually striking. Only stupid programming (it was shifted to a time-slot opposite the hugely popular Jackie Gleason Show) led to the series' cancellation halfway through the second season. The Outer Limits was, on the whole, more imaginative and intelligent than its more famous competitor on CBS, Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone. The Outer Limits: The Official Companion (1986) by David J Schow and Jeffrey Frentzen is a nonfiction overview of the series. Three Anthologies of stories adapted from series episodes (each also including a reprinted tale that became a noted episode) begin with The Outer Limits: Volume One (anth 1996) edited by Debbie Notkin (whom see) and Roger Stewart. [JB/PN/DRL]

see also: Outer Limits: An Illustrated Review; Outer Limits Newsletter.

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