|The Outer Limits|
|Created by||Leslie Stevens|
|Directed by|| László Benedek |
Charles F. Haas
|Narrated by||Vic Perrin (Control Voice)|
|Opening theme|| Dominic Frontiere (1963–64)|
Harry Lubin (1964–65)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||49 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer||Leslie Stevens|
|Producers|| Joseph Stefano (1963–64)|
Ben Brady (1964–65)
|Cinematography||Conrad Hall, John M. Nickolaus, Kenneth Peach|
|Running time||51 minutes|
|Production companies||Daystar Productions|
Villa DiStefano Productions
United Artists Television
|Distributor||United Artists Television|
|Picture format||Black-and-white 4:3|
|Original release||September 16, 1963 –|
January 16, 1965
The Outer Limits is an American television series that was broadcast on ABC from September 16, 1963 to January 16, 1965 at 7:30 PM Eastern Time on Mondays. The series is often compared to The Twilight Zone , but with a greater emphasis on science fiction stories (rather than stories of fantasy or the supernatural matters). The Outer Limits is an anthology of self-contained episodes, sometimes with a plot twist at the end.
The series was revived in 1995, until its cancellation in 2002. In 1997, the episode "The Zanti Misfits" was ranked #98 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.
As of April 2019, a new revival was stated to be in the works at a premium cable network.
Each show would begin with either a cold open or a preview clip, followed by a narration spoken over visuals of an oscilloscope. Using an Orwellian theme of taking over your television, the earliest version of the narration ran as follows:
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.
A similar but shorter monologue caps each episode:
We now return control of your television set to you, until next week at this same time, when the Control Voice will take you to... The Outer Limits.
Later episodes used one of two shortened versions of the introduction. The first few episodes began simply with the title screen followed by the narration and no cold open or preview clip. The Control Voice was performed by actor Vic Perrin.
The Outer Limits was originally broadcast on the American television network ABC (1963–65). In total, 49 episodes were produced. It was one of many series influenced by The Twilight Zone and Science Fiction Theatre , though it ultimately proved influential in its own right. In the unaired pilot, the series was called Please Stand By, but ABC rejected that title (NBC would later approve the title for their 1979 comedy series). Series creator Leslie Stevens retitled it The Outer Limits. With a few changes, the pilot aired as the premiere episode, "The Galaxy Being".
Writers for The Outer Limits included creator Stevens and Joseph Stefano ( screenwriter of the film Psycho ), who was the Season 1 producer and creative guiding force. Stefano wrote more episodes of the show than any other writer. Future Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne ( Chinatown ) wrote "The Chameleon", which was the final episode filmed for Season 1. Two especially notable Season 2 episodes "Demon with a Glass Hand" and "Soldier" were written by Harlan Ellison, with the former episode winning a Writers' Guild Award. The former was for several years the only episode of The Outer Limits available on LaserDisc.
Season 1 combined science fiction and horror, while Season 2 was more focused on 'hard science fiction' stories, dropping the recurring "scary monster" motif of Season 1. Each show in Season 1 was to have a monster or creature as a critical part of the story line. Season 1 writer and producer Joseph Stefano believed that this element was necessary to provide fear, suspense, or at least a center for plot development. This kind of story element became known as "the bear". This device was, however, mostly dropped in Season 2 when Stefano left (two Season 1 episodes without a "bear" are "The Forms of Things Unknown" and "Controlled Experiment", the first of which was shot in a dual format as science fiction for The Outer Limits and as a thriller for a pilot for an unmade series The Unknown. Actor Barry Morse, who starred in "Controlled Experiment", states that this episode also was made as a pilot for an unrealized science fiction/comedy series. It was the only comedic episode of The Outer Limits).
Earlier Season 1 episodes with no "bear" were "The Hundred Days of the Dragon" and "The Borderland" made before the "bear" convention was established. Season 2 episodes with a "bear" are "Keeper of the Purple Twilight", "The Duplicate Man", and "The Probe". "Bears" appear near the conclusion of the Season 2 episodes "Counterweight", "The Invisible Enemy", and "Cold Hands, Warm Heart".) The "bear" in "The Architects of Fear", the monstrously altered Allen Leighton, was judged by some of ABC's local affiliate stations to be so frightening that they broadcast a black screen during the "Thetan's" appearances, effectively censoring most of the show's last act. In other parts of the United States, the "Thetan" footage was tape-delayed until after the 11pm/10c news. In others, it was not shown at all.
The series was shot at KTTV (Metromedia Square) on sound stage # 2. Season 1 had music by Dominic Frontiere, who doubled as Production Executive; Season 2 featured music by Harry Lubin, with a variation of his Fear theme for One Step Beyond being heard over the end titles.[ citation needed ]
The program sometimes made use of techniques (lighting, camerawork, even make-up) associated with film noir or German Expressionism (see for example, "Corpus Earthling"), and a number of episodes were noteworthy for their sheer eeriness. Credit for this is often given to the cinematographer Conrad Hall, who went on to win three Academy Awards (and many more nominations) for his work in motion pictures. However, Hall worked only on alternate episodes of this TV series during the first two-thirds of the first season. The program's other cinematographers included John M. Nickolaus and Kenneth Peach.
The various monsters and creatures from the first season and most props were developed by a loose-knit group organized under the name Project Unlimited. Members of the group included Wah Chang, Gene Warren and Jim Danforth. Makeup was executed by Fred B. Phillips along with John Chambers.
Many of the creatures that appeared in Outer Limits episodes have been sold as models or action figures in the 1990s and 2000s. A variety in limited editions have been as model kits to be assembled and painted by the purchaser issued by Dimensional Designs, and a smaller set of out-of-the-box action figures sold in larger quantity by Sideshow Toys. The former produced a model kit of The Megasoid from "The Duplicate Man",and both created a figure of Gwyllm as an evolved man from "The Sixth Finger".
The series earned a very loyal audience in the first season. It was so devoted, some people were reported to take a TV set with them if they had to be away from home, so they would not miss an episode (as home video recording did not yet exist). However, the second season fared rather poorly in the Nielsen ratings after moving from Monday to Saturday night, going against Jackie Gleason. Producer Joseph Stefano chose to leave the show after the first year; he realized that competing against the more popular Gleason would kill his show (proven by its cancellation midway through the second season). However, the series retained a following for many years after its original broadcast. Many decades later, horror writer Stephen King called it "the best program of its type ever to run on network TV."
Originally scheduled to air on November 25, 1963, the episode "Nightmare" was delayed until December 2 due to television coverage of the state funeral of President John F. Kennedy.
Like The Twilight Zone , The Outer Limits had an opening and closing narration in almost every episode. Both shows were unusually philosophical for science fiction anthology series, but differed in style. The Twilight Zone stories were often like parables, employing whimsy (such as the Buster Keaton time-travel episode "Once Upon a Time"), irony, or extraordinary problem-solving situations (such as the episode "The Arrival"). The Outer Limits was usually a straight action-and-suspense show which often had the human spirit in confrontation with dark existential forces from within or without, such as in the alien abduction episode "A Feasibility Study" or the alien possession story "The Invisibles". As well, The Outer Limits was known for its moody, textured look in many episodes (especially those directed by Byron Haskin or Gerd Oswald, or photographed by Conrad Hall) whereas The Twilight Zone tended to be shot more conventionally.
However, there is some common ground between certain episodes of the two shows. As Schow and Frentzen, the authors of The Outer Limits: The Official Companion, have noted, several Outer Limits episodes are often misremembered by casual fans as having been Twilight Zone episodes, notably such "problem solving" episodes as "Fun and Games" or "The Premonition".
A few of the monsters reappeared in Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek series later in the 1960s. The moving microbe beast in "The Probe" was later modified and used as the 'Horta' in "The Devil in the Dark", and operated by the same actor, Janos Prohaska. The "ion storm" seen in "The Mutant" (a projector beam shining through a container containing glitter in liquid suspension) became the transporter effect in Star Trek. The black mask from "The Duplicate Man", is used by the character Dr. Leighton in "The Conscience of the King". The Megasoid, from "The Duplicate Man" and the Empyrean from "Second Chance" (1964) were seen briefly near Captain Christopher Pike in other cages in the Star Trek pilot "The Cage".
The process used to make pointed ears for David McCallum in "The Sixth Finger" was reused in Star Trek as well. Lead actors who would later appear in the regular cast of Star Trek included Leonard Nimoy, who appeared in two episodes ("Production and Decay of Strange Particles" and "I, Robot") and William Shatner who appeared (in the episode "Cold Hands, Warm Heart") as an astronaut working on a Project Vulcan. Actors who would subsequently appear in the regular supporting cast of Star Trek were Grace Lee Whitney (episode "Controlled Experiment") and James Doohan (episode "Expanding Human"). Roddenberry was often present in The Outer Limits' studios, and hired several of its staff, among them Robert Justman and Wah Chang for the production of Star Trek.Additionally, Michael Ansara, who appeared in the episode "Soldier", would guest-star as the Klingon commander Kang in the original and spin-off series.
Harlan Ellison contended that inspiration for James Cameron's Terminator had come in part from Ellison's work on The Outer Limits. Cameron conceded the influence. Ellison was awarded money and an end-credits mention in The Terminator (1984), stating the creators' wish "to acknowledge the works of Harlan Ellison". Cameron was against Orion's decision and was told that if he did not agree with the settlement, they would have Cameron pay for any damages if Orion lost Ellison's suit. Cameron replied that he "had no choice but to agree with the settlement. There was a gag order as well."
Filmmaker Kevin Smith has stated that, before offering him the chance to write Superman Lives in 1996, Warner Brothers offered him two projects: a remake of The Architects of Fear and Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian .On June 20, 2014, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was developing a film version of The Outer Limits based on the "Demon with a Glass Hand" episode, with Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill writing and Mark Victor producing. On April 1, 2019, "Variety" reported that a new reboot is in the works at a premium cable network.
Steve Streeter published The Outer Limits Newsletter from 1978 to 1983.Streeter also founded the Outer Limits Fan Club in 1978.
Lyrics to the title song of the 1989 film UHF , written by and starring "Weird Al" Yankovic, references The Outer Limits' cold-open narration:
Don't you know that we control the horizontal
We control the vertical, too
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||32||September 16, 1963||May 4, 1964|
|2||17||September 19, 1964||January 16, 1965|
A "platinum" version of the MGM/UA Library brand product of the video series was released.
MGM Home Entertainment has released both seasons of The Outer Limits on DVD in Region 1. In 2007, they re-released the series in three separate sets. In October 2008, MGM released a 7-disc box set featuring all 49 episodes of the series. The re-releases of Season 2 correctly claim three discs in the set on the outer packaging, whereas the individual slim cases with the DVDs inside rather confusingly claim only two.
|DVD name||Episodes||Region 1 Release date||Region 2 Release date|
|Season 1||32||September 3, 2002||July 11, 2005|
|Season 2||17||September 2, 2003||July 25, 2005|
|The Complete Series||49||October 21, 2008||–|
There is nothing wrong with your DVD player. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling your DVD player. We already control the horizontal and the vertical. We now control the digital. We can change the focus from a soft blur to crystal clarity. 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.
On 27 March 2018, Kino Lorber released the first season on Blu-ray.The 7-disc set contains the 32 episodes of the first season. The second season was released 20 November 2018, but the episode "Soldier" has audio defects. A replacement disc was sent out from Kino in April 2019.
On Jun 24, 2020, Australia's Via Vision Entertainment released "The Outer Limits: Complete Original Series Collector's Edition" 11-disc Blu-ray set. It's coded for region B and comes in a hard box case with a 60-page Illustrated booklet, with essays by leading Outer Limits expert and author David J. Schow.
The Twilight Zone is an American media franchise based on the anthology television series created by Rod Serling. The episodes are in various genres, including fantasy, science fiction, absurdism, dystopian fiction, suspense, horror, supernatural drama, black comedy, and psychological thriller, often concluding with a macabre or unexpected twist, and usually with a moral. A popular and critical success, it introduced many Americans to common science fiction and fantasy tropes. The first series, shot entirely in black and white, ran on CBS for five seasons from 1959 to 1964.
"People Are Alike All Over" is episode 25 of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.
"The Cage" is the first pilot episode of the American television series Star Trek. It was completed on January 22, 1965. The episode was written by Gene Roddenberry and directed by Robert Butler. It was rejected by NBC in February 1965, and the network ordered another pilot episode, which became "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Much of the original footage from "The Cage" was later incorporated into the season 1 two-parter episode "The Menagerie" (1966). However, "The Cage" was first released to the public in VHS in 1986, with a special introduction by Gene Roddenberry, and was not broadcast on television in its complete form until 1988. The black and white version and shorter all-color version was also released in various standard-definition media of this period including LaserDisc, VHS, and DVD formats.
"The Best of Both Worlds" is the 26th episode of the third season and the first episode of the fourth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. It comprises the 74th and 75th episodes of the series overall. The first part was originally aired on June 18, 1990, and the second on September 24, 1990 in broadcast syndication television.
Tales from the Darkside is a 1980s American anthology horror TV series created by George A. Romero. Debuting in October 1983 with a pilot episode and then being picked up for syndication in September 1984, the show ran for 4 seasons through July 1988. Each episode, aired originally by Tribune Broadcasting late at night, was an individual short story that often ended with a plot twist. The series' episodes spanned the genres of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, and some episodes featured elements of black comedy or more lighthearted themes. Since October 2012, reruns of the series have aired in the UK on Horror Channel.
"Twilight" is the eighth episode of the third season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Enterprise, originally broadcast on November 5, 2003. It was the sixtieth episode of the series overall. The episode was written by co-producer Michael Sussman, and directed by former Star Trek: Voyager actor Robert Duncan McNeill.
"The Star" is the third and final segment of the thirteenth episode from the first season (1985–86) of the American television series The Twilight Zone, which was a Christmas-themed episode. This segment is based on the short story "The Star" by Arthur C. Clarke, published in Infinity Science Fiction. It centers on a space expedition's chance discovery of the Star of Bethlehem.
U.S. television science fiction is a popular genre of television in the United States that has produced many of the best-known and most popular science fiction shows in the world. Most famous of all, and one of the most influential science-fiction series in history, is the iconic Star Trek and its various spin-off shows, which comprise the Star Trek franchise. Other hugely influential programs have included the 1960s anthology series The Twilight Zone, the internationally successful The X-Files, and a wide variety of television movies and continuing series for more than half a century.
Joseph William Stefano was an American screenwriter, best known for adapting Robert Bloch's novel as the script for Alfred Hitchcock's film Psycho, and for being the producer and co-writer of the original The Outer Limits TV series.
The Twilight Zone is an anthology television series which was produced from 1985 to 1989. It is the first of three revivals of Rod Serling's acclaimed 1959–64 television series, and like the original it featured stories in a variety of speculative fiction, commonly featuring characters from a seemingly normal world stumbling into paranormal circumstances. Unlike the original, however, most episodes contained multiple self-contained stories instead of just one. The voice-over narrations were still present, but were not a regular feature as they were in the original series; some episodes had only an opening narration, some had only a closing narration, and some had no narration at all. The multi-segment format liberated the series from the usual time constraints of episodic television, allowing stories ranging in length from 8-minute quickies to 40-minute mini-movies. The series ran for two seasons on CBS before producing a final season for syndication.
The Twilight Zone is an American anthology television series created and presented by Rod Serling, which ran for five seasons on CBS from 1959 to 1964. Each episode presents a stand-alone story in which characters find themselves dealing with often disturbing or unusual events, an experience described as entering "the Twilight Zone," often with a surprise ending and a moral. Although predominantly science-fiction, the show's paranormal and Kafkaesque events leaned the show towards fantasy and horror. The phrase "twilight zone," inspired by the series, is used to describe surreal experiences.
Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond was an American anthology series created by Merwin Gerard. The original series was broadcast for three seasons by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) from January 1959 to July 1961.
David J. Schow is an American author of horror novels, short stories, and screenplays. His credits include films such as Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, The Crow and The Hills Run Red. Most of Schow's work falls into the subgenre splatterpunk, a term he is sometimes credited with coining. In the 1990s, Schow wrote Raving & Drooling, a regular column for Fangoria magazine. All 41 installments were collected in the book Wild Hairs (2000), winning the International Horror Guild's award for best non-fiction in 2001.
"Corpus Earthling" is an episode of the original The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 18 November 1963, during the first season.
"Demon with a Glass Hand" is an episode of the American television series The Outer Limits, the second to be based on a script by Harlan Ellison, which Ellison wrote specifically with actor Robert Culp in mind for the lead role. It originally aired on October 17, 1964, and was the fifth episode of the second season.
"The Guests" is an episode of the original The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on March 23, 1964, during the first season.
Science Fiction Theatre is an American science fiction anthology TV series syndicated and broadcast from 1955 to 1957. It was produced by Ivan Tors and Maurice Ziv. A total of 78 episodes were produced.
The Outer Limits is a Canadian-American television series that originally aired on Showtime, Syfy and in syndication between 1995 and 2002. The series is a revival of the original The Outer Limits series that aired from 1963–65.
The first season of the American science-fiction television series Star Trek, originally created by Gene Roddenberry, premiered on NBC on September 8, 1966, and concluded on April 13, 1967. The season debuted in Canada on CTV two days before the US premiere, on September 6, 1966. It consisted of 29 episodes, which is the highest number of episodes in a season for the original series of Star Trek. It features William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Spock, and DeForest Kelley as Leonard McCoy.
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