On September 16, 1963, at 7:30 pm ET, an ominous voice began pouring out over ABC's airwaves as the picture on the TV screen proceeded to go haywire. "There is nothing wrong with your television set," the voice intoned. "We are controlling transmission. We can control the vertical. We can control the horizontal. For the next hour, we will control all that you see and hear and think. You are watching a drama that reaches from the inner mind to...THE OUTER LIMITS."
And so, with narrator Vic Perrin's deep, hypnotic voice, began one of the most overlooked yet high-quality sci-fi shows TV ever produced. For two years, and over 49 one-hour episodes (all filmed in black-and-white), the phalanx of writer, directors and performers that worked on executive producer Leslie Stevens' and producer Joseph Stefano's anthology series did their best to creep America out with their intense tales of misguided scientists, alien invasions and supernatural phenomenon. Weekly, Perrin's foreboding narration would guide us through supremely intelligent and imaginative scientific-fact-based stories dramatized by, among others Harlan Ellison (A Boy and His Dog), Robert Towne (Chinatown), Stevens (later the producer of 70s-era sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), and Stefano (who came to prominence by writing scripts for Playhouse 90 and for adapting Robert Bloch's novel Psycho to the screen for legendary director Alfred Hitchcock).
Each week would also bring what series producers took to calling a "bear," their code name for the (usually) anthropomorphic monster that would rear its not-so-comely head every episode, courtesy of makeup supervisor Fred B. Phillips (who also handled makeup chores on the original Star Trek series). From the arachnid-like aliens in The Zanti Misfits to a horribly bug-eyed Warren Oates in The Mutant, each of Phillips' creations made an indelible impression in the mind of anyone who watched — exactly what the network brass at ABC wanted obviously, since they began to insist on having a monster parade through each episode. That, plus the accomplished special effects from Projects Unlimited (the FX company led by Oscar®-nominated Seven Faces of Dr. Lao and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth effects supervisors Jim Danforth, Paul LeBaron, and Ralph Rodine), helped disguise the fact that the series was produced on a relatively low-budget.
Beautiful black & white photography from cinematographers like Conrad Hall (an Oscar® winner for 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and a nominee for 1967's In Cold Blood, among a few others) and John Nickolaus (Roger Corman's The Terror) also added immeasurably to the show's effectiveness. Nevertheless, from the time of its first airing to its last episode, the show never got the critical acclaim that it deserved, its thunder consistently stolen by Rod Serling's Twilight Zone series, which stood as an obvious "OL" influence, but which didn't always sport the horrific and sometimes even artsy bent that "OL" often had in spades (One big problem: the inclusion of "monsters" also made "OL" seem sillier and not as prestigious as its Serling-produced counterpart).
But, obviously, the "OL" scripts were more than pointless exercises in sci-fi goofiness, for they attracted a slew of notable guest stars, among them Martin Landau, William Shatner, Cliff Robertson, Sally Kellerman, Martin Sheen, Bruce Dern, Carroll O'Connor, Chita Rivera, Gloria Grahame, Nick Adams, Vera Miles, Robert Duvall, Eddie Albert, David McCallum, Adam West of Batman fame, Jill Hayworth, and James Doohan of Star Trek.
THE OUTER LIMITS may have been short-lived (in its second season, ABC programmed it against the CBS hit The Jackie Gleason Show, which killed its chances for everlasting success), but it was the writers and the producers penchant for pushing the boundaries of imagination that has kept viewers and fans returning to the series almost 35 years after it was first aired.
Starting next year (2003), the realm of the weird will no longer be confined to the small screen. Working with Trilogy Entertainment, along with producers Mark Victor and Michael Grais, MGM plans to give The Outer Limits the big screen treatment. The film will be produced by Victor & Grais, along with Pen Densham, Mark Stern, Guy McElwaine and John Watson. Mark Skelly will executive produce.
New and b/w (1960's) episodes on the Sci Fi Channel, times shown are Pacific & EST and are new color eps except as noted:14-AUG-03 5:00 AM 1960'S THE GALAXY BEING 21-AUG-03 5:00 AM 1960'S THE HUNDRED DAYS OF THE DRAGON 28-AUG-03 5:00 AM 1960'S THE ARCHITECTS OF FEAR 01-SEP-03 THE OUTER LIMITS MARATHON (color eps) 8:00 AM SANDKINGS -PT 1 & 2 10:00AM I, ROBOT (Leonard Nimoy as the lawyer in this remake) 11:00AM MONA LISA 12:00PM THE CONVERSION 1:00 PM CAUGHT IN THE ACT 2:00 PM PATIENT ZERO 3:00 PM MUSIC OF THE SPHERES 4:00 PM SUMMIT 5:00 PM THE SURROGATE 6:00 PM THINK LIKE A DINOSAUR 04-SEP-03 5:00 AM 1960'S THE MAN WITH THE POWER 08-SEP-03 THE OUTER LIMITS MARATHON (color eps) 11:00 AM THE GUN 12:00 PM SKIN DEEP 1:00 PM MANIFEST DESTINY 2:00 PM BREAKING POINT 3:00 PM THE BEHOLDER 09-SEP-03 THE OUTER LIMITS 1960's MARATHON 11:00 AM KEEPER OF THE PURPLE TWILIGHT 12:00 PM THE DUPLICATE MAN 1:00 PM COUNTERWEIGHT 2:00 PM THE BRAIN OF COLONEL BARHAM 3:00 PM THE PROBE 11-SEP-03 5:00 AM O.B.I.T. 18-SEP-03 12:00AM CAUGHT IN THE ACT (color ep) 18-SEP-03 5:00 AM 1960'S THE SIXTH FINGER 25-SEP-03 5:00 AM 1960'S THE MAN WHO WAS NEVER BORN 29-SEP-03 THE OUTER LIMITS MARATHON (color eps) 11:00 AM RITE OF PASSAGE 12:00 PM IN THE ZONE 1:00 PM THE HUNT 2:00 PM IDENTITY CRISIS 3:00 PM FEAR ITSELF 01-OCT-03 THE OUTER LIMITS 1960's MARATHON 8:00 AM TOURIST ATTRACTION 9:00 AM THE ZANTI MISFITS 10:00 AM THE MICE 11:00 AM CONTROLLED EXPERIMENT 12:00 PM DON'T OPEN TILL DOOMSDAY 1:00 PM ZZZZZ 2:00 PM THE INVISIBLES 3:00 PM THE BELLERO SHIELD 4:00 PM THE CHILDREN OF SPIDER COUNTY 5:00 PM SPECIMEN UNKNOWN 02-OCT-03 THE OUTER LIMITS 1960's MARATHON 8:00 AM SECOND CHANCE 9:00 AM MOONSTONE 10:00 AM THE MUTANT 11:00 AM THE GUESTS 12:00 PM FUN AND GAMES 1:00 PM THE SPECIAL ONE 2:00 PM A FEASIBILITY STUDY 3:00 PM THE PRODUCTION AND DECAY OF STRANGE 4:00 PM THE CHAMELEON 5:00 PM THE FORMS OF THINGS UNKNOWN 5:00 AM THE HUMAN FACTOR 03-OCT-03 THE OUTER LIMITS 1960's MARATHON 8:00 AM COLD HANDS, WARM HEART 9:00 AM BEHOLD, ECK! 10:00 AM EXPANDING HUMAN 11:00 AM DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND 12:00 PM CRY OF SILENCE 1:00 PM THE INVISIBLE ENEMY 2:00 PM WOLF 359 3:00 PM I, ROBOT (reviewed with COLD HANDS, WARM HEART 4:00 PM KEEPER OF THE PURPLE TWILIGHT 5:00 PM SOLDIER 09-OCT-03 5:00 AM 1960'S CORPUS EARTHLING 16-OCT-03 5:00 AM 1960'S NIGHTMARE 23-OCT-03 5:00 AM 1960'S IT CRAWLED OUT OF THE WOODWORK 30-OCT-03 5:00 AM 1960'S THE BORDERLAND Last year's episode titles (Oct-December 2002) b/w episodes on TNT in year 2000:EP# DATE EPISODE TITLE16 10/28/2000 Controlled Experiment:
A Martian administrator (Barry Morse) journeys to Earth to examine a strange local custom, known as murder.
11 8/23/00 5:00 AM Nightmare
10 8/24/00 5:00 AM Tourist Attraction
1 8/26/00 5:00 AM Galaxy Being
20 8/29/00 5:00 AM The Bellero Shield
30 8/30/00 4:30 AM The Chameleon
Aug. 12, #2 Hundred Days Of The Dragon
To create an impostor for the U.S. president, an Asian uses a serum that alters human form.
Aug. 6, #19 The Invisibles
Aug. 5, #26 The Guests
Lovers must decide whether to stay in a strange place and keep eternal youth or to return to their true ages
Aug. 2, #25 The Mutant
A scientist mutated by rainfall on an alien world holds colleagues hostage and demands to return to Earth
July 30, #40 Wolf 359
A scientist (Patrick O'Neal)'s wife (Sara Shane) works to destroy a creature who escaped from a miniature, artificial planet. Additional cast: Dabney Coleman
July 24, Soldier by Harlan Ellison
An ultimate future soldier created only to kill (Michael Ansara) finds himself in the 20th century, and protects Lloyd Nolan from a similar enemy who also came back thru time (Ellison was eventually credited with inspiring The Terminator movie).
Outer Limits episodes are available on video and on DVD from Amazon.com
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The original b/w Twilight Zone episodes are also on the Sci-Fi channel.
Episodes of The New Twilight Zone are on TNT irregularly.
Episodes available on video include Harlan Ellison's Demon With A Glass Hand
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Official b/w Outer Limits info page on TNT.com (archived version, links may not all work yet)
Every episode of the 1963 series is at the official www.TheOuterLimits.com website at MGM.com
Previous broadcasts on TNT
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