O is for Outer Limits

Reviewed by Kerry E.B. Black

There was nothing wrong with the television sets tuned to “The Outer Limits” from viewing seasons of September, 1963 until 1965 when ABC aired its black and white episodic science fiction series. The hour-long anthology featured a varied cast and examined the nature of man through its interactions with science.

The network changed the name from its originally proposed “Please Stand By” because they confusing and frightening a viewing public already on edge because of the Cuban Missile Crisis. As with any anthology show, there are some episodes with stronger storylines than others. As a series, it definitely nodded to “The Twilight Zone,” but with a heavier emphasis on science. Each weekly episode began with an opening monologue and closing recap by voice actor Vic Perrin who advised viewers “do not attempt to adjust your television set.”

Writers for the series include creator Leslie Stevens and “Psycho” screen writer Joseph Stephano, Robert Towne and Harlan Ellison. Notably, most episodes from season one included a monster motif called “the bear.” “Controlled Experiment” was the only comical episode.) Cinematography by Conrad Hall, John M. Nickolaus, and Kenneth Peach provided a dark ambiance and special effects by such experts as Wah Chang, Gene Warren, Jim Danforth, Fred B. Philllips, and John Chambers sealed the spooky feel of the show. The show was filmed in Los Angeles, California.

In 1995-2002, Showtime (and for the last season, SciFi) launched a revival series which followed the same basic format, though in color. Some actors from the original were Leonard Nimoy, David McCallum, Cliff Robertson, Barbara Rush, and Peter Breck. The Control voice actor was Kevin Conway.

The “Outer Limits” opened up the coolness of science and paved the way for such great shows as “Star Trek” and “Battlestar Galactica.”