Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Man Who Was Never Born



Production Order #12
Broadcast Order #06
Original Airdate: 10/28/63
Starring Martin Landau, Shirley Knight, John Considine.
Written by Anthony Lawrence.
Directed by Leonard Horn. 

Andro (Landau), a man from a future Earth must travel back in time to prevent the birth of Bertram Cabot, Jr. by any means possible. Cabot will grow up to turn the world into a wasteland. Andro lands on the eve of the wedding of Cabot's parents (Knight and Considine) and must decide if he's capable of murder to save the future generations.

PE: In the immortal words of the poet Neil Diamond: "Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of becoming a king, and then became one?" I think Neil must have gotten inspiration for that song from "The Man Who Was Never Born."

JS: What a beautiful sentiment, Peter. I think Noelle was inspired by the immortal words of Katy Perry, "I kissed Andro and I liked it."

PE: Speaking of inspiration: There's a signpost up ahead: JAMES CAMERON WAS HERE! I dig these "changing the future by visiting the past ain't all it's cut up to be" dramas. The Final Countdown. Timecrimes. Back to the Future. Triangle. And of course that little franchise that was cut-and-pasted from The Outer Limits. EC Comics peppered their three sf titles, Weird Fantasy, Weird Science, and Incredible Science Fiction/Fantasy with stories about scientists who are visited by their future selves to help figure out complicated theorems. Who doesn't love stuff like that?

JS: And it is done effectively here. To be honest, my first inclination was that (in James Cameron nonsensical time-continuum fashion) Andro was tricking Astronaut Steve, I mean Reardon (Karl Held), to take him back in time so that he could cause the Earth's destruction. Of course I do have a bit of a problem with Andro's scheme. Forgetting about Cabot, Jr., doesn't it seem like a bad idea for someone infected with the nasty bacterium to go back in time and potentially introduce that to the Earth of the past? Of course then, when at the end he doesn't disappear, Andro would realize that he was in fact the cause of the great DNA corruption (again, go with the don't-make-me-explain-it-just-accept-it Cameron time travel logic).

PE: The acting here is all top-notch. I've never been able to warm up to the young Martin Landau. I'm sure I'm in the minority (as the still-burning pigeon carcasses on my front lawn show) but he's usually a scenery-chewer. Coincidentally, I just last week watched Landau as a mass-murdering sheep herder in the short-lived TV western, Tate (shout out to reader/commenter Ultimate Tactical Warrior for steering me to this nasty, gritty, wonderful show). Landau's eyes bug out while he emotes (and sweats) up a storm. With his performance as Andro,  there's no trace of hambone,  just the right dollop of pathos. You can really believe he'll do anything to save the future children, even kill the woman he loves. Shirley Knight (who, when this show aired, was already a two-time Oscar nominee) and John Considine (still a decade away from being a superstar thanks to Doctor Death, Seeker of Souls) are also very good as the bewildered couple. Considine very much resembles the young Clint Eastwood.

JS: When we first get a glimpse of Andro, I thought—we've landed on Luminos! While the make-up design is similar to those rocky rascals, I think it's far more effective here than the masks with a hole cut out for the mouth used in "A Feasibility Study." Production wise, there were a number of nice touches in this episode, such as the single shots where they switch between Landau-Andro and Ugly-Andro. A favorite is the scene where Andro goes around the room in the boarding house feeling the things he's never seen before. Hell, I even liked the backdrop painting extending Andro's library to infinity.


PE: I don't have very many smart-ass things to say about this episode, I'm sorry to say. It's got its faults (Even after a crazed Andro threatens Cabot, there's Andro in the boarding house the day of the wedding; Noel wants to run away with a guy who was about to blow her or her fiancee away just ten minutes earlier; this after suddenly realizing she's never loved Cabot, which stretches credulity) but I can overlook them as I think this is a fabulous show, one that had eluded me through the years. That's okay though, as I don't think I would have appreciated its nuances as a youngster.

JS: How about the shot of Reardon climbing out of his space capsule, gun in one hand, helmet in the other. Why even bother with the helmet? In case he decides later the atmosphere is not breathable? Oh wait, that's right. He needed something to put his gun in! I also found myself troubled by Andro's inconsistent ability to disguise himself. Several times it appears he has to consciously brainwash folks around him, and yet in the scene by the lake, Bert first sees him as he truly is, and then as Landau, before Andro even knows he's there. And if he's supposed to have a hypnotic radius, it was a heck of a lot shorter when the landlady walked in on him.

PE: Wow, that climax leaves one of the biggest question marks in TV history. Sure, we know that Andro has faded away, a victim of his own changed future/present/whatever, but where does that leave Noelle? She's adrift in a ship she doesn't know how to pilot. The air won't last forever. I didn't see a fridge or a mini-bar. A very sad ending. Only one other celluloid time did I wish the downer could be changed to a happy ending (that being Brian DePalma's Carrie).

JS: I know exactly how you feel. For me it's Game 6 of the 2002 World Series.

PE: Could this be the perfect Outer Limits?

JS RATING:







PE RATING






David J. Schow on "The Man Who Was Never Born":








From The Outer Limits Companion, Copyright © David J. Schow, 1986, 1998.  All Rights Reserved.  Used by permission and by special arrangement with the author.

Be sure to check back later today for Gary Gerani's Spotlight on "The Man Who Was Never Born."

Next Up...

31 comments:

  1. This is the episode I would give to someone who's never seen the show. It's film class-worthy, beautiful and haunting and perfect in its execution. Andro is like one of the great characters of literature; at once pathetic, tragic and noble.

    Landau throws his hat in the Best OL Actor ring here. He told me the hand on the pillar was his idea, and very proud of it. In fact the clever transitions throughout help give the show a seamless dreamlike flow. Shot brilliantly by Hall, in particular I love the way he lights Andro's face leaving deep black shadows.

    Enjoyed your writeup, guys, but who's James Cameron?

    Four Zanties.

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    1. i would't.I'D pick Galaxy Being or Boarderland>

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  2. It doesn't get any better than this.

    Re: James Cameron

    Cameron was a huge TOL fan. We both had the same one man agent early on and he was attached to direct a science fiction script of mine called "M-PATH" right around the time he was writing "Terminator." (The whole sordid and tragic story - tragic for me, because I backed out of the deal - is on my blog if anyone cares).

    But we used to hang out at the Omelette Parlor in Santa Monica and talk about this series, this episode and others. He showed me an early draft of "Terminator" and I mentioned it was "Soldier" meets "Man Who Was Never Born," and he kind of fluffed it off. But I did warn him you don't mess around with Harlan Ellison. And, as history proved out, Ellison did go after it and got his ounce of blood. But the film got made and Cameron's career was established, Harlan was ackknowledged, egos swelled, and everyone was happy.

    Except for the poor schmuck who backed out of the deal for Cameron directing his script (over artistic differences with the producers). Sigh. Oh, well. That fellow's happy now.

    And Cameron copped from the best. But of course, this episode copped from "Beauty and the Beast" in a classic and beautiful way.

    But the music, the music, just brought it all home, from suspense to sadness. Bravo, Dominic Frontiere.

    Anything less than four Zantis is a travesty.

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  3. Nice Beauty and the Beast plot but hard to believe one second she is at the church altar ready to be married and the next she is running off with the monster. As a book collector my favorite scene is the enormous library. Nice to see the Kindle was a big flop in the future. To hell with the E-book!

    I see the monster mentions Mark Twain but not his most famous novel title which must not be named. I guess the censors and politically correct segment won out and banned all mention of Huck and his pal.

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  4. I've got a Spotlight coming up on this one, so I'll keep my mouth shut for awhile...

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  5. Looking forward to it, Gary! And not backward.

    It seems to me the Beauty and the Beast angle is merely a take-off point for where this one goes.

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  6. One of my top five OL favorites, implausibilities and all. In fact, Reardon's gun-toting and Andro's hurried exposition in the first act, and Noelle's apparently irrational decision in the last one, add to its overall dream-like quality. Looking forward to your spotlight, Gary.

    I love the literary references in this, a feature that pops up throughout the season (the Dr. Johnson line in "The Chameleon" leaps to mind, but there are others) and even into the second one (Gilgamesh in "Demon with a Glass Hand"). Are there any network series now that assume viewers know who Samuel Johnson is? I mean besides Two and a Half Men.

    I never noticed this before, but by the conclusion there are three men who were definitely never born -- Cabot Jr., Andro, and Reardon -- and even more if you count any children Reardon may have had and Bert Jr.'s possible siblings. Not to mention their offspring, and on and on.

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  7. Unquestionably, one of the masterpieces of the show, and one whose humanity and poignancy just about matches THE SIXTH FINGER. Hall's work, the set design, and Landau's extraordinary performance are all complimented beautifully by one of Dominic Frontier's most wistful scores, one that serves asa lovely elegiac underpinning to the proceedings.

    Magnificent.

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  8. Sigh . . . Well, I guess I'll be the one this time around to proclaim disappointment rather than total admiration. There is plenty that is fine, and I'll mention some of those things in a bit, but I have to start with our ongoing discussion of suspension of disbelief, which I imagine will continue throughout the life of this blog (the other ongoing discussion will be the "Wow, this series had an incredible number of fine actors" one, which is also cool.) I think it was Ted yesterday who made the great comment that we accept some of the unbelievable things in order to get to how "richly imagined human beings respond to them." I'm totally with that, and with earlier comments by DJS and others about how important this is to OL. I DO think it's okay to recognize and even laugh at things like the "Forward-Backward" lever, but I would never let that stop me from enjoying the richness of an episode like Sixth Finger. That said, however, I think that there's a point beyond which the "suspension of disbelief" is asked to carry too much weight, after which everything simply crashes around it, and for myself, that happens with this episode.

    It's OL, and it's 1960s science fiction, so I'm perfectly happy to believe that the spaceship goes through the time warp, and the astronaut meets Andro, and the two go back through time to save the future, and so on. I'm even willing (reluctantly) to believe that the spaceship manages to land right by the boarding house at just the time that it does. The whole point of all this exposition is to get Andro to Noelle, so it's all fine.

    It's what follows that becomes too much to load on top of all that. That is, I don't buy for a second that this woman, in the space of about a week or so, is going to fall so in love with this guy that she'll throw her whole life over, at least not from what we're shown. Aside from their first introduction (in the boarding house, not the initial scare scene in the woods), in every encounter they have, Andro is presented as either (A) a monster or (B) a wild-eyed, slightly raving loony. This all culminates in him disrupting her wedding with a gun while spouting what to the gathered people should sound like incomprehensible nonsense, to which Noelle reponds, without hesitation, by following him to the woods, declaring her love, and accompanying him to . . . his handy . . . spaceship . . . in the forest. . . . And off they go. The only way I MIGHT believe this is if Andro is hypnotizing her beyond just controlling her vision, but then that would be to ascribe more sinister motives to him than we want him to have. Sorry, it's too much.

    And, it's too bad, because of all the good stuff here. I like Landau, wild eyes and all--he captures the intellectual passion of Andro, and the despair. I like the world of the future, with its lone gateway tower to the big library (although even as a kid, I wondered what Andro did for food--maybe there was a kitchen waaaaay in the back?) The camera work is marvelous, especially the dreamy backlit scenes in the forest and the back and forth sleight of hand as we're shown the contrast between Andro's real appearance and what the people around him see. And wow, that final shot of Noelle tracking back into the stars is simply a drop dead knockout.

    But it all falls apart with the script. The whole point of this episode (I think) is supposed to be that love conquers all, etc., but if that's it, then they HAVE to make that part of it believable. And they don't. I don't DISLIKE this episode, but given the potential here, it disappoints me, and it doesn't make my top ten list.

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  9. David Horne-

    I couldn't have said it any better myself. I don't have the heart to bash this one with sarcastic comments because of all the good things about it. However, you are right on the money. Way too much of an unbelievable love story.

    Peter-

    Thanks for the shout out!!!!!!

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  10. I still find this to be a beautifully realized episode, full of evocative imagery and lyrical dialogue. Probably a top-fiver, for me.

    As a kid I was driven by the articulate headiness of the script to search out those literary references with which I was unfamiliar. Any TV episode that can do that has to be serving the culture beyond the call of ratings fervor. The entire library scene, with its compelling forced-perspective visuals and wistful ode to lost beauty, remains powerful.

    Mark is probably correct in assuming that classical allusions would leave 'em wincing in program story meetings today---that's assuming they even understood them. And Walker, I hereby endorse your message concerning the supremacy of the tactile experience of real books over their zip-through-me-quick e-cousins. They beat 'em to a---well...a pulp.

    I never found the arguable plot problems disturbing. Andro and Noelle are both timeless dreamers of the sort whose actions can seem capricious. People fall in love and marry overnight, however ill considered their connection might seem. Noelle was swept into a relationship with a man who seemed a solid, practical complement to her fragile sensitivity. (Most pragmatists she knew would have urged her into it: "Besides, he looks so HAAAND-SOME in that uniform!" She'd be hearing that crap all the time.)

    I can buy that she never loved Cabot but had long since abandoned dreams of meeting the poetic prince of her fantasy life. You see matchups like this in real life, founded in resignation. And an equal number of bewildering, unanticipated breakups. The wonder of the sheer variance in human psychology is at the heart of the unexpected turns in absorbing drama.

    The time-paradox issues? I've long since quit trying to be too analytical about this speculative labyrinth. The "grandfather paradox" is an old sf tradition, one of the seminal plots unique to sf. That's why I've always found this business of THE TERMINATOR having been cribbed from the three time-travel TOLs a bit odd. I can see the direct parallels to "Soldier." (That alone might have made Harlan's case.) But with "Demon with a Glass Hand" and "Never Born"...not so much. At least no more than might be argued in accusation of many other bring-'em-back-unborn sf tales in print and on film (including a couple of TZs).

    As a fiction writer I understand that, however original our voice and synthesis, we are all "stitching together" strands of what we've unwoven from earlier writers' skeins, at least to some degree. I submit that the grandfather paradox---going back in time and killing someone to prevent a given future---is encompassing enough in its implications that most any such tale might be fingered as a mimic of any number of others.

    I bought into and enjoyed Landau's wide-eyed passion/fanaticism and still think his performance well conceived and convincing. he excels at wounded idealists, as we'll see again in "The Bellero Shield."

    We interviewed Tony Lawrence for my TOL fanzine many years ago, and he corroborated that he was trying "to do a very poetic fairy tale, a 'Beauty and the Beast' kind of fantasy."

    Frontiere's score seems unusually lush and elegiac here, though the themes sound familiar. Is that a function of my sentimental heart buying this brilliant tragedy with its chilling coda, implausibilities and all? Or is there some metaphysical synthesis at work when story and music spiral into something greater than the individual elements?

    Larry Rapchak---we need some "score-as-player" theorizing here!

    DJS---is this not one of the COMPANION revisions of which you're most proud? The updated "Never Born" material and excellent new stills seemed really cool. My favorite upgrade so far.

    The Zantis seem out of place in this landscape. I'll give it four Luminoid blisters.

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  11. Interesting. I never got "love conquers all", particularly given the tragic ending.

    I haven't had a suspension of disbelief problem (or extension of belief as I like to call it) with this one. Never questioned the intertwining destinies of these character--the roles they seem compelled to fulfill--perhaps, as Mark mentions, because of that dreamlike quality.

    I also feel that Andro's irrational behavior is...well, rational for him; that he is outside the bounds of expected behavior because of who he is, where he came from and what he has to do. Just how long since this guy had any kind of interaction?

    Mark: so it's "The Billion Men Who Were Never Born".

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  12. Ted: If my memory serves there's a Shakespeare reference in "Second Chance," and I think Plato is mentioned in another episode. And of course Gwyllm's head is crammed with books. Reading on TV, what a concept.

    BTW, others have already said it, but I haven't -- it's a kick having you on the site. TOLAIR was a staple for David H. and I as teens, and helped sustain our OL love when the best we could hope for was catching an odd episode in the wee hours of the morning (on school nights!) on some fuzzy cable backwater. Your work filled the gap before Gary's seminal Starlog piece and DJS's OL bible appeared, and I still have both issues to this day. So, er, when's the third one coming out?

    I love that this blog is serving a similar purpose for the first decade of the 21st century (fingers crossed there are later decades, not to mention a better frakking DVD set), so hats off to John and Peter as well. Awesome work, guys.

    Larry: "The Infinite Number of Men and Women Who Were Never Born," I guess. I have a headache now.

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  13. "The Human Race Was Ever Born?"

    Thanks so much for your props to TOLAIR, Mark. It's a genuine honor to have gotten to know you and your brother. As for plans for #3, they're still floating out there somewhere in the "whelming brine of space"! I was a terrible businessman, as far as distribution was concerned, selling them at under cost to dealers to get them out there. Not a good business model. Then the marvelous TOL: THE OFFICIAL COMPANION came along and obviated the need for anything more formulated than this fabulous forum we're engaged with.

    (Wow---Stefano-esque alliteration,eh?)

    Can't recall specific literary references off the top of my head at the moment without going back to notes or re-checking episodes. (Except for the favorites that have run through my mind for decades, from "Bellero" and "Forms," most notably.) Something nags from "Second Chance" but won't move from soft focus into crystal clarity. I've laid these venerable episodes aside for much too long---as good a reason as any to stick with this TOL block party!

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  14. TED---

    Sorry to be a dud, but re: the score---the best I can do is refer everyone to DJS's mighty tome "The Outer Limits Companion", in this case, page 137. Maybe we will see a re-print of the music section on this blog; all I'd be doing here is rehashing the notes I contributed to that iconic volume, since I have no new insights (though I think we'll be hearing more about the score to "Nightmare" on WACT in the near future).

    But---yes, there is something truly magical, luminous, sumptous in Frontiere's score for this episode, which is built around Andro's ominous 5-note theme which prowls around the lower depths of the orchestra, and Noelle's wistful flute theme, a lovely pastorale that perfectly evokes the sylvan environment where she exists in total harmony with her surroundings.

    Which brings me to a point----I have NEVER had a problem with Noelle leaving Cabot Jr. suddenly for Andro on her wedding day (in the first version of the script, I think they ultimately grabbed a bus, where they sat in the back seat...or maybe I'm thinking of some other film where the same thing occurs...)

    The characters AND the excellent casting make total sense to me (the argument is beautifully laid out by Ted Rypel's post above). Why cast Shirley Knight? Obvious-- she is the prototypical pre-hippie, free-spirit, soulful, romantic, nature-kid, flower-child, frog-lovin', tree-huggin', golden-haired, poetry-reading princess of our dreams. Why in the hell would she be marrying a macho, militaristic, beer-drinking, frat-house, jut-jawed, steely-eyed, crew-cut, establishment-type, etc etc---you get the picture. Millions of young people have made the same mistake and sometimes....perhaps not as often was we would hope...true, idealistic, star-crossed lovers find the person of their dreams BEFORE they tie the knot...sometimes just in the nick of time. Then, that delirious, impulsive, passionate, "forbidden" thing kicks in....and you end up running through the forest in your wedding gown. That's what romance is all about.

    I agree with Peter's comments about Landau, an actor who clearly relishes a tender, tasty piece of scenery for an occasional snack (when all is said and done, I think Bela Lugosi WAS in fact the role that he was born to play); here he's bascially controlled and quite effective as Andro.

    Hey, Conrad Hall----how did you get your camera lens into the onscreen photographer's lens so that we could actually see the whole wedding party behind us in a mirror image?! Man, that guy was GOOD.

    An absolute classic.

    LR

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  15. Good point about the Connie Hall cinematography in this one, Larry. Hall was so uniformly excellent that he's sometimes easy to take for granted.

    Damn! Sorry, Larry, for calling on you to repeat yourself. I have only DJS' 1986 edition, so I can't even access your contribution. Excuse me, folks, for cajoling our resident musicologist, Larry Rapchak, to rehash things many people on the forum may have already read in the refreshed edition of the authoritative TOL: THE OFFICIAL COMPANION. (Gonna have to rectify this lack soon, now that I have John and Peter's blog as a reminder.)

    And a near top-of-the-blog-winning episode for both of our hosts, this time out! How much do you wager that we'll be repeating this phenomenon here more often than with THRILLER?!

    Landau's Lugosi is arguably his finest role. In TOL, though, he starred in two masterpieces, and I still prefer the one to come, maybe my second favorite of the series. Erelong we'll cross "the trembling way."

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  16. Western Alert! There's a good career interview with Anthony Lawrence at:

    http://www.classictvhistory.com/OralHistories/anthony_lawrence.html

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  17. Thanks, DJS! Hey---some oblique musings about the episode:

    (hard to let this one go; there will be others like it, of course)

    Do you know who dubbed the preacher and why? I don't recall seeing any mention of this, probably because it's really inconsequential. But it's weird to watch him closely during the wedding scene.

    That's a lovely shot of Noelle and Andro reflected in the pool as they run from their pursuers. You just don't see a lot of that kind of visual variety in TV, to this day. With TOL it wasn't simply, Let's get the shot. Refreshingly often, it was, Let's give them more than they'd ever expect.

    "Beauty is always on the edge of being lost." Lines like that from Tony Lawrence's script tend to linger with the bard in your soul.

    DJS, does the script specify in the final shot's set-up that CAMERA PULLS BACK from Noelle seated beside an empty chair on a bare stage? or the equivalent stage direction? I'd like to know whose trenchant idea it was to cut from the cabin of the spacecraft to a shockingly stark set-up of two chairs on a bare stage, to underscore the poignance of the situation. Or was it a simple expediency determined by Horn when he realized there was no good way to pull from the cabin while yet keeping Noelle's trauma in the shot? Either way, it was a stroke of dramatic lightning, I humbly submit.

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  18. Seems like most of us agree on this one -- no ambiguous ending, though Poor Noelle. Obviously perfect to end it with her abandoned in the space vehicle, but that unused filmed ending talked about in DJS' book sounds interesting, too. Somebody must have searched for that footage and NOT found it, right? What a shame.

    Was that Barry Atwater as the preacher whose voice was clearly dubbed? He was in "Corpus Earthling" later though this one doesn't appear in his credits. Sure looks like him; he has a distinctive brow/forehead.

    TOL always seems to cram so much goodness into 50 minutes; when you think that the future scenes take up about 15 minutes, it's incredible that in the remaining 35 minutes the episode is able to simultaneously rush the plot forward to its hand-to-hand combat and chase scenes, while still making it seem like it's nothing but leisurely, contemplative and beautiful scenes and conversations between the characters. A lot gets done in this one. Such a well-done mood piece. Definitely 100% fairy tale whenever Noelle and Andro are in the picture.

    Poor Andro. He's an undercover spy in the past, passing as human but clearly not one of them, too fine, too kind, too courtly -- a man out of time, for sure. He does get the crazy-man thing going when he remembers his mission, and no doubt he, as a romantic and classic fiction enthusiast, hoped/dreamed that everything might turn out all right as he found himself entranced by Noelle. I don't know who was doing more of the entrancing, come to think of it -- Andro on everybody or Noelle on Andro? He was completely smitten.

    Cabot is a steady All-American soldier but he's also a scientist. He's so easy to dislike in his uniform but if he were wearing a lab coat perhaps he'd seem more potentially evil and scary. He must have had some unique qualities to have hooked up with Noelle; he boarded at that odd old house so that speaks to some kind of interesting personality. Seems like a bad fit for Noelle, but we only see him as a soldier. He seems to be genuinely bereft when he watches the spaceship take off.

    Shirley Knight as Noelle is transcendent. She's a vision, a glowing angelic presence who can tame frogs of all species. It's a completely unique performance; she's perfectly cast and definitely magical. If she had been played by anyone with a sharper edge or a less beatific mien you'd never believe Andro falling for her. He didn't expect to, but she was truly a fairy princess and we believed it because they believed it,and Landau and Knight played it just right.

    This is an episode that never inspired any jokes or goofy references for me throughout the years, which is unusual. TMWWNB simply exists -- as a beautiful and delicate tragedy. It's almost more like a myth, at least Noelle's predicament, doomed to sail the universe. Is she starring in the space version of "The Flying Dutchman"?

    What a great episode, one of my top favorites.

    Super job, guys!

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  19. A touch of the fairy tale, a dash of Stefano's humanitarian concerns, a sprinkling of Bradbury poetry and most of all, a Van Vogtian sense of a charged delirious dream. Which makes all of it's fantasy elements coherent. As for the implusibilities, it could be assumed that the craft had a computer that wasn't seen on screen.

    This is perfection. A soaring verbal, visual, aural, Thespian poetic assault on the senses. The type of staggering watch that can't be forgotten, causes immersement and flow and is celluloid bliss.

    The third great classic so far.

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  20. Bobby---nice summation of the surpassing qualities in every aspect of this classic episode.

    And Lisa---beautiful thumbnail profile of Noelle. She's a woman almost too delicate, too ephemeral for the harder surfaces one must navigate in life. Her fate is truly, existentially tragic: she did nothing to deserve it. You'd like to have the alternate ending as an extra just to assuage your sense of justice, now and again! But to its credit, TOL seldom shrank from the truth of life's crueler moments. We grieve over the tragedy of such rich and fascinating characters as Noelle, but we neither regret having known them nor ever forget them.

    Thank you, yet again, TOL for a rewarding experience.

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  21. When it comes to Noelle going off with Andro after his "meltdown" at the wedding being far-fetched, I can think of a similar scene that's right up there with it (for me), and that's the end of The Graduate. I may be the only one I know, but I just can't get completely into the spirit of that film, so to me that scene just has a bride running off with the man who became a raving maniac at her wedding (even if it's without a gun)! So it's AT LEAST as hard to roll with as Noelle going off with Andro.

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  22. Love the mutant mask, the spaceship effects are crappy, you don't even see it land either time, the interior is badly designed- so I think the low budget hurts this one more than others, still its a great episode. Who knew Shirley Knight was so hot (see her in a Oscar-worthy performance in The Rain People). Landau is great, although he seems nuts from the moment he shows up, you'd think they'd call the cops at some point. Terrific photography, love those low angles. Its a rather poetic episode, with a great score. But Knight's quick acceptance of Laundau is a bit hard to swallow (although my mom thinks young Martin Laundau is the most handsome man in the history of TV next to Roy Thinnes). I think there should have been a shot of Knight kissing Landau in the mutant mask. What I don't get is just because Knight doesn't have the scientist's son who will destroy the world, how does Laundau know he won't have another kid with someone else who does the same. How did Landau land the spaceship? How is Knight going to? Its rather convenient that Landau can hypnotise people into not seeing he's a mutant- what applicability does that have on 22nd Earth where everyone alive is a mutant. In the last shot, the capsule disappears and Knight is seen sitting in a chair floating into space. Which leads me to my theory- here goes: Knight is a mental patient who imagined the whole episode. Am I alone in thinking this? Anyways, 3 1/2 Zantis.

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  23. Saw this one recently when the relatives who grew up with the show brought home VHS and DVDs by the bushel. Hope Cmac will forgive the '60s TV budget -- the view from spaceship over Earth was quite impressive. Didn't at all get the impression that Miss Knight's situation is hopeless. After all, these TV spacecraft are 'automated' and we can hope that everything had been set to give a 'returning' Andro a soft landing (after all, how did Andro land the thing in 1963?)
    Also, if the Plague had been averted, presumeably 'future' Earth is hale and hearty and SOMEONE there might be making some space flights of their own, or at least have 'ground control'. After all, the 'ground covered' is largely orbital here.

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  24. In the attached book chapter, the ending in the original script had Noelle on the future earth talking to an old man in a levitating car about the year and about a town in the distance. This ending which was filmed was much more complete and upbeat than the present ending but was cut out due to time constraints. I wish someone could piece this segment back in or just show it as an alternate ending but I guess we just have to imagine it.

    The old man is played by Jack Raine. He was in the credits but was never seen in this episode because this was his only scene and it was cut out.

    I have read that some people recall this episode as from the Twilight Zone because of the tone and dreariness of the ending.

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  25. I saw it again last night. It never occurred to me before to compare them, but it's funny that the secret group of CIVILIANS in ARCHITECTS OF FEAR can come up with a ray gun for Allan, but the SPACE AGENCY gives poor Reardon a regular gun. In spite of his landing (he thinks) on another planet, not knowing what he might run into that might be impervious to it.

    I also noticed for the first time a very small "L-OL" moment in the wedding scene. It's that very quick moment when the maid of honor sort of "scampers" out of Andro's way. What I mean is, it looks more like that than some all-out panic on her part.



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  26. Greetings from the distant hellish future of December 2013 .... Must somehow go back in time and prevent We Are Controlling Transmission from ever being born -- so I can get some damn work done!

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  27. Very very good story! Loved it!

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  28. It just occurred to me the last time I saw it (which was tonight), but Outer Limits definitely had more luck with real frogs in that scene in the woods than they did in CRY OF SILENCE (if you've read the back-story about that). Instead of jumping away before the scene can be finished like the CRY OF SILENCE ones, this frog really feels like cooperating.

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  29. CMac:
    "Which leads me to my theory- here goes: Knight is a mental patient who imagined the whole episode. Am I alone in thinking this?"

    This was EXACTLY the impression I got at the end of the monstrously-awful Rob Zombie film, "HALLOWEEN 2". So much of the plot of that thing contradicted everything we'd seen in his previous film, and when you get to the ending, and the sole survivor of the carnage is seen in a mental hospital, it hit me, hey, maybe the ENTIRE MOVIE I just saw never happened?

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  30. Yep, this is for sure Top 5 O.L. material, gang. This is one of the 2 or 3 episodes I recall best thru the years. I've probably watched it 3 or 4 more times the past year, on my never ending OL binge. I still love it! I try not to find any fault with it. Too much GOOD stuff in it, to find any negatives in it. Well written, Landau is great, Jeez... The whole thing is top notch! Plus of course, the music. The best! And the ending shot has stayed with me over 50 years now. One of the best ending scenes of all time, movie or tv. You guys with me on that?

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