Friday, February 18, 2011

The Outer Limits - A Second Season Primer

by David J. Schow

Sequels nearly always pale in comparison to their forebears, and the case of The Outer Limits’ much-maligned second season (S2) is no different. The series had survived the “renewal wars” to debut in September 1964, only to be repositioned to a Saturday evening suicide seat opposite the enormously popular Jackie Gleason Show. Classified as a “bleeder” in the ratings game, this short-lived incarnation of The Outer Limits managed a heroic showing of minor classics and game tries before its mid-season cancellation barely four months later, in mid-January 1965 (it was replaced by another variety show, The King Family). Debuting against overwhelming contrary odds, this retrofitted version of The Outer Limits suffered the relentless crises of time and money that always plague a series on the wane: truncated shooting schedules and bare minimum budgets. Yet this sophomore playbill allowed for certain aberrations otherwise impossible in the TV landscape of 1964, and still unthinkable today.

For all practical purposes, S2 was an entirely different program from that offered by the previous production regime, which had been shown the Out door by parent network ABC due to assorted clashes of personality and deficit financing. These reached a frothing head with the debacle over the shooting of The Unknown pilot film, re-edited and presented as the curtain show for the first season (S1), “The Forms of Things Unknown.” Series creator Leslie Stevens threatened to scuttle the series if his partner, writer/producer Joseph Stefano, was not permitted to make his directorial debut with The Unknown. Stefano stepped down and the show was directed by Outer Limits regular Gerd Oswald. It promptly ran over-schedule and overbudget.

“There were some pretty deadly piranhas at ABC,” said production designer Jack Poplin. “Personally, I always thought that Leslie had gotten a little too arrogant for them, and the network brass decided they were going to squash him.” Joe Stefano added, “There were people who wanted to get The Outer Limits totally away form Leslie, and once it was clear I wasn’t going to stay, a lot of stuff went down. It was like the show went up for grabs, and a lot of jockeying was done.”

The dealbreaker, for Stefano, was ABC’s proposed timeslot change. While he made it clear he would have considered staying on if the series was moved to Wednesday evenings, the network was adamant about shifting it to Saturday nights. “I just didn’t fancy putting in 18-hour days on a series that was doomed,” said Stefano. “I was furious when they wanted to use it an ammunition against Jackie Gleason. I had really worked my ass off, and I knew that Jackie Gleason was not going to be brought down by The Outer Limits.”

S2 (more properly a half-season, totaling 17 episodes against the S1’s 32) was, to an extent, a brand new series augmented by elements of the old guard, and an attempt by ABC to “uniformize” the show’s iconoclastic palette into something that network suits could more easily anticipate and comprehend.

The Outer Limits’ new producer, Ben Brady, had formerly been one of those network suits — a vice president of ABC-TV who had originally greenlit Stevens’ Please Stand By as the pilot for The Outer Limits in 1962. Like Stevens, Brady had been an independent producer prior to his network tenure, having begun as a radio writer shortly after his graduation from law school in the 1940s. He put his legal knowledge to good use during the two seasons he spent producing his greatest television success, Perry Mason, over at rival network CBS (1957-1959). When Stefano vacated his producing position on The Outer Limits, ABC agreed to renew the series if Brady replaced Stefano. This also handily used up the remainder of Brady’s contract with ABC. Brady was also behind the network’s decision to move the series to Saturday nights.

“A good deal of the first year was a banner year in terms of art and product,” Brady said. “Stefano was a great writer. But there was a violent schism between what he wanted and what ABC wanted.” Of his approach to the show, he said, “We sought out published works by established science fiction writers. We looked for a marriage between intelligent science fiction and good, sound showmanship.”

Far from being an errand boy for ABC’s creative mandates, Brady immediately found himself on the flipside, beleaguered by limitations that chopped his budgets to $100,000 per episode. That meant that any adaptation of published work had to command low (or no) royalties. “We were torn between the desire to find stories we could adapt,” he said, “and the insertion of quickly-written originals that would enable us to survive until we found the next good published story.”

Brady’s new story department was headed up by Seeleg Lester, another Perry Mason alumnus. “Along about the sixth (production) week,” said Lester, “ABC began insisting on a monster in every show, so I tried to make them as innocuous as possible, as an off-shoot of the drama.” He described Brady as a “nuts-and-bolts man, with his finger on all the physical costs of the production. He wasn’t active in story content … I think that’s why he wanted me.”

Many of the below-the-line crew returned from S1. First AD Claude Binyon, Jr. became the new production manager (after Robert Justman returned to his old AD duties) and secured the use of Paramount Studios’ production facilities, to replace the loss of The Outer Limits’ previous stomping grounds, the MGM backlot and the studios of KTTV-TV — another change which accounts for the “face lift” look between the two seasons.

ABC definitely harbored hostility toward elements of the old Stevens/Stefano guard. Some, like casting director Meryl Abeles, were fired. Although Brady acknowledged that Dominic Frontiere’s music for S1 was rich and evocative, Frontiere was a confidant of Leslie Stevens, so Brady summoned another former co-worker, Harry Lubin (of One Step Beyond) to provide another “face lift.” Lubin’s scoring came across as less progressive, more traditional, and closer to 1950s style sci-fi films than Frontiere’s heavily orchestrated tapestries of sound.

Gerd Oswald, who had done nearly 30 Perry Mason segments for Brady before becoming a mainstay of The Outer Limits, found to his surprise that he was not a shoo-in for S2. “Brady was forced to go a more prosaic route,” said Oswald. “(Director Byron) Haskin and I were both on (ABC)’s shit list, and it took Brady four or five weeks before he could say, ‘Well, I want Gerd, period. And I want ‘Bunn’ Haskin.”

Of the crewmembers who worked both seasons, production designer Jack Poplin said, “The first season was far more creative and esoteric than the second, which was more commercial. Ben Brady is a capable man, but an executive, not a creator. He was doing what he was told, and grinding them out. He was out of his depth, with the onus of the heavyweights that had preceded him.”

Production coordinator Elaine Michea said, “I had no problems with the new regime. I was involved with Ben a little more than I had been in the first series, and we got along beautifully.”

“I didn’t resent the new people,” said makeup artist Fred Philips. “But I had, in the first season, people with a sense of trust. Not so, in the second season.”

Vic Perrin, the Control Voice, said he noticed no difference between the old bosses, and the new: “Ben Brady told me, ‘Just keep on doing what you’ve been doing!’”

But the most apocalyptic overview, typically, was Byron Haskin’s: “I had heard that Ben Brady was a fair-headed boy in the top, heavy circles, the rarified air where the masochists and maiming pimps who operate networks work. They had a happy hand for Brady, who had just gotten fired from ABC and was in limbo, when along came this network decision to switch producers, and boom – we got the guy. I didn’t know who in the hell he was. The Outer Limits got into very fast company when it acquired Brady, who was known for lowering the boom on series that the networks wanted to get rid of. He didn’t impress me as too stupid a guy, and seemed to know a lot of the glib answers most producers seem to have for any questions.”

“The one guy we thought the new group was so lucky to have was Seeleg,” said Leslie Stevens. “He really cared; he had both the drama and the science concepts.”

“I must say that Seeleg Lester tried very hard,” said Binyon. “The money Ben could have used for production was curtailed. When they flubbed around with the timeslot, the show became an orphan. We could not do the things we wanted to do, and it became very frustrating.”

S1 veteran Kenneth Peach became the director of photography for the entire S2 run. The Control Voice teasers and tags became part of the individual writers’ assignments, or were appended to finished scripts by Lester. On a blind read, they are difficult to tell apart, opting for pseudo-biblical profundities, or pounding home the noble sentiment of Man’s Endless Quest for Knowledge. The Control Voice opening was also given a final pruning, having been repeatedly shortened during S1 – no longer was the viewer required to “sit quietly and…” Following the broadcast of the first four S2 episodes, it was shortened again, to its final form:
There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. For the next hour, 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.
Stevens, Stefano and Frontiere fell back to an executive producer slot (and new projects), and did not involve themselves with the new episodes, although they were copied on every script and memo.

Flash-Forward

Four decades after its ignominious cancellation, S2 of The Outer Limits merits a fresh perspective.  The amorphous concept of a television "season" means that in present-day terms, S2 is less a truncated whole and more the "back third" of the entire Outer Limits oeuvre.

Often overlooked or underappreciated by viewers enthralled to The Outer Limits' stronger sense of identity in S1, a bald overview of S2 reveals a seemingly meager and much-compromised production slate that actually yields an abundance of surprises.  Apart from the smart dynamism of the Harlan Ellison entries, other episodes at least attempted some depth of theme — "The Duplicate Man," "Wolf 359," "The Inheritors" — leaving room for the guilty pleasure of "The Invisible Enemy," or the popcorn monster folly of "Keeper of the Purple Twilight."  Fans of stop-motion animation maintain a soft spot for the possessed plant which livens up the otherwise-tedious "Counterweight;" S1's "vacuum cleaner monster" (from "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork") joined an equally memorable S2 counterpart in the "killer tumbleweeds" from "Cry of Silence," and the basic plotlines of "I, Robot" and "The Premonition" seem as entrenched in public memory as that sawtooth-bladed boomerang from S1's "Fun and Games."

The tone shift between the two seasons remains jarring, but the S2 bias toward outer space as a bold frontier contradicts the bleaker prospects of S1 shows that ventured, albeit rarely, into the same territory.  Even a segment as narratively dismal as "Cold Hands, Warm Heart" concludes with high hopes for humankind's future in space, whereas first season entries such as "Moonstone," "Specimen: Unknown," and "The Mutant" swat home the idea that big monster headaches await us Out There, and it is a better bet to remain determinedly Earthbound.  For all its drawbacks, "The Probe" closes the series run on an up-note, with a bright, almost American optimism for the future of human/alien contact.

Brady's desire to source the series in classic science fiction also added, to the timeline of television history, early and charmingly primordial mentions of then-obscure topics like ecology ("Counterweight" and "Wolf 359"), consciousness-altering drugs ("Expanding Human"), cloning ("The Duplicate Man"), and even a veiled reference to the Viet Nam war ("The Inheritors").  The universes-within-universes concept was explored in "Wolf 359," then turned inside-out for "The Probe."  Both Ellison episodes echo the paradoxes of time travel first touched upon in S1's "The Man Who Was Never Born" — and these three episodes, together, were cited in the eventual lawsuit that was brought by Ellison against The Terminator (1984), questioning that film's creative chain-of-title.

The downside of Brady's stewardship was the Dragnet syndrome seen in too many S2 episodes: A problem is introduced, and various authority figures interminably ask obvious questions until the mystery is resolved.  This approach, informed by Brady's experience on Perry Mason, was easily biased toward the puzzle-solving format established by the science fiction pulps, but imposed a flattening sameness to "Cold Hands, Warm Heart," "Behold Eck!," "Expanding Human," "The Premonition," "The Probe," and especially "I, Robot," which dragged the whole show into the docket.  Compare "I, Robot" to "O.B.I.T."  (S1's "courtroom episode") to see the difference between a police procedural with science fiction furniture, versus a story that transcends formula by the benefit of the often-oblique noir stylings of the Stevens/Stefano regime.

In 1994, Ben Brady wrote:
Long ago I started out as a New York attorney specializing in theatrical law. It was my destiny, after ten years of practice, to transfer my entire attention to the artistic rather than the legal aspects of my clients’ affairs. I spent the next 25 years as a writer, director, producer, and finally, in Hollywood, vice-president in charge of programming at ABC. Along the way, I founded and was president of the Television Producers Guild.
The programs that I produced were among the leading shows of their time. Perhaps you remember some of them:  Perry Mason, Have Gun, Will Travel, The Red Skelton Show, The Johnny Carson Show, Rawhide, and Outer Limits.
All chips cashed, Brady remained proud of “his version” of The Outer Limits.  He kept leatherbound hardcover copies of all the scripts in his office.
There are few legitimate industries that play for higher stakes than this business of broadcasting, and the mood swings that accompany the business are equally high. So periodically you think to yourself:  “I gotta get away from this … I gotta take a clean breath … I gotta …”
Well, I did. About 20 years ago I was approached by James Cleary, president of California State University, Northridge. He asked me if I would introduce a screenwriting emphasis at the university. Flattered, I accepted a full professorship and put my television career on hold. I would return to it, I thought, after a year or two at the most.
It didn’t work out that way.
Brady’s television curriculum grew exponentially, and he kept at it through tenure and retirement, authoring two quite good books along the way: The Understructure of Writing for Film and Television (with Lance Lee; University of Texas Press, 1988) and Principals of Adaptation for Film and Television (U of T Press, 1994), from which the above excerpts are drawn.  The latter book also contains Brady’s complete screenplay for his adaptation of the 1959 Ida Alexa Ross Wylie novel, Claire Serrat — in case you like to investigate Brady’s writing chops, which may surprise you. 

After heading the screenwriting department at Northridge for 18 years, Ben Brady died in 2003 at age 94.


DVD NOTE

The DVD issue of The Outer Limits (basically the same crappy DVD-18s, triple-dipped through three packaging incarnations) redresses a longstanding omission in the history of the series.

One triumph of the S2 set is the presentation, for the first time since broadcast, of "The Inheritors" in its complete two-part form.  When mastered for VHS release, both episodes were edited together to form what was promoted as The Outer Limits' "only feature-length episode," losing the end credits and Control Voice epilogue from Part One, the opening credits and Control Voice prologue to Part Two, and 1 minute, 47 seconds of interstitial footage from the story itself. These have all been restored and the episodes are presented separately, albeit infuriatingly — because they are on two different sides of the same disc!  Given the unwieldy mathematics of distributing 17 shows over six disc sides, both parts of "The Inheritors" could easily have been installed on Side B of Disc 2, where they would share space with one additional show ("Keeper of the Purple Twilight"), instead of packing Part One onto Side A of the same disc, alongside three other episodes. Only the Region 2 iteration of the set provides both parts of “The Inheritors” on the same side of the same disc so they may be viewed sequentially.

26 comments:

  1. Thanks, David, for a rather generous look at S2 (or S1.5 as you indicate). Slightly revisionist perhaps, but what the hey--that's exactly what this is all about; a fresh assessment of a block of shows that suffers by comparison more so than any sophomore season in TV history.

    I promise to look at tumbleweeds with newly opened eyes. Behold Eck? Hell, I'll take the bastard to lunch.

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  2. Thanks, Dave....

    I needed that.

    LR

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  3. Thanks for setting up the game board for the overly maligned Season Two, Dave. Fans tend to heap scorn on its more homogenized look and standardized commercial approach, while declining to examine the mini-season for diamonds-in-the-rough, of which there are ample nuggets strewn amidst the scree.

    It's natural for viewers intoxicated with the heady brew of the first season's relative Camelot of creative forces to feel betrayed by the network's new regime for the show. It's easy to view the change of reins as a case of the dreamers and visionaries being supplanted by journeymen and pedagogues: We had grown accustomed to such experimental richness of both form and content.

    But to dismiss the entire season as a disposable Cracker Jack prize with only the crunchy sweetness of the two Ellisons to support it is to ignore more than a few solid sf moments that earn their keep on their own.

    We learned the wisdom and fairness of shouting out the admirable points in even the worst episodes Season One had to offer. It's wise, I think, to apply that courtesy to Season Two rather than approach it like spoiled, jaded children.

    What do we have to be spoiled about? We were graced with one fabulous season of one landmark sf anthology series. How many others have we even seen attempted?

    And if we look honestly enough, shucking those one-of-a-kind, serendipitous First-Season lenses, we might see, at the very least, some decent, if more prosaically mounted, sf storytelling in TOL's last stand; an idea or two, a bear here and there, a performance or three---to throw a blanket of dismissal over most of Season Two is to side with the mainstreamers.

    And we all know what they believe: that science fiction has no value beyond "spacey" entertainment. And the only way that can be obtained is via cartoony aliens in "living" color zapping their way across anything-goes, kaleidoscopic CGI starscapes.

    You know...films with all the cerebral/emotional nutritional substance of a candy-coated pinwheel.

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  4. Well done! A nicely balanced and thorough introduction to a season that deserves some appreciation despite the letdown some may feel. For the most part, the gothic-science environment that made season 1 stick so firmly to your imagination is gone, along with the creative camera setups and triple entendre scripts, but to my mind, I think season 2 actually is a little more (just a LITTLE, not a lot) respectful to the "science" in the science fiction. Stefano was openly disdainful of the SF side of things, and we forgive him that because he was on the track of something very innovative and unusual. Stevens disappointed me a little, because he was the acknowledged science fiction fan of the partnership, yet his scripts barely rose above the uninformed "reverse the polarity," "it's going above the red line" level. Season two has a more "science fiction" feel to it, and some of the situations and scientists portrayed are much more credible (again, not ALL).

    If nothing else, remember that it's still Outer Limits--at that particular time, the only real other option was Irwin Allen. I'll take the sand sharks and the Megasoid any day over The Dr. Smith and the Robot Comedy Hour!

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  5. As a kid watching the show, I never differentiated between the two seasons - it was "The Outer Limits;" it was science fiction and horror on television - and I loved it all.

    Only later, after film school, life experiences, and peeking behind the curtains of the business, did the discrimination set in.

    I will try to screen these episodes with a newfound degree of innocence, and dismiss the cynical attitude that life is too short to spend seventeen hours on these. I will try.

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  6. David Schow left out in his second season assessment "Demon With A Glass Hand", widely considered the best episode of all Outer Limits, both seasons. I also prefer Harry Lubin's score to Dominic Frontiere's. It's forceful, dynamic, creepy and the closing theme is particularly haunting.

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  7. David mentioned "Demon" first in his quick-sketch breakdown ("the smart dynamism of the Harlan Ellison entries").

    I think Lubin's work is/was great for ONE STEP BEYOND, but often seems out of place here.

    Thinking out loud, it's kinda fun to "what if" S2. Like say for music, what if Brady had had the budget to bring Fred Steiner or Bernard Herrmann over from CBS? The colors would be different from Frontiere for sure, but dynamic in their own right. Steiner wrote some powerful and chilling stuff for TZ (like "King Nine Will Not Return").

    Then there's the tag team of Goldsmith and Stevens from that old THRILLER show. Would have been interesting.

    And what if Peach had had more time per episode for some of the care and feeding of more inspired setups, a la his S1 work (not to mention more time for creative creative lighting)?

    Just sayin'.

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  8. Thank you for that, I can never get enough OL.

    As for the second season being more SF, I think the first season had episodes such as 'The Sixth Finger', 'The Man Who was Never Born' and others, that show the influence of SF (Olaf Stapledon, Bradbury, ect), without being based on actual stories. It's the kind of back and forth dialogue on the ideas and themes that goes on between writers in the genre all the time. The most important document for the unleasing of the sophisticated SF concepts unleashed by the writers was Stefano's writers guide, "The Cannons". A brilliantly articulated, highly elegant and literate guide for writers that is full of the Stefano ambition to high art in substance and style. I, personally, think that the first season is more science fictional, especially the first half or two thirds. The last third seems Stefano self-expression.

    There is a bias in the SF reference books, partly due to the cult of Ellison and partly because SF is a relatively specialised field in which outsiders usually produce "sci-fi" (Glen Larson, Irwin Allan, Gene Roddenberry, ect, ect). TOL is one of the few
    exceptions, along with a small strand of films.

    Djs, coming after the fight for 'The Unknown', do you think that ABC's decision to move the time-slot was a deliberate attempt to kill the show? It doesn't seem, to me, like they wanted to kill it - but used it to pay-off Brady's contract time. If they had wanted it to succeed - I don't think they would have reduced the budgets for the second season.

    It may have had a better chance at NBC...ABC was always the most clueless, even killing off the imported 'The Avengers' by starting to make the creative decisions.

    I've wondered whether it would have been able to jump ship to NBC, had it been offered to them. They did allow for the 2nd pilot of 'Star Trek' and it's renewal, which seems to have had very little to do with the letter writing campaign that went on. Mind you, they were intent upon on being the first "All Colour" network.

    Does anyone know what it's ratings were in comparison to 'The Twilight Zone' and 'Star Trek'?

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  9. After a 30-hour romp in the playground of Stefano's raw psyche and Stevens's boundless enthusiasm for all creation, getting tossed into the windowless cubicle of a bean-counter's bean-counter feels downright sadistic. But Brady -- as much a soul-barer as anybody else who takes up a creative trade -- faced the same enemy as his first-season counterparts, and in a few cases his regime exceeded the challenge of ABC's budget-smothering foolishness with similar aplomb.

    And Hollywoodaholic makes an excellent point -- as a kid I dug it all, and I'll even confess that Lubin's unsubtle theme and cues were way grabbier to me then than Frontiere's. The images that lodged in my head from that time, though, are all from season one, from the shuffling Helosian to the shifty Empyrian to Bruce Dern's agony and terror. I'm weird that way. Even the pushy tumbleweeds and Efferdent toads and slow-steamed Shat in season two didn't stick with me long.

    But I'm middle-aged now, and game for surprises wherever and whenever I can find them. So --

    Deep breath...

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  10. That's the way I've always felt, Mark, as most of us probably have. The poignant memories are generally from the first year. There's no comparing the two seasons, so it's pointless horse-whipping to try. But after the ensuing decades, which have given us so much trash in expensive packaging, I'm willing to be a bit more generous than I used to be about TOL Season Two.

    I'm not saying we're going to re-evaluate and raise the pedestrian into classic status---ain't no Zantis crawlin' in THAT woodwork. But I have a feeling we'll find a scary or moving scene here and there, an admirable acting turn (well...maybe not by Skip Homeier), that might evoke some of the nostalgic warmth that was all over the blog while we were extolling Season One.

    The second season is OUTER LIMITS with an uninspired, unflattering cosmetic makeover, in many ways, but still OUTER LIMITS; still aspiring, as best it could, to court our imaginations. (Though lusting after ratings victories, "by which sin the angels fell")

    And still surpassing most other sf TV we've seen, which won't amount to (and here I go, paraphrasing Skip Homeier) "the faintest echo of the tiniest whisper in the thunder of time."

    Let's see what expanding humans we can manage to be...

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  11. Thanks for the call to tolerance and reappraisal, DJS - seems, at the very least, prudent.

    I await S2 with bated breath (it just happens to look exactly like a burgeoning yawn).

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  12. I, for one, just simply can...not...wait!

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  13. Pete — you're Shatnering again, aren't you. Deep breaths. Calm. Zen. OMMMMMMMMMM ....

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  14. Was it Joe Stefano or Rod Serling who said "I have seen the future of science fiction and his name is Bill Shatner"?

    Ok, ok, I admit, I couldn't wait and snuck a peak at Cold Meatloaf, Warm Meatloaf. The man does not disappoint, I'll say that.

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  15. It would have been interesting to see how season two would have fared by it's own standards, if the threat of imminent cancellation wasn't rearing it's head and we had 32 episodes to view here too. I'm not against the idea of adapting written sci-fi into TOL; perhaps the biggest problem with that is just that many written sci-fi works demand a high budget to realize their potential. For me too, as a kid, I liked season 2 almost as much as 1. Harry Lubin's music is very memorable too, especially the end theme song, some of the Demon/Duplicate Man and Inheritors pieces. I guess what I miss most in season 2 is the way Joe Stefano's voice could be heard in the depth and neurosis of the characters. At very least, the huge differences in seasons makes one fresh to go back to the other. This should be fun!!

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  16. In my darker moments I like to imagine the S2 was actually S1, the series got renewed by the skin of its teeth ... and then Joe Stefano took over for S2.

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  17. I'LL SEE YER COLD MEATLOAF AND RAISE YE ...

    Pete has generously and irrevocably raised the specter of parody titles.

    God, did we ever have them, from the very first:

    THE HUNDRED DAZE THAT DRAG ON
    THE HUMAN FUCKED HER
    COLD GLANDS WARM FART
    DEMON WITH A BRASS GLAND
    DEMON WITH A CRYSTAL PISTOL
    THE INVISI-BALLS
    THE ZANTI FUCKWITS
    THE INVIZ-EYEBALLS
    O.B.I.T.E.

    and ...

    THE PRODUCTION AND DECAY OF OUTER LIMITS EPISODES WITH OVERLONG PSEUDOSCIENTIFIC VERBOSE TITLES THAT BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES THANKS TO THEIR STRANGE PRODUCER WHICH DEGENERATED BETWEEN COMMERCIALS INTO MEANINGLESS PARTICLES.

    Warning: Too many research hours may have adverse effects on your sanity.

    (Apologies to all. Long week. Spiritually crushing. Forgive a cheap laugh.)

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  18. Hey, no shots at Skip Homeier, guys! He's a marvelous, unique actor and I *love* "Expanding Human", which my sister and I simply referred to as "Roy and Peter".

    Some fun performances in Season 2, also! I'm looking at the series from a general TV aficionado POV, I guess, rather than strictly Science Fiction. You guys are pretty tough on things, sometimes. As someone who worked the "suit" side of TV but had my heart in the "fan" category, I've always said that we are lucky to get anything but complete crap on TV -- it's not there to enlighten or induce wonderment, (ad-supported) TV's supposed to sell toilet paper and toothpaste, THE END. TOL came out pretty well, considering what it was up against.

    What I really find depressing is that out of the vast audience available on the internet, we've only managed to find maybe a couple dozen who care enough about TOL to come here and comment! And you guys mostly know each other from the good old days! Maybe it does just boil down to a bunch of fans in a basement watching old episodes, maybe a couple of pods of them here and there, but we're in this together, folks, at least.

    Great website and I can't wait for the snark about to be heaped upon Season 2! :-) I will have to defend my favorites vigorously!

    Wonderful job, everybody! xoxoxoxo

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  19. OK, Lisa, as I've already pledged to view Season Two, this time around, as more of an ally in the hostile territory of TV Wasteland, I'll even try to give Skip less lip!

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  20. May I also say that the most ignominious bit of info is that TOL was replaced on the ABC schedule by "The King Family"! Yikes! What a 180 degree shift for the network -- going from a young adult demo to grandma and grandpa, in one swift move...

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  21. @Lisa

    I am one of the lurkers here. I had posted a bit to this blog early on, but once I realized the caliber of the commenters here, I was overcome with self-doubt about my classic TV and overall grammatical chops...a sort of dysfunction that modern medicine doesn't have a pill for. C'mon! I'm an IT guy! What the Hell do I know about writing?!?

    I do believe that I will be attempting to comment a bit more as this blog guides us into the generally more lowbrow Season Two. My lack of critical skills will likely be more acceptable now. I can say things like "Did you see the strings on the Venusian puppet?!" or "Did you guys check out Geraldine Brooks in that hot little one-piece!?" with total confidence.

    And I DO watch the Outer Limits in my basement...On a 50" big screen streamed through my home theater from my two terabytes of networked storage via my Gigabit Ethernet wired house!

    IT guy FTW!!!

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  22. By the way, pages 168 - 182 of my "Outer Limits Companion" (GNP/Crescendo First Edition!) have now completely separated from the rest of the book, forming a "Mice/Zzzzz/Don't Open Till Doomsday" TOL-pamphlet of sorts.

    CURSE THIS BLOG!!!!! How am I gonna get $900 for this thing on Ebay now!?!

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  23. My first good look at S2 was when the first DVD set was released; up 'til then, my memories of Year 2 were pretty dim & dour, excepting for "Demon", "Wolf 359" and "The Inheritors". Getting a good look at the entire season, one finds that overall, it's a pretty solid season of straight Science Fiction. Year 1 is anything BUT straight sci-fi (for the most part, excepting MOONSTONE and SPECIMEN:UNKNOWN) - it's a strange almagamation of sci-fi, gothic horror, noir, character study and psychology that shouldn't have worked as well as it did - but it left a strong impression.

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  24. Gerd Oswald signed 4 episodes of PERRY MASON, not 30. Are there episodes that he directed without credit?

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  25. @Lisa
    There are probably a few reasons you don't find a lot of different folks commenting here. Just off the top of my head (from which many things slip now that there's no hair to for them to latch on to)...
    1) Demographics: Many of us who were youngsters when we witnessed the initial broadcasts, are getting along in years and responsibilities. We probably spend more time rewatching episodes in our boxed sets than we do surfing the web for discussion groups.
    2) Other outlets: IMDB has quite a few audience contributions that include reviews of the entire series, reviews of individual episodes (full disclosure, my lone review in the whole IMDB is on The Bellero Shield) and numerous discussion threads.

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  26. As a long timer fan of the OL, who grew up with the series, I really enjoyed reading this. I just happened to be passing by, for no particular reason and saw this post; many thanks. The OL was one of the most radical and interesting examples of TV at its best that I have or will ever see in my life time. The Outer Limits was, as was the music of its time, light years ahead of anything in today's current sorry state of affairs. I tried to watch the new "Godzilla" movie last week; God it was AWFUL.

    Von Ehman

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Apologies for having to switch to moderated comments. This joker (https://www.blogger.com/profile/07287821785570247118) has been spamming our site for weeks, and we're hoping this will finally get him/her/it to crawl back into the hole from whence it came. Sadly the site isn't smart enough to detect that every single comment they make is spam. We'll be sure to review and post legitimate comments quickly. As for you, "Blogger" (trust me, we've got far more imaginative and appropriate names for you) on behalf of all of us at WACT, don't let the door hit you on the way out!