Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Feasibility Study

Production Order #09
Broadcast Order #29
Original Airdate: 4/13/64
Starring Sam Wanamaker, Phyllis Love, Joyce Van Patten.
Written by Joseph Stefano.
Directed by Byron Haskin. 

A small neighborhood is literally carved out of the Earth and its inhabitants whisked away into space to be studied by the rock-like Luminoids. Their intention is to determine if they can use the earthlings as slave labor. They will quickly find out if they've underestimated the human spirit.

JS: It all begins with an interstellar badminton match between  Earth and planet Luminos...

So they budget for one too many Ichthyosaur and this is what we've come to? Prop shopping at the sporting goods store? That small element aside, what begins as a promising, terrifying episode dips fairly low in the middle (in part due to the less than stellar Luminoid transition make-up and a dissertation on marriage the likes of which we haven't seen since Thriller's "Child's Play"), only to partially redeem itself in the end.

PE: Until you pointed it out to me, I didn't realize it was a shuttlecock. I was thinking "What a fabulous, unique design for an orbital craft," and you have to ruin it with your negativity. No wonder our readers like me more than you. (You honestly think our readers like you more than I like you? -JS)

JS: When we first get a glimpse of the Luminoids, they are truly frightening, emerging from the fog. Unfortunately those in the early stages of rock formation do not fare as well. The prosthetic appliances on the teen Luminoid and infected humans are not nearly as convincing as the full body costumes.

PE: Indeed! I thought that initial scene of the three Luminoids appearing was ghoulish fun until I heard that garish, blaring "Dun-dun-dun" right out of a bad Universal-International flick from the 50s. Ordinarily, I fall in with the Frontiere clubhouse, but not in this particular scene. Still, I guess it's better than "Slip-Bam-Shlomp."

JS: There are a couple of groaners in the husband/wife discussions, and I could have done without the girl in the test tube. But for me, when Simon finds himself before the rock lord tribunal, and the head honcho starts preaching to him, it really starts to drag. To me, the voice didn't work with the look of the Luminoids. At the very least, I would have preferred they not even try to articulate the mouth, as in the brightly lit shots the masks just don't work. Perhaps they could have spoken telepathically, Beneath the Planet of the Apes mutant-style.

PE: Well, there you go again. Are you going to tell me you couldn't find the depth and meaning in the line: "It's a dead end world with walled-in curtains that don't even get dirty"? Or how about when Simon (Wanamaker) is begging Andrea (Love) to stay. He nearly gets down to his knees: "I just don't want you wandering around the world worrying about everybody else. Not when I need you here. Always at home." That's true love. My personal favorite scene here is when the head Luminoid (I've always wanted to say that) basically tells the rules of the game to Wanamaker: "Well, we're gonna see if this thing works. If you happen to catch Luminitis, we're not gonna kidnap the other three billion of you."

JS: They must have cut the line that followed: "Oops—I probably shouldn't have said that..." Once we're past that, the sequence in the church is particularly effective. It's incredibly dark—a striking contrast to the brightly lit church scenes you normally see on TV and in movies. It leads to a very powerful conclusion in which the humans band together, essentially sacrificing themselves to save the human race.

PE: Talk about two shows in one. This climax almost saves the show for me. Like the graphic killing of the presidential candidate in "One Hundred Days of the Dragon," you just didn't see a lot of downbeat TV in the early 1960s except, it seems, right here.

JS: The quality of this episode leaves a lot to be desired. I equated the problems to a poor transfer, but quickly determined the interior shots were acceptable, while the majority of the outdoor shots, particularly in the fog, appear to have been shot through cheese-cloth.

PE: The interior "marriage problem" shots come off like Philco Television Playhouse, so unlike the rest of the show (in fact, unlike any of the other episodes thus far). The crappy dialogue didn't help.


David J. Schow on "A Feasibility Study":

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

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  1. Someone must have had a tennis match on the afternoon of the production design meetings! Aside from that...

    I love the opening, 25 years before the Borg and on a tight budget, it's simply terrific and combine that with music, Vic Perrin's rendition of a magnificent imperious opening narration, someone should have got the guy to do those LPs with readings of famous SF stories. I could listen to the guy reading the phone directory.

    The opening quarter of the episode has a bravura scene of the car going into fog - recalling that fog-laden British horror film starring Christopher Lee, can't remember it's title but is was scripted by George Baxt, and is the equal of most chillers of the era, the promise of something delicious unfortunately just ebbs away and the whole thing becomes deary and dull.
    The script's preachy and heavy-handed, the direction loses inspiration just as the script turns, and the performances are generally rather mundane. Even the background music to illustrate the fog-enshroud environment has a tinny, hollow, echoy ambiance, as if a silent room was being heard through a tube.

    The best thing about the show is the photography, which achieves the listless, parched look required for the show outside and a dark texture inside the church - without ever being attractive enough to enjoy.

    By the way, did anyone else think "Borg" at the beginning?

    1 screaming zanti.

  2. Despite it's flaws, 'Feasibility Study' still hits all the right chords. Cool plot, creepy monsters, and outdoor shots that gave the whole thing a 'Night of the Living Dead,' atmosphere. It was also a nice touch to see mankind make the heroic choice at the end, instead of resorting to infighting or cannibalism in the church.

    Sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree with the experts here. 4 zantis for this great episode, which along with 'Architects of Fear,' ranks as one of the most horrific stories so far.

  3. I've always really like this episode. Sure, lots of speechifying, but maybe because I'm female I never found Andrea's discussions with her husband to be overdone, particularly. He was obviously an accomplished doc and she was an educated gal who wanted more than to be just a pampered wife. Seems like old stuff now but back then I doubt you'd be hearing much dialogue like that on most TV shows. (Though we know that network dramas then were often much more philosphical than they are now).

    Wanamaker was a smart actor who portrayed serious really well. Phyllis Love is earnest and sympathetic. Joyce Van Patten plays a great housewife, the practical kind. David Opatoshu's Ralph is decent, whimsical, perceptive, reaching out to the doctor to discuss his woes in a way that predates more modern male communication styles. This really is a show on the edge of female liberation, with Ralph's relating of his father's amusing aphorism "Marry a dumb girl, or marry a smart one, but never marry an intelligent one!" These guys know that things are changing -- Ralph's wife can fix cars, and Doc's wife wants to travel the world as a journalist. I like the male/female interaction here. Maybe it doesn't necessarily fit in a science fiction show, but it's authentic. The Doctor doesn't know what kind of a different creature his wife is turning into -- even before she starts turning into a Luminoid.

    I love the Luminoids; they're creepy, and it's not so much what we're seeing before us but rather the implications inherent in their transformation into solid rock that makes them so scary. The teen Luminoid's voice is unsettling and very disturbing, but the doc is brave enough to try to help the lost kid, even after it recites the list of human inadequacies to him.

    I love that these characters (with the possible exception of JVP as Rhea who is a little on the hysterical side, but mostly because she saw her husband wounded and zapped away) act with an intense curiosity and bravery, and I don't begrudge Sam Wanamaker his desperate entrapped scream at all.

    I just have always loved this one -- the ordinariness of a suburban block ripped from its neighborhood, the attempts of the inhabitants to understand where they are, the similar attempts of the Luminoids to make their experiment work (to try to stop Andrea's contamination at least). The snotty and almost droll superiority of the Luminoid leader as he patiently explains what's up to the's like Noel Coward is underneath that gross bubbly derma. "Mad Dogs and Humanoids go out in the Luminos sun..." indeed!

    "What can we do, Simon?" the wife wants to know, she wants to help, fix, fight, resist. Ah, NOW he gets it, and that is a good moment between them. TOL wasn't afraid to show mature male/female relationships, definitely a sexy vibe often going through the show -- I like that a lot.

    Andrea's horrible moment of seeing she is infected is like someone getting a cancer diagnosis -- terrifying. And then the poor Ralph searching for his wife, calling out her name -- so sad.

    I love those goons who close the door and stand there -- nobody's gettin' in, capiche?

    And what can you say about that ending except that it's sublime and stunning, completely moving and effective in every way? So mature, so perfect, except I think Mrs. Cashman should have taken Ralph's hand. This scene with the lovely musical theme always brings tears to my eyes, every time.

    This is an episode with a great moral and an important and timely message about doing what's right for humanity. I don't think it could any more appropriate or entertaining.

    This is at least a three Zanti episode for me!

    1. Lisa--Thank you for the splendid defense and analysis of this episode (OL's "Feasibility..."). Hope you've provided aditional commentary for other tales. I thought our experts here were quite harsh, and missed out on appreciating perhaps the OL's most astounding story...

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Lisa your so right. It is cream of the crop. What happy memories I had I had as child. I can remember how old I was when I first saw this I was seven years old and where I was for the last four times up to nine when I saw four times. What hot as summer repeats of 1969 1970 . I remember seeing it when the boy went in garage and you only saw the shadow and the slow distorded voice . "Get out" " ill go away if you will" I thought what can it be? And alien so ugly or distored drunk. Thats what I thought. Its was frightning. And fog and neighbor hood glare all round made you feel there not on earth. That rain day look. Great stuff and when Simon after hour with him we experience the hell he sees off six blocks. Nothen like it. What happy times I had with mom watchen this show. I miss her and the good days. Great show.

  4. This episode was ok; I laughed all through it. Another annoying Wife huh. Well at least she got infected and will soon turn into a rock. But I hated the ending with everyone in the neighborhood agreeing to become infected rather than accept slavery. I don't care if they did do it to save the world; I didn't believe the scene at all. In real life at least half of them would have run screaming out away from infection and yelling "show us the way to the slave barracks".

  5. Okay, I finally get it. You guys are doing Mystery Science Theater - The Outer Limits edition.

    Call me a wimp, but when I first saw this as a kid, the church scene choked me up. And when I saw it a couple decades later living in L.A. and people in the business had lesions and were dropping around us from AIDs - well, within that metaphorical context - I choked up again. There is a compassion in that last scene for those afflicted that I still find inescapably moving, no matter how preachy it may sound.

    When the series first ran, they naturally issued a set of bubble gum cards called "Monster Cards," which I still have today. The funny thing about the cards is the stories on the back of the 'monster' pictures have absolutely nothing to do with the episode.

    For example, behind the picture of the lump-faced Luminoid on the bubble gum card the story begins ... "An American geologist and his wife meet a man made of stone deep in the depths of a Mexican mountain. The stone man speaks to them and tells them that he is one of a subterranean race that has lived for centuries beneath the Earth's surface ..." and so on.

    Did they think kids like me at the time collecting the cards were just not sophisticated enough to get the actual stories? Even at eight, I remember being insulted by the switch. I just find it interesting they felt the need to invent different stories behind each of the monsters.

    If the bubble gum stories had been the real stories behind each episode, trust me, there would have been a lot more fresh meat for MST3-TOL.

  6. An early 60s TV show ending with mass suicide.

    Well, I think despite heavy-handed elements of the script, there is a whole lot to like here.

    The first half is the strongest for me as it presents some true High Strangeness in the form of a quietly still and surreal suburbia with swirling sky and wonderful aural atmosphere, culminating in the uber-creepy incident with the "teenager" next door. Again, the show is able to communicate something utterly "alien" at a time when most TV scifi on felt pretty safe. A strong element of mystery sustains the first half, and it would have been interesting had this been feature length, perhaps then foregoing the explanatory intro, allowing us to find out what's happening as the characters do.

    John, I agree about Ben Wright's VO--I wish it had been distorted like the teen, and that his (or Justman's) CU wasn't so clear, front and center.

    But I was very impressed with the visual richness of this episode, in that respect another OL mini-movie: the neighborhood crater, swirling sky behind church, the eerie drives through the fog, the scary stalking Luminoids and later impressive tableau of same (the proper collective? A blister of Luminoids? A boil of Luminoids?)--all pretty dang ambitious and well-conceived considering. I also--mostly--like the way it was shot; one of my favorite of the non-Halls.

    One minor thing that irks me--those spot on alien race names: Luminoid, Zanti, etc.

    The ending is quite moving, and I am gonna go out on a tree limb with three little human-faced insects crawling up my arm.

    Peter, define "bad Universal-International flick from the 50s".

  7. When I started posting for some reason most of the other comments weren't there. Anyway, nice to see other fans for this episode!

    Lisa, I especially enjoyed your take on this--well said.

  8. Nice work, Lisa -- you made me see this episode in a new way. Keep at it.

    I consider "Feasibility" canonical, despite some dragginess and tortured-over lines like "Marriage has become insignificant in this big, troubled world of ours -- maybe that's why the world's in such big trouble." Glad that's cleared up.

    Stefano's thematic preoccupations really begin to take shape here, ones he'd express more gracefully in episodes to come: The warring impulses to commit to communal endeavors or submit to the stasis of going it alone; the ways in which our dithering between the two leaves us open to hostile exploitation; marriage as a microcosm of that struggle (there's a long essay to be written on the marital dynamics of THE OUTER LIMITS); gloppy, inert aliens with a talent for intellectual bullying; a resolution that's uplifting only insofar as it's tragic.

    "Feasibility" is where the series started to seriously engage the world outside the strictures of traditional sci fi, and experiment with the genre rather than just adhere to it. Notwithstanding the false start of "The Architects of Fear" and the crappy follow-up to this episode, that is, or the fact that ABC could've cared less...

    The murkiness of the outdoor scenes on Luminos seems appropriate to me. Along with that unearthly, plaintive hum on the soundtrack, it compliments the way the episode plops its characters (and us) into a situation that's plainly not right but the horror of which takes a while to manifest. Stefano was a master at this kind of disorienting tension, from PSYCHO to "The Forms of Things Unknown" and beyond.

    I'll stop gushing now. I just love this one, and am happy to see that others do, too.

  9. Wow. Such negativity for this striking, rather daring landmark episode. Granted, the religious angle is a bit heavy-handed and preachy, even by '63 standards. But this is the heartfelt relationship even smart, progressive, intellectual people had with their beliefs back then, entirely different than the way most of us feel in the enlightened, Godless (and so much happier!) 21st Century. Mind you, I'm not making social judgments here, just trying to explain the mindset back then. As for "Feasibility" advocating male chauvinism, quite the opposite is true: Phyllis Love's character is a feminist ahead of time, and Wanamaker comes to understand the rightness of her position and the great wrong of his when the teleplay forges a parallel to what the Lumanoids are doing ("It's slavery," she tells him of his need to keep her "at home," and then Stefano brilliantly underscores this with a follow-up line, read even more soberly: "It's a kind of slavery." Yes, and this excellent episode acknowledges that fact. Wanamaker's character achieves his arc, and this enables him to make his anti-slavery case in the inspiring conclusion. From a technical standpoint, "A Feasibility Study" is a tour de force of sets, makeup, and expensive production values. Wanamaker's visit to the Lumanoids is an amazing, standout sequence, beginning with the evocative image of the heroine being sterilized in the shimmering tube as one of the deformed Lumanoid "youngsters" looks on, clinging to a rock. Finally, the beautifully staged and acted finale speaks for itself, making memorable use of that irresistible love theme Frontiere composed for "Human Factor." Yes, "Feasibility" has some flaws (It takes five minutes to drive into that "cloud" initially, and only a few seconds to run into it when the plot requires it a little later on); but this and other similar shortcomings are minor. "A Feasibility Study" is without question one of the OL classics, Stefano's first script for the series (I believe), and a impressive piece of work, both visually and dramatically. So there!

  10. That's about 8-3 thoughtful ... Humanoids giving this episode higher praise (and some beautiful comments, Lisa). I mean, come on, if John and Peter grade this below average, what's going to happen when they get to "Behold Eck!" I think the scale needs adjusting.

  11. Peter gave 'Controlled Experiment' a higher zanti rating then this masterwork. He's obviously been driven mad by martian technology and must be stopped at any cost!

  12. Glad I wasn't the only one loving this! Pass the kleenex, will ya, guys?

    As Mark said, an essay on marriage and male/female portrayals in TOL would be fascinating. Of couse there were other progressive dramas with similarly interesting things to say about the changing dynamic between the sexes of that time, but within the open parameters of science fiction as opposed to doctor, lawyer or police shows, TOL did a good job of portraying that issue. I'm sure I'll continue to comment on that aspect, since I seem to be the only lady here now -- c'mon fan girls, where are you all?

    And I warn you in advance -- if you guys are mean to Peter Lind Hayes when Eck rolls around, them's fightin' words! :-)

    I gave this site a shout-out on my TV blog and on Facebook -- I know there are lots of TOL fans out there who might not know about this yet. They will love it, as we all are!

    Thanks, Peter and John and everybody!

  13. Wait a minute, guys..... we went through this same thing a few months back with Karloff heads. Save your breath.


  14. PART 1

    LISA--- your contributions to this blog are greatly appreciated! Your comments on "Feasibility" are excellent, worthy of "Spotlight On..." status. And, as often is the case, Gary Gerani's comments summarize my own thoughts AT LEAST as well as I could have done myself.

    "Feasibility Study" IS an extraordinary show, certainly by the standards of its time. Clearly conceived with a big budget in mind, it obviously needed a bunch of technical shortcuts when actually filmed. Haskin, being a resourceful effects guy himself, did the best he could in bringing this grand, EXPANSIVE emotional saga to the small screen (though I admit things get off to a pretty rough start with the celestial salt-shaker....or badminton birdie...whatever).

    Absolutely --- as Gary points out, Simon undergoes a MAJOR change in his "chauvinistic" attitude; that's why his wife makes the "slavery" comment to begin with, which resonates so deeply within him when he fully understands the intentions of the Luminoids.
    (CALL ME CRAZY -- but this element in the script reminds me of the major emotional switcheroo that Howard Keel undergoes in "7 Brides for 7 Brothers" (1954), a film that is ridiculed as hopelessly chauvinist by folks who never bother to stick around to see macho Howard's profoundly moving conversion near the end). True, I wince now and again at some of Stefano's "meaningful" dialogue but, again, this was pretty much the language of the times.

    I really dig that weird bird-like chattering sound that jams all of the phone lines, which then reappears in a massive, mocking chorus of
    nattering in the Luminoid compound, the overall design of which is the visual highlight of this episode (along with the ominous swirling sky behind the church steeple and the stylized stained-glass window in the darkened church at the end.) The "sterilization tube" scene is excellently wasn't even necessary for advancing the plot, and yet there it is, an oddly magical and yet unsettling introduction to the central "trial" scene.

    I've never been bothered in the least by Ben Wright's voice or the appearance of the Luminoid face (hey, DJS---how's about posting a pic of your original Luminoid mask here?).
    The design of the massive audience of Luminoids---with a few live costumed actors in front of rows of undulating miniature Luminoid cutouts, makes me giddy every time I watch this scene. It's so well done, so imaginatively such a minmialistic way. Top it all off with the head Luminoid's grandiloquent monologue, laced with his over-ripe imagery about "soaring nuclear birds", etc..and you have a surrealistic scene that makes my head spin!

  15. PART 2 -

    I like Joyce van Patten and David Opatohsu (another of my favorite distinctive character actors from this era) very much in this show; too bad they didn't have bigger roles. Phyillis Love was such a sweetheart, so child-like and innocent (check out her major role in 1956's "Friendly Persuasion", where she is romanced by another future OL stalwart, Mark Richman), and yet she's ultimately a pillar of moral strength. Her discovery of the first-stage of Luminoid infection is probably the show's most disturbing moment.

    Having said that, I REALLY wish Haskin and co. had worked out a better design for the luminous blobs that indicate the presence of the disease; I realize that teenage acne was a big thing back then..but, my goodness...the brief shot of the kid is just plain silly. Similarly, when poor, sobbing David Opatoshu enters the church near the end (the most touching moment in the show for me) the lighting of the make-up on his face/head is very effective, but the subsequent shot is embarassingly bad; sorry, it looks like one of those "soaring Luminoid birds" made a direct hit. It's little things like this that tend to pull me right out of the emotion of the moment in this episode.

    Terrific casting of Frank Puglia as the priest, and a very effective and slightly off-the-wall closing Control Voice speech.

    The intentions may have outstripped the realities of actually bringing this episode to the small screen, but "A Feasibility Study" is a noble accomplishment nonetheless

  16. A Modest Proposal:

    Since the progenitor of those notorious OUTER LIMITS bubblegum cards is SITTING RIGHT HERE IN THIS VIRTUAL ROOM, I propose a brief spotlight entry on said cards, so that Gary doesn’t have to keep telling the same goddamned story over and over. Then, if anyone mentions the cards in a future spasm of misty nostalgia, a link back to Gary’s surely definitive entry can be established.

    And it’s worth noting, for other denizens of Planet Gumcard, that Gary kindly roped me into a subsequent OUTER LIMITS card set, and after that, Rittenhouse Archives did their be-all, end-all set (although I don’t know if Gary was involved with that one; I was, and they even struck fresh 35mm prints of the episodes they chose to sample). All iterations can be abundantly viewed on eBay — trading cards account for most of the OUTER LIMITS entries there.

  17. I've been following (and enjoying) this blog from the start, but haven't felt that I had much to add so haven't commented until now. The OL had a profound effect on me when I was a kid during its mid-sixties second run, and I've been trying to understand ever since what it was that so completely captured me and made me (and others like you) care so deeply about it to this day. For me, this episode was one of the answers, and I think part of it involves trying to see (or remember) through eight-or-nine-year-old eyes. I can only second what a lot of others have already written. The ending to this one rocked my nine-year-old foundation, and I've been somewhat askew ever since. Essentially, these protagonists are solving their dilemma by killing themselves, which is almost unheard of outside of docu-dramas about Masada or Jonestown. Yet the way it's presented is so moving that they achieve heroic status. No one on earth will ever know of their sacrifice. They were alone and doomed from the beginning of the episode--you know that, as viewer, but they don't. The entire episode is simply draped with helplessness and fatalism. Yet when they finally come to accept it, they rise to the occasion. This really colored my way of thinking at that impressionable age--a huge impact.
    I do agree that the episode drags in the middle, but the setup is simply great. The weird lighting and smoke are so alien that you can almost smell the atmosphere when Joyce Van Patten first steps out the front door. The scene with the teenager in the shed is pretty creepy, as is Ralph's car sailing out of the hood through the haze and into the new reality (and the dead telephone lines, with their "you're too far from home and you're never going back" message). As a kid I really shared the fear the characters displayed at the end as they started to understand the situation. And finally, I think the finale, when they chain hands, is not only one of the most moving moments in this series but in the history of television, hyperbolic as that may sound. (Well, back to my hole now . . .)

  18. Larry B-

    Of course, when I say "bad U-I" 1950s flick, I say it with love. I'll cite Deadly Mantis and Monster on the Campus as two guilty pleasures. They've got that "dun-dun-dun" vibe going. I really thought that scene needed silence.

    And in keeping with David's request for a post on the OL bubble gum cards, I'll reiterate that the Zanti scale is not perfect. Did I enjoy Controlled Experiment one-half Zanti more than this mess? Well, maybe 3/8 more but then we get into decimals and that's a pain.

    Isn't it great that we can all have our own favorites?

  19. I believe that if Project Unlimited had been told "silver rocks" instead of "black lichen" in pre-production, the Luminoids might have come off more credibly. As-seen, it looks like a last-minute fast-save to appease the censors at the script level — before they got a look at the finished show and decided to pop a clot over the suicide angle. The lichen engulfment as presented in the script and on the storyboards certainly SEEMED pretty disgusting, and best-guess is that Projects developed the lichen approach, and were compelled to do the rocks version as a fallback ... a fallback that required them to suit-up multiple extras, which raised the specter of "Tourist Attraction," again; a potential budget hit for numerous monsters. It's pretty easy to flash back to Projects, at this point: "Say, if we just dump liquid latex over a headform, it's kinda volcanic-looking; we barely have to sculpt anything." Plus, on such a headpiece, there's no such thing as a "mistake." Voila. Glistening, weedy-looking lichens would have been simpler, too, than detailed mask sculpts, so it seems obvious that the lichens were vetoed by Standards and Practices ... probably when they were already in-prep.

    But I never had a problem with the rock-heads. There's this thing, see, called "suspension of disbelief" — somewhat rare these days, kinda like that other thing called "dramatic license." To me a combination of the two suggests that if a storyteller plays fair or offers enough insight, certain production shortcomings can be forgiven or willfully overlooked. Which explains why I can watch DAY THE WORLD ENDED over and over, and never care if I ever see Transformers on a screen again.

    For me, it's worth forgiving the shuttlecock just to savor the wonderful painting of Beverly Hills with a big chunk of real estate gouged out of it.

    I also never had a problem with the speechifying. To me, some of OUTER LIMITS' most glorious moments are concerned with alien discourse.

    Be grateful that PE&JDS did not opt for rating by "number of Zanti legs."

  20. Peter: Yeah, I figured that was the case. I enjoy me my MANTIS and CAMPUS also.

    Certainly a variety of interesting takes on this episode.

  21. I agree with Gary Gerani and a few others who are resisting the sub-par assessments. This is indeed a landmark episode that as much as any other defines the oppressive, clautrophobic, eerie look of the show, and with one of the most imaginative screenplays (and ideas) to boot. Sure the ending could be seen as rather silly, but by then it hardly matters. This may well be among the ten best episodes of the show.

  22. It's been said in better ways than I might add, but count me as a defender of this episode: intellectually sparked by it, moved by it, and creeped out by it in equal measure. Except for the car motor disappearing in a fakey swirl... but even then: trapped in a weird and increasingly dreadful place, and the reliable engine just... goes away. Love the symbolism.

    Yeah, I'm a fan of this one.

  23. OK, a lot of great comments here, quite a division of feeling... For me the overall effect of "A Feasibility Study" is one of touching heroism. The characters are almost painfully real, struggling with day to day problems, and finally able to reach an understanding of themselves and each other. I used to always watch this one on Christmas Eve; the power of the sacrifice at the end is very uplifting. As was said here, the relationships between men and women on OL are so perceptive and intriguing. And don't forget, this is (correct me if I'm wrong) Ted Rypels favourite episode!

  24. I'm glad that our hosts and commentators don't all agree with each episode. Tuning in to the blog would grow stale if everyone agreed all the time.

    Peter and John, it seems like you chaps aren't as talkative on this OL forum as you were on the Thriller site. It would be nice to hear more from you guys.

  25. I hereby nominate PE&JDS to do a "live" commentary, as they did with THRILLER ... but this one's got to be on "Behold Eck!"

    It might only appear that PE&JDS are "doing" less, because there's substantially more content (partially my fault for posting the book pages and thereby cock-blocking the assessments in Pete's notebook). But they'd better strap it on -- because next week is gonna be a killer.

  26. Oh, don't get me wrong, I know those two are a couple of workhorses. The reviews are great and of perfect length. I just meant that I miss the witty banter of extra responses they'd post to the bloggers that they did on Thriller.

  27. Check out the First Methodist Church briefly seen at the close of the show: Haskin used it at a similar point in WAR OF THE WORLDS, and it's still there on the corner of Highland & Franklin in Hollywood —looking exactly the same.

  28. UTW-

    We've been standing back and smiling at all the interaction. The amount of comments on this blog dwarves that of Thriller's. I pop in and respond now and then (and will do so even more soon), but workload is killing me right now. I barely have enough time right now to watch an episode of Outer Limits every night. I have been sneaking in the occasional TATE though. You were right on the money with this one, buddy. What a great show. I've seen Leonard Nimoy as a Commanche, Robert Redford as a gunslinger, and Martin Landau as a crazed mass murdering sheep farmer. Look for a reference in a future OL episode discussion.

    DJS- Our last audio commentary didn't exactly light up the Nielsens. I'll Behold Eck but I won't vocalize him. That boat done sailed.

  29. Peter-

    Glad you were able to squeeze in a few episodes of that lost western gem. Get some rest this weekend. You definitely deserve it. Along with John S., DJS, and all the other expert commentators, this blog has been outstanding. The Thriller one was fun, but you're right, this one has so much more to explore. Keep up the good work!!!!!

  30. Any assignment of Zantis to this powerful episode should include the old bearded one, representative of wisdom (not fustiness).

    Stefano, Haskin and Co. pulled off a brilliant ensemble effort with "Feasibility," a gothic nightmare transplanted to alien shores. And yet another argument for the stark aesthetics of black-and-white photography as an enabler of TOL's somber and disturbing visual palette.

    I'm a sucker for heroic sentimentality, so yes, I'm with those who still get a lump in their throats at the ending. It touchingly plays fatalism informed with stoicism: There's nowhere to run, no court of appeal, the abductees reason. So let's skip through the five steps and cut to the last human thing left to do, dignified acceptance of our legacy to the rest of humanity.

    That's heroism, folks, of the inevitable sort Allen Leighton would embrace. More poignant, in fact, because no one within the context of the story's newly cratered Earth will ever know of or celebrate that sacrifice. They'll be missed. Shaking heads will investigate and cogitate before ultimately shrugging them off. But they'll hardly be remembered for saving the world. (I've often pondered what deeds of actual heroic self-sacrifice have historically gone unrecorded. Such ruminations have inspired a lot of interesting fiction.)

    This is a top-drawer episode, with the sort of complex, disturbing visual quality---an almost tactile sense of surrealism---that lent the show part of its enduring reputation. Stefano's poetic flights of dialogue get a test run here (and will later soar theatrically in BELLERO and FORMS.) When TOL is at the top of its game, TV has still never seen anything like it in terms of style coupled with thoughtful dramatic content.

    Dissect it any way you want, wince or marvel at the individual pieces---it's episodes like this that rendered the show worthy of the sort of lusty commentary we're seeing here.

    Great job so far, Peter and John, in your dedication to managing the blog. There was no question that this show was going to stir the cauldrons of series loyalty and cerebral commentary!

    Amidst all the often brilliant analysis of the episodes so far, I find the most universally embraceable comments to be Gary Gerani's level-headed enjoinder that we view the show within its historical social context; and Dave Schow's sage reminder---worth repeating to each new generation---of the principles of "suspension of disbelief" and "dramatic license."

    To those I would add the tolerance for "unironic sincerity," employed (often enough, fellow B-movie lovers will agree, in those guilty-pleasure '50s genre films we're volleying back and forth) by earnest actors when voicing unconvincing scientific gobbledygook in the interest of advancing the story. Or, perhaps...when pulling simple "FORWARD-BACKWARD" levers that produce complex evolutionary fx.

    O venerable "Sixth Finger," I pray that no one bestows the middle one (two?) on thee...

  31. "There's something in The Mist..."

    As I'm playing catch-up, I just wanted to throw my vote in for Feasibility Study for many of the reasons so eloquently stated above. It plays like a feature and I, for one, can only imagine what Stefano & Haskin would have pulled off with more money and some breathing room.

    Abduction, disease, enslavement, mass suicide...are you kidding me?

  32. Since nowhere else in these 31 comments has anyone attempted to do so, I will answer poor, patient Bobby Josson's question: the film he's talking about was released in its native England as CITY OF THE DEAD and Stateside as HORROR HOTEL. It was indeed written by Baxt (with story credit going to producer Milton Subotsky, marking this as a proto-Amicus effort) and directed by John Llewellyn Moxey. He later helmed two Richard Matheson teleplays: the original NIGHT STALKER and the pilot episode of GHOST STORY, "The New House." Not holding my breath for "A GHOST STORY a Day," but it would be nice if somebody released the series on DVD.

  33. GHOST STORY had a few very good episodes but unfortunately with a Ghost Story a Day blog, you have to take the bad with the good (and that would certainly include CIRCLE OF FEAR (GHOST STORY II essentially) and those gawdawful Reader's Digest condensed versions of The Sixth Sense....waitaminute, the hour long Sixth Sense was gawdawful....maybe they were doing us a favor?

    I use top have a gray market VHS set of Ghost Story and Circle of Fear! I would kill to latch onto a set of Quinn Martin's Tales of the Unexpected but only one episode (of the eight aired) ever saw a home video release (a great rip-off of Cape Fear with a supernatural twist starring Lloyd Bridges). If anybody out there knows where I can find a set of these, please let me know!

  34. Rest assured, I'm not actually championing GHOST STORY, despite the fact that writing the pilot (his sole involvement) earned Matheson a "Developed for Television by" credit on each and every episode...a dubious honor, perhaps. One of my Matheson elves was able to find me a really crappy gray market DVD of the pilot, "The New House," in time to use it as a primary source for RICHARD MATHESON ON SCREEN. Now I see that it's being included as an extra on the MR. SARDONICUS disk in the William Castle Film Collection boxed set but not, alas, on the stand-alone disk. That's a hefty price to pay for one Matheson episode. Correct me if I'm wrong, though: the cannibalized SIXTH SENSE episodes were for the NIGHT GALLERY syndication package, no?

  35. Matthew-

    I believe you are right on that Night Gallery point. My brain scrambled the whole batch of shows together. Curious though: do you have netflix? If so, I wonder if the Matheson pilot on on the disc that gets rented. I rented most of the Castles form that box from Netflix. Do you know which disc it's on?

  36. The only reason I happen to know that about THE SIXTH SENSE is that I was researching NIGHT GALLERY for the Matheson book. I don't have Netflix (nor do I rent at all, for various reasons), but from the reviews I've read, "The New House" is on the MR. SARDONICUS disc.

  37. I'll have to re-rent that one. Not sure I noticed the ep on the Netflix disc. Some of these Netflix discs are "specially made" by the companies for NF and don't have all the features.

  38. Pretty poor, but saved by an uplifting (and actually quite moving) scene in the church where our humans bond together in sacrifice to save the rest of us.
    One thought re the film qualiy of the outdoor scenes - I thought this was deliberate to give a kind of 'damp & gloomy' atmosphere, and I rated it quite highly.
    Overall, two Zantis.

  39. I don't know Seven Brides For Seven Brothers too well, but I know just what Larry Rapchak means. Even SMART people will see a story where a CHARACTER has a particular attitude, and decide right away that the WHOLE STORY has that same attitude. One funny case of that is the "Short People" by Randy Newman controversy (although contrversy might be a strong word for it). The second half of the song contradicts the remarks in the first half, but there were still those little protests about the first half. In other words, people didn't wait for a four minute or so song to end before deciding about it!

  40. 2 Zantis, I'm pretty much in agreement with most of you, its a fair episode, pretty imaginative. Nice shot with the hand springing up, good cast, liked all the fog everywhere to hide the budget. Although if the aliens have the power to teleport 6 square blocks to their planet, you'd think they wouldn't need slaves to do their work. A very optimpistic ending- let's all just get infected and become them. Didn't really buy that.

  41. Back in 4/13/64 A Feasibility Study" is one of touching heroism and still scares the shit out of me.Not because the Luminoids look scary.No the aliens have the power to teleport 6 square blocks to their planet and nobody within fells a thing.Back then and even now,when I see fog up the street,I always hope I'm still on earth.And I'm always releaved that those Luminoids guys failled and are only fiction.Pretty good scare.Still works,what 49 to 50 years later.Sure,the episode does some plot points that are flawed.Why the need slaves,then they can move,but can send badmitten ship to earth and steal city blocks.I guess one Liminoid has working finger to control the ship,by remote control.Notice the town,it's scene about everywhere on tv,from Leave it to Beaver and Bewitched.

  42. Funny how your views change once you find out originally that the planet Lunimus was originally the planet Venus-Lucifer-the morning star.Makes sence the little remote controlled space ship only had to go from Venus to Earth,in some sort of engine with limitted travel capability-manned by,we can assume younger Venushians/Liminoids,who could still operate controls.This was some sort of despirate plan,like the Martians in War of the Worlds.So it makes,us Humans would frack up their plan by becoming them.This story,once you look at is basically the same one as the first Star Trek pilot,otherwise known as the Cage.Differences,one is an abducted neighborhood and the other a abducted star ship captain in the future.Luminoids and Telosians have same problems.A dying race,despirate to keep going-cooks up a plan to survive by enslaving humans.And the Humans,those Terran Bastards,as alway defie the outcome.

  43. Anyone else think that what we first see the Luminoids it was similar to the first appearance of the Cenobites in Hellraiser? Also, Dark City had a slight ring to it. :)

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  45. This ep is a big favorite of mine, despite a few rough edges. Note that there's an apparent vestige of the original script's use of Venus (before that was changed to Luminos). The opening narration says Earth astronomers concluded the planet was inhospitable to humanoid life but that the assessment was wrong. This is consistent, even back in '63, for the actual Venus. But the line is unconvincing with respect to Luminos, which supposedly is somewhere just outside our galaxy, way past earthly astronomy. [A similar problem infests another OL episode, "Wolf 359," wherein astronomers recreate a miniature version of a planet in a nearby star system of that name, a real star, in fact. Today's astronomers might be able to infer the existence of such distant planets, but in the mid '60s that was laughably implausible. No doubt Stefano forgot to re-write the opening or just didn't bother. Anyway, I digress.]

    Despite ABC's attempt to dumb down "Feasibility" by deleting human children from the script (see Schaub review), the producers managed to right the wrong. In the hand-clasping finale, we see a young woman reaching out while HOLDING A BABY. We don't see whether the baby, too, is touched but the implications are quite clear and disturbing, and the very understatement of this image makes it even more chilling. The inclusion makes the episoide less antiseptic than the network apparently wanted. Also, as this is the one and only human child we see in the entire abducted neighborhood, it adds to verisimilitude. Not having see any kids would have been quite unbelievable and contrary to the script's humanist theme. This drama not only considers sacrifice, it considers the horrible collateral damage that arises out of that choice, if only by inference. And still, as the script makes clear, it's the best all-around choice for the most people.

    I agree that it'd be unlikely in the 1960s and even more unlikely now that an entire neighborhood would agree after a few minutes of discussion to condemn themselves to misery (not suicide, something more awful) to save most of humankind, especially when the group hails from a self-centered place like Beverly Hills. But such group choices while rare are not out of the question, e.g., Masada, an example to which this story pays homage, especially when an elderly Jewish couple steps forward to clasp hands.

    Sam Wanamaker and Phyllis Love are especially good in their roles and along with Opatoshu deliver believable, heart-wrenching angst.

    A winner.

  46. I watched it again last night and it held up. The actors didn't impress me all that much aside from David Opatashu, unrecognizable without his beard (to me) and with all those blobs on his face. It went off in several directions, ended inspirationally (or "inspirationally", as the case may be). Sam Wanamaker gave a good performance but I just don't care for him as a type, would have preferred a more "everyman doc". There was an imperiousness to him that made his becoming the leader of the neighborhood somewhat off putting. Otherwise, above average. The mood was well sustained, and the production values were at the level of a Thriller (I mean that as a compliment).

    1. Cant please every one. Dam great episode. The quality is top notch. It beats ER THATS FOR SURE.

  47. Absolutely one of my fave episodes. 2 years now of binge-watching for me, and I come back to this one again and again. Really Ralph? Great atmosphere. The creepy high pitched sounds of the phone lines get me every time. I like the story, the marriages, the pretty scary face masks, all of it. Great ending. Not preachy at all to me. Well done!

  48. I've always liked the appearance of the Jewish couple in the church. Speaking of "not preachy at all," the message of that could have been spelled out in a big way, and instead the story just lets it speak for itself.

  49. This is a good, solid story; perhaps a bit slow-moving in parts, but overall I’d say this in the upper echelon of first season episodes. The beginning scenes on the suburban street are suitably eerie: the misty softening of the landscape and the unsettling effects and music on the soundtrack are just right. Only jarring note at this point is the disappeared/reappeared engine in the doctor’s automobile, which is bizarre and unexplained and doesn’t serve the plot at all.

    The alien rock-masks aren’t bad, though the make-up effect on those who have the early and middle stages of the illness could be better. And while I appreciated the unusual design of the alien ship, I did have to smile at how it looked precisely like a futuristic badminton birdie.

    The ending sequence in the darkened church is effective, though I assume that the stark setting was due to budgetary restrictions rather than a conscious artistic choice. It works dramatically, but basically there is no actual church interior set at all; just a few props highlighted, with everything else left dark. It’s a bit curious; I would have assumed that somewhere on the MGM lot there would be a standing set of a church interior that could be used for whatever television shows, or low-budget films, were currently in production.

    Up to now, the blu-ray image on this new transfer has been stellar. But this was the first episode on the set that displayed noticeable damage. Several sequences displayed a picture quality that was significantly below the standard of the rest of the episode: the image was grainy, scratched, and had a lot of flicker. Almost looked like this part of the show was taken from a 16mm print; I’m assuming there was some problem with the original elements.

    1. Sadly, it much appears that Kino was either willing and/or able to do any more than perhaps re-digitize the original film elements at a higher bit rate for the BD edition. And for audio enthusiasts-particularly huge fans of Frontiere's score like me-this long awaited BD edition was an enormous disappointment. Like the MGM and Fox issued DVDs, the same often frequently overloaded and minimal dynamic range is there in Kino's BD set, seasons 1 & 2.

      Had Frontiere's TV music library (allegedly composed earlier at the request of TV producer Quinn Martin to be used in his forthcoming shows) been more readily available-as those from other composers (e.g. CBS music library), not only might the mixed dialogue/music track sound quality have been much better but, like Twilight Zone, the DVDs and BDs might have included great sounding isolated score tracks. But thanks to ABC execs like Adrian Samish who kept hacking down the show's budget there was little time and money for any such extravagances.

      But along with La La Land's 3 CD set, for those who crave to hear vintage Frontiere sounding way better, I would strongly recommend Shout Factory's Stoney Burke DVD set. Way better dynamics and little if any clipping, loads of Season 1 suites and cues, plus loads of stuff you won't hear anywhere else. Enjoy!

  50. Good idea, it's ambitious, it just isn't executed that well. Doesn't make a lot of sense.


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