Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Invisible Enemy

Production Order #03
Broadcast Order #07
Original Airdate:10/31/64
Starring Adam West, Rudy Solari, Joe Maross
Written by Jerry Sohl
Directed by Byron Haskin 

The colonization of Mars hits yet another snag when the first manned Mars expedition (ostensibly before the attempted colonization of Mars in "Cold Hands, Warm Heart") disappears without a trace. A second rocketship is sent up to investigate.  I think that about sums it up.

PE: There's air on Mars! When did we find that out? Did The Shat know about this when he overshot Mars and ended up with the chills on Venus? These guys really needed to co-ordinate their expeditions. Can't you just see The Shat and The West together on one rocket ship (of course, The Shat's is only big enough for one astronaut)? Right hand and the left hand. Here's the first thing I'd do when I got to Mars. Take a nice walk and say "Screw my oxygen. I'm lifting my helmet!" Yeah, take in that sweet Martian air. Just like back home. Over yonder are the grapefruit trees. Then I'd take off my shoes and wade into that sand sea. Can't be anything wrong with that, right? I thought a nice touch was the screens on the portal windows to keep the mosquitos out.

JS: What do you expect—those spacesuits were from the Major Matt Mason collection. Of course that's just the beginning of the technological advancements on display in this episode! Did you notice how they got that 3.5 minute delay down to zero in an emergency situation?

PE: Meanwhile, back on Earth, in the smoking pyramid that Mission Control calls headquarters...

JS: I think someone grabbed the wrong stock footage B-roll and either no one noticed or bothered to fix it.
PE: Lots of fun in that space ship: Adam West and his magic binoculars that, evidently can see through walls (watch closely), the forced comradery, and the blase attitude five minutes after each guy disappears (witness Buckley and his search for gems).

JS: They play cards for fun, and when they're done, they deal out the computer punch cards just like they were still playing Crazy-8s!

PE: Scoleri broke the news about the shopping lists pinned to the four star Generals a couple posts ago but I'll second the desire for a blu-ray release if for nothing but to see what the hell is actually written on those goofy I.D.s. (On your way home from the pyramid, please pick me up a carton of Virginia Slims. -JS) There's no photo, no highfalutin' logo. Projects Limited was probably out combing Griffith Park for realistic Martian boulders and couldn't attend to the stinkin' batches.

JS: At one point the General describes the M-2 crew as being the finest, and completely dedicated. I wonder if he still felt that way when two of the four crew were dead, and the third missing. Of course, he couldn't be troubled to remember the names of all of the members of the four man crew on a pioneering mission to Mars. Sheesh!

PE: L-OL scene of the show: When Lazzari gets chowed down on and starts screaming blue murder, his three crewmates, all aboard the ship, run towards the little portal window, nearly knocking each over in the process. The blu-ray will clearly show Johnson (Robert DoQui) pulling Buckley's hair out and Merritt (West) narrowly avoiding the eye gouge. And are you going to tell me these nitwits couldn't see this gigantic pincered sand monster from the ship? One scene shows the huge monster rising from the sand toward Lazzari (who's right behind that big chunk of metal) and the next scene we see the big chunk of metal, no monster.

JS: Blink and you'll miss it, but my favorite bit is when the engineer back on Earth is sitting in front of his console reading his book until the big bosses walk in. He scrambles to get his headset on to make it look like he was hard at work.

PE: Ted Knight really needs to use the men's room.

JS: Do you think anyone regrets not bringing a camera on their Martian vacation?

PE: I'm sure I'll be corrected by one of the soundtrack experts here, but isn't that cue used a couple times during "tense" moments lifted from the "Children of the Hydra's Teeth" sequence of Jason and the Argonauts?

JS: You think Bernard Herrmann was moonlighting?

PE: Confession time: through the years I think there's only one episode I've seen more than "The Zanti Misfits" and that's "The Invisible Enemy." Well, hold on before you light those torches and dump tons of sand on my lawn. I would turn this one on every time it aired when I was a kid. I just dug those monsters and the way they appeared and disappeared. My little brain didn't throw up any red flags: "Um, hello, if these morons just stayed away from the sand sea everything would be right as rain." I still have to say that, despite the dopiest dialogue this side of a Matthew McConaughey/Jennifer Lopez flick, the high school level acting, really bad sets (everyone knows Mars is red, not black and white) and, okay, the limited range of the stick pony/sand monster, it's still a fun little show if you like mindless monster movies. And who here doesn't? This is the Season Two equivalent of "Tourist Attraction." It's easy to poke fun at but you have to admit there's still a certain fondness for it tucked away in your nostalgia attic.

JS: I actually think "Tourist Attraction" works better as an overall mini-monster movie, but agree that these Sabretooth Land-Sharks are right up there with the Zanti Misfits as classic OL bears go.

PE: Ted Knight would go on to win two Emmys for the genuine genius that was Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Criminally, Adam West would not be similarly rewarded for his brilliant turn as The Caped Crusader on Batman.



David J. Schow on "The Invisible Enemy":

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

Wah Chang's original pencil and ink sketch of the sand-shark (collection of DJS).
While it's tempting to believe this might be a Sculpy build-up on the original prop, it's not.  Found at Forry Ackerman's.  — DJS

Be sure to check back later today for Matthew R. Bradley's Spotlight on "The Invisible Enemy."

Next Up...


  1. This episode was based on the Jerry Sohl story in the September, 1955 issue of IMAGINATIVE TALES(21 pages and 8,500 words). I loved this magazine when they had the sexy covers painted by McCauley. But this issue was the first to have a standard SF cover without the good girl art. I then realized the magazine was terrible and Sohl's story was no exception but I have to admit it certainly was better than the OUTER LIMIT'S version.

    The magazine version concentrates on the conflict between the commander of the 50 man war ship and the computer expert. Three previous space ships had disappeared with their crews, so a larger ship was sent out along with the computer civilian. The monsters are not revealed until the very end of the story and thus the suspense is handled alot better than the OL version which shows the monster right away. The story ends with all 50 soldiers being gobbled up and the only survivor being the computer whiz. Certainly a better ending than the OL version which is too happy.

    I doubt if Frank Herbert of DUNE fame was influenced by this story because he was writing for ASTOUNDING in the mid-fifties and probably never read a single issue of the lower quality IMAGINATIVE TALES.

  2. Pure, unadulterated science fiction crack candy (for us kids). How could anyone not love this concept? This was easily one of my early childhood favorites. Who paid attention to any of the technical chatter back and forth? Story? Who cares? Logic? So what? The suspense worked. The blood bait on the utility belt was a boss move. The island rock in the sand was the equivalent of don’t stick your feet off the bed or monsters will grab it. And the bears sneaking like sharks through the sand were way cool. But dammit, please decide whether you’re a giant crab or a dragon.

    My son definitely paused while passing through the living room transfixed by the sand dragons. They passed the contemporary cool test. But he did suggest, ‘Wow, if they CGI-ed those today, they would look SO much better.” He also noticed immediately that the sound they make was the same as “The Invisibles,” or the “crab things,” as he called them.

    Adam West and Ted Knight tie for actors who just sound completely insincere the more they try to sound earnest and sincere. At least they both found a way to cash in on that trait. At some point they figured out no one was going to take them seriously, so just let go and go bigger, and go camp. Rudy Solari delivers on his part. And I can never watch Joe Maross without shouting, “The LITTLE people!”

    It’s ironic to read the DJS notes and see how everyone involved with this production hated it so much. They were obviously thinking too much. Sometimes an original, vivid concept is cool enough … for us kids.

  3. A gruesome tale which was the equivalent of a bunch of 1st graders playing 'spaceship,' in their local Park District sandbox. A show comprised of bad acting, cheesy bears, crappy sets, nonsensical scientific theories, and Ted 'How Bout a Fresca?' Knight.

    You know what? I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!
    You aficionados can keep your 'Sixth Finger' and 'The Man Who Was Never Born.' I'll take this rotten egg any day. Pure unadulterated monster mash fun. The fact that this ep. was originally broadcast on Halloween makes it even more charming. At least if Season 2 episodes were going to be made poorly, then at least they should have been done the right way, like this gem.

    Biggest LOL moment was the ending narration. "Victory, of a sort." Victory?! Well, I guess if your idea of a 'win' is sending a crew to Mars, have half of them killed, in a salvage mission 3 years after the two original space pioneers are snuffed out, then have them return with a couple of pieces of ship scraps along with some diamonds, then yeah, sounds like a triumph! Well done, Mr. West. Well done. 3 and a half Zantis.

    Peter E.-

    Sorry to hear about your unpleasant observation regarding Adam West at the convention. He always seemed like he would be a tool-shed in real life.

  4. A much misunderstood episode, I find it ironic that it turned out to be the most prescient of OL shows, studied for years by NASA.

    One of the many hurdles facing NASA was the problem of astronauts "going behind things". Try as they might, in simulation after simulation, they just could not keep astronauts in view--they love to "go behind things". Even when they reached the Moon, Neil Armstrong would tend to forget and wander off behind a rock. It's something innate in their astronaut makeup. Thanks to this show, the directive came down: DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES "GO BEHIND THINGS". UNLESS YOU REALLY HAVE TO GO.

    The other gift from this episode was the addition of gloves to the astronaut's uniform. Early flights were gloveless, resulting in hand injury after hand injury. Thanks to this show, by the time they got to the Moon, Neil Armstrong was wearing gloves--especially handy when he gathered those now famous "Moon Flowers".

    Yeah, this is one you can only watch by shutting your brain off and enjoying a 50s sci-fi B movie, and a dumb one at that. Real dumb. And I agree, the sand shark concept is irresistibly cool to a kid (though, personally I don't think those babies can touch the Zantis).

    So many wonderfully chuckleheaded moments: P and J, not sure if you mentioned the goofy backdrop (with shadow) outside Adam West's handy porthole. The exposition at the beginning--explaining stuff they would all already know (like that radio delay) is hilarious. And I like General Winston's on-the-spot decision making of "I'll review the tapes and get back to you. Maybe if I study those screams..." The crew is the usual crack team of 1950s space idiots, even down to the wacky guy who talks about "dames" all the time. And why DID Johnson wander off--was there even a reason? West has some line deliveries in this that are so wooden it's like someone doing an Adam West impression. Solari is pretty hilarious, grinning even after losing a comrade. When he found that flower I half expected a "Hey, look--it's a fuckin' flower! No shit!". And, UTW, good call on that "victory" at the end--yikes!

    Random cast note: Col. Danvers is played by great veteran western bad guy Chris Alcaide.

  5. B-movie schlock with a cool 'high concept" worthy of a SyFy Channel offering. Overall, an entertaining guilty pleasure, certainly more enjoyable than what's coming up next...

  6. Oh God, this episode is so doofy, yet how we all loved it as kids! The whole story basically is, stupid humans go out one by one, and monsters eat them. What's not to like? There are lots of laugh out loud moments, but I'm honestly surprised that Peter and John didn't note the one that made me bust out last night when re-watching this: as the episode progresses, each time it cuts back to the guys on earth, they're developing five o'clock shadows and getting more and more ragged looking, yet during the same time period, the astronauts stay fresh--not a whisker. Back to earth--swarthier and swarthier. It's like a Mad magazine routine. Maybe Mars is in a different time dimension, where nothing changes.

    All of the comments above are funny, especially Larry B.'s about the progressive learning during the space program. And yet, this one is so entertaining, I can't condemn it. It's easy to see, though, how great it could have been, if they just hadn't made the grievous blunder of showing the "invisible" monster (hello, look at the title of your show) so early. The sand effects were imaginative and still memorable--it was a great concept, and done pretty well with the technology available.

    As an aside, it's probably just me, but the big claws always reminded me of the claw monster that lived under Ming's palace in the Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon series, which they used to show on Saturday mornings around the same time that I was first watching OL. Not really the same monster, but maybe cousins?

  7. You know, it's funny you guys mention it - I had both the backdrop painting and 5 o'clock shadows in my notes (note that I had screen grabs for each!). Problem is, at some point, with an episode this ripe for picking, you have leave some stuff on the cutting room floor. I am glad that you've helped to highlight these additional winning moments, to ensure they're not lost on future generations.

    We've always felt WACT was a team effort - thanks again for doing your part!

  8. Yes--good call on the ten o'clock shadow, David H. I wonder if the astronauts have Shave-In-a-Tube or something like that?

    I just found I'd missed a fun Spotlight by Peter Farris from a couple days ago. It's not like me to miss one. Wondering if it's some mind-numbing side effect of S2?

    I will resist, and look for The Good, must look for The Good...

  9. Larry B - Don't forget there was that establishing shot of Frank shaving and admiring the Martian landscape while the rest of the boys played Go Fish.

  10. Right, John--with Schick's new Crater-So-Soft.

  11. what? No mention of the rocketships from IT THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE?

  12. Larry B-

    If I was coming home after a long day in the coalmine, I'd rather crack open a Bud Lite and watch "The Invisible Enemy" than uncork a fine red and experience "The Man Who Weren't Even Born." I loved that episode, don't get me wrong, but here's one you can watch over and over. I caught some goofiness going on with the matte in the background of the Martian sky. There were some white lines about every ten feet or so. I would have mentioned them but then I figgered you big-headed science fiction bozos would say "Jeezuz, Enfantino, that's the night beams of the Aurora Borealis, din't you gradyouate?"

    David H-

    Re: the five o'clock shadow. There was a three and a half minute delay according to my notes, ergo... never mind.

  13. Larry B--- The Good, the Bad, and the So Ugly It's Beautiful. Yee-hah, space pioneers! I told you we were in the hands of astronaut-junkies this season. Part of me wishes, though, that when they lifted footage from my beloved IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE, they would have kept on lifting. And lifting. And splicing in...

    David Horne--- Great call on the uncanny similarity between the fangjawdorsalclaw seen here (apologies to ANGRY RED PLANET's batratspidercrab) and the cave critter in the first of the three FLASH GORDON serials. (Buy the three-pack and watch 'em 'til your eyeballs melt.)

    Gary G--- You perfectly profiled this dollar-in-a-dumpster guilty pleasure as an early Sy(lly) Fy(lm) Channel template. You just suspend disbelief, then sedate it, and finally duct-tape it to a rocket fin before sitting down and lapping it up alongside your undying crazy inner kid.

    It's goofy, unapologetic fun. I'd have been as embarrassed as the crew to have made it, and just as tickled that kids enjoyed it immensely and still respond to that emotional memory today.

    I remember the specific first experience of this episode better than most, because it was Halloween and I hurried home from candy-extorting so that I wouldn't miss a frame of what the advance hype had promised. This one went down smooooth with Mall-o-cups and Candy Corn.

    It's great fun and way beyond the bounds of any serious criticism. Its broadcast placement on Halloween no doubt felt like a brilliant coup to the cynical network execs who by now were convinced they were pandering to precisely the audience that sf deserved---wildly imaginative, uncritical kids.

    But, of course, we loved it. And we love the fact of our ongoing ability to love something undemandingly that courts our favor the way a puppy dog does. It's natural and healthy. No one loves the genre B-movies from the double-feature "programmer" days more than I do. I own about 75% of the titles this entire well-informed blog community could name.

    And what's not to revel in, here? An "invisible" enemy too schlocky-cool to remain true to its title, battling grown men taking a weekend flight to monster camp---? Get outta town! Take THAT, sit-com nation!

    My only problem with such unassailably innocent thrill fodder is's an OUTER LIMITS. The show's established covenant was to provide us something a little more meaningful than what we got on 95% of sf TV. It wasn't supposed to furnish more of the same.

    Now, as "more of the same" goes, this episode was pretty much more of pretty much the same that we happily gobbled then and still appreciate now, both for the emotional memories and the enlightened affection for simpler joys---"Halleluia, Fireballs! This still weirdly works for me!"

    My only caveat is that I can't celebrate an entry like this as something I wish TOL had done more of. That's like wishing Rembrandt had just stuck to his neat-o cartoon doodles and not gone all arty on our asses. Or lashing out with a hoot and a high-five because some fine-dining restaurant just caved to consensus and changed their menu to the junk served by the slobbo-burger fast-food dumps on every other corner.

    Apart from that, I can enjoy "The Invisible Enemy" on the same level as any of the scores of other title-cheat, Our Gang-built personal classics that happily line my shelves.

    Pass the Milk Duds, and hold the subtext. At least for tonight...

  14. David H---

    About that five-o'clock-shadow-lack business:

    They didn't want to get involved with all that gummy sciency stuff, so when they jettisoned the business about radio-wave time delays over vast distances, they also ignored its little-known corollary, concerning beard-growth rates across space-time.

    Should the question ever arise in a game of Trivial Pursuits, it's called the Tonsorial Parallax.

  15. Peter: Yeah, basically it comes down to: Do I want to be challenged, or can I turn by frikkin' brain off? Sometimes I want some high-priced bubbly like PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK or BLACK NARCISSUS, sometimes I crack open an ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS.

    Charles: DJS mentioned the IT THE TERROR footage in his book excerpt above. However, I'd forgotten that Peach shot IT--and added much to the shadowy mood of that little gem.

    Ted: Well said, Space Cadet Rypel! I love the sci-fi subgenre of planetary expeditions, like ANGRY RED PLANET, JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET, PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE, even...dare I say it...FIRE MAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE. In fact, one of our slated upcoming projects is something called VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF SPACE. You can bet there's grist for the interplanetary mill in "Invisible Enemy".

  16. It's nice to see so many positive, funny reviews about this stepchild of an episode. Here I thought I was going to have to approach Larry B., to form some sort of an alliance, as he seemed like the only fella besides myself that would enjoy this show.


    I was actually wondering while viewing 'Invisible Enemy' if your son or someone his age would still get any amusement from it. I guess if someone that young can be entertained by a monster show so old, then its creators did an excellent job.

    Ted Rypel-

    I envy you sir. What a magical time it must have been to view this ep. on Halloween 1964. If I saw this one as a kid, I'd probably have my dad try to record it on the ol' Beta, then would have watched it everyday for months. Even as an adult today, watching it brings back childhood wonderment of adventure and aliens.
    Your post does a great assessment.

    I'm having a tough time deciding if I liked this one better then 'Tourist Attraction' or 'The Mice.' The Long John Silver's Crab Monster-Snake/Shark mascot is definitely a more effective bear then those other two.

    What? No Batman Television series comments?

  17. Oh, and Larry B.-

    I read the first sentence of your original post about 5 times before continuing. Congratulations! You had me scared for a moment!

  18. UTW---

    I indulged my Adam West snarky sweet-tooth yesterday in a later posting to one of the "Soldier" comment threads. I asked who wouldn't be interested in checking out BATMAN: THE PRE-GUANO YEARS.

    Larry B---

    Save me a spot on the crew of that illustrious VOYAGE! Yeah, I've got all the titles you mention, plus, off the top of my head, ROCKETSHIP X-M, RED PLANET MARS, MISSILE TO THE MOON (but not its predecessor, CAT WOMEN OF THE MOON), 12 TO THE MOON, FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS, even the blackout-sketch spoof AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON, which really nails the template of most of those. I'm overdue for a fresh look at 7TH PLANET---John Agar, some Norwegian guys and "my last fresh-frozen galaxial apple"! Not to mention Greta Thyssen!

  19. Ted Rypel-

    Oh, I saw that one the other day. Very snarky and hilarious. For shits and giggles I youtubed the lost Batman Television footage with the first appearance of Batgirl and Tim Herbert as Killer Moth. Herbert, I believe played a gas station attendant in 'Duel,' but other then that, I can't recall him being in anything else off the top of my head. Adam West was lucky to have landed such a lucrative role with his acting chops.

    Since I'm marooned at home with my car in the shop, maybe it's time to view the Warner Bros. double feature DVD I purchased two years ago, 'World Without End' and 'Satellite in the Sky!' I've never seen either, but the former looks promising.

  20. Woe. I am beginning to think the faithful are just skipping the book excerpts for each entry, and rushing headlong to the camaraderie of the Comments, from some of the questions posed there. Let us know if the text/type is too small to read or something.

    (IT! THE TERROR, check. Helmets and time-travel, check. "The 'Tourist Attraction' of the second season," check. And so on.)

    The 16mm print of this episode I possess is one of the ABC reference prints with the original commercials and PSA sign-off at the end. That is, it is the SAME HOUR OF TELEVISION broadcast near Hallowe'en, 1964. It is, in essence, like time-travel, what with plugs for other ABC shows like VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL and HOLLYWOOD PALACE, or guys locked up under canopy gliders enjoying their Chesterfields in flight (koff-koff, I CAN'T SEE ANYTHING...!), or Barbara Stanwyck demonstrating how to make Maxwell House instant coffee, or the rollout of the New 1964 Dodge.

    The unabashed Saturday-matinee monster-dustup was mostly a new flavor for viewers accustomed to S1 OUTER LIMITS, but not an unwelcome one. It is entertaining where other episodes are thoughtful. Popcorn. Ice cream. A Big Gulp. A Bloomin' Onion that's not necessarily good for you, but tasty all the same, and irresistible on its own terms. Easy to eat over and over. Stay tuned for more of the same in "Purper of the Keeple Twilight."

    As expressed earlier, what a crackerjack idea to cast the Shat and the West in a single forum, perhaps as brothers, both out-thesping each other, both clogged and clench-jawed, and yelling, as though in the throes of some Unvisible Enema. Alas, this meeting of titans was never to be. Too bad. It would have given us a single episode to avoid instead of two.

    I have Wah Chang's sketch of the Sand Dragon framed in my office. Wah's conception was half-Rhedosaur, half Chinese dragon. It still looks goofy. You'll see it here, soon.

  21. Are the fimmakers making a subtle comment about racism in this ep? I mean, how do the two remaining white guys forget all about Bob DoQui on that 2nd EVA? Ladies Man Buckley -- his ass having been covered by the vigilant Lieutenant Johnson perched upon that rock -- suddenly gets a hard-on for science (flowers) and wealth (diamonds), typical justifications for past Euro-Centric Imperialism, all while his Brother-On-Another-Planet's nappy head goes under the sand, bazooka left conveniently on the shore for the future protection of our remaining Not-So-Defiant Ones. I think Jerry Sohl & Seeleg Lester had their ear to the ground in the Freedom Summer of '64, and were knowingly planting the seeds of discontent in the subconscious of young black TOL viewers.

    Mall-o-cups? Damn you, Rypel, for awakening my longing for something that is no more.

  22. Count me in as a fan of this one. Re-watched it just now and though it has plenty of the blowhard military element to it, those guys in the spaceship are really entertaining.

    For a while you sympathize with Adam West having a smart aleck like Solari always cracking wise. Solari's almost real trouble, but then he becomes so ingenious and peppy that his performance has a completely contemporary quality to it, his mojo in full bloom. His portrayal is dynamic, something I probably never noticed specifically as a kid but it contributed to the episode's ultimately satisfying aftertaste.

    This is a totally great monster romp -- who doesn't like getting chased by monsters? Or watching somebody else get chased by one? A big shout-out to a whole bunch of top-rate man-screams in this episode, too! Always a plus!

    Solari plays this like he's working the tables in Vegas, West is a tight-ass -- and I do always think of "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" when this episode comes up. How did Paul Mantee not end up in a TOL?

    I definitely like the idea that Solari is trying very hard to work out a way to provide for the families of his comrades. He may be a rascal, but he's an ethical rascal with a heart.

    Another entertaining B-Movie, not the same level of accomplishment we got in Season 1, but good in its own way. I *wish* those cheapie movies on SyFy were half as entertaining as this episode. Those productions are nearly always such a disappointment, their fun and ridiculous concepts squandered with bad acting and it goes downhill from there. But that's another kettle of dragon-fish...

  23. Hockey24---

    They were a gooey delight, weren't they? They came with those little coin-cards you could tally up for FREE Mall-o-cups. Thus were little chocolatey marshmallow junkies created.
    I've been curious about your moniker---hockey is still my favorite game. I played it recreationally for a lot of years and ran a men's club team called the Northcoast Nordiques.


    Hey, definitely cue up WORLD WITHOUT END! That little 1956 Cinemascope gem is one of my favorite B's of the period! Hugh Marlowe and Rod Taylor---sidetracked on the way to Mars! Great cheap-o spaceship interiors! Boffo belligerent primitives! Disillusioned babes craving adventurous men! Lessons in depth perception---it's a winner. (Plus the doc from "ZZZZZ" as a craven schemer!) Don't be in a rush to watch SATELLITE IN THE SKY, though. British-made snooze-fest. The Brits love to talk up a good space flight, wot? Why get all gritty doing it when you can just talk about it, I say, say.


    Still MORE revelations to come from your Outer Limitless trove? Incredible. You still have your 16mm prints? Mine are long gone, though friends still have theirs, I think. I remember having prints with the commercials still in them---maybe a TZ, a DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, possibly a SCIENCE FICTION THEATER. But never in an OL, to my recollection.

  24. "The Invisible Enemy" is so boring and deliberate. If Adam West would have put that damned microphone back in its stand one more time I would have snapped my DVD in two! The Capt. Buckley character annoyingly disobeys every command from his superiors even though we are told that the crew of the M2 is a totally dedicated team.

    It's difficult to understand how such a mission was even conceived given the ineptitude of the mission's commanders. The General (played by Joe Maross) and the Colonel became practically unhinged every time the Mars crew made a move. I was just praying Shatner would bust into the control room and take charge of the situation. Geez...They just constantly harped about safety! Watching them was like seeing over-protective parents yipping at their kids at a playground. It's also rather hilarious to notice the strain on their faces, which is highlighted, as others mention here, by their increasing five-o'clock shadows and disheveled appearances.

    The "sand shark" monster and its "sand ocean" habitat is pretty creative but its features are so immobile it just doesn't work for me.

    My latest viewing of this episode just reinforces how much I don't like it. It's really one of the worst in my opinion. "The Invisible Enemy" may have worked for me when I was a wee lad but not any longer. And oh boy, here comes "Counterweight"...

  25. WORLD WITHOUT END - a fan favorite that's somewhat more than just a guilty pleasure (although the pillow-like spiders are difficult to defend). In widescreen and Technicolor -- this new DVD transfer is beyond gorgeous -- WWE was fairly innovative in 1956, with Wellsian time-travel plots being pretty scarce at the time. In addition to the perverse fun of a pre-Pal Rod Taylor being one of the future explorers, the film boasts one of Leith Stevens' most impressive and exciting science fiction scores. Okay, so probably everything I watched on NY's MILLION DOLLAR MOVIE as a kid is an "old friend" that I remember fondly. But this refreshingly earnest, decently-cast sci-fi adventure really isn't half bad, trust me...

  26. Gary G. & Ted R.-

    Hey, hey, hey! Just got done watching WWE. Not too shabby! Our heroes even had a bazooka similar to the one carried in today's ep. The spiders might have looked awful, but were still a lot of fun. Besides, you had the cool cyclops cavemen that got turned into fodder in the ending. Nice one-on-one brawl during the climax also. I'm surprised the colorization looked so crisp. Plus, this movie featured some of the hottest starlets from that era I have ever seen. Especially the red head. Va-va-va-voom!

  27. Ted --

    I'm not surprised, re: your hockey interest. Cleveland has been a gem of a hockey town for decades, supporting AAA level minor league teams (The Barons in one flavor or another, including a two-year run in the mid-70s NHL) going back to the 30's or 40's, IIRC. I'd read that Cleveland native Paul Newman even played as a youth, which obviously helped when it came time to film George Roy Hill's 1977 SlapShot.

    I spent vast quantities of my free time in the early-to-mid 90's tracking down the written word on The Outer Limits (books, magazine & newspaper articles, Convention materials, etc., of one sort or another, of which your TOLAIR was one of the coveted Holy Trinity on my depth chart, alongside DJS' book and Streeter's newsletters). DJS probably rolled his eyes at the hyper-pedantic minutiae of my MS Word-based table of OL articles I sent him. Alas, I'd become burned out on it by the late 90's / early aughts . . . . and thus rediscovered the hockey fanatacism of my youth. That OL burnout must have been pretty deep, or the hockey love affair even deeper (I was on the ice 5 days a week, practicing at the LA Kings training center at 6am most mornings), to the extent that I blew off going to the March 2000 OL retrospective at the Paley Center. The last major gathering of key OL folk (I did get to the Shrine '93 & Pasadena '94 events, both times getting to chat w/ Joe) and I *&#%ing blew it off!!! Now, I could kick myself for that (it was in my #&!@ing backyard, God damn it, and now they're all dead 'cept Mr. Landau & obviously DJS), but at the time, hockey seemed more important. I hereby volunteer for the Idiots Hall of Fame.

    Such is the (pathetic) pendulum of my non-engineering life. Hockey? OL! OL? Hockey!

    To hell with both of them. I'm gonna go back and see what else I can fix on the F-XX Radar!

  28. Lisa says:

    . . . . I do always think of "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" when this episode comes up. How did Paul Mantee not end up in a TOL?

    He'd have been fine in the Dewey Martin (inherited from Don Gordon) role in "The Premonition", though he might wince at the typecasting. Paul Mantee looked, smelled, and tasted just like a Mercury/Gemini astronaut of that era. Put him in a lineup with those real guys who had the Right Stuff, and only a Hollywood casting director might pick out the actor from the flyboys.

  29. Clean-up hitter again, after a long day. You's guys have said it all, and the comments are loaded with insight and humor.

    UTW--Your first post is pretty damned funny, and captures the spirit of the episode perfectly.

    Mallow Cups, Milk Duds---hey...weren't some of us guys a bit old to be hustling candy out with the kids on Halloween of '64? Hmm??

    PETER-- Yeah, Lubin ripped off Bernard Herrmann real bad on this one. You hear those high whistling string harmonics, then the low bassoons, contra bassoon, etc start that jumpy, staccato honkin'..a direct steal (I immediately thought) of the SAND CRAB cue from "Mysterious Island". Maybe ol' Harry considered it a "homage" to BH, since the situation in this episode (horrid creature emerging from under sand) directly parallels the Harryhausen film. There's no escaping the similarity. But the "Hydra's Teeth" cue is also a good call. Whatever the inspiration, a shameless rip-off all the same.

    Fascinating background shots in DJS' "Companion" on the filming of the shark effects. So unsophisticated by today's standards, yet still so uniquely cool for the era in which it was done.

    Crab Claw monster from "Flash Gordon" played by Glenn Strange in costume. LOVE the scene where Zarkoff blows its head off with the grenade. Watch it in slo-mo sometime.

    Also, re: WORLD WITHOUT END---let's all give a shout-out to the film's director Edward Bernds, who went from Blondie to Stooges/Shemp to Bowery Boys to late 50's sci-fi. And did his best to bring some sense of style and legitimacy to all of them, no matter how dorky the material. A good man.


  30. UTW---

    No, WORLD WITHOUT END was SHOT in color rather than colorized, which is why it looks so good. Nice little film with an appealing cast that I've always been fond of. Solid action and decent sets. A much cheaper version of this basic story came out a few years later---BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER, with Robert Clarke (THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON). Weird and threadbare Edgar G. Ulmer film.


    Mantee was outstanding in CRUSOE, a very memorable Pal-Haskin film. I also wonder how he'd have been in an OL.


    Yep, I grew up a fan of the old AHL Cleveland Barons, once considered the "7th Best Team in North America." Long-gone Cleveland Arena was the finest, most intimate 10,000-seat venue for a game ever. Everyone in my family played except my wife. When we picked up the Seals franchise in '77, it was a doomed venture from the start: the city was tired of losing pro teams, and the new arena was 25 miles south. It's a solid area for youth hockey and minor league, but we'll never have the NHL again.

  31. Larry R---

    You're NEVER too old for Mall-o-Cups! What I remember best was that this seemed like a really appropriate monster episode for Halloween. And if I could get 'em today, I'd have probably had some Mall-o-Cups with the DVD yesterday!

    And by the way---excellent pick-up by you and Peter on the Bernard Herrmann thematic "borrowing" by Lubin. When the crewman first nears the edge of the sand sea, it's clearly the four-note theme from the sowing of the hydra's teeth. But then later I was made more mindful of the two-note intro to the crab scene in MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. Did he meld the two into a hybrid version---easy enough, since they're so similar.

    Don't composers do a lot of this, Larry? I know they re-use their OWN stuff over and over. Max Steiner was so prolific that he seemed forced to repeat himself. Strains of KONG were always ringing out in his action scenes for other films. And Miklos Rozsa was so fond of his galley music for BEN-HUR that it even turns up in GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD.

    But you never hear of plagiarism suits among film composers, though you fancy hearing stolen phrases quite often.

  32. TED--

    Just ask John Williams; for years, my late brother Mike maintained a "JW rip-off" audio "sampler", featuring first the offending Williams cue, immediately followed by the ORIGINAL musical work that JW knocked off (sometimes another film score, but most often a CLASSICAL work that few moviegoers would recognize). Mike would add to this compilation every time he came across a new steal; last I remember, the tape ran about 90 minutes.

  33. A late chime in on WORLD WITHOUT END, one of my favorites. Only complaint: stills of those mutates (or mutants) show the great variety and care that went into their wild makeup/masks and it's a shame they weren't featured more--would have made for some startling closeups.

  34. LR -

    Toss out some of the JW rip-off cues... you've piqued my interest.

  35. The Mars landscape with the rocket is an impressive image, echoing distinct Chelsey Bonestall 'Astounding SF' covers. The story, as with 'Counterweight', is akin to eating cardboard for breakfast. In terms of ambition, the whole thing is on the kiddie TV level.

  36. Did you folks know that most of Harry Lubin's OL music survives online as part of the Carlton music library? I have CDs already made from them. You can email me for info at:

  37. Make that Carlin Library-sorry

    the motherlode of Outer Limits Season 2 exist online. Bad news is they're only available as stream-only files. High quality downloads are only purchasable for folks in the TV/Film Industry.
    Still, everyone can play the complete cues for free on their computer!

    The First 15 cues are just variations of the same two cues used in ONE STEP BEYOND (including the reworked ending for Outer Limits), but the rest are the OUTER LIMITS cues, followed by some FX-type cues. Lots of theremin, novachord, etc. The above cd is under MAIN SERIES entitled CAR 401 CLASSIC SCIENCE FICTION.

    CAS 34 - MURDER HORROR DRAMA also has a couple additional OUTER LIMITS & ONE STEP BEYOND cues.

    You can find all his cds, and individual cues on compilations with other composers, by clicking on the DATABASE button on top, and then entering only LUBIN in the Composers Surname search window on the left.

  38. JOHN S--

    Unfortunately, I was only in on the very beginning of my brother's J. Williams compilation. I recall it started off with the obvious stuff..the sources that JW admits that he was imitating in "Star Wars" and the "Superman" Theme (mostly Korngold's opening title music to "KING'S ROW").

    I recall sitting with my brother listening to the "Close Encounters" sountrack LP and blurting out.."Hey..that's a steal from [the opening of 20th-century Swiss composer Arthur] Honegger's Third Symphony! (a cue with mid-range, rushing, dissonant strings playng these brief "swirling" figures). I brought over a recording of the symphony and played it for my brother, who immediately added it to his tape (he had an incredible ear for musical detail, superior to mine in ways...and I'M supposed to be the professional). Beyond that, I don't remember much. Mike would occasionally mention the project to me over the phone, but I was generally not that interested (like.."yeah, tell me something I DON'T know.."). I have no idea what happened to the tapes.

    In the meantime, my late father, who was a well-known big band/jazz radio guy in Chicago, was hot on the trail of Andrew Lloyd Weber, whose big tune from "Cats" was a direct rip from 40's bandleader Larry Clinton's "Bolero in Blue"; my dad talked with Clinton's widow, who was very uspet about the massive profits that Weber was reaping from her hubby's tune. My dad spoke with a few lawyers, who told my dad to forget it. I told my dad that Weber's pilfering was part of the "Fish gotta Swim, Birds gotta Fly" pattern of nature and to just accept and ignore it.


  39. DAVE--

    WAH CHANG DRAGON sketch is too cool. I'm assuming that you used an orange-ish lighting to illuminate the right half of the pic....or is that the original color of the paper?

    In either case, a work o' art.

  40. Larry R, completely fascinating story of your brother and your father and their musical detective work. Wow...

  41. One moment to watch for is in Ted Knight's last moment in the story, when he gives that embarrassed little Ted Baxter laugh. You wait 50 minutes to see a hint of Ted Baxter in "Mr. Jerome," but you finally get it.

  42. This Oct. 31 marks the 50th anniversary of "The Invisible Enemy"—the first OL episode i remember viewing (as a 10-year-old). I just returned from Trick or Treating and was hooked forever!

  43. Yeah. 2 Zantis is about right, being kind. I remember liking this as a kid because I thought the sand monster was effective and scary. It still is but mostly the episode is about bad dialogue and bizarre characterization. What in the hell is up with those guys at the ground control? There isn't much to say about this episode. You are right it is the best bear and has the best effects- the monster and the sand tide are nice visuals- of the second season. I just wish there was more of it. It's interesting that this episode came out the same time as Frank Herbert 's Dune.


Apologies for having to switch to moderated comments. This joker ( 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!