Monday, February 7, 2011

Second Chance

Production Order #27
Broadcast Order #23
Original Airdate: 3/2/64
Starring Simon Oakland, Don Gordon, Janet DeGore.
Written by Lin Dane and Lou Morheim, story by Lin Dane.
Directed by Paul Stanley. 

Visitors to Joyland Amusement park get more than they bargain for by accepting free tickets  to a spaceship ride. When it takes off to prevent a cataclysmic collision between Earth and the planet Empyria, the whining begins.

PE: Did our control voice have a touch of the flu this week?

Would you board this ship?
JS: Don Gordon, fresh off his role as a GIA agent infiltrating "The Invisibles," is back as an astrophysicist who has taken a job 'piloting' a spaceship ride at an amusement park. Seriously? This doesn't sound promising. But just his luck, his plywood and duct tape craft is actually built to fly!

PE: Oh, these guys are serious all right! The actors must have gone to NASA to study for their roles. The recreation of the effect that g-force has on you when a carnival ride takes flight is uncanny. And it's good to see that the carnival ride builders can come up with just as cheesy "planetoid and the solar system effects" as Projects Limited.

JS: And to think they were just a few years shy of Disneyland showing them up in Tomorrowland.

PE: Poor Don Gordon, stuck throughout the show in a suit that looks like it was cobbled together with tin foil and pot holders. Strictly amateur time. From the the dialogue that would make M. Night Shyamalan wince to the cardboard characters and their demons to the absolutely asinine premise. A silly question I know, but wouldn't an Empyrian skyjack a legitimate rocket instead of a carnival ride? Doesn't bode well for the intellect of this race.

JS: I think the Empyrian had been tracking Dave Crowell, not the ship. As implied in several early shots, birdman clearly ended up having to spend years in the amusement park during off hours to make her flight-worthy. (See, I can wax poetic about the stuff that isn't actually in the episode, too!)

PE: Looks to me like the Space Age Lodge down the road a piece in Gila Bend. Do you think everyone left at the carnival grounds was fried when the ship took off or was this one of the new, safer models of amusement spaceships?

JS: If you blink you'll miss it, but it sure looked like there was a Ichthysaur roller coaster at Joyland. That would make one hell of a "Tourist Attraction."

PE: That's the prop used in Sid Pink's Reptilicus. These guys would recycle anything: props, costumes, Fredric Brown stories, dialogue, hammy actors, Zantis, anything.

JS: In 1963, in the early days of the space race, films and television were rife with speculation of where things would be in the near future. Some ideas never panned out, such as the promise of space stewardesses.

PE: But the caps are very chic. L-OL scene of the day is to our immediate left. Little Bobby the teenaged perv shows us exactly why he rides the XZ-43 eighty times a day instead of going to school. His eyes very much resemble those of Reese in our previous episode when Mara struts her stuff. Oh, that Janet DeGore is as pretty as a Macy's window mannequin and...

JS: I did find it amusing when Mara (DeGore) asks if Crowell (Gordon) is looking for a wife or a girlfriend. Um, if I heard him correctly, he was only asking her to lunch.

PE: John, my boy, you do a great disservice to the writers of this drama by taking that bit out of context. Perhaps we should re-visit that scene and its fanciful dialogue:
Mara: I asked what you were drifting from. I'd like to change that. What are you drifting toward?
Dave: We were going to have lunch so I could snoop into your life.
Mara: Are you looking for a wife or a girlfriend?
Dave (after a pregnant pause): I know what's watching you, Mara. 
Mara: You do?
Dave: Mm-hmm. The eyes of your conscience. 
Mara: Then I'm not in any real danger. My conscience and I understand each other.
But. romance aside, she's a pretty bright girl. She did notice Crowell reading Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in the original German edition. It took me years to find a hot chick who knew who Kant was. Dave seems to know how to sweet talk the ladies. Next time I'm out at a singles bar, I'll make sure to use his "Shouldn't we strike while the enchilada's hot?" line and see where it gets me.

JS: I've always loved Simon Oakland, from his bit part in Psycho to his scene-stealing role as Kolchak's editor Vincenzo in The Night Stalker. He's completely lost within the Empyrian birdman costume, but that voice is unmistakable (ah yes, Claude Akins' little brother -PE).

PE: Best Empyrian line of the ep: "I'll explain latah when you're capable of listening to explanations. Do not be afraid. You have nothing to lose... but your lives." According to the interview with Oakland in TOLC, it took the classicly-trained thespian fifteen takes before he could utter that dialogue without chuckling (Simon Oakland interview, TOLC, page 186, paragraph 4). Funny that we were moaning about stolen sound effects a couple episodes ago. I miss the Martian death-ray now that we get a "bloop-bloop-bloop" death-ray.

JS: I was excited to see a pre-Star Trek camera tilt while the cast throw themselves about. Can someone confirm where that technique originated (Despite it being considered a Trek cliché by modern viewers, I'm assuming it even pre-dates OL).

PE: Director Paul Stanley wisely ditched his clapper soon after "Second Chance", picked up the guitar, applied the greasepaint, and became the lead singer for KISS. He would allude to this episode in the song, "Take Me" (put your hand in my pocket/grab onto my rocket).

JS: Once again Peter, you've got your facts all messed up. Gene Simmons is the lead singer of KISS.


David J. Schow on "Second Chance":

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

An Empyrian in Grislyland

WHY are you seeing this over 20-year-old photo of DJS underneath Forrest Ackerman’s house, in the basement junkyard he called “Grislyland?”  Because that’s where I discovered the rotting remains of the Empyrian head-mask (not visible here, but stashed over to the right).  It was on a wooden wig-stand and the face was completely gone; only the furrowed forehead bit remained.  And the feathers.  When I lifted it, it fell completely apart.  When I confessed this, Forry said, “Hm.  Well.  That’s it, then.  Toss it.”

Check out the Empyrian mask (with the beak used in Star Trek) in better days.  If you look close you'll notice FJA is also wearing a "Fun and Games" hand.

I think I still have one of the feathers, somewhere.  Poor Empyrian.

"Second Chance"

At Joyland they have quite a deal:
You can ride on a spaceship that's real!
    The feathered Empyrian
    Is real too, I'm theoryin',
And he's looking for Earthfolk to steal.

As we learn after two reels of talk
Earth will someday collide with a rock
    The beaked one implies
    If peeps colonize
They might stop it from cleaning our clock.

But aside from heroic Dave Crowell
The rest want to throw in the towel
    With a sense of unmirth
    Birdman flew them to Earth
Mumbling words that were frankly quite fowl.

Be sure to check back later today for Mark Holcomb's Spotlight on "Second Chance."

Next Up...


  1. Well, that's about 50 minutes of my life I'll never get back. Man, did this one suck! Brutal...I wished Don Gordan or some other cast member would have punched that idiot alien in his retarded feathered face.

    Let me get this straight, this alien, with all his technology, that could predict the ending of the human race....the best he could come up with was carjacking an amusement park ride along with a bunch of ham 'n' eggers that could barely run their own lives, in the hopes of using them to save the universe???????

    I never wished for an alien to get tortured to death any more then I have this bird-brained buffoon. Worst episode ever!

  2. I was surprised to see so many people, including Joe Stefano himself, condemning "The Mutant" as the worst episode of season one when this one was available for the honor. At least "The Mutant" had an interesting premise, Warren Oates's solid performance as the outcast bully who just wanted to be part of the gang, the big eyeballs, isotope rainfall, Bronson Caverns, and even a Zanti. "Second Chance" has . . . well, not really much of anything.

    Every time I watch this I think that maybe it will be better than I remember, but no. I want to like it because I like both Don Gordon and Simon Oakland so much. They give it their best, as does Janet DeGore, but the production not only lets them down, it abandons them. There's too much to criticize, but here are two things: Concept: this alien has been working on the plan for all these years and, aside from the Gordon character, this is the best group of people he can come up with? And Execution: after lengthy, tedious buildup, and the startling discovery that they're in actual outer space, the first order of business is for everything to come to a stop so the young football hero can give a speech about himself? At one point the camera cuts to Gordon listening patiently with chin in hand, as if watching a fellow student deliver a scene in acting class. Awful stuff.

    One of the reasons we all love the Outer Limits and still remember it is because so many of the first-season episodes, and a handful from the second season, are monuments to what creative, visionary, skilled, and determined people were able to achieve in the face of the crushing obstacles of 1960s network television: meddling, profit-driven, dimwit network executives; obtuse and venal censors; ridiculous schedules and budgets; and the knuckle-dragging mentality of a general viewing populace that championed "The Beverly Hillbillies" as its favorite show. "Second Chance" is a freefall collapse back to this reality, to when the very nature of network TV inexorably forced virtually every TV production crew to produce mediocrity sooner or later. After the rich feasts we've had on TOL to this point, this is stale bread indeed, with its rewritten, wrung-out script; one-dimensional characters (except for Gordon's and Oakland's); unrealistic action scenes; and uninspired direction and camerawork. This is a low point of the entire series, and that's saying a lot, considering a couple of the lemons coming up in season two!

  3. Childhood memories are funny. No matter how many times I've seen this one as an adult, I still picture the Empyrian in a milling carnival crowd, handing out tickets. Instead we get one ride and absolutely no extras. This was certainly a fun episode as a kid, and even though it's not very good overall, I still manage to enjoy certain aspects on certain levels.

    The opening is nice and moody with the guard getting zapped, and the spaceship "ride" looks great (I always figured the Empyrian had the ride built, like in human guise, thus it was a spaceship to begin with--but what do I know?). Speaking of looks; this is very nicely shot--rather a shock after "Mutant"--showing that really the Kenneth Peach era was by no means a sudden drop-off or even a hard and fast place marker. This has a gorgeously rich black and white palette throughout, great to look at.

    While we're on great-to-look-at, I can't believe you boys didn't mention cult babe Mimsy Farmer (let me just stop here to say: Ahhhh...Mimsy Farmer...) from movies like HOT RODS TO HELL--and if you haven't seen that insanity, shame on you ("Run him off the road, Duke!").

    When the Empyrian reveals himself to crew and passengers we hear that same interesting yet unfamiliar Frontiere piece from "O.B.I.T." when Harry Townes decides to testify.

    The setup is one that will become so familiar to 70s disaster movie fans, as each of those troubled soap opera folk are introduced. Once the trip is underway though and the therapy session commences things go quickly downhill. And that "Splatter him!" "Kill him for real!" stuff is just plain whacked. It's all pretty unravelled by the time the Empyrian laughably says, "How could I have been so wrong about people?"

    But there's still stuff to enjoy, kind of on a different kind of level--more like a one-hour TWILIGHT ZONE than OL; Simon Oakland is very good as the Empyrian (it's refreshing to see an alien not shuffling, but darting in and out, with sharp fast movements, and a strong clipped line delivery). Don Gordon is fine with the hand he's dealt. Tommy's cold and creepy floating death in space, the cool stop-motion saucer, and Paul Stanley's direction in the first half, which I really think makes the most of the material he was stuck with.

    John McLiam is so over-the-top in the kind of unlikable, narrow-minded jackass role he perfected. Wonder if there was a line cut, something like:

    EMPYRIAN: And we'll need one complete A-hole.

    The end credit for him and his wife, " THE BEASLEYS" cracked me up, as though promising the most annoying spin-off series ever (there's no first name listed for McLiam's character, is he really "Arjay" or is it "R.J."? This stuff's important).

    Other fun stuff:

    On a separate note: Michael "Zanti Fighter" Tolan passed away the other day in NY, age 85.

  4. Yikes! Ignore "Other fun Stuff"--that was left over from editing my thoughts--NOT a comment on Michael Tolan's passing!

  5. In the entire history of the world, has there ever been a single scientist of note who quit and went to work in a carnival? But I have to admit, this one was funny and full of laughs, unfortunately all unintentional.

  6. This was about as funny as 'Diff'rent Strokes,' or McLean Stevenson's 'Hello, Larry.' If you've never seen the latter, go check it out on Youtube. It only lasted one season. My guess is because too many people were dieing from heart attacks after laughing too much.

  7. The book "From Curie to Carny" by Paul Trotter has small bios of 416 scientist notables who ended up working in fairs, carnivals and circuses. Apparently Einstein spent his later years as one of those clowns who gets dumped in the water when you hit the target. I have the book somewhere--I'll have to dig it out.

  8. Right. This one doesn't wear well past Bobby's age. As an eight year-old, it was a very cool idea - what if that cheesy spaceship ride at the amusement park was real and launched you into space? As an adult, you can't lift past the cheesy dialogue.

    It should have been called "The Spaceride Club," because it's like a claustrophobic early prototype of John Hughes' seven misfits stuck in a room whining about everything.

    To add to David Horne's reason we love the show, though - it was a writer, one of us, given the keys to this huge audience media playground to do whatever he wanted (well, within ever-tightening conditions), firing on all cylinders (and burning out a few synapses), and hitting some peaks of inspiration.

    We all write for an audience, whether it's one person in a letter, 10 people on a blog, a few thousand in a book, or potentially a few million in the theaters. But here was a time when there were only THREE NETWORKS - that was the only game in town - splitting up more than 100 million viewers. Talk about a captive audience. You could drop anything on and get 30 million viewers. Put on something that really hits the zeitgeist and 80 million ears and eyes were upon you. How does that not energize and appeal to the part of any writer stepping up to the perfect pulpit? And boy did Joe preach.

    But we loved it because, when he was clicking, you really felt the near giddy exhiliration of unbridled creativity fueled by the medium through which he was channeling. Silliphant had this with "Route 66" for a few short seasons. Preston Sturges had this at Paramount Pictures for a remarkable five-year run in the early 40s.

    Writers can spot other writers totally getting off, and we can share that enthusiasm. Egos subside in the face of that pure creativity. One of ours broke through. Way to go.

    But with this episode and others soon to follow, we start definitely coming back down to Earth.

  9. I won't say much about "Second Chance" here since I have a Spotlight coming up. It's far from my least favorite first-season episode, though -- that'd probably be "The Mutant" because it's such a wasted opportunity.

    The last third of this season is just frustrating overall. Even good episodes like "Fun and Games" and "The Guests" are shamefully padded (although "Guests" is smart about it), and the un-special "The Special One" belongs in either the second season or a completely different series. Same thing, I guess. Hope "The Forms of Things Unknown" is worth it.

    Despite all the gabbing "Second Chance" isn't draggy, which counts for something. I also agree with Larry B. -- Kenneth Peach's work here is a surprise (although I suspect Lloyd Garnell deserves credit for the lighting); that 360-degree pan of the conked-out passengers after the saucer blasts off is something else. And, yeah, Mimsy Farmer -- damn.

    John McLiam has a good role in The Culpepper Cattle Company, an OK revisionist Western from 1972. He plays the opposite of Arjay -- a capitalist goon with lots of land and power -- except that they're both A-holes.

  10. A high concept yields low results. The Beasleys seem to have wandered over from a TWILIGHT ZONE casting session ("The Fever," specifically). Some nice touches in cinematography and a creepy "night watchman gets zapped" opening hook, but even the welcome presence of Simon Oakland can't overcome contrivance and an almost disorienting lack of credibility. Whenever OL tries to embrace the common man, watch out. Coming up soon: Macdonald Carey and Flip Mark discussing the merits of Little League practice. Where is Andro the telepathic mutant when we need him?

  11. One of the prerequisites for a true OL enthusiast is the ability to say "I forgive"---especially to the writers and their sometimes silly and absurd plot premises. And, as we all realize, our willingness to brush aside such considerations is often rewarded with a compelling, imaginative dramatic experience.

    Whenever I give this episode a second (or third...fourth...TENTH) chance, I try my best to appreciate it. I actually think the premise of an amusement park ride taking off into space is very cool, and I'm ready to go along for the ride..but no, in practically every other respect, this show is hopelessly lame.

    There's a certain dynamic quality to the first half, especially in the handling of Simon Oakland's encounters with the abductees. But my eye-ball-rolling kicks in almost immediately as we meet the EXTREMELY contrived characters who populate the cast. John McLiam's angst-ridden duel with the coke machine pretty much sums up the level of dramatic insight into the flawed folks that we will meet in this drama.

    Larry B's Group-Therapy-Session reference for this episode's 2nd half really nails it, and whereas I absolutely agree that "troubled individuals" make the dramatic world go 'round, they must be convincingly written and performed, and not one-dimensional caricatures as we get here. Insufferably bad stuff.

    A few observations:

    --Yes, I believe Vic Perrin DID indeed have a cold when he recorded his opening narration. Maybe he needed medical treatment--whether for his voice or from uncontrolled fits of laughter from watching this show---rendering him unable to record the final speech.

    --The choice of frame grab above is curious, as Peter cites the "cheesy" planetoid effects during the kid's solo ride in the opening. That particular shot---an excellent one of a planet hovering in space towards our POV, was not created by Projects, but was in fact lifted from the Heavenly Prologue of "It's a Wonderful Life"; the same clip was also used in the opening of "Feasibility Study." Yeah, the rest of the display is cheese-laden, but what would you expect from an early 60's local carnival?

    --The scientists of Empyria are FOUR CENTURIES MORE ADVANCED than those on earth?? So what are they doing--sitting around on their feathered butts all day while Simon O. trudges around the Universe abducting weirdoes and dorks from Earth? I may have missed something here...

    --Note the full-frontal shot of Don Gordon's stand-in just as Arjay attacks him with the knife and Mara slaps it away.

    -- Seems that someone remembered at the last minute that you can't do low-budget space opera without the traditional METEOR SHOWER!
    And there it is, in all it's glory, complete with rocking camera and cast being helplessly tossed back and forth. This would soon become a weekly trademark of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; thus we have something of a "Seaview preview" in this rather embarassing low-point (thus far) in OL's first season.


  12. For the record, I was/am the author of this Outré Limerick.

  13. I, too, was dismayed by the lack of attention given to "Second Chance"'s crown jewel and secret weapon — Mimsy Farmer. I even sent John a series of saucy photos, which he no doubt retained for his personal use.


    And just by SHEER COINCIDENCE, there's a new career interview with Mimsy in the latest VIDEO WATCHDOG (#161).

    Now back to the show: I believe "Second Chance" is perfectly satisfactory in every respect ... if you look at it from the point of view of ABC. ("Make sure the guy gets sucked out the airlock; that happens in them space movies.") I believe Joe and Lou and Co. were pot-shotting ideas around the office, and somebody said, "Say — folks get in an amusement park ride and it actually TAKES OFF INTO SPACE." And as you can see, hilarity ensued. Point being: ABC could see no qualitative difference between "Second Chance," and, say, "It Crawled Outta the Woodwork."

    Plus points: I like the spaceship interior set. I like the majesty of the shot where the ship soars into the void (but NOT, as pointed out in the book, the later shots of it looking more like the dial on an electroshock machine). I like the fact there is an actual actor in the alien suit ... although THAT smug position will be completely bum-fucked by "Fun and Games," coming up. Plus points for alien speechifying. Plus points for Don Gordon, who was capable of much better, and who was game here, I believe, because he liked the series and this was the next available opportunity. He, too, needed the Stefano/Hall/Oswald "troika."

    And it was the only time a woman got screen credit as a writer in the entire breadth of THE OUTER LIMITS ... even if it was her pseudonym.

  14. See, it took a LIMERICK to get the estimable Tim Lucas to post here. There's no depth to which I won't stoop. There are tons more. Consider them punishment. I shall gracefully withhold the identities of the other contributors, unless they out themselves. Under no circumstances should anyone reading this blog attempt their OWN Outre Limerick. I'm serious about this. Don't do it. I'm tellin' ya. Nuh-uh. It ain't worth the damage to your psyche. No way. Negatory. DO NOT. Hear me, now ...

  15. Not a lot to boast about here, except for Mimsy Farmer. This is poor TOL and mediocre TV science-fiction. An impatient second-season episode that skittered out before its time.

    I remember liking this a lot more as a kid and now can readily see why: It's the perfect adolescent stretch of fundamental imagination. You take an activity that's already a pleasant diversion from reality and think, Hey---what if this really happened? That's OK for your early fictional efforts, not for THE OUTER LIMITS.

    The facile elements of second-tier pulp sf are all here, like ducks in a row, presenting themselves as easy targets in a critical shooting gallery: the absurdity of the ride's conversion to interstellar conveyance overnight; the Empyrians' silly plan (for such an advanced race, psychology certainly isn't their strong suit, and they join the Chromoites and the Erosians in a tight race to win the Overkill Stakes---doesn't ANY alien race think to ASK for help first? is it so demeaning to them?); the stereotypical character-beat brushstrokes---

    I defended Olive Deering's self-centered navel-gazing under Zanti stress because her character had been sufficiently demonstrated earlier in the story. She was the bleakly cynical moral center of that episode, dramatizing its reflection on precisely WHY Earth was the perfect planet for the Zantis to farm out their functionally condemned prisoners.

    In "Second Chance," too many characters' dark psychological profiles are splashed on in primary colors; revealed unconvincingly under pressure, like parody. They're caricatures. Think of Sonny Bono's crackpot bomber, erupting on cue in AIRPLANE 2. This is how I view an abrupt, untextured and too pat sudden revelation like Tommy's "I-admire-you-so-much-that-I-hate-you" breakdown here.

    As DJS pointed out in the COMPANION text, Tommy's subtext was excised, along with too much other carefully written supportive material. You can't strip away the adhesive and expect the structure to stand intact. I feel bad for writer Sonya Roberts.

    (Dave Schow also pegs the bankable certainty that the network braintrust couldn't tell this from any other TOL with an alien or a spacecraft. Sci-fi is sci-fi, right? Reminds me of the great producer character Tony Shalhoub played in BARTON FINK, when pressed by the writer about theme and motivation: What's to know? It's Wally Beery---a rasslin' picture---wha-a-aaaat?)

    There are some nice moments, as with all TOLs. Photographic images that keep you watching and hoping, staying with you awhile as a sort of ghostly affirmation that you had a good time, like the fading hand stamp you might get at the amusement park gate. But they don't hold up under closer examination.

    Don Gordon, always seemingly a sympathetic, oppressed loner, is hard not to like. You want a more meaningful arc for his character. Simon Oakland can be a wonderful actor. Here, despite his eagerness to play the alien, he just looks burdened by the heavy makeup. His earnest orations make him sound more admirable human than exasperated alien, and thus the costume feels false, theatrical. Maybe he needed a vocal modulation, like the angelic Bellero being.

    If you're going to label your catalyzing plot device "LAB/PIT" - "FORWARD/BACKWARD" - "JOY RIDE/COSMIC EVENT," then your thematic payoff has to amount to more than it does here: some shake-'n'-bake outer space cliches and a shipful of queasy riders who want their money back.

    And didn't these folks belie "Spider County" Aabel's grandiose hopes for the "dreamers" among humankind?

  16. There's that list that everyone here has done and redone every few years: the BEST OL episodes, and the list we really want to make, the ones we really LIKE the best. I did the latter recently and I had to admit that Second Chance was on that list. I know there's no way it's one of the best, by any stretch, but it combines so many fun things. Going into space, check. Leaving all your problems behind, check. A chance to do something "big" (in this case, saving the world; although it would be scary if most of these folks were looking after us), check. Amusement parks (childhood memories), check. Genre cliches (I kind of like them), check. Anyway, I want to like Second Chance too much to judge it seriously. Oh, and a hot chick too. Not Mimsy Farmer, although she is; I'm talking about Janet Degore. I always wanted to be Don Gordon; finding his intellectual dream, chin wagging with the Empyrian, and meeting this artistic, gorgeous girl who wanted to go along with me!

  17. I am so happy a reference was made to M. Night Shyamalan. It got me involved! I very much love TOL, but add Shyamalan and I'm hooked.

  18. Speaking as a red-blooded American het male, Janet DeGore has got spectacular legs ... but again, that slightly brittle set to the mouth that characterizes so many of OUTER LIMITS' female players. Mimsy is more "girly" here, soon to bust out sexually in features.

    But what happened? Did they all return to Earth, with Dave and Mara becoming the point people for an Empyrian migration shortly after having all sorts of hot monkey sex? What did the Empyrian do during that time? "Oh, you two go on; I'll get a latte."


    Now YOU can possess Dave Crowell's crappy jumpsuit for only $2500!

  20. David: I know what you mean by the "slightly brittle set to the mouth" of many OL women; I guess you just have to imagine past that. As for Dave and Mara, I think they WOULD have hot monkey sex all over the ship, between discussions of M. Night Shyamalan's The Lady In The Water. And the Empyrian hopes he's abducted the right people!

  21. I can just see the Empyrian sighing a lot: "EVERY chance they get ..."

  22. Hello! I was looking for information on Simon Oakland interviews a few months ago and stumbled on your very intriguing blog. I read your entry on Second Chance, and the pages scanned from the book, with great interest.

    I still haven't managed to find any Simon interviews. And right now, I and my friend Crystal Rose are currently in the process of trying to open a tribute website and companion blog for him. (This is the account we run the blog on.) And it's very difficult to find any information about him. With the Outer Limits book out of print and too expensive for our blood, is there any way this Simon Oakland interview from the book could be scanned or summarized for us to look at and learn from?

    Thank you so very much!

    ~Lucky Ladybug

  23. I have a question that's bothered me for a while. It's pointed out in the Companion that The Zanti Misfits is the only episode where you hear an alien LANGUAGE. But isn't that mysterious sound that David hears on the radio supposed to be the Empyrean's language? Or is it something else?

  24. 2 1/2 Zantis. You were pretty hard on this one, I agree it has a lot of problems, but I thought it was kind of fun. The idea of an amusement park as a front for a spaceship is probably an old sci-fi chestnut, but I kind of liked it, reminds me of Ender's Game, and stories like that. The best thing about it is Simon Oakland, I thought he was great, and what other actor would be willing to stay in a costume for the whole show (Warren Oates, I know)? For ex. they figured out a creative way to get Martin Landau out of the costume for part of The Man Who was Never Born- if you didn't see the credits, you might not know it was Oakland. As for the rest of the cast- bleh. I thought one of the young girls was Sandy Dennis, but I was wrong. The new couple is one of the most insufferably boring ones of alltime, after their meet-cute they could be the stars of their own crappy sitcom with a really annoying, grumpy upstairs neighbor- they should have thrown that old guy off the ship, I'm just glad I'm not going to the asteroid with him. I don't really understand why Oakland needed to abduct the earthlings to redirect the asteroid especially when it was stated he's 4 centuries ahead of earth in terms of technology. Why doesn't he just do it himself? The show makes a good point- people may be willing to die to preserve a nation but not a world.

  25. I thought someone would mention the pretty obvious appearance of the shadow of the boom microphone (upper left corner) in the early scene where the camera zooms in on the Empyrian as he talks on the microphone to report to his home planet about the status of his mission. Guess they had no time for a TAKE TWO ...

  26. There's one thing a little jarring about this one. Outer Limits had so little of that "helpless female" tradition that so many people hate in suspense stories, and this one wasn't entirely an exception to that, but this one DOES seem to have easily the most SCREAMS from female characters of any episode.
    It would almost go unnoticed in an episode of another SF show, but for an OUTER LIMITS episode it's a little hard to get used to.

  27. Simon Oakland's role as the alien Empyrian was a standout in a story riddled with inconsistencies(for instance,why he vaporized the curious nightwatchman,despite his otherwise benevolent mien,is never explained).Sonya Robert's script "Joy Ride" was so heavily butchered that a lot of the original concepts were omitted and/or altered considerably.
    And it shows in the aired episode itself.With a little more thought,this might have been a more compelling and believable story.

  28. Now, this episode is one of the 6 or 7 that stayed with me since childhood. Yep, I'm old, and watched them all first run in the early 60's. Watching it again, I now maturely (?) realize it wasn't THAT good. But it's not that bad either. So I can't be too harsh about it. Don Gordon's always good. Oakland was good too, with what silly lines he had to deal with.

  29. I actually found this episode to be rather interesting, and wanted to see how it all came out in the end, but let’s face it---it has a stupid, stupid plot.

    Man, none of this makes the least bit of sense from beginning to end. First off---secretly converting a carnival ride to a functioning space craft, without anyone noticing? Uh, yeah…sure… (Though it has to be said, the spacecraft has some serious design flaws, when anyone can simply press the airlock button and get sucked into the nothingness of space, while the craft is in flight. That’s just poor design.)

    There is absolutely no reason the advanced alien bird-race needs to have humans to, what---colonize an asteroid to prevent it from hitting their planet? Um, how does that work, now? And why couldn’t they just adjust the trajectory of the asteroid themselves? Also, given the vast distances involved, I think it’s safe to say that a rogue asteroid many, many light years away is going to have ZERO effect on the earth, even if it bounces around its own solar system like a ping-pong ball.

    If the aliens absolutely HAVE to have humans on their asteroid, just picking up half a dozen totally useless random specimens doesn’t seem to be very practical. The only man that could possibly be of any use is the scientist---but given that the bird-men are 400 years advanced in the sciences, as compared to earth---what good would he be, anyway?

    Kind of strange, the bird-man hears his hostages basically killing one another down below, and he does nothing---until finally he verrrrry slooowly moves over and looks down the stairs to see what’s going on.

    Poor Tommy---he gets sucked into space and basically nobody cares.

    Argh. “Kidnapped into space” is a fun idea, and there’s a basic sort of childhood wish fulfilment at play here: surely more than a few children visiting an amusement park have thought “what if this carnival ride was REALLY a spaceship and could fly?” But really---every single bit of this story is utterly nonsensical, and so I can’t say it’s a very good episode. (And this is another that gets the “Dark Shadows” award for “obvious visible shadow of boom mic.”)

    Now, the most basic idea of the premise---that being, second chances on a new world---did put me in mind of Jack Finney’s excellent short story “Of Missing Persons.” Man, now why wasn’t THAT ever adapted into an episode of The Outer Limits or The Twilight Zone? Would have been a perfect fit.


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