Thursday, March 3, 2011

Demon With a Glass Hand

Production Order #09
Broadcast Order #05
Original Airdate: 10/17/64
Starring Robert Culp, Arlene Martel, Abraham Sofaer.
Written by Harlan Ellison.
Directed by Byron Haskin.

Strapped with a glass hand, Trent (Culp) must run up an infinite amount of stairs an infinite number of times, being chased by aliens from the future. Why is he being chased? The answer, literally, is in his hand, lacking a few fingers. When he finds those missing digits, things will become clearer. 

 PE: Well, here we are, perhaps the most famous and critically acclaimed episode of Outer Limits. "Oh Boy!"

JS: Oh, boy! is right. We get our Season One best actor Robert Culp, a fascinating story from Harlan Ellison, some amazing lighting and photography, creepy music, and how better can one say it... location, location, location! I even have grown to love the inarticulate lucite hand through the years. But there is one element that prevents me from giving this episode the highest possible Zanti rating, the damn Kyben!

PE: Culp has a strange kind of prance in chase scenes, like he's not being given good direction. "Should I walk or should I run?" He also stands on his tiptoes a lot. You  may say "Enfantino, pay attention to the nuances." Well, I am. The guy spends 44 minutes of the running time (and that's an adequate description) running up and down the same stairs, through the same corridors, past the same shadows. It's hard not to notice his feet. Dig those tennis shoes. I'm tellin' ya, it was in his contract. $500 a day and ten pairs of Keds.

JS: The use of the Bradbury building as the primary set for this episode was a brilliant choice. I haven't seen a stairway look so creepy since Robert Wise's The Haunting. The building provides fantastic production values, but the way in which the story is built to take advantage of the geography is what makes its use that much more effective.

PE: He's such a gallant hero, he uses Consuelo (Martel)  as a shield.

JS: I thought the relationship has an interesting arc through the course of the show. From their introduction, during which Trent must do whatever it takes to survive, to her resurrection of him, and ultimately their climactic split, I was invested from start to finish. I thought the lovely Arlene Martel was great (I got a Gina Gershon in Curb Your Enthusiasm vibe from Martel! -PE).

PE: Our aliens sure like to talk in front of doors and right in each other's faces.

JS: Okay, let's talk about what (for me) prevents this episode from earning a perfect rating. The Kyben have been altered to look like humans. Now unless they did their human sampling on the set of Carnival of Souls, why the black raccoon eyes? And where might an alien race from the future get the idea that leotards and swim caps made for a reasonable outfit? Unfortunately in almost every scene they appear in, the look tears down any tension that has been built up. Surely they could have come up with something between normal looking humans (a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers) and an interpretive dance group. On the bright side, it was nice for a change for the aliens brandishing good old Earth-bound firearms in lieu of Thetan Disintegrator Ray Guns (but then that brings to mind the ludicrous scene of the Kyben buying guns down at the gun shop. -PE).

JS: I think they bought them from Diemos' Pawn Shop down the street. In all fairness, there is one scene with a Kyben that I thought was effective, when Trent is on top of one and right up in his grill.

When I first saw this as a youngster, I always had a problem that the lucite hand never matched up with Trent's gloved hand. Now, I appreciate it as almost a quaint relic, and it does not detract from my enjoyment of the show.  Too bad Sideshow never made a talking/light-up prop replica hand with removable fingers. I have to add that when we see Trent's chest light up, it always makes me think of Dr. Theopolis from Leslie Stevens' future hit series, Buck Rogers.

PE: And I thought that was a strangely filmed scene. One minute the coat is zipped up and then, at the moment of revelation, voila, the chest is exposed. Magic hands on the zipper?

JS: Did anyone else think the design of the Time Mirror paid homage to Tone's Time Tilter from "Forms of Things Unknown"?

PE: Nice, nasty climax. After assembling his fingers, the glass hand reveals to Trent that he's actually a robot. When she hears this, Consuelo, who'd been trying to get Trent in the sack all episode long, shrinks from him and weasels away, leaving the poor android a lonely savior.

JS: Yeah. On the one hand, can you blame her? But when you consider all they've been through, you have to admit that a gal could do worse than a robot Robert Culp...

PE: Call me a rebel but this episode has never really blown me away. I've tried to get into it but it's pretty much a bore other than that achingly sad ending. Further, I think this is the least of Culp's three performances on Outer Limits (but that may be because he's not doing much but jogging). I know it's won awards (but so did Titanic) and it's got that reputation as perhaps the greatest science fiction drama ever written for TV, but just as with Thriller's "Pigeons from Hell", it escapes me why. Please don't tell Harlan. (Right now I'm humming that line from The Ballad of John and Yoko: the way things are going/they're gonna crucify me! -PE)

JS: To each his own. I think Culp's performance is perfect for the material. Allow me to drive in the first nail...

Does it rate one and a half glass digits?
Two and a half?
Three and a half?
Four and a half!?!
Come on, give me that one back. The scale only goes to four.



David J. Schow on "Demon With A Glass Hand":

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


A tennis-clad, glass-handed Demon
Set time-jumping Kyben to steamin’
    He yanked on their chains
    Leaving time-travel stains
And medallions all golden and gleamin’.

The Hispanic hottie Consuelo
Stays hottest on Mister Trent’s tail-o
    He’s really a bot
    So make love, he cannot
And Consuelo then hits the ole trail-o.

Trent’s digital palmtop computer
Gave data that at once eschewed her
    Robot love she forsook
    With each lobe that he took
And now he’s the loneliest dude-er.

(In his dreams he actually screwed her.)

Be sure to check back later today for Ted Rypel's Spotlight on "Demon With A Glass Hand."

Next Up...


    Back in 1993 or so, one of TNT's Monstervision OUTER LIMITS Marathons was hosted by Penn & Teller. The bumpers they did for episodes like "The Galaxy Being," "Nightmare," "Cold Hands Warm Heart" and "Demon with a Glass Hand" ("How to become a Kyben in 60 seconds") were unforgettable.

    Disfortunately, only a portion of one of these interstitials -- for "The Sixth Finger" -- is readily available on YouTube:

    "Sixth Finger" -

    Apparently THIS fellow has the entire TNT Marathon available:

    TNT Monstervision - Outer Limits Marathon (Hosted by Penn & Teller) (4 DVDs)

    So far, Harlan Ellison has not unleashed the long-mooted "Demon" novel, but the story was recycled in 1986 as a (pointless) comic book which "restored" Consuelo's Hispanic status and armed Trent with either a MAC-10 or an Uzi ... but took far too much of its "inspiration" from the televised version (while trumpeting itself as "Ellison's original vision"), including the labyrinth of the Bradbury Building.

  2. I remember when Peter gave the THRILLER episode "Pigeons from Hell" a low rating. It caused a near riot among the commentators and he still wears the bruises.

    The low rating for this episode should also cause alot of griping. In fact I fear a lynch mob may be forming to bring justice to DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND. By the way the Internet Movie Data Base gives this episode the rating of 9.2 out of 10, which is by far the highest rating of any OUTER LIMIT show.

    Should we bother with a trial or just pronounce Peter guilty?

  3. Ya know, this episode kinda reminds me of a James Cameron movie...

  4. It's okay to rate this show by its merit or lack of merit according to contemporary entertainment, but put in the context of airing on national television in 1964-5 (for whomever wasn't watching Jackie Gleason), it's a complete mindfucker. The premise. The look. The story. The hand. The building. The weird music. It was just a complete mindfucker.

    I wish I could remember whether I saw the first airing (my dad would've scratched his head and downed another screwdriver), or the first rerun, but I do remember I had never been exposed to anything quite like it on a television series. The story and emotions never grabbed me in a way as my ultimate favorite TOL episodes ("Architects..." "Man Who.."), but for pure gobsmacking WTF?!! this was a revelation.

    Okay, so much for reverence.

    Consuela (Arlene Martel) simple must qualify as the frontrunner for OL babe falling in love the quickest and most inexplicably. I know there are many runner ups (Shirley Knight with Andro, some might say, but I buy that one better). At least with the DJS notes (and can someone please post a focused version of that one page?), we get that there was more to it. Basically, she wanted to get laid before they died (or am I misinterpreting that?)

    I also wonder if Robert Culp had it in his TV contracts to always wear a white jacket and tennis shows. Or was he running (and getting shin splints) in between shooting this episode and the "I Spy" pilot?

    Back to reverence.

    I am not an autograph person. I only have ... a handful: Spiro Agnew (don't ask, I was 10 years old and he was the governor of my state); Jim Steranko (argue amongst yourselves); Fredric Brown (posthumously); Ray Bradbury (sorry about that Cannon gig); and Robert Culp ... as Trent.

  5. Don't know why the in-line OLC excerpts sometimes appear blurry. If you click on those, they'll open in their own window and should be readable (and even slightly larger).

  6. John and Peter: I think you guys are both right about Culp's performance; it's the least of the three but it perfectly suits the material. It is a terrific performance that just so happens to be alongside two that are exceptionally brilliant.

    As for your gripe about the Kyben, John...As a kid I remember both liking this episode as cool, exciting and different, but also looking at these aliens with the dark circles and stocking heads as, well, something that looked just plain lazy or kind of cheapo (not to mention a bit too Buck Rogers space opera). Really? That's it?

    DJS's entry on "Hand" is a wonderfully full-bodied, richly detailed account, but, except for Ellison's initial beef, there's no mention of the Kyben look. John, you referenced INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, but it might have been interesting if a kind of scary middle ground a la "Corpus Earthling" were achieved--kind of haggard men-in-black--certainly in keeping with noir aspects and lack of budget. Of course that would also look less SF. Ah, Monday morning quarterbacking--it's so darned easy!

    Kyben aside, this is a superb piece of written/filmed science fiction and the best of S2 (though not a favorite for me overall). Is it considered The Best Gosh Darned Outer Limits Ever? I really don't know just how we would know that, though it certainly seems a popular thing to say. My harping on the Kyben might seem the picking of nits, but it did (and does) bug me (and how interesting would this be if we all line up our dump trucks and pile praise in the same heap?).

    BTW, the gun thing: I notice towards the end that Budge arrives with holster (and flap) suggesting the boys are equipped with period arms prior to rubber-banding. I also like the firearms use here as opposed to ray gun. In fact--though Ellison mentions Hitchcock--the structure of this seems very much film noir; WWII vet with amnesia holds key to priceless relic as dark forces converge on him. The transition to "vertical chase" at the Bradbury certainly seems to reinforce this. And fantastic work by Haskin and Peach, and Lubin's best score.

    Three and a half Zantis for me. Looking forward to the Tedmeister's Spotlight!

  7. Larry B: While the "Corpus" look may have been too close of a retread considering Culp led both, I do agree that such make-up would have been far more effective. This comes across as theatrical, as evident in the "gimme all your money or the clown gets it" screencap included above...

  8. What a show. From the captivating title to the choices of both Culp and the Bradbury Building, it's a total winner. Even Lubin rises to the occasion with an inventive, New Wave-ish score that makes clever use of piano and drum. Never had a problem with the depiction of the Kyben; they needed to look human, yet slightly "off" in a weird, almost nightmarish way (thank God we were spared rubber masks or even Spock-like ears). As a matter of fact, this funky look fits right in with one of them yelling "Hey, Arch!" off-screen, with Ellison and Haskin using "funny" to emphasize strangeness. BTW, I'm preparing a screenplay called THE BRADBURY, which deals with the construction of this amazing building. It was conceived like a giant rocketship -- locals still expect it to take off someday -- and the designer was urged to take the commission by his brother, who happened to be dead at the time (this urging took lace during a seance). So yep, the Bradbury has both a supernatural and sci-fi heritage, which was certainly enough to intrigue me. It's turned up in countless movies, some famous, some less so, and even doubled as a WWII hospital in England for MGM's THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER back in the '40s. Legendary Ray has nothing to do with it, for the record, but even the coincidence of the name adds a certain "something." Those distinctive globe lights (which I love) are gone forever, replaced by more tulip-shaped ones, because the building's been restored to its original look, and the globes were added later. I'll try to forward photos I took about ten years ago, connected to a indie sci-fi movie I was going to shoot there.

    In any event, a great episode and a great building!

  9. Part One

    There's a test I used to do whenever I opened up the numerous reference books on Film Noir. No matter how good the book, I'd go to the index and check if they had even a marginal entry on 'Alias Nick Beal', a 1949 fog drenched and oppressive little fantasy film about a politician who sells his soul to the devil (with great photography by Thriller's Lionel Lindon). If it wasn't mentioned, I'd take any claims for being complete, comprehensive or encyclopedic as nonsense.

    I have a similar test for film guides, where I check out entries on certain films by Welles, Wilder, Wyler, ect, trying ascertain whether the guide is open-minded or has brought into the whole cult of the autuer bullshit and knocked off the great directors and films of the '40s and '50s (Wilder and Wilder, especially to make their spuriosly dim charges stick).

    Well, I have one too for SF Reference books such as Clute's massive 'The Encyclopedia of SF' and many others. I look up TOL. They usually cite the show for it's monsters and photography, some sophisticated SF ideas and that's it. Then they cite 'Demon with a Glass Hand' as the best and that's about the level of the contribution. And I always think they've been hoodwinked!

    Love him or hate him, or anywhere between - Ellison can't be ignored, or he'd burn down the building. One thing that's I've picked up over the years is the, sometimes biting, subtext that he is a player who has effectively set-up a small cult and knows how to play the games required to come out on top. It might be a small comment from James Gunn in his introduction to Ellison in the mammoth 3 part anthology 'The Road to SF'.

    Such grand claims usually result in disappointment; Ellison's famous anthology 'Dangerous Visions' won all the awards and a huge reputation and despite some merit (with that great line-up of talented authors, how could it not have some merit) - is dated, often repulsive and some of the tales more inclined to lose readers to SF by the tonne load. Though I'm sure it would have felt all grown up at the time. Pohl's 'Star' and many others are far better. Ellison's won 'I Have No Mouth and Must Scream' - another award winner, a forceful piece - akin to being beat with a sledge-hammer, pales beside others that didn't get anywhere.

    And he sure knows how to work the politiking to get the best darned result for Harlan Ellison, hence the comment:

    "The first season, I thought, was garbage, the usual monster bullshit. They were doing 'the bear on the beach', in which you open with a bear on a beach, then you ask how the bear got on the beach. It was a lot of funny rubber masks, and basically silly ideas. Until Brady came in, there were no science fiction writers working for the show. In the second season, nobody paid any attention to what we were doing: nothing was left for production, so they left us alone to do what we wanted, and we were able to do scripts that were considerably more complex. We were allowed to experiment, because after Daystar and Villa di Stefano and everyone else had taken their cuts, nobody had an eye on us, and the ratings were already so low that no one gave a damn. And that's how the best stuff gets on - absolutely by accident. It slips through when no one's looking." (This from a writer who wrote for Irwin Allan!)

  10. Part Two

    Now the the latter part as an element of truth, in that' many 'b' movies are great classics, but the idea that no budgets allows for creativity - is idiotic nonsense. The only person that this statement serves is Ellison. He was the ONLY SF writer on board during the second season, so in one statement he completely tars with a broad brush, the tireless work of the writers who gave their all and then cites the noble use of the SF writer in the second season as the reasons for TOL worthiness. He, the one and only SF writer, was the series saviour and the only reason to watch it. It's politics of the worst sort, ego driven and maniacal (the creative arts version of an odious politician). There is no cause other than Ellison.

    Yet, the twerp is - one his day - a terrific little writer.

    And 'Demon with a Glass Hand' the one noble segment worthy of a place NEXT to not above the hallowed first season masterworks of Stefano, Dolinsky, Ellis St. Joseph, ect.

    Part of it's charm is the loading of SF concepts upon each other, anyone of which would have created a fission of a "sense of wonder" where the SF concept creates a vibrant perceptual breakthrough in the reader/viewer/listener.

    We have:
    1/ Time Travel from the far future to the present, mixing past and present.
    2/ A force field
    3/ An alien invasion
    4/ A cyborg - part man part machine
    5/ An android who thinks he is a man (a concept that made Philip K. Dick pretty happy in 1953 when he pioneered it in 'Imposter')
    6/ Future war
    7/ Overpopulation
    8/ Genetic manipulation
    9/ Gateways/ portals to other worlds
    10/ Alien transformation via some off screen process that allows them to look human.

    Anyone of these ideas would have been enough to have carried an episode or a series. Here they are woven into a seamless whole and a tight SF thriller with a final O' Henry style ending – a mindblowing final break that loads it up with a jerry-built mythic resonances - it's a magnificent achievement. It certainly belongs up there with 'The City on the Edge of Forever' (no, not the best one of them) and an episode of the new 'Twilight Zone' - 'One Life Furnished in early Poverty' as the best of Ellison's TV wonderland. The title of the last may help explain his attempted ego-theft of the glory that is 'The Outer Limits'. Gaping childhood wounds festering in his actions.

    Kenneth Peach is on fine form here, in the one truly great episode he was involved in ('The Guests' is pretty terrific too). It seems more and more that he was an uninspiring journeyman willing to go for the the tone set by the producers and ABC executives for the second season and even in his first season entries, the lowest common denominator - unless galvanised by a creatively directorial hand; Oswald, Haskin and Goldstone come to mind. This show is the best lit second season entry.

    On the musical front, Lubin has a reputation for melody but most of his segments so far have just sprayed his 'One Step Beyond' music wide and deep into the most forgettable episodes in the show's cannon. His best work was the opening and closing parts of 'Soldier' and 'Demon'. In between, his music becomes load and brassy and on dimensional in the former and the use of a discordant piano in the latter doesn't really do justice to the mythic sense of purpose going on. Lubin's accompaniment to some of he other opening narrations of the lesser segments, such as 'Counterweight' is notable too, it has a certain kick but lasts the length of the narration and goes missing in action.

    1. ".... He (Ellison) was the ONLY SF writer on board during the second season...."

      Jerry Sohl wrote for S2. Also, I think Ellison's point was that more of S2's source material came from extant SF books/short stories (than S1 utilized), even if the teleplays were not cobbled together by SFWA (or it's antecedent organizations) members.

  11. Part Three

    What lets some of the actual episode down is the Kyben. Had they just settled for the dark panda bear eyes, ok - maybe that's the nature of the transformation process or the effects of the virus or the war, even if it makes them look like Uncle Fester - but what was Haskin thinking of with the tights over the head. Even the outfits they wear they can get away with, I mean how many military outfits of our own past would pass muster in alien eyes. I'd like to be charitable and say that whole tights on head could be Haskin, saying to the punk Ellison, 'you wanna F*#k with me and I'll do this to ya'. but I don't think so. Haskin was a brilliantly talented man of integrity. It's just a really bizarre element that has no reason. It's the only element that Haskin's magnificent direction falters in, otherwise his movement and set-ups brilliantly bring the whole thing to life. He galvanises the whole script on a silly schedule.

    Another thing that doesn't come off is the love interest. There is no chemistry between them and Martel plays the part so passively - there is no spark of life. Maybe appropriate, as she is a cleaner doing a drab job but it would have worked better if her adventure with Culp's Trent had galvanised her and awoken her. A little bit of sex appeal would have been welcome too. Kellarman would have run away with the part.

    Ellison would throw down his toys and leave numerous projects. Many were the fault of the executive suits that Stefano and Stevens had to face, other times one detects a character flaw, such as his walking away from the new 'Twilight Zone' for reasons that are beyond belief. As if the universe had to be set up to encompass his ego.

    'Demon with a Glass Hand' looks better because of the detris around it; yet it's exciting, riveting, full of great SF concepts and mythological resonances, it's a great flawed classic, as flawed as it's errant and talented writer.

    Four glass Zantis

    PS: I don't think the novel will ever be completed in his lifetime, though I'd love to be wrong. The same goes for the last part of his 'Dangerous Visions' anthology.

    1. Why blame Haskins for the Kyben look? There were other names attached to the titles Costume and Makeup.

  12. Simply a great episode. My feelings about its richness and deserved place as a genre classic are all detailed in the coming Spotlight. Some details I dwell on will have long since been compromised (e.g., Walker Martin's observation of the eye-opening IMDb rating), so it'll be less revelatory than, I hope, a useful contemplation of what makes "Demon" so memorable.

    Gary G---

    I'd love to see your additional pix of the Bradbury Building. David's are nice, but I can never get enough views of this fascinating piece of unique architectural history. It's like The Temple of Noir. And I'd love to hear more about your film project set there!

  13. Bobby Josson brought up one element that I wanted to discuss but ultimately abandoned because the Spotlight was running so long: the "human consciousness" element of Trent's android entity, how it relates to so much of Philip Dick's work, apropos of what comprises the fully "human" being, etc. At what point does an artificial intelligence with implanted cognition, feelings and emotions earn sympathetic legitimacy? This is an important sidelight, deserving of study on its own, to the character of Trent, which compels our ongoing sympathy despite his manufactured status. And no writer probed these matters as trenchantly as Dick.

  14. And kudos to our resident Outre Limerick king for a brilliant outing here!

  15. How could I have previously missed Culp doing the voice of the computer? Well, in my defense, this is the first time (in decades) I've screened it or listened to it on anything beyond a 19" television with a crappy speaker.

    Gary - Until I actually visited the building and read more about it well into my adult term in L.A., I hope I'm not the only one who thought the building WAS named after our visionary Ray.

    JS - Thanks for the tech tip; that was a page not to be missed.

    bobby - wonderful analysis (of both the episode and Ellison). Did anyone on this blog contribute to the documentary "Dreams with Teeth," or was that only the sycophants?

    Looking forward to Ted's spotlight.

  16. Let's face it, the Kyben are mimes that talk. Have always loved this episode and agree especially with AWC that there was NOTHING like this on TV during its time--truly progressive. It's in my top five for the entire OL, but I'll let the rest of you do the praising. Don't be too hard on Peter, though--he's doing his best!

  17. Bobby Josson mentions that Harlan Ellison was the only SF writer on board for the second season but I recall Jerry Sohl was there for "The Invisible Enemy".

    This show deserves a high rating just for the great scenes in The Bradbury Building.

  18. Whoops, your so right Walker - I forgot Sohl, but then his has much to forgotten about (aside from the classic Zone 'Living Doll').

  19. Some thoughts:

    --While "Architects" is easily OL's most powerful show for me, "Demon" is its most perfect. Beautifully conceived, constructed, crafted, an exquisite mosaic that is fitted together before our eyes, its timing and balance perfectly calibrated.

    ---The Kyben? Never bothered me. It's total STYLIZATION....just like the physical setting and the funky "foreign-film/New-Age" score with the martial tympani solos and keyboard riffs. Simple, "use your imagination" bare-bones, almost expressionistic theatrical stuff. As Gary G. said above, I'd take this approach to the Kyben ANYDAY over another cheap-o, rubber monster attempt. It is, to my theatrical eye, very well INTEGRATED into the visual/story-telling style of the whole. I mean--why gripe about the Kyben design when you've bought into the concept that the future saviour of mankind is running around in a white jacket and sneakers in downtown L.A.? C'mon! They are totally consistent with one another.

    ---Considering how Ben Brady had squashed the life out of TOL, ushering in the era of depressing 60's suburban living rooms, cocktails and in the HELL did Brady and his Sam ("victim of soicumstance") White EVER ALLOW this episode to be made?? It is TOTALLY off the reservation as defined by their guidlelines! A torrent of bracing, dazzling fresh air that smacks you across the face and almost single-handedly redeems and justifies S2.

    ---The initial scene between Culp and Consuelo, with him holding his hand over her mouth, is but one example of the perfectly gauged tone, camera-work and timing of this show. Martel is fabulous, revealing great depth and range in her performance as she progresses through the show. Haskin obviously could be a powerhouse director when he liked the material.

    --Brilliant use of the Bradbury Building setting. But why waste words on it? I think I'll go watch it again.

    To avoid running out of space here, Part 2 will follow re: Mr. Lubin.


  20. Lubin was, at best, a third-rate composer, with one "hit tune" to his credit that he seemed to recycle endlessly. His contributions to most of TOL's S2 are so depressingly inferior to Frontiere's that I can barely stand to listen (or watch). But every other element of "Demon"...his music was able to transcend the utterly mundane status-quo of his S2 work.

    The DEMON score contains only a handful of basic musical ideas, but they are effective and varied..and pretty "out there" for mid-60's TV. A small background group of strings was used occasionally, but the main focus is on a group of keyboard instruments and solo tympani (kettledrums). Reminds me somewhat of the kind of thing that Jeff Alexander did in the Euro-stylized, "new age" attempt from TZ's final season "Come Wander With Me."

    Apparently Lubin used two pianos, one of them "standard" but the other had some sort of MUTING device used on the hammers, giving it a softer, more "dulcimer" kind of sound (possibly an old upright piano). What's very effective is the massive REVERB that is used on this instrument--ESPECIALLY when the camera's POV gives us the huge OPEN SPACE of the Bradbury building. When the instrumental sound goes from close spotlighting to this big OPEN WASH of sound--it seems as if the cascading arpeggios are coming FROM WITHIN the cavernous, black space of the building itself. Very cool.

    Lots of standard keyboard arpeggios (all of those quick, rippling passages), and the typical block-chord, hammering piano stuff during the late action scenes in the attic. But ol' Harry also uses what I assume is the electronic Novachord Organ, prominent in TV and studio at the time, especially in sci-fi. All of those shimmery, glinting sounds are, like everything else, an integral part of the "new age", stylized approach to this score.

    ---The "love theme" (that somber, low-range motif), the first prominent appearance of which is heard when Consuelo brings Trent back to life, may indeed have been played on the electronic keyboard known as the ONDES MARTENOT (you can see a demo or two posted on You-Tube), a synthesizer prototype that, among other things, can produce a velvety, almost vocal sound that can be "bent" by means of a ribbon device. It's somewhat similar to the familiar Thermin, which is MUCH-overused by Lubin and will ruin the big emotional final scene of "The Inheritors."

    One more note on the "Demon" score: Harry does an amazingly cool thing at the end, as Trent wafts up the stairs, hand-held camera following him from a distance, to take up his sentinel's post ~ Harry--for the only time in the show---uses a standard STRING ORCHESTRA-- purged of all "Moderne" electronic sounds, to deliver the final eulogy under the CV's closing narration. And even though this passage sounds no different from any other scoring that was being cranked out at the time, the totally unexpected effect of this little string lament in G minor, is the final touch of brilliance on an already brilliant show.


  21. Useless trivia: when you watch all the running scenes, notice how Arline Martel favors holding one arm close to her side. She'd had abdominal surgery the week before, but did not disclose that to the producers for fear of losing the role. Not only a Babe of the Week, but a genuine theatrical trouper (and one-time Actor's Studio classmate of James Dean).

  22. Well, there you have it, folks---Larry Rapchak's informed---and almost musically thrilling in and of itself---explication of the "Demon" score that I ham-handedly bluff my way through, by ear, in the Spotlight.

    I knew you wouldn't be able to resist, Larry, and we're all the better for it. You make me want to load the episode in right now and just listen, with the picture off. But then that would be doing a disservice to the multimedia synergy that makes "Demon" such an effective experience.

    Thank you for this fascinating and eagerly absorbed info.

  23. Larry R, nice detailing on the fine Lubin score. And, Bobby, nice assessment overall.

    It's a great episode for sure. Honestly, I never noticed the sneakers before--why shouldn't he have sneakers? I mean, we're not supposed to know he's not just this mid-1960s guy.

    I think the Kyben thing bugs me only because the visual design of every other aspect of this show is so focused, so pristine, so absolutely inspired otherwise, that it seems a pity it couldn't have carried over here.

    And, believe me, I don't want no rubber monsters either.

  24. Larry B---

    I still think there was sly logic behind the Kyben makeup choice.

    And those signature Culp tennis shoes---coupled with sunglasses---became a standard with Culp-wannabe kids in my 'hood back in the day. I mean, there were kids who would unabashedly admit to affecting a Robert Culp cachet. He was considered hugely cool, with this TOL (and the other two memorable episodes) freshly in mind, when the I SPY series broke big the following fall.

  25. Walker-

    Find another way to punish me. I'm already hung. :>

  26. To accentuate the utter aberration that “Demon” was on commercial broadcast television, let’s briefly consider what was on at the same time:

    GILLIGAN’S ISLAND (“Join the castaways for a shipwreck full of laughs as comic tars Bob Denver and Alan Hale, Jr., bumble a new escape”). LAWRENCE WELK (“Launching his 10th year on TV”). MR. MAGOO. FLIPPER. HOOTENANNY. RESTLESS GUN. PRO FOOTBALL DISCUSSION (moderated by Bill Cullen). CAR 54, WHERE ARE YOU? (“Toody and Muldoon would much rather catch fish than felons”). THE RIFLEMAN. SEA HUNT. And a series of Saturday Night Movies that was enjoying a spasm of action flicks like TERROR OF THE BLACK MASK and MEDUSA AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES.

    I trust my point has been made.

    As for the ordnance in “Demon,” Ellison’s script specifies WW2-vintage hardware — .45s and potato-masher-style grenades for the Kyben, and a grease gun (M3 submachine gun) for Trent. (I don’t know how they missed including broom-handled Mausers, but they would have fit right in.) Lacking the armory, it was probably Haskin’s choice to go for those wonderfully gigantic Webley-style revolvers (the Webley, .476 Enfield, and Smith & Wesson “Victory” were all standard, period British military sidearms).

    The Kyben are not described apart from all being big stuntmen wearing black T-shirts and trousers.

    Did anyone here contribute to DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH? I did: One word. And Harlan probably doesn’t even remember this.

    Back when I was interviewing Vic Perrin — the Control Voice — I had him read a selection of OUTER LIMITS intros and outros; mostly the unused ones from alternate iterations of various scripts. But I knew that the whole “Sumerican” thing rankled Harlan, so I had Vic read the “Demon” preface (including the cut bits). Later I left it on Harlan’s answering machine. Subsequently, I sent him a cassette of the reading. Years later, here’s DREAMS, with that single word, “Sumerian,” looped into the Control Voice speech. I guess Harlan kept the cassette for a couple of decades!

    Considering the wealth of backstory — complete beat-by-beat treatments, fully fleshed out, both before and after the Bradbury Building became a “character” — I’m slightly surprised that Harlan has not permitted publication of the “Demon” scenario with all the trimmings.

  27. DEMON is a retro-futurist episode because it is directed as a silent film: just watch the Kyben which belong to "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" (1920). Just compare the face of actor Conrad Veidt with any of the Kyben.
    DEMON can be interpreted as a "pastiche" of the old German avant garde known as Expressionism but in its most primitive and crude sides.
    There is an element of theatre in DEMON too due to the lighting and the performances of the Kyben. Listen to the delivery of actor Abraham Sofaer.
    Don't get me wrong, I admire DEMON because this is the only season 2 episode with an artistical line.

  28. Whoa. Just got done watching this episode for the first time. It looks like the season 2 creators screwed up and actually made a show that's violent, dark, action-packed and has a twist ending that blows the mind! Mr. Culp finishes his OL career at 3-0.

    Okay, forgive me for the dumb question, but did all those aliens that disappeared after having their necklaces ripped off die, or just go back to their own time sequence? If it's the latter, then this ep. has to have one of the highest body counts out of all of them. Forgive me, there was a lot going on for the first time viewer. I guess it doesn't really matter, since dead or alive, they all get wiped out from the plague.

    The aliens' 'look' was actually kind of cool, IMHO. They reminded me of a gang from 'The Warriors.' CAN YOU DIG IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Chain-yanking makes the Kyben (Kyban, singular?), human, or robot (that had been wearing the medallion) die. That's part of the reason why the Kyben are so interested in getting all the fingers integrated back into the glass hand: they expect the completed computer to tell them how to SAFELY return to their time (~2964?).

  29. Damn, I meant if it's the 'Former' not 'latter.' Danged time travel ep. has got me all mixed up.

  30. Re: Bobby J's comments---I have a similar litmus test for reference books on character actors: if the book doesn't contain an entry on Walter Burke, it goes out into the garage. So now, whenever I want to check on ANY particular actor, that's where I head.

    ALSO---re: Ellison's best TV scripts, I would certainly add the new TZ "Paladin of the Lost Hour", which I thought was the highlight of the series.


  31. DJS - thanks for the fascinating anectdote on the Ellison cassette and the Sumerian slip-in on DREAMS.

  32. I want a glass hand replica. Seriously, I would pay BIG bucks for one. Somebody's working on one... check it out:

  33. The other very cool aspect of Lubin's final string orchestra cue as Trent wanders up the stairs is the fact that, purged of all of the "modernity" of the rest of the score, it introduces the only true "Human" element into the music. Ironically, it is Trent's realization that he is a machine that triggers the viewer's empathy and emotions...for the first and only time in the show. And it's at this crucial point that Harry eliminates all of the electronics and "new-age" stuff, and reverts to a good, old-fashioned string orchestra lament.

  34. Two dots I'm surprised nobody has connected in these comments (although I have yet to read the spotlight): if "Hand" is thought to evoke PKD, then how perfect is it that the Bradbury featured so prominently in BLADE RUNNER?

  35. I'm glad UTW brought up that one question, because I've always wondered about it. There's that scene where Trent (kind of morbidly) asks one of them what "it" is like, and it's hard to tell whether he's talking about the disappearing after the necklace is pulled or something else.

  36. Bobby Josson mentions overpopulation as a topic in the story, but it's always bothered me a little that those "17 BILLION people" are mentioned so matter-of-factly, without that being pictured as a bad thing (in other words, who needs a Kyben invasion to wreck a world like THAT?). Or was Ellison trying to let that speak for itself, without going any farther with it?

  37. Watched this one just yesterday. Quite an exciting and fast paced episode. I agree on the sloppy invader outfits which reminded me on those fancy spaceguys featured in the 50s b-movie "Killers from Space" in some way (But I have to admit TOL does the way better job here ^^) The climate was just fantastic with the girl turning away in the end, leaving the lonely bot alone with humankind in its "hands" - Even though after a few minutes it was quite clear that he indeed is keeping the secret himself / Or at least that mysterious glashand from outer space :D

  38. This one has at least one "L-OL" moment. It's when Trent tells the hand "There's a woman with me. We're trapped. What should I do?"
    I almost expect the hand to say (maybe in a Groucho voice) "Well, If I have to TELL you...."

    I almost expect that even though the hand CAN'T see how adorable Arlene Martel is as Consuela. If it COULD see her, it would be an even better comeback line.

  39. Back then, we were hooked on THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW. I can't remember clearly, but I have to assume that, somewhere in the back of my mind, I probably figured THE OUTER LIMITS had been cancelled after the previous season.

    HOW in the HELL did I wind up seeing this one??? I have NO IDEA. Since TOL did not last the full season, was it yanked off the air after the final new episode? Without a rerun season? I would guess it probably was... Which means these were probably run ONCE. And that's when I saw it. Or, HALF of it, anyway. I do have a pretty clear memory of walking in RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE. Good grief. It didn't take long to figure out what was going on. After all, I was used to coming into whole series after they'd been on the air for weeks-- months-- or years.

    This one stayed with me, as did all the ones I saw on ABC.

    The crazy thing is, it kept eluding me in reruns in the 70s. Until ONE day I caught it-- FROM THE BEGIINNING. The thing I remember most was watching it in my Dad's room, instead of downstairs in the living room where it would have been more comfortable. Sitting in a folding chair with the LIGHTS OUT. I watch all my TV with the lights out these days (except when I'm eating).

    The story starts IN PROGRESS-- it never slows down-- and when you get to the end, it won't be over for several thousand years. Holy cow.

    Incredibly-- I don't think I've seen this again since. So I've only ever seen it 1-1/2 times so far. And the one time I saw saw it all the way thru, was already DECADES ago. Unreal.

    An aside... DC Comics did a series of magazine-sized "graphic novel" TPBs, and a smaller sub-set of "science-fiction" graphic novels. It's my understanding that "DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND" was the ONLY sci-fi one that completely sold out. My neurotic comics-shop owner, Fred Marcus, insisted it was because of Harlan Ellison. I told him, NONSENSE. It sold so well because it appealed to 3 distinct audiences...

    1 - Harlan Ellison fans
    2 - Marshall Rogers fans
    3 - OUTER LIMITS fans

    I've always considered "BLADE RUNNER" to be a feature length OUTER LIMITS story. The plot reminds me of "The Duplicate Man" (it's illegal for something to be on Earth, and has to be killed), and then you have the human-like android with the chase inside The Bradbury Building ("Demon").

    The Building also turns up in "I, THE JURY" (1953) and "MARLOWE" (1969). That's right. Mike Hammer & Philip Marlowe were neighbors!

    And Arlene Martel was HOT in 2 different episodes of THE MONKEES...

  40. Watched this one for perhaps the 6th or 7th time in my six-plus decades, and must conclude IMHO that "Demon with a Brass Gland" as DJS once tagged it, is the single best hour of sky-fi ever produced for the tube. That's IMHO.

  41. Harlan Ellison was great, but it's a shame Barry Malzberg was born too late to write for OL.

  42. An excellent if vitriolic oral history of the episode by Ellison.

    Could have been, would have been an extra on the blu-ray, had it been discovered then.

  43. Where did Arlene Martel (cleaning lady) come from if everyone on earth had disappeared overnight? Was she too busy cleaning The Bradbury Building to disappear along with everyone else?

    1. It was the 17 billion Earthlings from 1000 years in the future (~2964?) who had disappeared overnight, not the 3.3 billion who were on Earth in 1964. Martel/Consuelo was merely the last human working late into the night in a deserted Bradbury Building that makes it seem as if she might be the last person on Earth. In fact there was a bustling world outside the building; we just don't see it.

    2. Also, although working late, she was hardly a "cleaning lady." Consuelo Biros was the "C" in "C&E Biros, Ladies Apparel," the name of the business clearly shown on the office door; she explained to Trent that her abusive husband, Esteban, who gave her such an aversion to violence, was the "E."

  44. enjoy a personal commentary by Ellison...

    bobby J

  45. In the spirit of Joe Bob Briggs' MonsterVision (with a dash of COVID-19 boredom), I re-watched Demon and did a detailed body count of Kyben (AK = Anonymous Kyben):

    02:15 1 AK chain yank
    05:52 1 Breech (Steve Harris) chain yank
    10:12 1 AK gunshot
    13:41 1 AK chain yank
    28:23 1 Durn (Bill Hart uncredited in imdb) chain yank
    38:06 1 Arch (Abraham Sofaer) chain yank
    41:36 2 AK (time mirror technicians) chain yank
    41:40 1 Bonn gunshot
    44:52 1 Budge (Robert Fortier) chain yank
    45:37 1 Battle's (Rex Holman) near-future chain yank death is implied, though at this point he's only karate-chopped unconscious from the final attic sequence

    total dead Kyben = 11

    I also noticed that the end of acts 1, 2, and 3 all focus on Consuelo: as if to remind the viewer that all this activity centers around her (the allegorical figure representing all of humanity) progeny.

  46. Mistake:

    01:12 Trent: "What can I do? Who are they?" Trent's Hand: "....(b) the time mirror permits only two travelers at one time, but they are replenishable...."

    And yet, there are several points in the ensuing story where there are more than two travelers: at the end of act 2 there are 4 Kyben standing around a prone/dead Trent, and in the passport office when Bonn comes through with the last finger there are 4 -- and briefly 5 -- Kyben on 1964 Earth . . . . and that doesn't even count Trent, who is also clearly a "traveler" (the glass hand makes no distinction between humans, robots, or Kyben in defining "travelers").

  47. Your comment about Consuelo is interesting. According to the Companion (of course you can see that above), the others got impatient with Harlan Ellison for focusing too much attention on that character, although I think that was actually a good thing.

  48. I'm closer to P.E. on this one. I've seen it 4 times because it's the most acclaimed episode, I think I first rented it on VHS in the eighties, even then I always saw it as a 2 1/2 Zantis. Maybe I would bump it up to 3 for the Bradbury's building, which is my favorite part. Maybe it's because I know how it ends, but I find it too dour, there's too much running around by Culp, like he is doing his best But Lancaster. The girl- who looks like she could be Jill Hayworth's older sister is too weird, although I like how she rejects the ribot Culp at the end. Still a good episode, but not in my top 5 for the season.


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!