Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Duplicate Man

Production Order #14
Broadcast Order #13
Original Airdate: 12/19/64
Starring Ron Randell, Constance Towers, Mike Lane.
Written by Robert C. Dennis, story by Clifford D. Simak.
Directed by Gerd Oswald.

Henderson James (Randell) has lost his pet Megasoid. Fortunately, it's ovulating and has more than killing in mind. To track down the creature, Henderson is forced to "duplicate" himself. Mayhem, laughs, and lots of mistaken identity follow.

PE: ... and we're back. To the same old crap. Too much to ask for that we might have two good episodes in a row.

JS: Technically we did get two good ones in a row... they were just parts of the same episode. A three-episode stretch was definitely out of the question.

PE: Evidently, in the year 2025,  phones will have screens, office buildings will have disco balls during business hours, cars will look just like 1960s models (but sound like the Batmobile) but, perhaps most startling, women will dress like princesses with capes.

JS: As for those videophones, did you notice how people have apparently regressed from the early days of Skype and FaceTime, not even bothering to look into the camera anymore.

PE: Seriously, the worst monster outfit ever created for television. A six foot abominable snowman with claws and a Minah beak who walks with a slouch. And a tail (can't forget that tail). Looks more like something Mister Rodgers would welcome to his neighborhood than a creature designed to frighten TV audiences. At least he has perfect diction. Oddly, he only speaks once. Did saner minds prevail? Obviously not, since the show still aired.

JS: And with that my new vote for worst Outer Limits alien voice goes to... The Megasoid!

PE: L-OL dialogue alert!
Laura (to her husband James, after finding out he'd duped himself): What right did you have to take creation into your own hands? Oh, what a mess you've gotten yourself into!
PE: All the homes in this futuristic episode look 1960s-contemporary save that of Basil Jerichau (Steven Jeray), our Megasoid-hating bounty hunter/smuggler. Basil's house is furnished in modern-day frump.

JS: But is that a house... or a spaceship! Too bad they didn't have that location for the end of "The Inheritors."

PE: The performances are awful across the board. Randell is wooden even when he's not supposed to be. Towers is set decorating. Jeray is not given much to do with his one-note Captain Ahab portrayal.

JS: I normally appreciate the way filmmakers use subtle touches in set dressing and costuming to sell things as being set in the future. But an untucked tie and a pair of panties stretched over your head do not the future make. I hope.

PE: Maybe it's just me but I can't for the life of me figure out what's going on when the Megasoid ambushes Basil. He pats the man on his back quite a bit, picks him up and slams him to the canvass.  There's a full-Nelson and an eight count and then a close-up of one of the talons running along the man's body and that piercing, annoying, jarring "music" (dun-duuuuuuuuuuun!), telling me something important is happening. Is my baked potato ready?

JS: Do you think Gerd's direction to Mike Lane (the man in the Megasoid suit) was to go 90% monkey, 10% bird? That's my guess, which would match the make-up of the costume, anyway.

PE: This dopey piece of crap reminded me very much of some of the dopey crap I read in the 1950s digest, Super Science Fiction. SSF specialized in stories like "I Caught the Megasoid from Cygnus IV." Those stories were dopey but ultra-fun reads. This is not fun.

JS: For what it's worth, the next episode has to be better, right? Like in Card Sharks? Is it higher than "The Duplicate Man"?  We can't lose... unless it's a tie... Gulp.



David J. Schow on "The Duplicate Man" (Click on pages to enlarge):

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 extraterrestrial Puudly,
An Imwarf (his alien buddly),
    Mr. James was annoyed
    By a big Megasoid
What critter, I ask, was more studly?

David J. Schow returns at noon with HOT WHEELS, CHEMOSPHERES & CHROMOITES.

Be sure to check back later this afternoon for Mark Holcomb's Spotlight on "The Duplicate Man."

Next Up...


  1. I like this episode alot more than Peter and John like it. I wish Outer limits had used more stories from the SF magazines and this one is based on the Clifford Simak story, "Good Night Mr James" in the March 1951 GALAXY. Since GALAXY is my favorite SF digest, I was happy to reread the story and found it to be the best story in the issue.

    The biggest change is the ending which is quite downbeat. The TV show has a happy ending with the real Henderson James surviving and hoping to get back on his wife's good side. The magazine version has the real Mr James being killed and the duplicate finding out that he has only a few hours to live due to poisoning. There is no wife in the Simak story either. As with all the other episodes based on SF stories, I liked the magazine version alot more.

    There are exceptions, but I usually find that the book or story is better than the movie or TV show.

  2. No mention of the zoological plaque reading 2011 A.D.? My wife was watching with me (she only made it another five minutes after that - do you blame her?), and I looked at her and said, "Hey, look, we're science fiction."

    It's always weird to be reminded about how far we HAVEN'T come from what was projected in our science fiction programs past. But this time around ... not so far. At least we dropped the knots on our ties. But, shit, I dropped TIES 30 years ago ... for ANYTHING. Who still wears a noose?

    I'm on board with Walker thinking this is a better episode than our hosts do, and better than I remember or expected. Once again, it's a very solid sci-fi story idea, even if the execution doesn't quite match up. The missing execution - of the real James - would've helped. We all know our melancholy Joe would've kept that downer twist.

    The bear must have got lost on its way to the set of a bad Irwin Allen series (excuse me, was there a GOOD one?) Ouch! My TT, LIS, LOTG, VTTBOTS-loving inner 10 year-old just kicked me).

    But the moral questions posed by this story, and the idea of the duplicate accessing the earlier and more desirable personality of the original, while the original has turned into a cold, calculating version 2.1 bootleg of himself ... hold up solidly, like a Windsor knot, even in 2011 A.D.

  3. AWC, thanks for reminding me about the sign at the very beginning of show. When I saw 2011 AD on the museum, I had to think about our space program which just about stopped after the moon landings. Sure we had more rockets, unmanned visits to planets, and space stations, etc but basically we regressed instead of moving forward.

    No alien lifeforms on display in the real 2011!

  4. Hey, sometimes after a hard day's work there's nothing like pulling up a nice cold beer and a nice warm megasoid. Okay, maybe not so close with the megasoid.

    I'm with you guys--I find this to be a very engaging episode, with good material and a valiant attempt with end-of-show ZERO BUCKS at suggesting a future (and at that, hell, is it really any worse than other 1960s TV depictions?). The whole thing reminds me of an old DC Strange Adventures comic, penciled by Infantino, inked by Anderson.

    Even as a kid I thought watching Ron Randell was like watching paint grow, but no matter. This is actually one of my S2 faves, and appeals to a more escapist sensibility.

  5. Put it this way: Would your wife of 20 years ever fall in love with who you are today versus who you might've once been back then? That's a pretty nifty subplot only touched on in this story that otherwise might launch a dozen high concept rom-com feature pitches (starring Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks) these days. But I prefer the darker version this episode suggests.

  6. Live in Henderson James’ House!

    This 8500-square-foot house, built in 1926, still stands at 259 St. Pierre Road in the Bel Air section of Beverly Hills … and it can be yours for a cool $10.3 million. Two stories, seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms. See aerial map:

  7. "Duplicate Man" is a rather unique episode of OL, for reasons that have been mentioned (the futuristic setting took nerve, especially at this juncture). Sure, the Megasoid is a tad over the top, but I think the "alien museum" tour sets us up for something a little more bizarre than usual. As far as the story's moral melodrama is concerned, it's fun to compare this show to TWILIGHT ZONE's "In His Image," one of the hour episodes, which also focuses on a 'duplicate man' and the inevitable question of which incarnation of the protagonist has a greater right to survive. BTW, did the Megasoid costume wind up at Universal Studios for some reason circa '67/'68? TV Guide critic Cleveland Amory wrote an article about taking the Universal tour (disguised as a civilian) and very much enjoying the makeup lab visit, where costumes for both the Creature from the Black Lagoon and the "Chicken Man from MR. TERRIFIC" were on display. I know from personal experience how U would lie to the public about what was being showcased in their exhibits: the studio once displayed all of the amazing transformation appliances from DARK INTRUDER (worn by Mark Richman) and identified them as "Rock Hudson transforming into Mr. Hyde." For the record, there was no "Chicken Man" on MR. TERRIFIC (the nebbish superhero fought spies and master criminals, not super-villains or monsters), and I always wondered what "Chicken Man" truly was. My guess is the Megasoid, since the costume began turning up in all kinds of crazy venues after its initial use.

  8. First, re: 2011, it seems that all of us little kids who watched OL the first time around have managed to survive and make it to . . . The Future! Pats on the back to all! (It's also funny to note that, along with capturing the year of this blog, this episode happened to capture the year of publication of the first edition of DJS's OL book--1986, when importation of space creatures became banned!)

    I also have always enjoyed this episode and think it has much to recommend it. There are flaws--the megasoid costume is embarrassing, and the acting for the most part is wooden and misses the mark time and again. The concepts that are raised are engaging, however--it's just that there is so much going on that there isn't time to explore any of the issues very deeply.

    The main thing I like about this episode is the subtle ways in which they depicted the future, given what must have been a total lack of budget. One of the flaws of many science fiction stories and films is that they try to show too much change as having occurred in a relatively short period of time. Things happen SLOWLY. I was recently back in my home town, and was struck by how much it still looks the same. Car designs and clothing fashions have changed a bit, and everyone's walking around with cell phones now, but otherwise, it's still pretty much the same place fifty years later. At least they came close to predicting Skype--pretty fair imagining for the early 1960s. And is that car electric? It made a kind of rocket sound, but there was no exhaust coming out.

    Anyway, I also liked the odd music in this one--it seemed to fit the story and the setting. And the moment when the two Hendersons both say "Laura" at the same time carries a lot of emotional weight (well, to me--others might have been laughing, I suppose). Good old Gerd Oswald set up some nice shots, too--I liked the scenes and shadowy lighting in the museum (and the conversation between the duplicate and the guard was appropriately odd). I also liked the final scenes, where we see just the feet of the two Hendersons as they track the megasoid (and one tracks the other). They managed to build up a fair amount of suspense in those final minutes, with Emmet tracking the duplicate, both Hendersons tracking each other, the megasoid tracking everyone, the wife wondering who she's going to end up with, assuming they don't all kill each other, and the sudden revelation about the poison as the clock ticks toward midnight. Three Zantis!

  9. DJS---
    I could probably afford one of the bathrooms...

    To me, this is a viable example of a better published science-fiction tale for S2 adaptation, if that was Brady's desire. You gotta love a museum full of aliens with wacky names (the Black Scorpion leftover, pointed out by DJS, is nice aficionado trivia). And the unusual, for TOL, effort at depicting futuristic cultural details is a treat: picture-phones, mushroom houses with ski-lifts, curious garb, future cops with Air Raid Warden helmets, etc.

    I have fond memories of Simak but never read this story. But it sounds as if Robert Dennis did a creditable job of adapting the piece for maximum appeasement. No problem with Simak's darker ending---it would have made for an agreeably pessimistic S1. But I genuinely like the concept here of the love triangle, the parallel tensions induced by the cloned assassin/dawning self-awareness/marital instability subplot.

    This is Philip Dick territory, whose ethical/moral questing I've always enjoyed. With minimal adjustment, we're talking Dick's "Electric Sheep" Replicants here. The Federal Duplication Bureau, with its outlawed service of cloning for short-term personal use, offers limitless possibilities for tales of woeful misuse---you could build a series on this premise alone. ("Where's my Duplicate?! He was SUPPOSED to tell that shrew we were finished---damned sentimental doppelgangers!")

    We're solidly back into Oswald territory here, and Peach seems as happily nostalgic about it as I am. The interior setups are more prosaic and TV standard, but the hulking, looming, crouching shadows are living presences again. Dark and ominous life blooms in those compositions again. We get a great old cobwebby gothic lab set. And how about that filter/smeared-lens work on the simple act of James II handing over the gun to James, just to make the piece look more sinister. (I think such visual brainstorms remain relics of the b&w era, sadly.)

    And even Lubin's music sounds happy to play along: theremins and harps feather our spines like a picket fence; Trent's "Demon" theme gets transcribed for sinister keyboard. It all fits the ambience.

    Ron Randell's self-absorbed, commanding presence works in this context; he's a man who's lost the ability to emote meaningfully, all feeling subsumed by questionable achievement. Constance Towers' patrician "princess" is a prize only to herself, alas. Chilly and aloof, she should be sporting gills instead of QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE fashions. But the dramatic stake in their relationship is still valid enough. And Sean McCrory is a borderline appealing STAR TREK-style, smuggling scoundrel in the Harry Mudd-mold.

    The Megasoid? Problematic, at best. The "reproductive cycle" business is a clever element that adds to the creature's innate hostility---but wherein does THAT arise in a supposedly highly intelligent life-form? Worth a story all its own, I would think. In ALIEN, we're told that "it's structural perfection is matched only by its hostility." But here? It's hostility is matched only by its...intelligence? A species of purely evil being? Did it grow up on Dundee Planet? And to what end, this killer instinct? Territorial acquisitiveness? Survival? Manifest annihilation destiny? Intelligent (not maniacal) destructiveness always proceeds from some ego-(not id)driven agenda.

    Its appearance? Kiddie-concept ghastly. You'd get better ideas from a first-grade Monster Art class. An embarrassing cross between a vulture and a gorilla. Barely beats out ST's Mogatu for Worst Adapted Monkey Suit Ever. S(ill)y
    F(unk)y Channel would have a blast with BUZZILLA. But even they wouldn't give him the voice of an adenoidal nerd.

    (wrap-up to follow...)

    1. Like in Expanded Human and Keeper of the Purple Twilight, I love some of Harry Lubin’s music here. Lots of heavy, plodding bass notes (though you really don’t get them on the DVDs or even on Kino’s BDs, thanks to all of that overly compressed audio). And some of the synths and woodwinds in various scenes in and around the museum, James’ and Emett’s homes. Thanks SO much to the thoughtful and kind souls who’ve (somehow) acquired and posted several excerpts from Lubin’s library on Youtube that were pulled to score Season Two. If only there were more. Comparisons to Season One are pointless as both seasons are different animals in numerous ways. But don’t get me started on Dom Frontiere’s TV music library, circa 1960-63. I could go on for days.

  10. Umm, well, I should add that they used subtle changes to predict the future EXCEPT for the importation of space aliens, doh!

  11. (...Megasoid meanderings concluded)

    If you could buy a Daily Double, what would you have it do? The notion intrigues me. The cold morality involved in creating perfect sentient duplicates, and then essentially murdering them, is a fascinating idea. You'd think this brief flirtation with such technology, as posited here, would have created a firestorm of moral and ethical combat. It should have had polarizing resonances that dominoed through the social structure. Well worth a separate treatment, beyond the little we're shown here and the icy "retirement" of replicants in the the Philip K. Dick tale.

    Imagine a bloody civil war between adopters and opponents, with Duplicates/Replicants in between, shedding most of the blood. And the possible emotional entanglements that might entail...

    But back to the present "Duplicate Man"...

    Poor fight choreography again, in the Megasoid "attacks," which are more like "inappropriate touchings." It basically back-rubs you to death, with additional disrespectful pawings. SF's first "misdemeanor murder," I should think. But action was never an Oswald strong point.

    I like the script's rendering of what Dick had called "retirement" of a Replicant as, here, "transfer me to nothingness." The possible end of consciousness, of being, lends itself to so many interesting euphemistic expressions.

    OK, here's the first (subdued) L-OL moment I can comfortably report, since it formed in my imagination. When the whole "James gang" gathers at the house for the climactic confrontation, and James II sneaks past the gate, I had a vision of the James boys REALLY showing us some duplication: I wanted to see them replicate the mirror scene from DUCK SOUP.

    So Laura---that calculating cold fish---shames her husband into a duel with himself, with Her Chilliness as the prize! Beat yourself into the best man you can be, and maybe...MAYBE the winner gets a peek into what bedrooms look like in 20-whatever.

    Intriguing---it's a challenge she can't lose, with a no-less-than 50% chance of coming out of it with a more attentive husband! Well-played, Laura! But---hah! Comeuppances are a beeyotch. The phone call from the tipsy cloner was a perfect late-game dramatic kicker that quickened our pulses a bit and booted Laura's hopeful heart up into her gullet.

    Yet she's not so much an evil plotter as a misguided romantic, so we're not disappointed when she gets back her wayward hubby, perhaps a better man for having seen a lamented part of himself (Aabel's "dream part"?) being beside himself.

    I found that some few episodes didn't hold up as well during this fresh round of socially mandated critical appraisals. But I liked this one more than ever.

    Two-and-a-half Cold Zantis. And a buzzard beak.

  12. But an untucked tie and a pair of panties stretched over your head do not the future make.

    Depends on whose panties they are.

    No alien lifeforms on display in the real 2011!

    Actually, some scientist believes he just found fossils of alien microbes in a Meteorite. I repeat: fossils (no Andromeda Strain worries).

    It's always weird to be reminded about how far we HAVEN'T come from what was projected in our science fiction programs past.

    It should be no surprise that TV writers have little in the way of checks & balances to get their science/engineering right. The fathers of two of my childhood friends in the 60's were real rocket scientists, and I was heartbroken when their 'reality' came crashing down on our TV-fueled fantasies of near-future inter-(planetary, steller, galactic .... I'll take whatever you got) space travel. They made the same assertions that Neil deGrasse Tyson would eventually make 30 years later in "Space, You Can't Get There from Here" (energy & economics make it untenable).

    And yet . . . Mark Phillips found some old TV Guide articles circa 1964 that were astoundingly prescient about cable & satellite TV and something that looked & smelled a lot like the internet.

  13. Live in Henderson James’ House!

    I'm holding out for the Chemosphere house. Working on getting the current owner's (German magazine publisher) Visa revoked.

    . . . and the acting for the most part is wooden and misses the mark time and again.

    The one exception for me is Ivy Bethune (whose daughter co-starred w/ Harvey Keitel in Scorcese's first film). She's got a terrific presence and more than passes muster as . . . . what the hell is her job description? Clones-r-Us' official greater / info dispenser / spokesmodel? She's overqualified to be Mr. Spacely's secretary (executive assistant today).

    Connie Tower's poor acting gets a pass from me only because she emptied the tank on Sam Fuller's The Naked Kiss.

    And is that car electric? It made a kind of rocket sound, but there was no exhaust coming out.

    The car has a turbine engine, a much-lauded technology-of-the-future in the early 60's.

  14. Peter and John,

    What's with this Basil Jerichau jazz? Jerichau was the old Duplication dude with the spider webs on him. The smuggler was Karl Emmet, played by our old Thriller ("Hollow Watcher" fist-fightin') pal Sean McClory. Maybe it was the panty-thing on his head that threw you, or whatever was in that baked potato. Old Sean made the perfect space pirate, with his heavy brogue and that-there eye patch; give him a tri-corn, a parrot, throw in a shamrock shake for the road...and..well, you get the picture.

    So, in honor of our hosts and the approachin' St Patty's day, I've put together a little limerick off the top o' me head (which references today's "official" limerick):

    Yes, he WAS quite annoyed


  15. Yeah, that would be Sean "McClory"---I must have been confusing him with McCrory Calhoun.

  16. It's always weird to be reminded about how far we HAVEN'T come from what was projected in our science fiction programs past.

    When I was a kid watching TOL, the one sciencey thing they couldn't fool me with was the claim that we'd be able to detect extra-steller planets (planets around stars other than our own) with telescopes. i.e., Ebon, Eros, Wolf-359

    I thought that was sheer lunacy, and was certain that I'd be walking on Mars with Adam West before that came to pass.

    . . . . and yet, they've been doing it (no doubt with the Hubble) for at least 10 years, while Adam & I remain Earthbound. WTF?

  17. Is that a lament, Peter, or a sigh of relief?

  18. I'm gonna say it here, since I doubt I'll be able to say it after the next three episodes, but Season 2 has played surprisingly better than I imagined.

    Make no mistake, it's a completely different show than season 1 - science fiction versus gothic horror; but it just adds to variety pak that is TOL. And there was a genuine attempt to present hard core science fiction ideas from producers and writers involved, even if their approach was more procedural than artistic.

    After the first airing, most of us watched the show in syndication all mixed up. I NEVER, in my earlier exposure to these episodes, clearly delineated Season 1 from Season 2. That aesthetic discrimination came later. Plus, it's been a while since I watched these as an adult. Or started to see some of the themes the domesticated writers (who weren't marrying serial wives like Leslie Stevens) obviously put in there or related to in presenting their stories.

    A long-winded way of saying I actually have gleened more than I expected from this sequence of episodes, no anesthetic required. And I look forward to the geriatric oxycontin-popping morphine-drip intepretation of them even further (much, hopefully) down the line, when the stars of these episodes - who have gone from distant grown ups to sympathetic peers - take on the patina and characteristics of distant, beloved children or grandchildren.

  19. I've always enjoyed this weird show and its dark, creepy, hostile atmosphere. Watching it again last night, unfortunately, didn't improve my appreciation of it, as I had hoped. Still, the plot is inventive and, with Oswald at the helm, things move along nicely and with a greater sense of visual style than most S2 shows, despite its totally inadequate budget.

    --Interesting that the 2011 video-phones still require the laborious dialing procedure from phones circa 1950.

    --I really dig the museum watchman's crazy lunch-bucket, seen as he leaves for the night. So THAT'S how we know we're in the future (which is, as Criswell notes, "where we will spend the rest of our lives.")

    --I hesitate to ask, but I'm not sure I get this Megasoid "reproductive stage" business. I'm assuming it's a SHE--but who's SHE been dating since SHE'S been on earth? Maybe it's explained in the original story. If someone can explain without embarassing themselves or me too much, please do so.

    --The Megasoid voice sure was a weird choice, considering its hulking size and vicious growls. Almost sounds like actor Edgar Stehli to me (the terrific old professor friend in TZ's "Long Live Walter Jameson").

    --Yes,..someone should have swiped Harry Lubin's theremin and smashed it into teeny, tiny pieces.

    --I think the build-up and final scene--with the ticking clock and subdued, dreamy atmosphere (and the elegant vision of Constance Towers), is quite effective, and does indeed harken back to the tone and atmosphere of S1.

    Despite its many--sometimes laughable--flaws, one of the more unique S2 episodes.


  20. "I think the build-up and final scene--with the ticking clock and subdued, dreamy atmosphere (and the elegant vision of Constance Towers), is quite effective"

    I agree... it definitely had me thinking, "it's almost over..." :)

  21. Well, this ep. IMHO is one of the best. You got two cool ideas that could have been separate shows. Not only does a guy have to track down a cold, blood-thirsty monster, he also has to compete with his doppelganger that's trying to bang his wife. Name any other series from that era with that much going on? F-Troop? I don't think so.

    Regarding the Megasoid: Probably one of the better bears for the whole series. Never mind it's Sasquatch-like ferocity, this treacherous beast has the creepiest voice this side of 'Lost in Space,' Dr. Smith. Our heroic commentators might feel confident mocking him in the comforts of their domiciles, but probably wouldn't be laughing if given one of the monster's patented body slams.

    Make fun of me all you want, but something about seeing that Megasoid lurching about the front lawn before it's attack, gave me shivers!

  22. >>Our heroic commentators might feel confident mocking him in the comforts of their domiciles, but probably wouldn't be laughing if given one of the monster's patented body slams.

    Au Contraire Mon Frere. I'd be laughing my ass off. I'm very ticklish.

    >>Make fun of me all you want

    I don't know what to say :>

  23. Our heroic commentators might feel confident mocking him in the comforts of their domiciles, but probably wouldn't be laughing if given one of the monster's patented body slams.

    . . . . or forced to write a Lost-In-Space-A-Day blog.


  24. I was waiting for Larry R. to call me a 'pussy,' however I see that Peter is much more non-combative. Peter, sorry, it's in the mail today. Let me know if there are any problems.


    Lol! Nah, they aren't that open to punishment. It's much safer for them to do the whole Batman series.

  25. Tom/UTW--

    Huh? What? I'm missing something here. You're one of the contributors whose comments I enjoy the most. I'm rarely combative (and I sure wouldn't mess with Peter and John). Also, I like this particular episode, so I basically agree with your take.


    PS-- was wondering why you hadn't posted much lately.

  26. There are flaws here, but they seem unimportant in the overall picture. I agree with you UTW, I'd be embarressing myself with fear if the Megasoid came creeping around! It's a patchwork creation of sorts; the silly suit, the beak and claws, but the shocking contrast of the voice, and as you say Ted, the question of it's absolute evilness vs telepathic intelligence is fascinating. How could it advance any intellectual cause while wreaking destruction everywhere? I love Harry Lubin's score here, advancing some of the Demon cues into a different futuristic atmosphere. For example, when the duplicate first awakes from nothingness in the space zoo, as Oswald and Peach capture the mood of confusion and mystery. i guess Ron Randell is kind of wooden at times, but so has Henderson James become, and he comes alive at the last. The dreamy scenes at the James home (DJS-maybe I'll buy this one instead of the Chemosphere House; at least I'd have somewhere to keep my pet Megasoid) are the perfect place for a second chance to arrive, before the Pumpkin Hour of midnight closes in. Just like Lisa had said about Gwyllm at the end of The Sixth Finger, for the first year after seeing this one, i was sure the megasoid had killed Henderson James, and that the duplicate fell to his knees dying as the poison at the stroke of midnight took affect. Constance Towers is a babe of the S2 variety, but a babe nonetheless. I took Laura James' coolness more as dissillusionment, which she recovers from too, as she struggles with loyalty vs desire. The themes of "right to life" are fascinating, as in what really defines life anyway? Let's hope this dangerous technology never becomes rampant. In this case I would say Dennis' script improves upon the Goodnight Mr. James story; sometimes a brighter ending, coming out of darkness, is more effective.

  27. A mild diversion in the way that 'I, Robot' was, with ideas brimming underneath the surface of the story that never really come to fruition. The performances are dull or wooden, the bear silly and over the top (it might have worked with sudden, razor-sharp editing and dark framing. It reminded me, with it's tail, of the creature from the Star Trek episode 'A Private Little War', except that one was white. They should have stuck to the short story. The future trappings are a nice attempt on a low budget. The real master of this kind of stuff was Gerry Anderson with his 'UFO' series and 'Journey to the Dark Side of the Earth'.

    Oh, I hear you guys have are going to be tackling the dynamic duo. Magnificent choice...It's about time. That animated series was one hell of a show.

  28. Larry R.-

    My apologies sir. I've got a somewhat warped sense of humor sometimes. Being that you are a gentlemen in the true Boris Karloff mold, you would be the last guy to hurl such an insult at me or anybody else (at least unprovoked). That's why it struck me as funny if you were to say that. Sorry, it was just one of my strange attempts at humor.

    I haven't commented on the following episodes because:

    Cry of Silence- I liked it, but didn't feel like I had anything new to contribute that wasn't already posted.

    I, Robot- Honestly, I made it through the first 20 minutes before throwing in the towel. While I would have liked to have made fun of it, I didn't feel like it would be right since I didn't watch the whole thing.

    The Inheritors- Sigh. I'm in the minority on these two. Pretty dull IMHO. Still, it had it's merit and I was pretty much at a loss for words.

    I have been pretty quiet otherwise because this has been my first week back at work since being on vacation for 3 weeks. Needless to say I'm getting back used to the daily grind.

    Thanks for the compliment as you in turn are one of the commentators I enjoy reading the most. You and the other Larry. After all, he did introduce me to 'The Dakotas,' so I got to give the man his tribute for that!

  29. I don't know if it's been brought up yet (this is a very long thread), but it's always strange to me that this story uses the word "bootleg" as slang for the Duplicate Man. I can't think of a single COMEDY about cloning that uses that word, but here is a DRAMA that does so. Or are there ones I don't know of?

  30. I like the episode , I like the Megasoid..I like the way it talks to James... I wanted to know more about the creature...

    I like its murderous attack on the captain who has already lost an eye to it.

    And I like the attempts in design, fashion and motor vehicles to look into the future...

    I think the reviewers have underrated an atmospheric and ingenious story....

    I'd love to get my hands on a duplicate of that megasoid still too !!

  31. One thing Season Two goes in for that Season One didn't go in for all that much is colorful CHARACTER NAMES. For the human characters, not the aliens, I mean. The Probe has "Jefferson Rome," Expanding Human has "Hart Bellaire" (even though you hardly even see him), and this one has both "Henderson James" and "Basil Jerichau." If I were ever to look for a colorful alias to use, Season Two of Outer Limits wouldn't be a bad place to look.
    I'm sure most of you will say "Too bad they didn't have great stories to go with them," but either way, it's interesting.

    1. They had some first season goodies in character names (Sebastian Grimm, Victor Harrod, Ortho Wheeler, Meg O'Dana). I find them credible. Somewhat offbeat, yet not fantastic. I've heard far weirder names in real life (a motel chain's safety director named Norman Bates; a patrician lady editorial assistant to a publisher sporting the monicker Pewilla Dick!).

  32. Eccentric character names were a hallmark of most of Robert Dennis' writing for the second season -- he built "budget-free" chewiness right into the parts!

  33. Whatta Forum!! Enjoyed it immensely. Have to specially thank UTW and JoGGer for their spirited defense of the hour. I saw it for the first time 12 years ago in the 4th grade--"Monstervision?" maybe-- and that monster scared the whatever outta me. The thought of it prancing around the grounds anywhere was a freak out. That VOICE, too.....

  34. There's one thing I've always found odd and kind of "disturbing" about this story. In so many futuristic stories that aren't about all-out "dystopias," things seem to be almost at the other extreme, or at least SOME things. Like the legal system. But in this story, you find out that smuggling the Megasoid is a "capital offense" and that the penalty for illegal duplicating is ALMOST as big! I know the story explains all the dangers of doing those two things, and how they need to be discouraged, but that seems a little "Draconian" for THIS kind of futuristic story.

    I never associated the name Ivy Bethune with that character till reading it here, but I've always liked that character. It's somehow nice to know that the future in this story still has those semi-comical "starched" secretaries. (The next most entertaining kind, after the "Miss Buxley of Beetle Bailey" kind.)

  35. I hope someone in charge of this blog/site is looking in because I'm wondering if anyone knows anything about the new set of Outer Limits figures about to released by a Japanese company starting with what looks like an excellent reproduction of the Thetan from 'Architects....'

  36. I hope someone in charge of this blog/site is looking in because I'm wondering if anyone knows anything about the new set of Outer Limits figures about to released by a Japanese company starting with what looks like an excellent reproduction of the Thetan from 'Architects....'

    Hope no one thinks Im flooding but Im rather excited about this new range which looks promising..especially considering that martian wilderness known as outer limits merchandise....

  37. oops sorry do not adjust control of your blog... 'duplicate' post cough...send in the Megasoids.....

  38. Good grief plans for two of these Japanese releases with the Ichthyosaurus from 'Tourist Attraction' also scheduled....come on guys isn't this a chance to revivify this blog with news of some EXCELLENT new merchandise ?????

  39. So glad so many people came to the defense of this dark, moody episode, one of the few S2 standouts. Even Harry Lubin rose to the occasion here with some low-key, atmospheric stuff/

    Nice performances by the Imwarf and Puddly, by the way, although overall casting was pretty poor by OL standards. Luckily Gerd works wonders creating a vibe where wooden downbeat acting fit the bill. And yes, I always LOVED that little scene with the Duplicates R Us receptionist.

  40. Yep, I've long associated this with "BLADE RUNNER", for the duplicate humans who are on Earth illegally, have to be tracked down and killed, AND, they have a built-in life-span so they die before long anyway. (It's as if Dick saw this before writing his story.)

    Until I read this page, I had NO idea which one of the 2 guys really died, or not. I always felt it was vague, and uncertain, and the mood of the scene strongly suggested, at least to me, that the REAL guy got killed by the monster, and then the duplicate died just as the end credits were about to roll. Personally, I have no problem with an upbeat ending-- WHY are so many people obsessed with the idea that "downbeat" somehow must be better? That's a load of CRAP!

    I'm pretty sure I saw that cliff-side house in the book "YESTERDAY'S TOMORROWS", a look at retro-future architecture. I built several of the things in that book as computer 3D models for a sci-fi project of my own.

    Yes, Gerry Anderson's "UFO" did try to show the "near-future". I read that someone inviolved in the show felt "fashion" would be the biggest change.

    I also read an article in TV GUIDE-- of all places-- sometime in ther 80s, which speculated on how the Internet (which was STILL not really in much use then) would change how many companies did business. Many, if not most, secretaries would be able to work at home, cutting down on the use of gasolene, wear-and-tear on both vehicles & roadways, allowing more time for families, all sorts of things. WHY-- haven't we seen that YET??? (While working as a "sales assistant" at Camden's "Harleigh Cemetery", my boss once objected to me working at home while 6 inches of glare ice made it dangerous as hell to drive down my street. "How are you gonna DO that?" he asked, stupidly. I told him, "I have a phone, unlimited calling, and the list of Veterans' phone numbers." The truth is, he was a borderline psychotic control freak, and worried that he wouldn't be able to EAVESDROP on my phone calls as I worked.)

    Ron Randell was in "THE LONG WOLF AND HIS LADY" (1949) and was TERRIBLE in it! No Warren William... and even Gerald Mohr was much better. (Of course, the film in general was so bad, it may not have been his fault.)

  41. This episode is perhaps the weirdest episode in a very weird series. It's as if there are scenes missing so it gets confusing. Still I liked it. 2 1/2 Zantis. Am I wrong or is a rare OL episode that explicitly takes place in the future. Amazing that for the year 2011 they thought up a futuristic video phone- but it has a dial pad. The opening with the dead creatures in the display cases at the museum is very interesting. Nice job with those props. It's nice that they adapted a Clifford D. Simak story. I don't think many of his works were adapted. Way Station and City are two of the greatest science fiction novels. Who exactly is the megasoid going to mate with when she's the only living member of her kind on earth?When she spoke I thought she was going to turn out to be misunderstood and benevolent. Why does she return to the mansion to kill people instead of escaping or going off to mate however she was going to do that? In it's mood and style it seems to be one of most noirish episodes of the series, especially the way the climax is shot with low anglew of the men walkingmIt's nice to see Constance Towers from The Naked Kiss although she doesn't have enough to do. The duplicate man stuff is very interesting. The problem is that they don't even try to create a scientific rationale for the procedure, the duplicate just shows up. But the idea of creating a duplicate to carry out unpleasant or dangerous tasks who only lives 5 hours is a good one. So really this is a story with two good ideas- the megasoid and the duplicate man- that really don't mix well in my opinion. With a tighter script this could have really been something. Still I think it's an other underrated second season episode.

    1. As for the Megazoid's progeny, as Capt. Emmett's fears made plain, regardless of its own sex, and since there's evidently no other living Megazoid on earth, that particular Megazoid could reproduce asexually, just as some earth animals can. Indeed, this obvious reality is further explainable by the androgynous tonality of the Megazoid's voice. Furthermore, its progeny might be able and willing to also sexually and/or asexually reproduce at a very young age, and by the "hundreds", as Emmett exclaimed. And as for its choice to return to Henderson's home (I always wondered if that might have been Joe Stefano's place while he was living in Trousdale Estates, Beverly Hills. Share the fantasy!), recall both the zoo tour guide and Emmett cautioning that "it's all consuming impulse……." and …….."It's always thinking of killing!". Apparently, like the classic narcissist personality I know at my day job who can't help bragging about himself while badmouthing others, compulsive killing is probably hard wired into the Megazoid brain, much like is it for cats in the wild. Furthermore, it was probably pissed off for who knows how long with being locked behind bars down in Henderson's cellar-though the fact that it suddenly chose to brake those bars barehandedly was clearly a gaping plot hole. So, on top of its penchant for killing the Megazoid clearly wanted serious payback from Henderson-and Emmett as a bonus, who conveniently showed up to be taken out first.

      Regarding the duplication process, with a sci-fi drama series episode running under 45 minutes, that was made 50 years ago-and during the second season where the show felt ABC TV's Adrian Samish's budget axe at least once if not twice-and that story was hardly written by trained scientists or even lab techs, expecting plausible explanations for how humans can physically and mentally duplicate themselves is about like asking Joe Schmo down the block how electron/hole flow in the PN substrate material junctions of a simple npn or pnp bipolar transistor become useful as controllable quantities of current and voltage.

      Thanks so much for your insightful comments and a chance to chat at length about one of my forever favorites!


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