Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spotlight on "A Feasibility Study"

by Ted Rypel

This episode has long since been covered on the blog, but due to various circumstances it never received a Spotlight treatment.  As it’s always been a top-echelon favorite of mine, Peter and John have asked me to retrofit one for posterity.  I can’t speak for posterity, but I’m personally honored to have been asked to weigh in on this unique and memorable bit of grim alien first encounter.

Thematically, “A Feasibility Study” is a close cousin to “Fun and Games,” in that a representative sampling of human population is impressed into showing whether humanity has what it takes.  Intergalactic true grit, as it were.  “Games” posits that an unguessably advanced alien society averts boredom by pitting conscripted “gladiators” against one another, with the fate of their respective planets at stake.  In “Feasibility” an immobile collective of super-minds plays a no less grim game of screening-for-slave-races, with “Fun” being the furthest consideration from its agenda.  

On the “Fun and Games” blog, I advanced my theory that the sardonic Senator may in fact have been hyperbolizing the facts in order to ramp up the duel’s intensity for his fellows’ enjoyment:  the contest was clearly sadistic but perhaps not so unthinkably cruel as the combatants were led to believe.  The intent may have been, in part, to probe into how lesser intellects’ psyches operate under maximum stress.  A dogfight, for the Andarans’ amusement, featuring truly desperate dogs.  No actual “firecracker” planetary destruction for the losers ever having been intended.  

In the episode “Nightmare,” we’re told that “Ebon struck first.”  Mistakenly.  Ruefully.  And the Ebonites tried to atone.  But in “A Feasibility Study” the first strike is intentional and cruel beyond belief.  It involves the ruthless abduction of a human population sampling for the purpose of testing the feasibility of enslaving our entire species.  Undeniably apocalyptic stakes.  Evil on a cosmic scale, which could only be thwarted in this case by an act of sublime sacrifice and communal heroism.

Colossal drama, requiring a well-fitted stage.

“A Feasibility Study” is a benchmark OUTER LIMITS episode, marked by lofty production values, that can’t be mistaken for any other science-fiction program.  Joseph Stefano thumbs through his portfolio of salient aspects of the human condition here and plucks out the admirable qualities of compassion, resolution, and self-sacrifice.  Then he concocts an existential tale of forlorn hope turned outward into a mythic act of selfless and anonymous legacy.   Byron Haskin and John Nickolaus work a backlot suburban street and some cleverly designed stage dressing into a convincing display of a world turned to living, noxious hallucination in a single night.

There’s a feeling of unrelenting oppression in the film, upper-middle-class stoicism vainly trying to cope, as it’s been conditioned to do.  But from the start we sense a pall of doom over this six-block sample of humanity.  TOL is not an ongoing series.  Thus the neighborhood in “Feasibility” is not EUREKA, where any crisis, however catastrophically insoluble, will somehow be reversed by the resourceful populace; where the right buttons will be pushed by the end, the six city blocks restored right down to the reconnected utilities.

The lasting visual impression of “Feasibility” is of watching an ink wash come to life.  Blacks and whites and morbid grays clash in fog, and strive to break through filters and mist, the sky sometimes appearing like a livid bruise.  Dominic Frontiere’s ominous score thrums and broods in the background, a lurking reminder of the immobile and implacable horrors who watch from beyond the choking veil.  We’re also treated to a reprise of some of his loveliest cues in brief samplings, culminating in the lyrically beautiful theme that embraces the profoundly moving climax.

The journey to that solemn, teeth-clenching closure is a gripping one.

During the very long Control Voice prologue that is equal parts elegant and unnerving, we’re treated to some nice glimpses of star fields and nebulae and hurtling planetoids.  We view multiple exposures of Luminos and its inhabitants, which have already shocked us in a spine-tingling teaser that defies channel-changing.  They’re like lepers composed of molten lava or some other silicate; tortured, twisted, rag-bound humanoids drenched in silvery tallow. 

The shuttlecock spacecraft—audacious in design, but impossible to let pass without a chuckle—excavates a nicely retouched photo of Beverly Hills with its teleportation beam.  The resultant crater is a chilling visual.  Beneath a sky that’s an unwelcome, milky swirl, like dye permeating water, the church steeple spindles in mute exclamation over its new environs on Luminos.  

We meet Stefano’s principal characters briefly, economically.  The survival situation dominates here, so he dispenses with deep profiles and sketches out two couples who are pleasant and variegated enough to be sympathetic.  To his credit, he doesn’t try to burden them both with ongoing problems, with too much soap-opera gravitas.  There isn’t room here; their individual burdens will soon be dwarfed.  Sam Wanamaker’s (who would go on to direct SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER) Simon and Andrea (Phyllis Love) provide a quick profile of a breakup caused by irreconcilable attitudes about post-marital ambitions.  But David Opatoshu and Joyce Van Patten’s Ralph and Rhea (“REALLY, Ralph!”) Cashman seem like a happy enough couple, given to affectionate jousting.  

Oppressive, throbbing sounds and hollow moaning escort these neighbors through to their unearthly discovery, and the squealing phone lines assure them that help is not a phone call away.  The corkscrew wipe that restores the engine to the Cashmans’ car is a bit too showy, but overall the film’s FX budget was well spent.  

An uneasy but concisely telling conversation between Simon and Ralph on their short drive to the church, squatting under its roiling miasma, brings us to the teaser scene’s proper context.  Our spines tingle again as Ralph confronts the Luminoids in their fuming lava-scape.  Two shocking gestures from that scabby alien hand.  I remember my blood curdling as a kid when I saw that hand first slap the windshield and then punctuate the scene by blocking the camera lens.  It may as well have grabbed me by the back of my own neck.

The “slavery” theme is slathered on a little too thickly by Andrea’s direct use of the word, but then we’re quickly swept up in the ghastly appearance—“We’re not on Earth!”—and abrupt vanishing of poor Ralph (“Rhe-aaa!”).  The curious Luminoid adolescent turns up with his acne-slag complexion and wave-shaped voice to contaminate Andrea in her car.  This efficient plot device will later catalyze Simon’s conversion to her stance on crusading for the betterment of humanity.  The afflicted kid also contributes some nice dialogue:  “Being afraid hurts” – “I’m 16…almost an old man” – “Take me back, or I’ll TOUCH you!”  …creepy.

Simon’s following his wife into the fog barrier leads to the centerpiece confrontation with the Luminoid Authority and the impressive Contemplative Energy Plant.  The slow reveal of the Luminoids, emerging from behind rocks through the fog and lens filters to drive Simon to cowering helplessness, is an eerie scene, buffered by Frontiere’s escalating-suspense music theme.  Suspense is increased by our fresh knowledge that to be touched by one of them leads to infection.  They keep leaning toward Simon meaningfully in implied threat.   And the uncertainty of exactly what’s happening to Andrea in that sterilization tube, as the Luminoid youth poses as if marveling, provides an affecting moment.

The Authority of this “hot greedy planet” that “sweats just outside your admirable galaxy” is an amorphous and arrogant brainiac.  Fused to a rocky dais with his similarly inert counselors, he declaims, in a voice laced with complacent hubris by Ben Wright, the plot to secure a slave populace.  This, to me, is the weak link in the tale.  It would seem that an intelligent race capable of instrumentality that could teleport an entire planet’s population should have been able to produce an army of service automatons as an afterthought.

The Plant itself is visually interesting, with an illusion of depth and a canny use of sound, suggesting a multitude of Luminoids.  Vaseline-smeared lenses now and again skew the image into the surreal.  Just over the lower edge of the frame can be seen an unwholesomely dripping foreground pool that conjures an impression of something that would like to be water.  

Some of Stefano’s characteristic fondness for grandiloquent speech informs the Authority’s dialogue with Simon here:  “Nothing is so modifiable as morality.”  And there’s that florid reference to Luminoid infants as “sweet golden nuggets in the palm of fate’s hand.”   He briefly mentions something I would have liked to hear elaborated:  the fact that their children have lately rebelled, necessitating the Luminoids’ desperate scheme to acquire a slave population.  Interesting.  The implication is that their own children have heretofore been employed as slave labor until they mature to incapacity.  But no more.  Thus, the recalcitrant youth who crossed the barrier out of curiosity and infected Andrea foreshadows the Earthlings’ own coming rebellion—  The slave master’s hold on his whip is forever tenuous, his agenda doomed.

When Simon is conducted back home, he finds a luminous Andrea, aglow with a sterilizing gas, already waiting for him.  After their brief commiseration over the by now irrelevant ability to conceive children, we’re treated to a few measures of the familiar Frontiere love theme as Simon recaps the aliens’ plot.  Ever the crusader, Andrea appeals to the need for resistance.  But Simon’s own resolve doesn’t kick in until he is able to reason, “Choice—maybe that’s what the soul is.”  He purposes to rally the neighborhood in the church.  Immediately thereafter, Andrea is shocked by her discovery that, despite the Luminoids’ efforts at sterilization, she is afflicted with the first silver globules of the degenerative disease.   I think it’s at this moment that the most optimistic viewer is forced to concede that tragedy is inevitable.  

A minor plot sticking point occurs at this juncture.  Ralph Cashman stumbles back into the ‘hood—where’s he been?—and heads for the sound of the church bells, calling his wife’s name.  It’s a moment of moving, if calculated, pathos when he arrives and is met with wincing revulsion by the convened neighbors.  But why would the Luminoids permit him to roam free when they’ve been obsessed with preserving the sterility of their test subjects?

The priest who reproves the congregation for shrinking away from Ralph is the interesting character actor Frank Puglia (20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH).  He makes that odd hand gesture—as if bestowing a blessing—that causes the two heavies guarding the door to step aside and let him open it to Ralph.  It’s almost as if he were appealing to mystical power, but the intent is simply a reminder that the church closes its doors to no one.  

Rhea comes forward to embrace her stricken husband.  Andrea arrives and discloses her condition, advising that she and Ralph will depart beyond the barrier for the good of all.  But Simon quickly reasons that if merely breathing the same air as their captors causes contamination, then their fate is inevitable and their choice—their expression of “what the soul is”—becomes clear.  He expounds his heroic proposition.  For the benefit of all those unsuspecting potential victims back on Earth, they must sabotage the Luminoids’ experiment. 

Simon’s resignation speech is nicely composed, visually.  Framed with the reunited Cashmans and his own infected wife over his shoulder, Simon enjoins his neighbors:  “I’m going to take her hand…will someone take mine?”

What ensues is a wonderful moment of uncelebrated heroism in a simple act of human affection-turned-defiance. Our emotions have been fairly engaged and paid off in a set-piece of passive-aggressive valor unique in stories of self-sacrifice.  It’s a cathartic scene, underscored by a heart-tugging, compelling use of Frontiere’s most touching music cue.  The cross-section of humanity in the church is a bit contrived for effect, but that effect is undiminished.

We fade from a doomed congregation to the façade of another church, this one back on an Earth blithely ignorant of its immediate salvation from slavery.  And from there, we cut starkly to the cold and bleak image of the enormous crater.  Shaking heads will observe and study and cogitate over the vast, inexplicable phenomenon; survivors will mourn for a time.  Then facile intellects will fabricate theories and fashion cults and gird human defenses in ongoing paranoia.  They may even arrive at some enhanced sense of brotherhood against the hostile threat of an unknown universe.  

But I’m always left with two nagging impressions at the end of this grandly staged, deeply moving episode:  How sadly haunting, almost mystically so, is the thought of just how many actual instances of unrecorded, unheralded heroic self-sacrifice might have occurred throughout human history.  

And, to return to fancy, where did the Luminoids choose next to focus their slavery beams? 

How did that turn out?   

Ted Rypel is the author of the GONJI series of adventure-fantasy novels.  He has also written about THE OUTER LIMITS for Fantastic Films magazine and in his own late-‘70s fanzine series, The Outer Limits: An Illustrated Review.


  1. Wonderful spotlight on an OL episode that I always found quite haunting as a kid, Ted.

    "How sadly haunting, almost mystically so, is the thought of just how many actual instances of unrecorded, unheralded heroic self-sacrifice might have occurred throughout human history."

    Well put, my friend. Self-sacrifice as a theme seems to be touched upon more regularly in the sci-fi than other genres, I think. Perhaps, it's a reminder of our better natures by way of other-worldly encounters. Maybe now though, in the world of 'Globalization', it is an aide-mémoire that we, too, can be Luminoids. Thanks for this.

  2. Thank YOU for your kind, generous and thought-provoking response.

  3. Great, Ted, just great. And I hadn't thought much about the youthful Lumanoids and their "rebellion" against the evil activities of their parents... a curious foreshadowing of America's late '60s anti-war youth movement. Yes, there are probably many, many noble acts that no one ever hears about, and they are perhaps more noble because of that. Some believe that doing good must never be made public, because the selfless act becomes "contaminated" by the selfish motivation of personal credit. What I also find interesting here is 1962-3's view of religion as a major component of life -- for everyone, progressive intellectuals included. And it truly was, back then... TV stations would sign-off with Sermonettes, and would begin each weekday with LAMP UNTO MY FEET or similar religious instruction programs. Forward-thinking writers like Stefano and Serling were steeped in it -- "wherever man walks God's Earth," says Mr. S (in "Eye of the Beholder," I believe), and certainly Joseph Stefano was a Catholic who believed in the traditional values of home and marriage (see ZZZZZZ). Yet none of that stopped these savvy guys from skewering hypocrisy wherever they found it; it just gave them an anchor, a larger-than-life belief that there's a cosmic right and wrong that none of us can avoid without feeling terribly guilty. It certainly made morality plays like the one we're analyzing that much more powerful. Today, intellectuals generally find faith and hope elsewhere, with many nailing religion itself as the ultimate cause of ignorance and blind hatred. No way we're getting into THIS subject any further... let's just say it was comforting back in the Kennedy era for a mass society to have rocksteady belief in what was spiritually right and wrong, and this enabled great writers to fashion stories like "A Feasibility Study" without feeling like narrow-minded cultists. Finally, you're absolutely right... Why would the Lumanoids allow Ralph Cashman to wander back to his own people, clearly screwing up an experiment these ruthless and desperate aliens took such pains to set up? I always felt Ralph's "human need" to reconnect with his wife somehow enabled this to happen, but it is indeed the kind of "logic flaw" a screenwriter is generally asked to clean up after his first draft. Still and all, it's a credit to "Feasibility Study" that we don't seem to mind (ditto the lack of local citizens until the climax); this is indeed a great, unforgettable episode of OL, and thanks so much for re-visiting it with your thoughtful and (as always) beautifully written essay.

  4. Thanks, Gary. Yeah, the Cashman return at the end doesn't bother us within the dramatic context because it adds a poignant resonance---he's the focal point of grim reality the community must come to grips with. And I do like how the "community" at large only turns up at the church, the rest of the tale being filtered through four people's apprehensions.

    For many years I called this one my series favorite. Now it's more blurred, with time and so much consideration. I suppose I'd say "Forms" is a more fascinating script. And "Demon" is a more energized production. But "Feasibility" is a beautifully crafted piece of dramatic fantasy and nightmarish art. Top-of-the-heap material, along with those two and "Architects" and---you know the pointless drill. It's the reason we're spending so much time on this blog for a hauntingly beloved subject.

    I once asked Joe Stefano about his religious convictions, how they might have colored the morality of his fiction. He replied that he did have a deeply ingrained traditional sense of morality, though he didn't regard it as something you had to go to a church to worship. A humanistic viewpoint readily on display in his richly compassionate characters. Such a fine, imaginative writer, who continues to influence me in my own fiction.

  5. Thanks, Ted. Your writing rivals Mr. Stefano's as lyrical poetry in prose.

    You mention asking Joe about his religious convictions, yet I've always been more curious about

    (a) his psychoanalysis, which I gather was rather trendy in the 50's and early 60's. I know it's a proprietary thing between patient & analyst, but wouldn't we love to know what his personal demons were, half of which were being spilled on the couch (several times a week!?), and half spilling onto his TOL scripts? Lacking a biographer, the details of his life are scattered here & there. What kind of conflicts arose in his large, Italian-Catholic family in South Philadelphia? A family that was split (divorce?) and then conjoined with another via a 2nd marriage, IIRC (Brady-Bunch-like, if you will). Did not serving in WWII (4F?) leave any psychological residue, perhaps coloring his anti-military slants?

    (b) What kind of literature did the (un-college-educated) Joe read in the 40's and 50's prior to becoming a screenwriter? You can't be a song-and-dance man 24/7 and then start popping out the kind of scripts he did essentially right out of the gate.

    (c) We know Val Lewton films had a big impact on his visual aesthetic. What else did he catch on the silver screen that contributed to the Old Dark House motif he was so fond of?

  6. In a similar vein, DJS tells us that Leslie Stevens does have a biographer, though curiously, she will supposedly focus more on the pre-TOL Stevens! That's a shame, as I'd like to know more about

    (d) the origins of Incubus (whose linguistic choice alone makes Joe's The Haunted seem closer to a Quinn Martin production by comparison)

    (e) EST? WTF!

    (f) the missile base turned into an ecological showcase

    (g) the allegedly endless parade of wives & girlfriends, and how those women would describe their arc w/ Mr. Stevens (if they were ever asked, post-split; are any of them interview-able today?)

    (h) after you've done TOL & Incubus, how does one deal with the kind of ennui that envelopes your life as you work on much more pedestrian fare?

    (i) did he ever resent (as one early-90's graphic novel suggested) that Joe got 99% of the credit for TOL being what it was?

    Sorry for the rambling, but you touched on a subject of interest (how did Joe & Leslie become Joe & Leslie), and I'm not sure we'll have a more appropriate thread in which I can unload.

  7. Hockey24hrs---

    Interesting inquiries, one and all. I can't shed much light on them, though, as my chats and letter exchanges with Joe over the years largely focused on the aesthetics and practical nuts and bolts of the writing process, plus some convivial family inquiries, brief discussions of works-in-progress (which he was guarded about), etc.

    We scarcely discussed most of the burning issues you raise. Some of them, I was also curious about---e.g., the well-known therapy---but felt it would be indiscreet to probe into, too personal an imposition for anyone short of an actual biographer to bring up.

    A lot of his youthful memories were poured into the semi-autobiographical film he wrote and produced in the late '90s---TWO BITS---about a surrogate Italian boy in Philly, trying to scare up movie money during the Depression.

    A charming and evocative little film, well worth seeing. But I don't recall much discussion of the war years.

    He would sometimes bring up the old days, anecdotal references to working with Leslie in musicals; of his fondness for great theatrical drama (not so much for his taste in literature, though his literary themes and allusions indicate an obvious familiarity with the Western classics); of how his script-writing sprang from an annoyance with all the pap he was seeing on early TV. ("I can do better than that" led to THE BLACK ORCHID and far beyond.) His deep immersion in theater certainly prepared him as a dramatist, a creator of powerful stories told in three or four acts.

    As for Leslie Stevens, I never got to know him and can't respond in the least about anything besides what I've read---mostly in DJS' COMPANION---or heard second-hand, from Joe. And that was little beyond some brief history of the shows they'd done together, or a handful of amusing anecdotes. From these I gather that they complemented each other nicely and felt no resentments---an outsider's view filtered through one half of the creative team. There were plans to possibly interview Stevens for a future TOLAIR volume, but these never came to fruition.

    But we have better-qualified people on the blog who might be compelled to weigh in on these questions---Dave Schow and Gary Gerani---who had much more in-depth personal contact with Joe and Leslie. And, of course, Marilyn Stefano herself is monitoring these proceedings. Perhaps she might be persuaded, at some point, to comment more pertinently than any of us are capable, regarding her beloved husband, who so captivated all our attentions and continues to command our respect...

  8. TED--

    Everything we could have hoped for. Thanks for taking time to do this. In order to be properly "preserved" for posterity on WACT, Feasibility Study needed a sharp, insightful and, hopefully, superbly written commentary. We now have it.

    "A mythic act of selfless and anonymous legacy"--I like that.


  9. Ted, you are an amazing writer. I've loved hearing your analysis of these episodes that previously you hadn't had the chance to elaborate upon. Has it been satisfying to have had this chance to share your views at long last? Certainly, you've noticed things in A Feasibility Study that I hadn't seen before (as well as many other episodes). Thank you.

  10. The man can turn a phrase, and the fact that he's contributed so many of them to this blog (when he probably could've spun out another novel - or science fiction trilogy! for the same amount of effort and dedication) has been to our great mutual benefit and appreciation.

  11. Thanks, Ted, for this great analysis of one of my favorite episodes. I've enjoyed reading your thoughtful and carefully articulated comments over the course of this blog--you have a gift for words and for identifying salient points. This episode was the one that compelled me to begin contributing to this blog, and I said most of what I wanted to say the first time around, but the one thing I thought of afterward that I wished I had added was the concept of empathy. As viewers, it was easy for us to hold most of the first season episodes at a safe distance. They concerned events that happened to select individuals (scientists, military guys, politicians, unique individuals of one sort or another) in faraway places (the frozen arctic, the moon, and so on). We watch with interest and even hope for certain results, but we can walk away safe and secure at the end as well. Feasibility Study, however, hit close to home--this is a neighborhood that looks like our neighborhood, and these people are just like the people that live around us. We instantly associate with them and feel their fear and confusion. As a kid, I never really thought I might be attacked by Zanti misfits or bee girls, but it was pretty easy to imagine the street I lived on ending in fog a half mile in each direction, and to wonder about the real neighbors I knew and what it would be like to be stuck with them in such a situation. It really hit home, too close to home, in ways that none of the other OL episodes did.

    And, as I said earlier, I felt the ending to be one of the most powerful things I've ever seen on TV. How would we respond if it was us?

  12. Ted, so happy to see this new piece on "A Feasibility Study". It's one of my favorite episodes, for all the reasons you mention here. I wrote a long comment on it on the original blog post, and it's the one episode I love most for its ending and theme, now that I think about it. This one HAUNTS me.

    I wonder, and I've never considered this before, if Ralph Cashman, as you say compelled by his human need to reconnect, made a daring and dangerous escape from the barrier to seek out his neighbors? What matters, I guess, is that he DID make his way back, and is both a tragic figure and probably a brave one, after all.

    You also point out those choice bits of dialogue which stick in the mind for this one.

    As I think several of us said about this one, we are always moved by the ending. The episode may lay it on thick in a few places (though I don't really think so), but it's worth it.

    Really lovely spotlight, Ted!

  13. Thanks, folks, for the very kind remarks from one and all. They are much appreciated.

    Gary G---
    I forgot to comment on your finger-snapping mention of "Sermonette" and LAMP UNTO MY FEET! Did we grow up future Brothers of the Bear, or what?! How many times I can recall dozing off while trying to stay awake through a Saturday night double-feature of Universal horror films. (FRANKENSTEIN would be no problemo. Then THE MAD GHOUL might zomb me out.) *blink* I'd awaken to a "Sermonette" that always seemed so strange a juxtaposition (not to mention a buzzkill), probably still peeking out from under the shrouding blanket that shielded me from monsters extruding out of my little TV tube.

    Larry R---
    Domo arigato---I know we share a fondness for this splendid episode, my friend.

    Jim Barwise---
    Yeah, it's been an adrenaline kick to talk about these things again, when---as DJS mentioned to me---the initial thought was: OUTER LIMITS again? What else is there to say without being soporifically redundant? Personally, I don't know that I HAVEN'T been, for some. But the blog has been a renewed education---so many insightful people here. And it's been a blast Spotlighting and commenting at length about episodes I never got to deal with in TOLAIR. And to tell the truth, I didn't reference my original reviews, for the most part, just to see how my opinions had changed, become more (or less) informed. Now I'll have to do so, out of curiosity.

    I'm humbled. But the only thing I'm "spinning" these days seems to be "out of control." The fantasy fiction markets have changed so much for us old-schoolers. I haven't adapted that well. "Exciting" re-issues of old stuff. And lately it's been one thus-far-unproduced indie film script after another...

    David Horne---
    Your "empathy" point is well taken. As a kid, I knew there was something special about this episode, about the unique sacrifice that rang down like a castle portcullis at the end: They're dead...they're giving themselves up to become twisted monstrosities so that the Luminoids won't bother Earth again---! That's incredible! It's like nothing I've ever seen!

    For all the genuine, real-life sacrifice we had read and heard about, my friends and I, in our imaginative preoccupations, found this fiction somehow more poignant. By virtue of that same mundane sampling of humanity you cite, we suddenly grasped the profundity of self-sacrifice for the greater good. I think that, for me, it was a turning point in my psychological maturation; learning to think outside the ego-box.

  14. Lisa---
    I daresay I'm inclined to embrace your speculation about Ralph Cashman's possibly escaping the Luminoids just to be with his own kind at the end---

    Yes! That's it! That's how I'll always see it, from now on. Lisa, you win---it's perfect. After all, he was more mobile than they were. And what threat could they now pose for him? He simply pushed past them as if they were pylons and rejoined his similarly doomed wife and fellows. The human will proves indomitable against oppression, even unto death.

    I like it.

    It's significant that the Luminoids had no other "slave laborers" in evidence yet. Was Earth the first place they tried? Had other planetary samplings heroically sacrificed themselves? It's a plan as doomed to inertia as the Luminoids themselves. Only bitter and heartless pure intellects could even have conceived it.

    Glad you find the show as emotionally and aesthetically appealing as I always have.

  15. A bonus!

    Really beautiful job, Ted. You've filled in an important gap here, on a show I just appreciate more and more. In fact, it makes me want to watch it again, real soon.

    I don't think I'll ever see this again with thinking "ink wash come to life".

  16. Thanks, Larry B---
    Someone else was supposed to cover it, but DJS urged me to go for it anyway, since we've had other multiple coverages. I thought maybe I would, but I got busy with other things. Then the other Spotlight was sidetracked, I think through miscommunication, and John and Peter asked me to go back and cover it.

    So I'm happy to have had the opportunity. It's always been a top-few favorite.

  17. Great spotlight, Ted. Thanks for filling in the gap so thoughtfully.

  18. Thanks for the wonderful review, Ted, and thanks to everyone else for sharing their thoughts and ideas.

    As I've just watched A Feasibility Study I was moved and impressed by it all over again. It's one of the most serious episodes of the series, and this may be my second full viewing. Brilliant, thoughtful, haunting and profound it doesn't have the entertainment kick of a Don't Open Till Doomsday, The Invisibles or even It Crawled Out Of The Woodwork. A stand alone episode it is, and in this rather like Forms Of Things Unknown.

    A few thoughts about the "superior" Luminoids: it seems that whenever human encounter such creatures in films or on TV shows they either triumph or at least learn something from them. In the case of the morally repugnant Luminoids I can't help but wonder if they're so superior (didn't one of them refer to our "puny minds"?,--in any case it's implicit that is how they view us), why did they give their game away?

    In other words, on the one hand they were ruthless and vile, and yet on the other hand they played fair in at least telling one of us of their fate, their reason for treating us as they do, and of their long term designs on the human race.

    In this the Luminoids reminded me a bit of the Nazis, whose superiority is in question for many reasons, and from a pragmatic standpoint telling all non-Germans that they're inferior beings, fit to be the slaves of the Teutonic ubermenschen was likely to set the whole world against them, hey? This is in the end what happened. They'd have done better using diplomacy, keeping their Aryan posturings to themselves, and going about their business in a quieter, more circumspect fashion, taking their time,--say a century or so, give or take--rather than insisting on global conquest in so short a period.

    The Luminoids made the same mistake with the humans they held in captivity, which in turn made earthlings out to be poor candidates for Luminoid slavery. That aside, it was a hell of a good episode, and it made me think, and I think most viewers would do same, always a good thing.


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