Monday, March 14, 2011



by Davd J. Schow

Just like on the DVD sets, “The Probe” is stranded here on a Monday, isolated, bereft and foresworn.  On disc, given the unwieldy mathematics of distributing 17 episodes over six disc sides, “The Probe” wound up all by its lonesome on Side Six … as if anyone would really make the effort to flip the disc over to witness this sad little death-fart of The Outer Limits.

As Brady assistant B. Ritchie Payne told me, “there are some episodes you would not want to spend a lonely evening looking at,” and “The Probe” richly fulfills this compact.

Besides, it’s the last episode, and WACT followers are already bailing … ditching this final class, because, who’s gonna know?  It’s painful to admit that the best performance in this show is by a sweating Hungarian in a silver suit that looks like a big pile of rubber throwup.

JS & PE were not looking forward to doing “An Episode of The King Family-a-Day!”  Feel their pain.

“The Probe” retains the science-fictional ability to stretch time.  If you don’t believe that, just take a look, and feel your life ebbing away.  What a far cry from “Nightmare,” also shot on nearly naked soundstages.  How long ago that seems, now.

And the final Control Voice speech holds a lingering wisp of melancholy, yet it is hopeful, suggesting that the spark of The Outer Limits would not be stamped completely out.  And it wasn’t.  Perversely enough, for stations “stripping” the show in syndication, the idea suggested by the final CV speech would be fulfilled the very next week, when “The Galaxy Being” came around again on the rotation.

Regardless, “The Probe” brought some joy into my existence, as it allowed me to meet and hang out with the wonderful William (Bill) Boyett, whom I had always cherished as the snarky alien sports-car enthusiast and metalhead in The Hidden:  “I want this car.  I need the keys.”

“Thank you.  ‘Bye.”  Kaboom!

Check back later today for Ted Rypel's Spotlight on "The Probe."


  1. Well, we're TRYING to ring down the curtain and dim the lights with dignity and grace. Good show, David J. Thanks for the perk-up with the Bill Boyett "Probe"/HIDDEN connection. I couldn't have recalled his name from memory, and the difference the years made obscured the fact that he was in both films. But Boyett sure does pull off one of the most memorable alien-possession characterizations in SF film with THE HIDDEN.

    Has there ever been a beloved show that was so lustily defended against its own ignominious end? As has been said many times before, THE OUTER LIMITS was like two different series. It's like marrying into an instant family and feeling compelled to overcompensate in celebrating the finer qualities of a stepchild you don't particularly care for, for the sake of the spouse you love dearly.

  2. You had mentioned before knowing Boyett and I thought that very cool--as cool as it was to see him in THE HIDDEN in a fantastic role, since I was already well familiar with his many cops and cowboys over the years.

    Good on ya for mentioning him.

  3. Dave, you look like you're being sold a used car -- or a severed life raft -- that's already causing buyers remorse.

    I'm as fond of The Probe as I am all of the other less-than-steller S2 eps (everything not called Demon, Soldier, Inheritors, Duplicate Man). I appreciate them for what they are (honest stabs at SF . . . pulpy, grade-B SF . . . but SF nonetheless). I don't dismiss them for what they're not (Stefano-Hall-Oswald classics). I'm the anti-David Holcomb when it comes to nostalgia: I'm up for almost anything that brings back the Tom Swift Tomorrowland of my (imagined) youth.

    And, since I mentioned Hall (in an admittedly knee-jerk genuflection to the troika), I'm going to throw out a nagging question: Why do we revere him so much? Are we putting him on a pedestal after-the-fact because he got a raft of Oscar noms & wins in the 40 years that OL has been percolating through our brains? Or are we (actually, the more cinema-savvy WACT readers) really seeing things in his specific shots that only Hall could do?

    I'm looking at John Nicholaus' OL resume . . .

    The Galaxy Being
    The Sixth Finger
    The Borderland
    Tourist Attraction
    The Zanti Misfits
    Controlled Experiment
    A Feasibility Study

    . . . and I count 5 classics I would have guessed were Hall contributions. Are we committing the Fallacy of Appeal to Authority?


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