• Outer Limits, The – Season One



    Released by: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
    Released on: March 27th, 2018.
    Director: Various
    Cast: Martin Landau, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Duvall, Warren Oates, Bruce Dern, Gloria Grahame, Vera Miles, Donald Pleasence, Martin Sheen, Henry Silva
    Year: 1963 - 1964
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    The Movie:

    The Outer Limits debuted on ABC in 1963 and ran through 1965, lasting only two seasons. Those two seasons, however, were enough to rightly earn the sci-fi anthology show a pretty serious cult following. The show was clearly influenced by The Twilight Zone but it had a stronger focus on aliens and more traditional science fiction than Rod Serling’s iconic series. This helped to set it apart, even if there was definitely some crossover in terms of genres and ideas between the two shows. The series was produced by Joseph Stefano (who was the screenwriter on Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho) for the first season and Ben Brady for the second. Stefano also wrote for the show, alongside luminaries like Robert Towne, Leslie Stevens Byron Haskin, and Harlan Ellison.

    Each of the episodes opened with the now familiar monologue (voiced by Vic Perrin who did quite a bit of acting and voice work, even playing a few characters in the original Scooby-Doo cartoon!):

    “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to – The Outer Limits.”

    Those of us who first saw certain episodes of the series as a kid? Yeah, we might still get chills. It does a great job of setting up the series – it’s mysterious and alerts the viewer that they’re about to see something strange, yet it’s generic enough to work for each of the forty-nine episodes that make up the series.

    The entire first season of The Outer Limits contains the following thirty-two episodes:

    Disc One: The Galaxy Being / The Hundred Days Of The Dragon / The Architects Of Fear / The Man With The Power / The Sixth Finger

    Disc Two: The Man Who Was Never Born / O.B.I.T. / The Human Factor / Corpus Earthling / Nightmare

    Disc Three: It Crawled Out Of The Woodwork /The Borderland / Tourist Attraction / The Zanti Misfits / The Mice

    Disc Four: Controlled Experiment / Don't Open Till Doomsday / ZZZZZ / The Invisibles / The Bellero Shield

    Disc Five: The Children Of Spider County / Specimen: Unknown / Second Chance / Moonstone / The Mutant

    Disc Six: The Guests / Fun and Games / The Special One / A Feasibility Study / Production And Decay Of Strange Particles

    Disc Seven: The Chameleon / The Forms Of Things Unknown

    So many classic moments in this run and instantly recognizable creatures and aliens. The series starts off with a bang with The Galaxy Being, an iconic story about a creature from another world and its connection to earth and electromagnetism. The effects in this episode are surprisingly eerie, a trademark of the series. The Architects Of Fear is another chiller wherein an American scientist is turned into a creature that they hope will stop the nations from fighting amongst each other and provide a united front. It doesn’t end well. The Sixth Finger is one of those instantly recognizable episodes, as we learn the story of a miner who volunteers for an experiment meant to give him advanced mental powers… and an extra digit on his hand. You don’t have to be a super fan to recognize some of the imagery from this one! O.B.I.T. is one of the more paranoid episodes, as it tells the story of a senator looking into a worker’s disappearance at a government research facility. Nightmare takes place after the Earth has been attacked by aliens and it follows a group of human soldiers sent to the planet Ebon to fight the aliens on their own ground.

    The Zanti Misfits is probably the show’s most recognizable episode, it tells the story of a California ghost town set upon by alien criminals no longer wanted on their home planet, that just happen to be large ants with humanoid faces! Don’t Open Till Doomsday takes place in the 1920’s where two newlyweds are given a strange box as a wedding gift while The Children Of Spider County sees a G-man investigate the disappearance of four young but influential people all from the same titular locale. In The Mutant an astronaut investigates the death of a scientist on an alien planet while the eerie Feasibility Study tells the tale of a town that wakes up to find everyone else has been shipped off to another planet, leaving them all alone for reasons they may never wish to learn. It all closes out with The Form Of Things Unknown, a trippy episode where two women kill a man that’s blackmailing them and run into trouble when, while attempting to bury the body, they take shelter from a storm in the home of a blind scientist conducting some very unorthodox experiments.

    There are also loads of instantly recognizable guest stars here – Cliff Robertson, Geraldine Brooks, Ed Asner, Macdonald Carey, Dabney Coleman, Robert Culp, Bruce Dern, Robert Duvall, Mimsy Farmer, Don Gordon, Harry Guardino, Peter Breck, Gloria Grahame, Signe Hasso, Miriam Hopkins, Richard Jaeckel, Sally Kellerman, Shirley Knight, Martin Landau, George Macready, John Marley, David McCallum, Ralph Meeker, Gary Merrill, Vera Miles, Leonard Nimoy, Simon Oakland, Warren Oates, Carroll O Connor, Donald Pleasence, Cliff Robertson, Ruth Roman, Barbara Rush, Martin Sheen and Henry Silva all appear in this batch of episodes, sometimes more than once.

    Production values are pretty strong for the era. Some of the creature effects are a little goofy but most of them work quite well. The hour-long format affords the writing team plenty of time to create interesting characters while the set design and camera work tends to be top notch. This first season holds up well, and The Other Limits remains a classic of genre television.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Kino brings the first season of The Outer Limits to Blu-ray spread across seven 50GB discs in AVC encoded 1080p high definition in the series’ original fullframe broadcast aspect ratio and the transfers generally look great. There’s some print damage here and here but most of it is very minor, for the most part the image is very clean. Detail ranges from very good to outstanding, it is typically very strong throughout the run, and there’s impressive depth and texture to the image. Compression is handled well, there’s no problems there, while the series’ 35mm roots show through, as they should, with a nice, natural looking amount of film grain present. There doesn’t seem to be any problems with noise reduction or edge enhancement, while proper contrast settings ensure we get nice, deep blacks, clean whites and a good grey scale.

    The English language LPCM 2.0 Mono tracks, which comes with optional English subtitles, sound just fine. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion to note and the levels are properly balanced throughout. Dialogue stays easy to follow and understand, while sound effects and music come through with appreciable clarity as well.

    The bulk of the extras on this set come in the form of a selection of informative commentary tracks. The commentary roster for this set is as follows:

    The Galaxy Being: David J. Schow / The Hundred Days Of The Dragon: Reba Wissner / The Architects Of Fear: Gary Gerani / The Sixth Finger: David J. Schow / The Man Who Was Never Born: Gary Gerani / O.B.I.T.: Craig Beam / Corpus Earthling: Craig Beam / Nightmare: David J. Schow / The Zanti Misfits: Tim Lucas and Gary Gerani with Steve Mitchell (two commentaries for this episode) / The Mice: Reba Wissner / Controlled Experiment: Reba Wissner / Don't Open Till Doomsday: Reba Wissner / ZZZZZ: Tim Lucas / The Invisibles: Tim Lucas / The Bellero Shield: Tim Lucas / Specimen: Unknown: Craig Beam / The Mutant: David J. Schow / The Guests: Gary Gerani and David J. Schow / Fun And Games: David J. Schow / The Special One: Gary Gerani and Michael Hyatt / A Feasibility Study: David J. Schow / Production And Decay Of Strange Particles: Tim Lucas / The Forms Of Things Unknown: Tim Lucas

    For those already very familiar with the series, these commentary tracks add quite a nice bit of value to the set. Without going into the minutia as to what is covered in each track, let it suffice to say that all of the commentators know their stuff. David J. Schow, the author of The Outer Limits Companion, in particular does an excellent job detailing the episodes that he’s involved with but everyone here has something of interest and worth to contribute. There’s lots of talk of the history of the show, the writing teams, the directors that were involved, the cast members that appear, and plenty of the themes that the series deals with as well as how the social and political context needed to really understand where the country was at when this material was originally broadcast.

    Additionally, each disc contains menus and episode selection. In regards to the packaging, Kino has done a nice job here, placing the seven discs in a fold-out style digipack with sturdy trays inside. These in turn fit inside a slipcover that also holds a forty-page book that contains information on each episode in the set and writing from David J. Schow that helps to provide some historical context and insight into what makes The Outer Limits such an enduringly popular show.

    The Final Word:

    Kino Lorber Studio Classics’ Blu-ray release of the complete first season of The Outer Limits is a true thing of beauty! The transfers are uniformly excellent across the board, the audio is problem free and the various commentaries lined up for the set genuinely interesting and nicely delivered. The show itself remains a lot of fun – perfect for late night viewing with the lights off!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!