The Outer Limits - Season One

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday March 27, 2018

Quentin Tarantino is in the running to make a new "Star Trek" movie? Why not? "The X Files" has fizzled out yet again? Who didn't see that one coming? Jordan Peele is rebooting "The Twilight Zone?" Can't wait!

But isn't it the Blu-ray release of the original "The Outer Limits" that you've really been waiting for?

Wait no more! Kino Lorber has unveiled a restored, hi-def Blu-ray edition of Leslie Stevens' beloved 1963 show, an anthology series that goosed "The Twilight Zone" back onto the air at CBS for a fourth season that, in answer to its new competitor at ABC, featured hour-long episodes for the first time (a change in format that only lasted 18 episodes).

Where the Serling show dealt with sci-fi, horror, and fantasy, "The Outer Limits" dealt primarily with monsters. They might be aliens bent on conquest or destruction (or simply dropping in to take a look around and gasp at human savagery); they might be cabals transforming human beings in various unbecoming ways; they might be cryptozoological specimens pushing back against foolish human dictatorships, or mutants from a ravaged future looking to change history. All those ideas, and more made up the balance of the show's inaugural season, and they all look wonderful on the newly-minted Blu-ray edition of "The Outer Limits - Season One."

Through the years, "The Outer Limits" has occupied a special place in TV history and the hearts of its fans, with its standout installments being among television's more literary (and influential) hours. Just take a look at the powerfully prescient "O.B.I.T.," in which aliens use a new, privacy-eliminating technology in a plot to fray American society and weaken our democratic defenses against division and destruction. With minor tweaks, this episode could be broadcast today and feel ripped from the headlines.

Or consider how the Martin Landau-starring "The Man Who Was Never Born," his directional ties to the blockbuster "Terminator" franchise. Or reflect on how "The Architects of Fear," in which scientists turn Robert Culp into their idea of an extraterrestrial menace, fits with today's climate deniers, who fantasize about elites seeking to fool the world with doomsday hoaxes. The ultimate consequences of authoritarianism are explored in "Moonstone" (which offers an eye-catching, if completely inaccurate depiction of the Lunar landscape), while daring sexual and technological concepts get their due in the season finale, "The Forms of Things Unknown."

Even the sillier episodes (like "Second Chance," in which an amusement park ride turns out to be an actual flying saucer) retain a charm that's only part retro; this program is an earnest effort to shock you into deeper thoughts.

Not only do the 32 episodes that comprise Season One deserve the glorious remastering they're given here (Season Two will follow, with the remaining 17 installments), they also warrant - and receive - the kind of critical, informed commentary that passionate experts provide on two dozen of Season One's stories. Among the commentators: David J. Schow (author of two seminal "Outer Limits" books), musicologist Reba Wissner, also an author (of thesis-worthy "We Will Control All That You Hear: The Outer Limits and the Aural Imagination"), and hilariously funny, meticulously sharp-eyed blogger and podcaster Craig Beam. These black and white dreams and nightmares have an enduring luminosity, but the commentaries light them up even more.

Schow also provides the text for a comprehensive, beautifully illustrated booklet, in which he unstintingly and honestly assesses the show's strong and weak points, relates its origins, and talks about the ways in which ABC warmed to it... and didn't.

If the earlier DVD releases of the "The Outer Limits" left you feeling that there was more than was possible, and more that you wanted, this seven-disc Blu-ray edition will answer that desire and super-charge your imagination all over again.


"The Outer Limits"
Blu-ray
$64.97
https://www.kinolorber.com/product/view/id/5058

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.