The Outer Limits is turning 50....

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Craig Beam, Sep 5, 2013.

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  1. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Thanks Walter! I agree, I only saw Trial By Fire once and it really stuck in my memory!
     
  2. Craig Beam

    Craig Beam Screenwriter

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    I remember hating Showtime's Outer Limits, and stopped watching after 3 or 4 episodes. I might give it another shot someday....
     
  3. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Cinematographer

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    Showtime Outer Limits was nasty mean spirited garbage. The less said about it the better.
     
  4. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    That show was a masterpiece in terms of B&W photography for television. I can't think of any show of its time that looked better. Just beautiful. I would love to see it remastered for blu-ray in all its B&W glory.

    My favorite episode when I was a kid was probably the one where the guy was trapped in that house with hundreds of doors...that one creeped me out but good. Haven't seen it since the 70s.
     
  5. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Wow, a lot of hate for the New Outer Limits. I'm an old school Outer Limits fan for sure. When I saw the new Outer Limits at the time, I was okay with it. It does feel more Twilight Zone sometimes. I guess if Stefano and Stevens was involved, even if it was as in a consultancy capacity ( I don't recall how involved they were), it seemed valid. I knew it wasn't the same, and it's certainly not the classic the original is. But I thought it had a few good segments.
     
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  6. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    That would be "The Guests", which was also one of my favourites Ethan...although more so in later years. During its original run I was too young to appreciate the rich screen history of its supporting cast, especially Noir vet Gloria Grahame:

    [​IMG]

    Very surreal, disturbing stuff for 60s television...
     
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  7. Craig Beam

    Craig Beam Screenwriter

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    Any chance somebody out there has some medium-to-high quality scans of the VHS releases from the 90's? Those were gorgeous! I'll be using them for my Outer Limits blog, and naturally I'll give credit to the contributor(s). Anyone?
     
  8. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Cinematographer

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    That was a great episode. Another one that I really liked was called Tribunal from the 5th season where Saul Rubinek goes back in time to a concentration camp. Unfortunately the standout episodes were so few and far between. I have almost the whole run in my closet on VHS from Showtime but I've not had the inclination to transfer them.
     
  9. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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  10. Ockeghem

    Ockeghem Ockeghem

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    Very nicely put. And I love the intentional capitalization, which certainly got my attention. ;)

    I was five years old the first time I saw an episode of the original The Outer Limits. The episode I saw was The Sixth Finger, and it was chilling to me at the time. But the episode that resonated the greatest with me (as a child) was Nightmare, which I saw when I was about six or seven years old. That episode really terrified me because of the way the interrogators seemingly 'tortured' the POWs, and because of the distortion of the Ebonites' voices when they spoke. Of course, had I seen the sneakers worn by the chief Ebonite (as one of the children of the cast / TPTB did during production of the episode as referenced in Schow's fine book on the series), I would have been less frightened.
    I couldn't agree more, and that includes both the visual and aural elements. The aural aspect of the series has captivated me for decades, so much so that I have transcribed some of the music for keyboard in order to analyze and play it for my own enjoyment. And in my opinion, Gerd Oswald kicked the visual component up another level or two when he got behind the camera.
     
  11. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Cinematographer

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    The original series (at least the first season) was one of the greatest TV shows ever. Just an amazing array of talent, both behind and in front of the camera. I don't think there's ever been a better score written for television than Dominic Frontiere's score for Outer Limits. Such a shame that the morons at ABC decided to throw the show to the wolves by moving it to Saturday night, which caused Stefano to quit.
     
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  12. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    That is my only concern about any high-def remastering of this series. Even on DVD, the limits of the original TV budget and production schedule were betrayed by a resolution much higher than folks routinely experienced via over-the-air broadcast, then later on tape. Back in '63, on the standard sets of the era, with antenna reception often fading in and out, you just couldn't see any of this make-do stuff. In that regard, I always thought the series' signature 'electronic noise' and 'snow effects' were a rather canny way of acknowledging how many audience members like me sometimes viewed the show itself...I mean, if a storm was blowing in over the lake, almost any episode ended up looking like the effects in "The Borderland" or "Controlled Experiment." I never got to see some episodes in their entirety until my parents sprung for one of those new-fangled antenna 'rotors', and even that wasn't always a guarantee.

    Actually, it wasn't until MGM's Laserdisc transfers that I developed a deeper appreciation for the quality of the cinematography and sound in this series...during its original run, I considered myself lucky just to be able to see most of these episodes uninterrupted by signal drift. Ahhh, the limitations of analogue broadcast...those weren't the days.
    Oswald certainly got his hands on a fair share of the classics from this series:

    [*]O.B.I.T. (4 November 1963) - Director
    [*]Corpus Earthling (18 November 1963) - Director
    [*]It Crawled Out of the Woodwork (9 December 1963) - Director
    [*]Don't Open Till Doomsday (20 January 1964) - Director
    [*]The Invisibles (3 February 1964) - Director
    [*]Specimen: Unknown (24 February 1964) - Director
    [*]Fun and Games (30 March 1964) - Director
    [*]The Special One (6 April 1964) - Director
    [*]The Chameleon (27 April 1964) - Director
    [*]The Forms of Things Unknown (4 May 1964) - Director
    [*]Soldier (19 September 1964) - Director
    [*]Expanding Human (10 October 1964) - Director
    [*]The Duplicate Man (19 December 1964) - Director
    [*]The Premonition (9 January 1965) - Director
    [/list]
    Coincidentally, two of the last 2nd season episodes I watched during my recent viewings were "The Duplicate Man" and "The Premonition", and I was impressed by how much Oswald achieved on such shoestring TV budgets. But he was in good company; the whole show - especially in its brilliant 1st season - was such a talent magnet...
     
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  13. Ockeghem

    Ockeghem Ockeghem

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    Roclockck,

    I should have been clearer. The sneakers were seen by a child behind the scenes, when he or she was visiting the set with his or her parents. This alleviated the child's fears with regard to the alien (Ebonite) make-up. I didn't mean to convey that the shoes could actually be seen during the episode footage. Sorry about that.

    I love your The Borderland and Controlled Experiment references! So true. Gosh, I sure do remember the days of snowy television viewing, adjusting the rabbit ears, and (sometimes) putting tin foil on the antennae to try to achieve a better signal. I also recall that when you held or turned them a certain way the signal might come in more clearly. Of course, not too many people wanted to hold or turn rabbit ears while they were actually watching the show. ;)

    I initially saw TOL on ABC in the early 1960s. Another of my fondest childhood television memories was being able to view TOL a few years later on one of the two or three UHF channels we got when I lived in Massachusetts in the 1960s and 1970s. This would have been Channel 56, a station that (thankfully) took some risks with regard to their programming:

    "As a Kaiser station, channel 56's schedule consisted primarily of cartoons, off-network sitcoms, older movies and occasionally, network shows that were preempted by other local stations. However, the station was willing to experiment with such projects as Universal Television's Operation Prime Time (although Paramount Television would contribute some programs as well) and syndicated reruns of National Geographic specials in prime time. Such common independent station programming as a Saturday "Creature Double Feature" (following repeats of The Outer Limits) reached youthful and cult audiences. U.S. talk-show host Conan O'Brien has credited the station's rotation of classic musicals during its primetime movie offerings with encouraging him to consider a career as a performer."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WLVI

    Incidentally, I love The Premonition.
     
  14. Craig Beam

    Craig Beam Screenwriter

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    Keep it coming, gang. Maybe if we discuss the show enough, maybe some exec will realize that the show deserves a blu-ray release. :cool:
     
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  15. Harry-N

    Harry-N Cinematographer

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    Don't forget too that in the days of the original broadcasts on ABC, that network was a perennial third-place also-ran. And as such, they were only able to secure the lesser stations with which to affiliate in many markets. Some, in those days, split their affiliation with another network (or two!). Usually CBS or NBC got the prime affiliation, with most of their shows running as scheduled on the network. Then they'd fill in the schedule with ABC shows on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, prime access time, and even late nights. So the ABC shows often got zonked in the ratings even further.

    It wasn't the case at all in Philly, where I grew up. Channel 6 was always the ABC station and always put out a good signal, so when THE OUTER LIMITS came on, we got the full effect - as much as possible in those analog TV days. The TVs themselves that we watched on were tube sets that had difficulties at times with vertical and horizontal hold. So when the control voice said he could "roll the image, make it flutter...", that's the kind of stuff we'd have to adjust on the TV to stabilize the picture. There were always horizontal and vertical controls right on the front of most sets.

    And the Indian test pattern was iconic in those days too. When stations went off the air, they'd run their test patterns and a tone so that the engineers could make adjustments at the station and the transmitter. We'd see those in early morning and late at night.

    Fun times.

    Harry
     
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  16. Ockeghem

    Ockeghem Ockeghem

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    Harry,True enough what you wrote above. I remember those test patterns, although I did not know that they were so the engineers could make adjustments at the station and the transmitter. I also remember waking up in the early morning hours to The Star Spangled Banner several times over the years.

    On an unrelated note, I wonder why I was attracted to so many shows on ABC in the 1960s and 1970s (Batman, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, Dark Shadows, The Invaders, Leave It To Beaver, The Mod Squad, Nanny and the Professor, The Outer Limits, The Partridge Family, The Patty Duke Show, The Real McCoys, The Rifleman, and many others) during my childhood, though. There may be some correlation that I have yet to figure out. It's almost as though I latched on to the shows that no one else wanted at the time. There were exceptions (CBS and NBC had some gems, of course) but what a spate of wonderful memories I have from shows that ran on ABC.
     
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  17. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    The Outer Limits Control Voice intro (with some 'real world' caveats):

    [​IMG]
    Despite the unpredictability of antenna reception, sometimes it had a weirdly positive effect...I originally saw "The Production and Decay of Strange Particles" during a raging thunderstorm. Probably should have turned the set off (not a chance), but wow, was that the perfect backdrop! ;)
     
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  18. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    Still applies! Even on DVD, you can sometimes see the zippers on the alien costumes. And most of those 'tin can' rockets never did look remotely to scale.

    Never mattered though...the strength of this show was in its storytelling, characters, and themes anyway. And Frontiere's score always carried it.
     
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  19. Ockeghem

    Ockeghem Ockeghem

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    I watched A Feasibility Study last night. I continue to be intrigued by how long the repeated ostinato figure (B-flat / B-flat / G-flat in what I perceive to be a 3/2 meter) proceeds almost uninterrupted. And even when it is interrupted, it returns with a very quiet vengeance. It permeates the first twelve or thirteen minutes of the episode (after the opening music). It's heard very softly in parts, and then the volume is increased during other segments. It rarely lets up during the opening third or so of the episode. As I wrote a few years ago, the aural soundworld of these three notes (and especially of the repetitive pattern) augments the foreboding and uneasy atmosphere which is already occupied with several tension-filled moments at the visual level.

    I picked up on something last night that I have not noticed before. Other music cues are layered over this ostinato, almost drowning it out in parts. I listened carefully as other musics were heard, and during rests (or quieter passages) from the 'secondary' music the ostinato could still be perceived. I don't recall hearing two or more markedly different music cues being layered in TOL quite like this before, but it is possible that it does occur often and that I just missed it.
     
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  20. Harry-N

    Harry-N Cinematographer

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    I was attracted to many of those same ABC shows - even though I'd describe the household I grew up in to be a "CBS family". Our default channel was channel 10, the CBS station. We watched their news, and gave pretty much every CBS show a shot before moving elsewhere.

    But I was a teenager in the '60s, and as teenagers we tend to rebel against the norms set up by our parents. So even in this subtle way, I rebelled against the constant barrage of CBS shows and ventured on my own to the uncharted waters of other networks - and found ABC to be a place that was catering to the younger audience, like myself.

    To be sure, I still religiously watched THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, and GREEN ACRES, and ANDY GRIFFITH, and LOST IN SPACE, and RED SKELTON, and whatever iteration of LUCY happened to be on. I still gave whatever CBS dished out, like FAMILY AFFAIR or THE JEAN ARTHUR SHOW a shot before venturing elsewhere.

    It was ABC that I usually landed on second, and once I found something desirable, I'd continue to follow that show loyally to whatever time slot it ended up in. This presented problems of course, in that pre-VCR world. You got one shot to watch something and you had to choose. So when THE OUTER LIMITS (to bring this back to the topic at hand) was unceremoniously dumped to Saturday nights against THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW for its second season, I faced a dilemma. I liked Jackie Gleason and wanted to continue watching - but THE OUTER LIMITS was just so darned good, I had to make hard choices.

    So each week I'd scour the TV Guide and see what the descriptions for each show was, and then make my choice as to which show I'd watch. The family would stick with THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW, and I'd have to find one of the alternate TVs in the house to check out THE OUTER LIMITS.

    As for NBC - it was always third in succession. There aren't many old NBC shows that I was fond of. STAR TREK, GET SMART, I DREAM OF JEANNIE were about it. Occasionally I'd watch something like PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES or HAZEL, but wasn't crazy about either.

    But yes, a lot of those old ABC shows attracted us as younger members of the audience, and I recall hearing buzz about some of those shows in school, so they must have attracted other younger audience members too.

    Harry
     
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