"There is nothing wrong with your television." The first words
to the Outer Limits opening credits monologue have
passed into TV legend, and rightly so as they heralded a series
that was often thought provoking and sometimes pretty scary
when they were first heard in 1963 The Outer Limits
was something of a ratings failure, although highly critically
acclaimed, and it was that acclaim that finally resurrected
the show some 30 years later. The new Outer Limits,
however, had a lot to live up to.
anyone unfamiliar with the premise for the series there's
really not much to learn. The show was made up of single plays,
each with a moral and each flavoured with some science fiction
or fantasy twist. Simplicity itself - but to work you need
good scripts, plenty of atmosphere and 'ingredient X', the
vital additive that makes good fantasy ideas into great fantasy
TV. Fortunately, the new Outer Limits picked up on
much of what had made the original series so enjoyable and
shivery - it often had 'ingredient X' in very large doses.
Season One of the show features a number of highlights
amongst its 22 episodes. Valerie 23 features a very
human robot driven mad by jealousy, while Blood Brothers
gives a very nasty twist to the idea of immortality. The
Voyage Home manages to effortlessly create deep paranoia
inside a small spacecraft - is there really something else
on board? The Conversion, however, proves that the
best scripts can be created from the simplest ideas - is revenge
really worth the effort and would things be better if we forgave
rather than acted emotionally? The choice is available to
an escaped convict thanks to some alien intervention.
episode Quality of Mercy has a pleasantly nasty twist
at the end - no, I'm not saying, you'll have to watch it but
you'll never trust your cellmate again - and there are plenty
of odd children (always a scary idea) in this batch of episodes.
Check out The Choice and Under The Bed and you'll
think twice about starting a family.
It's also worth noting that these episodes are 'adult' in
their content. Yes, the scripts clearly shy away from hackneyed
SF/fantasy conventions - this ain't Buck Rogers - but
it's the way each morality play is realised that makes the
difference. The violence is realistically nasty (but never
gratuitous), there's nudity and there are moments of grizzly
realism. Combine these with a steady pace, minimal hysterics
and a keen eye for the disturbing and the resultant episodes
are not suitable for young viewers. But that's hardly a criticism.
discs themselves are pretty average - minimal extras (all
on disc 6) and generic menus. The five featurettes are: Caught
In The Act (5 mins), Origin of The Outer Limits
(10 mins), The Outer Limits Story (11 mins), Valerie
23 (5 mins) and The Making of Quality of Mercy
(9 mins). All interesting enough but not the sort of thing
you'll watch more than once. However, the stereo soundtrack
is good and clean and the episodes themselves look okay, if
a little soft - probably the result of being edited on video.
don't let that put you off - this is a very entertaining box
set, albeit with the potential to be a great one given a better
sprinkling of additional content.