The Outer Limits
Season 2 Box Set

Starring: Robert Culp, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy
RRP: 24.99
Certificate: PG
Available 25 July 2005

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all you see and hear. 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...

Season two of this classic 1960s sci-fi/horror anthology series contains only around half the number of episodes of season one. The reason why we only get seventeen is because it was decided to abandon the show partway through due to reduced viewing figures. A tad short-sighted, methinks. You might say that Joseph Stephano was partly responsible for this. This superb scriptwriter and style-setter for the show had opted to leave the production at the end of season one, after being repeatedly refused permission to direct some episodes. Given today's attitudes that virtually any actor on a long-running series is given the opportunity to try their hand at directing, this is rather ironic.

The programme did suffer as a result of his missing influence. Although remaining of generally high standard, season two did wander from its original format. The music became more melodic, rather than eerie, and moral tales exploring every facet of the human condition were forgotten.

Having said that, season two does contain two classic episodes: Soldier (which was the root of James Cameron's idea for The Terminator) and Demon With a Glass Hand. Both were written by seasoned SF writer Harlan Ellison and both won the coveted Hugo Award. The former has two soldiers from the far future, bred only to hate and kill the enemy, being forced by an accident back to the past of the 1960s, where a psychologist attempts to teach one of them the concepts of love and family. In the latter, a future Earth is invaded by another race, only to discover the entire population has vanished. The answer lies with the last remaining man and his glass hand computer.

Another great episode is I, Robot, about a machine falsely placed on trial for murdering his creator. It explores whether an intelligent robot should have human rights, and is taken from an Isaac Asimov story, right down to the title. However, just like The Invisibles from season one, the original writer outrageously receives no credit. This idea has been used many times since, most notably on Star Trek: The Next Generation's The Measure of a Man, where the subject was the android officer Data. And talking of Trek, guest stars for this season included William Shatner, Robert Culp (again), and Leonard Nimoy.

While true that this set of episodes is not as strong as season one's, the divide is not as wide as you might expect. The quality remains true, so it is well worth picking yourself up a copy of this set. The retail price reflects the reduced content.

Ty Power

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