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The series is often compared to The Twilight Zone , but with a greater emphasis on science fiction stories rather than stories of fantasy or the supernatural matters. The Outer Limits is an anthology of self-contained episodes, sometimes with a plot twist at the end. The series was revived in , airing on Showtime from to , then on Sci-Fi Channel from until its cancellation in Each show would begin with either a cold open or a preview clip, followed by a "Control Voice" narration that was mainly run over visuals of an oscilloscope.

Using an Orwellian theme of taking over your television, the earliest version of the narration ran as follows:. A similar but shorter monolog caps each episode: We now return control of your television set to you. Later episodes used one of two shortened versions of the introduction. The first few episodes began simply with the title screen followed by the narration and no cold open or preview clip.

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The Control Voice was performed by actor Vic Perrin. In total, 49 episodes were produced. It was one of many series influenced by The Twilight Zone and Science Fiction Theatre , though it ultimately proved influential in its own right. With a few changes, the pilot aired as the premiere episode, " The Galaxy Being ".

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Stefano wrote more episodes of the show than any other writer. Season 1 combined science-fiction and horror, while Season 2 was more focused on ' hard science fiction ' stories, dropping the recurring "scary monster" motif of Season 1. Each show in Season 1 was to have a monster or creature as a critical part of the story line. Season 1 writer and producer Joseph Stefano believed that this element was necessary to provide fear, suspense, or at least a center for plot development. This kind of story element became known as "the bear".

This device was, however, mostly dropped in Season 2 when Stefano left. Two Season 1 episodes without a "bear" are " The Forms of Things Unknown " and " Controlled Experiment ", the first of which was shot in a dual format as science-fiction for The Outer Limits and as a thriller for a pilot for an unmade series The Unknown.

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Actor Barry Morse , who starred in "Controlled Experiment", states that this episode also was made as a pilot for an unrealized science-fiction comedy series. It was the only comic episode of The Outer Limits. Earlier Season 1 episodes with no "bear" were " The Hundred Days of the Dragon " and " The Borderland " made before the "bear" convention was established.

The "bear" in " The Architects of Fear ", the monstrously altered Allen Leighton, was judged by some of ABC's local affiliate stations to be so frightening that they broadcast a black screen during the "Thetan's" appearances, effectively censoring most of the show's last act. In others, it was not shown at all. Season 1 had music by Dominic Frontiere , who doubled as Production Executive; Season 2 featured music by Harry Lubin , with a variation of his Fear theme for One Step Beyond being heard over the end titles. Both shows were unusually philosophical for science-fiction anthology series, but differed in style.

The Twilight Zone stories were often like parables, employing whimsy such as the Buster Keaton time-travel episode " Once Upon a Time " or irony, or extraordinary problem-solving situations such as the episode " The Arrival ". The Outer Limits was usually a straight action-and-suspense show which often had the human spirit in confrontation with dark existential forces from within or without, such as in the alien abduction episode " A Feasibility Study " or the alien possession story " The Invisibles ".

As well, The Outer Limits was known for its moody, textured look in many episodes especially those directed by Byron Haskin or Gerd Oswald , or photographed by Conrad Hall whereas The Twilight Zone tended to be shot more conventionally. However, there is some common ground between certain episodes of the two shows. The Official Companion , have noted, several Outer Limits episodes are often misremembered by casual fans as having been Twilight Zone episodes, notably such "problem solving" episodes as "Fun and Games" or "The Premonition". The program sometimes made use of techniques lighting, camerawork, even make-up associated with film noir or German Expressionism see for example, " Corpus Earthling " , and a number of episodes were noteworthy for their sheer eeriness.

Credit for this is often given to the cinematographer Conrad Hall , who went on to win three Academy Awards and many more nominations for his work in motion pictures.


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However, Hall worked only on alternate episodes of this TV series during the first two-thirds of the first season. The program's other cinematographers included John M.

Science fiction quotations : from the inner mind to the outer limits

Nickolaus and Kenneth Peach. The various monsters and creatures from the first season and most props were developed by a loose-knit group organized under the name Project Unlimited. Makeup was executed by Fred B. Phillips along with John Chambers. Many of the creatures that appeared in Outer Limits episodes have been sold as models or action figures in the s and s. A variety in limited editions have been as model kits to be assembled and painted by the purchaser issued by Dimensional Designs, and a smaller set of out-of-the-box action figures sold in larger quantity by Sideshow Toys.

A few of the monsters reappeared in Gene Roddenberry 's Star Trek series later in the s. The moving microbe beast in " The Probe " later was used as the ' Horta ' in " The Devil in the Dark ", and operated by the same actor, Janos Prohaska. The "ion storm" seen in " The Mutant " a projector beam shining through a container containing glitter in liquid suspension became the transporter effect in Star Trek.

The black mask from " The Duplicate Man ", is used by the character Dr. Leighton in " The Conscience of the King ". Cameron conceded the influence.

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Ellison was awarded money and an end-credits mention in The Terminator , stating the creators' wish "to acknowledge the works of Harlan Ellison". Cameron was against Orion's decision and was told that if he did not agree with the settlement, they would have Cameron pay for any damages if Orion lost Ellison's suit. Cameron replied that he "had no choice but to agree with the settlement.

There was a gag order as well. The series earned a very loyal audience in the first season.


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It was so devoted, some people were reported to take a TV set with them if they had to be away from home, so they would not miss an episode as home video recording did not yet exist. However, the second season fared rather poorly in the Nielsen ratings after moving from Monday to Saturday night, going against Jackie Gleason.

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Science Fiction Quotations: From the Inner Mind to the Outer Limits by Gary Westfahl - PDF Drive

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