Case Number 11603: Small Claims Court


MGM // 1963 // 736 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // June 27th, 2007

The Charge

There is nothing wrong with your television set...

The Case

There is nothing wrong with your DVD player; you've seen these discs before. At least you have if you bought the first season release of The Outer Limits. Those sets haven't even gone out of stock at Amazon (at the date of this writing), and now MGM is releasing everything again in slim packaging with fewer episodes splitting up two seasons into four volumes. There are no new mastering, no new extras, and nothing has changed. If you have or can find the original set, then The Outer Limits( Season 1, Volume 1) makes no sense to purchase. But if for some reason you want 16 episodes at more than half the price of the 32 episode set or like slim line casing better, then this is the way to go. The series itself is a must see, and science fiction collectors should add at least one volume of the show to their shelf.

The Outer Limits was an anthology series from 1963 that ran for two seasons on ABC. It was very much like The Twilight Zone for its short, mysterious stories, but had a focused science fiction approach. The series only lasted two years because ABC moved it from Monday nights (where the program thrived with younger viewers) to 7:30pm on Saturday (right before The Lawerence Welk Show). It was "death by time slot," a common theme developed by ABC on its most artistic and daring productions. Oddly enough when the show was pulled and canceled halfway through the second season, it disappeared right along with The Twilight Zone in 1965.

The episodes include and star:
* "The Galaxy Being" (Cliff Robertson, Lee Philips, Jacqueline Scott)
* "The Hundred Days of the Dragon" (Sidney Blackmer, Phillip Pine)
* "The Architects of Fear" (Robert Culp, Leonard Stone)
* "The Man with the Power" (Donald Pleasance, Priscilla Morrill)
* "The Sixth Finger" (David McCallum, Jill Haworth, Edward Mulhare)
* "The Man Who Was Never Born" (Martin Landau, Shirley Knight)
* "O.B.I.T." (Peter Breck, Jeff Corey, Joanne Gilbert)
* "The Human Factor" (Gary Merrill, Harry Guardino)
* "Corpus Earthling" (Robert Culp, Salome Jens)
* "Nightmare" (James Shigeta, Ed Nelson, Martin Sheen)
* "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork" (Scott Marlowe, Kent Smith)
* "The Borderland" (Philip Abbott, Gladys Cooper, Nina Foch)
* "Tourist Attraction" (Janet Blair, Henry Silva, Ralph Meeker)
* "The Zanti Misfits" (Michael Tolan, Olive Deering)
* "The Mice" (Henry Silva, Diana Sands, Dabney Coleman)
* "Controlled Experiment" (Barry Morse, Carroll O'Connor)

The show has strong writing and acting. The special effects are basic, and the program is black and white, but these episodes hold up incredibly well. Each hour-long installment is gripping in its own way, and you really get sucked in easily as each one unfolds. The production team headed up by Joseph Stephano (who was the screen writer for Psycho) is immaculate, and knew how to make things cinematic while working under the constraints of television. Thanks to the cinematography of film veteran Conrad Hall (American Beauty) and the always eerie score by Dominic Frontiere, these are like mini science fiction masterpieces. The show was obsessed with the genre, and often concentrated on the interaction of man with technology, aliens, or the future. Always at the core was the essential science fiction question "What does it mean to be human," and that made the show challenging and classic.

The episodes look good, and the transfers were solid in 2002 when they debuted on DVD. You have occasional debris, but rich black levels, and no edge enhancement. The mono soundtrack is free of hiss, and is clear enough. I'm not a fan of the flipper disc, and the menus do not navigate as easily as they should. There is no "play all" function, and once you pick one of the four titles it goes to a scene breakdown sub menu. Other than those two minor complaints, it's nice to have these episodes in any form. There are no extras, and not even an insert book which could be found in the first edition whole season release. It's a great collection, but I wonder why MGM felt the need to break up the first season and put it in slim line cases for reissue with no extras. We've seen this before in the industry, and it's a trend that boggles the mind almost as much as these sci fi stories. New packaging, but no new content doesn't do much for anyone except those who want a sampler.

You can't argue the quality of the series. For this reason alone The Outer Limits (Season 1, Volume 1) is a great set. Yet five years ago we got the whole season in one box. The show has never been duplicated, even when a revival was attempted in the '90s. What made this one great were the visionary producers committed to making a thought provoking science fiction anthology show designed to blow minds and give children nightmares. And it all holds up just as well today. Cheers to The Outer Limits, and hopefully one day MGM will create extras for it worthy of its iconic status. But until then, we've been down these roads before.

Review content copyright © 2007 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile
Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

* None

Running Time: 736 Minutes
Release Year: 1963
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* None

* IMDb

* Verdict's Review of the Season One Release