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Trivia / The Outer Limits (1963)

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  • Billing Displacement: When the series was released on VHS, the tape packages sometimes gave top billing to well-known actors who played supporting characters (such as Edward Asner in "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork", Bruce Dern in "The Zanti Misfits", James Doohan in "Expanding Human", and Happy Days' Marion Ross in "The Special One").
  • Completely Different Title:
    • In Portuguese, the show is called A Quinta Dimensão (The Fifth Dimension).
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    • In Mexico, Spain and Argentina, the show is called Rumbo a lo Desconocido (Heading to the Unknown).
  • Clifford Simak: His short story "Goodnight, Mr. James" was adapted as "The Duplicate Man".
  • Creator Backlash: David J. Schow's The Outer Limits Companion makes it clear that several contributors weren't universally pleased with how certain episodes turned out.
    • Producer Joseph Stefano singled out "The Mutant" as the worst episode of the series.
      "'The Mutant' was probably the worst show we did. Just terrible. I didn't care for the cast on it, either."
    • Gerd Oswald, the series' most prolific director, liked many of the episodes he worked on, but not "Specimen: Unknown" ("It was a very weak story") or "Expanding Human" ("It's a case of saying you'll try to do your best with a story... and then you can't come up with much").
    • Director Byron Haskin hated "Behold, Eck!", which he worked on only because he was contractually obligated to do so. As Haskin said in the Companion:
      "It was an alleged comedy that was just a bomb. They laid that script in my hands; I got one sniff of it and damn near fainted".
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    • Also affected were writers Meyer Dolinsky and Sonya Roberts with "ZZZZZ" and "Second Chance" respectively. They had their scripts changed by rewrites they didn't do, with Roberts taking her name off the finished product in favour of a pseudonym.
    • "The Invisible Enemy" was a Troubled Production due to difficult special effects and multiple rewrites mandated by Executive Meddling. Schow sums up how the creators came to regard the episode:
      "[N]othing cripples a show so much as the producer, story editor, director and writer all hating it."
    • Fan and critical consensus is that the series owes its reputation mostly to the first season — with a couple of extremely notable exceptions, second season episodes are usually dismissed as markedly inferior. But noted contrarian Harlan Ellison, writer of two of the most highly-regarded second season episodes, dismissed the entire first season as crap.
      "The first season, I thought, was garbage, the usual monster bullshit. They were doing 'the bear on the beach', in which you open with a bear on a beach, then you ask how the bear got on the beach. It was a lot of funny rubber masks, and basically silly ideas. Until [second season producer Ben] Brady came in, there were no science fiction writers working for the show."
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    • He also expressed dissatisfaction with how his episode "Soldier" turned out.
      "In TV they don't understand the subtleties of character. When a script runs long, or has production problems, the first things cut are the scenes that deepen characterization. Those changes tore the gut out of that show. That's why, for me, it's a less attractive or interesting show than 'Demon With a Glass Hand.'"
  • Dueling Shows: With The Twilight Zone (1959), though both were in production only during Twilight Zone's final season from 1963 to 1964. In the end, The Twilight Zone lasted for five years while The Outer Limits ended after two. On the other hand, the 1990s revival of The Outer Limits lasted longer than the first two revivals of The Twilight Zone combined.
  • Franchise Killer: The original series was abruptly cancelled mid-way through the second season due to poor ratings, although it would gain another life in syndicated reruns, and get a long running revival series decades later.
  • Prop Recycling: Happens often. Even some of the alien costumes were reused, both in The Outer Limits itself and other shows (such as Star Trek: The Original Series and The Munsters). Some especially interesting examples:
  • Show Accuracy/Trading Card Accuracy: The original Outer Limits cards, released while the series was still in production, are notorious because the writer, who couldn't use the series' actual plots due to licensing issues, concocted new stories (and laughable ones, at that) around colorized photos of the Aliens and Monsters. Later series of cards didn't have this problem; one series recycled the original pics with new text including both the TV and trading card plots.
  • Similarly Named Works: Although some of the revival episodes (like "Nightmare", "A Feasibility Study" and "The Inheritors") are remakes of TOS episodes, "The Human Factor" is not one of them. It has the same title as a TOS episode, but a completely unrelated story.
  • Technology Marches On: The signature opening Control Voice lines about how "we are controlling transmission", specifically reference a number of technical glitches - misaligned images, blur, color distortion, rolling or flickering - that commonly afflicted early analog television sets. These days, glitches typically involve pixelation, scrambling, or judders between adjacent channels, and even the idea of "transmission", i.e. broadcasting, seems archaic in the era of cable, satellite, and streaming video. In addition, the opening monologue's most well-known lines are "we control the horizontal, we control the vertical". This referenced the fact that TVs of the era actually had controls that adjusted the vertical and horizontal width of an image, a feature that was dropped from TV sets by the end of the 1970s.
  • Vindicated by Cable: The first season was fairly popular in its day, but season 2's hit or miss quality (along with a fatal timeslot change) caused it to take a nosedive and be cancelled. Fortunately, the show managed to gain a decades-long life and recognition in syndicated reruns.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The 1998 version of The Outer Limits Companion includes an appendix which provides detailed plot synopses of TOS scripts and premises that were never filmed. It also has details on rewritten and Deleted Scenes from the finished episodes, such as "The Man Who Was Never Born" originally ending on a much more upbeat (if still bittersweet) note, but this was changed due to time constraints.
    • "The Forms of Things Unknown" was written by Joseph Stefano with one eye on making it his directorial debut, but it ended up being helmed by Gerd Oswald. (Stefano's only directorial effort came after he left the series, with the unsold pilot The Ghost Of Sierra De Cobre.)
  • The Wiki Rule: There is a wiki dedicated to both this and the revival.
  • You Look Familiar: Many instances.
    • Robert Culp starred in three of the most acclaimed episodes ("The Architects of Fear", "Corpus Earthling" and "Demon With a Glass Hand"), becoming the actor most associated with the series.
    • David McCallum played Gwyllim Griffiths in "The Sixth Finger" and Tone Hobart in "The Forms of Things Unknown". He also played Joshua Hayward in "Feasibility Study" - the remake of another original series episode - in the revival.
    • Martin Landau played Andro in "The Man Who Was Never Born" and Richard Bellero, Jr. in "The Bellero Shield".
    • Mark Richman starred in both "The Borderland" (the second episode filmed) and "The Probe" (the 49th and last episode filmed).
    • Neil Hamilton played General Hilary J. Clarke in "The Invisibles" and Richard Bellero, Sr. in "The Bellero Shield". The two episodes were broadcast consecutively.
    • Robert Duvall starred as Louis Mace in "The Chameleon" and Adam Ballard in "The Inheritors".
    • Leonard Nimoy played Konig in "Production and Decay of Strange Particles" and Judson Ellis in "I, Robot". He also played Thurman Cutler in the remake of "I, Robot" in the revival.
    • Edward Platt played Dean Radcliffe in "The Man with the Power", Mr. Terrence in "The Special One", and David Hunt in "Keeper of the Purple Twilight".
    • Sally Kellerman played Ingrid Larkin in "The Human Factor" and Judith Bellero in "The Bellero Shield".
    • Kent Smith played Dr. Bloch in "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork" and human!Aabel in "The Children of Spider County".
    • Henry Silva played General Juan Mercurio in "Tourist Attraction" and Chino Rivera in "The Mice" (which was broadcast only two weeks later).
    • Not only did Don Gordon star in two episodes ("The Invisibles" and "Second Chance"), he almost tied with Culp by starring in a third. He was cast as the lead in "The Premonition", but got sick the night before shooting began; he was replaced by Dewey Martin mere hours before the cameras started rolling.
    • Jason Wingreen's three supporting roles form a curious trilogy. He plays an alien invader in "O.B.I.T.", a human murdered by an alien invader in "The Special One", and a coroner in "Expanding Human"!
    • Ben Wright had two onscreen roles (in "Nightmare" and "Wolf 359") and two voiceover roles where he played aliens (in "Moonstone" and "A Feasibility Study").
    • John Hoyt played Emmett Balfour in "Don't Open Till Doomsday", the Bifrost alien in "The Bellero Shield" and Professor Hebbel in "I, Robot".
    • Dabney Coleman played Dr. Williams in "The Mice", Lt. Rupert Lawrence Howard in "Specimen: Unknown" and James Custer in "Wolf 359".
    • To viewers of both the original series and the revival (other than McCallum and Nimoy):
      • Cliff Robertson played Alan Maxwell in "The Galaxy Being", the first episode of the original series, and Theodore Harris in "Joyride" in the revival.
      • Barbara Rush played Leonora Edmond in "The Forms of Things Unknown" in the original series and Barbara Matheson in "The Balance of Nature" in the revival.
      • Peter Breck played Senator Orville in "O.B.I.T." in the original series and James Kendal's father in "Mind Over Matter" in the revival.


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