The Outer Limits Top 10 Episodes
Do not attempt to adjust your set, we are in control……and after all this is a computer/tablet/phone you are reading not a television. From 1963-1965 the science fiction anthology show the Outer Limits gave viewers a weird and wonderful combination of thought-provoking science fiction and dark moody horror in a way which is near impossible to duplicate. With a short run lasting only 49 episodes, this classic series gave viewers some of the most memorable TV episodes ever, in addition to possibly the most chilling intro to ever hit the screens.
The Galaxy Being: The very first episode of the Outer Limits, which did a pitch-perfect job setting the tone for this strange and fascinating series. Acclaimed character actor, Cliff Robertson plays radio station owner Allan Maxwell who is secretly using his broadcast equipment to investigate an unknown microwave signal. In doing so he makes contact with an alien from another galaxy who is trying to reach out other life forms. Conversations naturally begin with physical characteristics of their respective races, but evolves into deeper topics. Though when Maxwell leaves his new acquaintance behind, the alien emerges into our world emitting a powerful radio signal which disrupts everything in his path. The alien in this episode is truly unlike anything seen before, and the sight of it is still very unnerving.
The Inheritors Pt1 & Pt2: Four soldiers in the Korean War have suffered gunshot wounds to their heads and for unknown reasons each of them emerges with superhuman intellect. Government agent Adam Ballard (a young Robert Duvall) is sent to investigate what is going on, and to discover if there is an extraterrestrial element to this weird case. Ballard discovers the bullets which hit them were infused with a meteorite and under the guidance of alien forces are being manipulated into building a starship using handicapped and troubled children as a labor force. As Ballard attempts to stop them from taking the children away in the ship, the government agent learns things may not be what they seem on the surface.
A Feasibility Study: A nice quiet community finds that it has been cut off from the rest of the world as a thick fog surrounds their six block radius. They have been transported to an alien world to be observed by a race who wants to know if humans would be compatible for enslavement. These beings known as the Luminoids have been afflicted by a disease which is turning them to stone and it is highly contagious. Realizing that the entire human race is doomed, if the Luminoids decide they fit their needs, the captured people infect themselves with the strange stone disease rather than submit to the alien beings.
Soldier: Penned by science fiction legend Harlan Ellison, this classic Outer Limits episode served as the inspiration for James Cameron’s masterpiece, the Terminator. Ellison’s lawsuit against the director and Orion Pictures made that perfectly clear. In the far flung future two soldiers engaged in combat on an apocalyptic world when they are pulled into a time warp. One of the soldiers Qarlo, ends up in the 1960’s and is apprehended by police. One of his captors, feels there is something more to Qarlo and gradually ingratiates the soldier with his own family teaching him kindness and a life without killing and war. As Qarlo grows closer this clan, his enemy from the future follows him shortly through the time warp, forcing the futuristic soldier to fight once again; only this time to protect those who showed him compassion.
The Architects for Fear: Long before Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons gave us the Watchmen; writer Meyer Dolinsky penned an Outer Limits episode about ending the Cold War through faslifiying an alien threat. A secret gathering of scientists realize that with the increasing aggression being shown between nations the world may not have much longer. Having studied the planet Theta, they propose what a being from that world would look like, and choose a member of their group to endure a series of operations in order to transform into such a creature. Dr. Allen Leighton has his death falsified so that he can do what he must do and in doing so leaves behind his loving wife Yvette. As the procedures begins to corrode his mind, Yvette gets the suspicious feeling that her husband is not truly dead. As schemes often do things awry leading and the monster which was once Dr. Leighton returns to the lab which transformed him and inevitably Yvette learns the truth about what happened to her husband.
Don’t Open Till Doomsday: The second episode from the show’s dynamic duo, writer Joseph Stefano and director Gerd Oswald, who were responsible for a number of the show’s best episodes. A young newlywed couple in the late 1920’s receive a mysterious box with a warning “Don’t Open Till Judgment Day”. As husbands are apt to do (just ask my own wife), he decides to open said box and the creature inside causes him to be wiped away. Flash forward four decades and a recently eloped couple find themselves in the home a strange older woman. We soon discover that this woman was the wife of the man who was taken years before, and the box is still there. With a naive young couple in her sights and a growing madness, it is only a matter of time before disaster hits hard.
The Invisibles: Three men find themselves in a secretive bunker where they learn that a race of aliens known as the Invisibles conducting a secretive invasion of earth by placing their people in positions of power. Now this trio of men has been chosen to help further this invasion by being infected by a disease born vicious crab-like monsters then passing the infection onto an assigned target. One of the men, Spain is secretly working undercover against the Invisibles though he is eventually exposed. While Spain is finally able to do his part against the alien menace and has an emotionally charged confrontation with one of his fellow disease-carriers, he is left mentally scarred by how far the conspiracy reaches.
Nightmare: Featuring arguably the most iconic aliens of the series, as well as a young Martin Sheen. A team from the earth’s Astro Forces, are captured by aliens known as the Ebonites. The Ebonites intend to subject their prisoners to a series of psychological tests and trials. One by one, the humans are manipulated physically and emotionally by their captors and begin to turn on each other when it is believed one of them gave the Ebonites important secrets. Carrying this classic episode are the six actors who play the men of the Astro Forces who all turn in powerful performances as men pushed to their limits. Naturally with this being the Outer Limits there is a chilling twist as to what is really going on and who the real prisoners may be.
Demon with a Glass Hand: A critically acclaimed episode adapted from a story from science fiction legend Harlan Ellison. After waking up with no memory of the past several days, Trent discovers his hand encased in a glass case and is missing three fingers. As he pieces things together, Trent discovers he is being hunted by an alien race named the Kyben. Soon he learns that he as well as the Kyben are time travelers from a future earth which has been conquered by the aliens but they have now been infected by a radioactive disease. While Trent does succeed in defeating the extraterrestrial threat and sending them back to their doomed future, he learns his true identity in the process and it is truly haunting.
The Zanti Misifts: Arguably the best and most thought-provoking episode of the Outer Limits, also featured one of the show’s strangest aliens. An alien race known as the Zanti, have selected earth as a place to solve their problem of what to do with those who do not conform to societal norms. They land a ship in the California desert and begin negotiation with the US military. Elsewhere in the same desert, the Zanti ship is seen by a fugitive couple who meddle with the alien race completely fouling up talks between the two races. In the confusion a Zanti is killed by a human representative unleashing a full release of their forces on the headquarters the military is using. At the end of a firefight, the entirety of the insect-like aliens have been killed. As the military officers anxiously await further reprisal from the far more advanced race, the leader of the Zanti reaches out to them with a surprisingly chilling message. At the end we the viewers along with the characters in the show, are left contemplating the nature of humanity.