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Twilight Zone or Outer Limits, the mind boggles

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cinemalover
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Twilight Zone or Outer Limits, the mind boggles

Postby cinemalover » April 22nd, 2007, 2:54 pm

Here are two ground-breaking television shows that skirt both the realms of horror and science fiction. Each show had a great introduction to get you in the mood and each explored a wide range of topics. The Twilight Zone had the advantage of having a continuous host and was 30 minutes long (except for one season). The Outer Limits had an hour to develop their stories. Which has stayed with you throughout the years?
Chris

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Dewey1960
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TZ / OL

Postby Dewey1960 » April 22nd, 2007, 3:53 pm

Despite my genuine affection for THE OUTER LIMITS, I would have to go with THE TWILIGHT ZONE for sheer overall enjoyment. Far too many excellent episodes to even begin naming (that could be a seperate thread in itself) and so many great writers contributing. Ironically, I always felt that the episodes written by Serling were among the weakest (preachy, with overstated messages); the ones I enjoyed the most were written by Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont. What a great show!

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Postby ken123 » April 22nd, 2007, 3:56 pm

The Twilight Zone wins in a walk, The Outer Limits, episodes of what I saw of them, were childish. TTZ was a adult program, I believe the TOL was much more of a kids show, and it's production values were on the cheap side. Then again I only saw The Outer Limits a handful of times. :wink:

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TZ / OL

Postby Dewey1960 » April 23rd, 2007, 12:14 am

Hi Ken - Even tho TWILIGHT ZONE gets the nod, I still feel I should extol some of the virtues of OUTER LIMITS which, for me, comes very close in a sanctioned showdown of this sort. And given your own personal tastes with respect to oddball sci-fi and film noir I think you would like this show quite a bit. I'm sure there are DVDs and tapes of the original 60s episodes out there. This was a full-scale ABC-TV production and its aim was to give TWILIGHT ZONE a run for its money. Hung on for two seasons (63 & 64) before passing on. Directors like Gerd Oswald, who made some very cool noir films in the 50s ("The Screaming Mimi") produced and directed a number of episodes, Byron Haskins (War of the Worlds) did some; writers like Joseph Stefano (Psycho screenplay), Harlan Ellison and Jerry Sohl (top sci-fi scribes) did some. Some of the episodes (all B&W) are provocative and disturbing and extremely well-written, not at all threadbare in production. One ep called "Nightmare" is all about government sponsored psychedelic drug trips. It was written by Stefano and get this cast: Ed Nelson, James Shigeta, Martin Sheen and...Whit Bissell!! Other great eps would be "Corpus Earthling" with Robert Culp and Salome Jens and "The Architects of Fear" also with Culp, "A Feasibility Study," "Don't Open Until Doomsday" (Miriam Hopkins!) just to name a few. The series lacked consistency, tho. Many episodes were just odd and not that compelling--but well worth a visit just for its eerie, unsettling opening ("We Have Taken Control of Your Television Set...") and fantastic theme music. The Marketts (the surf band who did "Balboa Blue") had a Top 40 hit with a variation on it in '64 called "Out of Limits." Highly recommended in limited doses.

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Postby ken123 » April 23rd, 2007, 12:16 am

Hello Dewey,
I just might have to give Outer Limits another look. :wink:

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Postby mrsl » April 23rd, 2007, 9:46 am

I loved the Twilight Zone. I never (and still don't) pay attention to names of shows but I have huge remembrances of many of the shows, and the guest stars who were in them:

Anne Francis - the mannequin who comes to life one night a year.
Burgess Meredith - the book reader who breaks his glasses
Agnes Moorhead - the woman who lives alone and is invaded by tiny people (earth men)

I don't know who the girl was, but my all time favorite was the ugly girl whose face was bandaged due to plastic surgery to try to make her look like all the other people - that was a reall goodie!

What exciting twists some of those shows had - such wonderful writers who contributed to the shows. Even in reruns all these years later, they still remain timeless.

Anne

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Postby SSO Admins » April 23rd, 2007, 9:50 am

mrsl wrote:I don't know who the girl was, but my all time favorite was the ugly girl whose face was bandaged due to plastic surgery to try to make her look like all the other people - that was a reall goodie!


The girl was Donna Douglas, later to become famous as Ellie Mae on The Beverly Hillbillies.

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Postby MikeBSG » April 25th, 2007, 5:52 pm

I would have to go with "Twilight Zone" because while there are dud TZ episodes, for the most part, when I watch TZ I feel that the episode began at the right spot and ended at the right spot.

Most of the time, "Outer Limits" leaves me feeling that they had too much story for their hour. "Architects of Fear" is a good episode, but mostly due to Robert Culp's performance. You have to infer that the scientists have already found a non-threatening space alien and have injected Culp with its DNA. (and I watched this on a VHS tape, so I can't say that the station may have cut footage.) Likewise, "The Invisibles" starts after the US government has figured out an alien infiltration is underway and has slipped its own agent into the alien camp.

TZ just had stronger endings that Outer Limits for the most part. Only "The Belero Shield" (directed by John Brahm, who directed a bunch of TZ episodes) and "Demon with a Glass hand" have really powerful endings of the Outer Limits shows I've seen. usually, Outer Limits episodes just ...end.

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » April 26th, 2007, 12:33 pm

I always thought of Outer Limits as a pale imitation of TZ, but it had its moments. I remember (vaguely, though) one called "The Zanti Misfits." Remember that one?

Something about aliens or alien prisoners or something coming to a place and everyone's freaked out. When they arrive in their space vehicles, they are insects - stop-motion animated, I think, and they've got little moustaches and eye patches, and little teeth, and hats and such. It was a trip, man.

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Zanti Misfits

Postby Dewey1960 » April 26th, 2007, 7:32 pm

Hi Judith - Yes, The Zanti Misfits was the one I was trying to think of when I rattled off my list of favorite OUTER LIMITS episodes. The series was not nearly as consistently cool as TZ, but, as you pointed out, it definitely had its share of moments. Another show from the same period (late 50s - early 60s) was ONE STEP BEYOND (syndicated well into the 70s) which was hosted by John Newland. Many of these half-hour episodes dealt with paranormal phenomeneh. One classic episode had host Newland experimenting with psychedelic mushrooms. Very trippy.

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Postby MikeBSG » April 27th, 2007, 10:34 am

Is anyone here a fan of "Thriller," the Boris Karloff hosted show that lasted two seasons from 1960-2? Some of those episodes, like "The Cheaters," "The Devil's Ticket," "Prisoner in the Mirror" and "The Incredible Dr. Markesan" are the best TV horror ever in my view.

The Outer Limits episode "Demon With a Glass Hand" is somewhat famous since it was written by Harlan Ellison, and it served as the basis for his successful lawsuit against James Cameron and "The Terminator." I saw it for the first time last year, and I did see similarities between "Demon" and "Terminator."

BUT what struck me was the end of "Demon with a Glass Hand." The heroine realizes that the hero from the future is not human and walks away from him in disgust. I watched that and immediately thought of the famous ending of "The Third Man." Maybe Carol Reed ought to have sued Outer Limits.

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » April 27th, 2007, 11:58 am

It seems that all of these sci-fi/paranormal-type programs had some episodes that were better than others.

Even in the later version of TZ (in the 80s?) there were some good ones. I recall especially one about a futuristic society where the ultimate punishment was to be a literal outlaw - no one could talk to you even though there were ever so many people in the population, and you were denied basic public services, etc. The outlaw in question had a little flying robot camera following him at all times to make sure he was ostracized from the general population. He was a cynical, unlovable sort, but in the end, he took pity on another young outlaw and spoke to her, even though it meant an extended sentence for him.

There was another where the "Big One" was about to be dropped on the US and a woman had the power to stop time, which she did just as the bomb or bombs were about to fall, and her dilemma was should she leave the world frozen (but alive) like that and live a solitary life among her frozen family and friends, or should let things take their course and take the chance that there would be survivors?

The one of those later TZ's I remember best starred Robert Klein. One day, everyone around him started speaking another language, and he had to learn to cope. It was funny and well done.

By the way, a month or so ago one weekend afternoon I saw a rebroadcast of Seasons of Belief. I think that was from one of those Canadian sci-fi series of 15 or 20 years ago - what was it called? It was always broadcast very late at night, like 2 AM here in NYC. When Seasons of Belief was first shown, it created quite a buzz, as I recall. It was about "The Grither" Remember? Oh yes, the series was Tales from the Darkside.

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Postby cinemalover » April 27th, 2007, 12:26 pm

MikeBSG wrote: Is anyone here a fan of "Thriller," the Boris Karloff hosted show that lasted two seasons from 1960-2? Some of those episodes, like "The Cheaters," "The Devil's Ticket," "Prisoner in the Mirror" and "The Incredible Dr. Markesan" are the best TV horror ever in my view.

Yes, that was a great series. A local channel here ran it about 15 years ago and I had the chance to see most of the episodes. Boris made a great host, but of course the best episodes were the ones in which he starred. I would love to see Thriller get a nice DVD release.
Chris



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Postby ken123 » April 27th, 2007, 12:36 pm

" The Cheaters " is the one episode of " Boris Karloff's Thriller " that has stayed in my mind after forty some years. Tha last time I saw that episode had to be well over twenty years a go. :wink:

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Postby MikeBSG » April 29th, 2007, 12:53 pm

"Wordplay" was the New Twilight Zone episode with Robert Klein.

"Her Pilgrim Soul" was perhaps the best NTZ episode. It was a real heartbreaker, directed by Wes Craven of all people. This was a SF "Portrait of Jenny" in a way.

"A Day in Beaumont" sent up all the old Fifties alien invasion cliches.

After the first season, however, New Twilight Zone ran out of gas quickly.


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