You hold in your hands an artifact from a time now vanished forever a compendium of portals into worlds unknown. A three-disc set that controls over 14 hours of transmission from the 1964-65 series, this vessel has sought you out for one specific purpose: to expand your mind to "The Outer Limits"!
Despite forced changes in executive and creative personnel, plummeting ratings and the constant threat of cancellation, the truncated second season of The Outer Limits
(1964-65) yielded some of the series' finest episodes. While The Twilight Zone
was fading fast on CBS, the bean-counters at ABC used focus groups and ratings statistics to enforce their previous mandate for a "monster of the week" format for their flagging science-fiction series, and after a few promising episodes early in the season, Outer Limits
settled into a regrettable routine of reduced budgets and rubber-suit creatures that wouldn't pass inspection at a drunken Halloween party. A former network executive with minimal creative input, Perry Mason
producer Ben Brady struggled to keep the doomed series alive while coproducer Seeleg Lester sought legitimacy by courting respected writers and material.
As Harlan Ellison observes in David J. Schow's indispensable book The Outer Limits Companion, weak ratings allowed quality episodes to slip under the radar of ABC executives. Ellison's own classic teleplays--"Soldier" (which would later inspire The Terminator and subsequent legal squabbles) and "Demon with a Glass Hand"--yielded the season's finest stand-alone episodes, while the two-part "The Inheritors" (featuring the young Robert Duvall) fulfilled the series' neglected potential for longer-form plotlines. While these highlights redeem the season, "Wolf 359" (a title that would later factor in Star Trek: The Next Generation) is eerily effective despite low-tech restrictions, and "Behold Eck!" is the "best" (relatively speaking) of the tepid monster-themed shows that ABC demanded. It wasn't enough: After 17 episodes against the Saturday-night dominance of The Jackie Gleason Show, the greatest science-fiction anthology series of the 1960s was mercifully canceled, primed for phenomenal success in syndication and eventual revival as the "new" Outer Limits in 1995. --Jeff Shannon