The Outer Limits is an American sci-fi TV series premiered on ABC in 1963. The show emphasizes science fiction stories and comprises an anthology of self-contained episodes.
The show first premiered on ABC on September 16, 1963, running for two years until January 1965. The Outer Limits was a bit of a misfit among 60’s TV, as it was darker and edgier than anything else in its generation.
The show was initially called Please Stand By in the unaired pilot, yet ABC rejected that title. Series creator Leslie Stevens then retitled the show, The Outer Limits, and with a few changes the premiere episode, The Galaxy, aired.
The show’s writers included Stevens and Joseph Stefan, well known as the film’s screenwriters, Psycho. Future Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne wrote the season one finale.
Season one of the show combined science fiction with horror, with each episode having a particular monster who played a crucial part in the overall story. This provided an aspect of suspense alongside fear, which was central to the development of the plot.
Season two focused more on hard science fiction and science, which resulted in the dropping of the monsters who played a significant role in season one. The show was unusually arty and thought-provoking for its time, with unusual camera angles that set it apart from other sci-fi shows.
An iconic moment of the show which has lived on to this day was the narration that followed the opening of each episode. It used an Orwellian theme giving the impression it was here to take over your television. Its earliest version of the narration went as follows:
“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling the transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We control the Horizontal. We control the Vertical. We can roll the image, and make it flutter.
The Outer Limits suffered from excruciatingly low budgets, which in some cases resulted in poor special effects; it was a terrific show that was given an untimely death. The show was popular, yet for some reason, the network canceled it after only two seasons.
The show was revived in 1995 and lasted seven years until its cancellation in 2002. In 1997, the episode, The Zanti Misfits, was ranked #98 in TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.
The Outer Limits remained a show that is still popular today. Most fans would generally agree that the majority of the original 49 episodes are great, and the show, in general, was entertaining, creepy, and thought-provoking.