Destruct that ship, General!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Episode Spotlight: "Corpus Earthling" (11/18/1963)



“Corpus Earthling”
Season 1, Episode 9
Originally aired 11/18/1963





Fifty years ago tonight, an innocent man found himself between a rock and a hard place. No? Okay, how about a stone’s throw from imminent danger? Still no? Fine. Agate it. Man, you guys are sure hard to please. I’m feeling a bit taken for granite right now.


Surgeon Paul Cameron stops by Dr. Jonas Temple’s geology laboratory to pick up his wife Laurie (Temple’s assistant) for lunch. An incident with a faulty kiln blasts him across the room and jars the metal plate in his skull, causing him to hear two disembodied voices discussing a plan to invade and take over the world through parasitic possession. A CAT scan reveals no damage but, upon returning to the lab, Paul hears the voices again.



Paranoid by nature, Paul holes up at home in the dark until Laurie suggests an impromptu second honeymoon in Mexico. Meanwhile at the lab, Temple is attacked by a parasitic alien organism (one of two who have been masquerading as rock specimens, and are the source of the voices in Paul’s head).



Temple, under the control of the parasite, follows the couple to a rental house in Mexico and, while Paul is out getting supplies, exposes Laurie to the other parasite. Upon his return, Paul is horrified to discover his wife in her possessed state and flees. The caretaker of the rental house finds him in a Tijuana hotel and implores him to return, stating that Laurie is sick and near death.


Paul returns to the house to find Temple waiting for him, gun in hand. Paul gets a bullet in the arm in the ensuing struggle, but he manages to kill Temple. Laurie then moves in for the attack, forcing Paul to use Temple’s gun on her. The parasites leave their dead hosts and converge on Paul, who prevails by tipping an oil stove over onto them. His dead wife’s body in his arms, Paul walks away from the burning house and into the night.



RANDOMONIUM




Adapting Louis Charbonneau’s 1960 novel was writer Orin Borsten’s only Outer Limits assignment (he had some help from Lou Morheim and series producer Joseph Stefano). The IMDB lists a meager four writing credits for Borsten; interestingly, one of them is the 1961 film Angel Baby (which costars this episode’s Salome Jens). Gerd Oswald is back in the director’s chair who, along with Director of Photography Conrad Hall, provides more of that beautiful, shadow-laden imagery we've come to expect when they team up.

Unrelentingly grim and unapologetically creepy, “Corpus Earthling” is easily the single most disturbing episode in the series’ entire run.  It’s the first time (but certainly not the last) that the show will present a tale rooted in science fiction but, for all intents and purposes, is actually a horror story. The fact that the parasites are alien in origin is incidental; their possession of Laurie and Temple could just as easily be demonic in nature, and said possessions are nothing if not horrific (the change in their appearance reminds me a bit of The Man, the pasty-faced harbinger of death, in 1962’s Carnival of Souls).


Comparisons to 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers are unavoidable. Both feature extraterrestrial parasites out to conquer and colonize earth, both are studies in paranoia, and both end with the male protagonist ultimately losing the woman he loves to the parasitic threat. But Invasion never quite feels like a horror movie; as effective as it is, it never reaches the desolate terror that “Corpus Earthling” achieves. Invasion ends on a semi-hopeful note, offering at least the possibility of containing and defeating the alien threat; “Corpus Earthling,” meanwhile, ends on a bleak, ambiguous note. Paul survives, but by no means does that survival feel like a victory.


I say ‘ambiguous’ because, really, we have no reason to think that the two crystalline parasites depicted here are the only two on the earth.  It’s implied that they are part of an invasion force, so there are likely lots more of them around. I think it’s safe to assume that Paul’s dispatching of these two won’t make a damn bit of difference in the end.


We see the parasitic aliens in two forms; first under the guise of obsidian-like rocks, which throb while “speaking.” Later, we are shown their true, larger and bulbous forms… which are unfortunately pretty silly, and sure to disappoint after the amazing aliens the series has shown us thus far. In The Outer Limits Companion, David J. Schow describes them as “spider-like,” but I just don’t see it (unless “spider-like” is code for “melted licorice blobs”). They’re vague and sloppy looking, lacking the intricate detail of, say, the similar parasitic aliens in the upcoming “The Invisibles”; something sleeker and more explicitly arachnid in nature would've been much more effective. It’s hard to believe, but these invaders are actually more threatening in their rock disguises. Watching them wriggle slowly across the floor in the show’s climax is hilarious, which I’m sure wasn’t the intent.



I want so badly to call “Corpus Earthling” a perfect episode, but I've gotta dock it a point for this. I’m reminded of The “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” episode of The Twilight Zone (which, coincidentally enough, just turned 50 too), a tense and thrilling episode whose effectiveness is also undermined by a goofy creature: the notorious Gremlin, which looks like a mentally challenged teddy bear and isn’t scary in the least. The crystalline parasites aren't anywhere that level of ridiculousness (thankfully!), but it’s really frustrating to imagine what might have been. 


Ridley Scott showed us just how terrifying (and beautifully designed) such a creature could look with his face-hugger in 1979’s Alien. Of course a 1963 television series couldn't possibly have put together something on that level, but an alien with a name as cool as “Crystalline Parasite” should’ve looked at least somewhat frightening.

Now, having said all that, the parasites' modus operandi is gruesome and shocking. While the parasites of “The Invisibles” possess their victims through the back, the crystalline parasites here do it through the face, and it’s not a gentle process either. The sight of Temple writhing in pain is a bit unnerving; however, the sound of Laurie’s anguished screams, coupled with the abject terror on her face, is absolutely chilling. 



The Tijuana hotel room in which Paul hides out at the top of act four looks familiar. I think it’s the same set as Andro’s boarding house room in “The Man Who Was Never Born.” The light fixture by the front door is the giveaway (though here it’s reduced from a double fixture to a single); also, the placement of the vanity near the window is roughly the same in both (different vanities, though).


Paul's accident in Temple's lab is impressively staged and, if it was faked, I can't tell. Kudos to Robert Culp for having the stones to do his own stunt work.



If you wanted to make a crystalline parasite of your own (but lack the skills or materials to fabricate silicon molds), all you’d really need is a pair of black rubber gloves and a couple of LED bulbs, and maybe hidden wheels to give it mobility.  Uh-oh, I’m getting that tingly feeling, which usually means… that’s right kids, it’s Project Limited, Ltd. time!

This started as a joke. In fact, I considered finding a little kid to do it, but exposing a child to "Corpus Earthling" would probably be irresponsible on my part, so it fell on me to somehow render the Crystalline Parasite in three dimensions. It was never my intent to fixate on accuracy, or to capture their soulless evil.... which is a good thing, because what resulted from my increasingly-drunk efforts is anything but accurate or evil.


God, it looks like a Crystalline Parasite back in its kindergarten days. It doesn't want to highjack human bodies; it just wants to chase butterflies and play with its friends. It's, well... kinda adorable, actually.

video


AURAL PLEASURE


“Corpus Earthling” sports a stock score, which means Dominic Frontiere didn't compose any new music for it; instead, pre-existing music from other episodes was used. This time around he mined material from no less than five different episodes! Here are the notables:

Point of No Return, Double Vision, Madness, Aborted Phone Call, Scarecrows.

The Outer Limits Signature Loop (aka I Was Never Born!), The Big Chase.

It’s Here, Building Terror, Struggle and Gunshot.

The City #2.

The Big Finish.


I also heard a couple that I didn't recognize, so they must’ve come from Frontiere’s compositions for Daystar’s previous series Stony Burke (1962-63), which will hopefully see a soundtrack release one day. Anyway, those cues listed above (and so, so much more) can be found on the 3-disc soundtrack release from La La Land Records, which is shockingly still available as of this writing for the criminally-low price of $19.95.
Connection time! Dominic Frontiere composed the score for the 1971 film A Name for Evil, which starred… Robert Culp! The soundtrack is available from La La Land Records, who were kind enough to include Frontiere’s score for The Unknown (an intended pilot for a new Daystar series that aired as the Outer Limits episode “The Forms of Things Unknown,” which we’ll get to in May). The disc is sold out according to their website (glad I snagged my copy while it was still in print!), but I’m sure one could find it second hand if one were so inclined.




DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Robert Culp is fevered and intense as Dr. Paul Cameron in this, his second Outer Limits stint (we last saw him in “The Architects of Fear,” and we’ll see him again next season in “Demon With a Glass Hand”). Culp went on to starring roles on I Spy (1965-1968) and The Greatest American Hero (1981-1986, which is where I first became a fan). All three of his TOL episodes are top notch; it’s a shame he didn't do a few more.



Salome Jens makes her only TOL appearance as Laurie Hendricks-Cameron, but she worked for Daystar Productions before (in the “Spin a Golden Web” episode of Stoney Burke). She’d cross paths with Robert Culp again when she appeared in the “A Room With a Rack” episode of I Spy in 1967. And speaking of racks….

Effective March 23, 2015, Blogger will disallow all sexually explicit or graphic nude images. Therefore, Salome's ample bosom must be concealed. Sorry, gang.

Jens costarred with Rock Hudson in John Frankenheimer’s 1966 thriller Seconds, which I've mentioned repeatedly in these pages because of its heavy Outer Limits vibe. It’s a tense, surreal masterpiece (which features some welcome nudity from the, um, physically gifted Jens).

Barry Atwater (Dr. Jonas Temple) is no stranger to the sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres. He was suspected of being an alien invader in The Twilight Zone’s “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” in 1960. In 1969, he dropped some serious logic as the Vulcan Surak in “The Savage Curtain” episode of Star Trek, which also featured TOL alums Phillip Pine (“The Hundred Days of the Dragon”) and Janos Prohaska (“The Architects of Fear”). 1972 found him spilling blood as the vampire Janos Skorzeny in the TV movie The Night Stalker (which led to the Kolchak: The Night Stalker series).


HOME VIDEO RELEASES







“Corpus Earthling” was made available on VHS in two flavors: first, the standard retail release (above), and a mail-order edition exclusive to Columbia House (paired with “Tourist Attraction”; below). In the UK, it was paired with “O.B.I.T.” for a double-feature paranoia fest (right).





As I recall, “Corpus Earthling” was released fairly early in the eight years it took MGM/UA to release all 49 episodes on tape (I had it, which means it hit no later than 1990; see here for details); however, it didn't get the laserdisc treatment until 1994, as part of the third (of a total four) volume.


Those VHS and laserdisc were rendered obsolete with the series’ bow on the superior DVD format in 2002, 2007 and 2008. You could assume that each release represented incremental improvements in image and sound quality… but you’d be wrong. The same exact discs were released three different times with different packaging. I’d be willing to forgive this crass attempt to triple-dip unsuspecting fans if they’d just get a blu-ray release in the pipeline. 

Hello?  MGM?  Hello???  *crickets*


Since the series seems destined to be forever frozen at DVD resolution, you might as well skip the arduous physical task of loading up the DVD and just stream “Corpus Earthling” (or any other episode) on Hulu. It’s free and, as long as you've got a decent internet connection, it looks just as good as DVD anyway. 


TRADING CARD CORNER

Nope, nada, zip. Nothing to see here, folks.


MERCHANDISE SPOTLIGHT

Dimensional Designs appears to have at least planned a model kit to commemorate “Corpus Earthling,” but I’m guessing it was cancelled since there’s no photo in their listing (DD/OL/CP-36) and no option to order. The listing does credit Danny Soracco as the sculptor, so who knows? They won’t return my emails, so I’m guessing they don’t want my money. 


I can’t confirm this, but I half-heartedly suspect that this episode directly inspired the Pet Rock craze of the 70’s. Shit, wouldn't that have been the perfect cover for an invasion of Crystalline Parasites?


THE WRAP-UP



Goofy aliens notwithstanding, “Corpus Earthling” is yet another outstanding Outer Limits offering, effectively clearing the slate after last week’s disappointment. Seriously, I really lava it (of quartz I do). Simply put, it rocks.





Friday, November 15, 2013

The Stoney Burke Mystery Cue


A couple of weeks back, I discussed a music cue in the episode "O.B.I.T." that I was unable to identify. Because I couldn't locate it in the three-disc TOL soundtrack collection from La La Land Records, I presumed that it came from Dominic Frontiere's work on Stoney Burke, the Daystar Productions series that directly preceded The Outer Limits. Well, thanks to reader Adrian Leverkuehn's assistance, my presumption has been verified.

In the "Joby" episode of Stoney Burke (which guest stars TOL alums Robert Duvall and Joyce Van Patten), the cue is heard very early on in act one. Have a look/listen:

video

Adrian also observes that the cue will be heard on The Outer Limits again, in "It Crawled Out of the Woodwork" and "The Bellero Shield." Thanks for the assist, Adrian!

Although Stoney Burke is a western series, it utilizes a variety of locations and moods, which sometimes necessitates different musical approaches ("The Weapons Man" episode features eastern compositions by Frontiere that predates his score for TOL's "The Hundred Days of the Dragon," for example).  However, the Stoney Burke/Outer Limits overlap isn't always limited to music. In the "Forget No More" episode, the entire prologue looks and sounds like it came straight out of The Outer Limits:

video




Tuesday, November 12, 2013

His Dark Materials....


No, before you ask, this has nothing to do with the Philip Pullman books. It does, however, have quite a bit to do with The Outer Limits.


Examine the materials in the picture. What dark item, pray tell, am I endeavoring to build? Post your guesses!



Monday, November 11, 2013

Episode Spotlight: "The Human Factor" (11/11/1963)




“The Human Factor”
Season 1, Episode 8
Originally aired 11/11/1963



Fifty years ago tonight, The Outer Limits took the road much traveled and presented a story about, of all things, brain swapping. Ugh.



At a remote military installation in Northern Greenland, Major Brothers has lost his grip on reality. Private Gordon, a man under his command, was recently lost under suspicious circumstances on an away mission (forgive my Trek lingo) to a nearby isthmus, and he harbors a guilt complex that manifests in the form of a spectral hallucination of the dead Private. Knowing that the eventual discovery of the body would implicate him, he’s become obsessed with destroying the isthmus to eradicate the evidence. He attempts to detonate an atomic device but is stopped by the onset of an earthquake.


Meanwhile, Dr. James Hamilton, the base’s resident psychiatrist and apparent mad scientist, has built a machine that connects two people and allows them to read one another’s minds (y’now, kinda like a Vulcan mind-meld). He hooks himself and his assistant Ingrid up to the machine and discovers that she is in love with him. Unfortunately it’s a two-way connection, and Ingrid discovers that he’s just not that into her.


Major Brothers is brought back to the base for analysis, and Hamilton wastes no time mixing brains with him. Another earthquake strikes, which causes the machine to overload and sends both men flying across the room (the set-shaking reminds me of the Enterprise bridge crew getting tossed back and forth). Brothers gets his bearings first and quickly realizes that he and Hamilton have swapped bodies. He quickly assumes Hamilton’s identity and orders the real Hamilton (now in Brothers’ body) sedated and locked up. He resumes his plan to activate the nuclear device, only now he's not targeting the isthmus.... he wants to destroy the base itself.


Ingrid realizes something is amiss and, after talking to the confined Hamilton, believes his story and orchestrates a ruse to free him. His escape raises the base's general alarm, and has the helpful side effect of foiling Brothers' plot. Brothers returns to the lab, gun in hand, where Hamilton is waiting for him. Brothers shoots him in the ensuing struggle, but Ingrid manages to reverse the brain swap mere seconds before Brothers’ body dies, effectively killing him. Hamilton, safely returned to his own body, seems suddenly open to romantic possibilities with Ingrid. Awwwww.

Not exactly the threesome I was hoping for, guys...

RANDOMONIUM


“The Human Factor” is written by Donald Duncan (with some revisions by series producer Joe Stefano); he also penned the screenplay for 1960’s big screen adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (a favorite of mine, and not just because of Yvette Mimieux). Director Abner Biberman only visited The Outer Limits this one time, but he crossed over into The Twilight Zone four times (“The Dummy,” “The Incredible World of Horace Ford,” “Number 12 Looks Just Like You,” and “I Am the Night – Color Me Black”).

“The Human Factor” has some great sets (the wintery wonderland outside the base, the elevated brain-swapping area in Hamilton’s lab, and… okay, two great sets), and Conrad Hall works his usual magic to wring rich shadows out of those sets. The opening scene has a marvelously ominous vibe as the nuclear device is dragged through the snow. It looks like a coffin, actually, which adds to the tension.


Silly as it is, I love the screen the computer screen in Hamilton’s lab that depicts the brains overlapping as two minds merge. The lab has a lot of mad scientist equipment eye candy to offer, and those cranial apparatuses are undeniably cool. Hamilton’s oscilloscope displays a very familiar sine wave pattern: it looks like he and Ingrid are tuning into The Outer Limits!


I don’t believe for a second that a hot dish like Ingrid would ever fall in love with a cold fish like Hamilton (particularly with all those young, strong military types around the base). That probably sounds sexist and demeaning, but it’s intended as a compliment, goddammit. She could have her pick of any man, woman or ice ghost on that base. Oh, and I'm sure something important was happening around the 34:15 mark, but I was way too distracted by the gap between her shirt buttons. 


Ahem. Back to  business.


After the earthquake and resultant brain swap, Brothers (in Hamilton’s body) summons the two sentries who have been standing guard outside the lab. Why the hell didn't they peek in after the fucking earthquake? You know, to make sure everything was okay in there?


Note that the name tags look very similar to the series titles (white blocky on black). High contrast, bold and stark... looks like the same font and everything. I wonder if that was intentional, or if all early 60's fictional military installations used this style of name tag. The fact that I even noticed this at all implies that my tendency to obsessively chronicle minute details has reached a new high (or a new depth, perhaps). 

“The Human Factor” is the first episode that I would comfortably call a disappointment. It’s not bad, necessarily, but it’s nowhere near the startling brilliance of the episodes that have preceded it (not to mention the spectacular episodes that will immediately follow it). It was the third episode produced, but it didn't get aired till week 8, which suggests that maybe Daystar Productions didn't have the utmost confidence in it (they had even less confidence in “The Borderland,” which was the second episode produced but the twelfth to air!).


Brothers’ psychosis is hazy and a bit difficult to track. So he suffers from a guilt complex for his complicity in Private Gordon’s death. Check. He is plagued by hallucinations of Gordon’s ghost. Check. He believes that destroying the isthmus will permanently hide all evidence of Gordon’s body, and presumably put an end to the pesky haunting. Check again. Why, then, does he suddenly decide to destroy the entire base too, himself included? That’s hardly an effective way to protect himself from prosecution. I suppose we could just write it off as the fractured logic of a lunatic, but that doesn’t quite gel with me… mostly because, the vast majority of the time, Brothers doesn’t act crazy. He just acts… well, urgent and a bit hostile (oh, and over-dramatic too). If I’m expected to believe that someone is teetering on the brink, give me some nervous tics or something. I don’t need self-cutting, à la Bane from The Matrix Reloaded, but gimme something in the way of identifying wacko behavior.

The ghost of Private Gordon, aka the Ice Ghost, isn’t a terribly effective “bear,” especially after the impressive array of creatures we've seen in the series thus far. Interestingly, a much cooler version, translucent with glowing eyes, was built but ultimately not used (because it was an inanimate statue, and obviously so? I dunno). Dubbed “Chill Charlie,” the statue has somehow managed to endure as an iconic TOL creature, whereas Gordon’s Ghost is largely forgotten outside the context of the episode.


Up until now, The Outer Limits has explored fresh, original concepts, so to drag out the hoary old brain-swapping bit is certainly a letdown. I couldn't tell you when the first skull-sharing tales hit the screen, but the idea dates back at least as far back as 1942 with Universal’s The Ghost of Frankenstein, which finds Ygor forcing Ludwig Frankenstein to place his brain in the Frankenstein Monster’s head. And since I keep riffing on Star Trek this week, I should mention the “Turnabout Intruder” episode, which found Kirk experiencing a woman inside of him for a change. 



AURAL PLEASURE

“The Human Factor” features original music by Dominic Frontiere and, if some of it sounds familiar, it’s because some of its cues (particularly “It’s Here” and “Monster Appears”) were used very regularly throughout the show’s first season, including in episodes we've already seen (last week’s “O.B.I.T.”, for example). If you’d like to enjoy Frontiere’s score without dialogue and sound effects, be sure to order a copy of the 3-disc soundtrack from La La Land Records (it’s only $19.99, a bargain at twice the price).


DRAMATIS PERSONAE

As Dr. James Hamilton, this is Gary Merrill’s only Outer Limits foray. He checked into The Twilight Zone just once too (“Still Valley”), and he played Gideon Spillit in the 1961 big screen adaptation of Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island. And…. that’s about the extent of my Gary Merrill knowledge. Oh, he was the heavy in the excellent Fox noir Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950; did I mention I love film noir? Well, I do).


TOL Babe alert! Ingrid Larkin is elevated from dowdy lab assistant to three-alarm hottie by Sally Kellerman in the first of two season one appearances (we’ll see her again in “The Bellero Shield,” which also stars TOL alum Martin Landau). She also appeared in an episode of the short-lived 2007 series Masters of Science Fiction called “The Watchbird,” based on a 1953 short story by Robert Scheckley... wanna know why this counts as an Outer Limits connection? Because Francis Cockerel (writer of season two’s “Expanding Human”) adapted the story for TOL’s second season in 1964, but the series got cancelled before it could be produced. 


The supporting cast sports some TOL first-timers who will return for appearances in season two. First up is Ivan Dixon (here playing Major Giles), who will grace “The Inheritors” two-part episode (he also appeared in two Twilight Zones: “The Big Tall Wish” and “I Am the Night – Color Me Black”). Next we have Shirley O'Hara (Dr. Soldini), who will return in for “Expanding Human” (she also appeared in two Twilight Zones: “The Rip Van Winkle Caper” and “On Thursday We Leave For Home”). There’s also James B. Sikking as an unnamed orderly, whom you might spot next season in “Cold Hands, Warm Heart.”


“The Human Factor’ cast also includes a few Stoney Burke veterans. First up is John Newton (here playing Dr. Peterson), who appeared in the “Cousin Eunice” episode in 1962 (he also appeared twice on The Twilight Zone: “Person or Persons Unknown” and “The Bard”). Art Alisi, who appeared in the “Kelly’s Place” episode in 1963, plays an unnamed sergeant here. And last but certainly not least, William O. Douglas Jr., who appeared in “The Weapons Man” episode in 1963, plays the frosty ghost of Private Gordon here. I moronically neglected to mention him in my episode spotlight on “The Galaxy Being” in September (in which he played Andy the Andromedan), which is why I felt compelled to post William O. Douglas: An Outer Limits Visual Résumé recently. Go have a look.


HOME VIDEO RELEASES


“The Human Factor” was released on VHS, but I couldn't tell you exactly when. I bought each tape as MGM/UA released them, and I had exactly half the series before I stopped (as I recently detailed here). So it came out sometime in the latter half of the release cycle between 1989 and 1991 (I’d really love to get my hands on a chronological list of the VHS releases, given my endless fascination with information that serves no discernible purpose; anybody?). See those overlapping brains behind Sally Kellerman? Looks a lot like a heart, doesn’t it? If you had any doubt that “The Human Factor” is first and foremost a love story, you can lay those fears to rest.


The episode was also released domestically on VHS as part of the Columbia House collection, paired with “It Crawled Out of the Woodwork.” It was never released on VHS in the UK.

Further proof that “The Human Factor” isn’t exactly Grade-A Outer Limits: it wasn’t included on any of the four LaserDisc collections that were released between 1990 and 1995. Now, I’m sure it would've eventually shown up had these releases continued, but clearly nobody was in a big hurry to get it out there on the (at the time) higher quality format. Of course, comparatively shitty episodes started popping up as early as volume two (“The Brain of Colonel Barham” and “The Probe”), so what do I know?


The LaserDiscs presumably stopped short because, by mid-1995 (when volume 4 was released), the studios were already developing the new DVD format, which arrived in 1997 and very quickly changed the entire home video market. The entire first season of the series was released on DVD on September 3, 2002. Season One was then split in half and re-released in two separate volumes (June 5, 2007 and August 28, 2007). These two volumes, along with the third volume comprising the show’s abbreviated second season, were combined in one omnibus set in 2008 (the show’s 45th anniversary). All three distinct releases contain the identical discs, so even a die-hard completest like me only bought the first releases.


Don’t wanna fork out good money for the DVDs, but still wanna see “The Human Factor”? Head on over to Hulu, where you can stream it for free. But honestly, if you’re any kind of fan, you should already own the series in some fashion.


But can the episode be viewed in high definition? Two words: HELL NO.  If I ever somehow because a multi-millionaire, I vow to personally fund a blu-ray release. That’s my solemn promise to you, dear reader.


TRADING CARD CORNER


“The Human Factor” spawned two trading cards in the Monsters from Outer Limits series from Topps. Both the Ice Ghost and Chill Charlie were represented and, in a surprising twist, both were used to depict the same character ("The Incredible Ice Man".... oy). Topps also elected to depict Chill Charlie on the packaging, which is ironic since he’s the only monster in the entire card series that is never seen in an episode. I imagine this helped make ol’ Charlie such an indelible piece of the series’ monster-filled landscape.



MERCHANDISE SPOTLIGHT


Chill Charlie’s status as a major monster player was further solidified when Dimensional Designs chose to create a model kit of him (DD/OL/CC-19) instead of the official Ice Ghost. It features an awesome sculpt by Curt Chiarelli (whose name appears to be Chill Charlie if you rearrange the letters... well, almost), and you can get your very own for $59.95 by clicking here.

Google Images continues to bear surprising and delicious fruit. Check out the model in its fully assembled and painted glory:



THE WRAP-UP

Brain-swapping cliché + unconvincing romance + weak monster = mediocre episode at best. It's not awful, but it's a step down after last week's excellent "O.B.I.T." (and it certainly pales in comparison to next week's "Corpus Earthling"). It's certainly watchable, and it does have its moments (and Sally Kellerman!), but ultimately.... double the brain doesn't equate to double the quality.