Destruct that ship, General!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Episode Spotlight: "Controlled Experiment" (1/13/1964)




“Controlled Experiment”
Season 1, Episode 16
Originally aired 1/13/1964


50 years ago tonight, The Outer Limits brought us an amusing love story... and the Martians who made it happen.


Martian Inspector Phobos-One is sent to research the act of murder, a peculiar activity exclusive to the planet Earth. He meets up with long term undercover operative Diemos, who runs a pawnshop as cover, and the two proceed to a nearby hotel to witness a murder first hand: jealous Carla Duveen is about to fatally shoot her cheating boyfriend Bert as he exits an elevator into the lobby. They set up their equipment in a discreet corner and begin the titular controlled experiment.


Using a “miniaturized temporal condenser,” Phobos-One watches the murder take place, then rewinds time repeatedly at varying speeds to see it from different perspectives (a process called “squeezing time”), but fails to achieve any clarity on why Earthlings kill one another. He then decides that the experiment is too controlled, that intervention may reveal answers. Running the murder at super-slow speed, he deflects Carla’s bullet and saves Bert’s life.


Bert promptly smooths things over with Carla by proposing to her. Phobos-One then learns that this alteration of events has caused a “fatal error” and will cause future catastrophe not just for earth, but the entire galaxy as well. He frantically alters the event again, this time letting Carla shoot Bert as she did originally… only this time he places Bert’s metal cigarette case in the bullet’s path. This change allows Bert to survive while keeping the future intact. Phobos-One requests that he be allowed to remain on Earth to further his studies.



RANDOMONIUM


“Controlled Experiment” was written and directed by series creator and Executive Producer Leslie Stevens (“The Galaxy Being,” “The Borderland”), though you’d never know it from watching the episode. The customary production credits (writer, director, producer) at the top of act one (right after the episode title and main cast) are conspicuously absent, at least from the current home video versions (DVD and Hulu); I’m not sure if the episode aired that way or not; in any case the credits were omitted at some point. The screen capture above is a Photoshop job by yours truly.

John Nickolaus is the Director of Photography this week. I just realized that he’s been the DOP on all of Stevens’ episodes so far, and Kenneth Peach will be DOP on Stevens’ next effort (“Production and Decay of Strange Particles,” incidentally his final contribution). This means that Conrad Hall never lensed a Stevens Outer Limits script (not exactly earth-shattering, I’ll grant you, but interesting nonetheless). Nickolaus’ work here is fine, and I don’t harbor a grudge for the irritating time-altering visual and sound effects (which would've been added in post-production, after he’d clocked out and gone home).

This is the only episode in the entire first season to feature aliens from a planet in our own solar system; moreover, it’s the only time in the entire series that said aliens are 100% human.* It’s also the only episode this season that is intended as a comedy, which seems like a wildly inappropriate idea given the series’ customarily serious, even dark personality. “Controlled Experiment” shouldn’t work, and yet… well, I was pleasantly surprised when I watched it today, having not seen it in well over 20 years and possessing extremely dim memories of it. And yes, it’s actually funny! I wouldn't have thought this possible, coming from the man whose other teleplays are so dry and cold, but there it is.

Stevens’ dialogue is clever and genuinely amusing, and it’s delivered marvelously by Barry Morse and Carroll O’Connor. Their interplay is a delight to watch: Morse’s Phobos-One is authoritative, persnickety and a bit haughty (much like his most famous role, that of Detective Philip Gerard on TV’s The Fugitive, which had just debuted a few months before “Controlled Experiment” premiered); O’Connor’s Diemos is demure, soft-spoken and languorous (for those of us who grew up watching All In the Family, it’s a bit shocking to see Archie Bunker so sedate and non-confrontational). Lesser actors could have easily wrecked the proceedings (you should’ve seen me destroy Hamlet’s second soliloquy in my college acting class!); Morse and O’Connor contribute much to the episode’s success.

Skeptics, hear me now: I think it’s important--- crucial, even--- to take “Controlled Experiment” on its own terms. If you hold it up against the better episodes we've seen thus far (“The Architects of Fear,” for example), of course it’s going to fail miserably. This episode isn’t intended to blow your mind or break your heart (or both). It’s something of a trifle, a minor and unassuming diversion to cleanse the palette halfway through the season (okay, so it wasn’t intended to be a mid-season episode; call it a happy accident). If you suspend your preconceived notions of what the series is supposed to be, I think you’ll find it a witty and charming 52 minutes. It feels almost profane to use the word “cute” anywhere near The Outer Limits, but…. goddammit, it’s a cute episode.


Retro-future fetishists (like me) will thrill to the Martian technology on display here, most notably Phobos-One’s “temporal condenser” that looks a bit like a portable O.B.I.T. machine (and is housed in what appears to be a sidewalk pitchman’s case with collapsible legs). We see two different scope viewers: one is attached to the temporal condenser which Phobos-One uses to scan the lobby, and the other is attached to a “thought beam” used by Diemos to probe Carla’s mind (an amusing bit in which tries to ascertain her name by “cutting in” on her inner monologue).


The episode manages to reference several important sci-fi concepts, which is surprisingly given its light, airy ambitions. Squeezing time, if done without extreme precision, can result in the release of “negative matter,” an idea which would form the basis for Star Trek‘s warp drive propulsion (mixing matter and anti-matter to produce a controlled reaction). The ripple effect Phobos-One causes by altering a single seemingly-insignificant event has become a genre mainstay (particularly in Trek’s various iterations). There’s talk of “wearing out” a “sample area” of the space-time continuum by replaying an event too many times, an idea which I find endlessly fascinating (it’s as if reality is a carpet, which will become threadbare the more it’s walked on). 

“Controlled Experiment” was the 6th episode produced, but the 16th to air, which usually suggests a subpar episode (two recent episodes, “The Borderland” and “Tourist Attraction,” come to mind). Perhaps the series was too young to air such an atypical episode early on, so it was held back till mid-season. Or I dunno, maybe it took several months to finish in postproduction, given the varying film speeds (and directions) and the complexity of the visual effects employed for the each time-tampering event (negative image; floating/throbbing ball of light effect, double and triple-imaging). If I have a complaint, it’s that there’s just too damn much of it in the episode (but I guess they had to have something weird on screen, since there’s virtually nothing about Phobos-One and Diemos that belies their alien origin).


Oh, the joys of frame-by-frame analysis! The bit early on in which the Martians prove their respective identities by showing one another their credentials is cute... unfortunately, said credentials are identical. Seriously? They couldn't whip up two different ID cards? Lazy.


Left: Phobos-One. Right: Diemos.

Oh, and the spaceship seen at the top of act one (and again at the end of act four) is completely inappropriate and confusing, since Phobos-One specifically states that he “beamed in” (unless he did so from the space craft, which probably makes more sense; at least that’s what my inner Trekkie is telling me). 


Or.... oh my god, this just occurred to me... could it be that the Martians are using a Chromoite teleportation agency? My head's about to explode here.


AURAL PLEASURE

“Controlled Experiment” features an original score by Dominic Frontiere, the highlight of which is the lovely “Coffee and Cigarettes” cue heard when Diemos introduces Phobos-One to caffeine and nicotine. Since the episode was produced so early in the production run, its music appears in several episodes produced later but aired earlier (appropriate, given the episode’s backwards-and-forwards time manipulations); “Coffee and Cigarettes” was first heard as Cathy’s theme in “The Sixth Finger”; meanwhile, “The City #2” was first heard in “Corpus Earthling.”

Most of Frontiere’s TOL recordings are collected in the three-disc soundtrack set from La La Land Records, which is still available for the ridiculously low price of $19.98 plus shipping. Don’t have it? What kind of the fan are you? Grab it before it sells out!







DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Barry Morse is remarkable as Phobos-One in his first and only TOL appearance; he also crossed over into The Twilight Zone for one episode (“A Piano in the House”). He also played Professor Victor Bergman for two years on Space: 1999 (1975-76), a series which starred two-time TOL alum Martin Landau (“The Man Who Was Never Born”; “The Bellero Shield”). Morse is probably best known as Lieutenant Philip Gerard on TV’s The Fugitive (1963-67).


This is also the only TOL credit for Carroll O’Connor (Diemos), who probably got this gig because he’d previously appeared on the “Web of Fear” episode of Stoney Burke, Daystar Production’s pre-TOL series. O’Connor would almost cross paths with Barry Morse again when he appeared on the “Flight from the Final Demon” episode of The Fugitive later in 1964 (“almost” because Lt. Gerard didn't actually appear in that episode); however, TOL alums Ed Nelson (“Nightmare”) and Rudy Solari (“Production and Decay of Strange Particles”; “The Invisible Enemy”) were also in that particular episode, so I’m gonna count it as a legitimate TOL connection. 


Grace Lee Whitney is fine as Carla Duveen, but she’ll forever be remembered as Yeoman Janice Rand on the original Star Trek, a series whose regular cast included several TOL alums (including William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and James Doohan, off the top of my head). And yes, she’s definitely a TOL Babe.


That philandering rat Bert Hamil is played by Robert Fortier in the first of three Outer Limits roles (he'll also show up in “Production and Decay of Strange Particles” and “Demon with a Glass Hand”). He also played Olin in Leslie Steven’s 1966 film Incubus, a film with tons of TOL connections (we'll take a detailed look at this weird and fascinating flick at some point; probably this summer).


Arleen Schnable, Bert’s chickadee on the sly, is played by Linda Hutchins, who will return in season two for a brief role as an unnamed nurse in “The Inheritors, Part 1.” Despite her extremely brief appearance, I’m inclined to call her a TOL Babe (she’s certainly cute, and those soft moans she makes while Phobos-One thought-beams her are…. um, yeah, kinda hot). Her two Outer Limits appearances are incidentally her final two acting credits, and I haven’t been able to track down any info on her beyond that, so I guess she either died or dropped off the face of the earth. 


HOME VIDEO RELEASES


“Controlled Experiment” received the standard videotape exposure back in the late 80’s and early 90’s: the standard retail VHS release (nice cover!), and the Columbia House Collector’s Edition (in which it was paired with “ZZZZZ”).


The episode showed up on the then-premium LaserDisc format, in the second of a total four multi-episode collections. I’m gonna collect these someday. Why? I dunno. I have no legitimate reason. I just want ‘em.


VHS tapes were big and took up a ton of room. LaserDiscs were expensive. The DVD format kicked ‘em both to the curb around 1997, offering superior quality, (comparatively) low prices, and dramatically reduced shelf space requirements. The entire first season (32 episodes) was released in 2002 in a four-disc set, which I snapped up the day it came out (might’ve been the best fifty bucks I ever spent). The downside? MGM used DVD-18s (double-sided dual-layered discs; which are essentially two DVDs glued together), which had already proven problematic in other releases (particularly from Universal) due to the adhesive between the sides breaking down). My season one set still plays perfectly; however, my season two set (released in 2003, also employing DVD-18s) has a bad disc (the episode “Behold Eck!” won’t play all the way through; I guess I should be grateful that the other, better episodes on that particular disc aren't affected).

MGM announced that new Outer Limits DVD sets would be released in 2007, which was initially quite exciting (oftentimes a second release mean new mastering, bonus features, etc; the second Twilight Zone DVD sets represented a significant upgrade from the earlier releases). However, they were the same goddamned discs, this time split up into three volumes (two for season one, one for season two). I ended up buying the third volume to replace the bad disc in my season two set, so at least that problem got rectified.


The very next year all three volumes were collected into one omnibus collection, ostensibly to celebrate the series’ 45th anniversary. While notable for finally selling the entire series together, it was a deeply disappointing release: by this time the high definition blu-ray format was starting to take off, and MGM was foisting the same prone-to-failure DVD-18 bullshit on its customer base for the third time. And here, six years later, there's still no blu-ray release.


The original season sets from 2002-2003 were released in the UK in 2005 in similar packaging, but with one very significant difference: dual-layered DVD-9 discs were used, eliminating the potential for disc failure. Huzzah! The downside? The discs are in PAL format and region-restricted; however, I happen to own a region-free player, so I’m gonna pick these up one of these days (unless, that is, MGM grants me my heart’s desire and finally gets a blu-ray release rolling).


All this talk of optical discs! Hell, you can just stream the entire series for free thanks to Hulu (it’s more or less DVD resolution). The downside? You’re limited to viewing the episodes on your computer (no mobile devices, gang; this could change at some point, however).




TRADING CARD CORNER

Nothing from Topps or Rittenhouse; however, I recently discovered (and acquired) a third Outer Limits card series: a 1997 effort by DuoCards. Their 81-card offering was split between the classic series and the (dramatically inferior) Showtime series (as well as select reprints of the classic Topps cards). The classic portion focuses exclusively on the first season; however, a “season two preview” card indicates that a second set was planned (but never materialized, unfortunately). The DuoCard set is actually really nice: the first dozen or so cards feature color behind-the-scenes pics, followed by 32 cards depicting each season one episode. “Controlled Experiment” is card #30.


STOP THE PRESSES!!!

David J. Schow, author of the essential Outer Limits Companion (and TOL sensei to this writer), reminded me this morning of an apocryphal continuation of the Topps card series, created by Mark and David Holcomb (detailed here; you'll find a link to their ruminations on the series in the Recommended Reading section to the right). The Holcombs only did a few, but wouldn't you know... "Controlled Experiment" is one of 'em.




MERCHANDISE SPOTLIGHT

“Controlled Experiment” has never spawned a single collectible, ever. But honestly, why would it? I suppose one could create a custom Phobos-One using the Professor Bergman Space: 1999 action figure by Mego; however, Carroll O’Connor has never been rendered in any action figure format, so you won’t be able to kitbash a Diemos to complete the pair (really, there’s never been an Archie Bunker figure? Not even a bobble head?).








THE WRAP-UP


“Controlled Experiment” will probably never make anybody’s favorites list, but it’s quite a bit of fun if you check your preconceptions at the door. Barry Morse and Carroll O’Connor make a great team (it’s easy to imagine a sitcom spin-off following their exploits), and who knew Leslie Stevens was so witty? 








*The Luminoids in “A Feasibility Study” may very well be human; however, we never see one that isn’t at least partially obscured by the unnamed affliction that gradually covers them in silvery rock-like boils, so it’s impossible to be sure. The Kyben in season two’s “Demon With a Glass Hand” are obviously humanoid, but since we never find out if their bizarre makeup is supposed to be their actual facial skin (versus some kind of mask), I can’t say for certain that they are human.



22 comments:

  1. 50 years ago tonight, Rutherford NJ was having a blizzard. It started on Monday evening, and I think two feet of snow had fallen by the time it was all over. But just as I was getting ready to watch the newest episode of The Outer Limits, we got word that there would be no school on Tuesday, the next day. What could make a 9 year old kid happier? But it was the combination of the snow, the impending day off, and the funny, charming "Controlled Experiment", that made up one of my fondest '60s memories. And in less than four weeks, the Beatles would appear on Ed Sullivan. Oh, what a time it was.

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  2. "Controlled Experiment" also features my favorite Outer Limits spaceship.

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    1. And it's not even an Outer Limits spaceship! It was actually from 1957's Invasion of the Saucer Men. Hope that doesn't tarnish your happy memories. ;)

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    2. I just watched the episode. That spinning thing in the middle, the music ... it's still my favorite!

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  3. Wow I didn't even recognize Grace Lee Whitney and I'm a big ST fan.

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  4. Craig - another great blog that hits all the important points. Because this episode is one of my favorites, I'm pleased by the enthusiasm that you, Troy Thomas and Bill Huelbig have for it (and I certainly share Ralph Goebel's enthusiasm for Grace Lee Whitney, who is the reason this episode takes so much longer to watch than the others). Experiencing that "Outer Limits" flavor in this unusual context -- bringing it to a comedy, setting it in a big city in ordinary public places, and focusing on normal, daily human events -- somehow defines even more clearly than usual some aspects of what the series is about. For me at least, the seemingly peripheral sub-plot is actually the most important thing (whether a Bertram Cabot, Jr.-like son will be born to the sleazy couple). Phobos's introduction to pleasures of the flesh (the priceless coffee & cigarettes bit with the music we like so much) is what awakens his sensitivity to the whole "human" scene -- emotion, sentimentality, etc. -- without which he never would have felt any conflict about permitting the murder to take place, and wouldn't have considered preventing it "creatively" by bending the rules (and he's hopped up on caffeine and craving another cigarette! - both for the first time in his life). That's why that antic, silly scene in the pawn shop (Barry Morse was a gem), strange as this sounds, strikes me as one of those profound TOL moments, made magical by Frontiere's music, which doesn't at first seem to match Phobos's giddiness -- because it's telling us that the scene has a hidden meaning that we have to wait for (at least on first viewing). So Phobos's quirky decisions don't just develop randomly later on at the hotel.

    We're told that "someday" the predicted calamity may result, "...but that someday is a long way off, and until then there is a good life to be lived in the here and now." We're left wondering whether the son -- who will be born after all, thanks to Phobos's tampering -- will turn out to be the scourge of the future or not (the Control Voice comments only: "Who knows?")? As usual, David J. Schow gives a brief but insightful explanation of this apparently (?) un-Outer-Limits-like, contradictory, cavalier flippancy. And because some of this episode is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, even the small touch of mock-serious, "pseudo"-science fiction (like the "Kilgore Trout" sci-fi in Vonnegut) seems all the more grave by way of contrast, making this episode surprisingly complete.

    Great choices of stills. How odd and inexplicable they must seem to anyone unfamiliar with the episode (try captioning them as a non-initiate might). Troy chose to include a frame from the coffee-and-cigarrettes scene, perhaps indicating that he too sees it as a big moment.

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    1. I actually wrote an entire paragraph about the coffee-and-cigarettes bit, comparing it to John Hoyt's similar reaction in The Twilight Zone's "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?".... I was even going to recreate the scene myself, with a giant mug o' joe and a cigarette... and then I reread Schow's chapter on the episode, and saw that he'd already covered it. So... paragraph excised.

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  5. Sorry -- I forgot to mention that, when the Coffee & Cigarettes music returns (arranged a bit differently) at the very end, as the lovers reconcile and the Martians look on, bemused (in your still, above), that proves and reveals the "hidden meaning" of the same music in the earlier scene. This wouldn't have made a very good book report in school (maybe it'll snow & they'll cancel classes...).

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    1. Great observations about the music. I listened to the score for probably a week straight (on my commutes to and from work) and didn't pick up the reprisal connection.It takes a village, it would seem.

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  6. I'm not a big fan of "Controlled Experiment". It’s a light-hearted, semi-funny story about two Martians trying to figure out love or murder or cigarettes and coffee or something. I certainly like the interplay between the two Martian characters played by Barry Morse and Carrol O'Connor but there was just too much knob-twisting going on to make it very interesting. It's like the goddammed"Borderland"...REEEEE-VERSE!!!!

    The constant rewinding and fast-forwarding of the film was annoying and really ate up a lot of the episode's run time, which I guess was the whole idea anyway. To summarize, I really don't like funny Outer Limits episodes. Thankfully, I think "Controlled Experiment" and the inadvertently funny "Behold Eck!" are the only ones that need to be avoided.

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  7. When my six-year-old brings her playmates home, I always have to warn them, "Now, don't you kids wear out the sample area!" I feel as you do that it sounds dangerous, though the effects are (excuse the TOL pun) unknown. Maybe wearing out the sample area would simply render it decreasingly "readable", though I fear (also as you seem to) that the events themselves would be degraded, perhaps becoming incomplete, incoherent, or even non-linear. And that might lead to chaotic effects in the future that would have been influenced or determined by the original complete events. I've tried explaining, but still those pesky neighbor kids won't listen.

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  8. Another solid thumbs up for OL - this unusual episode - plus blog and poster comments. Enjoyable reading, for one of 'that generation' - speaking as one who, as an impressionable 5 yr old, saw this series when it originally aired. So I can never escape the 'inner child' going 'wow' ... The appreciation seems to only deepen with - age; I almost said maturity (and that would have been a half-truth). Ravages of time and taste be damned.

    One thing I've always enjoyed immensely about OL is its seeming adumbration of a basic post-war cinematic scifi mythos, seemingly founded by DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL. And in this episode, a quip by the Barry Morse character presents a nice case in point. Klaatu of course, noted the concern that Earthers are developing a crude spacefaring ability, and thus might bring their nuclear weapons out into space. That would pose a threat, and would have to be dealt with as such.

    In CONTROLLED EXPERIMENT, the interplanetary community's concerns about Earth run even deeper. Klaatu's sole concern was that humans, with their little ways and means, might venture out into space. Our planet's "petty squabbles" pose no interest otherwise, as he kindly noted.

    But as we learn in this episode, from the ET pov - the Earth matter is more serious than Klaatu indicated. Here we learn, a WW3-type nuclear exchange could 'radiate the entire sector.' A nice added wrinkle, to the rumpled post-war scifi narrative cycle. But then OL was full of little tasty details, all to savor.

    And to see Carroll O'Connor in the pawn shop, with that unsuspecting schmuck .. working up his persona we'd come to know, only years later, as ... Archie Bunker (if my sensors are not malfunctioning) - another little treat tucked into this one.

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    1. Great comment from Brian Akers. Taking it seriously and exploring details enhances enjoyment. Thanks for putting it in the context of "The Day the Earth Stood Still". Probably a lot of us out here assumed that the film's influence on TOL was limited to "The Galaxy Being", but you took a closer look.

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    2. Thanks for the kind word Adrian. Your comments are awesome reading too, as is this blog in general. It never even occurred to me till you suggested, how some might consider GALAXY BEING the full extent of DAY EARTH STOOD STILL's mark on OL, that episode being a straight-forward homage to the film. So I appreciate you putting it in perspective for me.

      And you're right, I do find a lot of DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL allusions and themes, subtexts spelled out etc. - throughout OL, in general. For example ARCHITECTS OF FEAR, its basic story line - as in a blurb I might write for it;

      < A coterie of top secret mad scientists who've all seen DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, and agree how great it'd be for world peace if only something like that could happen in real life, realize - hey wait a minute, "happen in real life," that's a great idea - (aren't we the clever ones to have thought of it!) - and we're just the guys to pull it off. >

      Or INHERITORS - another case in point. Where it recaps the scenario from DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, Klaatu hospitalized after a bullet wound, under guard as a military captive - with Steve Ihnat (in place of Michael Rennie).

      In both cases the alienized prisoner escapes mysteriously right under the noses of their guards. But where the film neither shows nor explains how Klaatu slipped his guard - the episode goes into vivid detail in a key scene in the hospital room with a nurse and MP - to great dramatic effect.

      And as turns out - it didn't take any goofy alien superpowers, just psychology of humans 101. All done with pure suggestion (highly skilled application, granted) - minus the hypnotic trance hokum, just straight to the point. So INHERITORS gives us the 'missing' scene from DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL - one the film held out on us. Thank you OL - and our host Craig - and Adrian.

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    3. Oops - begging your pardon Craig please to excuse. No giant leap for mankind, just one small addendum on further reflection from Adrian, apropos of DTESS - viz. GALAXY BEING, and CONTROLLED EXPERIMENT.

      Well, also - just reread 'mylifeintheglow' presentation on GALAXY BEING, emphasizing its story line as DTESS-derivative. Of course in many respects true I'd freely grant - although primarily in superficial obvious ways, less so in others.

      And I'd submit, ironically - CONTROLLED EXPERIMENT displays a clear and present connection with DTESS that GALAXY BEING doesn't - but less in the story line and more thematic in nature.

      In GALAXY BEING our poor Andro isn't here on business with some mission - unlike Klaatu and our Martian guys here. Being on Earth is no idea of his its a twist of fate - unintended consequence of his fooling around (mad alien scientist). And as tragic alien hero he takes the worst of it in the end.

      Above all Andro isn't here to decide the fate of the hu-men (and hu-women). He is of a more advanced intelligence out in space, as are Klaatu and our Martians. But unlike them he has no official decision to render or advise - as to what must be done about 'the Earth matter.'

      The story subtext with Klaatu and our Martians, unlike GALAXY BEING - involves drastic measures toward the Earthers that may, from the alien standpoint, become necessary, however regrettable ("they are a form of life, after all") - due to the Earthers' capacity for destructive aggression, reaching levels (technologically or otherwise) of critical issue - to the more powerful intelligence in space of which the hu-men know nothing - watching with growing apprehension.

      Where GALAXY BEING lacks that theme (alas, poor Andro) - I find it a core premise underlying and driving the story in both DTESS and CONTROLLED EXPERIMENT - putting two stories so different closer together thematically, than GALAXY BEING is to either, in that respect.

      And for crowning irony or - whatever it'd be (you tell me) - you've prolly read allll about DTESS chockfull of New Testament allusions scripted in. Its all over, even discussed by script writer Edmund North (interview). Well for some reason what I have no idea - am I the only one who spots the proximity of this narrative theme connection to - Old Testament?

      Genesis (teen chapters) involves these couple vaguely human but weirdly other-worldly beings - like angels maybe - visiting from above. They didn't fall down oops like Andro - they're sent here. Looking into things on our lively little planet, yes.

      And apparently their mission involves a fateful decision about - are they gonna have to blow this place up? Two for the price of one - Planet Sodom, Planet Gomorrah.

      Story parallels get close enough for comfort, not just in the 'impending fateful decision' - to blow up the Earth, or not to blow up the Earth - but little details like the 'demonstration of power' scene. Klaatu does it by shutting down power whereas in Genesis the mob's stricken blind (mysteriously) to 'make the point.'

      And as Klaatu recognizes a couple like Patricia O'Kneale and that Sam Jaffe professor who are above the cut, and deserve to be spared - maybe even earn reprieve for the whole otherwise wretched lot (ahem) - so Lot and his uncle get along with the visitors from the wild blue yonder - in effect help make a better impression for the species.

      Altho a key difference in the Old Testament founding version of the CONTROLLED EXPERIMENT/DTESS story line (as seen thru my coke bottle lens) - decision doesn't so much await, as has already been taken - for the worse. The eye in the sky already got it in for that 'civilization' ...

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  9. I love this episode. For some unexplainable reason it works for me. It is not a prototypical OL episode yet it fits like a glove. Frontiere's score for this is perfect. I listen to it over and over. Like I have always thought...IF The Outer Limits is ever produced as a feature or brought back as a series it MUST use Dominic Frontiere's music. That music was as much a part of the first season as any of the "bears".

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  10. Comment from i-Lens: how gratifying to find that someone else feels exactly the same as I do, word for word. Notice the date -- it's worthwhile to keep adding comments, even months after the blog was posted -- and to keep checking for new ones!

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    1. I am always amazed at how many Outer Limits fans exist. For many years I thought I was the only one. It is the whole "experience". The story...The actors...The camera work( lighting)...The awe inspiring effects. ..The "bears" AND the music. Frontiere' s music is such a big factor in the first season. I used to record episodes on a portable reel to reel when I was kid just to listen to the music over and over. Thanks to La La Land I can still listen when I want.

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  11. Phobos-One then learns that this alteration of events has caused a “fatal error” and will cause future catastrophe not just for earth, but the entire galaxy as well.i always thought bit was way over the top unnessessary for an otherwise Twight Zonest Outer Limits episode.

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  12. I love this episode. I was 13 when I saw it back in 1963 and I don't even mind when the rerun it again and again. But, I hate in the movie Groundhog Day.

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  13. Craig if you ever like to entertain sport - or at least hip me up (again) what I missed (?) - I'd give a penny for what goods you may have. Its this as you conclude:

    < Phobos-One ... allows Bert to survive while keeping the future intact. >

    Not the 'survive' part, the 'keeping future intact' - by my viewing, au contraire ! But I've been wrong so often, surely this time too (?).

    But thru my coke bottle lens darkly, what dooms the future isn't the 'dull fact' (thank you Senator) of 'bullet hitting wall' not Bert (whether killed by it or not).

    Its the fact he survives the shooting period, regardless of the bullet hitting wall or body armor (ciggie case, this instance) and "miraculously" survives at all - that dooms us.

    Because his 'escape from death' is the sole element, narrative-wise, leading to his son being born and growing up hearing what a miracle it was - to get carried away thinking "wow I got some invincibility genes or" etc. With disaster to follow in sequence as ranted by Phobos-1's boss (telling Phobos to 'get a grip on').

    To me (maybe adjust my television set?) a jilted hottie's bad aim don't seem half as miraculous a story as - the little cigarette lighter that could, and did. It wouldn't deprive his son, who'll now be born just the same, of his invincibility complex - a closer call if anything. But that's just 'story logic' (ahem) and what I saw watching.

    The other thing - basic OL ethos, as I derive it: Love in the here & now, human reality right down here on the ground - outweighs prophecies of doom (we've heard 'em before) - or golden ages of salvation or deliverance. Love rules, all that drools - seems a basic 'heartbeat' at the OL core - this episode demonstrates in action like many others.

    OL subtly seems to hold all kinds of future prognostications of promise or peril, up to polite skepticism even derision - makes a mockery of things like Chicken Little (Phobos over-wrought boss). If what's between two young people with love coiled all around them (like Bert and Yeoman Rand) is the price for saving some allegedly endangered future - the price ain't right.

    For two to be united - or reunited, as Mrs Kry herself put it - let the world be destroyed, let a thousand worlds be destroyed - if that's what it takes.

    Its a corny but down-home (and in her case wildly spoofed) sentiment: Love Conquers All - so don't mess with it. We get it in INCUBUS too, our Mother Superior chastising Allyson Ames "The good have a power you need to beware, of which you know nothing, an awesome, mysterious power - they call it Love."

    ARCHITECTS nails it in OL's most seminal demonstrations, with max dramatic force. If saving humanity calls for what Allen and Yvette share as its sacrifice - nothing doin'. If not for Allens & Yvettes (goes the OL 'message') what'd be the point of such 'saving'? Especially in view of the famous human folly factor. Like it could ever have worked in the first place, since that was the big idea - the thought. As Yvette puts it - how could they think?

    DON"T OPEN satirizes the sentiment by tacking it to an aging flapper's desperate dementia. Whereas ARCHITECTS spells it out in this seemingly pervasive OL ethos in its most sobering form (I submit): 'never mind saving posterity, mr future savior, we got real human relations to attend to, nitty gritty in the here and now.'

    By the same token - again under my distorting funhouse microscope - CONTROLLED EXP has a rib-tickling time with this 'down on the human ground' OL 'message.' Let the future be jeopardized we'll worry about that when. Meanwhile, let's get these two a room. Its harmless.

    Curious how to think this episode's ending gives us - both prizes, these two lovebirds together and the future saved as well - ? Where - how - huh?

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  14. Who played the pawn shop customer?

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