50 years ago tonight, The Outer Limits unveiled the first half of “The Inheritors,” the show’s only two-part episode. My intent was that you’d be reading a spotlight on Part I today, marking its golden anniversary as I’ve done with the 41 episodes that have come before it, but…. well, read on.
In preparing these spotlights, I start by blocking out the entry’s framework section by section in a Word document (I call it the “skeleton,” ghoulish sort that I am). I then proceed to write everything but the episode synopsis and the commentary (those get written last, after I’ve screened the episode once or twice and taken notes). As I began tackling this particular two-headed beast in earnest a couple of weeks ago, I was composing two separate entries simultaneously. It became apparent pretty early on that large amounts of information would be duplicated across both entries (several sections, including cast breakdowns, home video releases, merchandise, etc.), which was far from ideal, but which I was prepared to deal with in order to preserve the fifty-years-to-the-day approach I’ve always stuck to (commemorating each episode’s fiftieth anniversary is, after all, the whole impetus behind this crazy endeavor).
Once the grunt work was more or less complete, I entered the more creative and critical phase of the process. I screened both parts in one sitting, took a lot of notes, and set about writing the commentary for Part I only… at which point things became problematic to the point of hand-wringing and hair-pulling (and yes, bottle-hitting). My goal was to comment only on Part I, to keep the two episodes completely separate, but I found I was constantly editing myself to avoid giving away spoilers from Part II. I found it more or less impossible to construct a useful commentary without frequently inserting phrases like “More on this next week” or, worse yet, the ubiquitous “Spoiler alert!” After several days of banging my head against this particular wall, I looked to my predecessors to see how they handled this unique problem. Schow addressed both episodes simultaneously in The Outer Limits Companion; Scoleri and Enfantino did the same for We Are Controlling Transmission. It was clear that these three knew something that I was just starting to understand: “The Inheritors” must be tackled as one king-sized entry. To provide open and direct commentary without being coy or elusive, to avoid repeating large chunks of text, and for my own sanity’s sake…. yeah, this is the way it’s gotta be.
So tune in seven days from now. Same Bobby Duvall time, same Bobby Duvall channel. It'll probably kinda sorta be worth the wait, maybe.