Destruct that ship, General!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Episode Spotlight: "The Inheritors, Parts I and II" (11/21/1964 and 11/28/1964)



“The Inheritors, Parts I and II”
Season 1, Episodes 10 and 11 (42 and 43 overall)
Originally aired 11/21/1964 and 11/28/1964


“These men are tormented and unable to control themselves. They’ll be charming if they have to be, and vicious if they must, for whatever dark and evil purpose their efforts are leading them towards.”



Each of these four unacquainted servicemen takes a bullet in the brain while fighting in Vietnam, separately, over an 18-month period of time. All four survive against all odds and, upon recovering, sport two brain wave patterns, develop IQs over 200 and start working independently on a mysterious project. Minns is the financier and coordinator, Conover is the metallurgist, Hadley is the biochemist, and Renaldo is the physicist.

Perpetually one step behind them is Adam Ballard, Assistant to the Secretary of Science, who is convinced that the men are up to no good. He learns that the bullets used on them were smelted from the ore of a crashed meteor; both the bullets and the ore exhibit the same microscopic honeycomb pattern. His attempts to intercept the men prove fruitless, as their enhanced brains sense that he’s coming and vacate just before he arrives.


In Stockholm, he learns that Conover has designed some sort of flight-capable vehicle, for which he’s developed a metal alloy that is lighter than its sum parts and is impervious to heat and cold. In Hadley’s lab in Wichita, Kansas, he finds evidence of experiments with rare gas combinations and air duct design. He manages to connect with Renaldo in Tokyo, who has perfected an anti-gravity device that requires no power.  Renaldo conveys that he (and presumably his three counterparts) has no control over his actions and expresses deep frustration at not knowing what he is working toward. When it becomes clear that Ballard is a threat to the project, Conover uses mind control to throw him off the scent.


Ballard wakes up two weeks later in Indianapolis with no memory of how he got there. He reconnects with his team and states that he believes the project involves the construction of a space craft. They track Minns to an apartment building, and set up an ambush. Meanwhile, Minns begins making contact with various disabled children, promising them a trip into space. Upon returning to his apartment, Minns senses Ballard’s trap…. but enters undeterred.

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Ballard’s attempt to snare Minns fails: Minns proves himself is impervious to bullets and simply leaves. Meanwhile, Conover and Renaldo join Hadley at his warehouse lab to assemble the ship, while Minns sets out to round up the children. Ballard and his men storm the warehouse but are thwarted by an invisible force field---- “Renaldo’s Barrier,” a smaller version of which he previously sent to Minns (which allowed him to escape Ballard unscathed).


Soon after, Minns arrives with the children, who are promptly loaded into the ship. Ballard tries to reason with the men, who have grown increasingly suspicious that their efforts have a dark purpose. Sensing an imminent mutiny, Minns relays the truth of the project: an advanced alien race, driven to extinction, launched meteors laced with their own genetic material into space in the hopes that their planet could serve as a gift, a new beginning of sorts for another species.

Ballard still won’t relent, so Minns allows him aboard the ship… where he finds that the children have been cured of their respective ailments thanks to the atmosphere inside, which simulates that of the planet. Minns explains that the children will certainly revert if they are removed from the ship, but on their new planet they’ll be whole. Ballard is rendered speechless and is unable to object any further. All four men eagerly agree to accompany the children on their journey.



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RANDOMONIUM

“The Inheritors” is typically mentioned alongside “Demon with a Glass Hand” as the best of season two. I won’t argue that point, but I must admit it’s not one of my favorites (well, not top ten anyway. Maybe top twenty? I dunno. I try like hell not to throw myself down that particular rabbit hole). I do enjoy it quite a bit, and it’s probably as good as it could possibly be under the Brady regime, but…. I’d probably classify it as a flawed masterpiece, which is damned frustrating. It reaches for greatness, and often comes close… you can almost hear its bones creaking as it struggles against its budget constraints.

Note that Lester and Neuman's names are swapped...twice on each credit!

“The Inheritors” (both parts) was blocked out by Seeleg Lester and Sam Neuman from an original idea by Ed Adamson (all three receive screen credit).  As Schow relates in his indispensable Outer Limits Companion, part one was originally titled “The Hui Tan Project,” a reference to the area of Vietnam where the meteor crashed (as near as I can tell there’s never been a “Hui Tan” in Vietnam), while part two was originally titled “The Pied Piper Project,” a reference to Minns’ endeavor to round up the children (I’ve gotta say, I find those titles infinitely superior, but what do I know?). For the most part, the script is intelligently written, but I do have a nit to pick (you knew I would, right?). Much of the story focuses on Ballard’s fervent--- at times almost rabid--- determination to stop the project at all costs. Unfortunately, we aren’t given a single iota of information about his life, so we really have no idea why he’s so driven. Because he’s essentially a blank slate outside of said determination, there’s no real emotional payoff when he finally learns the project’s benevolent nature. This should’ve been a weighty and satisfying character arc; instead, it’s a straight line without much punch or ultimate release.


“The Inheritors” is reminiscent of season one’s “The Children of Spider County,” as both deal with the assembling of brilliant minds for an alien purpose. We also find Dabbs Greer wielding a gun and being disarmed by telepathic suggestion in both episodes (at least he survives this time around). One area in which the episodes are vastly dissimilar is their respective production designs: “Spider County” is positively dripping with atmosphere, surreal visuals and poetic dialogue; “The Inheritors,” despite incorporating multiple sci-fi concepts (interplanetary genetic manipulation, parasitic mind control, fantastic inventions, etc.), seems doggedly determined to look as plain and everyday as possible. It may be more a budgetary issue than anything else, but it’s a real shame that the visuals don’t match the grand scope of the story being told. Director James Goldstone also helmed “The Sixth Finger” in season one which, as I recall, was more workmanlike and less distinctive than other episodes produced around the same time (John Nickolaus was the DOP on that one, while Kenneth Peach lenses the proceedings here). That’s not to say “The Inheritors” is devoid of visual treats: Minns’ brain surgery in Part I, with its canted angles and moody lighting, reminds me a bit of 1966’s Seconds, the John Frankenheimer thriller that I’ve referenced many times in these pages.







Conover’s chapel prayer is immeasurably elevated by its lighting scheme. Every point of candlelight gleams like a four-pointed star, including Conover’s eye for a few frames, which recalls Martin Landau’s glorious “twinkling tooth” shot in season one’s "The Man Who Was Never Born.” In fact, this entire scene, brief though it is, feels more like the glory days of the Stevens-Stefano reign than anything else in season two.
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Ballard’s multimedia presentation (well, what would pass for one in 1964) for Director Branch is an effective stage-setter; it provides quite a bit of exposition quickly and succinctly. If it feels a bit familiar, it’s because we saw a similar presentation last season in…. yep, you guessed it, “The Children of Spider County.”

We’re also treated to a pretty powerful rainstorm during a subsequent briefing session early in Part II, which has no bearing whatsoever on the proceedings, but does provide a nice hint of atmosphere (I appreciate little details like that, particularly since Part II is otherwise bright and flat throughout). This scene is also notable because it cleverly drops in a recap of the events in Part I (in the form of a speed edit of Ballard’s initial presentation to Branch); it comes out of nowhere and is admittedly a bit jarring… albeit necessary for viewers in 1964, who wouldn’t have had the luxury of rewatching Part I on their DVRs right before Part II aired.

I don’t usually critique the acting much in these pages, aside from an occasional single-line throwaway praising, but a few performances really stick out for me. Each of the four actors playing the solders turns in great work, but Ivan Dixon (Conover) and James Frawley (Renaldo) are my favorites; both expertly convey their frustrations in different but equally effective ways (Conover quietly worries about his complicity in something potentially heinous; Renaldo outwardly rages against his lack of control over his own actions). Renaldo’s line about him and Conover being “brothers beneath the skin” feels like a nice subtle point about race relations, which I definitely appreciate. Unfortunately, the associated goodwill is completely ruined a bit later when Renaldo refers to the alien influence in their heads as “Charlie,” a common slang term for enemy soldiers in the Vietnam War. It’s impossible to know whether or not this was an intentional sideways racial slur, but it definitely hit a sour note for me as I rewatched the episode(s) in preparation for this entry (it didn’t bother me at all back in ’87 when I first saw it, but I was an insensitive and unenlightened punk in those days).

And then there’s Robert Duvall, out in front as Ballard. He was great in last season’s “The Chameleon,” and he was really great in “Miniature” over on The Twilight Zone, and he was outstanding as Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird… and of course he’s been really great in a lot of things since (Apocalypse Now, The Godfather I and IILonesome Dove, many others, name yer favorite). Many of you will probably disagree with me on this, but I’m really not a fan of his work here. I think Duvall was really skilled at playing eccentric, off kilter types in the early part of his career, and Ballard isn’t that at all. As I stated a bit ago, Ballard is essentially a blank slate; we have no idea who he is, and no clue as to what drives him or what matters to him (does he have a wife? A family? A dog? Anything?). He’s about as straight-laced and vanilla as they come; consequently, when you cram Duvall’s singular energy into the role, things just feel…. I dunno, off. He just comes off as awkward. That’s not to say Duvall’s acting is necessarily problematic or terrible… well, except for one glaring bit in Part I: Harris complains about his assignment, prompting Ballard to slam the file in his hand down onto the desk while not emoting at all and say: “Am I fighting a lone battle with this thing? Don’t you understand? They could be a terrible threat.” This should’ve been a dynamite moment, but instead… welcome to Flatsville, baby. Check it out for yourself: 

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The EEG of Minns’ dual brain wave pattern is vaguely reminiscent of the overlapping-brains graphic seen in season one’s “The Human Factor.” While this later effort is certainly more realistic and believable, the earlier one is more interesting in a pulp sense… and undeniably more fun.



In his initial presentation to Branch, Ballard reveals that, when the soldier’s actual brain wave patterns are removed, the remaining four alien brain waves are identical, connecting the four beyond a shadow of a doubt. What isn’t mentioned is the rather humorous fact that the solder’s own brain wave patterns are identical as well! See, when when we superimpose all four dual brain waves on top of one another one at a time at reduced opacity…. well shit, they all match perfectly, both the alien waves and the soldiers' own "lethargic" comatose waves. Does this mean that the soldiers are in fact clones of one another, and that their features have been changed (say, by a Chinese skin-plasticization serum)? Or could it be that audiences in 1964 had no way to pause or rewind live television, making such production shortcuts far too easy?


Woof.
Oh, it gets better (or worse, depending on your particular brain wave pattern): the magnified photograph of Minns’ brain-bullet (above, left), with its honeycomb pattern, is really neat…. however, when we see a magnified photo of the ore from which the bullet was made (above, right), it’s the exact same photograph. The second photo is supposed to depict an unknown genetic substance inside the honeycomb chambers (which are absent from the first photograph), so they should’ve looked different…. right? Well, they don’t. Now granted, audiences in 1964 probably wouldn’t have noticed on their tiny TV screens, and they certainly couldn’t have extracted individual frames for analyses… but still, it is bit disappointing that they couldn’t mock up something to differentiate the two. If you ask me, it looks like a big batch of Snausages™ coming out of whatever godless machine makes them. And that big dark blotch? Looks a lot like a dog's face, doesn't it? I don't know what it all means, but I'm gonna get Bijou and Luna a treat... y'now, just in case.

The girls often hang out in my office while I write. They're part of my process.


Renaldo’s anti-gravity device is cool and whatnot, but c’mon. It looks just like those goofy little air fresheners... you know, the ones with the adjustable plastic cone thing with that weird gelatinous shit inside. I laugh every time I see it, which I’m sure wasn’t the intent. In fact, I’m fairly certain that that configuration of air freshener didn’t even exist in 1964, so maybe someone in the Renuzit Company took inspiration from it. Hey, it’s possible.



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According to Martin Grams in his exhaustive The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic (gawd, even the title is exhaustive!), the rocket’s fuselage was first seen in the TZ episode “Five Characters In Search of an Exit,” in which the giant curved piece of fiberglass (or whatever the hell it is) served as the “blank limbo set” the five amnesiacs were trapped in (which was ultimately revealed to be a toy donation barrel, and the characters were actually unloved dolls; zing!). We’ll see it again in January’s “The Probe,” where it will serve as… well, you’ll see.



I love those telepathic hypnosis bits: the camera rapidly pushes in, the intended target goes blank-faced and an overwrought musical sting, well, stings. It just cracks me up. It took some deep probing of my inner mind, but I finally figured out why these hypnosis scenes hit my funny bone instead of tingling my spine... 

A zoom too far (Spaceballs,1987).


“The Inheritors” was semi-remade in 1999 for Showtime’s Outer Limits revival series, co-starring Nicolas Lea (Alex Krycek for you X-files fans out there) and Bill Smitrovich (Lieutenant Bob “Bletch” Bletcher to you Millennium fans out there). The military and government aspects are dropped entirely, the number of project workers is reduced to three, and an intergalactic teleportation device replaces the original’s space ship. It is nice to see all three writers getting credited, and I suppose overall it’s a decent attempt... but it pales in comparison to the original (a reversal on the two versions of “’I, Robot’” discussed last week).



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AURAL PLEASURE

“The Inheritors” has a slightly different musical landscape that distinguishes it from the rest of season (though not quite as dramatically as that of “Demon with a Glass Hand,” but alas) thanks to a cue called “Dreamy Lullaby,” which appears late in part one and repeatedly throughout part two. It’s gentler and more hopeful than Harry Lubin’s usual offerings, certainly appropriate to the direction to story ultimately moves in. Additionally, the following cues appear in either part one or part two (or both):
Tragic Events
Fearing the Worst
Out of the Crypt
Sinister Streets

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DRAMATIS PERSONAE

It’s no surprise that a globe-trotting two-part epic like “The Inheritors” would have a large cast. As fate would have it, almost everyone in said large cast has numerous notable genre credentials (including a surprising number of Robert Culp connections, I’m happy to report), so kick off your shoes and lean back in your chairs, kids… this is gonna take a while.

Robert Duvall (Adam Ballard) is both a veteran of The Outer Limits (he was transformed into an alien in season one’s “The Chameleon”) and Stoney Burke (he played the titular character in the episode “Joby”). He can also be found in episodes of The Twilight Zone (“Miniature”), The Fugitive (“Brass Ring” and the two-part “Never Wave Goodbye”) and Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“Bad Actor,” which he certainly is not, despite my misgivings about his work here). He played the title role in 1971’s dystopian THX 1138; he also had an uncredited role as “Priest on Swing” in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which sounds kinda ominous; however, he was much spookier as the reclusive Boo Radley in 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird.



Steve Ihnat (Lieutenant Philip Minns) doesn’t have a lot in the way of genre experience, but what he does have is impressive: he can be seen on The Fugitive (“Cry Uncle” and “The Walls of Night”), Star Trek (“Whom Gods Destroy”) and three episodes of Mission: Impossible (“The Astrologer” and “The Mind of Stefan Miklos,” which starred TOL two-timer Martin Landau; later, Inhat appeared on “The Amnesiac,” which starred Landau’s replacement and fellow TOL two-timer Leonard Nimoy).




Ivan Dixon is quite good as Sergeant James Conover, which is his second trip to the Outer Limits well (he also appeared in season one’s “The Human Factor”); he first caught Daystar Productions’ eye during Stoney Burke, on which he was cast in the episode “The Test”; pictured below left). Additionally, Dixon graced two Twilight Zones (“The Big Tall Wish” and “I Am the Night – Color Me Black”) and two Fugitives (“Escape into Black” and “Dossier on a Diplomat”). Dixon has two very impressive Robert Culp connections: he was the featured guest star on the very first episode of I Spy ("So Long, Patrick Henry," below right), and later, he’d direct Culp in six episodes of The Greatest American Hero. Oh, and he also directed the “Boragora or Bust” episode of Tales of the Gold Monkey, a blatant Indiana Jones knockoff that I nevertheless enjoyed the hell out of during its one season on the air in the early 80’s.




James Frawley (Private Robert Renaldo) also has a Robert Culp connection (he appeared in “It’s All Done with Mirrors” on I Spy); he can also be seen on The Fugitive (“Coralee”) and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (“The Giuoco Piano Affair” and “The Dippy Blonde Affair”). Like Ivan Dixon, Frawley successfully transitioned from acting to directing. Among his credits are 28 (!) episodes of The Monkees in the 60’s, two episodes of the criminally-underrated Tales of the Gold Monkey in the 80’s (“Escape from Death Island” and “High Stakes Lady”), and… that’s right, kids, The Muppet Movie in 1979 (in which he also played a waiter). And call me crazy, but he looks a helluva lot like actor Brad Garrett, best known as Ray Romano’s brother on the long-running Everybody Loves Raymond (the cast of which, incidentally, included Robert Culp in a recurring role).



His role as Private First Class Francis Hadley represents Dee Pollock’s sole sojourn into science fiction (he did mostly westerns throughout his four decades in the business). However, of interest to us in these pages is his appearance on The Fugitive (“Devil’s Carnival," below left) as well as bit parts in two noir films: 1952’s Beware, My Lovely (which remains frustratingly unavailable on home video) and 1958’s The Lineup (which, happily, is easily acquired on DVD). Pollock's final role was a 1985 episode of Airwolf ("Kingdom Come"), which has no connection whatsoever to The Outer Limits... I'm just including it because Pollock looks so goddamned creepy in it (below right).


Ray “Art” Harris is played by Donald Harron, who can also be spotted in One Step Beyond (“Doomsday”), The Fugitive (“Conspiracy of Silence”) and The Invaders (“The Pit”); he also crossed paths with TOL alums David McCalllum (“The Double Affair” and “The Four-Steps Affair” on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and Martin Landau (“The Legacy” on Mission: Impossible). Regrettably, Harron is probably best remembered for his role as Charlie Farquharson in TV’s long-running ode to inbreeding, Hee Haw.


We enjoyed the distinctively gruff Ted de Corsia (Secretary of Science Randolph E. Branch) last season in “It Crawled out of the Woodwork”: prior to that, he did two Stoney Burkes (“The King of the Hill” and “Web of Fear”), two Twilight Zones (“The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine” and “The Brain Center at Whipple’s”), two Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“Dead Weight” and “You Can’t Be a Little Girl All Your Life”) and one Alfred Hitchcock Hour (“The Magic Shop”).


James Shigeta returns as AIO Captain Ngo Nwa (he stole the show as Jong in season one’s “Nightmare”). Like Ivan Dixon, he has the distinction of possessing a dual Robert Culp connection thanks to his appearances on I Spy (“Three Hours on a Sunday Night," below left)) and The Greatest American Hero (“The Hand-Painted Thai," below right). Many viewers probably know him best as the ill-fated Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi in one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies, 1988’s Die Hard (I’m totally serious).



Dabbs Greer (E.F. Larkin) returns to The Outer Limits as E.F. Larkin (he also had a gun pointed at him in season one’s “The Children of Spider County”). Like many TOL vets, he can be found on Stoney Burke (“Image of Glory,” which also guest-starred series alum Simon Oakland). Greer’s genre credentials are pretty comprehensive: he pulled double duty on The Twilight Zone (“Hocus-Pocus and Frisby” and “Valley of the Shadow”), The Invaders (“Beachhead” and “The Experiment”) and Alfred Hitchcock Presents (“There Was an Old Woman” and “The Belfry”), and he can be found in a whopping six episodes of The Fugitive (too many to list; head over to his IMDB page if you’re curious). Later, he appeared on The Incredible Hulk (“The Beast Within”) and scored a Robert Culp connection on The Greatest American Hero (“Train of Thought”).


Professor Andrew Whitsett is played by William Wintersole, whose other genre credits include appearances on Star Trek (“Patterns of Force”), The Fugitive (“This’ll Kill You” and “The Devil’s Disciples”) and The Invaders (“The Leeches” and “Dark Outpost”). He also played one of the doctors in that harrowing operating room scene in 1966’s Seconds, a favorite of mine that oftentimes feels like an extended Outer Limits episode.

Simon "Sy" Prescott (Hospital Guard) can also be found on The Fugitive (“Landscape with Running Figures: Part 1” and “The Sharp Edge of Chivalry”) and Mission: Impossible (“The Innocent”). More recently, he’s helped voice English versions of many Japanese anime films and TV series, including Akira, Cyborg 009, and Ghost in the Shell (a favorite of mine; he plays Section 6 Department Chief Nakamura).

The Swedish Shop Superintendent is played by Leon Askin who also acquired a Robert Culp connection by showing up on I Spy (“Will the Real Good Guys Please Stand Up?”). Like Simon Prescott above, he also crossed paths with Leonard Nimoy on Mission: Impossible (“Death Squad”). Askin is probably best remembered as General der Infanterie Albert Burkhalter on TV’s Hogan’s Heroes, which of course isn’t among our usual pool of genre-connectable shows; however, the series also featured this week’s costar Ivan Dixon and TOL alum Richard Dawson in its regular cast and many beloved TOL veterans in recurring guest roles, including John Hoyt, Ben Wright, Willard Sage, Parley Baer and Theodore Marcuse.









The afflicted Johnny Subiron is played by child actor Kim Hector, who also appeared in the final episode of The Twilight Zone in 1964 (“The Bewitchin’ Pool”). And speaking of To Kill a Mockingbird, he played Cecil Jacobs in the 1962 film.


Jan Shutan has an unfortunately brief appearance as Mrs. Subiron. She's a bona fide TOL Babe and, well, I would've appreciated much more of her. She also graced The Fugitive (“The Old Man Picked a Lemon”), Star Trek (“The Lights of Zetar”) and Rod Serling’s Night Gallery (“Tell David…”). She can also be found in 1978’s Zoltan: Hound of Dracula (aka Dracula’s Dog), which I would've never bothered tracking down, but now that I know she's in it... well, I just might.


Sigh.

The blind Minerva Gordon is well-played by Suzanne Cupito, who appeared in three Twilight Zones (“Nightmare as a Child,” “Valley of the Shadow,” and “Caesar and Me”) a Thriller (“The Fingers of Fear”), and Alfred Hitchcock's avian terrorfest The Birds. When she grew up, she became the smokin' hot Morgan Brittany and showed up on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (“Happy Birthday, Buck”).



Jon Cedar (Agent Grainger) can be found in several genre series, including Mission: Impossible (“The Condemned” and the two-part “Old Man Out”), which starred TOL alum Martin Landau, and the pilot episode of TV’s short-lived The Invisible Man, which starred TOL alum David McCallum. Other credits include The Incredible Hulk (“Behind the Wheel”), The Greatest American Hero (“Who’s Woo in America”; yet another Culp connection!), and Tales from the Darkside (“Dream Girl”). On the big screen, Cedar appeared in 1978's Capricorn One; that same year, he co-wrote and co-starred in the horror film Manitou, which also co-starred TOL alum Michael Ansara.




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If that nurse who gets hypnotized by Minns looks familiar, it’s because she’s played by Linda Hutchins, last seen in season one’s “Controlled Experiment” as Arlene Schnebel (below left; her brief work here constitutes her final acting credit). Playing stock broker Jessup is Robert Cinder, whose acting career was extremely short (three years!); however, in that time he managed to appear both here and on The Fugitive (“Tiger Left, Tiger Right”; below center). Finally, the unnamed surgeon operating on Lieutenant Minns in the prologue is played by Robert J. Nelson, who other genre work includes appearances on Tales of Tomorrow (“Thanks”) and Science Fiction Theater (“Project 44”); he can also be seen as Dr. McCuller in 1956’s Revenge of the Creature (below right), Universal’s second entry into their legendary Creature from the Black Lagoon trilogy.


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HOME VIDEO RELEASES


“The Inheritors” was one of the first Outer Limits episodes to enter the home video market, arriving in the second wave of VHS releases in 1987 and sporting the simplest, least imaginative cover in the entire 48-volume series. It’s Robert Duvall’s head and some stuttering line effects, and… that’s it.  Now granted, there’s not a lot in the way of splashy imagery to be found in the episode, but MGM could’ve at least incorporated Minns’ dual brain wave pattern or something to make it interesting. Their questionable decision-making didn’t stop there, unfortunately: they combined both parts to create the series’ “only feature-length episode,” despite the fact that it was never once aired that way. Several minutes were excised in an attempt to seamlessly blend both halves; the casualties include a couple of minutes of dialogue in which Ballard admits he is “scared to death” to confront Minns (an effective moment that really humanizes Ballard, who frequently comes off as stiff), the Control Voice’s Part I outro and Part II intro, and the end credits for Part I (and since Dabbs Greer only appears in Part I, his name is nowhere to be found). All told, 5 minutes and 40 seconds was cut, replaced by an awkward quick fade which, for posterity’s sake, I’ve captured for your viewing (dis)pleasure:

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A Tale of Two Tapes.
Oh, it gets worse. The recap of events that occurs a few minutes into Part II (which made perfect sense since a week would’ve elapsed since Part I aired) was NOT removed, effectively destroying the illusion of continuity they were going for. Worse, the “Part I” title at the beginning was left intact! This senseless mutilation carried over to the Columbia House release, but it isn’t immediately apparent until you actually watch the tape. Where the retail VHS release touts the fictional “feature length” nonsense, the Columbia House box indicates that the episode is indeed a two-parter (while both the spine and the cassette label list it as, simply, “The Inheritors”). The Columbia House release also included season one’s “The Chameleon” (making that particular volume a Robert Duvall double--- well, technically triple--- feature).

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Happily, “The Inheritors” was restored to its proper two-part form for the DVD release in 2003 (and subsequent re-releases in 2007 and 2008); unfortunately, each part is located on opposite sides of the two-sided disc, which means you have to flip the damned thing to watch both parts in sequence. Perhaps MGM did that to force a break between both parts, as a sort of backhanded acknowledgment of their previous hack job…or maybe they’re just dicks. I dunno, maybe both.



You can also view the “Inheritors” saga in its proper two-part form on Hulu. In fact, you can stay on their site and watch the entire 49-episode run of The Outer Limits while you’re at it, absolutely free of charge (gee, ain’t the internet grand?). It’s probably safe to assume that the “feature-length” idiocy has been permanently corrected, which I suppose makes those VHS editions kinda sorta collectible… particularly for obsessive completists like yours truly.

You can have ‘em when you pry ‘em from my cold, dead, analog fingers.

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MERCHANDISE SPOTLIGHT

Not a single collectible based on “The Inheritors” has ever surfaced, which isn’t surprising since it’s probably the least merchandiseable episode in the entire series. I did spot a few custom action figures of Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (Duvall’s memorable character in 1979’s Apocalypse Now) online, so I guess a homemade Adam Ballard wouldn’t be a necessarily impossible task.

“I love the smell of Ted de Corsia in the morning.”

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THE WRAP-UP

Ah, “The Inheritors.” A great idea, a pretty great script, a mostly great cast… and a somewhat-underwhelming production design to undercut the proceedings (the space ship in particular is just silly-looking, inside and out). Is it a fatal flaw? I say no. Both hours are highly entertaining; happily, the barebones budget doesn’t slow things down much at all. Two thumbs up (wait, should that be four, since we’re talking about two episodes? Okay, two thumbs and two big toes up!).



Since we're covering two episodes, it's only fitting that we do provide a healthy double scoop of our usual closing meme. I'm reminded of the words of that great philosopher and poet, that wise old sage Sir Mix-A-Lot: "Uh! Double up! Uh! Uh!"







One more thing---- special thanks to David J. Schow for his invaluable guidance and error-spotting prowess. Those of you who read these entries early may never notice, but I frequently perform retroactive corrections, and DJS has been the impetus behind many of them. He truly is the Obi-Wan Kenobi of The Outer Limits.... and on that jumbled reference, I bid you good day.

9 comments:

  1. Er, Vietnam? Wasn't it Korea? Or did I miss something? ????

    Lurker111

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The Korean War took place in the early 50's. America's involvement in Vietnam escalated in 1961-62. The episode never specifies, but there's no indication that the story takes place 10 years earlier than when it was produced and aired (1964).

      Oh, and Schow's Outer Limits Companion says Vietnam.

      Delete
    2. Thanks. I'm thinking perhaps I mixed memories of this OL episode with another film.

      Lurker111

      Delete
  2. Glad you're able to make use of the "holy musical grail"!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Reba - I haven't had a chance to plum those holy depths yet (goodness, there's something that one could take out of context). I'm hoping to write something up in a week or two.

      Delete
  3. Great review, Craig! I'd like to add some trivia and correct a mistake, though.

    • Robert Duvall has some sci-fi credits that you didn't mention. (Most of them are from 1960s series, not surprising considering how much TV he did in that decade.) He was in episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea ("The Invaders"), The Time Tunnel ("Chase Through Time") and The Wild Wild West ("The Night of the Falcon"), as well as an obscure 1961 series called Great Ghost Tales (as the titular character in an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "William Wilson"!). Duvall also starred in the early George Lucas film THX 1138 (which, as you've previously mentioned, also featured TOL alumnus Donald Pleasance). if you're counting mainstream anthology series, Duvall was also in episodes of Kraft Suspense Theatre ("Portrait of an Unknown Man") and Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre ("Guilty or Not Guilty").

    • Now for the mistake. Don't feel too bad, because David Schow got this wrong too. You write that after his confrontation with Conover, Ballard ends up in Cincinnati. Schow said it was Minneapolis. Actually, it was Indianapolis; the scene even starts with stock footage of the Indianapolis 500! I can't imagine why you and Schow made the same error, but with different midwestern cities; maybe the aliens were trying to both of you off their trail? Either way, it would have been cool to see Ballard hanging out with either Ted Baxter or Dr. Johnny Fever.

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    1. My goal isn't to list every single credit. I just need a few, and if there are more than that, I'll usually stick to the ones I'm personally most interested in (which is why The Fugitive and The Invaders get so much play).

      No idea why I put Cincinnati, unless I was thinking about Loni Anderson as I was writing it. There were lots of errors this week, which I've been correcting as I (or others) find them. Quality control is clearly dipping as I near the end.

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    2. No problem, Craig. I can imagine how tired you must be after both this project and your Twilight Zone recaps.

      Anyway, I noticed an interesting coincidence about Robert Duvall's two Outer Limits episodes; they both feature actors who later starred on Hogan's Heroes. Too bad Duvall didn't win the trifecta by also appearing with Richard Dawson in "The Invisibles".

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  4. Thanks for the tribute to Jan Shutan. She was gorgeous! She was on Andy Griffith, too.

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