Musings in the Dark: Dark Love IV: The Outer Limits


Dark Love IV: The Outer Limits

After a not-so-brief interruption, my homage to old-school television continues with The Outer Limits. 

The opening monologue is classic:

 There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to – The Outer Limits. 

This was a mostly science fiction anthology show that aired from 1963-1965 on ABC.  The first season combined sci-fi with a little bit of horror and followed a Monster-of-the-Week (MotW) format.  What separated The Outer Limits from The Twilight Zone was its straightforward storytelling style and sometime focus on dark forces that came from within the human condition and "outside"of our galaxy.  In that, TOL is very much Lovecraftian. 

Joseph Stefano* wrote most of the early episodes for TOL, and it was his idea that every episode have a MotW (called “bears”) that was revealed halfway through.  It was a simple, ingenious, and fairly effective (for its time) idea.  The show’s creator, Leslie Stevens, made good use of the available F/X to make some pretty creepy “bears.” Some of my favorites include the Galaxy Being, Thetan in “The Architects of Fear,” the hideous ants in “The Zanti Misfits,” and the Thing from “It Crawled Out of the Woodwork.”


A Zanti Misfit

The Galaxy Being
TOL had connections to Star Trek: TOS in that some of the ST aliens were recycled from old TOL episodes.  Actors Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner had starring roles in some of the TOL eps, and Spock’s home planet of Vulcan got its name from “Project Vulcan” in the episode “Cold Hands, Warm Heart.”  There are other less noteworthy links between the shows, but it is clear that The Outer Limits had an incredible influence on ST creator Gene Roddenberry.

It is important to point out that two TOL episodes, “Demon With a Glass Hand” and “Soldier,” written by Harlan Ellison, were the foundation for Jim Cameron’s Terminator franchise.  Cameron refused to give Ellison credit, and Ellison ultimately sued…and won.

Demon With a Glass Hand 
In 1995, the show was revived and lasted seven seasons.  For me, there’s nothing like the original, especially old TV shows…so I never bothered with the reboot of TOL.  

The X-Files was a supernatural TV show which aired back in the '90s.  I was a robust, diehard fan of the series (we called ourselves X-Philes, and yes, there was fanfiction), and a while back, I did a marathon of the first 8 seasons. There is a lot of connective tissue between The Outer Limits and The X-Files; clearly X-Files creator Chris Carter was greatly influenced by the show. Considering how influential The X-Files came to be, it would not be difficult to do a TV tree that links TOL to successive television series.

Simply put, it cannot be denied that The Outer Limits rightfully deserves its place in pop culture.

Some of my favorite episodes include:

The Hundred Days of the Dragon
The Galaxy Being
Demon With a Glass Hand
The Architects of Fear
The Zanti Misfits
It Crawled Out of the Woodwork

*Stefano left the show after 1.5 seasons

Next: Thriller (the British version)


  1. ZZZZZ is probably one of the best examples of what you call "dark love". A queen bee who takes on human form (and very beautiful human form) in an attempt to find a male to breed with targets a scientist who is committed to what seems a very dull marriage.
    Her attempt fails when the wife discovers the new lab assistant's real identity. Queen bee then kills wife by siccing a swarm of bees on her. Later, the queen bee attempts to seduce the grieving widower by putting on the former wife's wedding veil. He spurns her due to his love for his dead wife, and the bee woman turns back into insect form and flies away.
    Many males of the late Boomer generation found this episode both sexually arousing and frightening at the same time.

    Good work here with this blog. Mike

    1. Thanks. I loved "ZZZZZ." I was rooting for Queen Bee because I'm like that.

      I'm sure late Boomer males were conflicted about Queen Bee and her shenanigans. Damn it, now I want to watch TOL again.


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