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1995-... · episode guide

Among sf shows, there are classics, remakes, spin-offs and newcomers, but The Outer Limits is definitely a classic. The 1995 show is based upon the original Outer Limits which aired from 1963 to 1965, but the concept is the same: A one-hour anthology series which from week to week supplies us with a mixture of science fiction and horror.

Like Star Trek and Picket Fences, the show has sort of a case study character. There are generally no connections between the episodes, every episodes tells another story with another cast and another premise, one cannot predict the outcome - the structure of this series allows everything to happen, from the destruction of the planet to the brightest outcome.

But then this structure can also be a terrible disadvantage: An ever changing cast, although interesting and making it possible for major characters to die, is a complicated thing: In a good ensemble show, one can at least enjoy the character interaction if the story is awful, but for an anthology series this loophole doesn't exist: The cast always has to be perfect, as well as the story.

But considering the circumstances, Outer Limits is doing remarkably well, also due to the great music and the usually quite impressive sfx. It is as if one was watching a small movie, and one needn't keep track of complex story arcs to follow the show.

Its unpredictability gives its horror always another turn of the screw, another chance for the story to end - this isn't a show where at the end all's necessarily well. The Outer Limits is perhaps the only show that can call itself science fiction almost every time, it is kind of a back-to-the-roots to the days when science fiction was mainly featured in anthology journals. And just as the premise of sf has always been, the stories always present us a moral judgement, an interpretation; it is not storytelling for its own sake, it is for purpose - to make us aware of certain problems.

July 5th, 1998

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