Tumbleweeds And William Shatner: A Review Of Outer Limits Season 2

by Rachel Bellwoar

Given all the behind the scenes changes, between seasons, it makes sense that Outer Limits Season 2 wouldn’t be the same. After writing some of the best episodes, as series producer, Joseph Stefano left when the show was moved from Wednesday nights to Saturdays. Series creator, Leslie Stevens, was technically still executive producer but new producer, Ben Brady, was the leading force behind season two. Joined by Perry Mason alumni, Seeleg Lester and Gert Oswald (who had directed some Perry Mason and was allowed to stay on), many from season one, including composer, Dominic Frontiere, weren’t invited back.
Season Two’s episode count is smaller (down to 17 from season one’s 32) but the budgets are smaller, too, most noticeably in regard to sets. Luckily Kino Lorber didn’t suffer the same turnaround and basically all of the same contributors from their season one boxset are back. David J. Schow provides commentaries, appears in interviews and writes the booklet essay (though unfortunately only the Blu-Ray includes the booklet this time around). Additional commentaries are provided by Tim Lucas, Gary Gerani, Reba Wissner, Craig Beam, Steve Mitchell, and Eric Grayson. There are a bunch of bonus features, too.
Penn & Teller’s introductions, from an Outer Limits marathon they hosted for TNT’s MonsterVision, are especially fun because they make their opinions known and affectionately call out the show. There does seem to be a Season One bias among the features. Many of them address episodes that aired in season one and feel like they could’ve been holdovers from that DVD set but it’s nice to have them anyway.
There is a reason you have to watch these episodes for yourself, though, and I amusingly found myself disagreeing with the critics on a lot of them. “Cold Hands, Warm Heart,” was the first one filmed for season two and starred William Shatner as an astronaut who, try as he might, can’t seem to get warm since he came home from Venus. “The Soldier,” which filmed second and is one of two episodes written by Harlan Ellison, aired first because it was considered the stronger episode. While Ellison’s “Demon With A Glass Hand” deserves all the praise that it gets, I can’t quite agree with the verdict on “Soldier” and found the ending to be ambiguous.
Wissner, who recorded the commentary for “Behold Eck!,” expresses some fondness for the episode but it doesn’t sound like the light monster gets too many fans. Same goes for the “Expanding Human,” a spin on Jekyll & Hyde that I found enjoyable but doesn’t seem to be a widespread favorite. Guest stars include Eddie Albert (Green Acres), who goes up against tumbleweeds in “Cry of Silence,” and Adam West (Batman) in the season’s strongest hour, “The Invisible Enemy,” featuring a terrific monster antagonist.
After “The Duplicate Man, (the show’s last, really great hour), sexism suddenly becomes an issue in the latter episodes and while “The Inheritors,” a rare Outer Limits two-parter stars Robert Duvall and gets a lot of praise, part two is better, but the message it pushes about children with disabilities feels flawed.
Outer Limits Season 2 is available now on Blu-Ray and DVD from Kino Lorber. “We now return control of your television set to you…”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: