Friday, December 31, 2010

Outer Limits : The Invisible Enemy (1964)

The Outer Limits was an American television series that aired on ABC from 1963 to 1965. Similar in style to the earlier The Twilight Zone with more science fiction than fantasy stories, The Outer Limits is an anthology of discrete story episodes, sometimes with a plot twist at the end. Each show would begin with either a cold open or a preview clip, followed by narration by someone identifying himself as the Control Voice, which was played over visuals of an oscilloscope. The earlier and longer version of the narration ran as follows.

“ 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.

— Opening narration – The Control Voice – 1960s
The Outer Limits originally was broadcast from 1963 to 1965 on the U.S. television broadcasting network ABC; in total, 49 episodes. It was one of many series influenced by The Twilight Zone and Science Fiction Theatre, though it ultimately proved influential in its own right. In the un-aired pilot, the series was called Please Stand By, but ABC rejected that title. Series creator Leslie Stevens retitled it The Outer Limits. With a few changes, the pilot aired as the premiere episode, "The Galaxy Being". Writers for The Outer Limits included creator Stevens and Joseph Stefano (screenwriter of Hitchcock's Psycho), who was the series' first-season producer and creative guiding force. Stefano wrote more episodes than any other writer for the show. Future Oscar winning screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown) would write "The Chameleon", which was also the final episode filmed for the first season. Two especially notable second-season episodes "Demon with a Glass Hand" and "Soldier" were written by Harlan Ellison, with the latter episode winning a Writers' Guild Award. The former was for several years the only episode of The Outer Limits available on laser-disc. The first season combined science-fiction and horror, while the second season was more focused on 'hard' science-fiction stories, dropping the recurring "scary monster" motif of the first season. Each show in the first season was to have a monster or creature as a critical part of the story line. First-season writer and producer Joseph Stefano believed that this element was necessary to provide fear, suspense, or at least a center for plot development. This kind of story element became known as "the bear". This device was, however, mostly dropped in the second season when Stefano left. (Two first-season episodes without a 'bear' are "Forms of Things Unknown" and "Controlled Experiment" the first of which was shot in a dual format as SF for The Outer Limits and as a Thriller for a pilot for an unmade series The Unknown. Actor Barry Morse who starred in "Controlled Experiment" states that this episode also was made as a pilot for an unrealized science-fiction comedy series.[1] It is the only comic episode of The Outer Limits. Earlier Season 1 episodes with no 'bear' were "The Hundred Days of the Dragon" and "The Borderland" made before the 'bear' convention was established. Second season episodes with a 'bear' are "Keeper of the Purple Twilight", "The Duplicate Man", and "The Probe". Bears appear near the conclusion of second season episodes "Counterweight", "The Invisible Enemy", and "Cold Hands, Warm Heart".)

The show's first season had distinctive music by Dominic Frontiere, who doubled as Production Executive; the second season featured music by Harry Lubin, with a variation of his Fear theme for One Step Beyond being heard over the end titles.

"The Invisible Enemy" is an episode of the original The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 31 October 1964, during the second season.

A pair of astronauts on the M1 spaceship land on Mars in the year 2021; when one goes out to explore he is heard screaming and his last transmission indicates that he had no idea what was happening to him. When the second Astronaut goes out to investigate, he too gives out a similar transmission. A second Mission — the M2 with a crew of three lands six years later, tasked to both explore and find out what happened to the M1. When an engineer is sent to explore the ruins of the M1, he goes behind the ship to examine it and screams in unbearable agony.....just like the previous crew. The crew is ordered to stay within the confines of their ship in the last hours before take-off; though the crew's Geologist leaves to try and find out what happened when he has a vision of Mars' deserts as oceans of sands. He exits the spaceship and cuts his hand; he rubs the blood onto a scrap of cloth and throws it out into the desert. He finds a Sand-Beast - a crustacean-like animal that swims through the sands like a shark - is at fault for the destruction. The captain of the expedition, asleep while the Geologist left, goes out to find him and becomes trapped on a rock when the Sand-Beast pursues him. With ten minutes left until lift-off, the Geologist creates a distraction by running across the sands; allowing both men to escape unharmed, and able to shoot the Sand-Beast with a bazooka that remained from a fellow M2 crewman's death previously shown.

The fatally(?) wounded Sand-Beast submerges beneath the surface, but other Sand-Beasts emerge as the two remaining astronauts realize, "There's a whole army of them" and their survival is in jeopardy. After an abrupt dissolve (was this all a dream?), the astronauts are alive and communicate to Earth that they're coming home.  From Wikipedia,

55 MIN

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