The Outer Limits was a 1960’s science fiction weekly television show that aired on ABC narrated by Vic Perrin known as the “Control Voice”. The show’s trademark was the Sine wave pattern as generated by an oscilloscope and a constant but eerie audio signal.
The Outer Limits often used outer space aliens or monsters rather than people as the adversaries. A number of plots involve mysterious circumstances of the human mind, corrupted by machine or by an attempt to advance science for personal gain. The series includes impostors, spies, time travel and interesting and unusual confrontations of human struggle. The Control Voice provided a philosophical perspective at end of each show in an attempt to summarize what lesson was learned by man or perhaps how foolish he really is. The concept and presentation were in a way similar to “The Twilight Zone”, another popular television series of the same period. The Outer Limits, like the Twilight Zone, did not feature a regular cast but rather introduced new characters, places, and storylines every week.
The series began on Monday, Sept 16, 1963 and ran for two seasons with the final show airing January 16, 1965, having moved to Saturday night slot. The pilot for the first episode “Galaxy Being” stars Cliff Robertson as Allan Maxwell an engineer for a small radio station who by experimentation contacts an alien creature from the Andromeda Galaxy. The creature is transported to earth by accident via microwave transmission sometime after having an intellectual conversation about God and the universe with Maxwell. The being arrives and causes havoc during the night of its visit unintentionally destroying people and property with a form of radiation which it is naturally composed of. The army is called out and it purposely destroys the television station tower that brought him to earth. After the display of superior power, the creature agrees to leave in peace. However, with the tower having been destroyed viewers are left uncertain on how the Galaxy being is to return home. After claiming “There is no death for me”, the being reduces its microwave intensity and vanishes into oblivion. Its last words are “end of transmission'”.
The television show soon became an overnight sensation and flourished during its first season. Coincidentally the united states was active in space exploration and satellites were in orbit during the early 1960’s pushing enthusiasm to new heights of mystery and the unknown.
Another memorable Outer limits adventure was episode number 5, entitled “The Sixth Finger”. A scientist in a small Welsh mining town builds a device to accelerate human evolution. When asked for volunteers, a young but disgruntled miner played by David McCallum as Gwyllm Griffiths agrees to the experiment and is mutated into a human creature 20,000 years into the future. In his first exposure, the poor miner’s skull increases in size and grows a sixth finger in this process. Griffiths is now is capable of superior intellect. Soon unsatisfied with his advanced mental state Griffiths decides to proceed with the experiment and continue forward in evolution to a time man will be one million years in the future.
Griffiths is successful and emerges from the machine with a tremendously enlarged skull and the power of telekinesis. Griffiths abuses his newly found abilities placing the entire village to the danger of his vengeful and selfish powers.
In a final attempt, the mutant Griffiths decides to push the machine to the limit and advance forward to become pure intellect. With the help of his girlfriend, played by Jill Haworth as Cathy Evans, Griffith’s enters the chamber, and Evans pulls the lever on the machine. At this point, it becomes clear that she desires her lover back in his previous unaltered state and moves the lever backward in time rather than forward. She smiles feverously as her mate begins the reversal process and returns more and more to his former human appearance. However, in her haste, she pushes too far and he regresses further backward on the evolutionary scale; forehead sloping, hairy and Neanderthal. Realizing the mistake she brings the lever rapidly forward at a great strain on the machine and its human host. Eventually, Griffiths is returned to normal in appearance but the machine may have been destroyed in the process. Griffiths stands, gazing at Evans, brushing away her tears and collapses in exhaustion after the extraordinary event.
The final narration proposes the question can the human race ever evolve beyond hatred, or revenge or the desire for power?