Archive for the ‘Outer Limits’ Category

Blu-ray Review ‘Hackers’: The mouse that roared

August 30, 2015

Hackers-CastMy most vivid memory of 1995’s Hackers (just out from Shout! Factory) wasn’t watching the early computer-geek flick, but interviewing stars Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller when they visited Houston to promote its release.

How young were these then-relative unknowns! And how in love! (They married in ’96, then divorced in ’99.) And how high on life — or something.

This was a one-on-two. We did the interview jointly at Houston’s Ritz Hotel (now the St. Regis), and the two stars were about as happy and agreeable as any actors I’d ever met.

Yes, their romance fizzled — as did the film, which grossed a paltry $7 million for a budget of $20 million. But I’ll be damned if Hackers didn’t turn out to be surprisingly prescient and on-target about the computer-driven world in which we now live. And its teen characters played by 20-something actors at least rollerbladed, went to school, partied and got entangled in adventures, meaning they did more than zone out all day in front of a computer monitor or an iPhone. (Today’s cell phone zombiefication would have ruined Hackers.)

The film also gets some respectfully elaborate extras for its Blu-ray debut, notably three series of interviews with the likes of director Iain Softley and actors Matthew Lillard and Fisher Stevens (but not Angelina or Jonny — I feel so special).

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Blu-ray/DVD Review ‘Rise of Planet of the Apes’: No boos for reboots

December 13, 2011

From Star Trek to Batman to, now, Planet of the Apes, reboots have proven their mettle. Reboots are good. In fact, as in such simian cinema, reboots can be fantastic.

Yes, let’s get to the superlatives for this reboot of the 1968-born Apes series, rather than the unsatisfying “re-imagining” of the first two films by Tim Burton in 2001. It was time — and this time, they got it right by entwining the tale with an Outer Limits-style story of a scientist who dares to do great things but, in his bold reach, unleashes twisted results in the process.

These involve an Alzheimer’s cure turning into a monkey brain steroid, leading to a revolt of the San Francisco Bay Area’s simians, and I don’t mean bikers. From testing labs to the zoo, apes erupt onto SF’s scenic settings in a scary yet applaudable attack on human repression. And if that means facing down SF SWATs on the GGB, then it’s more than an anachronym. It’s anarchy — and deliriously entertaining.

I’ve lived in San Francisco, and there’s no more scenic city — and no better setting for a movie, especially one with warped weirdness.   From Vertigo to 1978’s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, there’s a strange symbiosis between sinister doings and a city where a chilly fog drifts across steep hills in the dead of night. And Apes, while also ranging beyond SF, taps that element.

OK, I’m not the biggest James Franco fan, but he does the job here with gravity and sincerity as the scientist whose “cure” turns tables on human-ape dominance. The tale also recalls Flowers For Algernon (Charly, to movie fans) as well as The Outer Limits’ The Sixth Finger, an accelerated evolution story with perhaps the greatest character arc in screen history.

So yes, Apes is damn interesting and intriguing, apart form all the action and flash. And the CG is as good as it gets. Go Ape. You’ll be glad you did.

— Bruce Westbrook

 

‘Avatar’ DVD review: Warmed-over story doesn’t do justice to dazzling visuals

April 26, 2010

Avatar director James Cameron and star Sam Worthington

Let me first say I have nothing against James Cameron as a filmmaker. I greatly admired Titanic, The Abyss, Aliens, True Lies and his Terminator movies. But as with T1 and T2, which wound up owing Harlan Ellison a credit for similar Outer Limits scripts, I’m also keenly aware of derivative elements when it comes to Avatar.

Let me also say I think CG is the most overused thing in Hollywood today. CG is a grand tool and toy, but when employed too often in an otherwise live-action film as a substitute for in-camera work, it inevitably pales.

Throughout Avatar’s hefty running time, I felt as if I were watching two movies melded into one: a live-action movie with actors working on sets, and an animated movie where nothing on camera is any more real than in a Chuck Jones short. (What about CG via actors in motion-capture suits, you may howl. Well, what about it? It’s still animation, and it disconnects a film from its purportedly live-action essence.)

That doesn’t mean you can’t create astonishing imagery with CG, as Avatar does. Its world of Pandora is as wondrous as it gets in sci-fi. But in the end, it’s a cartoon world embedded in an initially (and ostensibly) live-action movie.

The Lord of the Rings, at least, relied heavily on live, in-camera actors, settings and sets, while also laced with loads of fanciful CG showmanship. Avatar doesn’t seem to care that its CG world, while amazingly detailed, is entirely CG and ceaselessly looks and feels solely like CG animation.

As for derivations, didn’t we see a tough Latina military type in Aliens, and now (via Michelle Rodriguez) in Avatar? And weren’t Alien and Aliens also about big bad corporations or governments wanting to strip-mine the galaxy for resources until confronted with an indigenous “problem”?

And isn’t the mind-transferral used to put humans in alien “avatars” just a Second Life virtual world computer game transposed to cinema (a game whose participants, in my book, need the Shatner-esque exhortation to “get a life)? And aren’t Pandora’s blue people just metaphors for Native Americans being muscled off their land by colonialist encroachers? And isn’t their spears-and-arrows defiance of snazzy bad-guy hardware straight out of the Ewoks’ playbook?

In short, isn’t all this overly familiar?

I say yes, which perhaps is why, even after setting the all-time box office record, Avatar was not named Oscar’s best picture. Its story and characters simply weren’t strong enough — and original enough — to merit that.

Look, I’m not challenging the film’s commercial clout. I accept it and fully acknowledge it, and if I were running Hollywood, I wouldn’t sue a James Cameron film for plagiarism (as Harlan Ellison once did — and won) but would pin a medal on Cameron. Even so, box office popularity and intrinsic artistry are not synonymous.

Yes, Avatar is a grand — if preachy and overlong — adventure film, dazzling to the eye with its vivid otherworldliness. But all the tricks Cameron has up his sleeve do not distract me, at least, from what ultimately seems like a routine and rehashed story.

PS–The DVD and Blu-ray debut of Avatar are remarkably bereft of any extra features. No trailers. No deleted scenes. No making-of materials. Those will come with a home market reissue of the film later this year. For now, you just get the movie — and there’s no 3D.

For special features and extra footage, look for an “Ultimate Edition” in November. And for a 3-D version of the film, wait till next year.

RIP, Robert Culp: A great actor — and don’t forget ‘The Outer Limits’

March 25, 2010

All the obits on the late Robert Culp rightly focus on his groundbreaking work on TV’s I Spy as the first network series to co-star an African American (Bill Cosby) in the ’60s. But let’s not overlook Culp’s extraordinary work on another ’60s series before that: The Outer Limits.

The anthology series had different stories and different casts each week, but some actors appeared in more than one show. Culp was one of them, starring in three: Season One’s The Architects of Fear, a haunting love story set against Cold War paranoia and a desperate scheme; that season’s Corpus Earthling, another moving love story also involving alien invaders, zombie like humans and the series’ most gut-wrenching finale; and Season Two’s Demon With a Glass Hand, a superb sci-fi tale written by Harlan Ellison which inspired The Terminator films and even wound up getting Ellison a credit on the first one. (Its setting, BTW, is the Bradbury Building, on the edge of downtown L.A., where parts of Blade Runner also were shot.)

In each, Culp was a strong leading man/hero/protagonist, grounded in dignity and compassion, evincing vulnerability and humanity, but also compelled by a sense of duty and expedience. (The exception would be his Corpus Earthling character’s panicky fears about losing his mind, due to a head injury.) Culp acted with impressive naturalness and grounding in reality, and he connected with his co-stars. He also wore a mean looking monster outfit in The Architects of Fear, the most tragic of all Outer Limits episodes.

Thanks, Robert, for those memories, among many more. You were a credit to your profession.

DVD review: Peyton Place Part Two has me hooked

July 22, 2009

It’s weird how you can get hooked on a soap opera that’s more than 40 years old, and watch it avidly as if each day brings a new and intriguing episode. But that’s what I’ve been doing with Shout! Factory’s enormously welcome release of Peyton Place, whose Part Two DVD set is now new.

Yes, it was tough waiting for this one after I finished glomming Part One — and BTW, those numbers are because Peyton Place didn’t have true “seasons” the way most TV series did. Rather, it ran non-stop, every week, including summers, for years.

It is a bit strange that Part One had 31 episodes and Part Two has 33 (again, no extras), but then, there’s method to such mathematical madness, and here it is:

Part Two begins with a turning point: the return to the scandal-wracked New England town of Peyton Place by one of its less than favorite sons, Elliot Carson (Tim O’Connor), a man who served 18 years in prison for the murder of his wife — a murder he fiercely insists he didn’t commit. (And I believe him.) Further, it marks the departure, for now, of George Anderson (Henry Beckman), the washed up alcoholic salesman who’d become increasingly tiresome in his pathetic tirades, which were frustratingly frequent in Part One. Beckman played him well, but the script didn’t give him much to do beyond being miserable.

As for Elliot, there’s a lot more to him than even his murder rap, as you’ll soon see. And as always, this show delivers with strong screenplays and potent performances. Heck, even the photography and production design pick up a bit in the wintry Part Two.

After viewing its first disc, I’m again struck by continuing parallels between Peyton Place and another daring nighttime network soap opera which wouldn’t air for another quarter-century: Twin Peaks. Each has a sleepy little town which looks quaint and quiet on the surface but harbors more dark secrets than it should. Each has a single large business dominating the town. And with Elliot, each has an imprisoned man returning home in the middle of things.

Elliot’s dilemma also echoes the dramatic intensity of The Fugitive, which aired around the same time and involved another man desperately trying to clear his name after being convicted of his wife’s murder.

Peyton Place also has echoes of Irwin Allen, oddly. That’s because, like Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, it was produced at 20th Century Fox. It also had William Self (also of Voyage) as a producer, and the music sounds like it’s performed by the same orchestra that did Voyage’s theme.

And hey, as an Outer Limits fan I must point out the many OL veterans in Peyon Place’s cast, from Ed Nelson as Dr. Rossi  to Kent Smith as rival Dr. Morton to O’Connor. In fact, O’Connor even has a Peyton Place prison scene with Hari Rhodes, his OL co-star in the episode Moonstone.

Before I forget, dang if Mia Farrow isn’t enchanting in her youth — but not much more so than Dorothy Malone, who played her mother. Ryan O’Neal also impresses, and Part Two has an appearance by Mickey Dolenz soon before he became a Monkee. You might say he found a Pleasant Valley Sunday on ABC’s Peyton Place, too.

There’s simply so much to enjoy, including the lovely theme music. And the stories are truly powerful, while persuasively performed by an outstanding cast that keeps getting better.

Yes, I’m hooked. But I should spread these shows out. No telling when Part Three will be due, or even if sales will be high enough to keep ’em coming. On the upside, Part One emerged just two months ago, so Part Three, if it comes, could be out by mid-September.

Until then, this landmark nighttime TV soap is tops on my DVD player’s hit list.

DVD review: 3-hour Watchmen is old and new

July 21, 2009

Having Watchmen arrive on DVD means having an extra 24 minutes added to the theatrical cut, so the entire movie (with end credits) now runs 186 minutes. That’s a long time to tell a tale, but given the fact that Watchmen is based on a solitary graphic novel that’s set apart from the well-traveled superhero universes of Marvel or DC,  uninformed viewers have a lot of catching up to do.

They get that and more in this superb expanded cut, which introduces the multi-generational heroes who were forced to drop out of sight by a furor akin to the mutant-hunting scares in X-Men. And then, of course, they’re needed again.

The characters are both familiar types (strongmen–what a concept) and kooky-new (Rorschach, with his ever-shifting masked face). But the most intriguing, in a way, is the godlike Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), who was transformed by an agonizing scientific accident into a near-omnipotent (if not omniscient, as he reminds us) bald and blue creature. He can get real big, too–real fast.

What makes Dr. Manhattan such a kick is that he faces much the same dilemma as one of the greatest characters ever created for a single network TV episode. And by that, I’m referring to the classic 1960s Outer Limits episode titled The Sixth Finger.

In it, David McCallum played an illiterate coal miner who agreed to be the test subject in a scientist’s experiment to advance human evolution via a machine. McCallum became advanced, all right — and kept going. Soon he was devouring books in seconds and playing piano like a master. Then he got even smarter — and more detached from human reality, seeing us as mere ants.

Similarly, Dr. Manhattan has trouble connecting with the human experience. He’s simply too godlike to relate, much as he might try.

In either case, it’s an incredible character “arc,” which is what many actors live for. You don’t want to go from A to B. You want to go from A to L to X to Z and then — who knows?

At any rate, Watchmen fans are urged to check out McCallum’s extraordinary performance and how his alarming human evolutionary imperatives are resolved. And speaking of ’60s TV sci fi, also keep in mind what Bill Shatner’s Captain Kirk told a similarly godlike being (played by Gary Lockwood) in the classic Star Trek episode Where No Man Has Gone Before: “A god must have compassion.” For humanity, if we truly can transcend our wretched existence, perhaps such compassion, beauty and love are where our greatest character arc — and evolutionary path — lies.

DVD review: ‘Star Trek: Season 3 Remastered’ shows where ‘Boston Legal’ bent began

November 18, 2008

And so, Paramount’s splendid refitting of Classic Trek comes to a close with this week’s release of Star Trek: The Original Series — Season 3 Remastered from Paramount. Again, the new effects and enhanced picture and sound are a fan’s dream, provided you’re not the kind of purist who balked at similar spiffing up of Star Trek: The Motion Picture or the original Star Wars trilogy.

Me? I love progress, and if you can improve a show without losing its basic integrity, I’m there. Bottom line: If they’d had the resources to produce this level of effects when making this show in the 1960s, they’d have loved to do so. Now Paramount can — and it does a fantastic job. ‘Nuff said.

Sure, Trek‘s third and final original season was nowhere near as good as the first two, but it still had some worthy winners, including the going-native-while-an-asteroid-looms love story of The Paradise Syndrome. (I’m a sucker for idyllic-looking shore leave shows — and that asteroiod gets a great makeover.) The DVD extras here also are welcome, from the original pilot version of The Cage to a tribute to Trek producer Bob Justman, a man I’ve admired dating back to his pre-Trek time on The Outer Limits.

In fact, there are so many elements of The Outer Limits in Star Trek that you almost could argue the first spawned the second, from Trek‘s direct steal of its Arena episode (which makes a cameo in Tropic Thunder, BTW) via OL‘s Fun and Games episode to the fact that some big Trek actors appeared first on the sci-fi anthology show (William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, etc.). And Harlan Ellison, author of Trek‘s beloved City on the Edge of Forever episode, first wrote two of the best Outer Limits episodes in Soldier and Demon With a Glass Hand.

But back to The Paradise Syndrome. In it, as in so many Classic Trek episodes, we see the seeds of Shatner’s late-career renaissance. No, we’re not talking his amusingly in-your-face guy on TV commercials, but Shatner’s Denny Crane on Boston Legal, a role which won him an Emmy, which Kirk never did. In short, in Kirk we see a man who, like Denny Crane these days, can’t keep his hands off women — even when he’s in a mind-zapped daze (The Paradise Syndrome) or suffering from “mad cow” (Boston Legal).

Are James Kirk and Denny Crane truly cut from the same cloth? To answer one rhetorical question with another, in an astronomical context: Is there a constant far side (as opposed to “dark side”) of the moon? Yes and yes, of course.

Each character is an alpha male who’s king of his castle, whether it’s a spaceship or a law firm. Each is drawn to women like a meteoroid pulled into a giant planet’s gravitational hold. And each gives good speeches, whether it’s Kirk’s moralistic rallying-the-troops sermonettes or Crane’s sly, shrewd strategies offered to BFF Alan Shore (James Spader) in their balcony chats.

And there, of course, lies the biggest link between Kirk and Crane: Both celebrate male-bonding to the Nth degree. Kirk had Spock, and to a slightly lesser extent McCoy. And Crane has Shore. And those relationships are the thread, the theme, the backbone and the heart of their respective series.

Classic Trek never would have been classic without the intense brotherhood of Kirk, Spock and McCoy, and Boston Legal is basically a platonic love story about political opposites but similarly rebellious legal eagles who end each episode with a drink, a cigar, a heart-to-heart talk and another declaration of their “bromance” love.

I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury: Kirk and Crane — separated at birth? Again, it’s a rhetorical question.

In fact, I rest my case.

Review: ‘Outer Limits’ full-series DVD box is TV at its best

October 21, 2008

Stephen King once wrote that the original 1963-65 The Outer Limits was “the best program of its type ever to air on network TV.” I couldn’t agree more. But what is The Outer Limits’ “type”?

Returning to DVD today from MGM in a handsome full-series box set of 49 episodes, The Outer Limits was an anthology science-fiction show, albeit with hearty doses of gothic dread and monstrous horror. That stance, in itself, doesn’t make it a classic. Yet even with the limitations of meager budgets and no strong network track record for sci-fi — a marginal genre at the time — The Outer Limits did, indeed, push the limits of imaginative, thought-provoking entertainment in an “exploitation” genre, and has ultimately revealed itself as a monumental achievement.

Introduced by a “Control Voice,” story after story produced intriguing, insightful looks at humans —  often scientists — whose thirst for knowledge led them to expand horizons — sometimes in the form of alien contact — while learning that such progress rarely comes without a price.

Though The Outer Limits was a humanistic show, full of compassion for our small selves on a fragile planet, such humanism also extended to many of its aliens, who weren’t evil bug-eyed fiends but wise and peaceful explorers (“The Galaxy Being,” “The Bellero Shield”). It also taught lessons in enlightenment, as with the masterful tale of rapid human evolution called “The Sixth Finger.”

The series was blessed with outstanding creative work in almost every department, starting with the scripts written or overseen by producers Joe Stefano (Psycho) and Leslie Stevens. Outer Limits writers included future Oscar-winner Robert Towne (Chinatown) who wrote “The Chameleon” episode and sci-fi stalwart Harlan Ellison, whose acclaimed “Soldier” and “Demon With a Glass Hand” scripts informed The Terminator so much that he successfully sued for credit.

Outer Limits casts were incredible for network TV, from Cliff Robertson, Robert Duvall, Carroll O’Connor, Martin Landau and Robert Culp to Sally Kellerman, Vera Miles, Martin Sheen, Bruce Dern and Edward Asner. That’s not to mention future Star Trek stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and James Doohan.

Much of season one’s cinematography was by another future Oscar winner, Conrad Hall, whose use of handheld cameras, available light, creative framing and stark shadows was unprecedented for TV at this time. Too, the melodic and memorable first-season music by Dominic Frontiere was haunting, eerily beautiful and inspiring. And special effects, though done cheaply, could be striking and innovative.

Unfortunately, ABC killed the show in Season Two, giving it an unfriendly time slot and finishing it off at mid-season. The Outer Limits wound up with 32 first-season episodes and 17 in the second season, but that total of 49 is a full two seasons’ worth by today’s standards. And the franchise’s renewed life years later as a Showtime series (which remade several ’60s plots) has helped cement its status not just as a fleeting aberration amid a TVscape littered by slight sitcoms and “doctor” shows and recalled fondly only by aging Baby Boomers, but as a lasting phenomenon whose sheer artistry has made it more timeless and impressive than any other series of its day — and of any “type.”

Personal favorite episodes? Mine start with one which melds sci-fi trappings to a sheer “beauty and the beast” fairy tale, “The Man Who Was Never Born.” But Culp’s three episodes also are outstanding, from the horrific romantic tragedies of “The Architects of Fear” and “Corpus Earthling” — two of Outer Limits’ scariest yet most emotional stories — to Ellison’s time-tripping “Demon With a Glass Hand,” set largely in the wrought-iron interior of the Bradbury Building, which I’ve had the privilege to visit in downtown Los Angeles. (Blade Runner also shot there.)

Landau’s “The Bellero Shield” is a remarkable Shakespearean spin on ambition corrupting science, while rich gothic horror awaits in “The Guests” and “Don’t Open Till Doomsday.” And David McCallum played perhaps the greatest character arc any actor can claim in the rapid evolutionary tale of “The Sixth Finger.”

I could go on — there’s much more — but suffice it to say that King was right. This is TV at its finest — and often most cinematic — from an era when no other program challenged viewers and challenged itself with such ardent and inspirational creativity. A true treasure trove awaits you. Enjoy.

‘Spiderwick’ is a product of meager imagination

June 24, 2008

I realize that The Spiderwick Chronicles, new on DVD from Paramount, is based on a series of books, and I realize it also follows hugely popular children’s fantasies such as the Harry Potter and Narnia movies, and all these things dictate that it play out in a certain way.

Nonetheless, while watching the film, I kept thinking about a comparable woodland fantasy involving children which, in a big way, puts Spiderwick to shame. I know it’s an unreasonable comparison given Spiderwick’s source novels and its marketing imperatives — I know, I know — but dang, the film pales next to a movie it clumsily evokes, Pan’s Labyrinth.

You see, that Spanish masterpiece spoiled me. Its impecable artistry, its haunting music and mood, its rivetting performances, its less feverish and more eerily compelling creatures — all combine to make Guillermo del Toro’s three-time Oscar winner a classic picture. Spiderwick? It’s product.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the cast and appreciated the setup, with flashbacks to David Strathairn as a charming scientist/dad who discovers unseen creatures roiling in the woods around his remote house. (His tragic back-story about Tampering Where No Man Should even reminded me of some beloved old Outer Limits episodes, such as Don’t Open Till Doomsday and The Bellero Shield.)

I was less enthused, yet tolerant, of the woefully cliched modern fractured family of a solo mom and three kids (Strathairn’s descendants) who are all about strident, bitter rancor and resentment. They are not about appreciating that they have food to eat, a roof over their heads, wondrous woods to explore and each other. What miserable folks with whom to spend a movie. But hey — at least they’re flesh and blood.

As for the creatures, they’re cartoons — well, CG — and thus have very little   impact in an otherwise live-action flick. I mean, they’re just too absurd — like Muppets gone bad. And once the creatures appear and the action begins, Spiderwick, for me, is just another empty CG-driven flick that’s all about flashy action and has precious little to do with storytelling, character development, mood, ambience or meaning — you know, the little things.

That said, if you’re a Potter/Narnia/you-name-it fan of child-geared fantasy, and you need a fix, Spiderwick will do. Heck, it’s even got a cameo by Lady Olivier, that is, Joan Plowright, whose former husband was perhaps the greatest actor of the 20th Century, and she’s still  going strong. But Freddie Highmore’s self-obsessed, reckless, resentful, hateful protagonist — and the absurd CG creatures he meets — well, you can have them.

As for me, I’ve got a good reason to watch Pan’s Labyrinth again, if only as a more heartening reminder of the huge difference between films that are slavish product and those that aspire to art.

 

 

 

‘The Invaders’ invades DVD

May 26, 2008

One of the creepiest of ’60s TV series, The Invaders makes its long-awaited DVD debut with a first-season box set from CBS Video. Since the show was a mid-season replacement, debuting in January of 1967, that first season, or half-season, ran 17 epsidoes, but by today’s standards that’s virtually a full season. The Invaders would return that fall for a full season and another 26 episodes.

Its premise echoed the “running man” setup of another series produced by Quinn Martin, The Fugitive. Only in this case, it wasn’t a man unjustly charged with murder but architect David Vincent (Roy Thinnes), who was in the wrong place at the right time and witnessed a saucerlike spacecraft landing on Earth. (We’re told in offscreen narration it’s from “another galaxy.” Riiiight. Try “interstellar” or “another star system”. It would take the aliens millions of years traveling at light speed to cross the gulfs between galaxies.)

Naturally, hardly anyone believes Vincent, and it doesn’t help that the aliens, when killed, instantly disintegrate. Even so, Vincent utterly devotes himself to his mission to track down and thwart the furtive alien invasion.

This premise often echoes It Came From Outer Space and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in that the aliens walk among us in human form. And the production is first-rate, including impressive guest stars such as Suzanne Pleshette, William Windom, Roddy McDowall, Ed Asner and Dabney Coleman. Thinnes also is a strong lead character, known more for steely resolve than frantic desperation. In other words, he didn’t overact. He also looks good — cool, even — as a dapper 70-year-old in onscreen interviews for the new DVD (which also offers commentary, network promos and an extended version of the original pilot).

Also impressive is the show’s first-season composer, Dominic Frontiere. He’s the same man who composed perhaps the greatest TV score ever, for the first season of The Outer Limits (1963-64). In fact, that music was so good that he used it again throughout The Invaders’ pilot episode (as he’d also done in 1965 film Incubus, and sometimes in The Rat Patrol). But after that he used mostly new music.

One piece of Outer Limits music persists on The Invaders. Just as the theme music to Star Trek: The Motion Picture became the theme to TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, Frontiere’s theme for a single Outer Limits episode became the theme for The Invaders as a series.

I’m speaking of the opening musical theme, used throughout Season One. That music was first used in the final Outer Limits episode of Season One, The Forms of Things Unknown. It was actually shot as a pilot for a new anthology show (which never was produced) called The Unknown (clearly geared more toward gothic fantasy than Outer Limits’ sci-fi). Since Frontiere never got to use it as an ongoing theme for The Unknown, he made it the theme for The Invaders.

By the way, Frontiere’s ex-wife, who recently passed away, was Georgia Frontiere, owner of the Los Angeles — then St. Louis — Rams.

At any rate, The Invaders is quality sci-fi TV from a time when the only other such worthy series was the original Star Trek (which also shares many Outer Limits elements). So savor Thinnes’ running man. He may not have won much support while defying invaders, but he’s certainly worthy of yours.