MGM Studios DVD presents
The Outer Limits: The New Series (1995)
"Get as far away from me as you can."- Hannah Valesic (Alyssa Milano)
Stars: Robert Patrick, Clancy Brown, Ron Perlman, Doug Savant, Heather Graham, Ron Rifkin, Nancy Allen, Meatloaf
Other Stars: Ralph Macchio, Daniel Baldwin, Jason Gedrick, Leonard Nimoy, C. Thomas Howell, Alyssa Milano, Jon Tenney
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations, violence, language, nudity)
Run Time: 26h:36m:00s
Release Date: 2005-06-21
DVD ReviewThe original version of The Outer Limits always seemed to be the poor stepchild to the similar The Twilight Zone. Whenever anyone has mentioned the anthology format, the first series that comes to mind is The Twilight Zone. The new version of Rod Serling's brain child even beat the new version of The Outer Limits to the punch by about 10 years. Both shows were very similar, but Serling's show dealt more with the supernatural, while the technical aspects of science and technology were mostly the focus of the less popular one.
The new version of The Outer Limits began airing on Showtime in 1995, and lasted through 2001, when it got the axe. Six years is a good run for a revival such as this, and it continues to live on even today in syndication. Staying true to the original, these new shows open with the same introduction, a voice announcing that there isn't anything wrong with your television and suggesting that you not adjust your set. While there is still the heavy focus on the scientific elements of horror, these shows also had their share of focus on the supernatural, aliens, death, and the afterlife.
This isn't how your parents remember the show that they grew up with either, as the uncut versions of the episodes on The Outer Limits: The New Series feature a great deal of violence, gore, and even some nudity to fuel the sex-themed episodes. There was also more of a moral lesson to be learned in the basic structure of any Outer Limits show, and it's nice to see that that hasn't changed through the years. It's nice to at least feel like you've gotten a little something of moral value out of these shows after watching their stories of robots, ghosts, sex, and other disturbing subjects. It's also great to go back a decade or so and see some of today's hottest actors trying to jump-start their then-fledgling careers through this show. There are some actors tackling sex, extreme violence, and heavy melodrama that is even more shocking now that we know them in the roles they have performed in since.
This six-disc DVD set of hour-long episodes (six per disc, for a total of 36) breaks them down into categories, with each disc compiling shows that fit into one of these groups. They aren't presented in any particular order, but, alphabetically speaking, the first disc is called Aliens Among Us, and is, naturally, all about those that are "not of this earth." The always great Clancy Brown (Carnivále) is a convicted killer who is offered a unique plea bargain in what I consider the best short film in this entire set, Afterlife. This not particularly original story is superb nonetheless, making us think whether we would make the same choice that the protagonist does. Other high-quality "alien" tales here include Quality of Mercy with T2's Robert Patrick, Alien Shop, and The Grell.
The next disc is called Death & Beyond, with its shows being all about life and the prospects of what is in store for us after we're dead. This is always a fascinating subject, so it's no surprise that nearly every one of these installments is worth-while. The only seemingly misplaced episode is The Second Soul, in which Bubba Gump himself, Mykelti Williamson tries to halt a dying race of aliens who come to Earth seemingly to help humans. The rest of these effectively explore a cyberspace version of The Other Side (with Ralph Macchio), the creation of an anti-emotion drug used to keep people from being upset after a viral epidemic wrecks havoc (Essence of Life), and Ron Perlman's struggle to enjoy a normal life following his time in a war in Black Box.
The Fantastic Androids & Robots entry is the weakest disc, but does feature a few fascinating moments. The one and only Leonard Nimoy stars in a pre-Will Smith take on the Assimov classic, I, Robot. This was surprisingly true to the original story, and thankfully without all of the one-liners that dumbed down the Smith film. A very early Heather Graham performance highlights Resurrection, but aside from seeing her, there isn't much to recommend here. The only other episode worth a second look is The Hunt, putting an android twist on a story similar to the underrated film Surviving the Game, which centered around hunting people for sport.
Mutation & Transformation has a few nice segments, but The Gun is difficult to watch since the main idea of it borrows far too heavily from David Cronenberg's Videodrome. The Joining is a very creepy tale with C. Thomas Howell (Soul Man) as a man who has survived a crash landing on Venus, but, as a result, is playing host to some creatures with evil intentions. A strange take on Cocoon is the only other must-see on this disc, as three people who have been hit with meteor fragments begin to use their new powers to help the elderly and very ill. This seemingly innocent tale really hits its stride when the ethical details of the healers' actions are debated.
I was truly intrigued by the Sex & Science Fiction Collection, and not just for the obvious "guy reasons" that the title would suggest. Not that men will have any problems seeing Alyssa Milano's bare breasts in Caught in the Act, but there's a lot more to this variation on Species than its sex appeal. Speaking of that film, Natasha Henstridge is a hologram in Bits of Love, where she becomes the companion to the last man on Earth. Skin Deep and Flower Child are also very sexy and appealing, and Valerie 23 features a great turn by screen veteran Nancy Allen (Robocop).
The final disc, Time Travel & Infinity is as close as this show comes to resembling The Twilight Zone. Time travel episodes of both shows are always great as they explore an idea that almost everyone on this planet would be willing to try if it was possible. These six episodes make that possible, delivering some of the most complex stories in the entire new run of The Outer Limits. Civil War buffs will love to see a pair of friends transported back to fight in Gettysburg, and the college history majors out there might want to think about changing their main area of study after witnessing a student join a time-travel team in Time to Time.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Each of these episodes are presented in their original full frame format, and, while not a whole lot of cleaning up has been done, they are slightly more impressive than they were on TV. There's still quite a bit of grain and dirt present, but the images are crystal clear and sharp for the most part. Very accurate colors are on display as well, aided by solid contrast and shadow levels.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 presentations vary between the episodes, depending on the season that they are representing. The newer shows feature a wider dynamic range that utilizes quite a bit of directionality to create a more enveloping experience than the older segments. There wasn't much, if any bass presence, and the dialogue never faltered, always crisp and easy to understand.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 180 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Dead Like Me: Season 2
Packaging: Box Set
Extras Review: There are a total of 21 featurettes spread out among this six disc set, including the Origins of the Outer Limits featurette that runs for 10 minutes and is featured on four of the six discs. This piece reflects on how the new version of The Outer Limits came about, using interviews with the show's crew, including executive producer Pen Densham who appears in every featurette in this set.
Another repeat featurette is The Outer Limits Story, a 12-minute segment that also talks about the new series. There's also a discussion about the original show as well, with members of both shows brain trust contributing to the piece.
There are also trailers for other MGM Home Video releases on four of the six discs.
The Aliens Among Us, Death & Beyond, Fantastic Androids & Robots, and Mutation & Transformation discs all have a featurette about their particular episodes, while the first of these also has a piece on Making Quality of Mercy, one of the better entries.
Sex & Science Fiction and Time Travel & Infinity have a total of 14 featurettes (not counting The Outer Limits Story), 12 of which focus on those discs' individual episodes, with the other two talking about the overall themes of the DVDs.
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsFans of anthology series will instantly fall in love with The Outer Limits: The New Series. This boxed collection of these discs that were previously available separately won't have any reason to re-buy them, but for those who don't have all six DVDs, this set is definitely recommended. There's no change in any of the discs' content, but the audio and video are solid, and a huge collection of featurettes are appealing.
Chuck Aliaga 2005-09-29