“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. 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. 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!”

Intoned by the incomparable Vic Perrin, so began each episode of what would be the last of the 1960’s black-and-white science fiction/horror anthology shows, a genre populated by The Twilight Zone, Thriller, Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond, and lesser efforts like 13 Demon StreetThe Outer Limits aired for nearly two seasons, from September of 1963 through its mid-season cancellation in 1965. During that brief run, though, its parade of monsters gave viewers – impressionable kids, but some impressionable adults, too – enough nightmare fodder to carry them into March of this year, when Kino Lorber reissued the show’s first season on DVD.

You are watching: There is nothing wrong with your television set

I said SIT QUIETLY!The show was equal parts horror, suspense and science fiction, and on paper it looks a lot like its longer-lived and better-known contemporary, The Twilight Zone. Outer Limits, though, featured better writing, more creative art direction and, most importantly, more monsters (known to the show’s technical staff as “bears”). Sure, some of the monsters were lame, but some were pretty good, and some were inspired and downright brilliant. Some of the lame ones, like the second season’s “Megasoid” (from the episode “The Duplicate Man”) or “Eck” (from–where else?–“Behold, Eck!”) advertise their lameness with their name, while others seek refuge in anonymous identification by race, like the Empyrian in “Second Chance,” or in just plain anonymity, like the thing in “O.B.I.T.”

The show’s best monsters don’t necessarily have two arms and two legs and two eyes. The famous convict-bugs of “The Zanti Misfits,” with their largish insect bodies and anthropoid faces, were pretty original for their time (and handled with stop-motion animation), but one of the most original was the noisy, fascinatingly threatening, shapeless monster (it doesn’t have two, or even one, of anything) from “It Crawled Out of the Woodwork.”

“Your ignorance makes me ill and angry….”

And when the occasional makeup-effects monster shows up, it’s even money that it’ll be absolutely first-rate, and require no “well, it was the sixties” apology, such as David McCallum’s superbly crafted evolutionary development from “The Sixth Finger.”

Now featuring fewer bearsOccasionally a first season episode comes across with a story weird enough and writing good enough to require no monster, like the first season finale, “The Form of Things Unknown.” This effort features McCallum again, this time without prosthetics; also in the cast are Vera Miles and Sir Cedric Hardwicke (in his last acting role), and the episode’s entire package exemplifies what the series would become in its brief second season: reliant on story and effect and hobbled by fewer monsters, lame or otherwise (although Eddie Albert would be attacked by vicious frogs, rocks, and tumbleweeds. Yes, tumbleweeds).

Hardwicke was not the only seemingly washed-up, formerly great actor who was resurrected by The Outer Limits. Sidney Blackmer, Gloria Grahame and Miriam Hopkins–the latter in a tour-de-force for the psychologically and sexually troubled episode “Don’t Open Until Doomsday”–all turn in great performances, and I expect the studio got a bargain when it used them.

This Kino-Lorber set of Outer Limits’ first season is a vast improvement over the 2002 DVD edition, which had miserably intrusive menus and no extras. The new set features straightforward menus, a frank and helpful essay in the accompanying booklet, and entertaining and competent commentary by one of several experts on the series available for most of the episodes–something the older edition never thought of. And since the Library classifies each of the two volumes of the first season as a Box Set, you can keep each one for two weeks.

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I now return control of this set of DVDs to you. Or I will, just as soon as I’m finished with it.