Monday, 16 September 2013

We are Controlling Transmission

It was fifty years ago today, on the 16th September 1963...
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. Your are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to THE OUTER LIMITS
That first ever episode was the superb 'The Galaxy Being' about a radio engineer who is experimenting with a transceiving device which scans 3D static. He tunes into a being from the constellation Andromeda...
...and the rest is legend.
Happy 50th Anniversary to a very special SF TV series which along with 'The Twilight Zone' (which preceded it by four years), are the finest examples of the genre. The Outer Limits was made at the tail end of a very creative 'golden age' in American television dramas, and it was amazing how anthology series like this managed to offer up such memorable, haunting and stylish fare week after week.
Like so many others in the UK, I first saw the Outer Limits in 1980 when the series was broadcast late night on a Friday on BBC 2. Up to this point, the show was something that had been cited in the pages of second hand SF books and magazines, with just a few grainy tantalizing B&W stills on offer. Now the time had arrived to "sit quietly...and experience the awe and mystery..."
At first the episodes were screened out of order, so in fact 'The Galaxy Being' was shown several months into the run - but in the end, we got to see all of the 49 episodes that were ever made - and after a dozen or so - mostly in sequence too. I'll never forget watching them all those years ago. So many classics: The Man Who Was Never Born, The Forms Of Things Unknown, Demon With A Glass Hand, ZZZZZ, The Invisibles, A Feasibility Study, The Inheritors. I could go on and on...
So back to the Andromedan being...
"...there are powers in the Universe beyond anything you know. There is much you have to learn. You must explore. You must reach out. Go to your homes - go and give thought to the mysteries of the Universe.
I will leave you peace"

The Galaxy Being as depicted on a bubble gum card produced in 1964

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