Science Fiction - Wisely

(the rantings of a science fiction freak)

I spent many hours obsessing over crazed classic science fiction television shows. Of course, it goes without saying that the original Twilight Zone was probably my first foray into classic science fiction tv. By the first time I saw TZ, it was on reruns every night at 6pm but also showing a new episode every week during prime time. You could count on the Twilight Zone for a clever premise and an ironic twist at the end. But I was really thrown for a loop the first time I saw (the original) Outer Limits - it just about put me out of my mind, at the tender age of 6 -- I was forbidden to stay up that late and sent to bed while my older sister and my mother would stay up watching tv for a while. This particular night, I guess they were watching the Outer Limits (first run on CBS) and the episode, I now know, happened to be the Zanti Misfits, about a forced exile of alien beings coming to earth in a space capsule.

When the aliens land it turns out they are foot-long ants with murderous intent, but I had no premonition of that as I sat hidden on the staircase and watched the Outer Limits for the first time - I had been watching it in secret since I'd been banned to bed by my mother, and I had a great vantage point from the stairway. I watched as the show unfolded with ingenuous interest in what at first seemed like quite a conventional story. But when the foot long ants infested the tv screen, biting people to death with their jagged mandibles, I nearly screamed out loud, but restrained myself from giving away my hiding place so I could watch the remainder of the episode.

And I did -- and from that night on for several years, at nights I would literally be afraid to put my feet all the way to the end of the bed for fear of Zanti misbehaved misfits biting me. An irrational fear, for sure -- but Leslie Stevens and Joe Stefano definitely did a number on my mind that night, and I was hooked forever on the classic Outer Limits television show. Especially that first year of production, when it was so sharp and bleeding edge.