The Outer Limits: Season 2, Episode 15

The Brain of Colonel Barham (2 Jan. 1965)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi
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A dying astronaut volunteers his mind be linked to a supercomputer, to enable the U.S. to beat the Soviet Union to Mars. His wife and an Air Force psychiatrist oppose the brain removal, ... See full summary »


(as Charles Haas)


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Episode complete credited cast:
Maj. Douglas McKinnon
Elizabeth Perry ...
Jennifer Barham
Anthony Eisley ...
Col. Alex Barham
Douglas Kennedy ...
Gen. Daniel Pettit
Ed Nichols
Dr. Leo Hausner
Dr. Rahm
Maj. Locke
Robert Chadwick ...


A dying astronaut volunteers his mind be linked to a supercomputer, to enable the U.S. to beat the Soviet Union to Mars. His wife and an Air Force psychiatrist oppose the brain removal, fearing that the arrogant spaceman's brain won't adapt, making his death futile. But the Cold War space race takes precedence, so the experiment proceeds, despite eerie developments. Written by David Stevens

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Release Date:

2 January 1965 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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A Rather Interesting, Although Flawed, Script Provides An Opportunity For The Players To Create Their Parts.
5 July 2010 | by (Mountain Mesa, California) – See all my reviews

This is the 47th episode of THE OUTER LIMITS, shot in late October, 1964, and initially telecast during the opening week of 1965. Its script is from Robert C. Dennis, with an original shooting title being "The Brain of Donald Duncan". While not near the top of the series popularity register, it was well-received upon its release, during a period that had seen no clear winner of the "space race" contested between the United States and the Soviet Union. A highly cerebral and adept astronaut, United States Colonel Alex Barham (Anthony Eisley) is restricted to a wheelchair, suffering from advance stage leukemia, and although resentful at his fate, he has been chosen on past merit to complete one final mission, an assignment that will require his living brain being transferred into a computer controlled robotic device. Being already patently indifferent toward his long-suffering wife, Jennifer (Elizabeth Perry), Barham begins to welcome the concept of having a wall constructed between him and his fellow NASA project members. The mentioned mission involves delivery of an American space probe to Mars, therewith establishing a flanking gambit against the Soviet space program, with Colonel Barham's brain having control of a computerized exploration function. However, problems arise prior to the craniotomy, no surprise to the project psychiatrist, Major Douglas McKinnon (Grant Williams), who warns that "subconscious drives may be released". McKinnon is of the opinion that an egocentric Barham may be the "wrong choice" for the radical experiment, while the project's military commander, General Daniel Pettit (Douglas Kennedy) responds to a disabled Barham's caustic challenge "How will I do with pretty girls?" with a sardonic "How you doin' now?", as the pair discuss the future Barham's capacity to see and hear, while at the same time being free from such human physical needs as eating and sleeping. In fact, emotions do play a role in the affair, stimulating actions of the computerized creation, and a not unexpected malformation soon appears, as it becomes obvious that neural implants connected with the video and audio segments of the contraption are vintage sociopathic Barham, extending even to jealous feelings at his wife's blossoming relationship with McKinnon, evidence of narrative irony in the event that the purpose of the project has been developed in spite of clearly stated disapproval of Mrs. Barham. Her husband had been somewhat of a philanderer, according to an opinion offered by his wife, who does not approve of divorce, and since his isolated brain becomes increasingly megalomanic, a hazard is looming that the "new" Barham might somehow apply an energy force in order to control actions of nearby humans. As a largely studio-bound episode, the work must depend upon the proficiency of the players, and for the most part these are impressive, although a surfeit of subplots calls for more script coherence than is forthcoming. Well-directed by Charles Haas, the picture's storyline is one of a good many that have been inspired by the popular 1953 science fiction film DONOVAN'S BRAIN, based upon Curt Siodmak's novel. Although there is little need for FX use from the plot, special effects employed here are more than acceptable. Imagery created by cinematographer Kenneth Peach is first-rate. Veteran supporting actor Wesley Addy garners the performing laurels for his outstanding turn as the civilian head of the experimental space project.

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