The Outer Limits: Season 1, Episode 5

The Sixth Finger (14 Oct. 1963)

TV Episode  -   -  Fantasy | Horror | Sci-Fi
8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 293 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 1 critic

A scientist experimenting with speeding up human evolution, hires on uneducated, but bright Gwyllim, from the nearby Welsh mining town. He proves a devoted lab assistant, but not content to... See full summary »

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Title: The Sixth Finger (14 Oct 1963)

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Episode complete credited cast:
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Gwyllim Griffiths
...
Cathy Evans
...
Professor Mathers
Nora Marlowe ...
Mrs. Ives
Robert Doyle ...
Wilt Morgan
Constance Cavendish ...
Gert 'the Bread' Evans
George Pelling ...
Policeman
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Storyline

A scientist experimenting with speeding up human evolution, hires on uneducated, but bright Gwyllim, from the nearby Welsh mining town. He proves a devoted lab assistant, but not content to stick to animal subjects, Gwyllim speeds up his own evolution, becoming a super genius with 6 fingers and a huge cranium. With such mental powers does the rebellious, former coal miner acquire equivalent wisdom and maturity too ? Written by David Stevens

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14 October 1963 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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The entire story line illustrates the misperception that evolution is a directed process leading to improvements in a species. The actual processes of evolution were known long before the time of original airing. See more »

Quotes

Control Voice: [Opening Narration] Where are we going? Life, the timeless and mysterious gift is still evolving. What wonders or terrors does evolution hold in store for us in the next ten thousand years? - in a million? - in six million? Perhaps the answer lies in this old house in this old and misty valley...
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Referenced in Lucy (2014) See more »

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Parallel universes
19 February 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

If you didn't see The Outer Limits at the time, then watching them now is an odd experience. It lacks quite the quirky charm of the Twilight Zone, but it still capable of taking you by surprise with unexpected flashes of imagination. A lot of it is embarrassing, or just plain boring, though none of it is ever as bad as the worst science fiction B movies of that time, and certainly the strong casts reliably outperform the limp scripts. I won't comment particularly on the several very strongly favourable comments here. I think they are all tinged with a wash of nostalgia. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's actually very interesting to see, but it's unlikely to persuade anyone coming to this episode for the first time in the twenty first century. I still revere The Prisoner, but I wouldn't dream of recommending it to a new audience now.

But what makes this episode in particular stand out, and be worthy of a special recommendation, especially to British viewers, is the quite astonishing portrayal of what seems to be a Yorkshire, or possibly, Welsh mining village. It is as though the opening chapters of Sons & Lovers (D.H.Lawrence) had been re-imagined in the world of The Darling Buds of May (H.E.Bates). What would that mean for an American reader? What about On The Waterfront re-imagined with the characters and setting of Tobacco Road? It is that grotesque.

There is no sign of a pit, and the village is more or less a rural idyll, but there are random roving working class types, extremely grimy, and ever ready to subject any available maiden to a bit of sexual harassment (hey-nonny-no) while knocking off the odd traditional shanty on the button concertina. It defies all rational analysis, and has to be seen to be believed.

And the voice of the young woman (Constance Cavendish) behind the counter in the village shop must surely be a candidate for one of the most bizarre screen accents of all time, in which Welsh, Gestapo, Asian and robotic elements are perpetually at war with each other. I recently laughed at an American survey of Dick van Dyke's career which said that though his "Cockney accent in Mary Poppins was notoriously bad, nevertheless he remained popular in the UK". No, no, no; there's no nevertheless to it. It's because his Cockney accent was so bad that we all love him. We British are a bit strange like that; we admire incompetence in all its forms. But by these standards, Constance Cavendish should have been an international megastar. Whatever became of her? Unmissable.


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