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Four military people are auditioning for the possibility of going on a secret mission. They must pass test to get there which involves being put in a dream state where they are asked to make decisions that will demonstrate their resolve and their loyalty. Two of the men despise each other and are in perpetual conflict. This time it wasn't enough to use random scenes from previous episodes in the last episode; this time they used two separate episodes. As is usual, while the men are in the dream state, they become characters from previous episodes, completely out of context. Why these guys are willing to do what they do and experience what they experience is never made clear to us. They are told on several occasions that they may not survive these tests. Yet on they go. The conclusion is utterly unsatisfying and extremely cynical. With a group of creative people, a new series could be born, but it would take some true effort to do so.
The plot is interesting. A group of astronauts are on board a ship that has been sent to create a biosphere. There is all kinds of conflict because the politicians on Earth are finding ways to destroy the planet. An android, who is hooked up to the computer on the ship, decides to activate a destruct sequence because in his "mind" he sees the human race as an infestation. The sad thing is that the final two episodes, the producers dredge up scenes from past episodes, which really don't work. For a few bucks, they could have created a set of original dramatic examples that would have progressed a reasonably adroit offering. Instead, those of us who saw all these previous shows wouldn't sit there saying, "But in that plot ........" Which means that a group of writers sit in a room for a few days trying like hell to patch together this drivel. As usual, there is quite a cynical denouement.
A woman who professed that she was abducted by aliens, finds her picture posted in a tabloid, leading to great embarrassment. Unfortunately, it really happened, but, of course, she is seen as a nut case by everyone, including her daughter. There is a lot of sparring between the two as the mother goes through a sort of living hell. She has horrible dreams, recreating the horrible incident in her mind, screaming at night. Meanwhile, the daughter, who is now an outcast, has been embraced by her English teacher, who is getting her straightened out. Her grades have been going up. The kicker is that the mother has seen this guy in her dreams, believing him to be a fellow abductee. This all plays out somewhat interestingly, but it's not all that captivating.
In the seventh season, we can see that this series was starting to grind to a halt. It's rather unimaginative in light of previous efforts. Once again, a person with delusions of grandeur hooks up with the evil age of computer dominance. The story begins with a tech guy realizing he is in over his head, confronted by a flaming red entity, which grabs him by the throat and basically hangs him. Just before this happens, he makes a phone call to another guy from the company, telling him that they need to find a way to shut down what they are working on. After his "mysterious" disappearance, things go on as before at the office, but something horribly wrong. As with so many "Outer Limits" episodes, the power of the antagonist is so great that it makes confronting it really hopeless. There is the usual conspiracy thing going on and nobody knows what is up. As for the conclusion, we see it coming a mile away.
A wrestling coach who has fallen on hard times, victimized by his own physical limitations, has taken on a high powered program in his old high school. He was part of a series of a state championship run, but lost his Olympic chances to a leg injury. One day he is visited by a former teammate who did go on to greater things. This man introduces him to a nutrient that he says was the difference between success and mediocrity. He claims it is legal and is awaiting FDA approval. The wrestling team is group of five guys (I don't know what research the producers did in coming up with such a group. What happened to weight divisions and other such realities. All five seem to be about the same size). These guys are not very good. Of course, we know they're going to take the stuff and start to win. The kicker is that the stuff has some interesting side effects. The sheer stupidity of the plot and the results are ludicrous. This is a serious throw-away episode, hardly worth the time.
Dennis Haysbert, who you see everywhere these days, plays a judge who has been sent to a planet that the imperialists of earth have taken under their control. One of the indigenous aliens has killed some of the colonists and is standing trial for it. The killings took place when some of the miners, who are feasting off the natural resources, were at a settlement and took chunks of a valuable ore. Haysbert's character is the perfect judge. He is tough but fair. Unfortunately, the culture is a bit like the untamed West, and lynching has been the order of the day when it comes to the "uppity" natives. Threats are made, as are alliances. Because the people back on earth are suspicious of his motives, they send an attractive female android to keep an eye on him and make sure that he is following protocols. She is a humorous addendum to the story and they have a nice chemistry. Of course, he is committed to finding the truth about the murder charges which makes him pretty unpopular. It's a decent offering but a little too formulaic.
After the initial "Oh my God; I can't believe this is happening," this episode of The Outer Limits becomes quite gripping. Each of the kids is a stereotype, just like the gang from "The Breakfast Club" back in the eighties. Here, an alien comes to a high school and singles out a group of five young people to torment. They represent a pecking order in the school. They include the nerdy science guy, the jock, the pretty girl with the reputation, the religious girl, and the angry misfit who represents the kind of kid who could act like the two desperate characters at Columbine. A light comes over the hallway during passing and suddenly these five find themselves alone. Not only that, they are unable to depart the scene. Once classroom is open to them, a bathroom, and a few other places, but there is no escape. When they try to leave through the entrance on one end, they are quickly delivered back through an opposite entrance. Suddenly, an alien presence (the Outer Limits lizard guy of the day) tells them that by three o'clock they must decide which of their group must die. If they choose, the others will be allowed to carry on their business. Of course, since they are all relative foes, this causes great distress among them. The misfit guy is really disdainful of life and associations, feeling he has been victimized his whole life. This is really well done as they try to sort our their feeling and do the right thing. This is really well done with a solid conclusion. Take the time to discuss it. As a former teacher, it would have been fun to have my kids talk about the implications of the episode. While there are some pretty clichéd things presented, it still works quite well.
This is "the" version that will stay in our memories. Chuck Jones takes the book we all know and turns it into a masterful twenty-some minutes of excellence. The music pulls at us and the character of the Grinch is so well portrayed. The signature character mugs and plots with his little dog Max to steal everything he deems is a part of the Christmas world. He believes it is about things. He thinks it is about excess. He thinks it is about greed. As he plots his way to stealing the season from under the Whos, he drools with anticipation of the pain he is causing. Of course, we all know the story. If you've not had the opportunity to listen to Boris Karloff's narration and hear those marvelous lyrics, I envy your first encounter with this classic.
Unlike simple video presentations, this timeless Christmas offering is bit of comfort food as much as it is a piece of Americana. Charile Brown searches for the meaning of Christmas, running into the utter commercialism we all deride (yet we fill up the shopping malls anyway). Charlie (who is abused at every turn) takes on the role of the director a Christmas play, much to the disdain of his peers. They continually refer to him as a blockhead. Even his dog enters a Christmas lighting contest, turning his doghouse into a showplace. As time passes, the din of the season overwhelms our young hero to where he can't stand it anymore. He must seek out the true meaning of the holiday. This is a precious offering, utilizing one of the most recognizable soundtracks in all of cinema, and seems to give us a little boost at the holiday season. See it an grab a little childhood.
Since I discovered Barbara Steele about five years ago, our paths have not crossed until now. She certainly was/is a sultry being. This was a true surprise to me. Mario Brava works magic with an incredibly atmospheric offering. From the beginning, as two people are executed, one as a Satanic presence and the other as a witch, this evolves into a masterful horror movie. As the young doctor and his mentor find their ways to the spooky churchyard where the bodies of these two entities were interred, the suspense never stops and the threat lies over everything that occurs. The charming Ms. Steele dominates the room in every scene in which she appears. As the seductive witch and the young, spooky princess of the castle, her physical presence is always scene crunching. The plot of the Satanic character who loves her and is trying to make his way back to his earthly realm works very well. I've always loved books and movies about curses from dying witches (from my early experience with "The House of the Seven Gables") and this ranks near the top of the list. Take the time to watch this hidden treasure.
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