The Outer Limits (1995–2002)
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Trial by Fire 

The newly inaugurated President of the United States must deal with an approaching alien fleet of spaceships and determine whether to welcome them or destroy them, based on limited information.


Jonathan Glassner


Brad Wright

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Episode complete credited cast:
Robert Foxworth ... President Charles Halsey
Ian Tracey ... Mr. Tarkman
Lawrence Dane ... General Covington
Teryl Rothery ... Janet Brevson
Dale Wilson ... NORAD General Morehouse
Diana Scarwid ... Elizabeth Halsey
Claire Riley Claire Riley ... News Anchor
David Bloom ... Expert
Bruce Harwood ... Dr. Norris
Jason Gray-Stanford ... Airman
Scott McNeil ... Astronaut
Ewan 'Sudsy' Clark Ewan 'Sudsy' Clark ... Congressman Nelson Braddock (as Sudsy Ewan Clark)


The newly inaugurated president, Charles Halsey, is rushed to a secret bunker when authorities realize that an alien object is racing towards Earth. It crashes on the moon but the military soon discovers a fleet of alien vessels heading straight for the planet. Halsey's only advisers are two outgoing members of the previous administration and the Air Force general in charge of Space Command. There is little information to go on and the new president has to decide if the aliens are friends or foes. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Release Date:

1 March 1996 (USA) See more »

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Did You Know?


The airman in the bunker wears the rank insignia of a colonel. See more »


[last lines]
The Control Voice: To those who would fail to heed their own words be warned: you never know who's listening.
See more »


Featured in The Outer Limits: Monster (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

misc notes
9 June 2010 | by roedygSee all my reviews

The Outer Limits is fun to look back on. You can see so many actors who later went on to bigger roles getting a start. It is a bit like Perry Mason was for an earlier generation of actors.

In this episode you see Ian Tracey looking disturbingly sexy who went on to Da Vinci's Inquest and Jason Gray-Stanford who went on to Monk.

This is one of the more complex Outer Limits episodes. It is not just the usual matter of vainly trying to escape from some science experiment gone awry. A number of people all face the same difficult problem (an alien "invasion"), and react in quite different ways. It is more a character study than an adventure story.

Two things jarred me. The first was the tiny, and apparently random, staff the President took with him to his nuclear bunker. That just does not make sense. He would need a substantial support and advisory contingent, not to mention a cook and cleaning staff. This would all be carefully planned, and would certainly include the president's son.

The second was the several flowery references to God in the supposed messages from the Russian leader. Russian leaders are atheist. It was so jarring it yanked me out of the story trying to figure out what heck. I felt angry that some scriptwriter put in this "ad" for Christianity in a most inappropriate place.

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