TV Review – “The Best of The Outer Limits – Seasons One and Two”

This collection, available only through Canadian
retailers, collects 20 episodes of the incarnation of
The Outer Limits that first aired in 1995.

Cast and Crew

The new series had original
series creators
Leslie Stevens and Joseph Stephano on board as
advisors, and featured
crew members such as Jonathan Glassner, Manny Coto,
Pen Densham, Sam
Egan, Chris Ruppenthal, and Brad Wright. As an
anthology series, the
cast changes from episode to episode. Guest stars
included David Hyde
Pierce, Robert Patrick, Wil Wheaton, Ryan Phillipe,
Beau Bridges, Alan
Ruck, Catherine Mary Stewart, Peri Gilpin, William B.
Davis, Matt
Frewer, Neil Patrick Harris, Graham Greene, Victor
Garber, and Sheena

Complete information is available
from this
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Past TV reviews can be found here.

Notes about the DVD release

This collection is only available through Canadian
retailers. Also,
despite the description, it’s not the
complete set. Koch
Video’s press releases clearly describe it as a best
of set, and it
contains only 20 of the 44 episodes from the first
two seasons of this
generation of the series. I’ve contacted Koch, and
been told that the
individual currently in charge of releasing The
Outer Limits

on DVD came aboard the project after they’d already
committed to the
“Best of” format. She tells me that there has been
some talk of a
“best of the rest” collection including the remaining
24 episodes, but
that it isn’t official in any way, and that it would
wait until the
production of the complete fourth season is finished.
(They had just
started that when she responded to my e-mail nearly
two weeks ago.)
The complete third season is already
, and will be reviewed in the future.
(I don’t know why lists that as the third season of the
original series; the
original series only lasted two seasons.)
Part of the “complete” confusion might have
had might be due
to the fact that the package is in no way labelled as
a “best of”
collection. (To be fair, it’s not labelled as
complete, either.)
What it does have is a list of all episode titles on
the back of the
package, so dedicated fans would know exactly what
they were buying,
assuming they turned the package over. (I didn’t
realize it wasn’t
complete until I got my copy home.) The episodes
included in this
collection are as follows:

  • The Sandkings Parts 1 and 2
  • Blood Brothers
  • Second Soul
  • Virtual Future
  • Living Hell
  • Corner of the Eye
  • Under the Bed
  • The Conversion
  • Quality of Mercy
  • The New Breed
  • Unnatural Selection
  • First Anniversary
  • Straight and Narrow
  • Trial by Fire
  • From Within
  • The Light Brigade
  • Falling Star
  • Out of Body
  • The Sentence

Most of us need more to go on than titles to figure
out which episodes
these are. Rather than typing everything out, I’ll
just provide a
link to the
listings. Since it’s an anthology show, very few
episodes are
dependent upon others, so people who don’t know the
number of episodes
that belong in these seasons may not realize they are
anything. Only two episodes here are related to
previous entries. “The
Sandkings Part 2” obviously depends upon viewing “The
Sandkings Part
1,” but as both are included in order on the first
disk, that’s not a
problem. “The Light Brigade” is the first actual
sequel episode,
following the events of “Quality of Mercy.” Both
episodes are
included, and the sequel doesn’t require you to have
seen the
original, so there are no problems there, either.

Finally, some notes about the quality of the DVD set.
The picture and
sound are very good. As you might guess by the
price, there are no
extras. I have only two complaints about the
package. The main
complaint is that each episode is one chapter, which
can be a bit
irritating if you get interrupted and want to come
back later. The
second complaint may be specific to my copy. Just
over five minutes
into “The Light Brigade,” there’s a blip that costs a
couple of
seconds worth of picture and dialogue. This is true
of two different
DVD players (a cheap one which froze, and a PS2 which
marched on after
the blemish). At first I assumed it was just dirt,
but I see nothing
on the surface of the disk, and a DVD cleaner had no
impact. I can
see no blemish, and it only affects one episode on
the disk; had it
been physical damage, I’d expect comparable problems
on another
episode of the disk, as it would be stored on a
different layer. This
is why I mention it. I don’t want to declare that
it’s an authoring
issue without comparing to another copy of the same
disk, but it’s a
possibility. Still, even if it is, it’s just a minor
irritation for
some DVD players. DVD players that get stuck at that
point cannot air
the rest of the episode, as there’s only the one

MGM has also released two collections across North
America, which
group six themed episodes from all seasons together
into either the
Sex and Science Fiction collection
(available from
or the Time Travel and Infinity collection
(available from
Both of these collections will eventually be
reviewed, as well.

Original Airdate

These episodes originally aired in 1995 and 1996.
Specific dates can
be found in the listings linked above.


This selection of the anthology series has 19
different science
fiction stories, most of which are told in a single
broadcast hour.

High Point

“Straight and Narrow” is probably the best episode in
the set,
although “The Conversion” isn’t far behind. There
are a lot of really
good individual ideas here, although the budget
doesn’t always support

Low Point

“Under the Bed,” although not bad, is probably the
weakest of the
bunch. The “Best of” nature of the collection kept
the average
quality pretty high.

The Review

This show feels original. Yes, this is
a remake of a
previous series that was likely created in response
to The
Twilight Zone
, but the anthology nature means
that there really
is something new each week. Some stories were
written for the screen,
while others were adapted from short stories, but it
really is
something different each time. I give it 5 out of 6.

Some episodes need little or no visual
effects, as the
driving force behind the episode is psychological
(including both
episodes mentioned as high points). Others need
considerably more.
The effects often look like they’re on a budget, but
sometimes they
still work. I give it 4 out of 6.

The stories told work for me. The one thing
I hate is a
status quo. It bothers me in sitcoms so much that I
rarely keep
watching any past the first season. There are two
ways to avoid the
status quo. One is to work like Buffy or
Babylon 5
in which every episode has some distinct (though
possibly subtle)
change in the lives of the characters. (This was
also used to a
lesser degree by The X-Files and other
series that would have
a few status quo episodes intermixed with event
episodes that did
change things; as long as change can come at any
time, I’m fine.) The
second way to eliminate a status quo is the anthology
format which
eliminates the need for any or all characters to
survive through the
entire hour, as they need never be seen again. This
is the format
used here, preventing us from guessing who will live
or die based on
the knowledge that the actor is contracted through
several more
episodes. These stories range from decent to
excellent, and there’s
usually some element of suspense. Yes, we can
sometimes see the twist
ending coming, but the journey can be interesting
enough that we don’t
have a problem with that. Other times, the twist
endings really do
surprise. (Other times, there is no twist, nor
should there be one
every week, as that would get predictable in itself.)
I give it 5 out
of 6.

The acting is quite varied. The nature of
the show means
that it’ll go through a heck of a lot of actors in a
season. Most of
the name actors are very good in the roles provided
to them. (The
exception here was Sheena Easton, but that’s probably
because she’s
not an actress, so those of us who recognized her
name in the credits
likely didn’t expect much.) The less famous guest
stars were all over
the map for quality. The acting in the complete
package probably
rates a 4 out of 6.

The emotional response has some potent
moments, and some mild
moments. As usual, the sci-fi works best as an
extrapolation of
society rather than a monster of the week type of
deal. The episodes
that kept that focus worked very, very well, while
others were rather
mild. I give it 4 out of 6.

The production is where the budget comes
through the most.
Anthology shows can get remarkably expensive, as you
end up changing
sets as often as you change casts. There are no
standing sets here,
which means that there are some cheaply made original
sets, and some
on location shooting that limits the lighting and
camera options.
They did a good job with what they had, but you can
tell that what
they had was limited. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, despite some of its shortcomings,
this is a good
set. There are hits and misses, but the hits are
high enough to keep
me coming back. It’s essentially a good short film
collection with
enough variety that you can probably prove to any
doubter that sci-fi
is capable of producing good stuff. It’s generally
available at a
very good price, too. ( is the only online
retailer I can
find who carries it, and that’s for $55 Canadian,
which the set is
worth. However, those of us actually in Canada can
find it on several
store shelves for as little as $40 Canadian.) I give
it 5 out of 6.

In total, The Best of The Outer Limits – Seasons
One and Two

receives 31 out of 42.