Outer Limits:
Death and Beyond

Outer Limits: Death and Beyond

Never in the innovative fashion of the Outer Limits has religions and legal systems have taken on death

Outer Limits: Death and Beyond

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One of my favorite television shows when I was much younger was the Outer-Limits. Sure, I was a fan of the famous Twilight Zone but there was something really off beat and engrossing about the stories on the Outer-Limits.

Unfortunately, that classic black and white series only lasted two seasons. Then some thirty years later I noticed something on the premium cable station Showtime, the logo of a new Outer Limits series. With some trepidation I tuned in, after all a remake was never as great as the original, right? To my pleasant surprise it was every bit of good, in fact, in some ways it was better. MGM/UA has been releasing box sets of the new Outer Limits but instead of the typical season oriented sets they are doing theme oriented releases.

In Death And Beyond humanity has always had a fascination with death and what lies beyond this life. Religions and legal systems have taken on this topic but never in the innovative fashion of the Outer Limits. By presenting this topic as science fiction some of the forbidden aspects have been allayed but the impact is still there. The episode ‘Essence of Life’ takes place in a world where a plague has killed a significant part of the population. The government has created the Code, banning outward displays of emotions, especially morning. Dan Kagan (Daniel Baldwin) works as an enforcement agent, tracking down social terrorist such as Dr. Nathan Seward (Joel Grey) who provides the illegal ESS, the essence of life, a substance that allows the user to experience a brief reunion with their departed loved ones. Here not only does the story look at grief but examines government control and the problem of addiction. It is not unusual for an episode of this series to intertwine themes to demonstrate the interaction of human nature.

What made the original and new series such a great experience in television viewing was the writers never pandered to the lowest common denominator, they made you think. Where the original series was able to explore rather touchy topics veiled in the genre of science fiction, the new series pushed the envelope even more, taking on some of the topics that where as old as the human experience or new, developing out of the rapid advances that are the hallmark of our times. Each episode had the same basic format. The famous control voice sets up the plight of the episode and ends with a little question that makes the audience consider a moral dilemma. Few series have ever been as thought provoking as this one.

As mentioned previously most of us true fans would have preferred season sets. After all if ‘Punky Brewster’ has season sets shouldn’t the new Outer Limits? Still, the quality of this series is such that I’m just happy to have any episodes on DVD permitting me to retire the long cherished video tapes. The video is full screen but is generally well done with no artifacts or flaws. The audio is presented in Dolby Surround and provides a nice full sound field. If you are a fan of this series this is a must have. For the rest of you this is a perfect way to get to know some of the best television ever.

Movie Review of Outer Limits: Death and Beyond
by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com

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