Lost in the Outer Limits
January 3, 2011
Reader Bobby J. has pointed out to me that bloggers Peter Enfantino and John Scoleri will be following up their completed “Thriller a Day” project, in which they offered Siskel-and-Ebert style kibitzing on each episode of Thriller, with a similar rundown on The Outer Limits. They’ve already started with the pilot, “The Galaxy Being,” and some introductory notes that promise guest essayists and other surprises.
I wrote last fall that Enfantino and Scoleri’s Thriller reviews worked better conceptually than in the execution, and I have a feeling that their Outer Limits coverage may turn out the same way. (Enfantino describes Cliff Robertson’s “Galaxy Being” character as “a handsome science geek . . . a good-natured dude” and Jacqueline Scott as “our first Outer Limits babe.” Oy.)
However, the project seems to have been godfathered by David J. Schow, the author of The Outer Limits Companion, and Schow has left lengthy and revealing comments on each post so far. I’m curious to see what Schow will have to say as he revisits The Outer Limits in print some two and a half decades since his book was first published. Among other things, Schow teases “upcoming news of a very important Outer Limits-oriented ‘screening event’ to take place in the LA area in February.” That could be any number of things, but if it turns out to be the Holy Grail — The Ghost of Sierra de Cobre, a horror-themed pilot that Joseph Stefano made during the run of The Outer Limits — then, well, my flight is booked.
One other thing I learned from the new Outer Limits blog is that Schow’s (and Jeffrey Frentzen’s) book on the series is now out-of-print, and collectible. It’s distressing that such an important reference work isn’t easily accessible (but not surprising; most of Pauline Kael’s collected reviews are long out of print, too!). The 1998 revision of the book goes for big bucks on Amazon now, and that is a surprise, because I finally thumbed through a new copy of it for the first time (as I noted here, I remain nostalgically committed to the pulp-paper first edition) in a bookstore less than a year ago. (No, I’m not telling you where.) Schow has generously permitted the reprinting of pages from the second edition on Enfantino and Scoleri’s blog, and his comments there hint at a possible third edition. Let’s have it, Mr. Schow!
UPDATE: “Ghost of Sierra de Cobre” it is, screening at the the Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theater on February 20. I don’t know all the details, but apparently a print resurfaced at UCLA in recent years. From the program calendar:
Martin Landau stars as a Los Angeles-based architect-cum-paranormal investigator who specializes in assessing and exorcising old homes. Stefano here weaves together vengeance, hallucinogens and a “bleeding ghost” in a gothic telefilm that was deemed too frightening to air by network executives. Stefano’s only directorial effort, this extremely rare pilot never aired in the U.S.
Producer: Joseph Stefano. Screenplay: Joseph Stefano. Cinematographer: William A. Fraker, Conrad Hall. Editor: Anthony DiMarco. Cast: Martin Landau, Judith Anderson, Diane Baker, Nellie Burt, Tom Simcox. 16mm, b/w, 52 min.
Meanwhile, the mysterious blogger behind the TV Obscurities blog, which I praised only a few months ago, has announced his retirement. Blog fatigue: it’s a killer. There seems to be a point around the two- or three-year mark where bloggers hit a wall and hang it up (TV Obscurities’ archives go back to November 2008), and I get why: what was novel at first turns into a grind. Writing obits and reviews turns formulaic; the subjects are different, but the process is the same.
You may have noticed a slowdown in this space over the last few months, but in case you’re wondering, I am, so far as I know, still here for the long haul. I’ve been writing this blog for just over three years now (yikes!), but I’m still having fun. Finding time to write them remains a challenge, but I have plenty of ideas mapped out for 2011, as well as more oral histories for the main site (which has been neglected for too long) and hopefully some announcements about work that will appear in other venues as well. So I hope that my regular readers — and yes, I do keep tabs on you via your comments and the software that WordPress uses to track site visitors — will stick around, too.