Exploring the science fiction, horror, and dystopia of television over the last 60 years

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Outer Limits: The Children of Spider County

The Outer Limits (The Original Series)
The Children of Spider County
Original Air Date: February 17, 1964
Director: Leonard Horn
Screenplay by Lee Kinsolving, Kent Smith & John Milford

Brian's Rating: *1/2

Four of America’s greatest scientists have disappeared and the government’s intelligence agencies are deeply troubled. One agent points out that these four men each had many things in common. They were born and raised without a father, they each had the middle name, Eros, and they each were born in Spider County (the state is not specified, but it appears to be in New York, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania. There is a fifth man who matches all these traits and he still lives in Spider County. It is imperative that this man be located and taken.

That fifth man is Ethan Wechsler and he is being held for murder of a fellow farm hand in Spider County. Wechsler is being interrogated by the local authorities when they are contacted by the government to hold the young man. Whilst being transported to a remote location, an alien appears and causes the car to wreck. He assumes human form and tells Wechsler he is his father. He was bred to come back to the planet Eros and help it repopulate with young men who can “dream.”

Ethan escapes. He’s on the run from the sheriff, the feds, and his girlfriend’s father who is none too happy his daughter has taken up with a murderer.

Finally, everybody catches up with Ethan. He tells the alien that he will not leave Earth because it has its own set of problems that need to be solved. The alien decides to let him stay, asking the men of Earth, “Can you destroy the better part of yourselves.” Ethan and his girlfriend walk off with the feds, presumably to apply his talents to solving the world’s problems.

Many Outer Limits episodes relied on action and intrigue to move plots. Most episodes resembled pulp fiction stories brought to the small screen. This episode was much more ponderous. It did not contain a lot of action and moved rather slowly. The plot was thin and the acting underwhelming.

Neither Kinvolving, Smith, nor Milford were professional screenwriters. All were actors and each had a leading role in the episode. Perhaps producer Joseph Stefano owed them a favor. While The Outer Limits employed very few high profile writers, (unlike The Twilight Zone), the writing was usually better than this. The episode has a well conceived idea, but a lackadaisically developed plot. Professional writing could have taken this good idea and made it a better episode.

I gave it two stars. Fans of the show on IMDB did not think highly of it and it is one of the lower ranked episodes of the show’s original run.

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