The Outer Limits: Season 2

One of TV’s most imaginative sci-fi shows returns to DVD, all 17 episodes of the 1964-’65 season running over 14 hours. Like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits was an anthology series, featuring a different story and cast each week. Noted sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison has said that poor ratings allowed quality shows to escape the radar of philistine ABC-TV execs and make it onto air.

Highlights include "Soldier," about Qarlo, a warrior of the future who travels back in time. A modern-day (in 1964) scientist tries to tame Qarlo, but Qarlo’s nemesis chases him from the future and battles him. Harlan Ellison’s first teleplay, "Soldier," is a taut meditation on the nature of war. "Demon With A Glass Hand" is a moody noir piece starring Robert Culp, whose glass hand guides him against alien invaders who conquered Earth 200 years ago. Said to have inspired Terminator, "Demon" sees Culp travelling from the future to the present to save the world. The episode avoids alien invasion clichés and focuses on the relationship between Culp and a woman (Arline Martel) he befriends.

The jewel in this set is "The Inheritors." With a nod to The Manchurian Candidate, this two-part episode follows a scientific investigator (a young Robert Duvall) tracking down four soldiers who mysteriously develop two brain waves and 200-plus I.Q.s during combat. Duvall discovers that an alien brain is sharing their minds and the men are forced to work on a mysterious project. Duvall is commanding in this suspenseful tale.

Some episodes are clunkers: "Expanding Human" is a Jekyll and Hyde story on acid that inspires more laughs than shivers, while "Behold Eck!" plays like a drive-in monster movie. Overall, however, the level of writing is superb. There are no extras, but this package reduces an entire season onto four double-sided discs for easy storage. (MGM)