The Hundred Days of the Dragon

The Outer Limits (1963)

The Hundred Days of the Dragon, directed by Byron Haskin.

In a cunning plot to take over the United States, the Chinese develop a serum that plasticizes the skin, allowing them to murder a presidential candidate and substitute a look-alike. Those closest to him begin to suspect something is not right. Can they figure it out, prove it and defeat the insidious plan?

This second episode is a big decline from the sense of wonder of the rest of the series. Apart from the magic serum it could have been an entry in any other drama anthology.

A Cold War thriller somewhat like The Manchurian Candidate (1962), it was broadcast two months before the assassination of JFK. In those days having two Communist superpowers was somewhat balanced by the fact that they didn't get along. We're still in the inscrutable, insidious Orient era. The fake-President gets extra squinty-eyed under pressure.

Familiar faces: Richard Loo as a military honcho and James Hong as the would-be substitute for the vice president, played by Phillip Pine who I best remember from The Savage Curtain (1969), an episode of the original Star Trek.

Directed by the experienced Byron Haskin -- The War of the Worlds (1953), The Naked Jungle (1954), Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964). This is the first of his six episodes.

Photographed by Conrad Hall, the first of his fifteen episodes.

The commentary track is by Reba Wissner, who gives a meticulous analysis of the musical themes and cues, pointing out that even subtle changes in the chords communicates something to the audience. "Nothing in film or TV music is accidental".