Production and Decay of Strange Particles

The Outer Limits (1963)

Production and Decay of Strange Particles, written and directed by Leslie Stevens.

A tale ripped from recent scientific literature: experimenting with subatomic particles collected from distant mysterious quasars, the scientist at the atomic lab has opened a breach to another dimension and these energetic particles are taking over the staff and melting anything that gets in their way. They always form a chain of beings: chain reaction!

Our scientist has called up what he cannot put down again, which Lovecraft would have warned him against. He falters badly until his brave and loyal wife stiffens him up and he cobbles together the necessary bomb.

Awkward and padded, but consistently menacing. No one likes trouble at the atomic lab. We spend a lot of time messing with radiation suits and hauling around lead shielding. The explosion at the end involves a time-reversal effect, so the explosion didn't really happen but solved the problem anyway.

Filling in some time there is a remarkably eerie sequence: for some reason the particle-beings are hauling the bomb back into their works and as it passes all face and sort of salute it, as if it were a holy relic.

Tales of mystery and imagination are always going to the boundaries: first unexplored continents, then the ocean floor and outer space, and finally other dimensions and the "quantum realm" of the Marvel universe. What is happening in the depths beneath matter: that is always going to be strange.

Returning: George Macready from The Invisibles, Robert Fortier from Controlled Experiment, and Allyson Ames from The Galaxy Being.

Leonard Nimoy is one of the lab technicians: don't get attached to him.

Photographed by Kenneth Peach. Dominic Frontiere really kicks up the tension and climax music (which has to go on a long time to cover the padded action).

The Blu-ray commentary track by Tim Lucas offers an intriguing speculation: that this episode was written so quickly and under such stress by Leslie Stevens that it is almost automatic writing, revealing much autobiographical detail.

Like our scientist the author doubts his own powers and his ability to wrestle these strange elements into a coherent story.

This episode was his last contribution to the series he created.