The Outer Limits (1963)

Soldier, directed by Gerd Oswald.

In a bleak post-apocalyptic future two rigidly trained soldiers are struck by lightning and inexplicably cast back to our time. Their only purpose: seek each other and kill.

Linguist Lloyd Nolan wants to deprogram killing machine Michael Ansara and introduce him to a more humane existence. Foolishly -- I say -- he takes him home to stay with the family. But that enemy soldier is coming...

It is a good concept but the execution is slack. Give him credit: Ansara is absolutely believable.

With the start of season two we continue the movement away from gothic horror-tinged SF and toward more standard, lower budgeted SF action plots. The theme music has changed but we still have the Control Voice. Director Gerd Oswald and cinematographer Kenneth Peach return but most everyone else "above the line" from season one is gone.

Evaluating season two episodes presents dilemmas. They do have severely reduced budgets and we have to adjust expectations, but I don't think we need excuse other factors: ABC Network seemed determined to destroy program quality, and the new producer, although experienced, knew nothing about SF in general or The Outer Limits specifically. Unlike Stevens and Stephano he was not willing to fight the network.

Tim O'Connor returns from Moonstone. The house cat is played by Orangey -- This Island Earth (1955), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961).

Kenneth Peach is director of photography for all of season two.

Harry Lubin gets music credit for the entire season. This episode has a standard TV score, as least as compared to Dominic Frontiere's brilliant work on season one.

Written by Harlan Ellison, the first of his two episodes. Famously he sued the producers of Terminator (1984) for stealing his idea and got a settlement and credit. James Cameron says he can't speak directly to the charges because of a settlement gag order, but has made clear that he does not agree. More at a Cameron fan site: The Ellison Dispute.

If it had gone to a jury I would have voted against Ellison here. The whole episode is not much like Terminator (1984) and the few similarities are the sort of thing you expect when working in a genre. And the gate swings both ways: Ellison's future soldier expects telepathic communication with a cat as a battle partner. This was used in Cordwainer Smith's The Game of Rat and Dragon published a few years earlier.

The Blu-ray commentary track is by David J. Schow. He was friends with Ellison and gives extended excerpts from his original short story, and also details on the changing of the guard between seasons.