Cold Hands, Warm Heart

The Outer Limits (1963)

Cold Hands, Warm Heart, directed by Charles Haas.

Astronaut William Shatner is a hero after returning from the first mission to Venus, but he was out of contact for eight minutes and now is in trouble. He can't get warm, has nightmares of a floating voodoo-doll creature, and finally develops scaly, webbed mutations of his hands.

Like Altered States (1980) it is one of those stories of a soul cast into a far-flung orbit before being pulled back by Love.

I think this one gave my eight-year-old self nightmares: a creature looking in the window, a military officer in a light-colored uniform transformed in some monstrous way. Only years later, after Star Trek, did I realize this was Shatner in my dreams.

The episode has a good premise but the plot is thin and handicapped by ordinary locations and lack of action. Much of the weirdness is never explained: did the Venusians have a plan? Our tension is supposed to be supplied by a race to get our hero ready for congressional testimony; that's weak.

Geraldine Brooks returns from The Architects of Fear and James Sikking from The Human Factor.

Two more cast members will later appear on Star Trek: Malachi Throne -- The Menagerie -- and Lawrence Montaigne -- Balance of Terror (Romulan) and Amok Time (Vulcan).

First of four episodes for TV director Charles F. Haas; that's a big chunk of the second season.

The Blu-ray commentary by Craig Beam is much like his contribution to Specimen: Unknown: sarcastic and belittling. That's irritating.

He points out the many connections between The Outer Limits and Star Trek, and also spends some time on Incubus (1965), Shatner's esperanto demonology thriller made by the Outer Limits crew: Leslie Stevens, Dominic Frontiere, Conrad Hall, William Fraker.

He points out that pre-Star Trek Shatner gave non-cheezy performances, which is true.