The Duplicate Man

The Outer Limits (1963)

The Duplicate Man, directed by Gerd Oswald.

By this time, late in the series history, everyone knew it would be canceled, but they produced an SF-thriller episode packed with intriguing ideas, a melancholy tone and eerie ambient score:

A calm, bitter conversation between the scientist and his clone near the end:


James: You can't kill me.

Duplicate: No. I came because you have programmed me to return. And because my mind has started to become crowded with your life and memories. Those that I have seen have great promise.

James: Well, I'm sorry for that.

Duplicate: Why must I die?

James: Not die. You'll just go back to nothingness.

Duplicate: Must I? Now that I know what living is, why can't I have the same rights as other human beings? The same dreams.

James: You poor fool, you still don't see, do you? In time you'd catch up. You'd be just like I am now. You think you'd find that attractive?

Duplicate: Would I despise myself then?

James: Don't try and find the answer.

Duplicate: Could it be worse than nothingness?

Exploited, disposable and time-limited synthetic humans obviously suggests Blade Runner (1982), an adaptation of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? However, this episode was based on an earlier story by Clifford D. Simak, one of those grand master SF writers unknown to Hollywood or the public at large. His work is part of that vast body of 20th century literature now fading into darkness.

Our cast:


In the Blu-ray commentary track Tim Lucas says this episode is the closest thing on American TV you will find to the French New Wave of that time, which he calls Nouvelle Vague. The plain setting and lack of effects is part of the method. He particularly cites Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (1965), supposedly taking place in another galaxy but filmed in Paris without any attempt at concealing that. Lucas provides the commentary track on the Kino Blu-ray of that film.