The Outer Limits

Season 1 Episode 6

White Light Fever

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Apr 21, 1995 on Showtime
out of 10
User Rating
57 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

An experiment at St. Peter's Hospital threatens nature's order of existence, when billionaire Harlan Hawkes pays a brilliant cardiologist, Dr. "Mac" McEnerney to help him cheat death.

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  • Not a very realistic storyline.

    This episode is one (not the best) example of why I dislike The Outer Limits. The choices presented to the characters are not realistic. While the end lesson is good, how we got there clouds its value.

    A cosmic force trying to take the billionaire's life because he "cheated" death is unrealistic. Let's say in that specific quantum universe the force did exist, there would be many other examples of the force trying to restore the balance. Why? In their world life saving devices and operations are the norm and many would have been “cheating” death, but the events are new to the characters.

    This cosmic force’s actions are evil as it took other people's lives in order to get to the billionaire. Yet, he went to the other place for his evil deeds. How can this cosmic force justify killing others or attempting to kill others? It can't and maybe it doesn't need to justify its actions, but again these visible actions reinforce how unrealistic this story device is as part of the story.

    As for the doctor's obligations - legal and ethical - were to save the billionaires' life. While the death of the 18 year-old is a heart wrenching event, experimenting on her is full of land mines. Yet, maybe the doctor could justify it to the billionaire as part of his testing procedures. After all he'd rather the girl die on the table or from a fault in "the heart." To help show the billionaire's "evil" side maybe he required the test and from it she dies. It would be an interesting direction to explore.moreless
  • All I'm saying is: It's possible that It might be a better episode if people could relate to it better. I watched it as a modern version of, "A Christmas Carol", and that worked for Me.moreless

    I guess this episode is a little thin, Nothing really develops, and unless you like the outer limits, I can see why you'd get bored or restless...

    I feel that although this Episode is a little thin, People are not really giving it a fair review.

    Firstly, It's not that he's a millionaire, It's how he's gotten to be a millionaire.

    He IS selfish, He clearly hasn't given any money to ANYONE in his life.

    (This is demonstrated by his lack of enthusiasm when being asked to help another patient).

    Media uses stereotypes as a way to portray the inside of someone, Just because they aren't morally right, doesn't mean that it's wrong in the sense of filming.

    (Stop taking it so seriously!).

    After all, You can hardly build character profiles on everyone in the space of fourty-five minutes, while still fitting in the story, which to be fair is what You're watching it for.

    If You say that You don't like any stereotype in television and films is very unlikely to be true.

    After all, some of the greatest actors of all time have been type-cast, which in itself is a stereotype.

    For example, Robert De Neiro (Is that how you spell it?), Is pretty much ALWAYS a gangster in his films, so much so that the USA. refuses to let him run for any political status.

    I also notice that at least one person who mentioned the millionaire stereotype, failed to mention the stereotype of death, which i would say is the more offensive of the two.

    As for the suggestion that this whole concept is unrealistic, there have been three final destination films made around the same sort of concept.

    I personally feel that it was the seemingly cheap, and uneventful climaxes that let this episode down.

    The Episode Has Suspense, with no real delivery, It would have been posible to put some more action in, To make it appeal to a wider audience, however, I don't think that's what the outer limits is about.moreless
  • An aging self made billionaire funds research into a medical technology. Yet is the bad guy for it. And there is some "force" out to enforce death's plan.

    I did not like this episode at all. The main character funds research in an artificial heart which could save countless lives. But he is old and kind of crotchety so automatically he is the bad guy for wanting to be the first test subject to prolong his life. The man builds an empire from nothing, pioneers a lifesaving technology and volunteers to test it yet the whole episode makes him out to be a villain. Throughout the episode some force is out to enforce death's plan. Yet it accidentally kills some innocent bystander in the process so this 'plan' can't be all that concrete. It is the conflict between how the actions of the main character are of a hero yet the writing makes gim out to be a villain that makes me hate this episode so much. Just awful writing.moreless
  • As usual, for some reason trying to extend your life is portrayed as bad and being rich is also bad - in fact, you go to hell for it.

    I've watched nearly every episode from the Outer Limits 1963 run and found them quite good. They tend to explore fantastic ideas in science fiction, and they generally contained good thought-provoking story lines. The new Outer Limits is a little different in that it tends to shake it's finger at a lot of different things. Curiously, science itself seems to be at the receiving end of a lot of chastising. In this case, apparently it is wrong for a 102 year old man to try to keep his life going. He's invested millions of dollars in a new artificial heart chamber that promises to help others with heart problems to extend their lives. The man is, of course, rich, and here's another odd thing I noticed: because he is rich he is portrayed as evil! This is the usual Hollywood Socialist propaganda that grew tired long ago. Most wealthy people I know have worked hard for their wealth and are quite nice, responsible, respectable and moral people. Yet the new Outer Limits seems to have a problem with you if you are rich. Just two episodes before this one, 1x04 "Blood Brothers", the evil villain was a wealthy and ambitious businessman. In fact, they even wrote him as a murderer. Another one I watched, "Mary 25", the corporate manager is also evil, abusive, and a murderer. Two episodes from this one, 1x08 "Virtual Future", I see that a billionaire is the target of their wrath yet again! Not a good pattern. In my view, the writers should make themselves familiar with the works of Ayn Rand so they would at least entertain the concept that people who work hard and have ambition are actually adding to our lives, rather than the evil incarnate they try to portray in Hollyweird.moreless
  • A story that illustrates an amazing variety of the aspects of life and death in such a short episode.

    A story that illustrates an amazing variety of the aspects of life and death in such a short episode.

    The story involves a billionaire who is deathly afraid of dying, so he uses his fortune to put off the inevitable as long as possible. On the surface this may seem selfish and the billionaire may appear to be uncaring and even cruel. However, underneath all that is his realistic approach to furthering medical science and being around to see it happen. Thus, he makes his contribution conditional on his being kept alive. He wants the new device, a mechanical heart aid, tested upon himself. In a way, that is an insurance that the doctor will do his absolute best to make sure the device is a success. If he dies, all his work is scheduled to be collected and destroyed. He is counting on the doctor's sense of duty to the medical profession to do whatever it takes, including denying a donor heart to an 18 year old patient.

    In his near death experiences, he finds that the "Light" is cold. That fact is used to set up the final irony, that heaven is warm and hell is cold, very cold.

    While some may see his destination of "the other place" to mean that being rich is bad, it is more reasonable to conclude that this indicates he made his money by being dishonest and mean.

    Overall the movie was done adequately. The saving grace was that, as usual, William Hickey's performance was suburb. It is difficult to imagine any other actor being able to portray that level of cruelty and stubbornness in such a pathetic little man.moreless
Bruce Davison

Bruce Davison

Dr. "Mac" McEnerney

Guest Star

Sonja Smits

Sonja Smits

Dr. Anne Crain

Guest Star

Michelle Beaudoin

Michelle Beaudoin

Jessie Wells

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • The beautiful music was from Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini, variation 18, by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The same music was featured in Somewhere In Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini V18 has also been used in several other movies.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Harlan Hawkes: Have you ever seen death?
      Crain: Of course, I'm a doctor.
      Harlan Hawkes: I'm not talking about seeing some senior citizen cashing in from pneumonia. I mean seeing your family massacred.
      Crain: No.
      Harlan Hawkes: I did, our village was attacked when I was 3 years old. The soldiers shot my mother and she went down, and then my father. They fell on top of me, and I stayed there for 3 days, afraid to cry out, with my parents rotting on top of me. THAT is death.

    • Control Voice: (Closing Narration) For one man, the battle against death is over. But for the rest of us, the war rages on. At what point does the cost of survival... become too high a price for us to pay?

    • Control Voice: (Opening Narration) The one certainty of the human experience is death. But what might happen when our effort to prolong the inevitable starts to turn that battle around? Will someone, or something, step in to ensure the final outcome?

  • NOTES (1)

    • This is the second episode in a row that features Yvonne Campeau in side roles. Strangely enough, these two appearances are her only appearances in the series ever.