A The Twilight Zone Community
CBS (ended 1964)
And so we go from the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to the Outer Limits, to... Boy's Own Adventure. I've spoken ominously about season 2 in my season 1 reviews. And yes, "Demon With a Glass Hand" was a season 2 episode. But judging from everything I've read, most of season 2 is a far cry from season 1. If "The Invisible Enemy" is any indication, then the reviews are right.

In my season 1 reviews I've talked about how the plots aren't so much science fiction as horror. Well, "The Invisible Enemy" is science fiction. Sort of. I didn't wish for SF on Outer Limits as much as say that a lot of people think that OL is more SF than Twilight Zone fantasy. But I'm reminded of the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for."

A bit of background, first. For a list of reasons, Joseph Stefano and Leslie Stevens--OL's creators--were pretty much dumped by the owning ABC Network because the show was at the very least consistently over budget. There are also claims that ABC wanted to put them in their place by dumping Stevens and moving OL to Saturday nights against Jackie Gleason, and Stefano left when he saw the writing on the wall.


So ABC brought in Ben Brady to produce the show. Brady had worked on the original Perry Mason, and had overseen OL for the network during season 1. He wasn't much on science fiction. But in fairness, ABC didn't want him to be. They wanted someone who could balance a budget and produce a TV show.

Brady wanted more SF in Outer Limits, and came from a background on a legal show. To his credit, he hired SF writers like Harlan Ellison and Jerry Sohl. However, season 2 became much more... procedural. Usually there was some kind of investigation going on. One episode, "I, Robot", actually featured a trial. It didn't make for very exciting viewing. "Demon With a Glass Hand" was more of an action-drama, and was successful in large part despite Brady's preferences.


This brings us to "The Invisible Enemy". OL had already had an incestuous relationship with a previous show, Men Into Space. Often reusing its props and spacecraft FX in season 1, and sometimes "borrowing" its meteor storm and spacewalk set pieces. Men Into Space is pretty well grounded, and yes I've seen all the episodes. I had it on DVD several years ago, and it's currently airing on--yes, you got it--a retro channel, Comet TV. Check your local listings.

"The Invisible Enemy" reads like an episode of Men Into Space with a few fantastical efforts. So if big honking dragon sharks on Mars are what you consider "science fiction" hang on to your hats.


Two astronauts fly a M1 spaceship to Mars. Despite the fact that all of the astronauts wear a UN-type patch, and they respond to Earth Control, they're all white-bread Americans except for one hapless black lieutenant. Who is also the only lieutenant on a ship full of captains and majors. I smell racism!

Also, Mars has a breathable atmosphere and gravity. Go figure.

Anyhoo, one of the crewmen goes out of M1 and checks the local sand spread. His co-pilot hears a scream, runs outside, and due to the three-minute transmission lag, Earth Control hears the whole thing and loses contact with the expedition when the co-pilot goes down screaming as well.

Three years later, Earth Control has put together M2 and launched it to Mars. It's captained by Adam West his bad self, although he's the strait-laced commander. Rudy Solari, previously in "Production and Decay of Strange Particles", is the smartmouth, Captain Jack. West is the kind of actor you get when you can't get William Shatner, who was in an episode just previously.


M2 lands on Mars on the same rock outcropping as M1, and find its wreckage. They prepare to send out Captain Redshirt... umm, I mean, Captain Paul Lazzari. Who is played by Peter Marko, who met a similar fate in the Trek episode "The Galileo Seven" when he played Lt. Gaetano. Lazzari goes out to check the wreckage, moves out of sight of M2, cuts his hand on some metal, and soon the other three crewmen hear his screams over the radio.


Captain Jack isn't feeling particularly high tonight, and he goes out next with the black guy, Frank Johnson, who stands sentry with a "nuclear bazooka" and looking relieved that he's not the first victim. Jack finds the metal covered in blood but no sign of Lazarri. He sees some diamonds lying around and goes to pick them up. The "invisible enemy" picks off Johnson, leaving West's character Charles "Chuck" Merritt and Jack.

We also get our first view of the creature, even if the characters don't. At least, we see its dorsal fin and a huge pair of water-dampened claws. So it's not that "invisible" to the those of us at home.

Back on Earth, General Winston and Colonel Danvers are running the operation and now they have simultaneous communication because of lasers. Nobody tell the "science fiction" writers that light has a lag time between Earth and Mars, too. They also have a computer named TL3 ("Tillie") that originally says that ghosts are responsible. Who programmed it, Edgar Allan Poe?


Ted Knight is with them, playing the Assistant Secretary of State, and I have no idea why he's there. He contributes nothing to the plot except to provide a very brief "This is the civilian point of view" point of view to the proceedings.


Winston tells Jack and Chuck to head for home because they have a launch window deadline. Jack goes to get more diamonds, and realizes that the creature is like a shark. It's drawn to blood and swims through the "sea" of sand. Chuck comes after him, ignores Jack shouting 20' away, and goes out onto the sand. The creature comes after Chuck, who makes his way to a tiny little freestanding rock. Although the creature easily picked off two men on the bigger rock outcropping earlier, it can't reach Chuck.

Since they all have radios, Winston tells Jack to abandon Chuck and take off before the launch window closes. Jack ignores him and draws off the creature. Chuck bleeds himself, smears the blood on his radio belt, and uses it to draw off the creature from Jack. They both make it to "shore" and Jack grabs the nuclear bazooka and blasts the creature to kingdom come. More creatures emerge from the "sea" and the two men beat feet, get in their spaceship with a load of diamonds, laugh triumphantly at the thought of four men dying and their mission failing, and head back to Earth just in time.


The episode took a lot of money, mostly for the physical FX of the creature. They bought a large water tank, covered the surface with powdered cork, and had some guy run a puppet of the creature just under the water. It went through two major rewrites from Jerry Sohl's original story, and we still got... well, an episode of Men Into Space with a giant creature. There are more than one revealed at the end, but we never see more than one at a time so they just took the same puppet prop and filmed it repeatedly.

The puppet itself is in no way convincing. If you know what Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent is, imagine a live-action version of him.


Alternately, imagine that they hired Shari Lewis, put her in a scuba suit, tossed her in the water tank, and told her to portray the Martian creature the same way she did Lamb Chop.


Either one would be as entertaining as what we got. Which is obviously a hand puppet and not a very expensive one. I guess they blew the money on the powdered cork.

As for the rest, the episode is suspenseful enough in its way. The crewmen are idiots who don’t seem to know a single horror movie cliché or have access to any technology except binoculars, radios, and a "nuclear" bazooka with no fallout. Adam West is surprisingly somber as a stern tough-as-nails commander, and Rudy Solari is entertaining as the mildly scheming and smartmouthed Captain Jack. Everyone else is pretty much forgettable.


So yes, there are other episodes of season 2 Outer Limits. Some of them are even okay or better: "The Inheritors" comes to mind. But "The Invisible Enemy" isn't one of them.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
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Jan 13, 2018
I seem to remember reading in Starlog years ago that ABC also cut the budget in season 2 and demanded the monster of the week appear within the first 10 minutes.I guess this goes to show having science-fiction writers doesn't necessarily make for a better sci-fi-fi show. I used to think the Ben Brady episodes came before the Joseph Stephano ones.

I remember liking "The Invisible Enemy" when I saw it. I don't think scientists in 1964 knew Mars didn't have a breathable atmosphere. Besides this and Demon with the Glass Hand, I remember liking Expanding Human, The Duplicate Man, and Keeper of the Purple Twilight.
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Jan 13, 2018
As I've said, I don't really recall seeing a lot of them, and probably didn't. I want to watch "The Inheritors", and will probably watch "Cold Hands, Warm Heart" just to watch the Shat overact. I'll get to the others eventually, but it's not a big priority.
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Jan 15, 2018
As good as The Duplicate Man is, the short story it's based on, Good Night, Mr. James, is even better.
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Jan 15, 2018
From what I've seen, the lousy Megasoid costume tends to undermine most of the episode.
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Jan 15, 2018
At least the episode had Gerd Oswald as the director, as opposed to Charles Haas.
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