Leonard Nimoy travels three times to The Outer Limits
Although he didn’t land a starring role in The Twilight Zone, Leonard Nimoy did headline an installment of the 1960s’ other great science fiction anthology TV series, The Outer Limits.
In the 1964 episode “I, Robot” (no relation to the Isaac Asimov book of the same title, and preceded, serendipitously enough, by an episode titled “Wolf 359”), Nimoy portrays newspaper reporter Judson Ellis. He is covering the trial of a robot, Adam, accused of killing his own creator.
(Machines turning on their makers? That would never happen in Star Trek! Am I right, M-5? Nomad? V’Ger? Uh, guys…?)
Nimoy is clearly enjoying his role.
The way he plays Ellis reminds me more than a little of reporter E.K. Hornbeck (a fictionalized H.L. Mencken) in the classic courtroom drama Inherit the Wind: cynical and skeptical, wise in the ways of the world, eager to drum up publicity, but also witty, gregarious, and thoughtful.
(Six Degrees of Star Trek time again: Recognize the woman Nimoy is acting with in that scene? She is Marianna Hill, who played Dr. Helen Noel in “Dagger of the Mind.” And for good measure, “I, Robot” also features John Hoyt, who played Enterprise CMO Dr. Philip Boyce in “The Cage.”)
When Showtime revived The Outer Limits three decades later, Nimoy starred in a remake of “I, Robot” directed by his son, Adam. This time around, he played Adam the robot’s lawyer.
If YouTube has any clips from this episode, I, alas, cannot find them. But you can watch the whole episode at Dailymotion. (And I recommend you do!)
Adam Nimoy gave the Fatherly blog this glimpse of what working with his famous dad behind the scenes was like:
"It was a good balance of synergy between us … When he had notes to give me while we were on set, he was very respectful and would talk to me in private instead of in front the whole crew … I wanted his feedback and I welcomed it because he had a voluminous amount of experience …"
Nimoy’s third Outer Limits appearance was, chronologically, his first. He was in the 1960 episode “Production and Decay of Strange Particles” (along with Joseph Ruskin, who played master thrall Galt in “The Gamesters of Triskelion.” as well as various aliens in later Star Trek series).
A Nimoy character rushing into a radiation-filled chamber to handle dangerous materials? Eerily prescient of Spock’s demise in Star Trek II, don’t you think? (Yeah, I really do think…!)