Way Out (TV series)

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Wayoutopening.gif
Genre Drama, Sci-fi
Written by Sumner Locke Elliott
Directed by Daniel Petrie
Presented by Roald Dahl
Starring Various guest stars.
Country of origin USA
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 14
Production
Location(s) New York City
Running time 25 minutes.
Production company(s) Talent Associates
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Picture format 4:3 black and white.
Audio format Mono
Original run 31 March 1961 – 14 July 1961

Way Out (note that the on-screen title begins with an apostrophe) was a 1961 fantasy and science fiction television anthology series hosted by writer Roald Dahl. The macabre 25-minute shows were introduced by Dahl's dry delivery of a brief introductory monologue, sometimes explaining a method of murdering a spouse without getting caught.

The taped series began because CBS suddenly needed a replacement for a Jackie Gleason talk show that network executives were about to cancel, and producer David Susskind contacted Dahl to help mount a show quickly. The series was paired by the network with the similar The Twilight Zone for Friday evening broadcasts, running from March through July 1961 at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time, under the primary sponsorship of Liggett & Myers (L&M cigarettes). Writers included Philip H. Reisman, Jr. and Sumner Locke Elliott.

The premiere episode, "William and Mary", adapted from a Roald Dahl short story, told of a wife getting revenge on her husband.

In "Dissolve to Black", an actress (Kathleen Widdoes) cast as a murder victim at a television studio goes through a rehearsal, but the drama merges with reality as she finds herself trapped on the show's near-deserted set. Other dramas offered startling imagery: a snake slithering up a carpeted staircase inside a suburban home, a disembodied brain in a jar ("William and Mary"), a headless woman strapped to an electric chair, with a light bulb in place of her head ("Side Show") and half of a man's face erased ("Soft Focus").

Other actors on the series included Martin Balsam, Michael Conrad, Mildred Dunnock, Murray Hamilton, Martin Huston, Mark Lenard, Kevin McCarthy, Barry Morse, Richard Thomas, Doris Roberts, and Fritz Weaver.

Critical notices at the time were extremely good, especially for Dahl's comedic commentaries. While the series garnered high ratings in urban areas, it fared poorly in the hinterlands and was canceled after 14 episodes.

The show was one of the last weekly dramatic television series produced in New York City. Only five episodes have ever turned up on [bootleg] videocassettes and none on DVD, but the entire run is available for viewing at The Paley Center for Media in New York and Los Angeles. The episodes are owned by Susskind's estate.

Dahl later hosted an anthology series called Tales of the Unexpected on British television beginning in 1979.

Episode list[edit]

Barry Morse in Soft Focus on Way Out (July 7, 1961). Makeup by Dick Smith.

Episode 1: William and Mary [1], 31 March 1961 (written by Roald Dahl)
Episode 2: The Down Car, 7 April 1961
Episode 3: The Sisters, 14 April 1961
Episode 4: Button, Button, 28 April 1961
Episode 5: I Heard You Calling Me, 5 May 1961
Episode 6: The Croaker, 12 May 1961
Episode 7: False Face, 26 May 1961 (written by Larry Cohen)
Episode 8: Dissolve to Black, 2 June 1961
Episode 9: Death Wish, 9 June 1961
Episode 10: The Overnight Case, 16 June 1961
Episode 11: Hush-Hush, 23 June 1961
Episode 12: Side Show, 30 June 1961 (written by Elliott Baker)
Episode 13: Soft Focus, 7 July 1961
Episode 14: 20/20, 14 July 1961

References[edit]

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