Specimen: Unknown

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"Specimen: Unknown"
The Outer Limits episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 22
Directed byGerd Oswald
Written byStephen Lord
Cinematography byConrad Hall
Production code10
Original air dateFebruary 24, 1964
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Children of Spider County"
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List of The Outer Limits episodes

"Specimen: Unknown" is an episode of the original The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 24 February 1964, during the first season.


The crew of the Adonis research space station discovers an unusual object attached to the station wall and brings it inside to study it.

Opening narration[edit]

For centuries, Man has looked to the skies and sought to uncover the mystery of the universe. The telescope brought into focus the craters on the Moon and the canals on Mars, but it was limited, and Man's insistent hunger for knowledge and experience would not be satisfied until he broke the massive chains of gravity and set foot himself on a planet other than his own. Project Mercury was his first venture into space — a testament to his technical ingenuity and courage, a green light to a hundred other projects which would take him still further. This is Project Adonnis, a laboratory orbiting a thousand miles above the Earth, a tiny, far-flung world connected only by radio and memory, and inhabited by a handful of men dedicated to removing the unknown for future space travelers. At ten minutes after six on January 8th, Lieutenant Rupert Howard stumbled upon something clinging to the wall of the space-lock that appeared alive. He called them "space barnacles" for temporary identification. They were not.'


Lt. Howard (Dabney Coleman), a member of a team of astronaut-researchers, finds a strange mushroom-shaped organism clinging to the outside of their space station. Exposed to light and air inside, it develops into a beautiful flower, but has a deadly scent and an aggressive growth habit. Upon Howard's surprising discovery of the organism's rapid metamorphosis, while attempting to further study its cellular make-up under the microscope following the spewing of tiny spores, the flower emits a noxious gas that temporarily incapacitates him, after which he dies. When the other astronauts attempt to return to Earth for help, they bring the invasive new species along with them. Learning of the potential danger to life, their superiors on Earth order the ship's crew to remain in orbit until a method can be found to eliminate the threat of world-encompassing genocide. As the spacecraft runs out of fuel, the half-dead crew is forced to crash-land near the rocket base, where a team of scientists and military personnel immediately descends upon and surrounds the crash site in an attempt to contain the spread of the organisms, which, by now, have fully engulfed the interior of the ship and begun to sow upon the surrounding countryside. Continuing to spew their spores and spray the air with their deadly gas, the creatures scatter themselves across the earth, while storm clouds form overhead, with everyone fearing the worst - What will become of the human race when the rain begins to fall? As all hope for survival is about to fade, the sky opens up and drenches the land with life-giving rain. But, ironically, the flowers begin to wilt, and they eventually succumb to the effects of mother nature.

Closing narration[edit]

There are many things up there, evil and hungry, awesome and splendid. And gentle things, too. Merciful things...like rain.


Interiors were shot on Stage #4 at KTTV and the exterior shots were filmed in the Tarzan forest portion of M.G.M. Backlot #3. The shooting notes specify "extra foliage" to hide the World War II barges from the Combat! series in the lake over the hillside from where the full-sized Adonis shuttle exterior mock-up, built by art director Jack Poplin and his team, is situated, nose-first into the ground. Projects Unlimited made 150 prop plants for these scenes, some of which were working models which fired aerosol mist and spores (in fact Puffed Wheat breakfast cereal) which were sculpted by Johnny Neopolitano. The mock-up of the Adonis shuttle was painted black and re-used in the Twilight Zone episode "Probe 7, Over and Out".[1]

The model of the Adonis space station was a leftover prop from the Ziv/UA TV series Men into Space.[2]

When the episode was assembled, it ran only 45 minutes. To extend the film, shots of the Adonis model hanging in space were lengthened, and in the first part of the show they cut to the model shot as often as possible. Tediously slow slow-motion was given to the shots of Mike Doweling's EVA to repair the Adonis shuttle, which gave it a few more seconds. Leslie Stevens quickly wrote a prologue (directed by the first assistant director Robert Justman) which featured Lt. Rupert Lawrence Howard (played by Dabney Coleman), previously only mentioned in the past tense by the other characters, and Joseph Stefano wrote an unusually long Control Voice Speech which spelled out the history of the space program, even giving the exact time and date of the prologue. The opening teaser showcasing the 'bear' lasts nearly three minutes, all of which got the episode to the required running time. Originally the episode opened with the burial in space of Lt. Rupert Howard and the plants were not revealed to be menacing until they killed a lab rabbit much later in the show; now they are seen killing Lt. Howard in the prologue, suspense dispelled by the need for padding.[3]

This was the highest Nielsen-rated episode in the first season.



  1. ^ The Outer Limits:The Official Companion, pp.111–115
  2. ^ The Outer Limits:The Official Companion, p.114
  3. ^ The Outer Limits:The Official Companion, pp.114–15

External links[edit]