View the Future of 2011 Through the Eyes of the 1964 Outer Limits Episode ’The Duplicate Man’
Written By: Doug Yurchey
Science fiction is different from fantasy. Sci-fi is an imaginative guess of what will really happen in the future, right or wrong. Classic science fiction has often estimated correctly such as space travel, lasers, communication via orbiting satellites, etc. As you will see in this case and more often than not, what we assume will occur in the future…is not even close.
We can learn from ’what people (writers) thought at the time.’ Please disregard what silliness you may perceive. Outer Limits was an early, 1960s television show without big budgets, that had a weekly ’monster.’ Look past the monster and corniness. COMPARE what they actually believed the future (47-year jump) would be…to the truth of present-day society. Let us view the show from 1964 and take note of the cars, houses, phones and what technology will be possible in the world of 2011:
Writers of classic sci-fi and producers of Outer Limits were not trying to be ’campy’ or ’spoof’ the future, they were trying to be accurate. In 1964, why would the best minds ever think the U.S. Space Program would end? Who could imagine that (public) MANNED missions would come to a grinding halt as they recently have? In the story, there were astronauts exploring other planets throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Surely in 1964, this was not a surreal concept…but a logical one.
MY POINT is the ’nightmare,’ in reality, is not the ’unimaginable aliens’ we will encounter in the future…the nightmare is our present society, which we only THINK is modern/advanced/sophisticated. The nightmare is we have become technologically degenerate. Governments have RETARDED our growth and true progress, kept us stupid. Knowledge and technology have been doled out to us in such small increments, unlike the fictional future of our story. MAYBE WE SHOULD BE EVERY BIT AS ADVANCED as this O.L. episode projects? Why aren’t we? What went wrong in reality?
In our story, we get the sense that space discoveries were OPEN to the public, that there existed full disclosure. Alien life we found in outer space was on display throughout museums and not hidden from the general public. Presently, NASA is known for its cover-ups, deceptions, editing and white-washing of space discoveries.
The title is interesting. ’CLONE’ was too new of a word so ’duplicate’ was used. When a dangerous alien escapes from being held illegally on Earth, the main character clones himself to kill the creature. Cloning had been an accepted procedure ’for many years’ with a ’Federal Duplication Bureau.’ Rules had changed, now cloning was deemed a ’felony.’ Our main character pulls some strings and gets his clone made.
The duplicate could also be ’programmed’ for any task. Duplicates are destroyed within 5 hours because they tend to remember more and more of the original’s life. There are interesting scenes such as the psychic creature informs the clone that he is a duplicate. Clone and original face-off near the end, which is reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger in ’The 6th Day.’
The car was a customized, 1964 Buick Riviera that hummed. Seemed apparent the vehicle was electric or ran on something other than gasoline. Check out the large phone receivers set on the dashboard of the car. The writers missed with the phones. They still used rotary-dial with the thick, curly cords. There were Picture-Phones as seen on the ’Jetsons.’ Yet, the Internet was not anticipated by classic sci-fi writers.
Our main character’s clone and later the original, go to the house of the man who helped him smuggle the alien. Examine the spacey abode of the future. This was a time before elaborate special-effects. In 1964, they found a real home that appeared as a spaceship on a huge pole. A motorized incline elevates visitors up to the round, top section. Doesn’t everybody have rounded homes on towers in 2011?
A few years before Star Trek, this Outer Limits episode showed a sliding door probably operated by an electric eye. Other doors, gates and a water fountain functioned untouched. The view from the tall, spaceship-tower home showed a futuristic metropolis. Even the weapon used to kill the creature was more like a ray gun than a normal handgun.
As far as clothing, suit jackets have no lapels and ties have no knot on top. A secretary at the Duplication Bureau wore a highly reflective dress. THIS WAS 2011. Now, consider other early future projections like the film ’Just Imagine.’ Here is a blurb:
’New York, 1980: airplanes have replaced cars, numbers have replaced names, pills have replaced food, government-arranged marriages have replaced love, and test tube babies have replaced (sex).’
The clip is from ’Just Imagine,’ filmed in 1930. Unbelievable scenes, like early Star Wars, depict constantly flying (round) craft over a super-city. They projected 50 years into the future. This was how the wonder world of 1980 would appear! Yes, the movie was made to forget the horrors of the Depression and to just imagine how BETTER tomorrow will be. Yet, the presumed technology is future science and should or could have happened. What derailed the dreams of those that presented the World’s Fair of 1939, the World of Tomorrow? Technology beyond our wildest imagination was right around the corner! What happened around this time, class, which completely STOPPED our technological progress?
Contrary to popular belief, WAR is not good for progress. War, political conflicts, energy spent on destruction have all contributed to the SIMPLIFICATION and ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT of our society today. Our modernism is only an illusion. We remain in a new version of the 1950s, conservative and conforming. This is the 21st Century, for crying out loud! We should have thoroughly explored our Solar System and have approached other star systems by now. THAT’S progress.
If we took 90% of our huge Defense budget…and used it where it was needed…we would remain safe and protected. But, we cannot do that in a Capitalistic Society, nothing is given. Technology is not given away, freely. Why can’t we have a Star Trek-like civilization with all their truly modern conveniences? The fictional world had no money system or need for a money system. That was the distant past and we do things BETTER now.
Another old film to consider is ’Things to Come’ (1936) written by H.G. Wells.
PS: Before this writer gets blasted again for basing ideology on movies or science fiction, maybe my critics should understand…sci-fi is not silly…
…Science Fiction makes dreams come true, it anticipates what IS TO COME, it has flung us far into space, into the planet, our psyche and deep into our imaginations. Einstein might agree that we can learn more from imagination than we can learn from knowledge.