Hasslein Blog: Demon Without a Glass Sequel


Hasslein Blog

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Demon Without a Glass Sequel

by Rich Handley
I came across an essay today titled "Cranks and Conspiracies," penned by my friend Jerry Seward for his long-running fanzine Power Star. The article discussed writing legend Harlan Ellison's two promised-but-never-delivered Babylon 5 episode scripts. Among them was a sequel to one of the best The Outer Limits episodes ever aired, Ellison's "Demon With a Glass Hand," starring Robert Culp.

I remember well the rumors Jerry discusses—that B5 would revisit the storyline of that Outer Limits episode, and that Culp would return as his character Trent (a seeming impossibility, given how "Glass Hand" ended). What's more, I recall being just as bummed when this never came to pass. When I first heard Ellison was planning to merge B5 with The Outer Limits, I was intrigued. As a general rule, crossovers normally don't interest me, but "Demon With a Glass Hand" actually seemed like a pretty good fit with the Babylon 5 universe, and both Ellison and Culp were said to be involved, so I was excited about the possibilities.

Culp as the extremity-challenged Trent, co-starring with the lovely 
Arlene Martel (Star Trek's T'Pring and The Twilight Zone's
"Room for one more, honey" hospital nurse)

Before the sequel would air, I wanted to first watch "Glass Hand" again to re-familiarize myself with what had happened in the earlier story. This was the mid-1990s, so finding an episode of an old TV series wasn't easy, but luckily, it had been released on VHS. I purchased it, immediately watched it and was reminded of how much I'd enjoyed devouring the series' reruns as a kid, which I regularly gobbled up along with healthy side portions of Star Trek, The Twilight Zone and Lost in Space.

For those who have never seen "Demon With a Glass Hand," it centers around Trent (Culp), a man unable to remember anything prior to the past ten days. In place of his left hand is a hand-shaped, glass-encased computer with three fingers missing, which informs him that he must re-attach the lost digits before it can reveal what has happened to him.

His character also had trouble 
flipping people the bird.

Unfortunately, the fingers reside with alien invaders called the Kyben, whom Trent must avoid (in a rundown office building later featured in the film Blade Runner) while simultaneously retrieving the stolen computer components. The Kyben have sealed off the building, and Trent's only companion is Consuelo Biros (Arlene Martel), an employee who was trapped inside when this occurred.

I won't reveal the episode's twist ending, other than to note that it's thematically fitting that Blade Runner would also be filmed in this same building.

Eighteen years later, Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer 
would boldly go where Kyben had gone before.

I never knew that the rumors had been purposeful misdirection on Ellison's and J. Michael Straczynski's parts, or that a "Demon" sequel was never really being planned. That's rather disappointing, actually, as it effectively destroys one of my memories of when B5 was still on the air. Still, I'm glad I came across Jerry's essay, and I recommend checking it out. For fans of B5, Harlan Ellison and The Outer Limits, it's a great read.

Now I just need to let Mr. Ellison know he owes me the $20 I spent buying that VHS tape.

Yeah, that's right, Harlan. You heard me.

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