Monday, February 20, 2017
Cult-TV Theme Watch: Particle Beams
A particle beam is "a directed, high energy ray that disrupts the atomic structure of its target."
Particle beams -- usually created by animators in post-production -- have appeared frequently on futuristic TV series. Indeed, they are the weapons of choice.
Criss-crossing particle beam fire on the battlefield was the event that spawned the action in "Soldier," a Harlan Ellison-penned episode of The Outer Limits (1963-1964), for example.
On Star Trek (1966-1969), Starfleet phasers are directed particle beam weapons.
By the era of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994), and episodes such as "The Arsenal of Freedom," Starfleet officers hardly even need to aim these weapons in combat. They can just drag and strafe the beams across the environment to the target.
Outside of Star Trek, every space-based series worth its salt features particle beam blasts. The stun guns on Space:1999 (1975-1977), the blasters of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1981) and lasers of V (1983) all fire particle beams, to often deadly effect.