When I was little I used to watch a nice SF series on TV. It was in the 90's, about 15 years ago. The format was similar to The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits but I don't really think it was the case. They were on TV too, but in a different period and on different channels.

I remember the plots of some episodes:

The first one was about a leader of a terrorist or paramilitary organization who captured some hostages. He then proceeds to play a game of chess with one of the hostages, using humans as pieces: military men vs hostages. Each time a piece was taken, that person was taken from there and killed. One of the moves involves the sacrifice of a boy who is revealed to be still alive at the end of the game, a game that the hostage manages to win. I clearly remember the military leader/terrorist telling him something like: "Ï am a terrorist, not a monster"

The second one was about an old and very rich lady. She's kept alive by her doctor with some new, revolutionary treatment, but she's reduced to being simply a head. He tries to convince him to let her die, but he's opposed to it because we was making a fortune from the old lady's insurance. I don't remember how, but in the end the woman dies and the doctor has an accident and finds himself stuck in the same situation of being reduced a head and unable to die.

The third one is foggy... it was about a weird ride at a carnival, a sort of ferris-wheel that made people younger or older. If I recall correctly, a thief was using it to change his age and get away with crimes, but he somehow gets stuck in the wheel and gets really old and dies.

Any help would be really appreciated. Another thing I remember was me really enjoying the show. It was well done and with some really nice effects, it didn't look cheap so I'd like to be able to watch it again.

[edit] It was definitely NOT The outer limits, the only episode here referencing "chess" is not like the one I saw.

  • The story about the woman's head sounds like it could be an episode of Tales from the Crypt, but I don't remember every episode, and the other two don't seem to fit in with that show's motif
    – Monty129
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 20:05
  • This almost certainly has to be Showtime's reboot of The Outer Limits. There weren't many anthologies on during the 90s, and their themes often touched on military/terrorist/conflict ideas. But I'm unable to find it in Wikipedia.
    – John O
    Commented Feb 2, 2013 at 21:20
  • 1
    Not so 'certainly', sadly- no matches on 'chess' or 'ferris' with the episode synopses.
    – Solemnity
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 2:03
  • 2
    This doesn't answer your question, but you might find this interesting. The first episode that you have described sounds like "All the King's Horses", a short story by Kurt Vonnegut. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_King's_Horses_(story)
    – Dima
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 2:36
  • 1
    The third is almost certainly "Something Wicked this Way Comes" by Ray Bradbury. Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 4:34

3 Answers 3


It sounds like the series is probably Kurt Vonnegut's Monkey House. The Showtime series was based on Vonnegut works, mostly stories from the collection Welcome to the Monkey House. It was a short-lived series (just seven episodes) and obscure enough that it doesn't have a Wikipedia entry (and its IMDB one is rather skeletal). And it first aired in 1991, so the time-frame is plausible -- if you didn't catch the original run, you probably saw one of the re-re-repeats.

I couldn't find useful synopses for the series' episodes. But I found them for some of the short stories (and one play) that the epps are based on:

  • As Dima pointed out, the chess episode sounds like "All the King's Horses". Wikipedia says about the original short story, "The sixteen prisoners are held captive by the Communist guerrilla chief Pi Ying, who forces Kelly to play a game of chess — using his family and men as the white pieces. Any American pieces that Pi Ying captures will be executed immediately.... Eventually, [Kelly] realizes that his only chance to win involves sacrificing one of his knights, played by his sons."

  • The unhappy heads are from "Fortitude". In the original play, "The story follows Dr. Elbert Little on a visit to Dr. Frankenstein's and his assistant Dr. Tom Swift's laboratory. Frankenstein's only patient and life work is Silvia Lovejoy, who after 70 some operations has been reduced to a head on a tripod, that is controlled by Frankenstein's machines." In the end, Frankenstein becomes a head attached to his own machines.

  • I'm not sure which story the carnival episode is based on -- probably since it's been 25 or 30 years since I last read the book. Shame on me, because WttMH is an awesome book. I should re-read it. You should read it, too. Everybody should read it!

  • YES! This was the show! Wow, thank you! Even more, thanks for telling me about the collection. I've read very little from Kurt Vonnegut and I had no idea he also wrote things like this! Again, thanks a lot!
    – BBog
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 9:53
  • Glad to help out!
    – sjl
    Commented Feb 3, 2013 at 15:12
  • 1
    I only saw some of these episodes like the All the King's Horses episode, so I don't know if there was a carnival in one of them. But I was wondering the OP was confusing the movie Something Wicked This Way Comes for one of the episodes. It had the ferris wheel that made people younger or older. Commented Feb 23, 2015 at 20:42

I also had a hard time finding the third one, it was an episode that stuck to my mind ever since I saw it for the first time, 25 years ago. When I read your post, I was glad I wasn't the only one to look for this story, and finally, I found it (and it's exactly like I remembered it, with that creepy shot at the end). It's the "Black Ferris" episode from "The Ray Bradbury Theater"

Here's a link


youtube Monkey House-All the kings Horses.

  • 1
    Can you say how this matches?
    – Adamant
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 21:57
  • Can you provide any details that matched those in the question?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 22:20

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