Well, I reviewed the first two episodes of "The Twilight Zone". I reviewed the Christmas episode "Night Of The Meek" for my 12 Days Christmas Reviews in 2014. And I reviewed the movie made in the 80s along with the episodes that the movie is based off of last October. Now it's time for me to review the first season. For those who don't know the show, here's the basic plot. "The Twilight Zone" is an anthology show hosted by Rod Serling. The show was weird, twisted and had endings that make you think and wonder. The show's genre is mostly horror and Sci-Fi and in every episode there would be a new story, new characters and new stars of the time (some even reappeared or are making their debut).
Before I review the episode's of the show, I'm going to quickly review the intro to show. And believe it or not, there's not one, not two, but three of them.
The first of the three intros is the one that was only used in the original airing for the pilot episode to the show itself "Where Is Everybody", which I didn't see when I reviewed the episode since I only saw it on "Hulu". And after finally seeing it, I thought it was ok. Even though you get the feeling that you're traveling through another dimension through the visuals in space and music by Bernard Hermann, it wasn't as anything as imaginative or weird, compared to the future intros that the show would have. The original Intro didn't even have Serling doing the narration, but instead had Westbrook Van Voorhis who sounds pretty generic. Luckily though, they got Serling to re-record the narration for the intro as well as the prologue and epilogue for the episode itself since Voorhis was unavailable to narrate the later episodes. Also when Serling re-recorded the narrated bits, Serling changed the number of the dimensions for the "Twilight Zone" by calling it the 5th, as opposed to being called the 6th. Overall it's not an awful intro, but I only recommend watching it if you’re a die-hard fan of the show. You can easily find it under the Special Features for "Where Is Everybody" on the Blu-Ray.
The second intro that would play for the majority of the first Season involves the viewer going through the fog, to suddenly passing by strange looking landscape, to heading into outer space to enter that other dimension, as Serling would narrate. Comparing it to the original intro that was used once, this seemed to be more haunting, and captivating to make you feel like you're actually entering "The Twilight Zone". It's obvious that the landscapes that we pass are animated as opposed to looking realistic, but the designs for them as simple as they are, do match with the strange tone that this intro carries with the music, narration and the writing.
THE THIRD INTRO
As the Season was near its end, a new intro was created that was shorter and more to the point, instead of being as slow and flowing as the second intro. But as quick as that intro is, it’s in my opinion miles away from feeling like a step backwards. The music is different, but it still sounds just as weird and ominous as the original theme. The intro maybe short, but it doesn't feel rushed, nor does Serling sound like he's rushing through the narration either. On top of it, as much as the imagery in the second intro always sucks me into the show's world, I think the imagery here is more strange and surreal. I just find the eye staring at you to be unsettling. And I like how that eye just suddenly dissolve into a sun setting on top of a line that's been slowly increasing during the first few seconds. The Third intro debuted in the episode "Mr.Bevis" and was used for the last 4 episodes of this Season.
Now that I got the three intros out of the way, let's get to my review on the episode's themselves!
"Street scene: Summer. The present. Man on a sidewalk named Lew Bookman, age sixtyish. Occupation: pitchman. Lew Bookman, a fixture of the summer, a rather minor component to a hot July, a nondescript, commonplace little man whose life is a treadmill built out of sidewalks. And in just a moment, Lew Bookman will have to concern himself with survival because as of three o'clock this hot July afternoon, he'll be stalked by Mr. Death."
ONE FOR THE ANGELS
Ed Wynn plays a pitchman who loves his life, loves his job, and adores kids. One day, a man named Mr.Death (Murray Hamilton) tells him that it's time for him to go to the other side. Lew refuses to go and successfully cons Mr.Death into getting more years to live. However, Mr.Death puts a little girl in Lew's place and plans to come for her at midnight. The story first off, is beyond well written. It's just a great light hearted and innocent story that we see very rarely in this show, and for this to be the third episode out of the first two pilot episodes that were dark band had surprise endings, overall shows that Serling has the guts to try something different when the show was just starting out. Don't get me wrong, there are some dark elements to the story, but not as dark as you think it is. Oh, and for those of you who love the twist and turns, and puzzling endings that the show is known for, well this one is very straight forward, which might turn some of you off, but personally I still think it works fine!
What really made the episode great are the performances from Ed Wynn and Murray Hamilton. Ed Wynn well despite being an actor who's great in almost anything he's in, this one is actually one of his all-time best performances. Much like how I was shocked at how well he acted serious in "The Diary Of Anne Frank", here, he does the same amount of justice. He doesn't go too over the top, he doesn't use too much of his humor, he takes the role just as seriously as the show and episode tends to be. Of course while taking the role seriously he still manages to bring his Ed Wynn charm, where he's so lovable and innocent that you can understand why kids admire him so much. It truly is one of his best performances.
Murray Hamilton as Mr.Death was another performance that wowed me. First off, I didn't even know that it was him until I saw his name appear in the end credits. I had a feeling that Mr.Death was being played by a well-known actor, but I didn't know that it was the same guy who played the Mayor in "JAWS" or Elaine's Father in "The Graduate". His performance is so great that this is one of those rare times where I can separate the actor from the character and just see him completely as the character. On top of it, I like that they didn't make him look scary or villainous like most versions of Death. They actually make him a likable and respectable business man who's simply just doing his job and doesn't show pleasure in telling Ed Wynn that it's time for him to go, he's just telling him like it is and tries to make him accept that he's going. That's a very rare take on Death which I'd like to see pulled off more often.
While being one of those rare light hearted and straight forward Twilight Zone episodes, it's still a mighty good one where the performances and the writing are what truly make it so emotionally heartwarming!
"Portrait of a town drunk named Al Denton. This is a man who's begun his dying early - a long, agonizing route through a maze of bottles. Al Denton, who would probably give an arm or a leg or a part of his soul to have another chance, to be able to rise up and shake the dirt from his body and the bad dreams that infest his consciousness. In the parlance of the times, this is a peddler, a rather fanciful-looking little man in a black, frock coat.(Gun appears) And this is the third principal character of our story. Its function: perhaps to give Mr. Al Denton his second chance."
MR.DENTON ON DOOMSDAY
The story takes place in the old west, and stars Dan Duryea as a washed up gunslinger. One day as he’s hitting the bottles, he finds a gun on the street left by a mysterious Peddler named Henry J. Fate (Malcolm Atterbury), which brings him back to being a gunslinger. However, Denton doesn't want to go back to his old roots since he knows that he'll eventually die from another gunslinger. A man comes to town to challenge him, but Denton is not good with his aim. Thankfully, the Peddler who left the gun for him gives him a potion to make him great and not miss his target.
Dan Duryea as our main character brings a really good performance. You can feel his pain and reluctance of not wanting to go back to a position that will eventually kill him and you definitely see a huge transformation of this character from a town drunk to a civilized man who wants no part in his old lifestyle. Malcom Atterbury as the Peddler is a weird character who you're not entirely sure if he's a good or bad guy until the end. The episode just keeps you guessing and guessing about this character until we find out about his true nature and purpose in the story.
The episode does have some good visuals; my personal favorite is Henry's reflection in the glass window as Denton is getting shaved. The supporting characters are enjoyable, especially the woman who cares about Denton and the town bully who always torments Denton. The story, while not as amazing as the previous episodes, is still investing. And the climax when the two gunslinger's meet, to keep spoilers to a minimum, all I’ll say is that's when things get real suspenseful.
While not a mind blowing episode, it's still well acted, has a good story, a mysterious character that's interesting, and a real good climax.
THE SIXTEEN-MILLIMETER SHRINE
Ida Lupino performs as an aging washed-up actress, who constantly sits in a dark room and watches herself in movies that she's been in. Everyone who's she's worked with, including her agent Danny (Martin Balsam) tries to snap her out of it and have her face the facts of life, but she doesn't want to accept it. Barbara keeps wishing that everything would be like the glory days of her life and that she was treated as the star that she once was.
Ida Lupino is outstanding as this aging prima donna. You actually feel for her sadness and envy for the past. Every scene you see her in is so heartbreaking and emotionally played out that you feel just as depressed her as you're watching it. The scenes and moments that really stick out to me the most are when she's alone watching herself in movies; her ex-boss giving her a small role due to her loss of stardom and old age taking over; and when she meets one of the leading men that kissed her in one of her successful pictures. Those scenes completely show how sad and desperate she is to relive the life she once had. Martin Balsam as the agent is great as the character and the relationship between the two is very interesting as the two have great chemistry together. I just love how willing he is to try to help her move on with her life and make her peacefully accept that it's over. He’s a likable character, but again, it's Lupino who steals the episode.
As for the story, well to be honest, I found it too predictable. I knew where it was leading up too, and when my expectations were correct the episode ends when things started to get interesting. This episode felt more like a set up to a story or part of a two parted episode than being just one story. It’s like how I feel about the episode "Kick The Can", once it ended, I didn't want it to stop there, I wanted to see what our characters would do next, once they got their wish.
Overall, while feeling more like a set up to a story, it's still a decent episode. Not a must see episode of the show, but it does indeed have nice acting to keep you emotionally invested.
"Martin Sloan, age thirty-six. Occupation: vice-president, ad agency, in charge of media. This is not just a Sunday drive for Martin Sloan. He perhaps doesn't know it at the time - but it's an exodus. Somewhere up the road, he's looking for sanity. And somewhere up the road, he'll find something else."
The episode stars Gig Young as a man driving around the Countryside to see the small town where he grew up. But as soon as he visits the town it seems that nothing has changed and that everything has remained the same since he last left it. However, after running into his younger self, he realizes that he has stepped back in time to the age of his youth. While, trying to embrace the fact that he's back in his childhood, his childhood doesn't want to embrace him back.
This is a terrific episode. This episode does what all of us want to do, go back into the age of our youth and live it again at least for one day. But once you get down to it, there's really nothing to go back too since you already lived it. You can't go back into your house; your parents and friends don't know who you are; most of the stuff you did as a child, you're too old for now; and above all, you got to be careful not to screw up time and this episode does an outstanding job at showing all those elements, as well as showing the love and innocence of our youth. The episode’s moral is really touching and heartwarming for both kids and adults who are watching it, and no matter what time this episode takes place in, the message, story, and emotional connection is still powerful enough for you to relate to what Young’s character is experiencing.
Gig Young as Martin is incredible, he's just perfect at showing his love, sadness and emotions of stepping back in time and seeing his childhood come to life. And I bet that to many of us who miss our childhood and was suddenly given the chance to step back in time and visit it, our reactions wouldn't be any different to his. His acting and character really does hit the mark on how most of us feel when we look back at our youth. Aside from the writing, acting and morals, the episode does have plenty of great things going for it. The music (which is one of the few episodes to have its own score) captures the mood and tone for every situation; the cinematography, edits and shots are creative; and the lighting is perfect.
It's just an altogether perfect episode that brings out the inner child within us, no matter how old it is.
"You're about to meet a hypochondriac. Witness, Mr. Walter Bedeker, age forty-four, afraid of the following: death, disease, other people, germs, draft, and everything else. He has one interest in life, and that's Walter Bedeker. One preoccupation: the life and well-being of Walter Bedeker. One abiding concern about society: that if Walter Bedeker should die, how will it survive without him?"
David Wayne plays a mean spirited man who fears everything; including his health despite that his Doctor tells him that he is perfectly healthy. Wishing that he didn't have to worry all the time, the devil in the form of a businessman played by Thomas Gomez, offers him immortality in exchange for his soul. Walter Bedeker accepts the deal with his mind set of having no worries for the rest of his everlasting life, and that the Devil will never take his soul since he'll be alive forever. But the Devil still gives him an "Escape Clause" incase if he ever gets tired of living forever.
I've only known the actor David Wayne for his portrayal of the Mad Hatter in Seasons 1 and 2 of the 60s Batman show starring Adam West, and seeing him portray a man who constantly worries about his health, while not going as over the top as the Hat snatching villain that I've known him best for is just as funny. Watching him in the first half of the episode constantly yell, complain, and worry that he's going to die when he's perfectly healthy is pretty hysterical, especially how he delivers the character’s snarky and short tempered personality. When he gets his immortality the humor that Wayne brings to the character doesn't stop there, because we then get to see him survive life threatening abuse where he at first seems thrilled by it, to suddenly getting bored by his immortality since there's no longer any thrill to living, and the expressions and things that Wayne says and does where he shows little to no care about the abuse he gets into as people interact him is priceless. He almost reminds me of Bill Murray in this episode with his selfish personality, and dry sense of humor. And considering that Bill Murray was in a "Twilight Zone" like film a few decades after this episodes release, where he would be repeating "Groundhog Day" over and over, where even killing himself will do him no good, makes me wonder if the film's writer Harold Ramis took any inspiration from the episode itself, especially when casting a cynical comedic actor like Murray
But as much as I enjoy Wayne's performance in the episode, the best performance in the whole episode goes to Thomas Gomez as the Devil, who gives his character a larger than life personality, where he's shown constantly smiling and laughing. As he makes the deal with Bedeker, his proposition and his jolly personality seems promising and inviting, but as nice as the deal and he himself may seem, there is a menacing undertone that both the writing and Gomez acting provides, which should be no surprise since he is the Devil. The episode itself does have a lot of comedy surrounding it (especially from our leads), but as humorous as it is the premise when you get down to it is still very down-beat, especially when we get to the final scene where all the humor surrounding the episode feels incredibly sucked out! It's defiantly one of those episodes with the black humor element to the show at its finest.
As much as I enjoy the episode I'm not going to act like that this one of the essential episodes of the series. It's has two great actors, black humor, and some nice visual effects (mostly coming from the Devil); but in terms of story, while not bad, it’s very basic and predictable and even at times flawed (especially when we get to the ending), which is what makes this one pale in comparison to many of the other great episodes. But with that said, it’s still an entertaining watch!
"Witness if you will, a dungeon, made out of mountains, salt flats, and sand that stretch to infinity. The dungeon has an inmate: James A. Corry. And this is his residence: a metal shack. An old touring car that squats in the sun and goes nowhere - for there is nowhere to go. For the record, let it be known that James A. Corry is a convicted criminal placed in solitary confinement. Confinement in this case stretches as far as the eye can see, because this particular dungeon is on an asteroid nine-million miles from the Earth. Now witness, if you will, a man's mind and body shriveling in the sun, a man dying of loneliness."
The episode takes place in the future and a murderer (who only killed in self-defense) played by Jack Warden is sentenced to solitary confinement on an asteroid for 50 years. He's alone, misses life on earth and is bored out of his mind, as a ship would only stops by every 3 months just bring him supplies to keep him entertained and survive. One day, the captain of the ship brings him a large crate which the object inside it is grantee to keep him happy for the rest of the years that he spends on the asteroid. The object to make him happy is a robotic woman named Alicia (Jean Marsh).
This episode has another great set up like most "Twilight Zone" episodes and is actually down right depressing. Jack Warden does a tremendous job as our main character. You can feel his loneliness in every scene he misses life on Earth, and wants somebody to interact with . I always get depressed in the scene when the supply ship crew can't spend any time with him after he sets up food, cards, and a chess set that he made, it just makes you feel really sorry for the poor guy. I mean how would you feel if you were living all alone miles away from people with no company at all? It's very sad and this guy's acting captures it all.
The woman who plays the robot woman Alicia is great as well. She acts like a robot but still manages to show the emotions of a real woman. The chemistry between her and Corry is great! At first Corry doesn't want her since she's not real but as time goes by not only is he attached to her, but we the audience are attached to their relationship as well. Despite not being a real woman and is made to have emotions, she's the only company and salvation that he has to keep him sane and from not being alone and watching him play, talk to her and teach her things actually feels like a real relationship thus making us forget that she's a robot until that sad ending comes which I won't spoil for you.
It's a very sad and depressing episode where the acting, the atmosphere and story thoroughly makes you feel everything that our main character is going through as you feel isolated while watching this episode as well.
"Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the printed page, but who is conspired against by a bank president and a wife and a world full of tongue-cluckers and the unrelenting hands of a clock. But in just a moment, Mr. Bemis will enter a world without bank presidents or wives or clocks or anything else. He'll have a world all to himself...without anyone."
TIME ENOUGH AT LAST
If you thought the last episode was sad and depressing as it made you feel alone, this one takes not only a step further but it's also one of the most famous and iconic episodes of the series. Burgess Meredith stars as the far sighted Henry Bemis who loves to read any book, Newspaper, and magazine that he can get his hands on. But everyone around him finds his obsessive reading to be a huge waste of time as they spoil any chance he gets to read. The only place where Henry can ever read in peace is down in the vault at the bank where he works at during his lunch break. One day as Henry is having his lunch in the vault, an H-bomb destroys the entire world where Henry now finds himself alone in this wasteland wondering if he should keep living or kill himself.
The premise of a guy alone in the world is indeed nothing new to the series since the pilot episode of the official show was about a guy being alone in a town as he tries to figure out where everybody is, and who he is, that leads to a very clever twist ending. But when people think about episodes of "The Twilight Zone" about a person being alone with no one around or to talk too, this is the episode that usually comes to their minds. So what exactly makes this episode more iconic and memorable than the show's pilot? Well to cast a legendary actor like Burgess Meredith as your lead sure does help a lot. Most of us are familiar with Burgess Meredith playing characters who are loud and grouchy like Mickey in the "Rocky" movies, and the Penguin in 60s Batman TV Show; and to see him play a humble and nerdy misfit who is just seeking time to read is indeed different to the roles that we usually see him play. As I hard as I try I can never see this legendary actor through the glasses, the mustache, and geeky and pleasant personality. He just fits into the role of his character perfectly, where we find our selves sympathizing with him all the way through, from witnessing him lose every single chance he gets to read, to figuring out what to do with his life now that he is the only survivor left on earth. It's just an incredible performance by a magnificent actor.
The first half of the episode where we find ourselves getting antiquated with the character has a nice balance of drama and humor. Watching Henry try to find time to read as the people around him keep preventing him from doing so, is humorous by not humorous to the point where you're to busy laughing to not feel sorry for him. It's a nice first half that keeps you entertained as we're watching his everyday life. But once the H-bomb drops and Henry leaves the vault to see the bank that he works at to be destroyed, that's where the episode gets good! I do love seeing Earl Holliman in "Where Is Everybody" walk around an empty town that's perfectly intact. But to see Burgess Meredith search for salvation and try to live a new life in a world full of ruble to me more is interesting and tragic. The way the episode captures this post apocalyptic world through its sets, cinematography, and music creates a heavy dark and gritty atmosphere where you feel that you are stuck wandering around through what's left of the world with Henry, as you try to imagine what the city and have once looked like before they were destroyed (considering that we've only been inside the bank and Henry's home before the end of the world).
The story may not have that mystery element or twist ending that the show is best known for, but it’s still a very engaging story that leaves you into thinking of what you would do if you were in Henry's position. The ending without giving it away may not have a big of a surprise twist, but it’s the most iconic scene in the entire episode that still sticks to people's minds after they see it. If I had any nitpicks regarding the episode, I would say that it does have a few unrealistic things in it such as how some of the things that Henry finds are still in decent condition, or how the episode totally ignores radioactivity and the polluted air from the H-Bomb. But given how effectively the episode pulls you into this environment through the acting, visuals, and story, those flaws that I pointed out don't at all come off as distracting!
It's one of the essential episodes of the series for many good reasons, that overall makes it a definite must see!
"Twelve o'clock noon. An ordinary scene, an ordinary city. Lunchtime for thousands of ordinary people. To most of them, this hour will be a rest, a pleasant break in a day's routine. To most, but not all. To Edward Hall, time is an enemy, and the hour to come is a matter of life and death."
PERCHANCE TO DREAM
Richard Conte plays a nervous man who fears that he might die if he ever goes to sleep. But if he keeps himself awake for too long he will put too much of a strain on his heart. Seeking help, he goes to a psychiatrist (John Larch) to tell him how out of control his imagination is where he can see and feel things that aren't there. And discuss about his dreams where he finds himself at a carnival where a beautiful dancer (Suzanne Lloyd) working there wants to kill him.
I've only seen Richard Conte play the Mafia boss Don Barzini who was pulling the Corleone Family's strings in "The Godfather", and when I found out that he was going to star in this episode of "The Twilight Zone" I was curious to see how he would do outside of a tough guy role. The minute when I saw him appear in the episode, I quickly forgot about his tough guy image in "The Godfather", because how he plays this nervous man with a fear of death is so haunting, that not once could I not feel what his character is feeling. Every single time he appears on-screen he gives a performance that's so nerve racking, that its breath taking. The first half of the episode mostly takes place inside the psychiatrist office with very little visuals. It's pretty much just setting up for what we are about to witness in the second act. But the acting from Conte and Larch is so powerful, as they are both given interesting pieces of dialogue that I couldn't look away. I was glued to my seat, and curious to see how it will all play out.
When we gaze at Conte's flashback of driving on the road, that's where things really get compelling! The visuals for when Conte is driving do look a little bit clunky, which made me wonder if the rest of the visuals that the episode was going to show me were going to be just as clumsy as the scene I just witnessed. But once I got to the carnival in Conte's dream, that's where the visuals started getting good. The carnival that Conte visits in the dream does look like something out of a nightmare, with its tilted angles, fast editing, weird and gothic sets that resemble a cheesy funhouse and making the world look dark and blurry. It seriously does look like something out of a nightmare. And in the foreground of this carnival is the woman who wants to kill Conte, who carries a seductive nature that's menacing and uncomforting! You want to avoid her for how freaky she is, but there's something about her presence and personality where you somehow can't resist her. The best moment in the episode is when Conte goes on a roller-coaster with the dancer, and even though you can tell its being shot with a projector screen, the way the scene is paced, edited, and acted is so powerfully intense that you find yourself just as distressed as Conte is, hoping that it would stop.
As I was watching this episode, I couldn't help but think of Wes Craven's "Nightmare On Elm Street", since both the episode and the film revolve around a character who's afraid to go to sleep because a figment from their nightmares will kill them as they sleep. Craven denied that he took inspiration from this episode, and the episode and the movie do have their major differences, but I can't imagine a modern day viewer not watching this episode without thinking of Freddy, unless if they never heard of him. I was also thinking about the episode on "Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse" that lead to the creation of the show known as "The Time Element", since the plot focused on a nervous man who's talking to a psychiatrist about his dream, where he fears that something may happen to him. Again, there are some major differences to these two episodes as well, but they do share a similar set-up. Without giving away the ending, lets just say that a part me had a hunch of what the result was going to be, but the overall result and execution as close as I was to predicting it still defied my expectations.
I don't hear many people talk about this episode compared to the others, but I still think that it’s overall a great one, with its breathtaking acting, artsy visuals, and intense storyline.
"Her name is the S.S. Queen of Glasgow. Her registry: British. Gross tonnage: Five thousand. Age: Indeterminate. At this moment, she's one day out of Liverpool, her destination: New York. Duly recorded on this ship's log is the sailing time, course to destination, weather conditions, temperature, longitude and latitude. But what is never recorded in a log is the fear that washes over a deck like fog and ocean spray. Fear like the throbbing strokes of engine pistons, each like a heartbeat, parceling out every hour into breathless minutes of watching, waiting and dreading. For the year is 1942, and this particular ship has lost its convoy. It travels alone like an aged blind thing groping through the unfriendly dark, stalked by unseen periscopes of steel killers. Yes, the Queen of Glasgow is a frightened ship, and she carries with her a premonition of - death."
Nehemiah Persoff plays a nervous passenger on a British passenger liner in 1942, who has no idea how he got on the ship, and remembers very little about himself. As Persoff tries hard to remember who he is, he does find the ship itself to look very familiar. And as he begins to remember who he is, he discovers that the ship will be sunk by a U-Boat, where he now must save the passengers and the destruction that awaits ship.
When I heard that the guy who voiced Fievel's violin playing Father in the "American Tail" films was going to star in this episode, I was just as interested as seeing Richard Conte play a nervous man in the previous episode; since I've never seen him on film in a starring role before. When I saw him in the episode, I was unfortunately a tad bit disappointed. I'm not saying his acting is awful since some of his expressions, and horrified reactions in the climax help carry out some of the suspense. And his last scene in the episode where we see him reveal his true collars does feel natural, instead of over the top. But with that said, his acting unfortunately comes across as a little too mellow-dramatic. I just find the majority of his reactions and line delivery a little too hard to buy for how unnatural his performance is. I constantly get the feeling that this guy is simply just acting and saying his lines, it just never felt too real for me. I'm sure this guy is a good actor, but here, with the exception of a few moments and one good scene, I just don't find his overall performance that convincing compared to the other actors on the show. I know my opinion on his performance is unpopular, but just keep in mind that it's just an opinion, and please believe me when I say that I was trying to get sucked in by his performance.
The supporting cast of characters that Persoff's character meets aren't really all that memorable, which kind of makes it hard to sympathize about the tragedy that will come to them. The only characters I remember is Ben Wright (who you may know him for serving as the voice of Roger in Disney's "One Hundred And One Dalmatians", or as Prince Eric's servant and close friend Grimsby in "The Little Mermaid") as the nosy but friendly Captain of the ship; and James Franciscus as the Nazi U-Boat, who has the most White American German accent that I've ever heard. They're good performances (if you can overlook Franciscus' phony German accent), but you don't feel a strong connection with any of them. And that's a huge let down, because I really did want to find myself invested with the supporting characters so that I can fear for the loss of innocent lives just as much as our main character does.
The episode's set-up and story is a good premise, especially when we find out the character's identity, but the execution is unfortunately not as good. It's not just because of Persoff phoned in acting, and supporting characters that he hardly interact with, but its the failed build-up leading to the character learning about who he truly is. The reason why its failed is because the clues and hints are so painfully obvious of what the surprise twist involving this character is going to be, that you might as well just have him know who he is, and just try to deal with the situation he's in throughout the episode, rather than him finding an answer that's beyond predictable. I'll tell you, I immediately caught on to where the story was going after the first 5 minutes, not even! And the fact that I have to sit through good chunk of the episode full of boring dialogue leading to a twist that I already know is coming, makes the whole first half annoying and tedious. But I as bad as the first half is, the second half at least makes up for it, because the sequence involving Persoff running around the ship trying to find the people as the boat is about to be sunk by the U-Boat is a very nerve-racking and slightly disturbing sequence with some haunting visuals. I'll also give the episode credit for the look and feel of being on board the ship which looks like being on a ghost ship from the constant darkness and fog surrounding the ship.
The episode is not one that I highly recommend due to its unconvincing performance from our lead, forgettable supporting characters, and an obvious twist that ruins the first half. But the second half does at least make up for it, thanks to its dramatic climax, moving ending, and haunting atmosphere. The episode had a good premise, but the overall execution needed a little more work for it to reach its true potential.
"Her name: X-20. Her type: an experimental interceptor. Recent history: a crash landing in the Mojave Desert after a thirty-one hour flight nine hundred miles into space. Incidental data: the ship, with the men who flew her, disappeared from the radar screen for twenty-four hours. But the shrouds that cover mysteries are not always made out of a tarpaulin, as this man will soon find out on the other side of a hospital door."
AND WHEN THE SKY WAS OPENED
Three astronauts flying the X-20 DynaSoar into space, crash land on a desert, and are taken to a hospital. Two of the astronauts are immediately discharged from the hospital, as the other one (played by Jim Hutton) stays behind due to a broken leg he received from the crash. As the two astronauts go to a bar for a drink, one them (played by Charles Aidman) fears that he for some reason no longer belongs on this world, which of course his friend (Played Rod Taylor) denies it and thinks that he's lost his marbles, until he soon finds his friend to be suddenly "erased from existence", where only he remembers him as no one else around him does.
The premise I'll admit is straight forward, and the ending itself doesn't offer any twists or surprises. But as simple and predictable as the story is, how the episode executes it, is so on the edge of your seat suspenseful, that I couldn't find myself turning away from it, or being disinterested in what’s going on. It’s a very heart-pounding episode where even if you do know how things are going to turn out, there's just this overall suspenseful mood that never lets up. A huge part of that is the acting, especially from Rod Taylor, who carries out the character's hysteria to the situation ever so effectively with his energy and reactions. You feel the confusion and rage about his lost friend through every bit of emotion that Taylor puts into his performance. The other two actors who play the astronauts also do just as an effective job as Taylor does, where you also completely buy the chemistry that these three have together, despite how simplistic that these characters are.
On a visual level, the episode is not really heavy on it. The episode doesn't even use any Special Effects for when things disappears either, its all usually emphasized by props that seemed to have vanished from the spot where we saw them last. The episode is more focused on the powerful acting, writing and eerie music to give the episode its thrilling vibe than it does with visuals, and quite frankly it all works perfectly well. I actually admire that the episode heavily relied on the actors, and its simple use of props to the create illusions that things are disappearing, rather then using Special Effect of things vanishing that we've seen before in previous episodes (usually when they involve people from the Afterlife). It's definitely a sign of great direction. The only time when the direction for things disappearing didn't work is when one of the character's looks in the mirror where he doesn't have a reflection, as you can easily spot his reflection on the side of the mirror. But aside from that little fluff, it’s still a solidly directed episode.
The premise maybe simple, but its the level of thrill that the episode creates thanks to its top-notch acting and directing that make it so great!
"You're looking at Mr. Fred Renard, who carries on his shoulder a chip the size of the national debt. This is a sour man, a friendless man, a lonely man, a grasping, compulsive, nervous man. This is a man who has lived thirty-six undistinguished, meaningless, pointless, failure-laden years and who at this moment looks for an escape - any escape, any way, anything, anybody - to get out of the rut. And this little old man is just what Mr. Renard is waiting for."
WHAT YOU NEED
A small time greedy thug played by Steve Cochran witnesses an old peddler played by Ernest Truex giving people in the bar the things that they need, as if he can see the future. When he asks the old peddler of what he needs, he gives him a pair of scissors that later on save his life. When Fred finally puts together of what the peddler is capable of, he begins to force him into giving him more and more things to help him with his future.
This is another one of those episodes that has a straight forward story with very little scares and suspense, and is more focused on the actors interacting with each other to tell the story, rather than also sucking us in with its visuals, effects, and atmosphere. And while the visuals in the episode aren't anything special compared to other episodes, it still at least maintains the show's dark and ominous look with its heavy shadows and night time sky. But really the main reason what makes the episode truly work is the interaction between Corchan and Truex. I like that Truex plays the character as this sweet and helpless old man that wants to help people, as Corchan keeps coming after him with his greed that comes across as cold and bitter.
The best performance out of the two is definitely Truex's performance. He just really knocks it out of the park as this kind hearted peddler who cares more about the people and their future than himself. The character himself is also a very interesting character, you don't know how he got his powers and why he has so many convenient items on him for the people he suddenly meets, but it’s the mystery and friendly personality that keeps you attached to him. I even enjoy the episode's overall themes of need and greed. As for the ending, when we got to the build-up to the climax, I suspected what was coming, but the reason for it, is what made me surprised. Plus the way the scene is shot, acted and builds tension makes it the only suspenseful scene in the episode that makes it the episode's highlight. And a fun little tidbit if you ever decide to watch this episode be sure to check out the two Newspapers that Renard receives for a few clever in-jokes.
The episode is standard in terms of visuals and story, but the acting, characters, themes, and climax are what make it so intriguing.
"His name is Arch Hammer, he's 36 years old. He's been a salesman, a dispatcher, a truck driver, a con man, a bookie, and a part-time bartender. This is a cheap man, a nickel-and-dime man, with a cheapness that goes past the suit and the shirt; a cheapness of mind, a cheapness of taste, a tawdry little shine on the seat of his conscience, and a dark-room squint at a world whose sunlight has never gotten through to him. But Mr. Hammer has a talent, discovered at a very early age. This much he does have. He can make his face change. He can twitch a muscle, move a jaw, concentrate on the cast of his eyes, and he can change his face. He can change it into anything he wants. Mr. Archie Hammer, jack-of-all-trades, has just checked in at three-eighty a night, with two bags, some newspaper clippings, a most odd talent, and a master plan to destroy some lives. "
THE FOUR OF US ARE DYING
The story regarding this episode isn't really much. It's exactly how the opening narration describes the character, a conman who can change his face and impersonate as different people for his own personal gain. He gets into one dangerous situation after another where he has to constantly change his face to keep people from chasing after him, but that's pretty much what the whole story is about, which is pretty mediocre for a "Twilight Zone" episode. The idea of a man who can change his face to look like a different person is a cool concept, but the story and execution unfortunately doesn't sell it. Even the ending has to be by far the dumbest ending that I've ever seen on the show. Without giving it away let’s just say that what happens to the lead character just comes out of left field and is completely far fetched. I know that's a weird thing for me to say considering that the episode involves a guy who can flawlessly impersonate other people's faces, but this just felt like that the writers just came up with it at the last minute, where the build-up and reason for it feels rushed, as there are better alternatives to end the episode on.
But as bad as the story is, there are at least a few good things in it that make it watchable. I love that we get four different actors playing our lead character in the four different forms he takes in the episode. Each and every one of the actors playing the different identities that the conman takes are beautifully acted where you can still see these four different actors as one character. The look for the episode also isn't bad either. Yes it’s obvious that the actors are walking on a set instead of being in an actual city, but I admire how stylized it looks as there are neon-light signs literally everywhere as he walks down the city streets with the set pieces and painted buildings and landscapes. I just like how twisted and edgy it looks, like seeing a Film Noir as if it were designed to look like one of those Gothic horror films made in Germany during the silent era. The only time when I found the set fake to the point where it doesn't match the visual style of the city is the end of an alley with a painted backdrop that just stands out like a soar thumb, instead of blending in with the twisted environment.
This is undoubtedly another one of the weaker episodes in the show, but it is still entertaining with a few good things to offer. Just don't expect to be wowed by this one, especially in terms of story.
"Quitting time at the plant. Time for supper now. Time for families. Time for a cool drink on a porch. Time for the quiet rustle of leaf-laden trees that screen out the moon, and underneath it all, behind the eyes of the men, hanging invisible over the summer night, is a horror without words. For this is the stillness before storm. This is the eve of the end."
THIRD FROM THE SUN
Two scientist who work at a military base (played by Fritz Weaver and Joe Maross) discover that their is going to be a Nuclear War after producing a great number of H-Bombs, and fear that they will be killed with the rest of the population. To avoid a more than possible death, they plan to steal a secret experimental Spaceship that's located on the base, and leave the world with their families to find another planet to live on. What stands in the way from them leaving the world is their superior (Edward Andrews) who is on to their plan.
The thing that I admire about this episode is how heavy it is with the atmosphere. You can tell that the budget was very tight on this episode, but the atmosphere that the episode has more than makes up for it, from the way it’s directed. The majority of the episode is shot with titled angles and close-ups that give this episode a strange and uncomfortable look and feel. Actually some the shots and twisted visuals subtly hint towards the episode's ending, which I of course won't give away.
The acting also adds a great deal to the amount of tension to the episode's atmosphere. The worried reactions from the actors, and how they fear about the world being destroyed and the possibility that their plan may fail is nerve racking. The best moments in the episode that build suspense are the scenes with Edward Andrews. You know that he's on to their plan, but you don't know what he's going to do and when he's going to reveal to them that he knows what their up too. The man doesn't say anything to threaten them, and just acts simply polite when he’s around them, but his knowledge and presence around the characters are a huge part of the qualities of what make him so intimidating. The characters themselves are thin, but you still care about them, because thanks to the atmosphere and superb acting, you can't help but feel attached to them as if you were just as desperate to avoid the Nuclear War as much as they do.
Much like the episode "And When The Sky Was Opened" the premise and characters are simple, but the atmosphere and acting that creates plenty of suspense and paranoia that hardly ever lets up are the main reasons why its such a gem.
"Her name is the Arrow 1. She represents four and a half years of planning, preparation, and training, and a thousand years of science, mathematics, and the projected dreams and hopes of not only a nation, but a world. She is the first manned aircraft into space and this is the countdown. The last five seconds before man shot an arrow into the air."
I SHOT AN ARROW INTO THE AIR
A spaceship crash lands on an asteroid in outer space, and 4 out of the eight crew members survived the crash. However one of the survivors is slowly dying and three of the astronauts fear that they might die on this endless desert with the hot sun burning on their backs as they have very little water to drink from. As the astronauts try to keep themselves alive for as long as they can as they explore the desert, one of them (Dewey Martin) starts going mad by acting selfish as he tries to drink every last drop of water that they have, as the others suspect that he may murder them for their cans of water.
The episode's set-up quickly captured my interest from the moment when I saw these astronauts stranded on asteroid and saw the Dewey Martin already stirring up trouble. Like in many of the great "Twilight Zone" episodes, this keeps you sucked in by its atmosphere thanks to the beautiful shots of the desert, the way it’s paced, and above all the acting from our cast of actors. Just the way that these characters interact with one another as you see them constantly sweat adds plenty to the intensity of to their situation, especially from Martin's performance that's a bit over the top, but not to the point where you don't feel his anger and suffering. As the episode kept going where we get more and more clues about their surroundings, the wheels in my head were turning like crazy as I was trying to figure out the truth of this asteroid that their stuck on, and what is really beyond those mountains. Without giving away the ending, lets just say that even though the overall ending was one of my many predictions that was racing through my head as I watched it, it was actually my 2nd to last prediction that I would've suspected in this episode. And the execution to the ending is so emotionally played out, that it makes for a powerful conclusion.
As much as I praise the episode, there are indeed a few issues that I had with it. As good as the acting is in the episode, the only actual characters that stand out are Martin Dewey's character, and the leader of the pack played by Edward Binns, since the other pair of astronauts that survived crash doesn’t have anything interesting and distinctive about them when it comes to personality and character. But to be fair, I think that was the episode's intention for us to be more antiquated with Dewey and Binns character since they are the stars; which makes sense given the episode's run time, but I just felt like we should have at least gotten to know a little bit more of the others. I also feel like that making Martin Dewey's character a selfish asshole from the very beginning before he goes mad was lazily phoned in to quickly make him out to be the bad guy. The performance isn't bad, but I felt like that he should've been just as a calm as the other two, only to see him slowly drench into madness from the longer he stays on that asteroid. I just have a bit of a hard time buying that someone would actually send a rash man like him up to space and equip him with a gun (which by the way, why exactly are they carrying guns). And speaking of dumb and confusing decisions, as much as I enjoy the twist ending and appreciate it for what its done in later years for Serling's career as a writer, I kind of find it weird that the astronauts didn't catch on to it sooner considering that they would have known better. Seriously who sent these guys to space?
The episode isn't as mediocre as something like "The Four Of Us Are Dying" or "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine" because its story, mystery, performance, and atmosphere is good and suspenseful; but there are a few major flaws in a couple of areas that are just a little too distracting.
"Her name is Nan Adams. She's twenty-seven years old. Her occupation: buyer at a New York department store. At present on vacation, driving cross-country to Los Angeles, California from Manhattan."
A woman (Inger Stevens) is traveling cross country from New York to L.A. California. But things suddenly go from weird to intense when she keeps passing by a Hitchhiker (Leonard Strong) who keeps appearing out of the blue. The woman tries to point out the man to everybody that she encounters, but nobody else sees him. After almost being hit by a train when she's sees the hitchhiker again, she fears that he's trying to have her killed, and will continue to follow her until he succeeds.
The suspense in this episode is brilliant. From start to finish, I never once felt at ease. A huge part of the suspense comes from Stevens' acting because every expression and word that she says in her state of fear makes you feel just as scared as she is, as you constantly wonder about who this Hitchhiker is, and what exactly does he want. Leonard Strong as the hitchhiker who barely says a word in this episode also contributes plenty to the episode's suspense. Much like Edward Andrews in the episode "Third From The Sun" he doesn't look or act threatening, but he still comes off as menacing. And to make this character even more menacing than Edward Andrews' character was, we don't know who or what he is, and why he's always following Stevens' around. It’s the mystery surrounding this character that makes him so fearful.
The atmosphere surrounding is just as you would expect for an episode like this. You feel like you're on the road with Stevens' from the way the scenes are shot that give you a claustrophobic feeling. The episode even gives a few appearances of the Hitchhiker when you wouldn't expect him, and when you try to get ready for his next surprise he still keeps you off-guard, which is another reason why you become as paranoid as our star. As for the ending without giving it away, it caught me completely off-guard, where I still find myself thinking about it for how satisfyingly bizarre it was.
This episode is one big thrill ride that never lets up until it’s over, which is a trip that I highly recommend you take!
"Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Gibbs, three days and two nights all expenses paid at a Las Vegas hotel. Won by virtue of Mrs. Gibbs' knack with a phrase. But unbeknownst to either Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs is the fact that there's a prize in their package, near expecting a bargain for. In just a moment, one of them will succumb to an illness worse than any virus can produce: a most inoperative, deadly life-shattering affliction known as the Fever."
Everett Sloane & Vivi Janiss play a married couple vacationing in Las Vegas since Franklin’s wife Flora won a slogan contest. But Franklin despises gambling and wishes that his wife never won the contest. However all that changes when he's given a coin from a drunk man who insists that he uses the slot machine, and after reluctantly pulling the lever he wins. With his mind set of keeping the money he won, rather than using it, he begins to hear the machine call his name. And after imagining how much money he can win from that machine, he becomes an addicted gambler who won't stop playing the machine until he wins the jackpot.
The idea of a slot machine that seems to have a mind of its own is a clever concept for a "Twilight Zone" story involving the dangers of gambling, that's for the most part executed effectively. It is in many ways silly that a slot machine would be taunting a man and chasing after him. But on the other hand, the way the slot machine appears out of nowhere, and is shown to be following Franklin as it calls out his name is quite unsettling. And I like that we're not 100% sure if this is all in Franklin's head because of his gambling addiction, or if the slot machine is actually alive. That's mainly for the viewer to decide. What I think makes the slot machine so freaky is how they give it a grin as it lights up and slowly follows Franklin in the last act. And the way they mix a person's voice to the sound of silver dollars falling out of it. I'll tell you I'll never look at a slot machine again after watching this episode, for how creepy they made it look and behave.
Everett Sloane gives a performance that's intense to the point where you too are taken by the madness that he's suffering that's supported by the pacing and shots. But as you find yourself losing it almost as he is, you find yourself laughing at him at the same time because of how much time and money he wastes on a slot machine as people gawk at him. The only problem I have with the character is his transformation to being a sucker for gambling. It's not bad, but it did feel a little rushed and kind of forced since it seems like the director is trying to not go over the show's half hour run time. I thought the wife's transformation from enjoying gambling to hating it because of what it did to her husband felt more natural than our actual star and focus. Also why is this guy writing checks since it was clearly established at the very beginning that he has unlimited credit? That kind of bothers me.
For its faults, the episode still has good acting, and a unique way of teaching the dangers of gambling and addiction, that's all supported by dark humor.
"Witness Flight Lieutenant William Terrance Decker, Royal Flying Corps, returning from a patrol somewhere over France. The year is 1917. The problem is that the Lieutenant is hopelessly lost. Lieutenant Decker will soon discover that a man can be lost not only in terms of maps and miles, but also in time - and time in this case can be measured in eternities."
THE LAST FLIGHT
A British World War 1 fighter pilot (Kenneth Haigh) finds himself on an American airbase located in France in the year 1959. He is then quickly taken into custody and questioned by the two heads of the base (played by Simon Scott and Alexander Scourby). It appears that he managed to travel through time by flying through a strange cloud as he and his war buddy were fighting German aircraft's. Nobody believes him, and he finds himself in shock when he discovers that his friend is alive, since he thought he died as he was fighting those planes.
The episode unfortunately doesn't have any interesting visuals, or much of an atmosphere to make you feel like you're on the base with the characters. There are also no scares, or mind blowing surprises in it either. All we get visual wise is the action that takes place in the climax, and the cloud that the British pilot sees which are decent but nothing all that special. The majority of the episode plays itself out more like a play given how it’s all carried out by acting and that we're mostly inside one room as the characters are talking to one another.
But with all that said it’s still a fantastic episode! The acting from our three leads is phenomenal to the point where they do an efficient job of keeping your attention. The most haunting performance out of the three is Kenneth Haigh as the pilot lost in time, since he sells the stress of his unusual situation ever so emotionally. The writing for the episode also helps a great deal with keeping your attention to the story. Mainly because we know our lead character just as vaguely as the soldiers interrogating him are. We don't know if he's insane, if what he's saying is true, or if he's on a secret mission for a planed assassination attempt on someone who he claims he knows. A part of us believes of what he's saying his true, but there could be that chance that he might possibly be making all this up given the show’s twisted nature.
The episode may not be lacking when it comes to visuals, but it’s the cleverly written story and the powerful acting that's the true focus of it.
"Infantry platoon, U.S. Army, Philippine Islands, 1945. These are the faces of the young men who fight; as if some omniscient painter had mixed a tube of oils that were at one time earth brown, dust gray, blood red, beard black, and fear yellow-white. And these men were the models. For this is the province of combat and these are the faces of war."
THE PURPLE TESTAMENT
A World War two soldier fighting against the Japanese (William Reynolds) gains the power to tell that a person is going to die, by just seeing a mysterious glow on their face. He tells his best friend (Dick York) about his special power but he obviously has trouble believing in him. A few deaths that he predicted later, he sees the glow on his friend’s face for when they're about to go to battle.
The concept of a solider knowing about the death's that are about to happen to his fellow troops is an ingenious way of tying the horrors of war to the show's supernatural environment. And William Reynolds as the solider who has this cursed gift gives carries the element of it just as effective as the plot sounds. Nearly every step of the way you find yourself sympathizing with him of how he has to deal with the knowledge of knowing who's going to die out in the battle field. The lighting and effect used to signal when someone's going to die is simple, but yet so efficient.
In terms of suspense and atmosphere however, much like in the previous episode, it’s very lacking. At least in the other episode, you were at least pulled in by the mystery in the story-line. Here you can pretty much guess before the end of the episode's first act of where this is all going to eventually lead up too. And as the creepy as the reveal was (despite it being predictable), the pay-off and execution feels rushed. I'll even admit that as great as the acting in this episode is, you hardly feel a connection between the characters. The interaction and dialogue mostly just feels there to just give the story exposition and nothing more. I never felt bad for any of the soldiers that were going to die since I barley got to know them, or sense any chemistry with one another. This episode also has to have one of thee most obvious sets that I've seen on the show. For most episodes, even when you know the actors are on a set, they were at least stylized or shot at an uncomfortable level to fit within the show's strange world. With this set on the other hand, you know right from the get-go that they're standing on a sound-stage that's supposed to look like a jungle, that's hardly shot at an artistic level for you to overlook how fake it is.
This is sadly another one of those half and half episodes that are not bad, but could have been made a lot better than what we were given.
“The time is the day after tomorrow. The place: a far off corner of the universe. The cast of characters: three men lost among the stars, three men sharing the common urgency of all men lost…they’re looking for home. And in a moment they’ll find home, not a home that is a place to be seen but a strange, unexplainable experience to be felt.”
Three astronauts (Jeff Morrow, Kevin Hagen, and Don Dubbins) land on an asteroid since their ship is out of fuel (why does this sound so familiar?). But instead of being in a desert wasteland, the landscape actually resembles a lot to Earth. The only two major differences are there are two suns, and the people are frozen. As the three astronauts look for signs of life, they come across a man (Cecil Kellaway) who takes care of the town full of frozen people.
The moment when I discovered that the asteroid that the astronauts have landed on looked like Earth, only with people being frozen in time, I was hooked! The acting from the three astronauts is great, the atmosphere is chilling along with having a dark humorous tone that adds to the tension, and the story had me guessing and guessing, all the way through. The best part about the episode is Cecil Kellaway as the caretaker for this perfect town of frozen people who are happy. He has a very polite and welcoming presence, but there's something about him that you don't trust, as you endlessly wonder about him. To keep spoilers to a minimum, let’s just say that when the episode was over there's still a mysterious element surrounding this character that leaves you into thinking. Another great aspect of the episode is when we begin to learn about the caretaker and how he runs this town, we find ourselves learning about the astronauts as well. And that all happens in the episode's second act, which is more dialogue heavy, than it is being heavy with visuals.
The first act of the episode is the act that's drenched with visuals of frozen happy people living a perfect life that looks like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, which requires actors to pretend to be frozen with hardly any help from the effects team. There are a good handful of occasions where you can see them slightly move and even blink their eyes. There's even a dog that looks like a statute from its distance shot, to suddenly turning into a real dog that's frozen, which is quite noticeable. But for the most part, the extras standing there as lifeless as wax-figures at a museum while looking happy, still looks impressive and carries a vibe that's unsettling and yet so comical at the same exact time. The set design for the town is obviously a back-lot, but given how everybody is made to look like a museum exhibit representing a time in front of a phony set modeled, it works beautifully. The only effect in the episode that I found to be painfully awkward, nor did the shot had a need to be presented in the episode is when we see the two astronauts on top of a bridge, suddenly turn into a still photograph for no apparent reason.
The effects can at times look phony, but it’s still an amazing episode with its acting, story, mystery, humor, and atmosphere. Even when the effects do look phony, they still for the most part add to the episode's unsettling charm given the circumstances that these guys are in.
"Millicent Barnes, age twenty-five, young woman waiting for a bus on a rainy November night. Not a very imaginative type is Miss Barnes, not given to undue anxiety or fears, or for that matter even the most temporal flights of fancy. Like most young career women, she has a generic classification as a, quote, girl with a head on her shoulders, end of quote. All of which is mentioned now because in just a moment the head on Miss Barnes's shoulders will be put to a test. Circumstances will assault her sense of reality and a chain of nightmares will put her sanity on a block. Millicent Barnes, who in one minute will wonder if she's going mad."
Vera Miles plays a woman waiting for a bus at a bus depot for her new job, that's running late. When she asks the man at the ticket counter of when the bus will arrive, he becomes frustrated of hearing her ask the same question a third time. But Barnes claims to the man that this is the first time she's ever asked him that question, which the agent denies her claims. As she is arguing with the agent, she sees a bag in the luggage pile that looks like hers, and just so happens to be hers. She refuses to believe the agent's claim, until she discovers that her bag is no longer beside the bench that she was sitting in. After she sees another reflection of herself in the mirror sitting on a bench, she finds herself in absolute terror. And as she is in her state of fear and confusion she is being comforted by a young man (Martin Milner) who is also waiting to get on the same bus that she's eagerly waiting to get on.
As I was watching the episode, I started to see a few similarities to the episode "The Hitch-Hiker". The concept of a woman going on a trip and seeing something supernatural that only she can see, which leaves her in constant fear, as the others around her think she's insane is hardly any different to Inger Stevens constantly seeing the Hitchhiker on her trip. The man comforting her from her fears is very similar to how the sailor in "The Hitch-Hiker" was comforting the woman, who even shares the same noble personality that the sailor has. And there's a scene when we hear the woman's thoughts about what she's seeing and hearing, just like how we heard Stevens' thoughts in "The Hitch-Hiker". But as similar as some of the things are to the earlier "Twilight Zone" episode, there's still enough new things in it that prevent it from being a rehash. Instead of the man trying to help the woman for at least 5 minutes of the episode's run-time like the sailor, he's in it for the whole entire second act. In fact, the last shot of the episode involves him, instead of our leading lady. And hearing the thoughts of our main character only happens in one scene, as opposed to hearing them for half of the episode.
But the biggest major difference that this episode offers is the story. We're not traveling cross-country with this woman, we're actually in one location where its shot and edited at a claustrophobic level that brings both the suspense, and a supernatural feel. And instead of seeing a strange person that she's never met before, she sees herself that are presented by effects that may look dated by today's standards' but still look good, especially for the time when this episode came out. Vera Miles (who also was in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" that same year) gives a sterling performance as this frightened woman, even when her acting does occasionally seem a bit too mellow-dramatic. Martin Milner does a fine job, despite that his character and performance feels like a duplicate of Adam William's performance in "The Hitch-Hiker". And the supporting characters such as the impatience ticket agent and the humble cleaning woman are enjoyably memorable and easy to identify. As for the ending (again, without spoiling it for newcomers) I knew where the episode was going to end with since it seemed to be around that time where it was about to wrap up with a twist ending. But the scene that the episode ends on was petrifying as it leaves you into thinking.
The episode does share a few similarities to "The Hitch-Hiker", and I do think that the episode that it’s similar too is better in comparison; but I do think the episode is still good enough to hold-up on its own merits.
“Maple Street, USA, late summer. A tree-lined little world of front porch gliders, barbeques, the laughter of children and the bell of an ice-cream vendor. At the sound of the roar and the flash of light, it will be precisely six forty-three PM. This is Maple Street on a late Saturday afternoon. Maple Street—in the last calm and reflective moments before the monsters came.”
MONSTER'S ARE DUE ON MAPLE STREET
In a small suburban neighborhood called "Maple Street" where everyone lives in peace and harmony, a shadow passes over them that’s accompanied by a roar and a flash of light. As the people seem to shrug off of what they just saw, they discover that their electricity isn't working and that their cars aren't starting. As the neighbors gather around to figure out what's going on, a kid suggests that aliens have shut down the power, and are posing themselves as a family living on a street that are waiting to invade the town. The neighbors at first don't believe it, but after noticing the power turning on and off at different parts of their neighborhood, they begin to panic and start to point fingers at each other to figure out who the alien is as they are prepared to the kill alien in disguise.
The story surrounding the episode is just pure gold! Just the whole entire concept that a society of friendly people would launch into fear and panic because of their power acting strange which takes them out of their comfort zone is extremely clever, especially from the way it’s being told. And in many ways, I can still see this story and outlook on society still being told in modern times considering how accustomed we've grown to social media. It’s a timeless cautionary tale that still holds up strong to this very day, no matter how old it is, or when it’s set. I also admire that there's a mystery in the story involving who the alien in disguise is. I do think the concept of the power acting strange can work fine on its own, but I'm pleased that Serling took the extra mile to give us a mystery involving the supernatural to enhance on humanity's fears and prejudices that make you feel just as paranoid as the characters are. I won't give away the ending, but I will say that my jaw dropped, as I gazed on it with complete awe and amazement, for how clever it is.
Even though the episode does have two leads which are Claude Akins as the voice reason, and Jack Weston (wearing an interesting Hawaiian shirt) who is always pointing fingers at people, its really the whole entire cast who are the stars of the episode, mainly because we always seem them huddled together with an urge to kill or hurt the first person who steps out of line. I will admit that the acting at times does get a little bit stilted, where even some the line delivery sounds a bit rehearsed (particularly from the kid). But it’s not by any means bad, since the neighbor’s chemistry and transformation feels very believable, and is carried out quite as suspenseful as the story is. The visuals regarding the episode does just an incredible job of capturing the tension and madness just as great as the writing and acting does, with its close-ups and wide angle shots. I also like the choice that the first act is set during day time as the people are trying to grasp what's going, where they still are acting civilized. And that the second act is shot at night, where the people are now out of their minds, which makes them look intimidating. If I had any nitpicks involving the visuals, I do feel like the scenes of the neighbors attacking each other are a tad bit clunky, but they're still intense scenes that come across as frightful (mainly from the acting and writing) and violent, even if it is a bit tamed.
The episode is truly one of the greats of the series that helps give the show its identity, and if you haven't seen it and are remotely interested in seeing it, give it a watch NOW!
"You're looking at a tableau of reality, things of substance, of physical material: a desk, a window, a light. These things exist and have dimension. Now this is Arthur Curtis, age thirty-six, who also is real. He has flesh and blood, muscle and mind. But in just a moment we will see how thin a line separates that which we assume to be real with that manufactured inside of a mind. "
A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE
Howard Duff plays Arthur Curtis, a successful businessman who is married to a lovely wife, and has a beautiful young daughter. Just as he's about to leave his office, he hears someone shout the word "cut", and discovers that he's on a film sound stage as the cast and crew are calling him Gerry. Arthur being scarred out of his wits doesn't know what's going on or what's happening to him, all he wants to do is go home to his Wife and kid. But everyone around him insists that he's an actor that has gone off the deep end, in which he refuse's to believe.
As good as the episode's premise is, the real best parts are the beginning and end. The reveal of Arthur of being in Gerry's world as simple and basic as the cinematography is for that scene, it still captures the intensity of it very effectively. Seeing this office just suddenly turn into a set, where the walls he saw are now reduced to strangers standing in a dark room staring at him without smiling is creepy and sets the mood that this guy has walked out of his universe. The scene then gets more unsettling when we see Arthur trying to use the prop phone as crew members just walk by him in this dark room, looking at him coldly. It’s a chilling opening for the episode that puts you in Arthur's position. As for the ending, the answers are vague, where it’s all up to the viewer to decide, which is what makes this episode and its premise so scary.
As for the middle, I'm not going to say that it’s bad, because the acting from Howard Duff is emotionally intense. The ominous music that plays in the background adds to the creepy atmosphere. And the story did keep my attention. But the imagery wasn't anything special. The supporting characters (aside from Eileen Ryan Gerry's as the nagging wife) aren't that memorable. And there's something about the tension that seems to be lacking.
It's not a bad episode by any means, I just felt that the middle isn't as strong as its opening and ending.
"You're looking at Act One, Scene One, of a nightmare, one not restricted to witching hours of dark, rainswept nights. Professor Walter Jameson, popular beyond words, who talks of the past as if it were the present, who conjures up the dead as if they were alive. In the view of this man, Professor Samuel Kittridge, Walter Jameson has access to knowledge that couldn't come out of a volume of history, but rather from a book on black magic, which is to say that this nightmare begins at noon."
LONG LIVE WALTER JAMESON
An old College professor (Edgar Stehli) suspects something fishy about a young College Professor named Walter Jameson (Kevin McCarthy) who's engaged to his Daughter, after 12 years of looking ageless, and having undocumented knowledge of the Civil War. Jameson denies Kittridge's claims, until he is shown a picture of a man fighting in the Civil War who looks exactly like Jameson. This causes Jameson to reveal to Kittiridge that he's been around for centuries after gaining immortality.
Much like "The Last Flight", this episode isn't centered on with visual effects and camera work, or at least not until the end. It’s mainly centered on the acting and the writing. And just like how I felt about the episode "The Last Flight", these two elements are what make the episode so powerful. The performances from McCarthy and Stehli are grand performances as they are given cleverly written dialogue that tackle on the themes of life, aging, and death so brilliantly. Every time you see them on-screen together, as you listen to McCarthy talk about his life of being immortal, as Stehli tries to understand what his friend is telling him is captivating, where you find yourself just as fascinated and intrigued with McCarthy's immortality as his friend is.
Even though McCarthy and Stehli's performances and characters are the primary focus of the episode, another performance that stands just as tall as our two leading men is Estelle Winwood as a mysterious old woman. She doesn't do or say anything until the episode has nearly reached its end, and when she does, she gives a performance that's so creepy and sad that she leaves this huge impression on you, making you believe that she was in the episode longer. As for the Special Effects that are used in the climax, after so many years since the episode's release, they still look convincing to this very day. Especially in terms of TV Shows made back in its day.
The episode's tackle on the themes of life through immortality is just as beautifully executed as you would expect the show to do it, thanks to its brilliant acting, thoughtful writing, and amazing use of Special Effects to close the episode out.
"You're looking at a species of flimsy little two-legged animal with extremely small heads, whose name is Man. Warren Marcusson, age thirty-five. Samuel A. Conrad, age thirty-one. They're taking a highway into space, Man unshackling himself and sending his tiny, groping fingers up into the unknown. Their destination is Mars, and in just a moment we'll land there with them."
PEOPLE ARE ALIKE ALL OVER
Two astronauts are on a rocket headed to Mars. One of them (Paul Comi) is excited about the trip, hoping to see Martins living on the planet who look and act like humans. But the other astronaut Conrad (Roddy McDowell) is very reluctant to see what creature lies on that Planet. The rocket crash lands on Mars, and Marcusson gets wounded from the crash and eventually dies, leaving Conrad alone. The ship's hull begins to open, and Conrad in fear that the creatures on the planet are monstrous, they actually look and act as civilized as humans are.
After finding out that powerhouse actor Roddy McDowell was going to star in a "Twilight Zone" episode that takes place in space, I was curious to see how he would do. And after seeing him in this episode, I must say that out of all performances in this episode, his stands out the most. Paul Comi as the enthusiastic astronaut does a great job, as well as the actors they got to play the Martins (including Susan Oliver). But McDowell's performance as this nervous man who soon becomes fascinated at what he sees is the main ingredient of what pulls the viewer into the episode with his powerful performance. As we fear, admire, and question everything that he sees and encounters.
Another element that makes the episode so great is its undying tension and suspense. In the first act of the episode where McDowell chooses to stay inside a badly damaged spaceship (complete with broken lights that are shaped like Pac-Man) with the fear of what lurks outside the ship, as his wounded friend wants to see them before he dies, despite that you are curious to see what lies on Mars like the wounded astronaut is, you still feel just as nervous as McDowell thanks to his interaction with the other astronaut, and the footsteps that are heard from the outside. Furthermore as you are nervous while at the same time curious, you do feel like you want to get out of this spaceship for how claustrophobic from the way its shot with its titled angles, and how crazy and disjointed that the sets for this broken spaceship look. When McDowell finally does meet the Martians, as much as you're enchanted by how nice and peaceful they are, and are curious in learning more about their culture, there's something about them that doesn't seem right. And to keep spoilers to a minim let’s say the ending that this episode is subtly building up to is very clever.
The episode has a great balance of suspense and wonder, and having it being tied together by an incredible actor like Roddy McDowell that all leads to a surprising twist, is what makes it one of the classics of the series.
"Commonplace - if somewhat grim - unsocial event known as a necktie party, the guest of dishonor a cowboy named Joe Caswell, just a moment away from a rope, a short dance several feet off the ground, and then the dark eternity of all evil men. Mr. Joe Caswell, who, when the good Lord passed out a conscience, a heart, a feeling for fellow men, must have been out for a beer and missed out. Mr. Joe Caswell, in the last, quiet moment of a violent life."
In 1880 an outlaw cowboy (Albert Salmi) is about to be hanged for murder. Things seem grim for this outlaw until he finds himself suddenly transported into a laboratory in the year 1960. It turns out that a Scientist (Russell Johnson) has created a time machine that took this cowboy out of his time period. But when the scientist finds out that he is a criminal, he tries to send him back, only to be killed, as the cowboy has to now fend for himself in a world that's different from his own.
Now I'll admit when the first half of the episode began, I didn't find myself too attached to it. The Western set looked as obvious as the set used for the Jungles in Japan in "The Purple Testament". The fact that a scientist just somehow randomly transports someone from their own time period without any knowledge of who he brought is confusing and hardly makes any sense. And things like the cowboy not knowing what a lighter is (when they were clearly around in his time), and how the scientist's dead body just so happens to play the same recording of his description of the cowboy were pretty distracting flaws. Even the ending to the episode felt just as out of left field as the ending for the episode "The Four Of Us Are Dying".
But as flawed as the episode was, there were still plenty of good things to keep it from being bad. The acting is solid, especially from Albert Salmi as the cowboy who gives a very dramatic performance. I won't say that the interaction between him and Johnson is as engaging as watching two characters work off each other in episodes like "Long Live John Jameson" or "The Last Flight", but its still not bad acting. The part where the episode actually gets good is when we see the Salmi walking down the neon lit city streets as he's scared by almost everything insight which causes him to act violent. It's a petrifying sequence, and is arguably the most violent scene that the show has ever brought to the small screen. In terms of effects, the episode just uses the shadows of the guy being hung disappearing and showing a guy dissolve when he enters the time machine, that's simple but still done on a frightful level.
The episode does have a fair share of flaws (mostly in terms of writing), but the scares, tension, and acting is what makes it so good.
"In this corner of the universe, a prizefighter named Bolie Jackson, one-hundred and eighty-three pounds and an hour and a half away from a comeback at St. Nick's Arena. Mr. Bolie Jackson, who, by the standards of his profession is an aging, over-the-hill relic of what was, and who now sees a reflection of a man who has left too many pieces of his youth in too many stadiums for too many years before too many screaming people. Mr. Bolie Jackson, who might do well to look for some gentle magic in the hard-surfaced glass that stares back at him."
THE BIG TALL WISH
Ivan Dixon stars as an aging boxer who recently broke his knuckles before entering a fight. After being down for the count, it turns out that the other boxer was somehow down and out. As Bolie is happy with his luck, he doesn't quite understand how he and the boxer just suddenly switched places. It turns out that the son of his girlfriend has made a wish for him to win, which Bolie has trouble believing.
Going into this episode, I went in with a lot of anticipation. A "Twilight Zone" episode being based around boxing sounded like a cool idea, especially since Serling had won an Emmy for his TV drama "Requiem For A Heavyweight" on the show "Playhouse 90". And the fact that this episode nearly featured an-all black cast seemed very welcoming considering that it was rare to star African Americans as leads on TV at that time. In fact the show was awarded the 1961 Unity Award for Outstanding Contributions to Better Race Relations because of this episode. And as I was watching the episode, I didn't hear any of the characters refer to their race or color at all. They could've casted a white cast of characters and the episode wouldn't be any different. But the show decided to go that extra mile and cast a race of people that the entertainment industry wouldn't usually give big parts too at the time.
But as good as it all sounded, I seriously didn't myself all that engaged with the story itself. The acting from Dixion and the kid is good, you do believe their chemistry together, and you do feel bad for this aging boxer. But as good as their acting is, it does get a little too corny at times, especially how the kid talks about magic and wishes all the time. The idea of it isn't bad, since I like how the kid believes in it, as a grown-man sees it but doesn't believe it. But the way it’s acted out almost feels like how Disney would play out that theme, just minus the ending that the episode goes with; which is a good ending, but nothing really all that powerful. On a visual scale there's nothing fascinating to look at, nor do you get the feeling that you’re sucked into this world. And I wouldn't mind it so much if the acting and story didn't feel so sappy, but it does. Even the scene when he's boxing in the arena where all the magic starts, I didn't find it as cool or mystical compared to the other strange stuff that happens in the show.
I know there are a lot people who enjoy the episode, and even I do like some of the things that do work. But on the whole it’s a pretty boring episode that gets a little too corny at times (at least for my personal taste).
"Portrait of a man at work, the only work he's ever done, the only work he knows. His name is Henry Francis Valentine, but he calls himself "Rocky", because that's the way his life has been – rocky and perilous and uphill at a dead run all the way. He's tired now, tired of running or wanting, of waiting for the breaks that come to others but never to him, never to Rocky Valentine. A scared, angry little man. He thinks it's all over now but he's wrong. For Rocky Valentine, it's just the beginning."
A NICE PLACE TO VISIT
A criminal played by Larry Blyden is shot dead by a police officer after robbing a pawn shop. A few minutes later Valentine wakes up unharmed by the bullets he took from the police, but finds himself meeting a strange man in white (Sebastian Cabot) who knows all about his life, and claims to be his guide. His guide takes him to a fancy apartment where he'll be staying, and promises to get him anything he wants. It turns out that Rocky was killed by the cop, and is now in heaven where he can finally live like a king. However, as much as he enjoys his after-life, he begins to wonder why he's given all of this since he spent his life living as a criminal.
The acting from both our leads is fantastic. As over the top as Larry Blyden's performance is with the stereotypical wise guy accent and mannerisms. He fits the role so well, that I can't picture this character behaving any differently given how much he's into crime and wants more and more of the goods he's given. The best performance out of the two hands down goes to classy British actor Sebastian who plays this guardian full of charm and grace, as if he was playing a classy and sophisticated version of Santa Claus. He's just a very friendly character who just seems more than happy to give you what you wish for. And when he can't grant a wish that Rocky wants, he expresses it with deep regret.
The sets and effects for the after-life that Rocky has entered, really does look heavenly. Everything is all nearly drenched in bright white. The places he visits like the apartment, and the casino, and things he gets like the woman, the cars, and money are every person's dream that wants to live in High society. And you do get the occasional cloud like mist in some places (particularly where they visit "The Hall Of Records"). It does make you feel like that you have crossed over in the after-life with this man where you enjoy everything that he enjoys. As for the ending, even if you can guess where the episode is leading up too, it's still a clever twist.
Whether you catch on where the episode is going or not, it's still a wonderfully made episode with its acting, visuals, and writing.
"Month of November, hot chocolate, and a small cameo of a child's face, imperfect only in its solemnity. And these are the improbable ingredients to a human emotion, an emotion, say, like—fear. But in a moment this woman, Helen Foley, will realize fear. She will understand what are the properties of terror. A little girl will lead her by the hand and walk with her into a nightmare."
NIGHTMARE AS A CHILD
A school teacher played by Janice Rule meets a strange little girl who seems to know everything about her. As Helen tries to figure out who the girl is, how she knows everything, and why she's trying to make her remember a part of her past; a man who used to work for her Mother before she was murdered played by Shepperd Strudwick comes by to say hello, after seeing her by the school where she teaches at. The man's presence not only scares the child away, but it turns out that Helen is the only one who can see her.
Keeping spoilers to an absolute minimum, I'm going to tell you right off the bat when I saw the weird little girl, read the title, and saw the man who scared her away and the fact that he knew Helen's Mother, I knew exactly where the story was going. Much like the twist that "Judgement Night" was building up too, the hints and clues just seemed way too obvious. But as long as there was suspense, great acting, and a chilling atmosphere it would probably be forgivable. And sadly it seemed to be lacking with suspense and atmosphere. I wasn't on the edge of my seat like I was with so many other episodes, or found myself guessing and guessing what the twist was going to be. The climax was a bit suspenseful, but it wasn't as scary when comparing it to the other great episodes of the Season.
The only real chills I actually got from the episode were from the actress who plays the little girl. Just the way how she always looks so dead serious, knows so much about Helen's life, and stares at her as if she's after her is very discomforting. I knew who she was before the twist was revealed, but I still found her to be freaky. Her most chilling moment is when she sings "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" when she's not present in the room with Helen and her late Mother's employee, as Helen is the only one that can hear her sing. Rule's performance is also not bad either, you do feel the paranoia and confusion that this woman is feeling, even if you do know where it's leading up too. Not to say you feel just as scared and anxious as she is, but it’s still a convincing performance. As for Strudwick's performance he's good, but nothing that memorable or special. It's pretty standard.
From an acting stand point the episode is great, and does offer some good chills (even though most of it comes from the little girl). But the story is too predictable, the characters aren't that interesting, and the tension and scares are extremely lacking.
"This is Gart Williams, age thirty-eight, a man protected by a suit of armor, all held together by one bolt. Just a moment ago, someone removed the bolt, and Mr. Williams' protection fell away from him and left him a naked target. He's been cannonaded this afternoon by all the enemies of his life. His insecurity has shelled him, his sensitivity has straddled him with humiliation, his deep-rooted disquiet about his own worth has zeroed in on him, landed on target, and blown him apart. Mr. Gart Williams, ad agency exec, who, in just a moment, will move into the Twilight Zone—in a desperate search for survival."
A STOP AT WILLOUGHLBY
James Daly plays an advertising executive who can't handle the pressure of his job, hates his overbearing boss, and lives with a gold-digging wife. One night as he's on the train after a long and frustrating day of work, he falls asleep and wakes up in a 19th Century train. Outside of the train, he sees a beautiful town called Willoughlby where the sun is always shining, and everyone lives together in peace and harmony. After waking back up in the real world, he wishes that he was living in the time that he dreamed of. But after another ride on the train, he finds himself having the same dream again, where he isn't sure if this is a dream, or that his fantasy of living in a peaceful world is actually happening.
Daly gives an outstanding performance as this exasperated businessman. As you watch him whenever he's interacting with his boss, talking to his wife, or trying to do his job, you feel like that this guy is going to bust at any second, no matter how hard he tries to keep all the stress inside of him. The actors who play the people that give him his anxiety are over the top performances (especially Howard Smith as the boss who likes to yell "PUSH, PUSH, PUSH"), but the exaggeration of these performances help make Daly's performance, and the world where he lives in feel like an unbearable nightmare, where you too wish that you could get some peace.
With the real world feeling like a living hell, whenever we get to see Daly visit the town of Willoughlby, that's where things begin to seem heavenly. Despite being an old town from a time period without technology, there is a strong feeling that you would want to live in this town, or visit it for how sunny and friendly it looks. There's a sense that all the stress and cares of life are just simply thrown away for how cheerful and upbeat everybody works, and interacts with each other. And just like how Daly can make the character’s everyday life feel intolerable, the way he gazes at the town and talks about it, adds to why we the audience would like to settle there, or in the very least take a break from a reality to visit this town that looks like something out of a Currier and Ives painting. There is a dark twist involving this town however, and what that twist is something you'll just have to see for yourself, which definitely caught me off guard.
Many people consider this episode to be one of the classic episodes of the show, and frankly I do agree with it. Daly's performance is wonderful. How the episode paints both worlds are atmospheric. And the dark turn of events is mind-blowing.
"Mr. Roger Shackelforth. Age: youthful twenties. Occupation: being in love. Not just in love, but madly, passionately, illogically, miserably, all-consumingly in love - with a young woman named Leila, who has a vague recollection of his face and even less than a passing interest. In a moment, you'll see a switch, because Mr. Roger Shackelforth, the young gentleman so much in love, will take a short but very meaningful journey into The Twilight Zone."
A young man played by George Gizzard is madly in love with a woman named Leila (Patricia Berry) who has no interest in him what-so-ever. Desperate to gain her love and affection he visits old Professor Daemon (John McIntire) for help. The professor sells Roger a love potion for only a dollar, which will have Leila crawling all over him. The potion becomes a success, but Roger is starting to get annoyed by Leila’s everlasting love for him, since all she does is spend time with him.
The story is indeed cliché, and has been done to death. And rather than the episode doing something dark or shocking with it, it’s all played out for dark comedy. Many people would actually consider this episode to be one of the least good ones in the series, to even going as far as putting it as one of the worst episodes from the series. And granted, I wouldn't call this episode one of the essential classics of the series, but I don't think its anywhere near as bad as fans and audiences build it up to be. The comedy in the episode is funny, and gave me a few good laughs, especially from Patricia Berry who goes from being this classy stubborn woman, to a complete nutcase who will spend every waking moment of her life with Gizzard's character. But it doesn't shy away from the dark and emotional stuff. Even though you're laughing at Gizzard's character for when he's in love, to later on being annoyed by it; you do feel like he's going to bust as he's trying to play things cool. Actually if you look at his character closely, he's really a sick man! He stalks the girl he obsesses over, makes her fall in love with him without giving her any free will, and when he's sick of her love, he thinks about killing her. Its pretty messed up, despite still coming across as funny.
For me, the best scenes of the episodes that are well acted and have strange and interesting visuals are the scenes with John McIntire as the Professor. Despite that his character is nothing that new to the series since we've seen odd characters who sell potions and things to help the protagonist in episodes like "Mr. Denton On Doomsday" and "What You Need"; he's still a cool character. He's weird and mysterious, but he's humble, wise, and reluctant, and John McIntire does an excellent job of balancing all these traits to make him across as a well rounded character. What helps add on to the weirdness of this character is where he lives, which is a library that's very small and tight, and yet somehow has more than meets the eye. It even doesn't feel like an ordinary library, it almost feels like that Roger has walked into a different world from the way its shot, and how ambiguous this Professor. And whenever we see Roger enter this library, it almost feels like that we're leaving Roger's world to go to the Professor’s world from the lighting, sets, and creative camera work that feels like you’re being pulled into this world.
As clichéd and over the top as the episode it is, I honestly don't think it's as bad as people make this episode out to be. It's funny, it has fun performances, the clichéd story is still enjoyable, and it carries a dark over tone to prevent it from looking like a sitcom from the 60s that features some magical elements. It's not one of the absolute greats, but it's not one of the mediocre ones either.
"Joey Crown, musician with an odd, intense face, whose life is a quest for impossible things like flowers in concrete or like trying to pluck a note of music out of the air and put it under glass to treasure. Joey Crown, musician with an odd, intense face, who, in a moment, will try to leave the Earth and discover the middle ground - the place we call The Twilight Zone."
A PASSAGE FOR TRUMPET
Jack Klugman portrays an alcoholic New York City Trumpet player, who can't find himself work to play his Trumpet. Feeling that he's no good to anyone anymore, he sells his Trumpet and steps into the path of an on-coming truck. Joey wakes up to find himself unharmed by the crash, but no one around him notices him. As he wanders around the city trying to figure out why people just pass by him, and ignore him, he looks in the mirror and finds out that he has no reflection. This could only mean that Joey is dead, and is now a ghost walking around the city endlessly.
Klugman kills it as Joey Crown, who makes you feel sorry for him about his life as a washed up Trumpet player, but at the same time you find him pathetic since he never tries to better himself as he just cries and drinks all the time. Every ounce of dialogue and expression that Klugman has feels genuine; you don't get the impression that he's just playing the role. Every emotion out of his performance is conveyed ever so brilliantly. Even when he's goofing around as a ghost, you still believe that's how his character would feel. The episode also features a special appearance by John Anderson, and without giving away who he plays since he only appears when the episode's near its end, just like Estelle Winwood's performance in the episode "Long Live Walter Jameson", he leaves this huge impression on you for how great his character and performance is.
Aside from the acting, what really got me sucked into the episode was its urban atmosphere, that has a Film-Noire and dreamlike look to it, as beautiful Jazz music plays in the background. It all just looks and sounds grand! The story itself is very captivating as well, especially after he wakes up after getting hit by a truck. I won't go into more detail about the plot but let's just say that it goes for an "It's A Wonderful Life" type of story, as well as having a clever twist that doesn't even happen in the end. The effects for Joey not seeing himself in the mirror, that's supported by actors who don't do so much as flinch when he's present towards them for the most part looks legit to the point where you buy that this man's a ghost.
This is an episode that I highly recommend to those who haven't seen it because it has almost everything that makes the show so classic, especially with its performances and atmosphere!
"In the parlance of the twentieth century, this is an oddball. His name is James B. W. Bevis, and his tastes lean toward stuffed animals, zither music, professional football, Charles Dickens, moose heads, carnivals, dogs, children, and young ladies. Mr. Bevis is accident prone, a little vague, a little discombobulated, with a life that possesses all the security of a floating crap game. But this can be said of our Mr. Bevis: without him, without his warmth, without his kindness, the world would be a considerably poorer place, albeit perhaps a little saner. Should it not be obvious by now, James B. W. Bevis is a fixture in his own private, optimistic, hopeful little world, a world which has long ceased being surprised by him. James B. W. Bevis, on whom Dame Fortune will shortly turn her back, but not before she gives him a paste in the mouth. Mr. James B. W. Bevis, just one block away from The Twilight Zone."
Orson Bean stars as the happy and childlike Mr. Bevis, who’s great with kids and collects all sorts of stuffed animals, and crazy knick knacks. But he drives a rundown and outdated car that gets destroyed; loses his job because of his childishness; and gets evicted from his apartment for not paying his rent on time. As he sits in the bar feeling down and out, he meets his guardian angel (Henry Jones) who gives Bevis the opportunity to restart his day, and dress, act, and live differently than he used too, which works for him financially, but doesn't bring him any joy.
After seeing a dark and bitter sweet episode that had an "It's A Wonderful Life" lesson in it, this episode is a comical and lighthearted take on the famous and timeless message from "It's A Wonderful Life", complete with a guardian angel who walks with our main character all the way through this alternate reality. When I saw the character of Mr.Bevis and how he lives and acts, I felt like I was watching Pee-Wee Herman or Mr.Bean try to mash "The Twilight Zone" and "It's A Wonderful Life" together in one of their episodes, just without it being funny. As a matter of fact, this episode was originally going to be a pilot for a TV Show written by Serling and star Burgess Meredith as Mr.Bevis who would get into comical misadventures in every episode, where he would have to be saved by his guarding angel constantly. As a TV show it doesn't sound like a bad idea, but as a "Twilight Zone" episode, it doesn't work since it doesn't feel like one. Even as a kid when I saw this episode I didn't feel like I was watching an episode of "The Twilight Zone".
But as highly mediocre and out of place as this episode is, I can't find myself not enjoying a few things in it. Orson Bean is charming as Mr.Bevis, even if his character doesn't fit the realm of "The Twilight Zone". Henry Jones gives a decent performance as the guardian angel, and I like the amount of visuals his character throws at us, even if it does feel like something out of a show like "Bewitched" since its played for comedy. And the moral as predictable and lacking of emotion as it is, it's still not a bad moral, or anywhere near the worst execution of that lesson for that matter.
This is definitely one of the mediocre episodes of the series that I don't highly recommend, but it’s still entertaining and mostly harmless. And believe me, comparing this episode to another episode that makes the same exact mistake as this one in the show's Third Season that stars Carol Burnett, this one has more good than it does bad.
"Express elevator to the ninth floor of a department store, carrying Miss Marsha White on a most prosiac, ordinary, run-of-the-mill errand. Miss Marsha White on the ninth floor, specialties department, looking for a gold thimble. The odds are that she'll find it - but there are even better odds that she'll find something else, because this isn't just a department store. This happens to be The Twilight Zone."
THE AFTER HOURS
Anne Francis (who starred in the film "Forbidden Planet", where the show took most of its stock-footage and set pieces from) plays a customer at a department store looking for a gold thimble as a gift for her Mother. An express Elevator man takes her to the ninth floor, where it appears to be deserted, until a strange woman appears selling her the item that she's been looking for. After discovering that the thimble is scratched, she takes it to the "Complaints Department" where she discovers that there is no 9th floor, and that the woman who waited on her is actually a mannequin, which causes her to pass out. Marsha finds herself awake in the department store and discovers that she's been accidentally locked inside. As she tries to find a way out, she notices some weird things going on in the store during the "After Hours".
This is one of those episodes that are completely drenched with intriguing visuals, a haunting atmosphere, and plenty of creative writing with a great twist at the end. When we first enter this Department Store, it looks as average as every other store, but once we see Marsha enter the Elevator heading up to the dark and empty 9th floor, to seeing our character being trapped in a closed store that now looks creepy as she hears voices calling her, that's where things get scary. I don't want to into too much detail on what goes on during these scenes, but I will say that the shots, effects, and lack of music play a big part in making these scenes feel so chilling.
The performances obviously add plenty to the chills that the episode brings as well. Anne Francis does a perfect job as this scarred customer. And as much as she's good with showing her fear, and crying out her eyes when she completely loses it, I like that she's not always looking worried. In the first act, despite finding things weird, she does question it with a fearless demand for an answer; she does have her limits of how much of the weirdness that she can take with the behavior of the staff. Even when she's trapped, she does try everything she can as humanly possible to get out, before freaking out. I'm not saying that she's one of the strongest female characters ever written, but it's nice to see a female victim on the show that does have some restraint to the things around her, as she tries as hard as she can to keep her cool. As for the rest who play the staff of the Department Store, they all do a suburb job with their roles. The ones who stand-out the most are Elizabeth Allen as the strange saleswoman on the ninth floor, and character actor James Millhollin as the wide eyed nervous and comical bumbling sales supervisor.
This is undoubtedly one of the essential episodes because it carries all the great qualities that make the show so scary and creative.
"What you're looking at is a ghost, once alive but now deceased. Once upon a time, it was a baseball stadium that housed a major league ball club known as the Hoboken Zephyrs. Now it houses nothing but memories and a wind that stirs in the high grass of what was once an outfield, a wind that sometimes bears a faint, ghostly resemblance to the roar of a crowd that once sat here. We're back in time now, when the Hoboken Zephyrs were still a part of the National League, and this mausoleum of memories was an honest-to-Pete stadium. But since this is strictly a story of make believe, it has to start this way: once upon a time, in Hoboken, New Jersey, it was tryout day. And though he's not yet on the field, you're about to meet a most unusual fella, a left-handed pitcher named Casey."
THE MIGHTY CASEY
Manager "Mouth" McGarry (Jack Warden) of a failing baseball team is at the end of his rope in hopes for the team to make it to the top. On one faithful day, McGarry meets Dr.Stillman (Abraham Sofaer) who brings a pitcher named Casey (Robert Sorrells) whose the fastest pitcher in the world, that can throw balls that no ball player has ever hit. The catch however is that Casey is a robot, and despite knowing that he'll be cheating, McGarry decides to keep it on the team. Things at first go great for the team as they are on their winning streak thanks to Casey, but everything begins to crumble once Casey gets hit by a ball, where he has to go get physical examination that will more than likely reveal that he's not human.
It's interesting to note that the episode is actually a re-shoot of an episode that was already shot for the show. Apparently actor Paul Douglas (who starred in the original "Angels In The Outfield" made in 1951) was already casted in the role of McGarry but due to his poor health as he appeared to look very unhealthy as they were shooting the scenes, Serling decided not to broadcast the episode since he was not happy with showing Douglas' impending death being captured on film. The broadcasting Network CBS declined paying for a re-shoot of the episode, so Serling personally paid for the re-shoot of the episode and casted Jack Warden in the role to replace Douglas. Now just because the episode is a re-shoot that doesn't automatically make it bad, because there are great films out there that have been re-shot, such as "Back To The Future" where they originally filmed half of Marty's scenes with Eric Stoltz in the role, and the infamous Ben Gardner's head scene in "JAWS" since the original version released to test audiences wasn't anywhere near scary as the scene that had us jumping out of our seats. And honestly before I read up about the episode being a re-shoot, I actually would have never guessed.
With that said though, this episode is sadly one of the lesser good ones from the show. The tone that it's going for is tongue and cheek comedy, and even though the acting isn't the worst of anything, they do lack the humor that the script provides for them which is a huge problem. Their reactions to Casey's batting aren't funny, nor do the cartoony sound effects for his pitching help support it at all, for how out of place it feels for a Twilight Zone episode. Robert Sorrells as the robotic Casey is trying to be funny as this emotionless robot, but he unfortunately comes off as dull as a rock, as the actors interacting with him don't have anything funny to say or do. And the events that happen to Casey after he's discovered to be robot by the public sounds funny on paper, but in terms of execution with the way its acted and presented, it feels awkwardly thrown in. I don't know if the lack of humor from the actors is because the people behind it were just quickly re-shooting it, or if they were simply not the right casting choice, but man are they not funny. The episode itself is also not all that visually interesting either; it's actually kind of boring to look at. The story itself, while not a bad concept it isn't really all that engaging, and again I think a lot of that has to do with the tedious use of humor, and the not so interesting characters.
The episode is mostly a bore where its attempts at being funny fail big time.
"The home of Mr. Gregory West, one of America's most noted playwrights. The office of Mr. Gregory West. Mr. Gregory West - shy, quiet, and at the moment, very happy. Mary - warm, affectionate. And the final ingredient - Mrs. Gregory West."
A WORLD OF HIS OWN
In the show's Season finale, Keenan Wynn plays a married play writer, who writes his plays by speaking into a dictation machine. One day his Wife Victoria (Phyllis Kirk) looks through the Window of his study and sees him sharing a drink with a beautiful young woman (Mary La Roche). When she enters the study, the woman that she saw him with has suddenly disappeared. After asking him about the woman and searching around his study for a secret door, her husband reveals to her that he created her by talking into his dictation machine, which makes his characters literally come to life.
This is another episode that's played more for comedy, than it does for suspense and thrills, and while I do think this episode is more entertaining and interesting compared to the last episode that I reviewed, its still at times a little too over the top for my taste when watching the series. Keenan Wynn and Phyllis Kirk are amusing to watch, and I do get a few good laughs out of them, but there were a good amount of times where their performances just felt a little too over the top. Since I'm seeing them in one room, as they work off-each other with their exaggerated mannerisms I almost felt like that I'm watching some sort of sitcom made back in the early 60s that uses magic as a gimmick to attract audiences. But unlike the episode "Mr.Bevis" that hardly felt like a "Twilight Zone" episode, this episode does feel more like an episode from the show, because there is a dark and mysterious element surrounding it that actually leads up to a nice twist. You do find yourself questioning the sanity of Wynn's character as much as the wife does, despite how exaggerated her performance is. So it’s not completely out of place or lacking that feel of "The Twilight Zone".
The only time in the episode where I found myself rolling my eyes in disbelief that the show actually did it, was Serling's cameo at the end, where he suddenly interacts with the characters. Aside from Serling talking about the next episode when the episode was over, this was the first time where we would ever see him appear in the episode itself. And in the next Season we would start to see Serling himself provide the opening narration for the episodes on camera, as he walks around with none of the characters acknowledging his presence. It is in a way kind of cool to see Serling finally walk inside the story itself to close out the Season, but it still felt stupidly out of place for the characters to be talking to him, and out of nowhere claim that he's one Mr.West's creations. It'd be like if he suddenly appeared and talked to Henry Bemis in "Time Enough At Last" saying that he survived the explosion too, and decided to help him out. It just didn't seem to fit. And I know this episode is a comedy, but I seriously felt that making a Serling a part of the episode just came across as a little too far fetched.
It's not what I call a good Season finale, and it does at times get to excessive with its humor and performances, but it's still overall a fun episode that will keep you invested.
MY OVERALL THOUGHTS ON THE WHOLE SEASON
What can I say, the first Season is spectacular. I'm not going to act like that its all perfect, because there were some minor problems that I had with it. Some of the episodes don't meet their full potential of executing an ingenious idea, or intriguing set-up. Some of the twists are predictable. Not all the effects work. And above all, you can easily catch on to some of the tropes that the Season has been re-using, especially when they're both shown back to back. But with that said, the writing, acting, atmosphere, directing, effects, and the amount of creativity are done so incredibly, that even if one or two of those aspects didn't work in an episode, there's still something to admire when watching it. Even when an ending seemed predictable, the story leading up to the twist were usually smart with its themes and set-ups, as it had characters you cared about, and a heavy atmosphere to suck you into its world. The only episode that I thought was terrible was "The Mighty Casey", that's it. The rest, even the ones that aren't too great, still have something worth seeing and coming back too. It's an overall phenomenal first Season to a phenomenal show!
RATING FOR SEASON 1 OF "THE TWILIGHT ZONE" 5/5