“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound; a dimension of sight; a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into…The Twilight Zone.”
#121 IN PRAISE OF PIP – In the early sixties, small-time bookie Max Phillips hates his life. His only pride is his son Pip, currently serving in the US Armed Forces in Vietnam. When a young gambler uses company funds to bet with Max, then loses everything, Max returns his money, angering Max’s bosses. Directed by Joseph M. Newman from a script by Rod Serling starring Jack Klugman & Billy Mumy. Filmed on location at the Pacific Ocean Park in Santa Monica, this episode was one of the first American television dramas to mention the growing war in Vietnam, actually opening in Vietnam with a wounded Pip being brought into a M*A*S*H unit. Klugman appeared in three other episodes: A Game Of Pool, A Passage For Trumpet and Death Ship. Mumy appeared in two other episodes: It’s A Good Life and Long Distance Call.
#122 STEEL – In the near future, professional boxing has been outlawed and is performed by mechanical robots. To replace his broken client, the manager decides to enter the ring and replace him. “Portrait of a losing side, proof positive that you can’t out-punch machinery. Proof also of something else: that no matter what the future brings, man’s capacity to rise to the occasion will remain unaltered. His potential for tenacity and optimism continues as always, to outfight, outpoint and outlive any and all changes made by his society, for which three cheers and a unanimous decision rendered from The Twilight Zone.” Directed by Don Weis from a script by Richard Matheson starring Lee Marvin & Joe Mantell. Real Steel (2011) starring Hugh Jackman is supposedly based on Matheson’s short story, though screenwriter John Gatins sets the first half of the film in regional America and annoyingly adds a small boy and an upbeat conclusion.
#123 NIGHTMARE AT 20,000 FEET – Recovering from a recent nervous breakdown, a man becomes convinced that a monster only he can see is damaging the plane he’s flying in. Directed by Richard Donner from a script by Richard Matheson starring William Shatner & Christine White. This is one of Matheson’s favourite episodes, praising Donner’s direction and Shatner’s performance, but despising the appearance of the monster itself. It was remade as a segment (arguably the best segment) of Twilight Zone The Movie (1983) directed by George Miller and starring John Lithgow, and has been referenced many times in popular culture: The Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror IV features a segment entitled Terror At Five-And-A-Half Feet and takes place on a school bus. At one point a Gremlin compact car drives past which only confuses the issue. In an episode of Muppets Tonight, Miss Piggy sees a gremlin on the wing of her plane and tells the passenger sitting next to her, William Shatner, who says he’s been complaining about the same guy for years. My personal favourite is when John Lithgow greets William Shatner at the airport in Third Rock From The Sun. Shatner: “It was a horrible flight! There was a man on the wing of the plane!” Lithgow: “The same thing happened to me!” It’s also been referenced in Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, The Bernie Mack Show, Johnny Bravo, Tiny Toons, Futurama, Ace Ventura When Nature Calls (1995), Madagascar Escape 2 Africa (2008) and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009).
#124 A KIND OF STOPWATCH – A man is given a stopwatch that halts time. Directed by John Rich from a script by Rod Serling based on a story by Michael D. Rosenthal starring Richard Erdman & Herbie Faye. A stopwatch that freezes time first appeared in a 1955 story called The Stop Watch by Roger Lee Vernon, who treated the theme far more seriously. His protagonist uses the device to commit crimes with impunity and win the Third World War all by himself, finally suffering a terrible punishment. The Girl The Gold Watch And Everything is a novel by John D. MacDonald published in 1962 and contains several plot devices used in this episode, referenced many times by popular culture, in particular The Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror XIV segment entitled Stop The World I Want To Goof Off. The idea was used again in the eighties revival of The Twilight Zone in an episode entitled A Little Peace And Quiet.
#125 THE LAST NIGHT OF A JOCKEY – A washed-up jockey named Grady gets his wish while waiting for the results of his race fixing hearing. He argues with his mirror-image, trying to justify his life and his actions, even lying to himself about his crimes. But his alter-ego knows better. Grady is offered the chance to change his life with one final wish. Grady says his greatest wish is to be big. After Grady wakes from his nap he finds his wish has been granted – he’s instantly grown taller. He’s ‘big’. A telephone call from the racing commission informs Grady that he has been given another chance and has been reinstated as a jockey, but it’s too late. Grady has grown to about three metres tall, not only too big to ride a horse, he can barely fit in his own apartment. Devastated, the giant Grady wrecks his room and pleads with the alter-ego to make him small again. The mirror replies, “You are small, Mr. Grady. You see, every time you won an honest race, that’s when you were a giant. But right now, they just don’t come any smaller.” Directed by Joseph M. Newman from a script by Rod Serling starring Mickey Rooney. Serling specifically wrote this episode as a one-man tour-de-force for actor Rooney.
#126 LIVING DOLL – A frustrated father does battle with his stepdaughter’s talking doll, whose vocabulary includes such phrases as “I hate you” and “I’m going to kill you.” Directed by Richard C. Sarafian from a script by Charles Beaumont starring Telly Savalas & Mary LaRoche. The creepy score composed by Bernard Herrmann consists of a solo bass clarinet, backed by harps and a celesta. The doll used as Talky Tina was a non-talking doll named Brikette made by the Vogue doll company, but the real inspiration behind Talkie Tina was Chatty Cathy, a talking doll manufactured by Mattel, and actress June Foray supplied the voice of both. Foray is famous for voicing Rocky The Flying Squirrel in The Rocky And Bullwinkle Show, and most of the female characters in the Looney Tunes cartoons. In 2012 she received her first Emmy nomination, winning Outstanding Performer In An Animated Program for her role as Mrs. Cauldron in The Garfield Show. At ninety-four years old, she is the oldest entertainer to be nominated for (and winning) an Emmy Award.
#127 THE OLD MAN IN THE CAVE – In a post-apocalyptic settlement, the inhabitants’ survival is dependent on the advice of an unseen man living in a nearby cave. This dependence is tested when a band of soldiers descends on their town. Directed by Alan Crosland Junior from a script by Rod Serling based on a story by Henry Slesar starring James Coburn & John Anderson. In this post-apocalyptic world humanity has destroyed itself, but does so again through greed, desire and faithlessness. It’s a warning not to ignore faith which often serves an important purpose in society. The events in the episode show that myths and beliefs are often based on fact or necessity, as is the case with the ‘old man’ who, despite being a computer, was ultimately keeping his ‘followers’ alive. It also reverses the usual notion of over-reliance on technology by suggesting an interdependence with machines when it is revealed that a man-made computer has been keeping people alive.
#128 UNCLE SIMON – Barbara Polk has lived with her sadistic old uncle Simon for twenty-five years, even though she hates him, because she is his only heir. After berating Barbara, Simon raises his cane to strike her but falls down the stairs, breaking his back. Frustrated with his feebleness, nagging and constant demands, Barbara allows him to succumb to his injuries. After his death, his lawyer points out that there is a stipulation requiring Barbara to look after his last invention, a robot that acts and eventually sounds just like Simon, right down to the limp it develops after she pushes it down a flight of stairs. The lawyer explains that he will need to make regular visits to ensure that Barbara is in compliance with her uncle’s will or else she will be disinherited. Directed by Don Siegel from a script by Rod Serling starring Cedric Hardwicke & Constance Ford.
#129 PROBE 7 OVER AND OUT – Stranded on another planet with no hope for rescue, Colonel Cook meets a woman who is the sole survivor from another planet. Directed by Ted Post from a script by Rod Serling starring Richard Basehart & Antoinette Bower. This episode was supposed to be broadcast after the premiere of Night Call which was scheduled for Friday 22nd November 1963. A few hours before broadcast, President John F. Kennedy had the poor taste to be assassinated, so Night Call was rescheduled as were all other network shows. As a result, Probe 7 Over And Out follows Uncle Simon in original broadcast order, and Night Call was eventually broadcast the following February.
#130 THE 7th IS MADE UP OF PHANTOMS – A modern-day tank crew of three National Guard soldiers – Connors, Langsford and McCluskey – await orders for a war game that’s being conducted near the site of the Battle Of Little Bighorn. Their directions coincide with the route taken by General Custer and his men. As they follow the route, they hear strange things such as Indian battle cries and horses running. When they return, Connors reports to his captain what occurred and is reprimanded. The trio go out again and experience more strange phenomena. The three men abandon their tank and continue on foot fully armed. They find a group of tepees and McCluskey finds an arrow – in his back. The men climb a ridge to witness a battle taking place below. They join in and are never seen again. An MP reports to the captain that all they found was the abandoned tank, then they notice the names of their missing soldiers on a monument listing Custer’s men. The captain says that it’s a pity they couldn’t take the tank with them into the battle. Directed by Alan Crosland Junior from a script by Rod Serling starring Ron Foster & Warren Oates.
#131 A SHORT DRINK FROM A CERTAIN FOUNTAIN – An old married man convinces his brother Raymond to inject him with a youth serum. Directed by Bernard Girard from a script by Rod Serling based on a story by Lou Holtz starring Patrick O’Neal & Walter Brooke. The character of Raymond was written as a typical family physician but CBS, disturbed by his willingness to experiment on a fellow human, asked that his occupation be changed to that of a research scientist. This was another episode not included in the series syndication package due to a lawsuit filed by someone claiming they had the idea first. When this and other non-syndicated episodes became available, a series of short commentaries from the cast and crew were filmed, and Patrick O’Neal remarks how accurately the show’s makeup effects artists had aged him, as he now very closely resembled his older appearance in this episode.
#132 NINETY YEARS WITHOUT SLUMBERING – An old man believes that his life will end the moment his grandfather clock stops ticking. Directed by Roger Kay from a script by George Clayton Johnson rewritten by Richard De Roy starring Ed Wynn & Carolyn Kearney. This episode was a drastic reworking of an original script by Johnson entitled Tick Of Time. In the original script, the main character does indeed die when the clock stops ticking. Johnson didn’t approve of the changes made to his story which is why he uses a pseudonym in the end credits. This episode was Johnson’s last script for the series, and also features Bernard Herrmann‘s final score for the series.
#133 RING-A-DING GIRL – Bunny Blake is a movie star. Her hometown fan club sends her a magic ring in which she can see the faces of her friends and family from the small town she grew up. Though she’s been hired to make a movie in Rome, Bunny returns to her hometown of Howardville, where she spends quality time with her sister Hildy and her nephew Bud, and learns the annual town picnic is on that day. She tries to postpone the picnic, but to no avail. She decides to hold a one-woman show at the local high school to attract people away from the picnic, which she has a bad feeling about. As Bunny, her sister and nephew are about to leave for the performance, Bunny finally sees herself in the ring on the doomed jetliner. Bunny, who realises her mission is complete, thanks a bewildered Hildy. A news flash comes on on the radio and, while they listen to the report of the plane crash at the picnic site, Bunny says goodbye, which no-one hears, and disappears. Soon Hildy is called by the police to inform her that her sister Bunny was amongst the deceased passengers on the plane. The final scene shows Hildy finding Bunny’s magic ring, now charred and chipped, presumably because of the fiery plane crash. Directed by Alan Crosland Junior from a script by Earl Hamner Junior starring Maggie McNamara & David Macklin.
#134 YOU DRIVE – After killing a child in a hit-and-run accident, Oliver Pope is haunted by his own car. Directed by John Brahm from a script by Earl Hamner Junior starring Edward Andrews & Helen Westacott. External shots of Pope’s home and the park were filmed in a Culver City neighbourhood. The house that serves as Pope’s home still stands at 4183 Keystone Avenue. California license plates are seen but, since the story wasn’t location-specific, black tape is used to cover the word ‘California’. Edward Andrews refused to appear in the scene where Pope’s car almost runs him over, so a stand-in was pinned underneath the front tire instead.
#135 THE LONG MORROW – Commander Douglas Stansfield is an astronaut in the far-flung future year of 2007 preparing to leave for a planetary system 141 light-years from Earth. To save him the ordeal of forty years of loneliness, he is to be cryogenically frozen for twenty years until he gets there and then twenty years return. Before leaving, he meets and falls in love with colleague Sandra Horn, but comes to the realisation that she’d be forty years older by the time he returns. Stansfield goes on his mission and returns forty years later, when it’s revealed that he voluntarily disabled the cryogenic chamber so that he would be the same age as Sandra when he returned. Unbeknownst to him, she had herself cryogenically frozen so that she would be his age and, in the tragic ending, an elderly Stansfield sadly urges Sandra to live her new life without him. Directed by Robert Florey from a script by Rod Serling starring Robert Lansing & Mariette Hartley.
#136 THE SELF-IMPROVEMENT OF SALVADORE ROSS – Salvadore Ross has a unique talent where he can trade characteristics with other people and will do anything to get the love of Leah Maitland. In exchange for a large amount of cash, Ross sells his youth to an elderly millionaire, and becomes mega-rich but also mega-old. He gives a large number of young men a small amount of cash for a year of their lives. Soon Ross is young again and still rich so he attempts to woo Leah, and again she refuses – she wants a man who is generous and compassionate like her father. Ross talks to Mr. Maitland, who doesn’t think he’d be a good husband for his daughter. Ross offers to make him financially secure for the rest of his life. Later we see that Ross has become a warm compassionate fellow who wins Leah’s heart, but her father still refuses to let them marry. Ross asks, “Don’t you have any compassion?” to which Maitland replies, “I sold that to you yesterday,” and shoots Ross dead. Directed by Don Siegel from a script by Jerry McNeely based on a story by Henry Slesar starring Don Gordon & Gail Kobe.
#137 NUMBER 12 LOOKS JUST LIKE YOU – In a future society everyone undergoes an operation at age nineteen to become beautiful and conform to society, but one young woman desperately holds onto her own identity. Despite constant urging from family and friends, Marilyn still refuses the operation. She insists that the leaders of society don’t care whether people are beautiful or not, they just want everyone to be the same. She pleas for the dignity of the individual human spirit – when everyone is beautiful, no one will be. After being driven to tears by frustration, she is put through the procedure and, like everyone else, is enchanted with the beautiful result. Directed by Abner Biberman from a script by Charles Beaumont & John Tomerlin starring Richard Long & Pamela Austin. This episode highlights Hollywood’s obsession with age and youthful looks, and was the main inspiration behind the 2005 novel Uglies by Scott Westerfield, which also takes place in a future where teens receive an operation to look and feel perfect, and focuses on a girl who initially refuses the operation. This story was also the main inspiration behind the second episode of the excellent anthology series Black Mirror created by Charlie Brooker.
#138 BLACK LEATHER JACKETS – Three aliens disguised as human males wearing leather jackets are part of an advance invasion force sent to Earth to kill all humans by infecting our water reservoirs. The three aliens have been led to believe all humans are violent and hateful and therefore need to be exterminated. Scott, the youngest of the three, falls in love with a girl named Ellen Tillman, but fails to convince his leader that not all men are evil and that love exists among people of the Earth. Scott then tries to convince Ellen to run away with him, but she believes he’s mentally disturbed, so her father calls the sheriff. The phone is answered by the deputy, who turns out to be part of the invasion force, and intends to punish Scott for his defection. Meanwhile the Tillmans comfort their daughter, not realising the human race is doomed. Directed by Joseph M. Newman from a script by Earl Hamner Junior starring Lee Kinsolving & Shelley Fabares.
#139 NIGHT CALL – Telephone calls begin to haunt a disabled elderly woman named Elva, who tells the voice on the other end to stop calling her, and the phone company traces the calls to a phone line that has fallen in a cemetery. Elva visits the cemetery to finds that the line is resting on the grave of her long-dead fiancé Brian. Elva says that she always insisted on having her own way, and Brian was always obedient. A week before they were to be married, she insisted on driving and lost control of the car, killing Brian and crippling her. Now that she can talk to him again she won’t be alone. At home she picks up the phone and calls out to Brian, pleading with him to answer. He replies that she told him to leave her alone and that he always does what she says. The line goes dead, leaving Elva crying and quite alone. Directed by Jacques Tourneur from a script by Richard Matheson starring Gladys Cooper & Nora Marlowe.
#140 FROM AGNES WITH LOVE – Computer programmer James Elwood replaces a another programmer named Fred who is unable to correct a functional error in the office supercomputer. Elwood fixes the problem and later develops a romantic interest with co-worker Millie. The trouble is, Elwood is romantically inept and seeks advice from his computer, named Agnes. Agnes gives Elwood poor advice which leads to Millie spending the evening with Elwood’s rival, a fellow programmer. Elwood discovers that Agnes has fallen in love with him which is why the computer is having problems with its logic functions. Elwood is unable to repair this particular dysfunction and is replaced by the rival programmer, his former subordinate, who will now be spending time with Agnes. Directed by Richard Donner from a script by Bernard C. Schoenfeld starring Wally Cox & Ralph Taeger.
#141 SPUR OF THE MOMENT – A young woman named Anne is engaged to be married to a respectable investment broker, while rebellious David Mitchell wants her to elope with him. While horseback riding she sees a terrifying woman dressed in black on horseback, who begins yelling at her to stop. The woman in black gallops toward her at full speed and the young woman flees in terror, escaping her pursuer. Just before she is to be married, Mitchell forces himself into Anne’s home and convinces her to elope with him. Fast-forward twenty-five years, and Mitchell is a complete failure who has driven Anne’s inheritance to bankruptcy, both of them becoming alcoholics in the process. They argue and Anne goes horseback riding, where she sees herself as a young woman on a horse. She now realises that she was the terrifying woman in black she saw so many years ago, not threatening her but warning her not to elope with Mitchell. Directed by Elliot Silverstein from a script by Richard Matheson starring Diana Hyland & Marsha Hunt.
#142 AN OCCURENCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE – At the end of the Civil War, Union troops have occupied the South and prepare to execute a resistance fighter by hanging him from a bridge. When the rope breaks the prisoner makes his escape and attempts to return home to his beloved. Written & directed by Robert Enrico based on a story by Ambrose Bierce starring Roger Jacquet & Anne Cornaly. La Rivière du Hibou, which translates as The Owl River, is a 1962 French short film based on a 1891 short story by Ambrose Bierce. It won awards at the Cannes Film Festival and the Oscars and, two years after its production, was screened as an episode of The Twilight Zone. Producer William Froug saw the film and purchased the rights to broadcast it on television. The transaction cost US$25,000, significantly less than the US$65,000 they were spending producing each episode. Serling’s introduction is notable as he explains how the film was shot overseas and later picked up to be broadcast as part of The Twilight Zone.
#143 QUEEN OF THE NILE – Journalist Jordan Herrick prepares to interview famous actress Pamela Morris, and greets the beautiful woman when she comes down the stairs of her large mansion home. The two flirt and have drinks, Herrick obviously smitten with the gorgeous actress. Pamela hints at some great secret, Herrick’s curiosity finally wins out and he demands to know what her secret is. Pamela pulls a small scarab beetle from a nearby plant and explains that the beetle, once prized in ancient Egypt, is able to drain the life from others and transfer it to the owner. Herrick soon realises he’s been drugged and collapses as Pamela applies the scarab. She becomes visibly younger while the columnist dies, reduced to dust. It’s implied that Pamela is actually Cleopatra VII and that she has kept herself alive in this manner for centuries. Directed by John Brahm from a script by Charles Beaumont starring Ann Blyth & Lee Philips.
#144 WHAT’S IN THE BOX? – Joe and Phyllis Britt are an old married couple who do not get along. Joe gets home late from his job driving a taxi and Phyllis accuses him of seeing another woman. Meanwhile, a television repairman is fixing their broken set. The repairman abruptly closes the TV panel and announces that it’s fixed. The TV now picks up channel ten, a station that shows Joe’s past, present and future life, but only Joe can see it. The TV shows Joe killing Phyllis, his trial and conviction, then his execution in an electric chair. Phyllis is convinced that Joe has lost his mind and taunts him, and Joe accidentally kills her by pushing her out a window, just as he had seen on the TV screen. As Joe is taken away by the police he sees the repairman who looks at the audience and smiles. Directed by Richard L. Bare from a script by Martin Goldsmith starring Joan Blondell, William Demerest & Sterling Holloway.
#145 THE MASKS – Elderly millionaire Jason informs his greedy family that a Mardi Gras custom is to wear masks that are the exact opposite of a person’s true personality and sarcastically says these masks are just that – crafted by an old Cajun, these masks are very ugly creations indeed. He offers the mask of a coward to Emily, a miser to Wilfred, a buffoon to Wilfred Junior and a narcissist to Paula. He puts on a skull mask, claiming Death is the opposite of Life. They are is reluctant to wear the ugly masks until Jason threatens to strike them from his last will and testament: Wear the masks until midnight or receive nothing from his vast estate. As hours go by, all four beg to be allowed to remove the masks, claiming they’re not only uncomfortable but also downright unbearable. Their pleas go unheard as Jason delivers his final tirade as he dies: “Even without your masks you’re still just caricatures!” The foursome rejoice in the fact that Jason is now dead and they are now rich – until they remove their masks to find their faces have conformed to the hideous shapes of the masks. When Jason’s mask is removed, nothing has changed, he died contented. Directed by Ida Lupino from a script by Rod Serling starring Robert Keith & Milton Selzer. Director Lupino starred in the the season one episode The Sixteen-Millimetrte Shrine, and is the only person in the history of the original Twilight Zone to have acted in one episode and directed another. She was also the only woman to direct a Twilight Zone episode.
#146 I AM THE NIGHT, COLOUR ME BLACK – The sun refuses to rise on a small town where an execution is scheduled to take place. Directed by Abner Biberman from a script by Rod Serling starring Michael Constantine & Paul Fix. Serling wrote this script primarily as his personal reaction to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and mentions a street in Dallas, Texas also being enveloped by the strange darkness. The episode is similar to an unfilmed script by producer William Froug entitled Many Many Monkeys, in which an epidemic breaks out that seals infected eyes shut as folds of flesh grow over them. It is proposed that it’s actually a physical manifestation of hate that is blinding them. The network bought the script but shelved it due to its disturbing subject matter, however, it was eventually filmed for the eighties revival of The Twilight Zone.
#147 SOUNDS AND SILENCES – Roswell Flemington was raised in a very quiet household where he wasn’t even allowed to eat cookies because they made too much noise. As a grown man, his desire to compensate for not making enough noise is driving everyone else mad. He collects all sorts of noisemakers, from bells and whistles to recordings of actual sea battles. His wife of twenty years had enough of his obsession and has divorced him. Now, every little noise is like an explosion to Roswell, and a doctor explains that his divorce has caused him to relive his resentment for his mother, and he has internalised his mother’s affliction. Roswell decides that it’s all in his head and all he has to do is overcome the mental block. When his wife returns to pick up her jewelry, he proceeds to ‘shut her out’ but goes too far, becoming completely deaf. Directed by Richard Donner from a script by Rod Serling starring John McGiver & Michael Fox.
#148 CAESAR AND ME – When ventriloquist Jonathan West is unable to find work, his dummy Caesar suggests he turn to robbery. Directed by Robert Butler from a script by Adele T. Strassfield starring Jackie Cooper & Morgan Brittany. The writer of the episode, Adele T. Strassfield, was the secretary of producer William Froug, who said they worked out this episode together. Strassfield is therefore the only woman credited with writing an original teleplay for the original version of The Twilight Zone, though several women received credit for stories that were adapted for the show. She later wrote a first season episode of Gilligan’s Island with executive producer Froug’s assistance.
#149 THE JEOPARDY ROOM – Former KGB Major Ivan Kuchenko wants to defect to the USA but is trapped in a hotel room. Watching him from across the road is Commissar Vassiloff and his assistant Boris, who have hidden a bomb in the room, and Ivan must find it within three hours or be shot. Vassiloff tells Boris that he’s planted the bomb in the room’s telephone to be triggered by answering an incoming call. Eventually, Ivan makes a lucky escape without being shot, so Vassiloff and Boris inspect the hotel room to figure out what went wrong. The phone rings and Boris, without thinking, picks it up and the bomb detonates. On the other end of the phone line is Ivan Kuchenko, on his way to freedom. Directed by Richard Donner from a script by Rod Serling starring Martin Landau & John Van Dreelan.
#150 STOPOVER IN A QUIET TOWN – Young married couple Bob and Millie Frazier leave a party after drinking too much. They wake up in Centerville, a small town with no people, houses are empty, trees are props, food is plastic and the only train comes straight back to Centerville. They leave the train and return to the town, hearing the laughter of a young girl and a large shadow is cast over them. The shadow is indeed cast by a young girl who also happens to be a huge giant. It seems the couple have been abducted to a planet inhabited by beings many times their size, and the shadow that followed them before the story began was that of the girl’s father, who brought them home from Earth as ‘pets’ for his daughter. The young girl drops the couple back into the dollhouse while she eats her lunch. As the terrified couple stumble away, Serling sardonically reminds the viewer not to drink and drive. Directed by Ron Winston from a script by Earl Hamner Junior starring Barry Nelson & Nancy Malone.
#151 THE ENCOUNTER – A World War Two veteran and a Japanese gardener have a conversation in the attic of the veteran’s house. Trapped together, accusations fly back-and-forth as they have flashbacks while discussing the war. Both reveal how it affected them, leading to a rather violent climax. Directed by Robert Butler from a script by Martin Goldsmith starring Neville Brand & George Takei. Broadcast on the same day that President Lyndon Johnson escalated the USA’s involvement in the Vietnam war, the subject of Americans fighting Asians was a notably pointed commentary. Despite very noble intentions, the episode triggered complaints from Japanese-Americans due to the backstory of the character played by Takei, who says his father spied for the Japanese navy prior to the attack on Pearl Harbour, yet there’s no evidence of any Japanese-American disloyalty during that period. The controversial topic and the complaints it generated caused this episode to be omitted from syndicated broadcasts in the USA, although it was broadcast in other countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand no problem.
#152 MR. GARRITY AND THE GRAVES – A traveling peddler by the name of Garrity arrives in a recently settled small town called Happiness in Arizona, offering to bring the townsfolk’s dead back to life. He reminds them that most of the people in the cemetery were murdered and probably died with a score to settle. The townsfolk grow uncomfortable at the thought of facing problems they thought long-buried. When someone is seen approaching from the graveyard, the townspeople pay Garrity to leave the dead buried. Later that night, Garrity and his assistant ride away with the money, joking about how they can’t actually bring the dead back to life – they had simply performed a few smoke-and-mirror tricks to con the townsfolk. As they leave town, the dead really do start rising from their graves, one them saying that Garrity underestimates his own ability. Directed by Ted Post from a script by Rod Serling based on a story by Mike Korologos starring John Dehner & J. Pat O’Malley.
#153 THE BRAIN CENTRE AT WHIPPLE’S – Wallace Whipple, owner of a vast manufacturing corporation, decides to upgrade his plant to increase output by installing a device called an X109B14 Modified Transistorised Totally Automated Machine, which leads to many layoffs. Former employees try to convince him that the value of a human being outweighs the value of a mere machine, but their protests fall on deaf ears. Eventually the board of directors declare that Whipple is neurotically obsessed with machines and force him into retirement. He ends up joining his former employees at the bar across the road and expresses deep sorrow at his misfortune while a robot runs his office. Directed by Richard Donner from a script by Rod Serling starring Richard Deacon & Paul Newlan. The robot that ultimately replaces Mr. Whipple is good old Robby The Robot from Forbidden Planet (1956) and The Invisible Boy (1957). Robby appeared in two other episodes of The Twilight Zone: One For The Angels (as a toy) and Uncle Simon.
#154 COME WANDER WITH ME – Singer Floyd Burney searches the backwoods for new songs and is directed to a dilapidated shop in the woods run by a reclusive old man. Floyd then hears the singing voice of Mary Rachel and wanders off through the woods, not seeing a nearby tombstone inscribed with his name. Directed by Richard Donner from a script by Rod Serling starring Gary Crosby & Bonnie Beecher. A young Liza Minelli auditioned for the role of Mary Rachel, but was so nervous she was rejected. Director Donner was certain that Beecher was on her way to become a very important actress and selected Beecher over Minelli. Donner also insists that Crosby played the first Bob Dylan-style folksinger to appear on the small screen. The song Come Wander With Me was composed by Jeff Alexander and sung by Beecher herself. This was the final episode of the original series of The Twilight Zone to be filmed.
#155 THE FEAR – Trooper Robert Franklin and socialite Charlotte Scott find themselves trapped in a remote cabin as unexplained occurrences indicate the presence of a mysterious force. Bright flashes of light are seen, strange craters appear and the trooper’s car moves by itself. Charlotte hears strange noises on the roof, and when Robert goes outside to investigate he finds nothing, but notices that his car is covered in gigantic fingerprints. The next morning they find an enormous footprint, and Charlotte falls directly into the path of a giant alien cyclops. Robert shoots and it deflates, revealing it to be an enormous balloon. The true source of the problem is a tiny alien spacecraft containing two thumb-sized aliens. They beg their superiors to allow them to depart as their trickery has been foiled by man’s inability to be afraid, and quickly leave as Robert wishes them luck: “Maybe the next place they land, they can be the giants.” Directed by Ted Post from a script by Rod Serling starring Peter Mark Richman & Hazel Court.
#156 THE BEWITCHIN’ POOL – Two children escape their bickering parents through a portal in the bottom of their swimming pool to a magical land watched over by a kindly old woman the children call Aunt T. Directed by Joseph M. Newman from a script by Earl Hamner Junior starring Mary Badham & Dee Hartford. This was the final episode of the original Twilight Zone series to be broadcast, but Come Wander With Me was the final episode filmed. Numerous production problems delayed the screening of this episode. Background noise rendered the outdoor dialogue unusable, so the cast redubbed their dialogue except for Badham who had already returned home to Alabama. Voice actress extraordinaire June Foray was brought in to record Badham’s dialogue, but the difference is very noticeable. This episode inspired the song Private Idaho by the B-52s, which utilises The Twilight Zone theme and tells us to beware of the pool and, “Don’t let the chlorine in your eyes blind you to the big surprise that’s waitin’ for you at the bottom of the bottomless blue blue pool.”
Thanks to Wikipedia for certain information, and a big thanks to Marc Scott Zicree, author of the definitive tome The Twilight Zone Companion, one of the first (and still one of the best) television episode guide books ever to be published. If you have any interest in the early formative days of American television, Mr. Zicree’s volume should definitely be at the top of your list. And it’s with that thought in mind I’ll ask you to please join me next week when I have the opportunity to burst your blood vessels with another terror-filled excursion to the dark side of Hollywood for…Horror News! Toodles!