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Home | TV | TV Review: The Twilight Zone (TV Series ) (Season 4) (1959)

TV Review: The Twilight Zone (TV Series ) (Season 4) (1959)

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“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.”

#103 IN HIS IMAGE – A young man named Alan grapples with an urge to kill and confusion about his origins. Upon visiting his hometown his memory seems to betray him. Nothing in the town is as he remembers. While seeking answers, he comes face to face with his double. It turns out that he is an android, the third prototype created in the image of Walter Ryder with implanted memories. Alan has been ‘alive’ for only eight days and is irreparably insane. He stabs Walter with a pair of scissors before escaping. Directed by Perry Lafferty from a script by Charles Beaumont starring George Grizzard & Katherine Squire. Each episode of season four was expanded to an hour (including commercial breaks) from #103 In His Image until #120 The Bard. This season is the only season of The Twilight Zone to have hour-long episodes.

#104 THE THIRTY-FATHOM GRAVE – In the early sixties, as a US Navy ship cruises near Guadalcanal in the South Pacific, its sonar detects muted hammering on metal undersea. The eerie sounds emanate from a submarine on the ocean floor, maybe there since World War TwoI. A very nervous crew member on the ship served aboard that submarine and was its sole survivor. Directed by Perry Lafferty from a script by Rod Serling starring Simon Oakland & Mike Kellin. Although the producers did their best to manage the minuscule budget afforded by CBS, some continuity errors would nevertheless occur. In this particular case, the ship’s hull number in the opening exterior shot is different from the one shown immediately thereafter. The opening shot is of the USS Mullinnix but, in the very next shot, the number on the life preserver designates the ship as the USS Edson. At least both ships were Forrest Sherman-class destroyers. While the episode is mostly accurate in terms of military customs and courtesies, one scene depicts a diver saluting his captain uncovered. This confuses Army tradition with Naval tradition, where saluting is only appropriate when covered and upon meeting. The doctor of the ship is also depicted as a Navy Chief, but enlisted sailors only qualify for the Corpsman rating.

#105 VALLEY OF THE SHADOW – A reporter named Redfield stumbles into a peaceful town where miracles seem to occur due to technology and the townsfolk won’t let him leave. The town elders tell Redfield that he has the choice of staying forever in Peaceful Valley as a citizen where all of his needs and wants will be met and where he will live in constant harmony, or being executed in order to preserve the town’s technological secrets. He chooses to stay but feels imprisoned and yearns for freedom and the glory of saving the world from sickness and hunger. Redfield becomes romantically involved with Ellen, who wants to stay with him even if it means leaving Peaceful Valley. Redfield decides to make a break for it one evening but, knowing that the elders will try to stop him, he uses their technology to make a gun. He steals their book of formulas, setting off an alarm, and he has no choice but to shoot the three town elders. Once he and Ellen are outside the town limits, he looks at the book to see it full of blank pages. The elders reveal that Ellen was a plant and that Redfield spectacularly failed their test, confirming that if their technology did reach the outside world, even with the best intentions, death and destruction would inevitably follow. Directed by Perry Lafferty from a script by Charles Beaumont starring Ed Nelson & Natalie Trundy.

#106 HE’S ALIVE – A small neo-Nazi organisation struggles pathetically to succeed in a big city. A mysterious figure begins to ruthlessly guide the young, insecure US Nazi leader, and the group begins to draw more attention. Directed by Stuart Rosenberg from a script by Rod Serling starring Dennis Hopper & Paul Mazursky. This episode coincidentally aired the same day as Governor George Wallace‘s infamous inauguration speech: “Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!” Serling’s closing narration: “Where will he go next, this phantom from another time, this resurrected ghost of a previous nightmare. Chicago? Los Angeles? Miami, Florida? Vincennes, Indiana? Syracuse, New York? Anyplace, everyplace, where there’s hate, where there’s prejudice, where there’s bigotry. He’s alive. He’s alive so long as these evils exist. Remember that when he comes to your town. Remember it when you hear his voice speaking out through others. Remember it when you hear a name called, a minority attacked, any blind unreasoning assault on a people or any human being. He’s alive because through these things we keep him alive.”

#107 MUTE – The orphaned daughter of telepathic parents must learn to speak and deal with a world she cannot communicate in. After the death of her parents, Ilse lives in a world of people who speak with voices instead of their minds, and her life is turned upside down. Her teacher also possesses telepathic abilities but believes they are a corruption to be overcome and works vehemently to destroy them. By the time she is found by a couple from Austria (who also raised their child as part of the same experiment), Ilse’s telepathic capabilities have been ruined by her public school experience and the genuine love of her normal foster parents. Ilse decides to stay, and it is stated at the end that Ilse’s parents, while being kind to her, had not truly loved her but viewed her primarily as a living experiment. Directed by Stuart Rosenberg from a script by Richard Matheson starring Barbara Baxley & Frank Overton.

#108 DEATH SHIP – An interplanetary expedition of three American astronauts – Captain Ross and lieutenants Mason and Carter – finds an exact duplicate of their ship and themselves crashed on the planet they were surveying. Should they stay or take-off and risk crashing? The men take their ship back into orbit without a hitch. Mason and Carter are relieved but stunned when Ross says they are going to land the ship again to gather samples to bring back to Earth. After all, now that they know what is going on, what is there left to fear? They land again only to discover the wreck of their ship is still there. Confused and fearful, Mason and Carter come to the one and only conclusion left: they have crashed and they are dead. Ross refuses to accept the truth, his stubborn will holding sway over the troubled crew. Ross exclaims that they will go over it again and again until he figures it out. Suddenly, the episode cuts back the beginning with Mason’s discovery of a glinting object on the surface of the planet. Directed by Don Medford from a script by Richard Matheson starring Jack Klugman & Ross Martin. The model of space-cruiser C-57-D from Forbidden Planet (1956) is pulled out of storage yet again for this episode, and the crashed ship was actually a rather realistically painted set-piece.

#109 JESSE-BELLE – Appalachian beauty Jess-Belle can’t bear to lose the object of her passion, Billy-Ben, to a local rich girl named Ellwyn, so she turns to the local witch for aid. The results bring unexpected and tragic consequences. Exactly one year later, when Billy-Ben is preparing to marry Ellwyn, Jess-Belle begins to reappear in various forms. Billy-Ben learns that to kill Jess-Belle he must make a figure out of her old clothes and stab it through the heart with silver. He returns home to find Ellwyn possessed by Jess-Belle. He locks her out of the house and puts one of Jess-Belle’s dresses on a mannequin and stabs it with one of Jess-Belle’s own silver hairpins. Jess-Belle appears in the dress, and then disappears forever. Ellwyn can’t remember anything that happened since the wedding, but she sees a falling star and says it means a witch has just died. Directed by Buzz Kulik from a script by Earl Hamner Junior starring Anne Francis & James Best. This story, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, was penned by Earl Hamner Junior who went on to write Spencer’s Mountain and was the creator and narrator of The Waltons. Although Serling provides an introduction as usual, this is the only episode that has no closing narration.

#110 MINIATURE – Mousy misfit Charlie Parkes finds the world unfolding before him in a museum doll house to be more real than his boring job and overbearing mother. Directed by Walter Grauman from a script by Charles Beaumont starring Robert Duvall & Pert Kelton. This episode’s reputation derives primarily from Duvall’s performance: “Absolute tour-de-force.” (IMDB); “A tour-de-force of underplaying.” (Amazon); “Great acting.” (TV.com). Due to a lawsuit concerning the originality of its story, this episode was not included in the series’ syndication package. It was finally repeated in 1984, colourised, as part of The Twilight Zone Silver Anniversary Special as an early demonstration of the colourisation process.

#111 PRINTER’S DEVIL – A man sells his soul to the devil to save his failing newspaper and gets more than he bargained for. Directed by Ralph Senensky from a script by Charles Beaumont starring Robert Sterling & Burgess Meredith. The title comes from the industry expression ‘printer’s devil’ which means an apprentice. Beaumont based the script on his own 1951 short story The Devil You Say. The initial set-up borrows heavily from the classic American story The Devil And Daniel Webster, although Beaumont’s tale ultimately goes in a different direction.

#112 NO TIME LIKE THE PAST“Exit one Paul Driscoll, a creature of the twentieth century. He puts to a test a complicated theorem of space-time continuum, but he goes a step further – or tries to. Shortly, he will seek out three moments of the past in a desperate attempt to alter the present – one of the odd and fanciful functions in a shadowland known as the Twilight Zone.” A scientist attempts to use a time machine to prevent tragedies, both in world history and in his own past. “Incident on a July afternoon 1881. A man named Paul Driscoll who came and went and, in the process, learned a simple lesson, perhaps best said by a poet named Lathbury who wrote, ‘Children of yesterday, heirs of tomorrow, what are you weaving? Labour and sorrow? Look to your looms again, faster and faster fly the great shuttles prepared by the master. Life’s in the loom, room for it. Room!’ Tonight’s tale of clocks and calendars in…The Twilight Zone.” Directed by Jus Addiss from a script by Rod Serling starring Dana Andrews & Patricia Breslin.

#113 THE PARALLEL – Astronaut Major Robert Gaines is orbiting the Earth in his space capsule. Suddenly his communication systems malfunctions and he blacks out, waking up on Earth with no memory of his return. He appears to be healthy and is released to the custody of his family. However, inconsistencies start occurring: His daughter says he’s not the same person; his house has a white picket fence that he’s never seen; everyone calls him Colonel when he knows he’s a Major; and no-one has ever heard of President John F. Kennedy. Gaines concludes that he must have slipped into a parallel universe and tries to return to his space capsule, but blacks out again before he can do so. He immediately finds himself back in orbit and lands his craft safely. He is prepared to write the whole thing off as a nightmare, until ground control receive a second transmission – from Colonel Robert Gaines. Directed by Alan Crosland Junior from a script by Rod Serling starring Steve Forrest & Frank Aletter.

#114 I DREAM OF GENIE – A wisecracking genie appears from a lamp to a meek man down on his luck by the name of George P. Hanley. Hanley imagines how each of three possible wishes could go very wrong – but this genie offers him only one wish. Realising that he’s not really cut out for any of the things that most people would wish for, Hanley decides to make a truly original wish. In the next scene, a homeless man in an alley finds the genie’s lamp in a garbage can. As he thoughtlessly polishes it a little and puts it back, a genie emerges from the lamp and offers him three wishes, on the condition that the lamp be returned to the alley afterward for another needy person to find. The camera pulls away from the stunned man to reveal that the genie is Hanley himself. Directed by Robert Gist from a script by John Furia starring Howard Morris & Patricia Barry.

#115 THE NEW EXHIBIT – A wax-museum employee fights to preserve the figures of five famous murderers. The museum’s owner Mr. Ferguson allows Martin to store the figures in his home, much to the dismay of his wife Emma. The figures are kept in the basement under air conditioning and constant care. Emma sneaks out of bed one night, goes down to the basement and tries to shut off the air conditioner in order to destroy the figures, but the wax figure of Jack The Ripper pivots his knife-wielding hand towards Emma. Martin discovers his wife dead and Jack’s bloody knife. He buries Emma’s body to conceal Jack’s crime but, the next day, Emma’s brother Dave pays a visit. Martin rushes him out of the house, but Dave sneaks into the basement to find the wet cement where his sister is buried. While he’s examining the area, the wax figure of axe-murderer Albert W. Hicks watches him. Martin comes down stairs to find the carnage left by Hicks and, once again, hides the evidence. Several weeks later Ferguson arrives to tell Martin that the figures have been sold. Clearly disappointed, Martin goes upstairs to make tea while Ferguson inspects the figures. The wax figure of Henri Landru lowers his rope around Ferguson’s neck and strangles him to death. When Martin returns, he finds Ferguson lying lifeless on the floor. Visibly shaken, Martin yells at the figures and intends to destroy them but, suddenly, the wax figures get up off their pedestals and slowly creep towards him. Their unmoving mouths tell him that he was the one that murdered Emma, Dave and Ferguson, and Martin screams as the figures close in on him. Directed by John Brahm from a script by Charles Beaumont starring Martin Balsam & Margaret Field.

#116 OF LATE I THINK OF CLIFFORDVILLE – Aging tycoon William Feathersmith is bored with life and makes arrangements through a devilish travel agency to return to the Cliffordville of his youth and start all over again. Back in 1910 Cliffordville, he uses $1400 to buy 1400 acres of land which he knows contains oil, but the high-power drills needed to access the oil have not been invented yet. He visits the daughter of a rich landowner but is startled to discover she’s quite homely, instead of being the beauty he remembers. He soon realises that his physical age has not regressed – he’s still seventy-five years old and merely appears to be thirty, meaning that he’ll die before being able to capitalise on his purchase. The Devil gives him a chance to go back to the future by boarding another train, but the fare is $40. Feathersmith agrees and sells the deed to a young man named Hecate for $40. He returns to the future to discover that his janitor Hecate is now the president of the corporation, and Feathersmith is now the janitor. Directed by David Lowell Rich from a script by Rod Serling based on a story by Malcolm Jameson starring Albert Salmi & John Anderson.

#117 THE INCREDIBLE WORLD OF HORACE FORD – Horace Ford longs for his childhood which was not as idyllic as he remembers it. Directed by Abner Biberman from a script by Reginald Rose starring Pat Hingle & Nan Martin. Rose originally wrote this episode as a teleplay for Westinghouse Studio One which was broadcast live in 1955 starring Art Carney in the lead role with Leora Dana as his wife Laura. The original ending was somewhat downbeat, and producer Herbert Hirschman asked Rose to create a more upbeat ending. Indeed, the Twilight Zone version is largely identical to the Studio One version, except an epilogue was added. In the Studio One version the story ends at Ford’s apartment, with the audience invited to assume that Horace has been permanently transported back to his miserable past. In the Twilight Zone version, the story continues: Laura leaves the apartment to find Horace, who magically transforms back into an adult and vows not to live in the past any longer. This episode revisits themes seen earlier in The Trouble With Templeton and Walking Distance, which both concern people’s propensity to romanticise and attempt to relive a past that may not have been as good as they remember.

#118 ON THURSDAY WE LEAVE FOR HOME – In the far-flung future year on 1991, an expedition to the hellish desert planet of V9-Gamma is stranded, and the people trapped there have no choice but to begin their own settlement. The group’s leader, Captain Benteen, maintains a totalitarian grip over the colony and believes that strict discipline prevents them from giving up hope in the harsh unyielding environment. When a rescue mission from Earth finally arrives thirty years later, Benteen is as happy as the others, but then begins to raise objections to leaving the planet behind. He does his best to persuade them to stay, but everyone chooses to return home, so Benteen announces that he’ll remain behind alone if he must. Come the day of departure, rescue mission commander Sloane searches for Benteen to give him one last chance but he is nowhere to be found. As the ship takes off, Benteen appears from a cave and talks as if his people are still there. Then, remembering the beauty of Earth, he realises that he is totally alone and now wants to go home. He screams for the ship to come back, but it’s too late. Directed by Buzz Kulik from a script by Rod Serling starring James Whitmore & Tim O’Connor.

#119 PASSAGE ON THE LADY ANNE – Mr. and Mrs. Ransome are trying to salvage their troubled marriage and insist on booking passage on an old trans-Atlantic cruise liner, but the other passengers try to persuade them to disembark immediately. Directed by Lamont Johnson from a script by Charles Beaumont starring Wilfred Hyde-White & Cecil Kellaway. This was the last episode to be written by Beaumont who was becoming seriously ill. Although there would be later episodes credited to Beaumont, they were actually ghostwritten by Jerry Sohl and John Tomerlin.

#120 THE BARD – Julius Moomer is a talentless self-promoting hack who dreams of becoming a successful television writer. He uses a book of magic to summon William Shakespeare to write teleplays that Moomer intends to pass off as his own. Shakespeare becomes irritated by Moomer’s lack of appreciation, and is even more appalled when he discovers the changes made to his plays by cynical television executives. Directed by David Butler from a script by Rod Serling starring Jack Weston, John Williams & Burt Reynolds. Serling wrote this episode as a reaction to the advertising executives he had to deal with on a regular basis while producing The Twilight Zone. To paraphrase Serling, “The executives were so overcautious that a character could not ford a river if Chevy was the sponsor.” This episode was featured in the final episode of The Sopranos, in which Tony Soprano is seen watching this episode while hiding from his enemies in a safe house. Burt Reynolds impersonates Marlon Brando as a pretentious method actor in The Bard. When it came to casting Superman The Movie (1979), Reynolds was suggested for the lead role but Brando refused to work with him because of his performance in this episode.

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. Please join me next week when I fish-out more celluloid slop from the wheelie-bin behind Fox Studios, and force-feed it to you without a spoon, all in the name of art for…Horror News. Toodles!

The Twilight Zone (season four episodes)

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