“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
Season 5 Episode 1
Original Air Date: September 27, 1963
Writer: Rod Serling
Guest Stars: Jack Klugman, Connie Gilchrist, Robert Diamond, Billy Mumy
Synopsis: Max Phillips, an alcoholic bookie, realizes he should have been a better father when he learns his son Pip is dying in Vietnam. They both get a second chance after a late night visit to an amusement park.
Impressions: This is vintage Rod Serling. Everything in the story fits together. The issues aren’t forced, but the meaning shines clear. There are several points made here. None are more important than another, nor do any of them get lost along the way. This is a well-written story that has a nice flow, and Jack Klugman delivers another strong performance.
#122 – Steel
Season 5 Episode 2
Original Air Date: October 4, 1963
Writer: Richard Matheson
Guest Stars: Lee Marvin, Joe Mantell
Synopsis: Steel Kelly has to fight in place of his broken robot boxer, Battling Maxo. Kelly must be in disguise, in the future only humanoid robots can box.
Impressions: A tale set 11 years in the future to them, so many years in the past to us. Well, to me anyway. I’ve never seen Rocky, but from what I understand it might follow along these lines. A classic sports story, but this time the underdog doesn’t overcome the odds. Kelly never had a chance against the new model on the market and got his head handed to him. There’s more truth in that, and I find it to be a nice change of pace.
#123 – Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
Season 5 Episode 3
Original Air Date: October 11, 1963
Writer: Richard Matheson
Guest Stars: William Shatner, Christine White, Edward Kemmer, Asa Maynor
Synopsis: Robert Wilson returns to an airplane after recovering from a nervous breakdown which occurred on another flight six months earlier. During a mid-flight storm he sees a gremlin on the wing, but no one else can see it.
Impressions: If you don’t know this episode, you don’t know The Twilight Zone. We’ve seen many an iconic episode, but this one could win that battle royal for the top spot. In part I think this is due to William Shatner. He gives a convincing performance. I can sympathize with Wilson. I’ve never been on an airplane before, but I think I’d see Wilson’s insanity and raise him.
#124 – A Kind of Stopwatch
Season 5 Episode 4
Original Air Date: October 18, 1963
Writer: Teleplay by Rod Serling, based on a short story by Michael D. Rosenthal.
Guest Stars: Richard Erdman, Herbie Faye, Leon Belasco
Synopsis: Patrick McNulty is a loud mouth jerk and the biggest bore on Earth. By chance he receives a stopwatch that stops everything except the person holding it.
Impressions: I’ve never read the story, but I’d like to one day. This is an episode I’ve seen a few times before and always enjoyed it. There isn’t much to this one, just an annoying jerk you can feel sorry for while wanting someone to punch him. The ending reminds me of the ending to “Time Enough at Last.” Does anyone else agree?
#125 – The Last Night of a Jockey
Season 5 Episode 5
Original Air Date: October 25, 1963
Writer: Rod Serling
Guest Star: Mickey Rooney
Synopsis: Banned from horse racing, former jockey Grady is down and out. He gets the chance to have a wish granted and learns that a wish can backfire.
Impressions: There have been a few episodes already in the series that deal with granted wishes. While this episode lacks a genie, the meaning is always the same, be careful what you wish for it might come true. As bad episodes go, this one wasn’t horrible to sit through after some of those hour long episodes. The story didn’t grab me, and I’ve seen this before with different ingredients. A one man play in a single room with nothing else going on, I’m reminded of “Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room.”
#126 – Living Doll
Season 5 Episode 6
Original Air Date: November 1, 1963
Writer: Charles Beaumont
Guest Stars: Telly Savalas, Mary LaRoche, Tracy Stratford
Synopsis: Erich is angry over the price of a talking doll his wife bought for his stepdaughter. His anger builds and turns to fear when the doll tells Erich she doesn’t like him.
Impressions: I like Charles Beaumont’s work, but this one does nothing for me. I might like it better in print. I enjoy the episodes with the talking dummy. Those episodes have a horror factor with a creepy element added. This episode lacks those characteristics. The ending was anticlimactic. There was no twist, only an ending built throughout the episode and wasn’t as powerful as it could have been.
#127 – The Old Man in the Cave
Season 5 Episode 7
Original Air Date: November 8, 1963
Writer: Teleplay by Rod Serling, based on a short story “The Old Man” by Henry Selsar.
Guest Stars: James Coburn, John Anderson, John Marley
Synopsis: After a bomb destroys most of civilization, a mysterious being holds a small community together and guides it to survival. When Major French arrives, he is bound to uncover the secret identity of the old man.
Impressions: I enjoyed the short story, and I enjoyed this episode. They don’t follow each other at all, except for the ending. Still, I like to see the creativity involved in taking an established work and changing it while keeping it similar. When it’s done well, as it is here, it’s an enjoyable experience. This is a well written episode. Add to that the chemistry between James Coburn and John Anderson and their performances and this has a chance to top the “Best Of” list.
Twenty three discs down, five more to go. What did we get? This was a really enjoyable disc. Of all the discs I’ve seen so far, this could be one of, if not the best. It was easy to watch. Even the two less than stellar episodes weren’t horrible, I didn’t care for the story (Jockey) or it lacked signature elements (Living Doll). As a whole, I can’t see how this was the last season the way it starts out. This disc makes me ready to dive into the next one right away, even though I’m afraid it might go downhill fast. There’s a bunch of episodes this season I’ve never seen, but I’m interested to see how it goes. Of these seven episodes, which one was your favorite?
Copyright © Drew Martin 2015