“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.”
#142 – An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
Season 5 Episode 22
Original Air Date: February 28, 1964
Writer: From a story by Ambrose Bierce
Guest Star: Roger Jacquet
Synopsis: A Confederate spy is about to hang from a bridge trestle. As his support beam gives way, the rope around his neck breaks allowing him to escape into The Twilight Zone.
Impressions: This wasn’t a typical Twilight Zone offering as this is a French production. In 1963 it won the Academy Award for Best Short Film of the Year. As far as I can remember it is an accurate retelling of the original short story. The twist at the end is one you don’t see coming. You know something odd will happen, but you aren’t sure what. I would have preferred a narrator reading parts of the short story if not the entire piece over the film. The ending is dramatic, the beginning isn’t bad, between all we have is a man running through a forest. Let’s just say it isn’t the most exciting thing to watch.
#143 – Queen of the Nile
Season 5 Episode 23
Original Air Date: March 6, 1964
Writer: Charles Beaumont
Guest Stars: Ann Blythe, Lee Philips
Synopsis: Pamela Morris is the ageless “Queen of Hollywood.” She looks the same now as she did when she starred in her “first” film, Queen of the Nile. That film was in 1940, and an upstart newspaper columnist is trying to find out the reason.
Impressions: Thank you Charles Beaumont. These are the type of tales I come to The Twilight Zone to see. While I still prefer the science fiction, this episode has a little of everything. Mystery, suspense, thriller, and a slight touch of horror rolled into a supernatural package. If I’ve seen this episode before, it was a long time ago and I didn’t remember anything. I thought this would be boring in the opening moments, but it wasn’t. Another well-written episode that flies under the radar, and one people need to give a closer look.
#144 – What’s in the Box
Season 5 Episode 24
Original Air Date: March 13, 1964
Writer: Martin M. Goldsmith
Guest Stars: Joan Blondell, William Demarest, Sterling Holloway
Synopsis: Joe Britt’s TV set gets repaired. As he sits down to watch wrestling, he sees his hidden secrets instead. In an effort to avoid his fate, Britt tries to confess to his wife.
Impressions: An average episode, but that’s saying a lot for this season. Not the most inspired story as I’ve seen many like this episode in one way or another. The repairman helped the episode, even though he wasn’t in a major role. He brought an element of creepiness. He’s exactly the type of character one would meet in The Twilight Zone.
#145 – The Masks
Season 5 Episode 25
Original Air Date: March 20, 1964
Writer: Rod Serling
Guest Stars: Robert Keith, Milton Selzer
Synopsis: Jason Foster’s family comes to his home during Mardi Gras to await his death. Instead of going out, he makes everyone stay in and wear masks. At the stroke of midnight the unmasking takes place, and everyone will receive what they deserve.
Impressions: I always saw this episode during on of the marathons. I always enjoy it, and this might be my favorite episode of the final season. A story that weaves the macabre horror of Poe with New Orleans voodoo and in no better setting than Mardi Gras. Rod Serling is trying to tell us something about human behavior, yet he did so in a subtle way within the confines of a story. A well-written story at that. This is an episode most people aren’t aware of buried so late in the series, yet one that features all the elements of a classic episode.
#146 – I Am the Night – Color Me Bad
Season 5 Episode 26
Original Air Date: March 27, 1964
Writer: Rod Serling
Guest Stars: Michael Constanine, Paul Fix, George Lindsey, Ivan Dixon
Synopsis: The sky fails to dawn on the morning an unpopular man is to hang for killing a racist.
Impressions: I thought this would be the opposite of what I said about the previous episode. The subtlety within a good story. I expected Rod Serling to climb back on his morale high horse. In a way he did, but he didn’t sit so tall in the saddle. I enjoyed this episode a lot more than I thought I was going to, and I suspect it had to do with the appearance of George “Goober” Lindsey. However, the story wasn’t so bad in it’s own right. It was a blend of early 1960s civil rights and Christianity to a certain extent. This wasn’t a boring episode, it flowed at a steady pace, and was easy to watch without hokiness. Trying to figure out a rating for this one is difficult, at worst it’s average, and at best more so.
#147 – Sounds and Silences
Season 5 Episode 27
Original Air Date: April 3, 1964
Writer: Rod Serling
Guest Stars: John McGiver
Synopsis: Roswell Flemington runs his company and his home like a ship at sea. He loves noise, but when his wife leaves him so does the normal volume of things in his life.
Impressions: I’ve never seen this episode before, and I’m not the only one to say that. According to the liner notes this isn’t aired often. That’s not a bad thing either. It isn’t that this is a bad episode, but it’s not a good one. I’ve seen the main theme before and done better. There isn’t a lot going on here, and this episode might work better in print or as a radio drama. This isn’t the sort of thing I want in a Twilight Zone episode.
#148 – Caesar and Me
Season 5 Episode 28
Original Air Date: April 10, 1964
Writer: Adele T. Strassfield
Guest Stars: Jackie Cooper
Synopsis: Jonathan West is a down-on-his-luck ventriloquist until his dummy Little Caesar starts thinking for him.
Impressions: The first episode, “The Dummy”, was pure genius. It had all the classic elements, and one of the best twist endings of any episode in the series. Like most retread ideas, this episode fails in comparison. This episode has none of the classic elements, and no twist ending. All this episode has is a ventriloquist dummy who talks on it’s own, which we’ve seen before in a great episode with a superior story.
#149 – The Jeopardy Room
Season 5 Episode 29
Original Air Date: April 17, 1964
Writer: Rod Serling
Guest Stars: Martin Landau, John vanDreelen
Synopsis: Soviet defector Major Ivan Kuchenko is a marked man. He can avoid his fate if he can find and disarm a bomb in his room in three hours with a gun pointed at him.
Impressions: This episode is a psychological thriller with an interesting ending. It’s not a full blown Twilight Zone twist, but is fitting and fulfilling. On the surface this episode looks like Cold War propaganda. Perhaps there might be a few subtle undertones, but they neither add to nor take away from the story. The story is well-written, and Martin Landau gives a memorable performance.
Twenty six discs down, two more to go. What did we get? This was a more enjoyable disc than thought it was going to be. Having seen two of these before I knew The Masks was a classic episode while Caesar and Me was an attempt to remake one. This disc featured three top rated episodes that will be making the “Best Of” list. The other episodes are average to slight notch below average. Nothing here was horrible, unwatchable, or made me wish I never watched it. The season has picked up, but I can still see why we have one disc left. I know it says there are two, the final one is a Rod Serling biography piece. I haven’t decided if I’ll watch and review it or not. While the worst episodes on this disc weren’t horrible, they weren’t the most inspired efforts and came across as tired attempts. Of these eight episodes, which one was your favorite?
Copyright © Drew Martin 2016