PT - TV - 032 - The Twilight Zone part 2
The Twilight Zone, the complete original series, on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2zFawoN
This episode is part 2 in the series
I brought this up in the first instalment where we looked at season 1 but it's worth restating here so let's say a few words about the cultural and political context that the season was borne into.
Cultural and Political Context
McCarthyism (late 1940s through 1950s)
cold war (1953-1962)
Civil Rights Movement (1954 - 1968)
space race (1955 - 1976)
Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)
some common episode themes that emerged out of this
unpredictability of death
While Rod Serling injected aspects of his own life experiences into the show like boxing, military life, pilots, the unpredictability of death, there was also a political context that the show was born out of. The show began in 1959 and the cultural and political context that the show was born out of was the period after WWII. A period that included McCarthyism, the Cold War and the threat of nuclear holocaust, the Civil Rights Movement, the Space Race, and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Some of the recurring themes in episodes seem like they were heavily influenced by the cultural and political context of the period including 1) nuclear holocaust and the tension of pending destruction, 2) space travel and man as a space faring civilization in the future, 3) race, 4) time travel, 5) the unpredictability of death, and 6) the supernatural.
Note for Season 2
Six episodes of this season were recorded on videotape (not on film as were all other episodes) at CBS Television City, as a cost-cutting measure mandated by CBS programming head James T. Aubrey. They are "The Lateness of the Hour", "The Night of the Meek", "The Whole Truth", "Twenty-Two", "Static", and "Long Distance Call". These have a visual appearance which is distinctly different from those of episodes shot on film. In addition, videotape was a relatively primitive medium in the early 1960s; the editing of tape was next to impossible. Each of the episodes was therefore "camera-cut" as in live TV—on a studio sound stage, using a total of four cameras. The requisite multi-camera setup of the videotape experiment made location shooting difficult, severely limiting the potential scope of the storylines, so the short-lived experiment was abandoned.
The Twilight Zone
2 x 01 King Nine Will Not Return
Starring: Robert Cummings
Rating: 2 out of 5 shoes filled with sand
A WWII captain finds himself in the desert, next to his crashed plane. Where is his crew? And why are futuristic jet planes flying overhead?
clip of captain's inner thoughts 2:05 to 3:05
Not big on the romanticization of the American military.
This Robert Cummings has an interesting life according to his wikipedia page...married 5 times; changed his name; owned a number of airplanes all named 'spinach'; legal troubles including a pyramid scheme and defrauding the telephone company; drug addiction; an ex-wife claims that he made disastrous financial decisions based on information received from astrology and numerology; and most scandalous of all, he was a republican...
2 x 02 The Man in the Bottle
Starring: Luther Adler, Vivi Janiss, Joseph Ruskin
Rating: 1 out of 5
A discontented curio shop owner thinks he's finally found happiness when a genie he discovers in an old bottle grants him four wishes.
6:54 to 7:15
Shop owner does a kind deed and is rewarded by fate with a genie that will grant 4 wishes. Like all genie parables, the wishers make varying ambitious requests that turn out differently than they had imagined and in the end, they just want everything back the way that it was before they met the genie.
Here are my thoughts.
The genie story is propaganda to help you to accept capitalism or the status-quo. The shop owner is struggling to scrap out a living as do the majority of people in a capitalist system that is rigged to benefit the wealthy. The genie represents the lure of alternative socio-economic models which seem like a good idea but in practice are worse and leave you wishing you had capitalism back. That's not my opinion but that is my interpretation of the commentary.
Now, you could just as easily substitute "the status-quo" for "capitalism" in this metaphor. Hey, i know your life is really shitty but it's the best of all possible worlds. Here's a glimpse into some other possible realities that you could be living. See how bad they are? Just keep quiet and be content with the status-quo.
The episode is ok.
2 x 03 Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room
Starring: Joe Mantell, William D. Gordon
Rating: 3 out of 5 Evil Kirks
Ordered to commit a murder he doesn't want to perform, a smalltime hood nervously looks in the mirror and sees the man he could have been--confident, strong...and determined to get out.
weakling switches places with his aggressive alter ego in the mirror, turns life around. May have been an influence on the Star Trek Mirror Universe idea. The mirror is more like a portal because the alter-egos switch places at the end and seem to be trapped in their side of the portal.
11:10 to 12:21
2 x 04 A Thing About Machines
Starring: Richard Haydn, Barney Phillips, Barbara Stuart, Jay Overholts, Henry Beckman, Lew Brown, Margarita Cordova
Rating: 2 out of 5 Elitist Pricks
A writer feels that the machines in his house are conspiring against him.
Pan in from the sky
Al elitist prick gets drunk, then the machines in his home chase him around and finally his car forces him into the pool and he dies. Not sure if it really happened or if he was just drunk.
Consumerism is killing you
2 x 05 The Howling Man
Starring: H.M. Wynant, John Carradine, Robin Hughes, Frederic von Ledebur, Ezelle Poule
Rating: 4 out of 5 Character Actors
A man, on a walking trip of Europe, gets caught in a storm. He finds remote monastery that contains a prisoner.
15:00 to 15:59
Some weird camera work in this one. The shots are crooked at times.
Prisoner is the devil and he convinces the man to let him out and let evlil back into the world. John Carradine plays the co-lead head monk. He is the father of David Carradine and was a great character and a part of Cecile B. DeMille's stock company and later John Ford's stock company. I know him best as the priest from the Grapes of Wrath, one of my favorite films.
2 x 06 The Eye of the Beholder
Starring: Maxine Stuart, Donna Douglas, William D. Gordon, Edson Stroll, Jennifer Howard, George Keymas, Joanna Heyes
Rating: 4 out of 5
A young woman undergoes "experimental treatments" in an attempt to make her appear "normal".
8:40 to 10:21
you don't see anyone's face until the patient's face is revealed from behind the bandages. and when the faces are revealed, she is beautiful and the "normal" ones are hideous.
Conformity to the norm, to the status quo. I guess this is about racism or bigotry and to an extent McCarthyism (doctor mentions treason in the clip). 12:20 to 13:44
2 x 07 Nick of Time
Starring: William Shatner, Patricia Breslin, Guy Wilkerson, Stafford Repp, Walter Reed, Dee Carroll
Rating: 3 out of 5 hammy actors
A superstitious newlywed becomes obsessed by a penny fortune-telling machine when he and his new wife are stranded with car trouble.
2:35 to 3:02
Pan in from the sky.
Superstition...don't get caught up in it.
20:45 to 21:20
2 x 08 The Lateness of the Hour
Starring: Inger Stevens, John Hoyt, Irene Tedrow, Mary Gregory, Tom Palmer, Valley Keene, Doris Karnes, Jason Johnson
Rating: 1 out of 5
Dr. Loren enjoys the faultless robot servants he has invented. His daughter, however, feels imprisoned by them--and soon learns how right she is.
That Ingar Stevens...they don't make a lot of women who look like that.
Crap episode though.
Poor video quality
2 x 09 The Trouble With Templeton
Starring: Brian Aherne, Pippa Scott, Sydney Pollack, Dave Willock, King Calder, Larry J. Blake, David Thursby, Charles S. Carlson
Rating: 2 out of 5 thespians
Booth Templeton is an aging actor who longs for the old days when his wife was alive. Miraculously, he is given a sobering glimpse of the past he holds so dear.
11:15 to 12:05
currently married to a younger woman who is indiscreet with her infidelities. Remembers fondly when he was married to his wife who died (married her when she was 18 and she died at 25). He goes back in time and his wife is young but not how he remembers her and she tells him to get lost when he acts like a jerk and the scene plays out like its on a stage because the background fades to dark and the extras stop and then Booth is back in his own time and has regained his confidence...here's what Rod said, 23:40 to 24:00
2 x 10 A Most Unusual Camera
Starring: Fred Clark, Jean Carson, Adam Williams, Marcel Hillaire
Rating: 4 out of 5 ponies
Chester Diedrich and his wife Paula, after burglarizing a curio shop, end up with a camera that takes pictures of events five minutes into the future.
Really good episode.
12:21 to 13:34
The characters are really good stereotypes of small time crooks from the era. They fall into good fortune but manage to eff it up in the end.
Theme: some people would screw up a free lunch
2 x 11 The Night of the Meek
Starring: Art Carney, John Fiedler, Burt Mustin, Robert P. Lieb, Meg Wyllie, Val Avery, Kay Cousins, Larrian Gillespie, Andrea Darvi
Rating: 1 out of 5 drunken santas
A down-on-his-luck department store Santa Claus discovers a bottomless sack of toys.
Poor video quality. Unwatchable.
2 x 12 Dust
Starring: Thomas Gomez, John Larch, Vladimir Sokoloff, Douglas Heyes Jr., John Alonso, Paul Genge, Dorothy Adams, Duane Grey, John Lormer, Andrea Darvi, Daniel White
Rating: 2 out of 5 tumbleweeds
After selling the rope for a hanging, a conscienceless peddler tries to sell the condemned man's father a bag of "magic dust".
A young man is awaiting his hangin' for the crime of accidentally killing a child with his horse and buggy when he was drunk. Otherwise, the man seems harmless and like a good person. The sheriff doesn't seem like he wants the young man to die. The young man's father certainly doesn't want his son to die and spends the episode desperately trying to save his son. The deceased girl's parents seem like they just want to mourn and don't show any animosity towards the young man.
The peddler is gleeful. He sells the rope to the sheriff for the hangin' and sells a bag of magic dust to the young man's desperate father and throughout he seems to be encouraging the process by verbally harassing the young man in his cell and expressing condolences to the mourners. The peddler is constantly marketing and selling to everyone.
Two things happened at the end, the peddler's products failed: 1) the rope broke, and 2) the magic dust (that was fake) worked, and as a result of these failures, the young man was set free.
see, i wonder if this is a comment on the rise of consumerism and corporate influence in daily life with firms marketing to you out of both sides of their mouth and selling low quality products.
2 x 13 Back There
Starring: Russell Johnson, Bartlett Robinson, Paul Hartman, John Lasell, Nora Marlowe, James Lydon, Raymond Bailey, Raymond Greenleaf, John Eldredge, James Gavin, Jean Inness, Lew Brown, Carol Rossen, J. Pat O'Malley
Rating: 2 out of 5 boys clubs
It's April 14, 1961. Peter Corrigan and friends are discussing time travel at their men's club, Corrigan suddenly becomes dizzy. When his head clears, he has somehow traveled back to April 14, 1865 - the date of Lincoln's assassination. Knowing what is about to happen, he tries to warn everyone at Ford's Theater before it's too late.
Bunch of elitist pricks are sitting around a men's club discussing time travel, or rather, whether certain events were destined to happen or whether they could have happened differently. I'm not sure why this is even a discussion. This is effectively debating whether the universe is causal or not. if you admit that the universe is causal, then you must concede that if preceding events changed than the outcome would change. Unless there is some higher power intervening to orchestrate a specific outcome.
Regardless, the younger of the elitist pricks leaves and goes back in time and attempts to change the past but is unable to affect the outcome of Lincoln's assassination. However, when he returns, he discovers that his actions did change the present in that one of the elitist pricks at his table was an attendant (like a waiter) at the club prior to him going back in time.
Now, it's a little under the surface but this suggests to me that this is a commentary on wealth and status and that you are where you are in life mostly due to things that happened in the past and/or were not in your control. The now wealthy man even scoffs at the notion that he was an attendant prior to the past being changed.
2 x 14 The Whole Truth
Starring: Jack Carson, Loring Smith, Arte Johnson, Nan Peterson, George Chandler, Jack King, Patrick Westwood, Lee Sabinson, Ray Reese
Rating: 1 out of 5 tired tropes
A peculiar Model A automobile compels a used car dealer to tell only the truth.
I was distracted by actor Jack Carson's huge hands. He looks like Wreck it Ralph.
The episode is terrible.
2 x 15 The Invaders
Starring: Agnes Moorehead
Rating: 5 out of 5 space forces
An old woman in an isolated farmhouse encounters tiny, hostile aliens.
The saucer reads "U.S. Air Force Space Probe No. 1"
A critique of American imperialism. A warning about what lies out there. Just a cool story.
2 x 16 A Penny For Your Thoughts
Starring: Dick York, June Dayton
Rating: 2 out of 5 Darrens
The lucky flip of a coin seems to give a mild-mannered bank clerk the power to read minds. But he soon learns that you can't believe everything you read.
2 x 17 Twenty Two
Starring: Barbara Nichols, Arlene Martel
Rating: 2 out of 5 unsolved mysteries plots
Miss Powell has a recurring nightmare about room 22 in a morgue.
Bad video quality
it's a premonition
2 x 18 The Odyssey of Flight 33
Rating: 2 out of 5
A commercial aircraft mysteriously travels back through time.
2 x 19 Mr. Dingle, the Strong
Starring: Burgess Meredith, Don Rickles
Rating: 1 out of 5
Martians give Luther Dingle the strength of 300 men.
Two conjoined aliens from Mars that are invisible to humans are in a bar observing two slap-stick actors who are not funny and two other actors. The aliens give one of the not funny actors super strength and hilarity ensues (not really). After observing for a time the aliens conclude that they gave the subject a great power and he used it for "petty exhibition" (18 min or so) so they take away his power and he looks like a fraud.
Humanity is so stupid, that given a great gift of fortune, it would be squandered away and wasted. Maybe this is how Rod viewed the contemporary generation in the late 50's early 60's
2 x 20 Static
Starring: Dean Jagger,
Rating: 1 out of 5
Ed Lindsay hates television, so he gets his old radio out of the basement of the boardinghouse where he lives. He soon finds he can receive programs from the past when he's alone.
a man uses a radio to reminisce about a past that he enjoyed and his authoritarian roommates try to take it away from him.
2 x 21 The Prime Mover
Starring: Dane Clark , Christine White
Rating: 2 out of 5
Ace Larsen discovers his business partner (Buddy Ebsen) has the ability to control objects with his mind. The pair head to Vegas to win big.
12 min "ace let's go home now..."
another episode where someone is given a gift and instead of using it wisely and with temperance the goes completely overboard and ruins it.
2 x 22 Long Distance Call
Starring: Bill Mumy, Philip Abbott,
Rating: 4 out of 5
A young boy find he can communicate with his dead grandmother through a toy phone.
Kid looks like Ron Howard.
it's so much more than the summary above. it's too bad the video quality is so poor because this was a great story. Dark!
Grandma has a smothering overpowering love for a little boy. She gives him a toy phone on his birthday and when she dies she talks to him on the phone. She tells the boy to kill himself so that he can be with her.
Fascinating because when the grandmother becomes sick at the boy's birthday, she lays down and the doctor visits and medicates her. Under heavy medication she says she has a son but "a woman" took him away (the wife) and now Billy is her son. After she dies, she tries to take Billy away from his mother
would be a 5 out of 5 but for the video quality
2 x 23 A Hundred Yards Over The Rim
Rating: 3 out of 5
In 1847 a western settler sets out to find medicine for his dying son - and stumbles into modern-day New Mexico.
2 x 24 The Rip Wan Winkle Caper
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thieves put themselves into suspended animation for 100 years after hiding a million dollars worth of gold bars.
The characters were able to accomplish something impressive with the theft and then the cryogenics but their downfall was being too greedy and unable to co-operate. Similar to "a most unusual camera" and "the prime mover"
2 x 25 The Silence
An aristocratic club member bets that a talkative acquaintance cannot stay silent for an entire year.
Elitist pricks with too much money and time, organize a preposterous high stakes--but otherwise meaningless--bet that ends up ruining both of their pointless lives.
2 x 26 Shadow Play
Rating: 5 out of 5
Trapped in a recurring nightmare, Adam Grant tries to persuade those who are sentencing him to death that the whole scenario is not real.
critique of capital punishment wrapped in a tense nightmare;
the story is about an execution that takes place over and over and the main character needs to relive the horror. This parallels the horror inflicted by the state as it executes over and over.
lead is describing what it's like to be executed by electrocution and then a cut to a sizzling steak.
The fantasy concept is brilliant. The main character tries fruitlessly to convince everyone that it's just a dream and they need to stop executing him so that the dream will stop repeating.
2 x 27 The Mind and the Matter
Rating: 2 out of 5
A book on the power of thought enables an irritable worker (Shelley Berman) to re-create the world exactly as he wants it. But what he wants and what he gets are two different things!
Closing monologue...with all it's faults, this may be the best of all possible worlds...
2 x 28 Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up
Rating: 3 out of 5 tropes of people
State troopers follow tracks from an unidentified flying object to a diner where they try to determine which of the seven bus passengers stranded inside is really a Martian.
2 x 29 The Obsolete Man
In a future state where religion and books have been banned, a librarian (Burgess Meridith) is judged obsolete by the Chancellor (Fritz Weaver) and sentenced to death.