Rick’s Top 10 Trips Into The ‘Twilight Zone’
I have always been a Sci-Fi fan and one of my all-time favorite shows is the Twilight Zone. It's really hard to believe that it lasted only five seasons, but back in the early sixties, TZ was cranking out like 30 episodes per season (unlike the normal 22 episode run in current tv) Recently, I have started collecting the Twilight Zone on BluRay and in August, when it's released, will get the fifth and final season. The Twilight Zone originally aired from 1959-1964 and it reads like a who's who's of famous and soon to be famous actors. Some of them include; Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, James Best, Burgess Meredith and many others. So, “Submitted for your approval,” let's head to the “fifth dimension.” One of sight and of sound. Our next stop is, “The Twilight Zone.”
(Ed Note: Thanks to “The Twilight Zone Companion” by Marc Scott Zicree for the resource material)
The Twilight Zone Theme
This one just creeps me out. Jerry, a ventriloquist, is convinced that Willie is alive. Jerry's manager believes that this is all in his head and brushes it off. Jerry is set to get away from Willie and when his act with another 'dummy," without a will of his own, becomes a hit, Jerry locks Willie in a trunk. Jerry is haunted by the voice and shadow of Willie and finally goes back to the club and opens up the trunk and smashes the 'dummy.' In shock, he realizes he just smashed his new 'dummy.' Flash-forward to a little while later, where Willie and Jerry are back together playing a club, but shockingly Willie has transformed into the ventriloquist and Jerry is now the dummy.
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
October 11, 1963
While on a plane flight, Bob Wilson sees a furry gremlin on the wing of the plane. Sadly, whenever he tries to show his wife, the stewardess of the pilot, the gremlin is gone. Since nobody believes Wilson, he realizes he must act on his own, before the gremlin rips apart the wing of the plane. He gets a gun, from a nearby police officer and empty the gun into the gremlin. Wounded, it falls off the wing and the plane lands safely. Wilson is taken off the plane in a straightjacket.
(note: William Shatner would go on to Sci-Fi super stardom as the iconic Captain James T. Kirk in 'Star Trek.")
People Are Alike All Over
March 25, 1960
When their ship crash lands on the Martian surface, Marcusson (the optimist) believes people are alike all over (even on Mars). Sadly, he is killed. Sam Conrad (who doesn't share in Marcusson's believes) is terrified when he hears a noise outside the space craft. Conrad, the sole survivor, is relieved when he finds out that the Martians look just like humans. The following day, the Martians give Conrad a 'gift,' a house resembling one from Earth. Soon Conrad realizes he is in a Martian Zoo and screams, "Marcusson, you were right! People are alike everywhere!"
(note: Roddy McDowell would reverse roles, somewhat, as he played 'Cornelius' in "Planet of the Apes" and would look at Charlton Heston's 'Taylor' through a cage.)
Time Enough To Last
November 20, 1959
Henry Bemis is a mild-mannered Bank Teller who has a passion for reading. Neither his wife or boss give him much time to do this. One day, Beamis sneaks into the bank's vault to read during his lunch hour. A giant shock wave knocks him out and when he comes too he finds out that the world has be devastated by nuclear war and HE is the last man alive. His first thought is to commit suicide, but right before pulling the trigger he sees the ruins of his public library and changes his mind. Now, with no one to disturb his passion, he realizes he has all the time in the world to read. But, as he settles down to read his first book, his glasses fall off and break. Leaving him in a blurry world.
(note: Burgess Meredith is best known to sci-fi fans as "The Penguin" in the the 1966 tv series 'Batman.')
The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street
With what is presumed a meteor speeding overhead, Maple street beings to experience power failure-appliances, telephones and even cars. Pete Van Horn heads off to find out what happens. Tommy, a young reader of sci-fi, says he knows what it is, aliens who have taken human form. Most of the town don't believe him, but the townspeople start pointing fingers on which one of them IS the alien. As nighttime falls, Steve Brand tries to keep the townspeople calm. Suddenly a dark figure starts to enter the town, panic overtakes the town and Charlie Farnsworth grabs a rifle and fires it.It turns out the dark figure was Peter Van Horn, returning from town. Various lights flicker on and off and a full scale riot breaks out. Nearby, two aliens watch the events as they unfold. One explains to the other that by shear manipulation of the lights, it's easy to turn neighbor against neighbor.
November 1, 1963
Erich is unhappy when his wife buys an expensive doll for his step-daughter Christie. The doll tells him it doesn't like him. He tries everything to get rid of the doll, including burning it and sawing it's head off. His wife, who thinks he is becoming insane, threatens to take Christie and leave him. In order to make peace in the family, Erich decides to return the doll. After hearing a noise in the middle of the night, Erich gets up and trips over 'Talky Tina' and falls to his death. His wife picks up the doll and hears, "My name is Talky Tina and you better be nice to me."
(note: the voice of Talky Tina was provided by June Foray, best known as many of the female voices in the Loony Tunes cartoons and 'Rocky The Squirrel' in "Bullwinkle")
The Eye Of The Beholder
November 11, 1960
Lying in a darkened hospital room, her head entirely wrapped in bandages, Janet Tyler, whose hideously abnormal face has made her an outcast, waits to see if the last treatment has succeeded in making her look normal. If the surgery is a failure she will be sent to a village to spend the rest of her life with people who look like her. The bandages come off and we see she is a beautiful young woman...the surgery was a failure. As lights come on we see the faces of the hospital crew. Their faces a misshapen. I guess beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
(note: Donna Douglas plays Janet and is best known as Elle May Clampett from 'The Beverly Hillbillies')
It's A Good Life
November 3, 1961
During a surprise party, Dan Hollis receives a Perry Como record, but he can't play it in front of Anthony, fearing what might happen. As resentment sets in, Hollis begins to drink heavily. Hollis pleads with his fellow guests to kill Anthony, while he is distracted. Anthony turns Hollis into a huge jack-in-the-box, the transports him into a cornfield. Anthony also makes it snow (something that will kill the crops). Hollis in a bit of panic says, "It's good your making it snow, real good, Anthony. Tomorrow's gonna be a real good day."
(note: Billy Mumy is know to sci-fi fans as the 'boy genius' Will Robinson in "Lost in Space."
The Little People
After their ship is damaged by meteors, Fletcher and Craig set down for repairs. Fletcher works on the ship, while Craig checks out the landscape-and discovers a civilization no bigger than ants. When Fletcher tells Craig the ship is ready for departure, Craig has decided to stay (as he has developed a God complex). After Fletcher blasts off on the spaceship ANOTHER ship lands. Two spacemen emerge and are the size of mountains, making Craig look like an ant, and is accidently crushed by the Spaceman.
To Serve Man
March 2, 1962
The Kanamits arrive on Earth with, what seems, one purpose in mind: to help mankind by using their superior technology. Further proof is a book left behind, that when translated, says, "To Serve Man." With most people buying into the Kanamits 'good will' they begin an exchange where they transport Humans to go live on their planet. After further decoding of the book, it is realized, too late for Michael Chambers, that To Serve Man is a cook book.