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Found 4 results

  1. Listen Up! I'm writing this comment six months after writing this post (on Nov 17, 2014). If anyone has any ambition to go through the entire series of The Twilight Zone, do yourselves a favor and buy "The Twilight Zone Companion" by Marc Scott Zicree before you start - I just got my copy yesterday after having already gone through 150 episodes (I didn't know it existed before), and I can assure everyone that it is indispensable - it is *the definitive* reference guide, and the paperback cost me something like $11.96 with free shipping on Amazon Prime. Trust me and buy this book before you begin - you'll thank me after only one episode. I cannot believe I watched this entire series without it - don't make the same mistake I did. *** SPOILER ALERT: Assume that all episode links contain them *** The Twilight Zone - Season 1 (Oct 2, 1959 - Jul 1, 1960) 1.1 - "Where Is Everybody?" - Oct 2, 1959 - <--- The books in this rack are all entitled, "The Last Man on Earth." Directed by Robert Stevens (Directed 44 episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"), Written by Rod Serling (Writer of "Requiem for a Heavyweight" on "Playhouse 90") Featuring Earl Holliman (Sergeant Bill Crowley on "Police Woman"), James Gregory (Senator John Iselin in "The Manchurian Candidate," Dr. Tristan Adams in "Dagger of the Mind" on "Star Trek"), Garry Walberg (Hansen in "Balance of Terror" on "Star Trek" (2)) 1.2 - "One For The Angels" - Oct 9, 1959 - <--- "A most persuasive pitch, Mr. Bookman - an excellent pitch." Directed by Robert Parrish (Academy Award Winner for Best Film Editing for "Body and Soul"), Written by Rod Serling (2) Featuring Ed Wynn (Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor as Albert Dussell in "The Diary of Anne Frank," Army in "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (2) As Himself in "The Man in the Funny Suit" on "Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse"), Murry Hamilton (Dr. Stafford in "The Swan Bed" on "Route 66," Mr. Robinson in "The Graduate") 1.3 - "Mr. Denton On Doomsday" - Oct 16, 1959 - <--- "The gunner and me, we're gonna have a showdown here." Directed by Allen Reisner, Written by Rod Serling (3) Featuring Dan Duryea (Mike McKay in "Don't Count Stars" on "Route 66," "Waco" Johnny Dean in "Winchester '73," China Smith on "China Smith"), Martin Landau (Andro in "The Man who was Never Born" on "The Outer Limits," Rollin Hand on "Mission: Impossible," Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor as Béla Lugosi in "Ed Wood") [Martin Landau making Mr. Denton sing for his drink reminds me of Paul Dano's unspeakably heinous taunting scene from "12 Years A Slave" - maybe I'm wrong, but I think at least an indirect influence is there.] 1.4 - "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine" - Oct 23, 1959 - <--- "There you are, Jerry ... there you are. You look so young." Directed by Mitchell Leisen, Written by Rod Serling (4) Featuring Ida Lupino (Mrs. Helen Chernen in "The Hard Way," Director of "The Hitch-Hiker" (The first female ever to direct a Film Noir)), Martin Balsam (Milton Arbogast in "Psycho"), Jerome Cowan (Miles Archer in "The Maltese Falcon," Thomas Mara in "Miracle on 34th. Street"), Ted de Corsia (Randolph E. Branch in "The Inheritors" on "The Outer Limits") [The "aging actress" is Ida Lupino, who, by this episode, was all of 41 (my how times have changed).] 1.5 - "Walking Distance" - Oct 30, 1959 - <--- "Martin, I only wanted to tell you that this is a wonderful time of life for you." Directed by Robert Stevens (2), Written by Rod Serling (5) Featuring Gig Young (Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (2) as Rocky in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"), Ron Howard (Academy Award Winner for Best Director for "A Beautiful Mind"), Irene Tedrow (Lucy Elkins on "Dennis the Menace"), Frank Overton (Sherrif Heck Tate in "To Kill a Mockingbird," Elias Sandoval in "This Side of Paradise" on "Star Trek") [I'm writing this 28 episodes into Season 2 because I only recently realized that The A.V. Club reviewed The Twilight Zone episodes. The reviewer, Todd VanDerWerff, positively raved about this episode - so I took it seriously, and watched the second half of "Walking Distance" again, and I liked it a *lot* more than I did on first viewing. Maybe it's because that, as a whole, I don't like the series quite as much as I remember as a teenager, but regardless, I really did see things in "Walking Distance" on the second viewing that I missed in the first. A *very* young Ron Howard (five years old!) is in this episode, as is Irene Tedrow, who plays the mother, and who also appears in Season 2's "The Lateness Of The Hour" - many, many actors appeared in multiple episodes.] 1.6.- "Escape Clause" - Nov 6, 1959 - <--- "You deed to me your so-called 'soul,' and in exchange, I give you immortality." Directed by Mitchell Leisen (2), Written by Rod Serling (6) Featuring David Wayne (Sam Jacoby in "One More Mile To Go" on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (2), Andrew Anderson in "The Thirty-First of February" on "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," Ralph White in "The Three Faces of Eve," The Mad Hatter on "Batman," Dr. Charles Dutton in "The Andromeda Strain," Dr. Mill in "The Diary" on "Night Gallery"), Thomas Gomez, Virginia Christine (Model in "Salvage" and Secretary in "The Long Shot" in on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (3)) 1.7 - "The Lonely" - Nov 13, 1959 - <--- "No, but you don't understand: She's not a robot; she's a woman!" Directed by Jack Smight (Directed 4 episodes of "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" (2)), Written by Rod Serling (7) Featuring Jack Warden (Juror #7 in "12 Angry Men," 3 episodes of "Route 66," Emmy Award Winner for Outstanding Performance as George Halas in "Brian's Song," Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (2) as Lester Karpf in "Shampoo" and Max Corkle in "Heaven Can Wait"), Jean Marsh (4 episodes of "The Saint," Co-Creator and Emmy Award Winner for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series as Rose Buck on "Upstairs, Downstairs"), John Dehner, Ted Knight (2-time Emmy Award Winner for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series as Ted Baxter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show") [This is one of Ted Knight's very first roles in Hollywood. Surprisingly, he also plays the prison guard who guards Norman Bates at the end of "Psycho" (*** MAJOR SPOILERS are at this link, which is the end of "Psycho" ***) 1.8 - "Time Enough At Last" - Nov 20, 1959 - <--- "Books! Books! All the books I'll need!" Directed by John Brahm (Director of "The Lodger" (1944 version), 10 episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (3), and 5 episodes of "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour"), Written by - Teleplay: Rod Serling (8), Story: Lynn Venable Featuring Burgess Meredith (The Penguin on "Batman," Dr. Diablo in "The Torture Garden," Dr. William Fall in "The Little Black Bag" and Charlie Finnegan in "Finnegan's Flight" on "Night Gallery" (2), Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (3) as Harry Greener in "The Day of the Locust" and Mickey Goldmill in "Rocky," Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie as Joseph Welch on "Tail Gunner Joe") [Not to nitpick, but I seriously doubt there would be a source to provide enough water pressure to make a ruptured hose spray up into the air.] 1.9 - "Perchance To Dream" - Nov 27, 1959 - <--- "Do you want to know how many hours I've been awake? 87 hours." Directed by Robert Florey (Co-Director of "The Cocoanuts"), Written by Charles Beaumont (Co-Writer of the Screenplay for "The Masque of the Red Death") Featuring Richard Conte (Tony Bergdorf in "Ocean's 11," Don Emilio Barzini in "The Godfather"), John Larch (Chief of Police in "Dirty Harry"), Suzanne Lloyd (Featured in 6 episodes of "The Saint") ["Perchance to Dream" comes from Hamlet's "To Be, or Not To Be" speech.] 1.10 - "Judgment Night" - Dec 4, 1959: Directed by John Brahm (2), Written by Rod Serling (9) Featuring Nehemiah Persoff ("Little Bonaparte" in "Some Like it Hot," Jack in "First Class Mouliak" and Vladia Dvorovoi in "Incident on a Bridge" on "Route 66"), Patrick MacNee (John Steed on "The Avengers"), James Franciscus (Ben Kendall in "Summer Shade" on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (4), Mike Longstreet on "Longstreet") [Note: And yes, it's James Franciscus.] 11. "And When The Sky Was Opened" - Dec 11, 1959: Written by Richard Matheson (Writer of "The Enemy Within" on "Star Trek" (xx), "Duel," The Big Surprise" and "The Funeral" on "Night Gallery" (xx)) [Note: One of the reasons this first season comes across as very dated (so far) is that 4 of the first 11 episodes (#1, #8, #10, and #11) deal with post-WWII military paranoia - with 3 of the 4 involving sheer terror. They're very good episodes, but there's no question that they haven't survived the test of time (and are perhaps a bit overacted as well). These definitely play into peoples' fears in the late 1950s - the Cold War took a brutal psychological toll on the American public, and that is represented here in full force.] 12. "What You Need" - Dec 18, 1959: 13. "The Four Of Us Are Dying" - Jan 1, 1960: Directed by John Brahm (Director of "The Lodger" (1944) and "Zzzzz" on "The Outer Limits"), Written by: Teleplay - Rod Serling (12), Story - "All of Us Are Dying" by George Clayton Johnson (Writer of "Ocean's Eleven," "Logan's Run," and "The Man Trap" on "Star Trek" (??)) Featuring Harry Townes (Three episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," Dr. Clifford Scott in "O.B.I.T." on "The Outer Limits," Reger in "The Return of the Archons" on "Star Trek" (??)), Ross Martin (Artemus Gordon on "The Wild, Wild West," Mr. Gingold in "Camera Obscura" on "Night Gallery" (??), Bradley Meredith in "The Other Way Out" on "Night Gallery" (??)), Phillip Pine (Leonard O'Brien in "The Incredible World of Horace Ford" on "The Twilight Zone" (??) Colonel Phillip Green in "The Savage Curtain" on "Star Trek" (??) Theodore Pearson in "One Hundred Days of the Dragon" on "The Outer Limits" (??), Dudley Grey in "Log 123: Courtroom" on "Adam-12"), Don Gordon (Luis B. Spain in "The Invisibles" on "The Outer Limits" (??), Dave Crowell in "Second Chance" on "The Outer Limits" (??)) [Well, maybe they listened to me - two episodes in a row now having nothing to do with the military. However, with only one exception (okay, 1 1/2 if you include "The Lonely"), all thirteen episodes are very white-male-centric - it's as if Rod Serling was portraying himself, complete with cigarettes (Serling was a four-pack-a-day smoker).] 14. "Third From The Sun" - Jan 8, 1960: 15. "I Shot An Arrow Into The Air" - Jan 15, 1960: [Note: They shouldn't have shown #14 and #15 back-to-back for obvious reasons. And we're back to the (para-)military episodes again - these two make 6 out of 15. "I Shot An Arrow Into The Air" is from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Arrow And The Song," and this is a genuinely great title for this episode.] 16. "The Hitch-Hiker" - Jan 22, 1960: [Note: I'm pretty sure that I'd seen all 16 of these episodes at some point in my life, and unlike Star Trek (either TOS or TNG), they're just not all that wonderful to see a second time. The acting is sometimes poor (refer to the gentleman above with his thumb out), and the plots hinge on "a moment" that's generally worth waiting 30 minutes for (especially when you're a teenager), but not worth another viewing - for example, if you don't figure out "The Hitch-Hiker" in the first 5 minutes, you simply need to watch more plays, movies, or television (I never thought I'd say that). However, Dan Duryea (who played Mr. Denton in episode #3) really stands out to me, acting-wise - when he's forced to sing "How Dry I Am," it is genuine pathos which evokes quite a bit of viewer sympathy.] 17. "The Fever" - Jan 29, 1960: 1.18 - "The Last Flight" - Feb 5, 1960 - <--- "We had no idea you were so advanced." Directed by William Claxton (Director of "Sheba" on "Route 66" (xx)), Written by Richard Matheson (xx), Featuring Kenneth Haigh (Brutus in "Cleopatra"), Simon Scott (General Bronson on "McHale's Navy," Arnold Slocum on "Trapper John, M.D," ), Alexander Scourby (Mike Lagana in "The Big Heat"), Robert Warwick (Major Henry in "The Life of Emile Zola") [Note: Yes! The best episode to date - perhaps the first great one - *and* it was even military in nature. This reminded me of Star Trek. [interesting - after I posted this, I read on Wikipedia: "This episode is similar to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Yesterday's Enterprise.] A couple of these episodes I'd seen in the past, but there's a detail or two I didn't remember, and I'm glad I didn't remember everything about "The Last Flight." If you want to watch *a* Twilight Zone, but don't feel like watching *every* Twilight Zone, start here. "Time Enough At Last" is perhaps the most famous of the first eighteen episodes, and may be just as good as this, but I'd seen it several times, so it lost a bit of luster for me.] 19. "The Purple Testament" - Feb 12, 1960: 20. "Elegy" - Feb 19, 1960: [Note: Clunk. My least-favorite episode to date. And with #18, #19, and #20, this makes 9 out of 20 (para-)military episodes. I don't remember if this turns away from military and space, and more into other aspects of science fiction, or not. Well, I guess we'll see.] 21. "Mirror Image" - Feb 26, 1960: [Note: It really is amazing just how many of these episodes were reused in Star Trek - maybe not "reused" so much as "borrowed and transformed." "Mirror Image" is a prime example, and this is about the third or fourth time it's happened - that said, this was an extremely weak episode, parallel (no pun intended) to "Mirror, Mirror" in TOS Season 2.] 1.22 - "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" - Mar 4, 1960 - <--- "Charlie, you killed him - he's dead." Directed by Ronald Winston (Director of "Banning"), Written by Rod Serling (xx) Featuring Claude Akins (Seaman "Horrible" in "The Caine Mutiny," Joe Burdette in "Rio Bravo"), Barry Atwater (Craig in "A Time Out of War," Dr. Jonas Temple in "Corpus Earthling" on "The Outer Limits," Surak in "A Savage Curtain" on "Star Trek," Alec Brandon in "The Doll of Death" on "Night Gallery," Janos Skorzeny in "The Night Stalker"), [Note: A classic. Like "Time Enough At Last," I'd seen it a few times so it lost its luster, but still, a classic. Claude Akins is unyielding with his reason, but ultimately not persuasive enough to stop the monsters.] 23. "A World Of Difference" - Mar 11, 1960: Directed by Ted Post (Director of "Sleep on Four Pillows" on "Route 66," "Beneath the Planet of the Apes," and "Magnum Force") [Note: Ah, finally! It took 23 episodes before I found one where I hadn't seen the entire thing - somehow, I vaguely remembered the beginning (after "it" happened), but didn't remember the ending at all.] 24. "Long Live Walter Jameson" - Mar 18, 1960: [Note: You just get the sense that the show is beginning to mature, and come into its own, with episodes like this.] 25. "People Are Alike All Over" - Mar 25, 1960: Directed by MItchell Leisen (Director of "Death Takes a Holiday" and "Murder at the Vanities"), Written by: Teleplay - Rod Serling (xx), Story - Paul W. Fairman (Founding Editor of "If" Magazine) Featuring Roddy McDowall (Cornelius and Caesar in the "Planet of the Apes" franchise, Gerald Musgrove in "The Gentleman Caller" and George in "See the Monkey Dance" on "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," Peter Vincent in "Fright Night," Jeremy Evans in "The Cemetery" on "The Night Gallery") Susan Oliver (Annabel Delaney in "Annabel" on "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" (xx) 3 Episodes of "Route 66" (xx), Vina in "The Cage" and "The Menagerie" on "Star Trek" (xx)), Paul Comi (Modeer in "The Crimson Witness" on "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" (xx), Lieutenant Stiles in "Balance of Terror" on "Star Trek" (xx)), Byron Morrow (Admiral Komack in "Amok Time" and Admiral Westervliet on "For the World is Hollow, and I have Touched the Sky" on "Star Trek" (xx), Vic Perrin (3 episodes of "Star Trek" (xx), Everett Jones in "Citizens All" on "Adam-12" (xx)), Vernon Gray (John Fraser in "To Paris with Love") [Note: Why is it that, unlike both Star Trek series that I've watched, The Twilight Zone hasn't skipped a single week? Yes, that's Roddy McDowall.] 26. "Execution" - Apr 1, 1960: [Note: Albert Salmi, who will appear in later episodes, is adept at playing unremorseful bastards.] 27. "The Big Tall Wish" - Apr 8, 1960: [Note: I suspect Rod Serling had "The Big Tall Wish" up his sleeve from day one. To quote Serling, "Television, like its big sister, the motion picture, has been guilty of the sin of omission... Hungry for talent, desperate for the so-called 'new face,' constantly searching for a transfusion of new blood, it has overlooked a source of wondrous talent that resides under its nose. This is the Negro actor." This is the first time I remember anyone of color in a Twilight Zone episode, and it's fantastic that it wasn't even referenced; nevertheless, this was a tough pill to swallow. As an aside, who knew that an athlete named Bo Jackson would be seriously injured after watching Bolie Jackson?] 28. A Nice Place To Visit" - Apr 15, 1960: [Note: Boy, I don't know if the other seasons will have this many "classic" episodes, but this first season has several. How can anyone see PIP as a child and not remember him (especially us latchkey children who were occasionally subjected to watching the awful Family Affair?).] 29. "Nightmare As A Child" - Apr 29, 1960: [Note: Hey! We skipped a week! I'm pretty sure Rod Serling was a "change the world" liberal relative to his day, but was also smart enough to bide his time and win over the Good Old Boys first. Here is another episode that might be considered "modern" by contemporary standards, one in which the power of a woman defeats the strength of a man. Nothing too radical, and nothing I even noticed when I first posted this, but maybe a little bit.] 30. "A Stop At Willoughby" - May 6, 1960: [Note: Only 2 of the past 10 episodes (#22 and #25) have used (para-)military or space-age paranoia as premises, so that makes only 11 out of 30 - a much more reasonable number. Also 2 out of the past 4 (#27 and #29) episodes have dealt with people of color or the strength of females - the show is definitely settling in and teaching us something rather than merely entertaining us. That said, the female character in "A Stop At Willoughby" was, just like in "A World Of Difference," a stereotypical harpy - the type of person anyone would despise. You can easily see how they chose Howard Duff to play the lead in "A World Of Difference" - his eyes and his eyebrows are perma-fixed in this kind of confused-looking stare. I've never seen a facial expression that changed so little over the course of a thirty-minute show - it's almost funny although it's not meant to be.] 31. "The Chaser" - May 13, 1960: [Note: Well, here it is: The very first episode in Season 1 that I hadn't seen any of. What a refreshing point of view to have, not having the foggiest notion of what is to transpire, and not recognizing it when it does. This episode - comic to the point of being laugh-out-loud funny at times - but also tense (in an "Arachnophobia" type of way - not knowing if an innocent mistake might kill you) - was very nearly outstanding, and gave me the "thrill of first sighting" once again, and for that, this whole endeavor has been worth it. This gives me hope that there will be others, perhaps numerous others, and this exercise is like a little treasure hunt. "The Chaser" is absolutely a comic episode, but the acting, particularly by the Clara Bow-like Patricia Barry, is fantastic - Barry plays two distinct roles here, and transitions from being a stand-offish dream-girl to "every guy's worst nightmare" in an instant, and she performs the dichotomy seamlessly. Because of the hilarity of this episode, her excellent acting could easily be overlooked, but it would be a mistake to do so. You should watch this if you haven't - I'd love to see your thoughts.] 32. "A Passage For Trumpet" - May 20, 1960: [Note: There are many inside jokes in Twilight Zone episodes, and a really clever one here is when Jack Klugman walks out of the bar just after selling his trumpet: The bar is named "Bandwagon," and that's just perfect. Between these playful little jokes, and some of the ingenious titles, there was a very clever person at work here - maybe more than one - but I suspect one of them was named Rod Serling. "A Passage For Trumpet?" Think about that title for a second.] 33. "Mr. Bevis" - Jun 3, 1960: [Note: Hey! We skipped a week for the second time in a month! What gives? Baseball season? Why do I feel like I just watched my own biography? Mr. Bevis is the way I want to be. Yeah, it would nice to have wealth, fame, idolizing fans, all that good stuff, but at the end of the day, all that's important is who cares that you're gone, what your children develop into, the character of your grand-grandchildren ... all that stuff that can't be put onto a corporate balance sheet. I know all of this, and to the best of my knowledge, I've yet to walk in ... to ... The Twilight Zone. (Although, honestly, sometimes it seems like I've come pretty close.)] 34. "After Hours" - Jun 10, 1960: [Note: A surprisingly weak episode after a long run of strong ones. Well, every series is entitled to some clunkers, and this was theirs. Weak acting, a weak storyline, a weak plot, very little consequence, very little at stake, just all-around weak and very little.] 35. "The Mighty Casey" - Jun 17, 1960: Directed by Robert Parrish (Academy Award Winner for Best Film Editing for "Body and Soul") and Alvin Ganzer (Directed 14 episodes of "Police Woman"), Written by Rod Serling (xx) Featuring Jack Warden (xx), Robert Sorrells (Charlie Guthrie in "Bound for Glory"), Abraham Sofaer (Arch on "Demon with a Glass Hand" on "The Outer Limits" (xx), Haji on "I Dream of Jeannie," The Thasian on "Charlie X" on "Star Trek" (xx)) [Note: Gosh, I hate to say it, but my least-favorite Twilight Zone episode so far has been about baseball. This could have been a classic; instead it was just a big dud. If you're a Twilight Zone fan *and* a Sports Fan, you'll be bitterly disappointed in this - the combination couldn't have been worse. That said, I've seen a lot of online comments about this episode, and not one of them mentioned that this was shown just one year after west-coast baseball began, and there's kind of a "cutting" comment at the very end regarding the West Coast - I'm wondering if this is something of a metaphor for teams (the Dodgers and Giants, to be exact) moving west of Kansas City - note that the Giants *shellacked* the Zephyrs after Casey got his heart, but that the manager moved the Zephyrs to the West Coast shortly afterwards and dominated, because he got the robot blueprint. I also read, in one comment, that the gentleman who originally played the manager of the Zephyrs passed away just before filming ended, and they had to reshoot all of his parts with Jack Warden - and they had to do it in short order - that, too, can explain a lot that went wrong. Warden was a fine actor, but he didn't give a good performance in this episode (notice how silly the opening "handshake" scene is).] 36. "A World Of His Own" - Jun 24, 1960: [Note: Season one is now a wrap, and it went out on a high note - with a comedy, yet. The ending of "A World Of His Own" was wonderful, with two back-to-back surprises (I'm not sure what this second technique is called). I'm so glad I went through this entire season because it not only lent a perspective to things, but also solidified how a series matures over time and gains its own personality. I'm very much looking forward to beginning season two. My remembering how much I enjoyed The Twilight Zone wasn't just childhood reminiscing; it's actually a really good, absolutely groundbreaking series. I believe The Outer Limits may be superior (I'd need to revisit all shows from both series to make that judgment, but hey, I've got "time enough at last," as Burgess Meredith would say). Please allow me to pat myself on the back, feeling and enjoying a small but significant sense of accomplishment.]
  2. Listen Up! I'm writing this comment two weeks after beginning this post (on December 7, 2014). If anyone has any ambition to go through the entire series of "Night Gallery," do yourselves a favor and buy "Rod Serling's Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour" by Scott Skelton and Jim Benson before you start - I'm ordering my copy today after having already gone through more than an entire season (I didn't know it existed before), and I can pretty much tell that it is indispensable, and *the definitive* reference guide - this is nearly an exact parallel to what I wrote about "The Twilight Zone Companion" (so much so that I cut-and-paste the paragraph from that link, and made only slight modifications to write this). I wouldn't have stumbled upon this book had they not had a sample review of "Class of 99" online (scroll down to Season 2, Episode 3c for more information). Buy this book before beginning. Cheers, Rocks Night Gallery - Season One I know, I know, but I crave cheap escapism. Note that for other series that I've gone through, the primary link (for the title) was for the Wikipedia entry; for "Night Gallery," Wikipedia's entries are inadequate, so I'm linking to the writer David Juhl who also went through the entire series, and wrote much more detailed reviews than I will be attempting - I suggest you turn to his blog for your supplemental material, and also purchase his Kindle Edition as your second reference (if you're going to traverse the entire series, you'll want both - I've never used Kindle, so I got my information from his website). David and I have written each other several times, and from what I've gleaned, I think quite highly of him, both as a reviewer of Night Gallery, and as a nice guy in general. *** (Spoilers Abound, Of Course, Throughout The Discussions. For All Seasons - Please Watch The Episodes Before Reading Anything) *** 1a. "The Dead Man" - Dec 16, 1970: [Notes: Written and Directed by Douglas Heyes (for each episode, I'll be listing the Writer and the Director. For those numerous cases where someone (often Rod Serling) wrote a teleplay based on an original story, I'm citing the author of the story).There is already a clear difference between "Night Gallery" and "Twilight Zone," as Night Gallery is going for straight horror, and Twilight Zone is clearly more of the science fiction genre with "cosmic-revenge" style plot twists. After only one episode, this is scarier (in terms of sheer horror) than anything The Twilight Zone ever put out. Still, it's nice to see Rod Serling give his narrations before the episodes, this time in the setting of a macabre art gallery (the "Night Gallery"). I have little doubt that, although the quality of episodes might be more consistent in Night Gallery, Serling's heart probably belonged to the Zone. Each of these episodes - at least for now - is one hour, divided into two thirty-minute shorts, so I will be labeling them 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, etc. with the production dates being the same for both the "a" and the "b" episodes. I saw the ending of "The Dead Man" coming well in advance, and it wasn't nearly as difficult to watch as I feared it might have been - it could have been *really* tough to swallow, but it might not have gotten past the television censors. The stunningly beautiful Louise Sorel (as the doctor's much younger wife) gives us a fine moment with an expression of genuine horror (Sorel playes Methuselah's mate as Rayna Kapec in "Star Trek's" "Requiem for Methselah" in which she was constructed to be the most beautiful possible woman - and makes a very credible case for being so.) Michael Blodgett, the handsome gentleman who portrays the condemned patient, does so in convincing fashion. Indeed, these are two very lovely people. 1b. "The Housekeeper" - Dec 16, 1970: [Notes: Written by Matthew Howard (a pseudonum for Douglas Heyes (2) <--- these numbers, going forward, will be how many episodes the person wrote or directed up until this point), directed by John Meredyth Lucas. Unlike The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery had many writers and directors (it's not nearly as Serling-concentrated), and I plan to credit them all in these Notes - such is the level of importance I place upon writing and direction, ergo the level of greatness - despite all its silliness and shortcomings - that I place on The Twilight Zone and Rod Serling. Larry Hagman (playing homeowner Cedric Acton) looks odd but somehow quite natural and even distinguished in a beard - I rather like it on him, perhaps because it helps to mask all the innocent, All-American, comic roles he's played over the years. Hagman is married to a beautiful shrew, and brings on a housekeeper who is her exact opposite - lovely on the inside, not so much on the outside. You can probably see where this is going, especially given that Hagman experiements with "personality transfer" ... or not: As many times as I've seen "this ending," I was not expecting it here, at all (and if you deconstruct it, it logically doesn't work).] 2a. "Room With A View" - Dec 23, 1970: [Notes: Written by Hal Dresner, directed by Jerrold Freedman. The extended, opening dialogue between Joseph Wiseman (who, by the way, played Dr. No) and Diane Keaton is wonderful, never looking more lovely. This twenty-minute short was simple, straightforward, and made by the interplay between Wiseman and the unwitting Keaton - it was great fun, in the most diabolical of ways. Think how clever this is: The viewer likes both of the perpetrators, and dislikes both of the victims.] 2b. "The Little Black Bag" - Dec 23, 1970: [Notes: Written by Rod Serling, directed by Jeannot Szwarc. A marvelous episode, clearly Rod Serling at his best, involving time travel, heros, plot twists, and an unexpected ending. It's amazing Burgess Meridith and Chill WIlls, both in fantastic performances, could have done so much in just twenty short minutes. Highly recommended for both Twilight Zone and Night Gallery fans - this is a terrific little vignette that doesn't seem so little.] 2c. "The Nature Of The Enemy" - Dec 23, 1970: [Notes: Written by Rod Serling (2), directed by Allen Reisner. After two such fine tales in this episode, they're entitled to a clunker for the third, right? Right? Well, maybe "clunker" isn't a strong enough word - how about disaster? Catastrophe? Pick whichever term you like, and it won't be adequate to describe how laughably *bad* the ending of "The Nature Of The Enemy" is - seriously, you can scarcely believe it. I could have written this when I was five years old, and if you see it, you might just agree with me, or at least understand why I say this.] 3a. "The House" - Dec 30, 1970: [Notes: Written by Rod Serling (3), directed by John Astin (Gomez on The Addams Family!). This was a good, deeply reaching episode for the first 90%, but then ended with something of a fizzle - a fizzle because the ending just doesn't make that much sense no matter how you slice or dice it. Still, the overall dreaminess of the direction was enchanting, and really drew the viewer in. So, are you okay with a long, enjoyable ride, only to have it end with a shoulder shrug? If so, then "The House" won't bother you at all; if you need a *finish*, then think twice about watching it.] 3b. "Certain Shadows On The Wall" - Dec 30, 1970: [Notes: Written by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, directed by Jeff Corey. Although I didn't remember the details of this tale, I remember being *very* creeped out by it as a child; much less so as an adult now that I've seen many a 1970s British horror piece (which this follows in spirit). Agnes Moorehead, bless her heart, is excellent at playing a soul in torment - probably one of the reasons I was so frightened by this as a child. The shadow is very scary for a child, but the adults' reaction to it makes it a whole lot less scary as an adult.] 4a. "Make Me Laugh" - Jan 6, 1971: [Notes: Written by Rod Serling (4), directed by Steven Spielberg. I knew ten minutes into this that it "felt" like a Twilight Zone, so I figured it might have been written by Rod Serling, but wow, I was surprised to see it was directed by Steven Spielberg - not because it was bad, mind you; just because I was surprised. Godfrey Cambridge is a talentless comedian with Tom Bosley as his agent who runs into miracle-worker Jackie Vernon in a bar, and all Cambridge wants is to make people laugh. Given that this is Night Gallery, you can probably guess at least part of the rest. A typical episode for Serling, although I thought it could have - and should have - ended immediately after the first changeover, before any of the aftereffects were seen, but something of a letdown for Spielberg, even early Spielberg, as this episode was merely average as a whole and Cambridge's annoying aspects were equal to his pathos - it didn't have to be that way.] 4b. "Clean Kills And Other Trophies" - Jan 6, 1971: [Notes: Written by Rod Serling (5), directed by Walter Doniger. Very much of Serling's signature is on "Clean Kills And Other Trophies," as he strongly believed against sport hunting, i.e., hunting merely for "trophies" instead of for actual food. Raymond Massey is excellent as Colonel Archie Dittman, a macho trophy collector holding an inheritance over his mild-mannered son, Archie Jr. (Barry Brown), until he kills an animal with a gun (when he clearly doesn't wish to) - this, over the protests of the lawyer, Pierce, played by Tom Troupe. Dittman will be receiving fitting justice for his attitudes about a lifetime of trophy collecting, and for forcing his son, a meek young man, to follow in his footsteps against his will - all this, thanks to the house servant, Tom Mboya, expertly played by Herb Jefferson, Jr.] 5a. "Pamela's Voice" - Jan 13, 1971: [Notes: Written by Rod Serling (6), directed by Richard Benedict. Wow! This episode was only 8 1/2-minutes long, but what an unsettling moment in time it was. Shot in one setting, and featuring only two people: John Astin (who directed episode 3a) and Phyllis Diller. For anyone who doesn't want to invest much time in a "starter" Night Gallery episode, this is a good choice, and most guys will have nightmares after seeing it. Take a close look at the painting (all paintings were done by Thomas J. Wright): While many of Night Gallery's paintings are obviously dashed off (well, I suppose they all were), this is one example where the painting matches the episode just about perfectly, with minimal thought required by the viewer.] 5b. "Lone Survivor" - Jan 13, 1971: [Notes; Written by Rod Serling (7), directed by Gene Levitt (creator of Fantasy Island). I remember loving this as a child, and I still love it as an adult - I'd like to say it's because I have a broader, deeper sense of history, but the reason is that this story is just good, creepy fun. A bit overacted by John Colicos (pictured) as the survivor, but then again, how should you expect him to act, having a foreknowledge of his fate?] 5c. "The Doll" - Jan 13, 1971: [Notes: Written by Algernon Blackwood, directed by Rudi Dorn. This completes a trilogy that comprised an entire three-part episode of quality - "The Doll" is flat-out scary: Compared to the two ventriloquist episodes, and the "Talking Tina" episode on "The Twilight Zone," *this* doll is truly something from the bowels of Hell. It's an interesting story involving revenge, mistaken identity, a plot twist at the end, horror, and a fair amount of complexity, and makes Season 1, Episode 5, an excellent introductory Night Gallery hour for the first-time viewer. How can a doll be so scary? This episode starred John Williams (pictured) who played William Shakespeare in Twilight Zone's "The Bard," and also a few episodes as Nigel French (Mr. French's brother) in "Family Affair."] 6a. "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar" - Jan 20, 1971: [Notes: Written by Rod Serling (8), directed by Don Taylor (who directed "Escape From The Planet Of The Apes" and "Damien: Omen II", as well as co-starred in "Stalag 17" and "Father Of The Bride"). This is a rather shameful admission, but it's the truth. I first began writing that this was a long, ponderous episode - it's about 40 minutes long, I watched it late at night when I was exhausted, and I was hoping for some cheap escapism (refer to "Pamela's Voice"). When I was about three sentences into my writing, I got even more tired, and didn't feel like writing, so I looked up some other reviews of the episode online. To a person, people raved about it, and in fact, it was nominated for a 1971 Emmy Award - either I was right in my late-night fatigue and the rest of the world was wrong, or the rest of the world was right and I was wrong. No doubt about it: I needed to watch this through again on a fresh mind, so the next day I watched it a second time, and I'm glad I did because I was wrong, wrong, wrong, due in large part to my previous fatigue and impatience. "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar" is an excellent episode, and I'm embarrassed to say I was "talked into" liking it by reading other critics - but like it I do, very much. The acting is impeccable across the board, and the story - while very un-Night Gallery like, is fine drama and a wonderful exploration of humanity. I was dead wrong, and I had my eyes opened by the opinions of others. One other, very important thing: They sing, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" to Randy Lane (William Windom) in this episode, and that's *exactly* the song they sing to Windom in "All in the Family" in the episode, "Success Story," which aired about six months later."] 6b. "The Last Laurel" - Jan 20, 1971: [Notes: Written by Davis Grubb, directed by Daryl Duke. Now this is what I had in mind the first time I saw "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar" - about a ten minute episode with minimal complexity. Jack Cassidy plays a jealous man who has lost the use of his legs, and finds himself in a situation where his lovely wife and his handsome doctor are both spending the night in his house. Naturally he expects the worst, and he has developed the skill to "leave his body" (and in this case commit a murder). The lights go out, and he enters the wrong room and kills the wrong person ... himself. Nothing too complex here, and the perfect episode for late-night, tired TV watching at 1:15 AM. This would never win any awards, but it was good, cheap melodrama bordering on horror.]
  3. I think there is a whole lot of myth-making involved in the story of how Ed Wynn blew everything in every rehearsal and then miraculously gave one of the most affecting performances of all time when they did "Requiem for a Heavyweight" live; the story seems unlikely, as just about anyone who ever performed in front of an audience can attest. Nonetheless, "The Man in the Funny Suit," the institutionalization of the myth that ran on Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse in 1960, with the full participation of both Wynns and Rod Serling, among others, is totally worth watching. I commend it to your attention:
  4. The 1956 live broadcast of "Requiem for a Heavyweight" is one of the most amazing live broadcasts I've ever seen, no, make that *the* most amazing live broadcast I've ever seen on TV. It is so complex that it seems almost unbelievable that this was broadcast live - there were virtually no mistakes at all that I'm aware of. This is pre-Twilight Zone Rod Serling, and is the work he said he was most proud of in his entire career. You can probably find this in higher-quality video, but you can also watch it here for free: They remade the teleplay into a movie in 1962 starring Anthony Quinn, Jackie Gleason, Mickey Rooney, and Julie Harris - and if you've ever wondered what it must have been like to fight Muhammad Ali in his prime, this is probably about as close as you'll ever come to knowing. <--- Click on this and watch the first few minutes of the video, trust me.
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