The Twilight Zone Hall of Fame

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The mannequins (or the Jack in the Box) might be the creepiest things in the episodes in this HoF, but not in the series. Some things that are creepier are the ventriloquist's dummy in the episode "The Dummy", Talky Tina in the episode "Living Doll", and the little girl's cries for help in the episode "Little Girl Lost".
The little girl lost behind the wall is all kinds of creepy! Good episode too.



The mannequins (or the Jack in the Box) might be the creepiest things in the episodes in this HoF, but not in the series. Some things that are creepier are the ventriloquist's dummy in the episode "The Dummy", Talky Tina in the episode "Living Doll", and the little girl's cries for help in the episode "Little Girl Lost".
Few things creep me out more than when dolls come to life - I don't know if you watch the What We Do in the Shadows TV series, but even the doll version of Nadja bothers me even though she's supposed to be funny and not scary - so I'll probably hold off on watching those (unless someone nominates them for the next one of these, of course).



11 Foreign Language movies to go
Cueing up another review - with SPOILERS

Season 3 - Episode 5 : A Game of Pool - Jack Klugman is back, this time as Jesse Cardiff, an avid pool player who thinks he's the best in the world and wants to prove it - he laments that the previous best of all time, James Howard "Fats" Brown, is dead, and so he can't face him and beat him. In fact he curses his name! That's enough to bring Fats back from the afterlife for a showdown. One condition though - if Jesse loses he dies. That's a terrible condition, and to his credit Jesse falters for a moment, but Fats (played by Jonathan Winters, who'd always pop up on things like the Dean Martin Variety Show) really goads him into it. Klugman still adds a delicate sadness to Jesse, similar to his character in A Passage for Trumpet, but he also has a bit of a harder edge. He agrees, and there begins an epic contest of pool between the two participants. Now, I was expecting Fats to have supernatural powers and be unbeatable, but he's actually fallible and misses some shots - enough so that by the end Jesse only has to sink one last ball to win. Man, I was sweating on that last shot - a good episode can build tension like this, especially when a life or someone's soul is at stake. Jesse makes the shot, but not before Fats warns him that he might win more than he bargained for. Indeed he did, for now that Jesse is the best in the world, it falls on him after he dies to face every other challenger in the world from beyond the dead until someone finally beats him. You can see by his facial expression and attitude that this really sucks and is tiresome.


A pretty good episode. I did automatically wonder though, what's stopping Jesse throwing his mantle if "being the best" kind of ruins the whole heaven experience? In fact, it's alluded to (somewhat) that Fats throws the final game between the two characters in this. His final shot isn't the easiest, but still well within his capabilities, and he seems glad to have retired from being the best. Also, although Jesse has proved it to himself, nobody else will ever believe that he basically beat a ghost. Nitpicking, I know. The episode was well, acted, had suspense, and a decent Twilight Zone-themed ending and I enjoyed watching it.

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11 Foreign Language movies to go
Cette critique a des SPOILERS

Season 5 - Episode 22 : An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge - This was really different. During the American Civil War a man is being hanged - perhaps on charges of sabotage, which may or may not be well founded. Deliberately slowly we creep towards his actual hanging, but when he drops, he just continues dropping into the river above which he was being hanged. He manages to free his hands and swim to the surface. He has a moment of counting his blessings, glad to be alive, before troops start shooting at him. So he must swim off in a hurry - down the river and the rapids before he washes up on the shore. He's perhaps unconscious for a while, but when he wakes up he's in raptures over the fact he's still living. He rolls around having fun, then sets off through scrub and eventually onto a tree-lined road where he sprints and sprints and falls. He gets up, and manages to reach a clearing where a house is. Out from the house comes a woman - one he was dreaming about earlier when he was waiting to die. When he reaches her, we switch back to him being hung again - the whole escapade has been a flash through his mind while he was dropping, moments before actually dying.


This was a French short film which won a slew of awards and was co-opted by Rod Serling for a late episode of the fifth season. I admire the film, I think it's really good - but it just doesn't feel like The Twilight Zone to me (except for that ending - that was one thing about the film which was very Twilight Zone.) There are moments of reflection that feel very out of place, and although there was a near-complete lack of dialogue in The Invaders, the fact that there's so little said, but so much conveyed, makes this more artful an episode than any other you'd see. I look forward to reading the other An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge reviews. I'm not sure what to rate it. On it's quality alone, or inclusive of the fact it was so far removed from the vibe of every other episode made. I'll average it out...

(Great short film - but out of place on The Twilight Zone, and not made for it.)



11 Foreign Language movies to go
SPOILERS! BONZAI!!!!

Season 5 - Episode 31 : The Encounter - Wow, The Twilight Zone gets dark with this savage little number, with an encounter between an ex-soldier and Japanese lawnmower man in the former's attic. So dark in fact that U.S. audiences wouldn't see this episode again until 2016, some 52 years after originally airing! The ex-soldier is played by Neville Brand, the young Japanese guy George Takei, and it begins with Brand clearing out some junk before coming across a samurai sword, which, as soon as he touches it, he throws away as if the very touch of it conveyed feelings of evil and darkness. The Japanese mower calls up and they discuss the price of tending to his lawn - things getting friendly, so Brand invites him up for a beer. The talk between them will start out general and polite, but things veer towards race, especially with Brand calling Takei "boy" all the time. When the sword comes up again the mood gets even darker because the war starts being discussed. When Brand goes downstairs Takei holds the sword and vows to kill Brand (the characters are Fenton and Arthur Takamori - excuse my laziness.) Brand has explained that he got the sword in combat, but Takamori has divined (obviously from the powerful sword) that Fenton killed the Japanese officer after taking him prisoner. Things become more and more heated. Fenton becomes more and more racist. We heard before that an inscription on the swords has a vow about the sword alone providing vengeance for it's owner - so we know what will happen in the end - indeed, the two men fight and Takamori eventually manages to impale Fenton on the sword (this is awkwardly done, for as you can imagine you can't really show an impalement on The Twilight Zone.) Then, Takamori screams "Bonzai!!!" and jumps out the window. I'm sorry - but that last little bit was unintentionally funny. The episode as a whole wasn't unintentionally funny though - it was probably The Twilight Zone's darkest hour, and very much a downer.


BONZAI!!!!

Holy moly - well, at least this Hall of Fame isn't filled with the same kind of episode over and over. Lately I've had a French short film, Jack Klugman with his sorrowful eyes and now this dark and savage race-based banned episode. Really mixing it up. It's probably a very good thing for any show to test the boundaries and branch out into important areas, and near the end of it's original series it looks like The Twilight Zone was doing that. This episode is effective, and bites really hard - I admire it, even though it leaves a bit of a sour taste. When Fenton has finished spouting bile and hatred you want that Japanese officer to have his years-old vengeance, but I'm not so sure with the window jump at the end there. That was like something you'd see in The Naked Gun. In Hall of Fames I'm all about variety - so I'm glad this was nominated, though I rate it 50/50 in overall terms.




11 Foreign Language movies to go
It's a good thing there are SPOILERS in these reviews. A really good thing.

Season 3 - Episode 8 : It's a Good Life - So now I've finally seen this episode of The Twilight Zone, that I've seen referenced so often and talked about. It was a good episode. A really, really good episode, and it's a good thing they made it. In all actuality, it's one of the absolute best episodes, if not the best. Here Billy Mumy stars as a "monster" - a kid (Anthony) who has the power to control anything at all in the universe with his mind. Anthony has removed his little town from the rest of the world (or perhaps existence) and rules it with an iron, but child-like, fist. He creates strange creatures, his own television programs (dinosaurs fighting and mauling each other - lord knows what else) and his own sense of justice for anyone who displeases him. This means all the adults in this town bend over backwards to please Anthony, praising everything he does, even the terribly bad things. It's a frightening place, where neighbours are set on fire or banished to "the corn field", which by the sounds of it means "oblivion" because nobody comes back from that place. We spend an afternoon with Anthony and his fellow-townspeople (the other children displeased him and are gone - seemingly wiped from existence) during a birthday celebration. Unfortunately the man celebrating his birthday drinks a little too much and has an outburst - Anthony is displeased, and turns him into a macabre jack-in-the-box, with a human head on a spring. His wife reacts in horror, but everyone fixes their gazes and repeats, "that was such a good thing you did" as they must say to every weird thing Anthony inflicts on these poor souls. What a wonderful bit of imagination from writer Jerome Bixby and Rod Serling - and a classic piece of television.


Yes. Kids are monsters. They lack empathy and morals, which is a strange mix considering on the other hand their innocence. To have a child wielding these powers is terrifying for adults, who mostly only have to guard their child from society, not the other way around. This episode of The Twilight Zone and Jerome Bixby really struck a rich vein of horror when they came up with this concept, which would be recycled for Twilight Zone : The Movie in 1983 and referenced on shows such as The Simpsons. The greatest thing about this series was the freedom to explore any concept and see where it would take us - and this was never better illustrated as in this - It's a Good Life. In it, an older lady can no longer sing, but we can't exactly see why - in the film he removes his sister's mouth entirely, which would have been too unsettling for television. But overall the best and most unsettling version is this television one. There's not only fear on the adult's faces, but the kind of resignation you only see on the subjugated, making me wonder what they've all been through and what's in front of these poor people. I wouldn't mind at all seeing this episode win, and if I'd known about it myself, I would definitely have nominated it.




Season 1 Episode 8: Time Enough At Last

(SPOILER WARNING)

This episode has held up great every time I've rewatched it, so I was happy to revisit it for this thread. In spite of it being arguably the most popular episode from the show though, it's not quite on the same level as my other favorite episodes from the show. I'd definitely put it somewhere in the second tier though. The acting is really good, Bemis is a likable character, and the post-apocalyptic sets are incredible. The heart of this episode's themes revolves around the ending though. It's, perhaps, the most well-known cruel twist in the show. Part of what's effective about it is that it doesn't seem like Bemis is being punished for doing anything wrong. Rather, it's suppose to be an unfair ending for him that fits with the episode's themes of how there's often never enough time to do anything. Whether it be the demands of a job, life getting in the way, or lacking the motivation to get around to something, we've all encountered this in the past. As for some other ways you could interpret the ending, there could be an anti-intellectual significance to the ending with how reading may eventually become a relic of the past in the future, or maybe it could it be a cruel punishment for Bemis's antisocial behavior? Either way, it definitely left a huge impact on me when I first watched it and this viewing was no different for me.

Next Up: Walking Distance



Few things creep me out more than when dolls come to life - I don't know if you watch the What We Do in the Shadows TV series, but even the doll version of Nadja bothers me even though she's supposed to be funny and not scary - so I'll probably hold off on watching those (unless someone nominates them for the next one of these, of course).

I don't watch What We Do in the Shadows, but after seeing some creepy dolls coming to life on TV, I had nightmares about them when I was younger.
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Time Enough at Last

My pick and a classic, a bookish man survives the end of the world only to be confronted by the grim realities of living alone. For me the best Twilight Zone episodes are the ones that offer difficult questions. Time Enough to Last presents us with a more realistic cast of characters less protagonist and antagonists but rather flawed humans.

The first time you watch the episode you're sympathies go with Henry on subsequent viewings you notice that the others characters are less bad more so tired and wounded by having to deal with Henry's issues. I always enjoy the toxic marriages in episodes like this because it's a snapshot of the values of the times.

The ending is a very dark one because Henry is now in a situation where he is blind at the end of the world. He can't even kill himself, he wanted to be alone and now he's stuck completely alone unable to function in any way.





Nothing in the Dark

Robert Redford's good looks and timing always held him back from being a great actor. He always had to be the good guy or the tramp he could never play menacing he could never be evil he never played against type. This was closest we could get to a menacing Redford...playing the role of the Grim Reaper trying to guide an elderly shut in to her death.

Gladys Cooper is also in this...it's not top work for her, I don't know how many of you knew this was she was a three time Oscar nominee and has delivered fantastic supporting roles. I do wonder watching other episodes of hers to see if she gets better or she's just kinda one note.

My only complaint is that the room feels like a set not a room where this woman would live, I think the designers wanted to give it a more theatrical feel instead of the realistic one.



"Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?" CONTAINS SPOILERS

Who doesn't love a good "who's the impostor" story? They're almost always a blast from their guessing games to their big reveals. Off the top of my head, John Carpenter's The Thing and the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Allegiance" are two of my favorites. I’m not sure if I would rank this episode as among the best, but it’s at least one of the best parodies of the format that I’ve seen. The usual suspects are all memorable, my favorites being John Hoyt's condescending know-it-all and Jack Elam's clown. I also approve of each curve ball and red herring, especially the exploding saltshakers. The episode’s secret weapon and what makes it such a good parody is the big reveal, obviously. While I have yet to run into anyone who has three arms or a third eye (unfortunately), it offers no better proof, to quote Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman, that “even with my eyes wide open, I can’t see a thing!” Like I said, it’s not one of my favorite “who’s the impostor” stories, but I still had a lot of fun with the episode and laughed a lot. When you consider that I did the latter even though the bus fell into the river and all of the passengers drowned, that’s saying something.



Season 1 Episode 11: And When the Sky Was Opened

SPOILERS!

I love this episode because it's scary, but in a different way. It doesn't use monsters, or jump scares, or anything that we might see in modern horror movies to scare us, but it uses the idea that someone could just disappear, leaving no trace that they ever even existed. We see the fear in each of the astronauts as they realize that something is wrong, and in the other astronauts as things around them start to change, wiping out all evidence of the previous astronaut.

The acting by the three main actors is very strong too. This is what "The Twilight Zone" is all about, and it's been one of my favorite episodes for as long as I can remember.



Season 2 Episode 28: Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?

SPOILERS!

I think this episode is a little different from a lot of other Twilight Zone episodes because most of the episode feels more like a "who done it" mystery, with some humor thrown in, but then in the last few minutes, we get the reveal, followed by a twist that we never saw coming.

There are some minor plot holes, like why people can't remember who was on the bus when there were only six people on it, but sometimes you have to just let it go and enjoy the episode. It's a fun episode, and one of my favorites of the series.



"The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is a terrifying episode for how it shows how people behave when they're in the dark both literally and figuratively. By figuratively, I mean without any idea how they ended up in their unusual situation and with no means available to explain it like the one in which the Maple Street denizens find themselves. The idea to make the resident who kickstarted the chain of events that made The Purge play out in the neighborhood someone who none would take seriously on a normal day, i.e., the sci-fi-loving and likely youngest one, is an inspired one. Speaking of the neighborhood, making it resemble the typical one in which dads would discuss the previous night's Twilight Zone episode while washing their cars or drinking beers makes it all the more real and thus scarier. Still, the moment that resonates the most is when Les Goodman, the supposed voice of reason in the neighborhood, immediately becomes a member of the angry mob as soon as he discovers that Steve has a radio. While the episode is a standout in a season of standouts, I'm in agreement that the twist isn't the best. Even though I can't think of a better way it could have revealed who caused the power outage, it seems redundant while considering everything that happens before as well as Serling's outro speech. I've thought about how this episode would play out in the 2020's - a time when everyone has the Internet at their fingertips (granted that their phones work again long enough to look up what's going on, of course) - and call me pessimistic, but I think it would play out the same way. When one's fear of the unknown is stoked, people today are just as likely to jump to conclusions, believe what they choose to believe in spite of factual evidence, give in to their base instincts, favor the mob's viewpoint to their own, etc. as they were back then.



Season 1 Episode 5: Walking Distance

(SPOILER WARNING)

This is one of the first Twilight Zone episodes I remember watching on tv. While it doesn't rank amongst my favorite episodes, I still think it's quite good. For one, it's a good portrayal of how cities and places you return to after spending many years away from can be similar to how you remembered them, as if they've been frozen in time. While this episode represents this in the literal sense, I've read about many adults who experienced this kind of nostalgia when returning to their hometowns. This episode also argues though that instead of looking behind you and focusing on the lost pleasures you had when you were younger, you should look ahead at the joys you can appearance as an adult. Martin, who said that his life was rough after he aged into adulthood (it's also implied his mother died sometime in the 25 years he went back in time), went to his hometown in an attempt to reminisce on the joys he wasn't able to experience anymore as an adult, showing that he was a man out of time. I didn't realize those were his motivations until the carousel scene (which holds this episode back from favorite territory for me), but once it fleshed that theme out, I found it compelling. Even though Martin does permanent damage to one of his legs in the episode (granted, this felt pretty unnecessary), the episode concludes on a somewhat positive note since Martin seems content with living in his own age group in the end. Topped with some disorienting cinematography where the camera is tilted more and more on an angle as the episode goes on to represent Martin growing increasingly frantic, I found a lot to enjoy here.

Next Up: Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?



Season 1 Episode 5: Walking Distance

(SPOILER WARNING)

Even though Martin does permanent damage to one of his legs in the episode (granted, this felt pretty unnecessary)
I don't mind this element. In fact, I think that the fact that Martin's desperation to go back to his childhood literally "cripples" him is a point well made. At a certain point, nostalgia becomes an unhealthy thing and can be kind of damaging to a person.

There's a YouTube video I watched once (apologies if I already talked about this in this thread---it's sounding familiar as I type it but I'm too lazy to go back and look!). It was about the difference between "past-focused" people and "future-focused" people, and how future-focused people tend to be happier and more productive.



I don't mind this element. In fact, I think that the fact that Martin's desperation to go back to his childhood literally "cripples" him is a point well made. At a certain point, nostalgia becomes an unhealthy thing and can be kind of damaging to a person.

There's a YouTube video I watched once (apologies if I already talked about this in this thread---it's sounding familiar as I type it but I'm too lazy to go back and look!). It was about the difference between "past-focused" people and "future-focused" people, and how future-focused people tend to be happier and more productive.
Eh, fair enough. It was a minor nitpick anyways.



"Wordplay/Dreams For Sale/Chameleon" CONTAINS SPOILERS

"Wordplay"

I enjoyed this segment a lot, but wow, did it hit close to home. Is it because I too am a middle-aged man with a young son who, for obvious reasons, I fear will become deathly ill? Is it because I often, well...everyday fear that I will go to work, log on to my PC and have no idea what anyone is talking about in my e-mails? Whatever the reason may be, it's an affecting story for how it makes you wonder - as one character puts it plainly - if an old dog can learn new tricks. The way the segment progresses from replacing a word here and there with another to complete nonsense is expertly gradual. Also, I may just be repeating myself, but I cannot think of a worse dilemma than the one Bill and Cathy go through in which not understanding what anyone is saying could be more frustrating. Thankfully, the segment's treatment of it is tasteful and not overly melodramatic. What I like the most about the segment, though, is that it leaves the answer to the "old dog" question up to the viewer. It instead poses a much more interesting question: what in your life would motivate you to learn new tricks?

"Dreams For Sale"

This is a short and sweet segment that brings up what seems to be a frequently used topic in science fiction: if you stumbled upon paradise, but you knew it was unearned and/or artificial, would you care? Not far off from being Solaris in nine minutes, what it does in its short runtime with this dilemma as well as the other sub-dilemma that always seems to pop up in stories like this, the likelihood of confusing what's real with what's fake, strikes the same nerves just as well as the '72 and '02 movies, the Star Trek episode "This Side of Paradise," etc. do. Does this interlude of a segment hold a candle to these and other works with similar stories? No, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit, and if anything, I admire its efficiency. Oh, and the appearance of the always-delightful Meg Foster certainly doesn't hurt.

"Chameleon"

This is a pretty good thriller of a segment that asks many questions I wouldn't mind asking a NASA scientist myself if I were to ever meet one. Specifically, are there any contingencies if you discover something or someone you cannot contain? Also, if this object or entity offered you the secrets of the universe, would you want to hear them, and if so, what would you be willing to sacrifice to obtain them? In other words, it's a decent testament to the hubris inherent in space exploration. If it's not obvious from my use of phrases like "pretty good" and "decent," I liked this segment, but I didn't love it. From the use of the actual space shuttle footage to the cheesy and dated special effects, the chintziness of everything and the resulting unintentional comedy undercut the theme's poignancy. I imagined the producer shrugging his shoulders and saying something like "we used up a lot of the budget in the first two segments, so this is all we have to work with" after watching it. Also, I like Terry O'Quinn as much as the next guy, but the acting leaves much to be desired. When it comes down to it, many other works, including other Twilight Zone episodes, have covered similar territory and this one doesn't bring many new things to the table. Again, I did enjoy it and believe it has aspects worthy of praise, particularly the suspense during the ticking time bomb scene, but it's probably my least favorite of the episode's three segments.



I'm technically a day late, but you guys now have two weeks left to finish this Hall. Here's where everyone stands as of now:

@edarsenal (5/18)
@PHOENIX74 (14/18)
@Siddon (3/18)

Since a couple of you still have a ways to go, would you like an extra week to finish this?



Season 2 Episode 28: Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?

(SPOILER WARNING)

In spite of this being one of the most popular episodes from the show, it's never been a favorite for me. I still liked a decent bit about it though. I generally dig the "who's the imposter?" trope in sci-fi/horror and this is a fine example of that type of plot. Oddly enough though, my favorite thing about the episode wasn't the "weird things going on" bits (the jukebox turning on by itself and the exploding saltshakers), but actually the behavior from a couple of the bus passengers, with my favorite amongst them being Avery. His outbursts were delightfully over-the-top and comedic and got me to chuckle every time he opened his mouth. He definitely made the episode for me. I also found Ross fairly memorable due to the superiority he showed to the other characters in the episode. With that being said, the other bus passengers kind of just blended into each other. They didn't have as much of a personality as Avery and Ross did and mostly just showed some distrust towards each other throughout the episode. On the plus side though, the ending is definitely the main highlight of the episode since it has three surprises in store. The first surprise is that the state troopers and the bus passengers all plunged into the icy river and drowned, the second is that Ross was an alien from Mars, and the third surprise is that Haley, the cook in the café, was an alien from Venus whose kind will be taking over Earth instead of Ross's. Overall, this was a good episode with a great ending that ultimately paled in comparison to "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street".

Last Up: Wordplay/Dreams For Sale/Chameleon