The Twilight Zone: Season Two (1960-1961)
Image Blu-ray, (4 discs; 12 hours, 5 min.)
I could spend hours, days talking about The Twilight Zone, why I love it, why it has continued to be popular, and on and on. I’ve seen every episode at least once, many of them at least a dozen times, yet they still continue to amaze me. Countless numbers of people watch the episodes on TV marathons each year, but a few years ago, I saved up for the Blu-rays, which I have been dipping into here and there. I watched Season One a couple of years ago and just finished Season Two. I won’t go into details here; you’re either on board with TZ or you’re not. You either understand and accept the limitations of the special effects of the time or you don’t. Even more so, you either appreciate (mostly) well-written episodes or you’d rather watch something else. I’m only listing my favorites (which may not necessarily be the best episodes) from Season Two.
“Eye of the Beholder” (written by Rod Serling, directed by Douglas Heyes)
One of the all-time great TZ episodes, still effective today.
“The Howling Man” (Charles Beaumont, Douglas Heyes)
Okay, the depiction of the devil is silly, but the howling sound is really creepy, as are the camera angles and the imposing figure of John Carradine.
“The Invaders” (Richard Matheson, Douglas Heyes)
Probably more effective in its day, but still a powerful, mostly silent episode that hooks you from the beginning. I wish I could’ve been part of the original audience. I’m sure they had no idea where this one was going.
“Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room” (Rod Serling, Douglas Heyes)
Joe Mantell gives a superb performance in this effective character study.
“Nick of Time” (Richard Matheson, Richard L. Bare)
A pre-Star Trek William Shatner is actually believable as a man who feels his destiny is determined by a cafe’s fortune-telling machine. We the audience know his fears are unfounded, but the character’s sense of desperation and obsession make for an engaging (and memorable) episode.
“The Obsolete Man” (Rod Serling, Elliot Silverstein)
At times the episode gets heavy-handed, but its implications are perhaps more frightening now than they were upon the episode’s initial airing. Great performances by Burgess Meredith and Fritz Weaver.
“The Odyssey of Flight 33” (Rod Serling, Jus Addiss)
This Rod Serling story and its special effects seem woefully dated now, but I never tire of the sense of danger and helplessness that runs through it. I love it, although the episode has several faults.
“A Penny for Your Thoughts” (George Clayton Johnson, James Sheldon)
Its not often that humor worked very well on The Twilight Zone, but this is one of the show’s best light-humor entries.
“Shadow Play” (Charles Beaumont, John Brahm)
What is real? No one wrote stories that called reality into question better than Charles Beaumont.
“The Silence” (Rod Serling, Boris Sagal)
Stunning episode about one of the strangest wagers ever. Again, I wonder how many people saw this ending coming? Even though I’ve seen it many times, the ending remains effective.
My runner up goes to “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” (Rod Serling, Montgomery Pittman) – a really fun episode marred only by the awful special effect used for the finale.
The most disturbing episode? “Long Distance Call” (Charles Beaumont and William Idelson, James Sheldon) for reasons that will be clear once you’ve seen it.
So let me know your favorite episodes from Season Two in the comments section.
Photos: The Twilight Zone Wiki, Dead Eye Delirium, The Red List, The Twilight Zone Vortex, CBS, i09, The Night Gallery