Midnight Rec: The Twilight Zone

What can I say? These Sci-Fi marathons always get to me.
Midnight Rec: The Twilight Zone
What can be said about such an iconic series? Honestly, not that much. I think most people recognize the strength of the series. So I'll just recommend a few of my favorite episodes that sometimes don't receive their due.
Nick of Time - This is my personal favorite episode of any run of The Twilight Zone. A young couple's car breaks down in a small town. They discover a small fortune telling machine in the local diner that's answers are more accurate than they ever thought possible.
When people think of Shatner and The Twilight Zone, they think of Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. Nick of Time is his other Twilight Zone episode, and I think his performance as a stranded superstitious man is far more effective than his paranoid high-flying routine. Plus, the fortune telling machine is a much more realistic looking device than the gremlin on the wing (not that the modified ape costume isn't scary).
Long Distance Call - This is just a very clever teleplay. A grandmother on her death bed presents her beloved grandson with a toy telephone she promises will always connect the two together. After her death, the boy begins to act in strange ways, always talking on the toy telephone as if his grandmother really could hear.
It's a slow burn episode, building up to a very emotional climax that focuses on everyday relations in face of supernatural occurrences.
Once Upon a Time & Cavender is Coming - I'm grouping these two together, even though they are very different episodes. Respectively starring Buster Keaton and Carol Burnett, these are two of the comedic episodes of the series that tend to go ignored. There's no scares, no strong sci-fi or fantasy rhetoric, and predictable twists.
That's also not the point of the episodes. They exist as excellent showcases of two smart, physical comedy performers within the context of a show of the fantastic. Keaton travels from the silent world of the 1890s to the hustle and bustle of the 1960s with a time travel device. Burnett is a clumsy woman that can't keep a job who receives the unwanted assistance of a bumbling angel in training. The episodes are hilarious and still feel like The Twilight Zone.
Jess-Belle - This is one of the almost-dreaded hour long episodes. The problem was the formula that worked so well in thirty minute episodes couldn't always sustain an hour long drama. That's why this particular episode works. Love potions were old hat by this time in The Twilight Zone, as were wish catastrophes and towns turning on people. By layering the three together, the Jess-Belle episode brings enough material from a distinct enough perspective to last an hour and still be compelling.
So there are five episodes that tend to go unnoticed in the face of the constant replays of To Serve Man and Living Doll.

Labels: Midnight Rec

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