There’s the signpost up ahead, and make note of where you are, because Paramount Pictures is taking me deeper into The Twilight Zone this week, with another trio of episodes.
First up is The Purple Testament. The episode aired on 12 February, 1960 and was written by Rod Serling.
It’s World War II, and Lt. Fitzgerald (William Reynolds) is serving with his squad in the Philippines. Fitzgerald has been given an unusual gift, he can tell which of his squad will die next. It is as if, when he looks at them, a light is shone on their face. His captain, Riker (Dick York) is worried about him, but there’s no conclusive evidence that there is something actually wrong with Fitzgerald.
Its a fairly straight forward episode, and you know how it’s going to end once you find out what the story is. But, it does put a human face on the cost of war. It humanises the men, but that doesn’t stop the Grim Reaper from claiming his victims.
An almost introspective episode.
The extras for this episode include a commentary by William Reynolds, an interview with Ron Masak, who plays the Harmonica Man in the episode, and an isolated score by Lucien Moraweck.
Elegy aired on 19 February, 1960 and was penned by Charles Beaumont.
Three astronauts, Kurt Meyers (Jeff Morrow), Peter Kirby (Don Dubbins) and their captain, James Webber (Kevin Hagen) land on a far distant asteroid. Upon disembarking they are stunned to find it has an uncanny resemblance to Earth of the 20th century, except that everything seems frozen in time (it’s like the Twilight Zone version of the Mannequin challenge), and they are in a binary solar system.
They try to puzzle out what is going on, throwing out countless theories, as they try to figure out what is happening on this strange world, and what it means for them. They become increasingly fearful and worried about their circumstances…
That is, until Jeremy Wickwire (Cecil Kellaway) moves and talks to them. Through conversation we learn that the Earth had an atomic war in 1985 that wiped out most of humanity – I must have missed that.
The revelation of where they really are, stuns them, and its implications for their own lives hits them a little too late.
I got a laugh, as there are some sound effects used in this episode that were later used in Star Trek for the bridge of the Enterprise.
This one features an isolated score track by Van Cleave.
Mirror Image was written by Serling and premiered on 26 February, 1960.
Vera Miles stars as Millicent Barnes, and while she waits in a bus station for her coach to Cortland, she becomes increasingly convinced that a doppelganger is trying to take over her life.
Everywhere she goes, and everyone she speaks with swears that she was just there doing the exact same thing.
Is she going mad? Is there something wrong with her? Or is there truly something nefarious going on in the episode?
It’s dark, makes you think, and when watching it in the middle of the night, those thoughts will keep you awake at night, wondering about the possibilities…
I greatly enjoyed this episode, and if the twist at the end doesn’t make you worry about sitting around in bus stations, then there is something wrong with you.
The episode features a commentary by Martin Milner, who plays Paul Grinstead, a good Samaritan in the story, as well as an isolated score, and a radio drama starring Morgan Brittany and Frank John Hughes.
Next week, we venture even further into season 1 with Paramount Pictures The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series on Blu-Ray.