The Twilight Zone (1960) – King Nine Will Not Return, The Man in the Bottle and Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room

It’s time to continue my exploration of the dark corners of The Twilight Zone as I begin Season 2 in The Complete Series blu-ray set from Paramount Pictures.

Trips to The Zone resumed on 30 September, 1960 with King Nine Will Not Return written by series creator, Rod Serling. The story follows the pilot of a downed WWII bomber, Captain James Embry (Robert Cummings), who wakes to find himself in the African desert, and struggles to discover what happened to his crew.

As he wakes to see the wreckage of his plane, he tries to puzzle out where his crew is, they didn’t bail out, they weren’t thrown clear, it’s like they simply vanished. Things grow more and more bizarre as Embry tries to hold onto reality, even as it shifts under his feet like the sand he stumbles across.

The reveal hints at PTSD and tons of regret for Embry, and it is actually a very sad denouement if you think about it and then, there’s the final twist…

The episode is rounded out with some solid extras including sponsor billboards (wow was advertising different back then), an interview with the episode’s director Buzz Kulik from 1978, and a commentary by Martin Grams Jr., a Twilight Zone historian.

This episode was also the first to feature the now familiar theme by Marius Constant.


The Man in the Bottle was also penned by Serling, and aired on 7 October, 1960.

Be careful what you wish for. Everyone knows that, but who wanted want to take advantage of a genie if given four wishes?

Arthur (Luther Adler) and Edna Castle (Vivi Janiss) purchase a bottle for their curio shop, and unleash a Genie (Joseph Rushkin).

The Castles are good, honest people, who try to right by the world, even though they themselves are floundering financially. Despite their intentions all of their wishes go sideways as each of them has a fallout and consequences.

Each wish pushes them further and further, Arthur, such a good soul to start becomes corrupted by the possibilities until his third wish really lands him in trouble.

In the end the story is basically telling us to be thankful for what we have, because sometimes we don’t realise how good we have it.

This one was fun, it could have been a little more playful I think, and the reveal on the third wish would have worked better had it been drawn out a little. But oh well.

The extras this time around include an interview with Rushkin, an isolated score, billboards, and a radio drama starring Ed Begley Jr.

man inthe bottle

The final episode this week is Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room which was written by Serling and aired on 14 October, 1960.

Jackie Rhoades (Joe Mantell) is a small time hood, who is pacing a hotel room as he awaits his next job. As he waits, living and spending his time in a four dollar room, he is forced to face his past and his conscience.

After Jackie learns what his job is for the night, he begins a descent into nerves, closing in on madness. His mirror’s reflection begins to talk back to him, advise him, warn him, frighten him, maybe get him back on the straight and narrow.

Mantell is quite good in the role, and I love the transition between his selves, and how everything plays out. It’s fun, and enjoyable.

In fact the first trio of episodes are gentle and lacking a real spooky twist… maybe next week.

The bonuses for this episode include a commentary by film historian, Gary Gerani as well as one by authors and fans Scott Skelton and Jim Benson. There is a 1978 interview with the episode’s director Douglas Heyes, isolated score by Jerry Goldsmith, billboards and a radio adaptation starring Adam Baldwin.

Check in next week, as the exploration of The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series, available from Paramount continues…



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