It’s good stuff in The Twilight Zone this week as my exploration of The Complete Series on blu-ray from Paramount Pictures continues.
Nick of Time is up first, and stars William Shatner in a story by Richard Matheson. This episode originally aired on 18 November, 1960.
Shatner is Don, one part of a newlywed couple, the Carters. He and his wife, Pat (Patricia Breslin) have stopped off for a bite in a small town, but so find themselves trapped. They are held their by their own superstitious fears when a fortune telling machine in the diner issues grave warnings about their future.
Shatner is a lot of fun, and plays his role rather nicely and as such, it’s easy to buy into the rather odd premise of the little fortune teller on their diner booth’s table answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions.
As things in the small town seem to correspond to the answers they get from the machine, it becomes apparent that Don and Pat may bot leave own until the machine tells them it’s okay to do so. Superstition gets the better of Don, but will it ruin his life?
I like how this one ends, as you realise they may have escaped something terrible, but others haven’t…
The extras feature commentary by Zone staple, Marc Scott Zircee and Matthew Weiner, original sponsor billboards (these are great, man advertising has changed) and a radio adaption starring Marhsall Allman and Jamie Anne Allman.
The Lateness of the Hour was penned by Rod Serling and aired on 2 December, 1960.
Young Jana (Inger Stevens) is stuck in her mechanised home with her inventor father, Dr. Loren (John Hoyt) and her mother Mrs. Loren (Irene Tedrow). She is unhappy, and doesn’t care for the mechanical servants that wait on their every need.
Realising their daughter is less than happy in their home, the Lorens decide they must do something about Jana, and reveal some secrets to her. Of course, the big reveal on this one isn’t a surprise, it’s telegraphed from the first moment that we learn the servants are robots.
This episode was one of six that was shot on videotape, and speaking for myself, I hate the way this one looks. The series looks much better on film, whereas the videotape makes it look dated. The story is fairly solid, and is confined to one location, so there are some cool ideas here, especially from the perspective of storytelling and stagecraft, but the video makes it look cheap, which is unfortunate.
Apparently the show was overbudget and that was what necessitated the need for an episode on a smaller set, and the need to shoot on video. Happily there were only six episodes made like this, and the visual quality of the series, for the most part, remained at the level that has helped it endure
This time out the extras include an original production slate, billboards, and a radio version starring Jane Seymour and James Keach.
The final foray into the Zone this week is The Trouble with Templeton. Written by E. Jack Neuman, this one first premiered on 9 December, 1960.
Booth Templeton (Brian Aherne) is a stage actor, and after a particularly tough day, both personally and professionally, he finds himself waxing nostalgic, and recalling his past through rose-coloured glasses. When he steps out the stage door, he finds himself in 1927, and when he meets up with his wife, Laura (Pippa Scott) and his old friend Barney (Charles S. Carlson) he realises that things weren’t as idealised as he made them out to be.
This one was okay, it definitely wasn’t my favourite of the trio of episodes that I watched this week.
The episode features a 1978 interview with Buzz Kulik, the episode’s director, an isolated score by Jeff Alexander, billboards, and a radio version starring Michael York.
Keep watch for the signpost up ahead, as we venture deeper into The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series on blu-ray, now available from Paramount Pictures, next week!