The Twilight Zone (1961) – Back There, The Whole Truth and The Invaders

Paramount Pictures makes sure that you know the signpost is up ahead as they continue shepherding me through The Complete Series on blu-ray.

Up first this week is Back There. With an airdate of 13 January, 1961, this episode was penned by Rod Serling. 

The story follows Russell Johnson’s (back for another tour) Pete Corrigan. A busy socialite, one evening he finds himself caught up discussing the possibility of changing the past if one could travel back in time. He’s about to find out, as he leaves the club and finds himself back on 15 April, 1864, a terrible night at the theatre. 

Corrigan ries to warn people, to change events, but no one believes him. Almost no one. But that person may have their own reasons for believing him…

I was sold on this story from the start because who doesn’t like a good time travel story? Alternate timelines, set destiny, fixed dates, causality, the butterfly effect, I love talking about all of it. Unfortunately for Corrigan, history plays out as it always has, and you have to wonder if it’s his fault for the things he said to an interested party. Then we’re left to wonder how he’ll get home – that one solves itself however, though some things have changed.

The extras feature sponsor billboards, a radio version starring Jim Caviezel, and an isolated score by Jerry Goldsmith.

The Whole Truth is up next, and is just a fun playful tale penned by Serling. This episode aired on 20 January, 1961, and stars Jack Carson as used car salesman Harvey Hunnicut. 

In a business based on exaggerated truths and outright lies, Harvey finds himself in the unique position of always telling the truth. Not because he wants to, but because a used car he just picked up causes him to.

This is the third episode of the second season to be shot on video tape, and of course, it holds the story back. Yes, it’s fun but it doesn’t look so great.

It is fun watching the baffled expression slide across Harvey’s face any time he says something to a would-be customer.

It ends up being a gentle, somewhat silly story, that seems to be a quick rest before we venture into darker and spookier territory again. It’s a familiar story, but still enjoyable to watch. Carson seems to be in his element and looks to be having a really good time, and seeing who gets the car after him can’t help but elicit a smile.

The extras this time around are a production slate, and a radio adaptation starring Henry Rollins.

We close out the week with a classic, The Invaders. Written by Richard Matheson, this one aired on 27 January, 1961.
Agnes Moorehead portrays the Woman who investigates a strange noise (never a good thing) in her rural house. She discovers a strange, and tiny, craft and soon finds herself defending her life and home from the two little beings that emerge from it.

This one is a classic and it’s easy to see why, everything works in this story, and it is completely captivating. This is the kind of episode people think of when they mention The Twilight Zone. It’s terrifying, wondrous, tightly paced, and stunning. It’s a great ride, and it rests on Moorehead’s performance, to make us believe in the things that are happening to her character.

The episode is virtually free of dialogue, apart from Serling’s intro and outro, and a few words sooken by the invaders, and that just makes the episode that much better. It’s fantastically crafted, and it fires on all cylinders.

The extras this time around include commentaries by film and television historian, Gary Gerani, authors Micheal Nankin and Marc Scott Zircee as well as an interview with director Douglas Heyes, sponsor billboards, and a fantastic isolated score by Jerry Goldsmith.

That’s it for this week, join me again next week as I follow the route laid out for me with Paramont Pictures’ The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series on blu-ray.

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