The Twilight Zone (1961) – A Penny for Your Thoughts, Twenty Two and The Odyssey of Flight 33

Paramount Pictures plunges me further into The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series on blu-ray. 

First up is A Penny for Your Thoughts. Written by George Clayton Johnson, the episode premiered on 3 February, 1961. 

When bank clerk Hector B. Poole (Dick York) tosses a coin to a newspaper vendor it lands on its edge and he is imbued with the ability to hear other people’s thoughts, plans and fantasies, and he soon learns that this power isn’t as much a gift as he thought it would be.

The cause of his gift is a little silly, but York is a great performer who makes it work, and his realization of what he can do is fairly well played. He hears rude thoughts, romantic ones, devious plans and name-calling. There are moments of humour as well as dramatic ones, and it works out pretty well. York is vastly entertaining.

As he tries to do right by his job, tbings unfurl quickly, but when a chance to improve the lives of his co-workers and himself, he takes it, and then just as easily loses it again.

This one is a fun little tale plays up the whimsical side of the Zone.

The extras for this episode include a commentary by Johnson and Zone historian Marc Scott Zircee, a 1978 interview with Johnson, sponsor billboards and an isolated score.

Twenty Two is another of the second season episodes, the fourth, to be shot on video tape which detracts from what could have been a top-drawer episode.

Rod Serling adapts Bennett Cerf’s story and spooked viewers with it on 10 February, 1961.

Liz Powel (Barbara Nichols) is in hospital, recovering from the stress of being overworked. Every night she is plagued with a nightmare of a visit to the morgue in the hospital basement. 

Her doctor (Lost in Space‘s Jonathan Harris) tries to convince her she‘s fine, but the nightmare won’t let her be, every night the journey to the morgue causes her to wake in terror. When she finally leaves the hospital, to fly home, that she understands what is truly going on.

The nightmare sequene is truly disturbing, its look and pacing, and its final moments truly frighten. The reveal, of course, makes the whole episode that much more intense.

Yes, most viewers can predict it, but the story works because of how it’s told and crafted. Spooky and solid.

The extras for this episode are an isolated score, sponsor billboards and an original production slate.

The Odyssey of Flight 33 took off on 24 February, 1961. Serling penned this story about a plane, captained by Skipper Farver (John Anderson) that takes off from London on its way to New York.

En route, a strange speed increase rockets them along, but they are stunned by what they see below them… Flight 33 has somehow travelled back in time.

The reveal of when they are could have been done a touch better, the special effects of the time, especially for television don’t do the creature justice, and even the momentary glimpse we are afforded is almost enough to jar modern viewers from the story.

As the story comes to its conclusion, I love that they go with the downer ending, as the Skipper and his crew try to figure out what to do. I really enjoy the way this one plays out.

The extras rounding out this episode incude a commentary by film historian Gary Gerani, a 1978 interview with Robert Serling, an isolated score, billboards and a radio adaptation starring Daniel J. Travanti.

This collection continues to entertain, spook and fill me with wonder. Few shows have had the impact on television and pop culture that The Twilight Zone has had, and there is a reason it endures – most times the stories are smart, well-crafted and filled with some high calibre actors. 

But don’t take my word for it check out The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series on blu-ray fom Paramount Pictures.

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