The Twilight Zone (1961) – Mr. Dingle, the Strong, Static and The Prime Mover

I plunge back into Paramount Pictures The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series with another trio of episodes this week.

Burgess Meredith returns to the Zone this week in Mr. Dingle, the Strong. Written by series creator, Rod Serling, this episode first aired on 3 March, 1961. 

Meredith is the titular Dingle, a timid vacuum-salesman, who is given the strength of 300 men by some experimenting aliens. Poor Dingle is on the receiving end of a punch or two, and I love Meredith’s performance – he’s always been a favourite of mine, and that distinctive voice of his!

The aliens are an odd looking creation and definitely speak to the idea and styles of the early 60s.

As Dingle discovers his new strength the story is played for humour, and Meredith plays it to the nines, reveling in his new ability and the strange celebrity that goes with it. Unfortunately, when the aliens see how he uses his gift, they take it back. Of course, with Earth being visited by aliens all the time, he may luckout again…

The clean-up on the blu-ray is so good that you can pick out the lines and the wires on items used to augment Dingle’s power, and honestly, something like that only adds to my enjoyment of the episode. While not the most clever of stories, it is undeniably fun.

The extras include a commentary by Don Rickles, who also appears in the episode, a commentary by film and radio historian Martin Grams, Jr., an isolated score, and sponsor billboards.

Static, written by Charles Beaumont is next up. Airing on 10 March, 1961, the story follows unhappy bachelor, Ed Lindsay (Dean Jagger) as he comes intio possession of an old radio that plays programmes for the 30s and 40s. So much more entertaining to him than the garbage on television.

He loves listening to the music and the shows, but he dislikes the rest of the people who live in the house with him. It seems, however, the radio plays nothing but static should anyone else be in the room with him. 

This ends up being a rather lonely story of a man trapped in his nostalgia, unhappy with where he is, and he takes out that anger on those around him. He strikes out at the only woman he ever loved, Vinnie (Carmen Matthews), and it is she who sees the connection between the broadcasts and Ed.

And I have to say I love the ending on this one.

This is the fifth episode of the season to be shot on videotape, and consequently, hasn’t aged very well.

The extras include a 1978 interview with the episode’s director Buzz Kulik, an isolated score, production slate and a radio adaptation with Stan Freberg.

Prime Mover is the final episode this week. Also written by Beaumont this one premiered on 24 March, 1961.

Ace Larsen (Dane Clark) learns that his good pal, Jimbo Cobb (Buddy Ebsen) has a telekinetic ability. Seeing a way to cash in on the gift, he and Jimbo, with Ace’s girlfriend, Kitty (Christine White) in tow, head to Vegas.

The good times keep rolling, but can there be too much of a good thing? And what kind ofeffect is it having on Jimbo?

This one wasn’t my fave of the week, it’s just too bit of a predictable tale, and Ebsen isn’t given enough to do except make odd expressions while using his power.

The extras include a commentary by Zone and television historians George Clayton Johnson and Marc Scott Zircee, as well as one by Martin Grams, jr. sponsor billboards and an isolated score.

The journey continues next week with Paramount’s The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series.

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