The Twilight Zone (1961) – Still Valley, The Jungle, and Once Upon a Time

My journey through Paramount Pictures’ The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series continue with another trio of episodes this week.

Up first is Still Valley. Series creator and showrunner Rod Serling adapted Manly Wade Welmman’s short story for this episode that first aired on 24 November, 1961.

The tale, set in 1863, follows Sgt. Joseph Paradine (Gary Merrill) a Confederate Soldier who comes across an old man, Teague (Vaughn Taylor) , a like-minded Southerner, and a warlock to boot. Intent on helping the cause, but knowing his own time is coming to an end, he passes on a mystical book that will help the South win the day.

But will Paradine get a chance to use it? And will he agree to its cost? As he and his men discuss the possibility they urge him to the point of reciting a spell to put a stop to the Union Army once and for all, but seeing what they give up in return… will he be able to do it?

I like what happens when Paradine goes down into town, the things he encounters, and of course, when he meets Teague. This whole sequence is done really well and you have to commend the extras and the freeze frames that were used to make it look realistic.

The extras on this first episode of the week include an isolated score by Wilbur Hatch, sponsor billboards, and a radio version starring Adam West.

tzstill

The Jungle was penned by Charles Beaumont and first screened on 1 December, 1961.

Alan Richards (Jonn Dehner) and his wife, Doris (Emily McLaughlin) are freshly returned from Africa, where Alan was overseeing a construction project. As they were leaving, however, a local witch doctor, placed a curse on them. Richards refuses to give into any fear of superstition, but his wife has started carrying amulets and totems to protect herself.

She has also taken to slipping them into Alan’s pockets to keep him safe. He discovers this one night, while drinking at a bar, an then, leaves it behind as he leaves, finding himself smack-dab in the middle of the Twilight Zone.

I have to say, Alan’s attitude is simply begging for a healthy dose of comeuppance.

This one is actually done very well, using sound and some solid editing to sell most of the spookiness. It can be a quite unnerving experience if you let yourself really get into this episode.

The extras include a commentary by screenwriter William F. Nolan, Zone historian Marc Scott Zircee, and actor John Tomerlin. There is also another featuring Zone historian Scott Skelton and editor Jim Benson. There is an isolated score, billboards, and a radio adaptation starring Ed Begley, Jr.

The Jungle Phone Booth

The final episode of the week is Once Upon a Time. Written by Richard Matheson, this fun little episode aired on 15 December, 1961.

Woodrow Mulligan (legendary Buster Keaton) is a hardworking janitor in 1890, who makes use of his employer’s time helmet. He arrives in 1962, and instead of discovering an idyllic utopia, is confronted with pollution, over busy world that does not meet his imaginings.

While there he meets Rollo (Stanley Adams – Star Trek’s Cyrano Jones) who longs for the rest and peace of the old world, imagining things must have been better in the old days. He is as disappointed by the world, as Mulligan was.

This episode is fantastic! The first half, back in 1890 is made in the manner of a silent film, as a nod to Keaton’s cinematic history.

This episode features a commentary by Zone historian Martin Grams Jr., an isolated score by William Lava and sponsor billboards.

Make sure you keep watching the signposts up ahead, one of them will be the turning into The Twilight Zone, and I’ll see you there next week as I continue viewing my way through Paramount’s The Complete Series on blu-ray… this is television gold!

buster-keaton-twilight-zone

 

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