The Twilight Zone (1962) – The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank, To Serve Man, and The Fugitive

It’s time to go back into The Zone with Paramount Pictures’ Complete Series on blu-ray!

The first episode up this week is The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank. Written and directed by Montgomery Pittman, this tale first aired on 23 February, 1962.

Jeff Myrtlebank (James Best) wakes up at his own funeral, and while the townsfolk are initially happy at his return, they begin to worry and harbour fears that he may not be human anymore. A few changes, and differences since he woke leads the townsfolk to believe there is something wrong with him.

He tries to make sure that he gets along with everyone, but hate and fear are strong dividers. All he wants is to be with the woman he loves, Comfort (Sherry Jackson). As the story reaches its climax, Jeff hints that he could do terrible things to the threatening locals, but he pushes it all aside as lies, even as Comfort catches a glimpse of something that can’t be.

It’s a fun little episode that gets a lot from Best’s performance, and there’s a Southern charm to it that, coupled with its mention of haints, puts me in mind of one of my favourite comic books Harrow County (check it out! SO GOOD!).

The extras for this episode include an isolated score by Tommy Morgan and sponsor billboards.

jeffmyrtlebank

To Serve Man is a classic episode that has been copied, lampooned and paid homage to by countless series over the decades. Rod Serling penned the teleplay based on the story by Damon Knight. This episode first aired on 2 March, 1962.

An alien race arrives on Earth, led by Kanamit (Richard Kiel). He and his fellow travellers promise shared technology and peace.

A linguist, Michael Chambers (Lloyd Bochner), and his team work on deciphering some of the alien language to better understand their visitors, but the manuscript they have removed for examination has a strange, enigmatic title: To Serve Man.

Of course, everyone knows how the story plays out, there’s no real surprise to the twist any more, and the story is surprisingly slower than you would think it should be. The final moments of the episode makes you wonder why Chambers so easily resigned himself. And what happened back on Earth after the truth came out?

The extras for this classic episode include a radio adaptation starring Blair Underwood, commentary by Zone historian Marc Scott Zircee and writer/producer Jeff Vlaming. There is an isolated score, billboards, and a 1978 interview with the episode’s director Richard L. Bare.

twilightzone-toserveman

The Fugitive is the last tale this week. Written by Charles Beaumont, this story first screened on 9 March, 1962.

Old Ben (J. Pat O’Malley) is an older gentlemen who gets along, and interacts with all the local neighbourhood kids, all of whom love him. But Ben is more than he seems (the kids know this, and love his magic), and when a couple of men come looking for him, and talk to the children about him, will Jenny (Susan Gordon) and all her pals be used against Ben, and his secret revealed?

This ends up being a fun, gentle episode, and the twist is a delightful thing as opposed to a spooky one, but you have to feel sorry for Jenny because of the nature of her relationship with her Aunt (Nancy Kulp). Happily there is a good ending for Jenny as well.

The extras which finish out this week’s trip include an isolated score and sponsor billboards.

Make sure you come back next week to take another journey into the spooky, mysterious and wondrous Twilight Zone with me, via Paramount Pictures’ Complete Series on blu-ray.

zonefugitive

 

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