This week we finish up Season 3 of The Twilight Zone as I continue my exploration of The Complete Series on Blu-Ray available now from Paramount Pictures.
First up is a story by science fiction legend, Ray Bradbury. I Sing the Body Electric aired on 18 May, 1962.
George Rogers (David White) is a widower and decides he needs help looking after his three children, Tom (Charles Herbert), Anne (Veronica Cartwright) and Karen (Dana Dillaway). He hires a cybernetic nanny, Grandma Robot (Josephine Hutchinson).
Everyone seems to get along with Grandma, except for Anne, which may lead to tragic consequences before the end of the story.
The children choose everything, how she looks, her name, but for all the family’s effort, no one seems to be able to reach Anne. The story deals with death, and loss, the necessary acceptance of it and how it affects those left behind. And just as importantly, it deals with the idea of love, unconditional, even if it comes from a machine.
It’a very good, gentle and beautiful episode, and it’s sad that Bradbury only wrote the one episode of the classic series. He, like Richard Matheson, seems perfect for scripting the show, while creating some of the most literary science fiction stories.
Poor Veronica Cartwright, in all of her roles she undergoes such terrible things…
The extras include a commentary by Zone historian Marc Scott Zircee, a 1978 interview with producer Buck Houghton, an isolated score by Van Cleave and sponsor billboards.
Cavender is Coming was penned by series creator Rod Serling and first aired on 25 May, 1962.
This one is of exceptional note for the presence of comic legend Carol Burnett. It’s a goofy, light-hearted episode that sees an angel, Harmon Cavender (Jesse White) as an angel trying to earn his wings.
He heads to earth to help the slightly odd Agnes Grep (Burnett), but instead of asking her how he can help, he simply starts making changes in her life. And in the Twilight Zone, that is just asking for trouble.
Burnett is nothing short of hysterical, her skills at physical comedy are incredible and her facial expressions are priceless. Pairing her with Jesse White is a nice touch, and while the story is rather run of the mill the two leads are wonderful.
The story is played for laughs more than anything else, but there is a heart to it. It brings to the fore the idea of what a happy life is, and what makes one happy. She seems more content with the folks in her apartment building than the people Cavender creates in her new ‘successful’ life.
The extras include an original laugh track, a commentary by Zone historian Martin Grams, Jr. an isolated score, and a clip from The Garry Moore Show.
The Changing of the Guard is a bit of a It’s a Wonderful Life story. The final episode of the season was written by Serling and aired on 1 June, 1962.
The story follows Professor Fowler (Donald Pleasance!) who is being forced to retire. His contract will not be renewed for the new year. Heading home to a lonely Christmas, he contemplates the choices he made and wonders if it was all a waste.
Convinced he has nothing to live for, he contemplates suicide, until some former students come calling. He learns the effect he has had on those he has taught, the impact on their lives, and the changes they were able to wrought on the world thanks to his teaching.
It’s a wonderfully sentimental episode, but, of course, it’s been done before.
The extras include a commentary by Zircee and fellow Zone fan, Len Wein, an isolated score, billboards, and a radio adaptation starring Orson Bean.
Next week we begin to explore the fourth season of Paramount Pictures The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series on blu-ray! Stay tuned!