The Twilight Zone (1963) – The Parallel, and I Dream of Genie

Paramount Pictures pulls me further into the fourth season of The Twilight Zone as I continue my journey through The Complete Series on blu-ray.

First up this week is The Parallel. Written by series creator Rod Serling, with an airdate of 14 March, 1963 the story follows Robert Gaines (Steve Forrest), who returns to Earth after somewhat successfully orbiting our planet, to find that there are minor differences everywhere – his ship was meant for a water landing but he came down, successfully, on land, his house now has a picket fence, it didn’t before.

All of these things and many more begin to gnaw at him, as he struggles to learn what it all means. Not to mention that he doesn’t know how he brought the ship down, he has no memory of it at all.

Through it all, while most people seem to be able to accept Gaines despite his claims of differences, including a big one with the president, his daughter Maggie (Shari Lee Bernath) is convinced that Robert is not her father. She doesn’t know who it is.

The twist or reveal isn’t that big of a deal, and in fact the story is fairly straightforward exploration of a couple of simple scientific theories.

The episode is pleasant enough, but neither very spooky, mysterious or troubling.

The extras for this episode include an interview with Paul Comi, who plays a psychiatrist in the episode, a commentary with Zone historian Marc Scott Zircee, an isolated score, billboards, and a radio version with Lou Diamond Phillips.

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I Dream of Genie predates the series of the same name by two years. Written by John Furia this playful episode first debuted on 21 March, 1963.

George P. Hanley (Howard Morris) is used to bad luck. Meek, and rather negative, he stumbles across a magic lamp, from which a Genie (Jack Albertson) is summoned.  Right away, Hanley can only imagine how his three wishes will go wrong, even as he tries to figure out what to wish for. But this Genie has a caveat – only one wish.

He gets a glimpse of what he could have, and no matter how good it sounds in the imagining, he is sure that it will all go wrong in the end, but the reveal at the story’s climax suits the characters nature, and makes for a nice moment.

It’s not my favourite story of the season, but for first timer Furia, it’s a pretty entertaining ride.

The extras include an interview with Furia, an isolated score by Fred Steiner and billboards.

You can be guaranteed that there will be more next week, when we continue our exploration of The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series on blu-ray, now available from Paramount Pictures.

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