The Twilight Zone (1963) – The Incredible World of Horace Ford, and On Thursday We Leave For Home

Paramount Pictures’s continues to enthral and entertain with The Complete Series collection of The Twilight Zone on blu-ray, and this week’s offerings are no exception.

Up first is The Incredible World of Horace Ford. Written by Reginald Rose, this episode debuted on 18 April, 1963, and featured Pat Hingle (Commissioner Gordon to a legion of Batman fans) as Horace Ford.

Ford is a toy designer, who is feeling nostalgic for his youth, and recalls sunny days, and joyous memories, but a wrong turn down the streets of The Twilight Zone show him that not everything was as he recalled.

In his present he is turning thirty-eight, but all he can remember his childhood, driving his wife, Laura (Nan Martin) to distraction, and upsetting his mother (Ruth White). But as he begins his trip back to his old street, and his past, he slowly learns, and sees things from an grown-up’s perspective that the rose-coloured glasses of his youth have shattered against reality. It doesn’t help that when he visits the street, nothing seems to have changed, the people, the kids… they are all the same.

And every time he goes back to the street, he finds himself in the same moment, over and over again.  And in the present, his job is on the line, his birthday party is coming up, and there is nothing but trouble for everyone.

On his final trip back, we learn why he is stuck in the moment, and what really happened…

It’s an interesting episode, and Hingle is wonderful, but it doesn’t feel as wondrous and nostalgic as some of the stories we’ve visited in the Zone.

The episode extras include a 1978 interview with Hingle, an isolated score, a radio version featuring Mike Starr and a commentary by Zone historians Jeff Vlaming and Marc Scott Zircee.

Shakespeare--General--Twilight Zone--Shake, Spear, Sock an Ear

On Thursday We Leave for Home was penned by series creator Rod Serling, and aired on 2 May, 1963.

A number of colonists, led by Captain Benteen (James Whitmore) are struggling to make a life on a desolate planet, where they have been for thirty years. But things aren’t working out well for these new pilgrims. It’s hard going, and eventually they are rescued from their home, and are being prepared for transport back to Earth. Their rescuers are led by Colonel Sloane (Buck Rogers’ Tim O’Connor!).

But what will things be like for Benteen and his survivors? And how long before Benteen will have to let go of the control he’s had over the survivors and before he and Sloane have an ethical confrontation?

This is an incredibly strong and brilliant episode, and I loved watching it play out – and I definitely don’t want to spoil it for those who are coming to it fresh.

The extras this time around feature a radio version featuring Barry Bostwick, an isolated score, sponsor billboards, and two commentaries by two sets of Zone historians, the first features Joseph Doughtery and Zircee, and the second features Scott Skelton and Jim Benson.

I got a bit of a laugh when there was a scene, early in the episode, when you can see the boom mic swinging from actor to actor as they record the performance – maybe they didn’t get a chance to reshoot it, or it was the best take, but it shook me out of the episode for a moment.

Beyond that it’s a fascinating episode as the characters struggle to remain human, and civilised even as they struggle to survive. Benteen tries to lead them in dignity but faith is failing, and will it be different when they get back to Terra?

Next week we come to the end of the fourth season, and prep for our journey into the fifth and final season of the iconic series.

Check it out yourself with The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series on blu-ray, available from Paramount Pictures!

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