My journey through the iconic television series, The Twilight Zone, continues this week as I delve into another three episodes of The Complete Series on blu-ray, available now from Paramount Pictures.
First up is The Old Man in the Cave. This episode had a broadcast date of 8 November, 1963, and was written by series creator Rod Serling, and based on a story by Henry Slesar.
The story is set about a decade after an atomic war in the furturistic year of 1974. A small town has been able to survive through all of it, barely, and constantly taking advice from an old man who lives in a nearby cave. One of the townspeople, Goldsmith (John Anderson) serves as the go-between (or is he just trying to maintain a measure of power over his fellows?), but things are upended when a group of soldiers led by Major French (James Cosburn) arrive.
There is some doubt on whether French actually works for a re-established government or if he and his men are simply marauders and thieves. Despite that, French seems able to sway (alright, coerce) some of the townsfolk to seek out this Old Man, but none of them are ready for the shocking discovery.
Or, it may have been shocking at the time, nowadays, it’s easy to take this story in stride, and say of course the reveal is what it is. We as a species will always find a way to destroy ourselves, or rid ourselves of any advancement that may in fact help to save us.
The extras include a commentary by Zone fans and historians Scott Skelton and Jim Benson, an isolated score, and a radio adaptation starring Adam Baldwin.
Uncle Simon was penned by Serling and had an airdate of 15 November, 1963.
Barbara Polk (Constance Ford) serves as a caregiver for her mean-spirited, abusive uncle, Simon (Cedric Hardwicke). Simon works in his personal laboratory in the basement, but he’s ailing and unwell, and Barbara has been honest about her wanting him to die, to be free of him once and for all.
But when death comes along, Barbara doesn’t end up being as free as she thought she would be.
Neither character is as kind or likeable as they could be, and watching the two of them verbally spar is almost uncomfortable, so you’re sure that by the time the episode comes to its close that both parties will have received some sort of comeuppance. But you know something is up when the provisos of the will are laid out for Barbara – if she’s to keep the house and all his properties, she cannot move out of the house, and must provide care for her uncle’s ongoing experiments (looks like someone tweaked and played with the Robby the Robot suit).
I was rather shocked that Barbara definitely gets the short end of the stick in this episode, and her desire to keep the house and all her uncle’s possessions outweigh her own self-respect.
The extras for this episode include a commentary by Zone historian Martin Grams jr., an isolated score, billboards, and a radio version starring Peter Mark Richman and Beverly Garland.
Probe 7, Over and Out is the final episode this week. It was delayed in airing by a week due to the assassination of President Kennedy, consequently debuting on 29 November, 1963.
Serling wrote this episode as well and follows the tale of a marooned astronaut, Adam Cook (Richard Basehart). Stuck, alone, on an alien world, he is stunned to come across another lost soul, a woman, Eve Norda (Antoinette Bower).
Unfortunately, if you know the names of the characters, you can predict what the big reveal at the end of the episode will be. It’s really not a surprise. Despite that, it’s a fairly well-crafted tale.
The extras this time around include a commentary by Zone historians Ted Post and Marc Scott Zircee, billboards, and a radio adaptation starring Louis Gossett, jr.
There is more to come as we continue delving into the fifth and final season of The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series next week. Follow along as I explore the dark corners of Paramount’s iconic series, available now on blu-ray.