There’s the signpost up ahead! It’s time to turn to The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series, as I continue exploring the iconic show, available now on blu-ray from Paramount Pictures.
First up in this week’s trio of episodes is The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross. Jerry McNeely penned the teleplay based on a short story by Henry Slesar. This episode debuted on 17 January, 1964.
Salvadore Ross (Don Gordon) has a unique ability, he can trade physical attributes with people, and he plans to use this to make himself as attractive as possible to the woman of his dreams, Leah Maitland (Gail Kobe).
Honestly, he’s written as a bit of a bastard, and there is a hint of violence in the way he behaves. Right from the off, I was looking forward to him getting his comeuppance.
He steals time from all manner of people, but it’s all superficial, he cannot change the person he is within. But as he begins to fall in love with her, he begins to change who he is, slowly becoming a better person, but that is only because he bought someone’s compassion.
And when that compassion has been removed from the person he bought it from, he seals his own fate once and for all.
I’m not the biggest fan of this story, Leah’s character is so unrealised and poorly scripted, and consequently the story isn’t as strong as it could be. And the fact that she’s so willing to go along with Salvadore despite all of her tightly held beliefs. Frustrating,
The extras for this episode include a commentary by Zone historian and fan Martin Grams, jr, an isolated score, billboards, and a radio version starring Luke Perry.
Number 12 Looks Just Like You was written by Charles Beaumont and John Tomerlin. It had an original airdate of 24 January, 1964.
If there’s a story meant to be updated for the proposed upcoming reboot series of The Twilight Zone, this might be one. Tying in all the social media aspects could make this one really relevant.
In a future society, in the distant year of 2000, at the age of 19, everyone must conform completely to society, including undergoing an operation to make them ‘beautiful.’
Marilyn (Collin Wilcox Paxton) is on the verge of 19, but doesn’t want to change who she is. She wants to be unique. And while those around her say she doesn’t have to have the operation if she really doesn’t want to the pressure is on.
There’s an interesting commentary here on conformity, uniqueness, inner beauty that tells us a lot about society.
There is a lot of fun in the production in the episode as the same cadre of actors, Richard Long, Pamela Austin and Suzy Parker play a whole slew of different people, but all with the same… beautiful face.
The more I think about this the more troubled I am by it. There’s only a small variety of ‘beautiful’ faces and forms, that it would definitely effect personal relationships in a big way…
The story pushes the ideas of non-conformity but the ending is troubling, as all individuality seems to be lost as Marilyn wanders the corridors of the medical facility. Corridors, that, like the people in them, are exactly the same… and a fate, which seems to be inescapable for everyone.
The extras include a commentary by Zone historian and fan Marc Scott Zircee, billboards, and an isolated score.
Black Leather Jackets is the final episode this week. Penned by Earl Hamner jr., this story debuted on 31 January, 1964.
A peaceful neighbourhood is invaded by a trio of motorcycle riding, men in black leather jackets, with a strange symbol emblazoned on their right breast. Young Ellen (Shelley Fabares) and her father Stu (Denver Pyle) are fascinated by them, and their investigation into the group proves interesting.
The trio live in an unfurnished house that is filled with crates. They are on a mission, and it seems they have a bit of a gift. What will Ellen learn about them?
She fosters a relationship with one of them, Scott (Lee Kinsolving) who grows attached to the young woman. He reveals what is really going on…
But what happens when daughter and father try to share what is going on? And will it be too late when they do?
The extras rounding out this week’s collection is a commentary by Michael Forest who plays Steve in the episode (and who many will recognise from Star Trek’s Who Mourns For Adonais), and writer Hamner as well as sponsor billboards.
The journey through the fifth and final season of The Twilight Zone continues next week! Join me then, and watch along with The Complete Series now on blu-ray from Paramount!