We continue from yesterday's entry (8am to Midnight) to find SyFy keeping with the tradition of airing the superb "Midnight Sun" at the stroke of the New Year.
As before, here is a short list of my favorites (try to catch "The Silence" (1:00 PM -- TZ's only supernatural-free episode) followed by the complete list of Twilight Zone episodes to be aired on SyFy from midnight New Year's Day through 7pm, with comments and mini-reviews, so you can sift the wheat from the glurge.
Fortunately, although there is only one from the Time Top 10, it's one of the best: the iconic "It's a Good Life" at 2:30 PM (listed in red below). And there are quite a few gems, including two hour-long episodes starting at 6 AM (just following the only hour of "Paid Programming" ☺)
A third entry will follow covering 7pm through 6:00am Thursday morning, Jan 2nd.
So, once again, the other two categories are:
(1) My Personal Favorite Episodes – These are underrated gems with strong scripts and beautiful performances – in green.
(2) Episodes Worth Watching – These have flawed scripts or execution, but often have compelling performances and/or ideas – in blue.
(Click the time to jump to the episode description.)
12:30 AM – The Obsolete Man
1:00 AM – The After Hours
1:30 AM – Night Call
2:00 AM – The Lonely
2:30 AM – King Nine Will Not Return
3:30 AM – Mr. Denton On Doomsday
4:30 AM – Two
6:00 AM – I Dream Of Genie
7:00 AM – Jess-Belle
12:00 PM – Mr. Dingle, The Strong
12:30 PM – One For The Angels
1:00 PM – The Silence
1:30 PM – The Sixteen-millimeter Shrine
2:00 PM – Death's-Head Revisited
2:30 PM – It's A Good Life
3:30 PM – A Penny For Your Thoughts
4:30 PM – Five Characters In Search Of An Exit
5:00 PM – The Odyssey Of Flight 33
Full List – With Descriptions
12:00 AM – The Midnight Sun – Earth has been knocked off its orbit and is gradually approaching the sun. Thermometers pop, a painting melts off its canvas (this is actually a painted wax tablet on a hot plate!), but this apocalyptic tale is most interesting for its relationships – an excellent script, beautifully acted. Note: They played this one at NYE midnight last year too... coincidence? Um... no.
1:30 AM – Night Call – Originally called "Sorry Right Number," this careful-what-you- wish-for tale features calls from beyond and a beautiful performance by Gladys Cooper. It has also been recycled as internet glurge.
2:00 AM – The Lonely – Convict
2:30 AM – King Nine Will Not Return – WWII B-25 Captain Robert Cummings finds himself stranded in the desert with only the carcass of his King Nine, lost 17 years before. Is it a hallucination? Time travel? Both? The de rigueur twist ending is now a TZ cliché, but still worth watching for a strong script and Cummings' excellent performance.
3:00 AM – The Hunt – This mediocre folksy tale by The Waltons creator Earl Hamner Jr. has been recycled as internet glurge. Guy and dog have died and are walking along the road to heaven. Guy at pearly gate says, “No dogs allowed.” Guy says, “I ain’t goin' nowhere without my hound…” Sheesh. (This one has also been recycled as Internet glurge.)
3:30 AM – Mr. Denton On Doomsday – Touching old west tale about top-gunslinger-turned-town-drunk finding redemption. Fine performances by Dan Duryea, Martin Landau and Doug McClure.
4:00 AM – Uncle Simon – Two despicable people in a screeching, unredeemable story. Sadistic eponymous Uncle berates greedy, gold-digging niece caretaker into an "accidental" (and fatal) lapse in care. Twist ending? Yeah, but who cares. By the time it's over you'll want to twist off your head. Geeks may get a kick out of the brief cameo of Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot; the ambulatory prop also appears on "The Brain Center at Whipple's" and in miniature in "One for the Angels" (12:30 PM 1/1).
4:30 AM – Two – Apocalypse survivors Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery approach each other warily in this sparsely written, beautifully acted episode.
~~~~~One Hour of Paid Programming~~~~~6:00 AM – I Dream of Genie – Down-on-his-luck office slave Howard Morris finds an enchanted lamp, complete with modern-suit-clad genie offering One Big Wish. In somewhat overwritten but amusing fantasy sequences he entertains the common wishes of perfect love, wealth, and power before taking the genie up on his offer. A sweet, silly story with an adorable ending.
7:00 AM – Jess-Belle – Jilted Anne Francis – the tale's eponymous Appalachian maiden – enlists aid from the local witch to win her social-climbing ex (James Best) back from the local rich girl. But fulfilling her heart's desire has unintended consequences in this tragic land-borne Little Mermaid penned by Walton's creator Earl Hamner Jr.
8:00 AM – The Purple Testament – Mediocre tale of a WWII soldier who sees a portentous "light" on his comrades' faces. Basically an anti-war story which offers only the resigned observation that in war people die and you can't save them (or yourself); title is from Richard III: "He has come to open the purple testament of bleeding war." Notable only for a good performance by a pre-Bewitched Dick York.
8:30 AM – Mr. Bevis – Loser gets all he desires (money, nice apartment, fancy car & chauffer), only to learn he can’t be his true whackadoo self and keep up appearances. Moral: Enjoying who you are is worth more than anything money can buy -- or money itself. A worthy message that deserved stronger delivery.
9:00 AM – The Rip Van Winkle Caper – It's Treasure of the Sierra Madre with suspended animation and blah writing. Good performances and a fun twist at the end make it sort of worth watching.
9:30 AM – Ring-a-Ding Girl – Medium episode about movie star returning to her home town and throwing a “celebrate me” performance of her one-woman show – competing with the town's annual picnic. Is this a diva craving attention, or is something else going on? Even though it’s not great, I always find myself watching this one all the way through.
10:00 AM – Little Girl Lost – Little girl has slipped into another dimension. Can her parents and their conveniently present physicist pal rescue her before the portal closes forever? Decent script but bland acting. Tune in for the final 10 minutes for all you need to know.
10:30 AM – Hocus-Pocus and Frisby – A braggart gas station attendant's tales of prowess are believed by some seriously gullible aliens who want to take him home as a specimen of Earth's finest.
11:00 AM – Escape Clause – I'll usually watch this one because I like David Wayne, but it’s not a great episode, just a grim morality play about the value of mortality. *Yawn!*
11:30 AM – The Prime Mover – Compulsive gambler cajoles his telekinetically-enabled pal (an enjoyable Buddy Ebsen) into to helping him cheat Vegas. Doesn't work out too well, but could be worse. Moral: Be happy with what you have; know when to quit.
12:00 PM – Mr. Dingle, The Strong – Loud-mouthed salesman pisses away alien gifts on trivial feats. Worth watching for an adorable Burgess Meredith and amusing (and very young) Don Rickles.
12:30 PM – One For The Angels – A nice way to start the Marathon. One of TZ's more successful dark comedies features Ed Wynn as a fast-talking salesman who must use his skills to save a child's life. Features the third of three cameos of Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot (miniature, in this case) in the TZ; others include "Uncle Simon" (12:30 PM 1/1 – be glad you missed it) and "The Brain Center at Whipple's" (which surprisingly will not be aired this time; it is not my favorite, but it is a treat compared to the execrable "Uncle Simon").
1:00 PM – The Silence – Tense, beautifully acted study in interpersonal dynamics and irony. Based loosely on Chekhov's The Bet, there is no supernatural hocus-pocus in this one. And there is no need for any. (And no Doctor Who jokes please... :-> )
1:30 PM – The Sixteen-millimeter Shrine – Luminous Ida Lupino stars as a reclusive aging movie star, immersed in the films of her youth. Sunset Boulevard, served up Zone-style with a bittersweet dose of wish- fulfillment. Score is by Sunset Boulevard's composer/conductor Franz Waxman. Catch Lupino's deft direction in "The Masks" later today at 7:30 PM.
2:00 PM – Death's-Head Revisited – Former Nazi captain's trot down memory lane via Dachau brings him to some unexpected denizens. Top-notch performances by Joseph Schildkraut and Oscar Beregi Jr.
2:30 PM – It's A Good Life – One of the most famous episodes (#3 on the Time list) featuring little Billy Mumy as a terrifying child who can create and destroy at will. The brilliant Cloris Leachman is his petrified mother. ("That’s a good thing you did… A real good thing… Now please wish it into the cornfield!").
3:00 PM – A Nice Place To Visit – Another be-careful-what-you-wish-for morality tale about the true nature of Heaven and Hell. In 1960 it might not have been painfully predictable...
3:30 PM – A Penny For Your Thoughts – Not a classic, but one of my favorites, featuring a young Dick York (the first Darren from Bewitched.)
4:00 PM – Black Leather Jackets – Evil Fonzie-esque leather-clad alien (dressed this way to "blend") falls for local Earth girl in this poor man's Avatar.
4:30 PM – Five Characters In Search Of An Exit – A soldier, a clown, a tramp, a bagpiper, and a ballerina wake to find themselves in a doorless empty room. Well-played and engaging.
5:00 PM – The Odyssey Of Flight 33 – A 707 picks up a freak tail wind and travels back in time. Run-of-the-mill by modern sci-fi standards, but notable for its realistic cockpit dialogue created by Serling's aviation writer brother, Robert Serling.
5:30 PM – The 7th Is Made Up Of Phantoms – Spooked National Guard tank crew gets drafted into Custer's 7th Cavalry. Big whoop.
6:00 PM – A Kind Of Stopwatch – Blabbering bore gets comeuppance via magical timepiece. Perhaps an inspiration for the 80s' silly Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything?
6:30 PM – The Bewitchin' Pool – Worst. Episode. Ever. So bad it is actually worth watching in a Plan 9 sort of way... Even To Kill a Mockingbird's Oscar-nominated Mary Badham couldn't save this dismal excuse for a story. Spoiled brats escape manipulative divorcing parents by finding their way to SuperGrandma via an enchanted pool. Now, if Grandma dumped the tots in an oven, then we might have a story....