Friday, January 1, 2016

Tandava's Guide to the Zone--2015-16--Part IV: New Year's Day 7am to 7pm

The Zone goes on! We continue with Part IV of VII of this year's Guide to the Zone (see Part

As mentioned in Part I,  Part II, and Part III, the SyFy channel is showing the whole series -- all 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone in order. This is twice as many as the usual 80-90 that they show, so I have had my work cut out for me!

Over the past 36 hours, we've gotten through Seasons One and Two (36 and 29 episodes, respectively), and have enjoyed some little-seen gems, and waded through some turkeys.

As always, at the top is a short list including the current Time Top 10, my personal favorites, other noteworthy episodes, and the episodes which have not been aired recently.

So, the categories are:

(1) Episodes on the Time Top 10 List – These are the acknowledged classics – in red.

(2) My Personal Favorite Episodes – These are underrated gems with strong scripts and beautiful performances – in green.

(3) Episodes Worth Watching – These have flawed scripts or execution, but often have compelling performances and/or ideas – in blue.

(4) Episodes That Haven't Been Aired Recently – These may or may not be good, but they are worth watching just because they have been off the air for so long – in purple.

Happy Zoning!!

My Favorites  Short List
(Click the time to jump to the episode description.)

7:00 AM  The Passersby
7:30 AM  A Game Of Pool
8:00 AM  The Mirror
8:30 AM The Grave
9:00 AM  It's A Good Life
9:30 AM  Death's-Head Revisited
10:00 AM  The Midnight Sun
10:30 AM  Still Valley
11:00 AM  The Jungle
11:30 AM – Once Upon a Time
12:00 PM –  Five Characters In Search Of An Exit
12:30 PMA Quality Of Mercy
1:00 PMNothing In The Dark
1:30 PM – One More Pallbearer
3:00 PM – Showdown with Rance McGrew
3:30 PMKick The Can
5:00 PM – To Serve Man
6:30 PM – Person or Persons Unknown

Full List  With Descriptions

7:00 AM  – The Passersby  S3.E4 | A postbellum Confederate widow (Joanne Linville, best known to sci-fi fans as the Romulan commander in TOS "The Enterprise Incident") takes revenge on a passing Union soldier, with an unexpected result. Unfortunately, the moving theme of compassion and forgiveness, and solid performances and direction, can't help the plodding script.

7:30 AM – A Game Of Pool – S3.E20 | This taut two-person drama explores winning and losing, and what's really important in the game of life. Fine performances by Jack Klugman (who passed in 2012) and Jonathan Winters (who passed this last spring). Not crazy about the end, though; the real (and better) ending was done in the 80s TZ version.

8:00 AM  – The Mirror  S3.E6 | Peter Falk as an embarrassingly obvious Castro-style dictator who sees enemies everywhere, but the real enemy lies in ... yeah, you guessed it. Amusing for Falk's over-the-top performance, if you can handle the political heavy-handedness.

8:30 AM  S3.E7 | The Grave – Spooky old west tale of a dare gone bad, featuring a handsome, raw Lee Marvin and a posturing James Best. 

9:00 AM  S3.E8 | 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!").

9:30 AM  Death's-Head Revisited –  S3.E9 | 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.

10:00 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.

10:30 AM – Still Valley  S3.E11 | A confederate soldier comes upon a town filled with motionless Union soldiers and is made to question whether ends can justify means. Very little to recommend this one, especially given that the entire premise is itself a huge plot hole. Skip it.

11:00 AM – The Jungle  S3.E12 | A developer returns to New York after building on an African tribe's ancestral land, scoffing at the curse placed on him. A straightforward story of far-reaching magic, but suspenseful and engaging nonetheless.

11:30 AM – Once Upon a Time  S3.E13 | A charming though surprisingly unfunny comedy featuring Buster Keaton as a disgruntled 1890s janitor who yearns for the technology of the future and builds a time machine which transports him to the shocking clamor of 1962, where he meets a scientist who yearns for the quiet of the past... Predictable, but worth watching for Keaton.

12:00 PM  Five Characters In Search Of An Exit – S3.E14 | A soldier, a clown, a tramp, a bagpiper, and a ballerina wake to find themselves in a doorless empty room. Well-played and engaging.

12:30 PM  A Quality Of Mercy – S3.E15 | In WWII Philippines brash Lieutenant Dean Stockwell learns to walk a mile in the other guy's army boots. Good performances all around, plus a pre-Spock Leonard Nimoy in a bit part.

1:00 PM – Nothing In The Dark – S3.E16 | Aging Gladys Cooper tries to keep Death at bay by shutting her door – until angelically beautiful Robert Redford shows up. I guarantee, it's not his acting that convinces her to open up..... Worth watching for her nuanced performance – and his mesmerizing good looks!

1:30 PM – One More Pallbearer  S3.E17 | A millionaire invites a schoolmarm, military officer, and preacher – all of whom he feels wronged him – to an underground bunker, offering sanctuary from an imminent nuclear armageddon... but for a price. This episode is supposed to be a comeuppance for the millionaire, revealing the trio's righteous honor in the face of death, but the actor (Joseph Wiseman) plays him with such compelling sympathy that we can't help feeling bad for him. And the sanctimonious trio come off like a bunch of jerks.

2:00 PM  Dead Man's Shoes – S3.E18 | Bum dons dead gangster's wing-tips and finds himself stepping into the thug's revenge-thirsty ex-life. You might feel bad for the bum if you find yourself caring about anything in this one.

2:30 PM – The Hunt – S3.E19 | 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.)!

3:00 PM – Showdown with Rance McGrew  S3.E20 | An obnoxious Hollywood cowboy phony is brought back to the Old West – and face-to-face with the real Jesse James. Amusingly played, with a few funny moments, but ultimately the episode disappoints because the "real" West and Jesse (who complains that the modern Hollywood renderings of him and other gunslingers hurt their "feelings") are every bit as phony as the Hollywood ones.

3:30 PM  Kick The Can – S3.E21 | Timeless story about rest home residents learning that you are indeed as young as you feel. "Look! Think! Feel! Doesn't that wake some sleeping part of you?!"

4:00 PM – A Piano In The House – S3.E22 | Enchanted ivories reveal uncomfortable secrets; akin to "What's in the Box" (5:30 AM 1/3) and "A Most Unusual Camera" (5:30 PM 12/31), and slightly better than either. But only slightly. The episode features some genuinely moving performances, but the sadistic piano-owning theater critic (competently played by Barry Morse) is shrill, one-dimensional, and unsympathetic even when he is predictably exposed at the end.

4:30 AM – The Last Rights Of Jeff Myrtlebank – S3.E23 | Small-town good ol' boy James Best wakes up at his own funeral, and seems much improved by the experience! Cute, folksy tale.

5:00 PM  To Serve Man – Aliens come to earth offering solutions to all the world's woes; their trouble-entendre mission: "To serve man." An undisputed classic, #8 on the Time list.

5:30 PM – The Fugitive – S3.E25 | A crippled little girl is best pals with a lovable old codger with magical powers – until till two ominous Men-In-Black types come looking for him. Cinderella story TZ-style. Not great; not terrible.

6:00 PM – Little Girl Lost – S3.E26 | 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 and Rhoda Williams's voice as the little girl is absurd and irritating. Tune in for the final 10 minutes for all you need to know.

6:30 PM  – Person or Persons Unknown  S3.E27 | A man wakes up to find that no one including his wife and mother – recognizes him. Well-written and well-played, TZ once again questions the nature of reality and identity.

1 comment:

silvi landa said...
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