Tag Archives: twilight zone

BQB’s Twilight Zone Reviews – S3, Ep. 26 – “Little Girl Lost”

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Do you think there might be a gateway to another dimension in your house, 3.5 readers?

Little Tina is lost.  Her parents, Ruth and Chris (hey, together they can make a steakhouse!)…um, played by Robert Sampson and Sarah Marshall, can hear her but cannot see her.  After checking all over the house, they can hear her coming from inside the wall, but can’t figure the mystery out.

Luckily, the couple is friends with a physicist, because why wouldn’t they be?  Bill (Charles Aidman) ominously marks the entry to another world in chalk in the couple’s wall.  How the door to the other dimension got there he doesn’t know which means I basically know as much as a fictional TV physicist.

Blah, blah, basically all the humans fail and it’s up to the family dog to bravely run into the dimensional gateway and lead the girl to safety.  They’ll probably still cut his nuts off anyway.

I give Rod Serling credit for this one as interdimensional travel was probably heady stuff for the average 1960s TV viewer but its done well here.

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BQB’s Twilight Zone Reviews – S3, Ep. 25 – “The Fugitive”

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I did not like this episode at all.  It was stupid, weird, dumb…especially to the eyes of a person in 2018 but honestly, even though values were different back then, I’m not sure how this episode didn’t leave a few 1960s people scratching their heads either.

OK.  So here goes.  And SPOILER ALERT because I can’t complain about it unless I lay it all out there.

J. Pat O’Malley plays Ben, an elderly man who spends a suspiciously large amount of time playing with the neighborhood children.  That’s weird but OK, initially it’s like…fine, it was the 1960s and adults were more “adultier.”  Maybe adults were more trustworthy or maybe child abuse claims were swept under the rug more back in those days I don’t know, but it was a common staple of old black and white television shows to see old people just hanging out and having fun with little kids that just lived near them that they were not related to whatsoever and the impression wasn’t that these adults were pervs or anything but rather were just nice old people who were nice to kids.

SIDENOTE:  Please don’t let your kids hang out with random neighborhood adults.  Honestly, don’t trust people you know or are related to either.  You know what?  Just keep your kid next to you at all times.

Back to the review.  Ben has a special power -he can turn into any living thing.  He plays a space game with the kids where the kids pretend to be space travelers and he turns himself into a scary martian.

The old man’s best friend is eight year old Jenny and surely this sentence is creepy even by 1960s standards.  Oddly enough, Jenny’s aunt/guardian, played by Nancy Kulp of Miss Hathaway from “The Beverly Hillbillies” fame is portrayed as the villain, yelling at the little girl to stay away from the old man and yelling at the old man to stay away from the girl.  She’s portrayed as an evil battle-axe trying to keep two friends apart but you know, 2018 me is like, “The aunt is the voice of reason!  If that kid was my niece I’d tell that old bastard to stay away from the kid too!”

Moving on, there are a couple of mysterious dudes chasing after Ben.  He ditches them by turning into a mouse (which makes me think Michael Jackson might have been inspired here with his song about Ben the rat).

Blah, blah, blah – the ending.  The dudes are Ben’s subjects. Ben is the king of a faraway planet.  He didn’t want to be the king anymore so he ran.  The subjects like him and want to bring him back.

Ben and Jenny pull the old switcheroo  – they both turn into Jenny and so, the subjects must take both Jennies to the planet if they want the King.  I couldn’t help but think that it will be hard for the aunt to lose her niece, but I guess the writers felt she had to be punished for the crime of thinking that her eight year old niece shouldn’t be spending all her free time with a sixty something year old man.  Go figure.

The twist?  Rod Serling, as he was known to do, pops out of the woodwork holding a picture of a little boy.  Turns out that Ben was a little boy all along and…I guess…what…we’re supposed to think it’s ok that Ben and Jenny run away together?  I mean, you really need to suspend disbelief because Jenny is eight whereas we were told earlier that Ben is over 1,000 years old so I mean, come on, even if he’s a boy he’s like an adult in a boy’s body, unless boys live for a thousand years on that planet before they become adults and ugh…I just went cross eyed.

It’s weird.  It’s creepy.  It’s insane.  I have no idea if the writers intended this, maybe they were just lazy and wrote themselves out of a corner but I mean, yeah, there’s just no circumstance in which it’s cool for this kid to be running away with aliens…especially one that’s over 1,000, who has taken the form of an old human man.

I don’t know.  There were a lot of episodes and they all can’t be winners I suppose. This one was a big time stinkburger.

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BQB’s Twilight Zone Reviews – S2, Ep. 8 – “The Lateness of the Hour”

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Is technology making us soft?

Spoiler alert = YES!

But we know that today because we live in a time where you can sit on the toilet and order up your dinner, groceries, call a cab, text a friend and watch a TV show on your phone…while you take a dump at the same time.

Ergo, 1960s folk were prophetic, for they had none of these advances and yet they could see that tech was going to turn us into weaklings, robots being the big concern here.

Dr. and Mrs. Loren (John Hoyt and Iren Tedrow) have cut themselves off from the world, holing themselves up in their home where robotic servants of the doctor’s own design cater to their every need.  The old folks need not do anything but sit in their study and relax while their mechanical servants do it all.

Their daughter, Jana (Inger Stevens) thinks this is a totally crap lifestyle.  She’s young and she wants to get out of the house, see the world, develop skills and learn how to take care of herself.  She wants her parents to do the same, join her in getting out there.

Well, depending on your age you can probably guess the underlying themes.  The young want to explore the world and seek out adventure.  The old have had the shit beaten out of them to the point where the world has lost its luster – i.e. it’s better to relax at home rather than get smacked around by the cold, cruel world.

And of course, there’s the question of whether tech will improve our lives or turn us into big softies.  Even further, will robots be our trustyworthy helpers or will they scheme against us and take over?

Further, sometimes young people need to make a decision.  Your parents are old.  They’ve been around the block.  They’ve been to the school of hard knocks.  They’ll give you the best advice they know – set your sights low and focus on just getting by because if you shoot for the stars, you might end up crashing into the weeds.

Whether you follow that advice is up to you.  You love your parents but at some point, you’ve got to leave the nest and decide what’s best for you.  You want to follow their lame yet safe advice?  Do it.  You want to throw caution to the wind and chase that crazy dream?  Do it…but actually do it.  Don’t wait around for their blessing.  You won’t get it.  Just rip off that Band-Aid, have that blow out fight, then go on your way and make that dream happen.

Sadly, Jana seems trapped in that middle area where she wants to get out and chase dreams but she wants her parents to tell her they approve and that obviously isn’t going to happen.

Anyway, what say you, 3.5 readers?  Will tech help us or ruin us?

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BQB’s Twilight Zone Reviews – S2, Ep. 17 -Twenty-Two

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Are dreams real?  Can they tell us anything about reality?  Can we ever be sure when we are dreaming and when we are awake, what’s real and what’s not?

Liz Powell (Barbara Nichols) is such a famous stripper, er…uh, dancer, that she even has an agent, Barney (Fredd Wayne.)  In fact, she’s been so overworked that she’s in the hospital for exhaustion.  Yeah, ok…just go with it.  If you can buy that premise, then you can buy the fact that she was allowed to relax in her hospital bed, not in a patient’s gown but in a dress that was, well for 1960s standards, kinda naughty.  Today, not so much but I’m sure in those days it turned an eye.

SIDENOTE: Nichols had that stereotypical Brooklyn floozy/blonde bimbo of the early 1900s voice.  Today, you might call it a “Harley Quinn” voice.  Nichols often played bar girls, dopey dames, gangster’s molls, and so on…so it makes me wonder if she might have had an influence on Harley’s style.

Anyway, every night, Liz goes to sleep only to wake up thirsty.  She reaches for a glass of water but then she gets up, heads to the lobby, goes down an elevator and walks to the morgue, where a mysterious looking nurse (the ever so exotic Arlene Martel) ominously states, “Room for one more, honey.”

There’s room for one more in the morgue?  That’s not news that anyone wants to hear.  Her doctor, who is never given a name but is played by Jonathan Harris of “Lost in Space” fame (“You clinkin’ calamity of bolts!”)  insists this is all in Liz’s mind and it’s just a bad dream.

I did wonder why the doctor didn’t have someone keep an eye on Liz to see if she actually was getting up to go to the morgue or if she was just dreaming it, but I suppose that would have ruined the story.

OK, that’s it.  I won’t go further because if I do I’ll ruin the twist.  But it’s an interesting question, where do dreams end and reality begin?  Do they intermingle?  Is the universe trying to send messages to us through our dreams?  Should we pay attention to what’s in our dreams at all.

Have you ever changed your life based on a dream, 3.5 readers?

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BQB’s Twilight Zone Reviews – S3, Ep. 30 – Hocus-Pocus and Frisby

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Lying can get you in a lot of trouble, 3.5 readers.

Gas station owner Somerset Frisby (Andy Devine) is an epic teller of tall tales.  Some people might embellish or exaggerate their accomplishments but Frisby outright lies.  Gadflies hang around the station all day long just to laugh at his whoppers – from how he single handedly won World War I, to his thirty-something advanced degrees (he claims to hold doctorates in all the sciences) and his many inventions.  Mention any device and he’ll tell you he invented it.  Celebrities, politicians, captains of industry, so he says, all consult him regularly, why, Henry Ford even contacted him for assistance in constructing one of the first car engines.

While the townsfolk think he’s a goof, a duo of passersby take Frisby seriously…perhaps a little too seriously.  They kidnap the liar and whisk him away to a spaceship, where they remove their human masks to reveal their alien forms.  They’re intrigued by Frisby’s “accomplishments” and they want to take him to their home planet in the hopes his allegedly brilliant mind will solve all of their problems.  You see, these aliens have never heard of “lying” before so they take everything they hear as the truth, which makes me think this episode might have influenced Ricky Gervais’ “The Invention of Lying.”

As goofy as the show may seem, every episode of “The Twilight Zone” comes with a moral lesson.  Here, it’s don’t lie, or rather, don’t write checks with your mouth that the sum of your experience can’t cash.  Perhaps none of us run around telling everyone that we won wars and hold over thirty degrees, but maybe we embellish once in awhile and doing so could come back to bite us.  Saying you can do something you can’t in a job interview, for example, could leave you looking pretty stupid when you get hired and fail to deliver.

It’s funny, as I watch this show I have spotted many influences on pop culture that I never realized were there before.  There are a number of episodes where I can see an impact on movies, TV, comedy, parodies etc. that came later.

Do you know that old Will Ferrell Saturday Night Live sketch where Will and friends would gather around a bar and tell tales about their amazing friend, Bill Brasky?  Bill Brasky did this, Bill Brasky did that, etc.  Notice how Will and whoever joins him has crooked teeth and flushed faces.  For the longest time, I always thought that was just a random choice to make them look like dummies but now I figure that’s got to be an homage to Andy Devine aka one Mr. Somerset Frisby.

Have you ever gotten into hot water by claiming you can do things you can’t?  Discuss in the comments.

EDIT: I searched the Internet and couldn’t find confirmation that the Bill Brasky sketch was influenced by Frisby but come on, the similarities between Frisby and the Brasky buddies are pretty obvious that it makes me think these sketches were an homage:

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BQB’s Twilight Zone Reviews – S2, Ep. 16 – “A Penny for Your Thoughts”

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I’m reading your mind right now, 3.5 readers.

You’re thinking, “Why am I reading this dumb blog?” and also, “In an episode where a character can read minds, the dangers of learning man’s inner secrets surely must be the main lesson.”

Answers – a) Because you’re a good judge of excellent blogs and b) wrong.

Lowly banker Hector B. Poole (Dick York of “Bewitched” fame) tosses a coin into a newsboy’s money box.  In doing so, the coin lands on its edge, which somehow gives Poole the ability to read minds.

As series creator Rod Serling (who regularly pops out of the woodwork in this series to narrate and/or explain a plot point or a moral) explains, the results of a coin flip are fifty/fifty.  Meanwhile, the odds that we will act on a given thought in our brains are the same – a fifty percent chance we will, and a fifty percent chance we won’t.

As Poole progresses through his day, he learns more about his coworkers than he ever knew before.  Dopey boss E.M. Bagby (Dan Tobin) is a pervert, cheating on his wife with a chorus girl.  Poole might have preferred to have not known that, as he loses respect for his supervisor.  Perhaps we aren’t meant to know the dark thoughts of the people we see everyday because if we did, we’d never want anything to do with them.

The gift comes in handy when he learns that coworker Helen (June Dayton) has the hots for him.  Knowing her feelings makes it easier to act on his, but why do two people who love each other from afar always tend to be reluctant?  Is it fear of rejection?

The gift becomes a curse when Poole overhears a surprising thought in the mind of elderly employee, L.J. Smithers (Cyril Delevanti.)  After decades of faithful service, Mr. Smithers is now planning to go to the vault, “withdraw” a bag full of cash and take the next boat to Bermuda.

SPOILER ALERT:  He doesn’t.  Poole ends up with big time egg on his face when he convinces Bagby to have a guard search Mr. Smithers’ bag, only to come up empty.

The lesson?  We all think bad thoughts, but bad thoughts don’t necessarily make us bad people until we act on them.  Mr. Smithers’ entertained a bad thought, fantasized about running off to paradise with his employer’s dough, but in the end, he decided against it.  The average person constantly thinks about doing bad things but until those bad things are acted upon, they’re just thoughts.  Actions really do speak louder than words, or at least the words being spoken by our internal monologue.

Would you like to be able to read minds, 3.5 readers?  Would you judge others for thinking bad thoughts even if they didn’t act on them?

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BQB’s Twilight Zone Reviews – S3, Ep. 24 – “To Serve Man”

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If aliens ever arrive on Earth, will their intentions be good or evil?

Such is the question that plagues the United Nations when an alien race called, the “Kanamits” land on our home world.

They’re nine feet tall.  They have big heads to house their big brains.  They speak through their minds rather than their mouths…and they swear their only purpose is in coming to Earth is to serve man.

In fact, they offer new technology.  Specifically, they offer a method of making soil more fertile and can even turn desert wastelands into fertile fields full of crops.

Huh.  Is it me or are these intergalactic travelers really concerned with making sure that humans have enough to eat?

Lloyd Bochner stars as Michael Chambers, the government translator assigned to decipher a book left behind on a table by the alien ambassador.  Does it hold any secrets?  Can these aliens be taken at their word?  Do they have more sinister intentions in mind?

And why do they want to make sure all the humans get fed?  Hmm…curious.

This episode is one of this show’s best, containing a line that serves not only a twist but also as a piece of pop culture history that has been parodied and paid homage to over the years.  Further, it sets in stone that time honored sci-fi trope, namely, that if aliens come bearing gift horses, said horses’ mouths should be checked thoroughly.

 

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BQB’s Twilight Zone Reviews – S1, Ep. 12 – “What You Need”

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They say that success is what happens when planning meets opportunity (perhaps with a little patience mixed in), and surely this episode is the best lesson when it comes to following that formula.

Pedott (Ernest Truex) is an elderly psychic peddler.  Now there’s a unique job if there ever was one.  Every night, he visits the same bar with a brief case of goods to sell – matches, string, cards, etc.  He sizes up the booze hounds, picks out an item and says ever so ominously, “this is what you need.”

Case in point, a down and out baseball pitcher drowns his sorrows at the bar.  His arm’s shot and in his opinion, that means life is over.  He could never find happiness in any job outside of baseball.

Pedott talks the pitcher into buying a bus stop to Scranton, PA of all places.  It seems silly until he gets a call – he’s been offered a job as a coach and suddenly, all seems right in his world again.

Meanwhile, Pedott talks a lonely woman into buying a bottle of cleaning fluid.  When the pitcher remarks that he can’t show up to his new job wearing a stained suit, the woman is able to use her cleaning fluid as an ice breaker and suddenly, she’s found the love that has eluded her for so long.

Lesson?  Your opportunity awaits.  You just have to be prepared.  In real life, maybe the preparation doesn’t come in the form of an item, but maybe it comes in the form of study, training, bettering yourself, being able to prove your worth when you are given a chance to do so.

While barflies are typically pleased to receive Pedott’s help, there’s a hole in the heart of the villainous Renard (Steve Cochran) that can never be filled.  Renard has been beaten up by life and is perpetually angry.  His hard breaks have left him irreversibly bitter.

Pedott sells Renard a pair of scissors, which Renard uses to save his own life.  Later, a leaky pen leads to him winning $250 on a horse.   Soon, Renard gets hooked on good fortune, but it’s never enough.

Whereas the pitcher and the lonely woman seized the good fortune the world offered them, Renard doesn’t grasp his lucky moments.  Saving his own life doesn’t convince him to try harder to be a better man.  An extra $250 doesn’t convince him to maybe invest, start a little business, do something to improve his life.  No, he wants more, more more…he scoffs at his small lucky breaks.  They just aren’t good enough.

What happens next?  You’ll have to watch for the ironic twist, as no episode of this show would be complete without one.  However, the message is clear.  Luck exists.  Good breaks will happen for those who prepare for them.  Some may get better breaks than others but small breaks are nothing to sneeze at and should be embraced and made the best of.

If you’re feeling bitter…is it because you had bad breaks..or did you not make the most of what the world gave you?  Sure, the pitcher had a better break – a coaching job.  However, he prepared for it by working as a baseball player for years.

The lonely woman found a good break – a potential husband.  She prepared for it by living the life of a good woman and being honest and looking hot and, oh come on, it was the 1960s.  I suppose if this episode was made today she’d be sold an item that leads her to becoming the CEO of a major company or something.

Luck exists and yet, we also make our own luck.  A break won’t matter if you aren’t prepared for it.  You get out of the world what you put into it.  Renard hadn’t put enough into the world…but perhaps if he’d been a more positive person, being saved from the near death experience and winning a sum of money that was pretty hefty in the 1960s might have good motivators for him to get his life in order.  Instead, he doesn’t look at the old man with gratitude but rather, anger – as if luck isn’t a matter of combing preparation and opportunity but rather, as if luck is a metaphysical slot machine.  Just give me another item, and another, and another…what have you got to sell me today old man?  I’ll keep playing the odds and maybe I’ll get luckier and luckier without putting the preparation work in.

What do you think, 3.5 readers?  Is luck real?  Do we make our own luck?  Maybe luck is real, but it only helps if we are prepared for it when it comes?  What say you?

More importantly, as the title goes, “What do you need?”  It’s a loaded question.  What do you need in your life to be happy and what do you need to be ready when opportunity knocks on your door?  Do you need a good job?  What do you need to qualify for that job?  Perhaps you’ll never be lucky enough to qualify for the job you want, but if you don’t seek out the proper credentials and experience, you’ll never be ready if that opportunity comes.

Do you need romance?  What do you need to get it?  Do you need to improve yourself?  Maybe lose some weight, fix a few cosmetic, surface issues?  Dress better?  Drop a bad habit?  Become more responsible?

What do you need and what do you need to get it?

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BQB’s Twilight Zone Reviews

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Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

I have avoided watching “The Twilight Zone” for many years.  There are a few episodes that are key, the ones where if you ask anyone, they’ll bring those up – the killer doll, the killer ventriloquist dummy, the woman who has surgery to “look beautiful” only to end up hideous because she looks beautiful but in a world full of pig people she looks ugly, the one with the guy who thinks there’s a monster on the wing of his plane, the little boy who can do all sorts of crazy shit with his mind if any adults ever think unhappy thoughts so all the townsfolk just put up with it because everyone’s afraid to say anything to him, etc.

Plus, the theme song, or rather the “doo doo doo doo” always seems creepy.

But, I finally broke down and checked it out on Netflix and I’m hooked.

My main observation is that either a) this series was far ahead of its time or b) that it paved the way for all the scientific tropes that are pretty standard today – that machines might take over, that maybe one day we’ll meet aliens and it won’t work out as well as we hope, that inventions to improve life will inevitably screw us over, that screwing with time travel could mess up our entire existence, etc.

But keep in mind, the show doesn’t just explore the scientific but also the paranormal – deals with the devil that don’t go well for the person who signed on the dotted line, attempts to cheat death that go badly, etc.

The special effects pale in comparison to modern films, though at times, a dude in a creepy mask is a lot more frightening for some reason.  It could be that good writing goes a long way and as long as the suspense is built up, the audience can forgive the fact that the baddie is a dude in a costume and not a CGI character.

Anyway, from time to time I’m going to pop up reviews of individual episodes because dang it, I need to fill this blog up with something.

What’s your favorite episode, 3.5 readers?

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