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The Twilight Zone Season Four: What to expect?


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#1 of 76 ONLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 17 2005 - 08:53 AM

Hi Guys!

Been collecting and watching all the current
Twilight Zone episodes from Seasons 1-3.

Since the first Definitive Edition was released
earlier this year, I have been watching nearly
an episode per day during my treadmill workout.

I am VERY familiar with all the shows of the
first three seasons (I grew up on them) and really
enjoyed watching them once more after all these years.

It *seems* the meat and potatoes of TTZ are the
first three seasons.

The only TWO episode I have not come across yet
that are depicted in the set intro is Tina The
Talking Doll
and the one where the kid is getting
hugged and the actor (I think Jack Klugman) is
saying "You're 9 years old again - why are you 9
years old again"

In any case....

I am shocked about Season 4 as it seems from
the back cover description that all these shows
are 1-hour long.

I never remember 1-hour long episodes on TV.

What can I expect here? Are these episodes good?
Is this going to be the same thing for Season Five?

...and where are the two episodes that I mentioned
in the above paragraph?

I look forward to your replies.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 76 OFFLINE   JeffT.

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Posted October 17 2005 - 09:19 AM

The 18 fourth season (1963) hour long segments of TWILIGHT ZONE (now minus "The" in the show's title) are absolutely fantastic!

You have nothing to be concerned about on this account as several of THE TWILIGHT ZONE's finest efforts can be found here including 'In His Image," "Jess-Belle," "Death Ship," "Miniature" (which is not included in the current tv syndication package incidentally), "The Incredible World of Horace Ford," "The Bard," "The New Exhibit" (a haunting chiller very much like an episode of BORIS KARLOFF'S THRILLER), "On Thursday We Leave for Home" and whole lots more!

THE TWILIGHT ZONE (CBS 1959-64) segment that you mentioned (not having seen thus far) is a fifth season (1963-64) show titled "Living Doll" (11/01/1963).

Jeff T.

#3 of 76 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted October 17 2005 - 10:16 AM

I was wondering the same thing! I'm currently watching Season 3, and can't remember ever seeing an hour long episode. This is out in a couple weeks, can anyyone comment on the extras? Has that American Masters Documentary on Rod Serling been announced for these yet?

#4 of 76 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted October 17 2005 - 10:30 AM

Jeff is right that (The) Twilight Zone has some great stuff in its fourth season. My faves are The New Exhibit, On Thursday We Leave For Home, and Death Ship. However, Serling was drained at the time and (in my opinion) this is the weakest year of the series. Keep in mind, a 'weak' year of TZ is much better than alot of other shows could ever hope to be. Posted Image

Quote:
Is this going to be the same thing for Season Five?

They drop back down to the half hour format in Season Five.



Quote:
the actor (I think Jack Klugman) is
saying "You're 9 years old again - why are you 9
years old again"

That's 'In Praise Of Pip' from Season Five. Like all TZs with Klugman, it's a great one.



Quote:
Has that American Masters Documentary on Rod Serling been announced for these yet?

Unfortunately, not yet.

#5 of 76 OFFLINE   Jaime_Weinman

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Posted October 17 2005 - 10:32 AM

Quote:
Is this going to be the same thing for Season Five?

No; for the fifth and last season (which included the famous "Gremlin on the wing" episode among others), the show returned to the half-hour format.

#6 of 76 OFFLINE   FrancisP

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Posted October 17 2005 - 11:27 AM

The fourth season had a different flavor. In the first three seasons, everything set up the twist at the end. For example, in the first 24 minutes, we think astronauts have crashlanded on a alien planet. In the last minute, we find out they never left the earth. In On Thursday We Leave for Home there is no doubt that they are on an alien planet. There is no doubt who Burgess Meredith is in Printers Devil. The few attempts to do this were mixed. Deathship is a
classic while 20 Fathom Grave was padded.

I also think that Rod Serling struggled in this
format. Out of the 7 that he wrote, only one was excellent. The others were mediocre to bad. Of course, it CBS' decision to go to an hour and not Serling's.

This season does feature excellent shows written by Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, and Earl Hamner Jr. While the batting average isn't as high as previous seasons, when they hit it, it's a home run. There are enough excellent shows to warrant a buy.

#7 of 76 OFFLINE   Dane Marvin

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Posted October 17 2005 - 11:50 AM

The good news is this, Ron: One of the episodes contained in this set is one of the finest hours of television ever produced. "On Thursday We Leave for Home" could be the most well-written piece TZ ever did. There are no gimmicks in this one; it pulls no punches. It relies on beyond solid performances by its cast, headed by James Whitmore (of "The Shawshank Redemption" fame). Yeah, there is that fantasy element to it that makes it feel like you're in the Twilight Zone, but it's essentially gifted to us as part of the set-up. The rest of the story is pure character study. After all, the Twilight Zone was not about talking dolls or traveling through time. It was about the characters reacting to those things.

Although Serling himself would state that "OTWLFH" was really the only hour-length show that really made the most of the new format, I'd agree with 'TZ Companion' author Marc Scott Zicree that he was being his own worst critic. Yes, there ARE episodes that are only worth watching once in a great while or just to make fun of rather than be involved in, but there are several other gems here:

-"Miniature": Another character study; this one a sentimentalist piece with a young Robert Duvall.
-"Death Ship:: Although featuring recycled bits of music, the soundtrack to this puppy is top-notch; also features some of the best dream-like imagery the series had; plus, you gotta love Jack Klugman.
-"Valley of the Shadow": Though the plot is quite flawed (the events that took place all could have been avoided easily if the characters had used basic common sense), this remains one of the most entertaining hour-long entries. Feels much like an episode of "The Outer Limits" because it frequently introduces more technical ideas and aspects of sci-fi than your typical TZ episode does.
-"Passage on the Lady Anne": Another sentimental episode that boasts an ensemble cast of some of Britain's finest (and older) character actors of the day. A lighter story that still has its TZ moments.
-"The New Exhibit": Could have been an episode of "The Night Gallery", which was basically a series of horror stories that Serling had less involvement in than he would have liked. The sequence of events does get repetitive, playing out like an overlong 'knock-knock' joke; but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't entertaining as hell! Maybe its the likeability of Martin Balsam that carries this one home.
-Others, like "In His Image" and "The Parallel" are bound to strike a chord with their share of viewers as well. Same goes with "Jess-Belle", which is fun to play the MST3K game to.

Watch "Mute" once and be rid of it. See "He's Alive" for Dennis Hopper's fine performance (in a fairly strange story) and "The Bard" for a super early look at Burt Reynolds just so you can say you've seen them. But I doubt much will stick with you as far as those are concerned. And I'm sure there are a handful of remaining episodes that can be picked and panned until the cows home.

On the whole, I'd say that season 4 is the weakest season. But it is not significantly worse than season 5 either. It just has less episodes. So if one of these 18 episodes bugs you, it's like the equivalent of hating TWO TZ episodes!! I think you'll enjoy it; it'll just be a matter of trying to maintain focus for about 50 minutes instead of just 25. And I won't lie to you: with some episodes it will not have been worth it. Hell, Rod Serling isn't even integrated into the sets anymore; he's merely standing in front of a blank backdrop due to his lowered involvement in the show by that point.

As for season 5, there are many great episodes to look forward, including at least one in the montage you spoke of that you didn't mention: the seminal "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet". "The Masks", appropriately, is also regarded as one of the finest episodes in the series. "Stopover in a Quiet Town" is simply jarring if you can't see the end coming while "The 7th is Made Up of Phantoms" is a joy for lite history buffs. But it will be worth owning alone for "An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge".

#8 of 76 OFFLINE   Ric Easton

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Posted October 17 2005 - 12:08 PM

Ron,

The reason you probably never heard of the hour long 4th season shows was that it seldom aired in syndication, since most stations had only reserved a half hour for their TZ reruns. Though, on occaision, the Sci-fi channel has worked in some of the hour long shows into it's marathons.

Ric

#9 of 76 OFFLINE   GeorgePaul

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Posted October 17 2005 - 03:59 PM

Quote:
As for season 5, there are many great episodes to look forward, including at least one in the montage you spoke of that you didn't mention: the seminal "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet". "The Masks", appropriately, is also regarded as one of the finest episodes in the series. "Stopover in a Quiet Town" is simply jarring if you can't see the end coming while "The 7th is Made Up of Phantoms" is a joy for lite history buffs. But it will be worth owning alone for "An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge".


How will this version of "Occurrence" be so much better than on previous TZ collections?

"Film is not created in a vacuum. Rather, it results from a combination of forces and personalities, coupled with limitations of time, budget, and technology, which all converge in a way that is unique to a moment in time."--Robert Wise

#10 of 76 OFFLINE   Jeff#

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Posted October 17 2005 - 07:28 PM

Several things to comment on here, since we're typing about my favorite TV series:


* The fourth season was one of Twilight Zone's finest. I completely disagree with the above statement that if you didn't like 1 episode because it was the equivalent of 2 you didn't like. One episode is one episode, regardless of length.

Although that year premiered in mid season in January 1963, many of the episodes were filmed in late 1962. For that reason we can still call that the 1962-1963 season.

"The Bard" is actually not that notable for Burt Reynolds being in it. At the time he was a semi-regular on GUNSMOKE (where he played half-breed blacksmith Quint Asper). GUNSMOKE was his second TV series, and one in which he stayed on for more than 2 seasons.

The Bard IS notable for Jack Weston's amusing comedic performance as well as that of popular Hitchcock TV & film actor John Williams as William Shakespeare. Character actors John McGiver and The Andy Griffith Show's Howard McNear also add to the fun. Reynolds's character Rocky Rhoades was a small role in what was basically a weak parody of Brando's Stanley Kawolski character from A Streetcar Named Desire.

Ironically, what replaced The Twilight Zone in September 1962 was an hour-long sitcom called FAIR EXCHANGE starring Judy Carne and sexy Lynn Loring. By January, Fair Exchange was cancelled and replaced by....TWILIGHT ZONE. Now that was a fair exchange! Posted Image

* The fifth season was the weakest of the series. "Black Leather Jackets", "The Bewitchin' Pool", "Come Wander with Me", "Ninety Years without Slumbering", "Uncle Simon", and "Ring a Ding Girl" are downright laughable and embarrassing. Of course there are some winners from that final year such as "In Praise of Pip", "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", "Living Doll", "You Drive", "Sounds and Silences", and even "Number 12 Looks Just Like You", but the bad far outnumbered the good. This series was wrongly cancelled in 1962 (saved by a fan letter-writing campaign...and brought back as a 1 hour show in Januaey 1963). It's second cancellation in 1964 was justifiable.

"An Occurence at Owl Crek Bridge" was originally the winner of the 1962 Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Short Subject and it was directed by Robert Enrico. Rod Serling mentioned this in his episode intro. He purchased the rights to that French film for $10,000 and had to cut several minutes to fit a half-hour slot. It may have been the first time an American TV network even ran a foreign film, but since the classic Ambrose Bierce story takes place in the American Civil War what very few words spoken in it are in English anyway. It is mostly dialog-free.

I would expect the Definitive Collection DVD version (coming in a few months) of this episode will be the same previous released on both VHS and DVD. However, this re-release may also contain the complete French film as a bonus, which I believe is about 38 minutes.

#11 of 76 ONLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 17 2005 - 10:15 PM

Gents,

Thank You for your responses.

It is so good to hear from people that know this
series inside and out and can offer some intelligent
opinions on what to expect.

I start Season Four tomorrow.

Thanks again!

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#12 of 76 OFFLINE   Dane Marvin

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Posted October 18 2005 - 12:57 AM

One episode is one episode, regardless of length.

Duh, but it's not like there are tons of episodes to go around in season 4. There are 18 compared to over 30 for most of the other seasons. So if you don't like one of the season 4 episodes -- it would in fact be, in terms of production time & cost, the equivalent of not liking two of the standard-length episodes. Don't take my meaning wrong here. Due to doubled cost and time to produce an episode, you only get one story here this season rather than two per hour of time. And not all of the stories are winners. But some of those that aren't are still quite entertaining.

And for George Paul, I don't think version of "Occurence" will be any different other than it will look and sound better (maybe have some bonus features as well?).

#13 of 76 OFFLINE   Jeff#

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Posted October 18 2005 - 02:41 AM

Quote:
Don't take my meaning wrong here. Due to doubled cost and time to produce an episode, you only get one story here this season rather than two per hour of time. And not all of the stories are winners. But some of those that aren't are still quite entertaining.
That's not the case here, Dane. CBS certainly had the budget to have made a full season of hour-long shows in 1962-63 but since they had cancelled the show months earlier based on lower ratings at the time, they kind of shot themselves in the foot. There was only time to film HALF of a season, because of the public demand from fans who wrote letters to save the show (Twilight Zone pioneered that!). Instead of filming beginning in the summer it was delayed until the fall instead.

Serling was taking advantage of the initial cancellation and spent his time creatively. For the first-time viewers, one other difference between the 4th season and others is that Rod was lecturing a writing class in his native Antioch College in New York. That's why we see him in front of a gray screen introducing the episodes. He would film a bunch of intros on the East Coast, and then they would fly the films out to Hollywood. By the 5th and final season, Serling had the time to return to the set and we saw him in the action again.

#14 of 76 OFFLINE   FrancisP

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Posted October 18 2005 - 03:40 AM

I think if you look at the progression of the fifth season it started out strong with shows like In Praise of Pip and Nightmare At 20,000 Feet. Most of the poorer shows came towards the end of the series. Serling had either been told or knew the show would be cancelled so he sort of mailed it
in. Why should you bust your butt for a show that's dead?
It's not unusual. Roddenberry knew Star Trek would not be back after its Friday ay 10PM slot so he moved on and the result was Star Trek's worst season. Maybe the reason that Occurrence at Owl Creek was used was because it was a quick way to get a show with minimal effort.

#15 of 76 OFFLINE   Sam Favate

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Posted October 18 2005 - 03:46 AM

I have not seen the vast majority of Season 4, and, as a fan of the Outer Limits and it's longer format, I am looking forward to getting this. I appreciate everyone's comments on the merits of season 4.

#16 of 76 OFFLINE   Jeff#

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Posted October 18 2005 - 06:38 AM

I think some of the 4th season stories that suffered because of the longer format in addition to those already mentioned include Howard Morris in "I Dream of Genie" (with Jack Albertson as the genie), in which Howard's character takes the entire show to imagine possible scenarios and thinking through each wish before finally deciding on what to wish for. It's just excruciating to watch.

A lot of people didn't like "No Time List the Past" which guest starred Dana Andrews as time-travelling scientist Paul Driscoll, but I felt he did a decent job with it. The only thing that doesn't seem credible to the critics is this: How could our hero go back to 1939 in a hotel room directly across the street from where Adolph Hitler is staying and not shoot the man, when he gets Der Fuhrer in the cross hairs of his rifle? Being interrupted by a maid wasn't enough. I think Driscoll realized that it could be catostrophic if he messed with the timeline in that manner. By this character taking responsibility, Serling redeems his own script. The problem arises when Driscoll acts irresponsibly later on in 1871 Chicago...

#17 of 76 OFFLINE   Jeff#

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Posted October 18 2005 - 07:00 AM

I'm glad someone brought up the inconsistency of the 5th season. My theory on the big drop in quality is not the fault of writers Serling, Matheson, and Hamner being tired. It was due to the change of producers in mid season from Bert Granet (who took over from Herbert Hirschman in the middle of the previous season) to William Froug.

Although Froug had some great stories too, such the non-supernatural espionage tale "The Jeopardy Room" with Martin Landau, one thing that is characteristic of a change in storywriting is a change of management. And so there were a few new writers being hired who were not experienced with the Zone format. Add to that veteran Charles Beaumont's failing health and Jerry Sohl having to finish the man's scripts, and another major dip in the ratings was bound to happen and it did.

However, Rod Serling had the final say because he was Executive Producer. Based on what he said at the time, Rod was so fed up with dealing with CBS Standards and Practices that I kind of doubt he would have stayed with his creation if there had been a 1964-1965 season.

At least Serling returned to TV the year after that with the Lloyd Bridges western series THE LONER.

#18 of 76 OFFLINE   Craig Beam

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Posted October 18 2005 - 07:11 AM

Add to that veteran Charles Matheson's failing health


I'm sure you meant to type Charles BEAUMONT. Richard MATHESON is still alive and well! Posted Image

#19 of 76 OFFLINE   GeorgePaul

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Posted October 18 2005 - 07:13 AM

I was not aware that a 38-minute version of the 1962 "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" was available. Many thanks for the info., Jeff.

I don't think the print can look much better than it has on the TZ Treasures disc, but I've been proven wrong before when it comes to amazing transfers, so who knows?

It would be interesting to find out if Robert Enrico or any of the French cast members of that production are still alive for possible commentary or interviews.

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#20 of 76 OFFLINE   Jeff#

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Posted October 18 2005 - 03:23 PM

I'm not entirely sure the complete French version of that is still available, GeorgePaul, but I would be very surprised if it wasn't.

According to the Internet Movie Database, Robert Enrico died in 2001 of cancer about 2 months before his 70th birthday.

His last film, which he wrote & directed came out in 1999.

According to the IMDB, his Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge a.k.a. "Rivière du hibou, La" was 28 minutes and not 38 as I previously stated. If that running time is correct, than Serling couldn't have edited more than a few minutes. I doubt anything of importance was cut.

It seems that Roger Jacquet, the star of that story is still around though. His last credit on the IMDB is from 2003.

A few years before the French got their turn, "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge" was first filmed in 1959 here in the USA as an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Guest-starring English actor Ronald Howard (TV's Sherlock Holmes a few years earlier), it had plenty of dialog but obviously had a smaller budget and less imagination than Enrico's remake.


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