Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Visit to the Twilight Zone

The Grandstander recently noted the death of writer Earl Hamner, Jr., the creator of, among other things, the television series, "The Waltons".

I had read in Hammer's obituary that as a young man he befriended another young writer, Rod Serling, and that that friendship led to Hamner writing scripts for eight episodes of Serling's landmark television series, "The Twilight Zone".  The internet made it very easy to find out which episodes Hamner wrote, and a walk to my DVD box set of "The Complete Twilight Zone" gave me the opportunity to once again enjoy these show and these episodes in particular.

Here were the shows that Hamner wrote and when they first aired:

Season Three

The Hunt (1962)
A Piano in the House (1962)

Season Four

Jesse-Belle (1963)

Season Five

Ring-A-Ding Girl (1963)
You Drive (1964)
Black Leather Jackets (1964)
Stopover in a Small Town (1964)
The Bewitchin' Pool (1964)

It was most interesting and entertaining viewing.  Three of the stories, The Hunt, Jess-Belle, and The Betwitchin' Pool contained settings among country folk, similar to the kind of people Hammer wrote about in "The Waltons".  Some were in contemporary settings, some had real science fiction overtones, and some were spooky, and almost all of them had some real message to deliver.

The star of Jesse-Belle was one of my favorites, Anne Francis, who also starred in a more famous TZ episode called The After Hours.  Other notable actors in these shows included Edward Andrews, Barry Sullivan, and Mary Badham.  Badham is famous for her role of Scout in "To Kill A Mockingbird" and her role in The Bewitchin' Pool was one of only five other roles that she did after Mockingbird, and The Bewitchin' Pool was, in fact, the final episode of "The Twilight Zone" series.

More remarkable was observing how good these episodes - and most episodes of "The  Twilight Zone" -  were and how well these shows hold up over fifty years after they were initially produced and aired.  The production values, and by that I mean the sets and scenery, may appear cheap and chintzy by the television standards of 2016, but the stories, the acting, and, above all, the excellent writing all make these shows still good and still worth watching all these years later.  This makes that TZ boxed set one of the highlights of my own personal  DVD library.

Submitted for your approval.....

1 comment:

  1. As usual I enjoy your comments and agree that TTZ continues to be one of the best shows on the vast wasteland known as TV. I enjoy seeing some of the big name stars when they were just coming up and I also enjoy the quality writing that holds up today. I like it that we viewers are left to our own imagination for most of the show -- for me, an old salt, that could be dangerous!

    As an aside, I binged on THE DECADE channel's Black Sheep Squadron starring Robert Conrad, this Saturday. I enjoyed seeing this program again, the writer,Steven J Cannell, really nails it for me because I served with some mavericks like Bob Conrad back in the day. Cannell is a "man's man" having written cool programs like The Rockford Files, The A-Team, The Commish and Wiseguy which appeal to most guys of our vintage.

    Keep up the good work Bob, be well and hope to see you down there at PNCPark an'nat.