The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 17 – One More Pallbearer

Paul Radin is a very rich man with a NYC skyscraper with his name on it.  In the sub-basement of this building (300 feet below the surface) he’s built a nuclear bomb shelter with eighteen-inch-thick concrete walls encased in six inches of lead.  And he’s installed an audio-visual system that can mimic the experience of a nuclear explosion outside of the bunker.  Mr. Radin is a devious man who has conquered the business world without any need for honor or a conscious.

He has invited three people to his shelter.  They are one of his old high school teachers, Mrs. Langsford, his former pastor Mr. Hughes and his commanding officer from the war, Col. Hawthorne.  When they arrive, he reminds each of them of the time when each had humiliated him.  His teacher had berated him for cheating and then trying to blame the incident on someone else.  Col. Hawthorne had him court-martialed for refusing to follow a direct order to join a battle.  And Mr. Hughes had exposed the fact that a girl committed suicide over Radin.

Then Radin reveals why they were invited.  He claims that he has classified information that a Russian nuclear attack will occur in a few minutes and New York will be obliterated, all except him in his shelter.  And he has invited them to share his bomb shelter and survive.  The proviso is that each beg his forgiveness for the offenses they committed against him.  When they ask to leave, he demands that they stop the pretense and realize that as soon as they leave, they will panic and come running back.  They leave undeterred and when he holds open the elevator door to give them one last chance the school teacher basically tells him that he is the one to be pitied because he will be trapped with himself.

After they leave, Radin feels the detonation of the nuclear bomb.  He takes the elevator to the surface and sees that the city is in rubble.  He breaks down and mourns for his own loneliness in the empty world that is left.  But then we see that all of this scene is in his imagination and that the city is untouched.  Radin is lying by the fountain in front of his building crying hysterically.  He’s gone insane from frustration and fear.

Between this episode and the earlier third season episode called “The Shelter,” I get the idea that Rod Serling is miffed that some people had bomb shelters.  I suppose he felt it wasn’t egalitarian that some would survive.  All that aside, this is a pretty weak episode.  It doesn’t seem very likely that a narcissist would crack up because some people didn’t like him.  I’ll go with a C.

The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 16 – Nothing in the Dark

A very old woman lives alone in a condemned building in a run-down area of a city.  And she is afraid of every one she meets so she won’t open her door to anyone.

Outside her apartment she sees a policeman in the alley so she hides in her room.  Shots are fired and a car speeds away.  She hears the voice of a man crying for help.  She tells him to go away and leave her alone.  He tells her that he’s been shot and his name is Officer Harold Beldon and he needs a doctor right away.

The old woman is in a panic.  She is frightened to death of the man but she is moved to help an injured person.  She overcomes her fear and goes to him.  When she touches his shoulder, she is amazed.  She says aloud, “how am I still alive?”  The old lady helps the Officer into her apartment and tries to make him comfortable on the bed and makes him some tea.  Now that she is safe back in her room, she tells the Officer about herself.  She says that one time on a bus she saw a man come up to a very old woman and in the course of picking up something she dropped, he touched her hand and a little while later she died.  At that point she concluded that the man was actually Death there to take the old woman away.  The old woman tells the Officer that a few more time she saw Death take away old people.  Now she avoids everyone because Death can take any form.  But she is miserable.  She loves the sunlight but now lives always in darkness.

Later on, a knock comes at the door and she refuses to open it.  The man at the door says he is a contractor responsible for demolishing the condemned buildings that include the one the old lady lived in.  When she refused to open the door, he brakes it down.  When he enters the room the old lady collapses to the floor.  When she comes to, she is once again amazed that Death has not gotten her.  The contractor tries to comfort her and explains that his job is not evil.  He’s clearing the ground so new homes can be built to replace the worn-out buildings.  The old lady asks Officer Beldon to help her explain to the contractor that she needs to stay inside but the contractor is confused by her words and leaves warning her she must go.

When she thinks about what happened she realizes that the contractor couldn’t see the Officer.  Beldon tells her to look in the mirror and when she does, she can’t see him in the mirror.  Now she knows that he is indeed Death.  In confusion she asks him why he did not kill her when she let him in.  He explains to her that he is not there to hurt or frighten her.  He is only there to guide her to the next phase of her existence.  He implores her lovingly to take his hand and after initial fear she does.  When nothing seems to happen, she is relieved and she asks him when she will die and he asks her to look at the bed.  There she sees her own body in repose.  And now Death says to her, “What you feared would come like an explosion is like a whisper. What you thought was the end is the beginning.”  Death leads the old lady out of the darkness into the sunlight.

Gladys Cooper as the old lady and Robert Redford as Death are very good.  The drama is sentimental and emotionally charged but effective.  I enjoyed it.  B+

The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 15 – A Quality of Mercy

In the last days of the WW II a platoon of exhausted American GIs is performing surveillance on a mortar team trying to destroy an enemy position inside a cave in the Philippines.  Sgt. Causarano and his men are discussing the weakness of the Japanese force in the cave.  They approximate it to be twenty men most of whom are injured and therefore unlikely to mount any offensive operations against the Americans.  In addition, because of their good defensive position extracting them will definitely require American casualties.  They decide the best strategy is to bypass this target and move onto a more dangerous force that is less difficult to assault.

At this point a new officer arrives to take command of the patrol.  Lt. Katell informs Causarano that he is going to run things by the book and the first order of business is a frontal attack on the cave.  The Sgt. respectfully advises the Lt. that at this late stage of the war a frontal attack on a target that isn’t a threat is overzealous and a waste of American lives.  Katell states that in a war killing the enemy continues from the beginning of the war right until the very end.

The men reluctantly prepare for the assault but just as he is preparing to call the charge Katell drops his binoculars and as he is looking down at them a confusing change occurs.  Instead of being night it is broad daylight and instead of Causarano, the sergeant picking up the binoculars is in a Japanese uniform and is addressing Katell as Lt. Yamuri.   Panicking, Katell (who looks and is dressed as a Japanese officer) bolts away from the Japanese encampment and runs toward a cave.  But as he approaches it an American soldier inside the cave sprays machine gun fire toward him and is answered by a Japanese machine gunner firing back at the cave.

In the next scene Katell/Yamuri is trying to understand what is happening but he is very confused.  He learns from the Sgt. that the year is 1942 and the scene is near the battle of Corregidor in the Philippines.  At that point a senior Japanese officer appears and admonishes Yamuri for not finishing off the American force in the cave.  He tells Yamuri that it is a small force of twenty men, most wounded and would be easily overwhelmed by a frontal assault.  Now it is Yamuri (Katell) trying to convince an officer that bypassing the cave would be prudent.  But the officer accuses him of cowardice or battle fatigue.

As they prepare to storm the cave, the scene shifts back to the American camp in 1945.  But before Katell can get his bearings a messenger announces the dropping of the Hiroshima bomb and orders to suspend hostilities.  After his disorienting experiences Katell seems greatly relieved not to have to pursue the attack he earlier demanded.

As we’ve noted earlier, Rod Serling served in an infantry outfit in the Philippines during WW II.  His disdain for needless loss of human life probably matched the feelings of many men who had served in the war.  The acting in this episode is very good.  I especially enjoyed the characterization of Sgt. Causarano.  His war weary but professional attitude was very appealing.  Dean Stockwell as the Lt. was also good.  Of interest is a cameo as one of the soldiers by Leonard Nimoy in his pre-Spock era.  B+

The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 14 – Five Characters in Search of an Exit

A disheveled army major wakes up on the floor of a circular enclosure without a roof.  The wall towers thirty or forty feet above him and looking up he can see a dark sky and a round bright object that could be light or even the moon.  He starts walking around the inside circumference of the enclosure and confronts a clown lying on the floor.  The clown is irreverent and mocking and bickers with the major on trivial points of discussion.  The major cannot remember exactly who he himself is or how he came to be in this enclosure.  The clown says that there is no answer and it’s not worth trying to figure it out.  Then we meet the other three captives.  There is a ballerina, a hobo and a Scottish bagpiper.  None of them can recall who they are or how they got in their prison.  But they all seem relatively resigned to their fate, except the major.  He is adamant that they must find a way out.  He becomes agitated and tries yelling and pounding on the wall with his shoe.  He even tries breaking through the wall with his sword but the blade snaps off in the attempt.  Every once in a while, a very loud bell sounds.

Eventually he is able to rouse even the clown from his mockery to attempt to escape by forming a human ladder and allowing the ballerina to scale to the top of the wall.  She is mere inches from the top when the thunderous bell tolls so loudly that their ladder is shaken down and they all tumble down.  The ballerina is the most shook up by her great fall.

Undaunted the major convinces them to try again but instead of the ballerina he will climb the human tower and use his sword hilt tied to a rope made from their belts and other clothing to snag the lip of the prison wall and pull himself out.  And after several attempts his jury-rigged grappling hook catches and he painfully scales the short distance to the top and straddles it.

As he steadies himself at the top, the remaining prisoners ask him what he sees.  But just then he loses his balance and falls outside into a pile of snow.  Inside the prison the inmates worry about his fate and the clown says he’ll be back because they really are in hell.

Now the scene shifts and we see a winter scene where a Salvation Army worker is standing next to a doll collection barrel and ringing her bell.  A little girl picks up a doll of a soldier in the snow and tells the woman someone must have missed the barrel with this doll.  She throws the doll back in the barrel and of course now we see the five characters as dolls.  Last of all the ballerina moves her hand onto the major’s hand where he lies from the girl’s toss.  And finally, we see a tear fall down the ballerina’s cheek.

Wow.

We’re about halfway through the season and the entire series too.  At this point those who have read most of my reviews know that I have a couple of pain points.  The first is I have no sympathy for a character screaming incoherently to no one.  The other is I do not find it interesting if robots or mannequins or any other human facsimiles find out at the end of an episode that they are in fact not humans.

Unfortunately, this episode possesses both those unfortunate diseases.  Someone might say that since this is a Christmas episode, I should make allowances.  Someone would be mistaken.

Those who have read these reviews also know that sometimes I allow myself to mitigate my judgement if a favorite character actor is present in the offending episode.  Well, in this case, the major is played by William Windom.  This is the man who gained immortality as Commodore Matt Decker, Commander of the USS Constellation whose crew was eaten by the planet killer in the Star Trek episode “The Doomsday Machine.”  How much more extenuating can circumstances be?  But no, it cannot sway me.  I must award this episode the gold standard of bad Twilight Zone episodes.  The pure F.

The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 13 – Once Upon a Time

I beg the indulgence of any readers under the age of fifty.  This episode is an homage to the age of silent films.  And anyone under the half century mark probably has had no experience with silent films.  So please bear with me if I seem to be doting on an episode that looks like a museum piece and lacks any point of reference for the young.

Buster Keaton plays Woodrow Mulligan, a disgruntled janitor complaining about the high prices, noisiness and high-speed bicycle traffic of pre-automobile 1890 small town America.  He works for an inventor and as he’s walking to work, he is almost run over by a bicycle and falls into a horse trough and has to hang up his pants while they dry on the clothes line.  But even in his boxer shorts he picks up a broom and proceeds to sweep the inventor’s offices.  While sweeping he hears the inventors celebrating their invention of a “time helmet” which will allow its wearer to travel forward and back in time for thirty minutes.  Hearing this, Woodrow thinks it would be a great idea to travel through time to escape the hectic, aggravating life of 1890.  So, he puts on the helmet and heads onto the street to see the future.  As he is preparing to leave a chicken flies into his arms and then he is transported into 1962.  And of course, if he thought bicycle traffic was too fast imagine how aggravated rush hour automobile traffic made him?  Stuck in the middle of the street, he loses his helmet to an accidental passerby’s protruding arm.  Then a little boy on roller skates picks it up and skates away.  Now Woodrow commandeers a bicycle from a sidewalk rack and chases after the boy.  Of course, the cop on the beat sees a middle-aged man without pants chasing a boy on roller skates and immediately pursues on foot.

The boy turns down an alley and collides with a man named Rollo.  The helmet falls off the boy’s head and he skates off without it.  Woodrow rounds the corner and also collides with Rollo.  Woodrow collects his helmet but discovers that it’s broken.  Bewailing his fate, he tells his story to Rollo.  By a coincidence Rollo is a scientist and observing Woodrow’s clothing and other trappings he believes the story and agrees to help Woodrow to repair the helmet before the thirty-minute deadline passes.  They go to an Electrical Appliance Repair Shop and spend most of the rest of the episode trying to explain what needs to be fixed and allowing Woodrow to become confused by vacuum cleaners and television sets.

When the helmet is repaired Rollo steals it saying he wants to go back to the peaceful 1890s.  Woodrow chases Rollo and at the very last second, he leaps onto Rollo and they both are transported back to 1890.  In the next scene Woodrow shows a renewed appreciation for local conditions in 1890.  But Rollo is miserable in the pre-electronic age he sent himself to and pines for modernity.  Woodrow responds rapidly and plants the helmet on Rollo’s head and turns the dial to 1962 and sends him back to his time.

The conceit in this one is that the portions of the story that take place in 1890 are filmed as a silent film with background music and subtitle but no voices.  The 1960s portions were just the typical Twilight Zone era television format.  The episode is a broad comedy to honor and play to the style of the famous silent comedy star Buster Keaton.  In effect, it might as well have been a Bugs Bunny cartoon.  As an aside Rollo was played by Stanley Adams who appeared as Cyrano Jones in the Trouble with Tribbles episode of the original Star Trek series.  He is the salesman who sells a Tribble to one of the Enterprise crew.

So, for this episode tastes will vary greatly but I’ll be (as always) conservative and give it a B.

The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 12 – The Jungle

Alan and Doris Richards are Manhattanites living on Central Park in a luxury apartment building.  By appearances they are very well off and shouldn’t have a care in the world.  But the Richards have just returned from central Africa where Alan is an engineer working on a large hydroelectric dam project.  When we first meet them, Alan is telling Doris the story of where he found his missing cuff link.  It was in her jewelry box but in addition to jewelry, he found a severed human finger, a vulture’s claw and several other voodoo good luck charms from the tribal culture that they were neighbors to in Africa.  When Alan threatens to throw the items in the fireplace Doris admits to keeping them and begs him to hold onto the items to protect him from the witch doctor’s wrath for interfering with the land used for the dam.  Alan tosses the items in the fire and heads off to his business meeting at the engineering firm he works for.

At the meeting we find out that Alan actually has a stronger belief in the power of the witch doctor’s spells than he let on to Doris.  When Alan tells the board what the witch doctor promised if the dam were built, they scoff.  In return he asks them about their own superstitions, a rabbit’s foot on one man’s key chain, astrology, knocking wood, not walking under ladders, the very building they were sitting in not having a thirteenth floor.  The board members are agitated but none plan to rescind the order to build the dam that will trigger the witch doctor’s curse.

In the next scene Alan is at a midtown bar drinking some scotch when he shows his friend a lion’s tooth that Doris has hidden in his jacket pocket to protect him from lions.  After scoffing at the superstitious talisman, he drops it on the bar and leaves.  But when he gets to his car it won’t start up.  He heads back to the bar and finds it closed and empty but on the bar, he can see the tooth.

He goes to a pay phone to call home but there’s no answer.  When he walks away the phone rings but when he picks it up all he hears on the line are jungle noises.  Now he starts walking toward home on the other side of Central Park but hears jungle drums and animals screeching and then a large animal in the tree above him.  At that moment a taxi appears and Alan jumps in the cab, gives his address and sits back in relief.  When the cab stops at a red light the driver slumps over dead in his seat and Alan retreats from the cab and starts walking home again in a near panic as the jungle noises get louder and louder.  A pan handler bums a ten dollar bill off him and Alan asks if the man will escort him home.  But when he asks the man about the jungle noises it must unnerve him because he disappears.

Now Alan runs home in full flight from the jungle drums and lion roars that surround him.  When he reaches his building, the sound reaches a crescendo and as he fumbles with the entrance door he falls to his knees in despair.  But suddenly the noises cease.  Relieved he enters the building and takes the elevator to his floor and enters his apartment where he pours himself a drink and exhales a sigh of relief.

But then he hears the sound of a lion grunting and quietly growling from his bedroom.  Alan walks over to the door, gathers his courage and slowly opens the door.  On the bed is a smashed but still lit lamp, the body of Doris and an enormous male lion.  We see the dazed expression on Alan’s face just before we are shown the lion leap from the bed and hear Alan’s death scream.

This is one of those goofy episodes that, depending on my mood, could be a D or if I feel sympathetic a B-.  In its favor Alan is played by John Dehner, one of my favorite Twilight Zone character actor.  He always contributes an aura of gravitas whether he is rescuing a marooned prisoner from an asteroid or selling resurrection (or insurance against) to the not quite mourning relatives of the dearly departed.  In the minus column is the spectacle of someone managing to be alone in midtown Manhattan.  Ah, let’s take the high road B-.

The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 11 – Still Valley

I guess this would be called historical fantasy.

Sergeant Joseph Paradine is a confederate scout near the front in the Civil War, probably in and around northern Maryland.  While investigating troop movements he discovers that a whole column of Union soldiers is frozen in place on the main street of a small town.  The men are frozen in mid stride and some are even frozen in the act of drinking from a canteen or lifting a heavy weight.  They are as still as statues and nothing happening around them wakes them from this state.

While trying to figure what was going on, Paradine hears a noise coming from a house on the street and discovers a crazy old man named Teague who claims he is responsible for the frozen Yankee soldiers.  Asked how he did it he informs Paradine that he is the seventh son of the seventh son of a seventh son.  His family has been full of warlocks for generations and he has a book of spells that can freeze the whole Union Army.  When asked why he doesn’t he tells Paradine that he is about to die.  So, he tells the sergeant to take the book and do it for him.  But before he dies, he explicitly tells Paradine that when he casts the spells, he is invoking the Devil.

Back at the camp of Paradine’s outfit he returns and tells the tale of what he saw and what can be accomplished with the power of the book.  His commanding officer thinks Paradine is suffering from delusions.  But a company returns from an area where Paradine has tested the power of the book and attests that a frozen column of Yankee soldiers is indeed right over the ridge from their camp for all to see.

Now the soldiers are beginning to become excited by the prospect of snatching a Confederate victory out of the jaws of defeat.  But as Paradine starts to read the spell he realizes that it explicitly renounces God.  Now, even though his CO is urging him to read the spell, Paradine explains that if he reads the spell then instead of Damn Yankees it will be the Confederacy that will be damned.  His comrades beg him to remember that if he doesn’t do it the Confederacy is dead.  Paradine replies that if the Confederacy must die then at least it will be buried in hallowed ground.  And saying this he throws the book into the camp fire.  In the epilogue, Serling says that the troop headed north the next day and ended up in a town called Gettysburg.  The tone at the end is a little too solemn and righteous for a fantasy but it seemed well meaning.

Gary Merrill played Paradine and did an admirable job.  Teague was played by an actor named Vaughn Taylor that I am unfamiliar with but he was very amusingly over the top.

This is a minor tale but it gets the job done.  Tastes will vary on this one but I’ll stake it to a solid B.

The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 10 – The Midnight Sun

When we meet Norma and her neighbor Mrs. Bronson, they are just becoming the last two people living in their Manhattan apartment building.  Their other neighbors, the Shusters are leaving town to head north to the Finger Lakes to escape the deadly heat associated with the death spiral of the Earth into the Sun.  Apparently, the temperature at midnight (when by the way the sun is still high in the sky) is 110F and in only a day or two survival will become impossible.  So, the cause of the change in Earth’s orbit is unexplained but we soldier on.

Norma is an artist and seems to specialize in landscapes featuring gigantic suns with hills and buildings in the foreground.  The women agonize over their fate and cry a lot.  In the next scene Norma has shed her dress and is stylishly sweating in her underwear which is actually a great improvement to the show.  It distracts from the lack of action.  When Norma goes to the store, she gets some fruit juice they open a can and cry some more.  Later on, a man breaks into the building and forces his way into Norma’s apartment and drinks all her water.  Then he tells us his wife and baby have died and he’s at the end of his rope.  He leaves and the women cry some more.  Then Norma paints a picture of a cool blue water fall and Mrs. Bronson goes crazy and wants to swim in the picture but luckily, she dies before she can try and Norma cries some more.

In the next scene it’s a 120◦F and the thermometer explodes and the liquid leaks out and the paint drips down from Norma’s paintings and she screams and falls down.

In the next scene it’s really, really dark and cold and Mrs. Bronson is alive again and we find out that Norma was having a fever dream about the heat and actually the Earth is flying away from the Sun and in a day or two survival will become impossible.  But at least nobody is crying at the moment.

Okay, I’m being a little sarcastic.  It’s not awful but it’s kinda slow.  The actresses are sympathetic and the acting isn’t terrible but let’s say my attention wavered.  The actress playing Norma is quite attractive and I’ll even give a half point for the surprise ending but honestly this is a C+ at best.

The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 9 – Deaths-Head Revisited

A man shows up at a small hotel in a German town and signs in as Mr. Schmidt.  But the hotel clerk recognizes him as an SS officer who used to work at the local concentration camp during World War II (this story is taking place in 1960s Germany).

In the next scene the man is dropped off at the camp (Dachau) and walks around smiling and reminiscing about the death and torture he doled out during his time as Captain Lutze of the SS.  In the middle of his reverie he hears a door open and he sees a man dressed in the garb of one of the concentration camp prisoners of seventeen years ago.  And in fact, he remembers the man’s name was Becker.  Lutze commends Becker on his youthful appearance saying he looks very much as he remembered him seventeen years ago.  He asks Becker if he is a caretaker of the site and Becker evasively says that in a manner of speaking, he is.

Lutze attempts to convince Becker to put aside the past and accept that Lutze was only following orders when he worked at the camp.  Becker refuses this reasoning and instead characterizes Lutze as not a soldier but a sadist who relished his activities.  He lists Lutze’s crimes in the various areas of the camps.  The gallows where men were hanged by the neck or left hanging by their limbs in agony.  The medical building where vivisection of men, women and children was carried out.  The gate where men were machine gunned down in crowds.  Becker names all these things and then he reveals to Lutze that a trial will be conducted and judged by the men whom Lutze mistreated.

And as Lutze looks around one of the barracks, he sees the other prisoners in their uniforms looking at him with expressions that accused him of these high crimes.  As the charges are enumerated, Lutze panics and passes out.

When Lutze awakes Becker informs him that the trial is over and he has been found guilty.  Now Lutze becomes angry and arrogant dismissing Becker’s talk of punishment as foolish but as Lutze begins to act threateningly toward Becker, he stops short and seems shocked.  Becker smiles and tells Lutze that he has remembered correctly that Lutze killed him seventeen years ago just as the Americans were liberating the camp.  And so, it doesn’t seem as if Lutze will be able to murder his way out of this situation.  Now Becker speaks clearly about what is happening.  The ghosts of the men Lutze murdered haunt the camp and now that he has returned, they will pass judgement on him.

Becker pronounces the sentence.  He says Lutze will now experience all the agonies that he doled out against the prisoners of the camp for the rest of his life.  And that this pain would render him insane.  And finally, Becker ends by saying, “This is not hatred. This is retribution. This is not revenge. This is justice. But this is only the beginning, Captain. Only the beginning. Your final judgment will come from God.”

Lutze goes insane and in the last scene a doctor and the police are gathering up Lutze and the doctor says of the camp, “Dachau. Why does it still stand? Why do we keep it standing?”

In his epilogue Serling says all the camps must remain because, “they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers.”

Let me first address the artistic aspect of this episode.  Oscar Beregi plays Captain Lutze and I am not familiar with him.  Becker is played by Joseph Schildkraut who I best remember from a much lighter but memorable part he played in the depression era comedy, “The Shop Around the Corner.”  Both men did an admirable job with their decidedly difficult parts.

With respect to the didactic aspect of the episode I’ll address a couple of points.

This episode is said to be a reaction to the contemporary trial of Adolf Eichmann.  Eichmann had been the architect of the concentration camp system and Serling used this episode to make sure that the world had not forgotten the Nazi genocide of the European Jews.  When he says that keeping the camps around will prevent men from forgetting the lesson they teach, I’m afraid that is an overly optimistic assessment.  Even at the time, the USSR and the USA were poised with tens of thousands of ICBMs with a combined killing power to make the Holocaust look like a slipshod affair.  And as the Rwanda genocide showed us many years later you don’t have to be a Nazi (or even ever have heard of them) to butcher your fellow man on a wholesale basis.

My second comment has to do with Becker’s statement about Lutze’s sentence, “This is not hatred. This is retribution. This is not revenge. This is justice.”  This seems unlikely.  For there not to be hatred and revenge associated with the victims of such atrocities would be non-human.  Even a saint would revolt at foregoing hatred and revenge for such evil.

A

The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 3 Episode 8 – It’s a Good Life

Okay, so this is it, this is the payoff.  This is the quintessential Twilight Zone episode.  Not even I dare to dispute the primacy of this one.  This is the A+ by which all other episodes are measured against and found wanting.

Rod Serling is standing in front of a map of the United States when the whole thing goes dark except for one dot on the map that he tells us is Peaksville, Ohio.  He tells us that the people there don’t know if the rest of the world was destroyed or if they have been removed from the rest of reality but either way, they are cut off from everything else.  And he tells us that this was done by a monster and that the monster rules this little world through fear and intimidation.  He has eliminated electric power, automobiles, radio and television and all other modern conveniences.  Then Mr. Serling shows us the monster.  It’s a cute little six-year-old boy named Anthony Fremont.  He can read thoughts and he can create or destroy anything he wants to just by thinking it.

Next, we see life in Peaksville.  A grocery store bicycle delivery man shows up at the Fremont farm and says some polite things about the three headed gophers that Anthony is playing with just in time for Anthony to get tired of it and kill it with his mind.  And then he sends it into the cornfield which means it disappears.

The deliveryman talks to Mrs. Fremont about the things that have run out in the store and about the tomato soup that he found because he knows Anthony likes it.  And we meet Aunt Amy who has been crack brained since Anthony stopped her from singing a while ago.  Anthony likes music but not singing.  And then we see Mr. Fremont in his room getting ready for a party that night and talking to Anthony about his day.  Anthony says that no children came to play with him and he wanted them to.  His father reminds Anthony that last time children visited him he sent them to the cornfield and if he keeps doing that eventually there won’t be anybody left.  Just then a collie dog starts barking outside and we find out that Anthony doesn’t like dogs, so soon we hear a yelp of pain and the dog joins the three headed gopher in the cornfield.

That night is a dual celebration.  Anthony will present one of his occasional television shows and it is also Dan Hollis’s birthday.  The television show is a vicious battle between two triceratopses jabbing each other with their horns and attempting to throw each other off a cliff.  When one dinosaur is victorious the television goes blank and Anthony declares, “that’s all the television there is.”  Ethel presents her husband Dan with two birthday presents, a bottle of brandy and a Perry Como record album.  Dan speculates that maybe they could listen to the instrumental introduction before the singing.  But Mr Fremont declares that it would be too risky.

While the rest of the party gathers around while Anthony listens to Pat Riley play the piano Dan Hollis starts getting drunk on his brandy.  Initially he just becomes maudlin about the dwindling supply of whiskey but eventually he starts railing against Anthony and blaming his parents for bringing him into the world.  When Anthony becomes angry with him, Dan tells Anthony, “that’s right you think those bad thoughts about me and maybe some man whose had enough of this will take some something hard across your skull and end this.”  For a second it looks like Aunt Amy is reaching for a fireplace poker but then she backs off.  Anthony says to Dan, “You’re a bad man, a very bad man and you keep thinking bad thoughts about me.”  Then he points his finger at Dan and as a shadow on the wall we see Dan turn into a jack in the box.  Then we see Dan’s face bobbing as if on the jack in the box.  Mr. Fremont begs his son, “please son, send it to the cornfield.”  And he does.  Then he warns Ethel Hollis that she better not think bad thoughts or he’ll do the same to her too.

While everyone tries to put a happy face on what has happened, they notice that it’s snowing (in the summer).  Mr. Fremont starts to say that that will destroy half the crop but then he squelches his thought and finishes off by saying it’s a good thing that Anthony made it snow.  And finally, he says with all the sincerity of a man with a gun to his head that tomorrow is gonna be a real good day.

This is the best Twilight Zone episode.  It’s the vision of hell on earth.  It’s a petulant child with the powers of life and death.  The story is original, creepy and fun.  A+