Twilight Zone – The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine

★★★1/2  October 23, 1959 Season 1 Episode 4

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

This episode has more than a strong resemblance to the film Sunset Boulevard. Barbara Jean Trenton who is played by the great actress and director Ida Lupino is an aging actress who continually looks back at her old films and forgets the world has gone on. The ending has a good twist but something about the episode just doesn’t live up to some of the great ones. Saying that, it still is a very good episode…an average Twilight Zone is better than many other’s best shows. 

Martin Balsam makes an appearance as her agent Danny Weiss. We will see Martin again in the fourth season in a much scarier role. He was also in the 1985-87 reboot Twilight Zone. I remember him the most in 12 Angry Men and his appearances many 60s and 70s tv shows. 

Ida Lupino, who starred in this episode, would later direct The Twilight Zone: The Masks. She became not just the only woman to direct an episode of the The Twilight Zone, but also the only person to both star in an episode and direct one.

Ida Lupino has 42 credits to her name as a Director. 

This show was written by Rod Serling

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Picture of a woman looking at a picture. Movie great of another time, once-brilliant star in a firmament no longer a part of the sky, eclipsed by the movement of earth and time. Barbara Jean Trenton, whose world is a projection room, whose dreams are made out of celluloid. Barbara Jean Trenton, struck down by hit-and-run years and lying on the unhappy pavement, trying desperately to get the license number of fleeting fame.

Summary

Former queen of the silver screen, Barbara Trenton’s a woman who lives in her past – watching her movies from more than 25 years earlier. Her housemaid, Sally’s worried by her behavior, and tells Barbara’s friend, and agent Danny Weiss. He tries to make Barbara move on, even getting her a role in an upcoming film. But Barbara lives in the past and won’t accept that she’s older now

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

To the wishes that come true, to the strange, mystic strength of the human animal, who can take a wishful dream and give it a dimension of its own. To Barbara Jean Trenton, movie queen of another era, who has changed the blank tomb of an empty projection screen into a private world. It can happen in the Twilight Zone.

CAST

Rod Serling … Narrator (voice)
Ida Lupino … Barbara Jean Trenton
Martin Balsam … Danny Weiss
Jerome Cowan … Jerry Hearndan
Ted de Corsia … Marty Sall
Alice Frost … Sally

Twilight Zone – Mr. Denton on Doomsday

★★★★1/2  October 16, 1959 Season 1 Episode 3

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

I think very highly of this episode. The more I watch it the more I enjoy it. We travel to the old West for this episode. We meet the town drunk Al Denton who was brilliantly played by Dan Duryea. A gunfighter named Dan Hotaling played by a young Martin Landau is making a fool of Denton by making him sing “How Dry I Am” for whiskey. He picks on Denton one too many times.

The show also has a mystical character (but of course…it’s the Twilight Zone) named Henry J. Fate and he tries to help Denton to redeem himself. I can’t say enough about Dan Duryea’s acting in this episode. The transformation of Denton and the nice twist at the end makes this a great episode.

You get to know Al Denton and feel for him as he was an old gunfighter and it drove him to drinking…will he be forced into that line of work again?

This episode was written by Rod Serling

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Portrait of a town drunk named Al Denton. This is a man who’s begun his dying early—a long, agonizing route through a maze of bottles. Al Denton, who would probably give an arm or a leg or a part of his soul to have another chance, to be able to rise up and shake the dirt from his body and the bad dreams that infest his consciousness. In the parlance of the times, this is a peddler, a rather fanciful-looking little man in a black frock coat. [A revolver mysteriously appears on the ground next to Denton] And this is the third principal character of our story. Its function: perhaps to give Mr. Al Denton his second chance.

Summary

In the Old West, the drunkard Al Denton is bullied by the gunman Dan Hotaling to get some booze. The mysterious Henry J. Fate observes the humiliation and Al Denton finds a revolver on the street. When Dan sees Al Denton with a revolver in his hand, he challenges the drunk to a gunfight. Fate observes again and makes a movement with his hand that will change the life of Al Denton.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

Mr. Henry Fate, dealer in utensils and pots and pans, liniments and potions. A fanciful little man in a black frock coat who can help a man climbing out of a pit—or another man from falling into one. Because, you see, fate can work that way, in the Twilight Zone.

CAST

Rod Serling … Narrator (voice)
Dan Duryea … Al Denton
Martin Landau … Dan Hotaling
Jeanne Cooper … Liz
Malcolm Atterbury … Henry J. Fate
Ken Lynch … Charlie
Arthur Batanide … Leader
Bill Erwin … Man
Robert Burton … Doctor
Doug McClure … Pete Grant

Twilight Zone – One for the Angels

★★★½   October 9, 1959 Season 1 Episode 2

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

This is a good episode of The Twilight Zone. It’s the first time we meet Death. He comes in different forms in the Twilight Zone. 73 year old Ed Wynn does a superb job as a salesman and a Santa Claus figure in the neighborhood. He is beloved by people but especially kids.

Murray Hamilton also is great as Mr. Death. He is very business like and he treats the job like any other job with deadlines and commitments. I must wonder what people thought in 1959 watching a show with Death stalking someone so businesslike.

Murray Hamilton is probably better remembered for his role playing Mr. Robinson in the 1967 film The Graduate.

Dana Dillaway who played Maggie: The scene where I was hit by the car was kind of morbid… I remember they kept spritzing the actor who was driving the car with a water spray bottle, who came around to see if I was okay while laying in the street… there is a publicity shot of me laying there and it’s kind of morbid!”

This show was written by Rod Serling

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Street scene: Summer. The present. Man on a sidewalk named Lew Bookman, age sixtyish. Occupation: pitchman. Lew Bookman, a fixture of the summer, a rather minor component to a hot July, a nondescript, commonplace little man whose life is a treadmill built out of sidewalks. And in just a moment, Lew Bookman will have to concern himself with survival – because as of three o’clock this hot July afternoon, he’ll be stalked by Mr. Death.

Lou Bookman is a street vendor; a pitchman, making a living selling what he can from his valise – radios, toys, ties and the like. After a long day, he returns to his shabby apartment to find someone waiting for him, someone he saw near where he had been selling that day. That person turns out to be Mr. Death who is there to tell Lou that his time on Earth has come to an end and that his “departure” will be at midnight. Lou tries to forestall his death by asking for a delay until he’s able to make a big sales pitch. It’s all a ruse however and Mr. Death shows him that his actions have consequences. As a result, Lou makes the pitch of his life.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

Lewis J. Bookman, age sixtyish. Occupation: pitchman. Formerly a fixture of the summer, formerly a rather minor component to a hot July. But, throughout his life, a man beloved by the children, and therefore, a most important man. Couldn’t happen, you say? Probably not in most places – but it did happen in the Twilight Zone.

CAST

Rod Serling … Narrator (voice)
Ed Wynn … Lou Bookman
Murray Hamilton … Mr. Death
Dana Dillaway … Maggie Polanski
Jay Overholts … Doctor
Merritt Bohn … Truck Driver

Twilight Zone – Walking Distance… #1

Before we get to my number 1 episode…This has been so much fun I’m going to start a huge project. I want to review every Twilight Zone…all 156 episodes…so that will be next…my top 10 is not enough. I’ll start with S01E01 and work myself through and skip the 10 I’ve covered in this section. I’ve never rated shows or movies before but I will try that as well. 

This one gets a 5 out of 5 ★★★★★

Since ratings are subjective to who ever is going it…this is my system

★★★★★ This would be an exceptional episode…to me anyway
★★★★☆ This would be above the already high standards of the show
★★★☆☆ This would be a good to very good episode
★★☆☆☆ This would be just a little below average, the 4th season might see this
★☆☆☆☆ This would be a don’t watch…I don’t think this will ever be seen but I’m watching them all over to be sure

Now for my number 1 Twilight Zone episode! This one has my favorite element…Time Travel. How cool would it be to go back and meet your 11 year old self? Episodes 2-156 could change in my rankings but this one remains my favorite.

They really did this episode right. They followed through with everything. You were not wanting for answers at the end. It wasn’t just Martin who figured out he was back in time. It resolves it self nicely…with a valuable lesson. There are spoilers past this.

If you are new to the Twilight Zone this is a great one to start with…

Rod Serling’s opening narration: 

Martin Sloan, age thirty-six. Occupation: vice-president, ad agency, in charge of media. This is not just a Sunday drive for Martin Sloan. He perhaps doesn’t know it at the time, but it’s an exodus. Somewhere up the road he’s looking for sanity. And somewhere up the road, he’ll find something else.

Gig Young plays Martin Sloan who does a great job in this episode. Many people try to go back home but it’s never the same because of progress and change…Martin Sloan DOES go home and everything is the same…he even sees himself as a boy…and meets his parents…again. Also…watch out for a 4 year old Ron Howard…soon to be forever known as Opie on the Andy Griffith Show.

13 TV shows Ron Howard was on besides Happy Days and Andy Griffith

Rod Serling wrote this episode.

Martin Sloan (Gig Young), a 36-year-old executive, stops in a fuel station off an isolated country road. Not far away, 1.5 miles, is the sight of his hometown, Homewood, he’s very curious about all the kinds of things that shaped his childhood. Martin ventures to take a closer look, first he goes to an old shop where he used to get ice cream sodas. Martin is surprised to see the prices haven’t changed still a dime for a three scoop ice cream soda. Walking around Martin meets a kid, who is his old neighbor. It is then that he realizes he’s in 1934, when he was only 11-years-old. Things get complicated when he bumps into the young Martin, follows him to his house and meets with his parents. They won’t believe him when Martin says he’s in fact their grown up son. Later, Martin insists in talking with young Martin. He finds him on a carousel, where the child gets hurt falling. Martin will learn, after talking to his father, that every man has his own time and is perhaps better off not looking to the past.

Enough of my favorite episode…what is your favorite?

Rod Serling’s closing narration:

Martin Sloan, age thirty-six, vice-president in charge of media. Successful in most things but not in the one effort that all men try at some time in their lives—trying to go home again. And also like all men, perhaps there’ll be an occasion, maybe a summer night sometime, when he’ll look up from what he’s doing and listen to the distant music of a calliope, and hear the voices and the laughter of the people and the places of his past. And perhaps across his mind there’ll flit a little errant wish, that a man might not have to become old, never outgrow the parks and the merry-go-rounds of his youth. And he’ll smile then too, because he’ll know it is just an errant wish, some wisp of memory not too important really, some laughing ghosts that cross a man’s mind, that are a part of the Twilight Zone.

  • Gig Young as Martin Sloan
  • Frank Overton as Robert Sloan
  • Irene Tedrow as Mrs. Sloan
  • Michael Montgomery as Tweenage Martin
  • Ron Howard as Wilcox Boy
  • Byron Foulger as Charlie
  • Sheridan Comerate as Gas Station Attendant
  • Joseph Corey as Soda Jerk
  • Buzz Martin as Boy with Car
  • Nan Peterson as Woman in Park
  • Pat O’Malley as Mr. Wilson

Twilight Zone (Bonus) 1985 – Dealers Choice

I’m not counting the Twilight Zone reboots in my top 10 but this is a fun 1985 Twilight Zone. It has a younger Morgan Freeman along  with original SNL alumni Garret Morris…along with Dan Hedaya, Barney Martin,  and M. Emmet Walsh.  This version of the Twilight Zone is hit and miss. There are a few that are really good. I would not compare anything to the original though.

Some very good character actors and the episode is a fun one. I found the complete episode online…if you have 20 or so minutes give it a try.

Five men playing poker…not unusual right?  However, one of the men is the devil himself, masquerading as an acquaintance of one of them.  He’s there to collect the soul of one of the men, but which one?  As the personalities of the men gradually come out, it’s clear that Pete is the one the Devil is there to collect. Pete tries to bet his way out of going with Nick, hoping to beat the Devil at his own game.

CAST

Morgan Freeman – Tony
Dan Hedaya – Nick
M. Emmet Walsh – Pete
Garret Morris – Jake
Barney Martin – Marty

Twilight Zone – The Masks… #3

I’m going to write about my top 10 favorite TZ episodes in the next few weeks…Most of the Twilight Zones are like songs to me…to be enjoyed over and over. The Twilight Zone is not really an ordinary TV show. It’s THE TWILIGHT ZONE. This is my personal choice for #3 on my list.

Jason Foster is a wealthy person that is going to die…his daughter and her family are there to “visit” and they are truly awful people. This is one where justice gets served. Robert Keith is wonderful as Jason Foster and he has a surprise for his money hungry family waiting for him to die.

Rod Serling’s opening narration: Mr. Jason Foster, a tired ancient who on this particular Mardi Gras evening will leave the Earth. But before departing, he has some things to do, some services to perform, some debts to pay—and some justice to mete out. This is New Orleans, Mardi Gras time. It is also the Twilight Zone.

When Jason Foster’s doctor tells him that he could die at any moment, the wealthy Jason Foster gathers his heirs including his daughter Emily Harper, her husband Wilfred and their children Paula and Wilfred Jr. Jason doesn’t think much of any of them and it’s clear they can’t wait to get their hands on his fortune. It’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans and he has one last request – for each of them to wear a carnival mask. Each of the masks is meant to reflect some aspect of their personality – and leave a lasting impression on them.

“The Masks” was the first and only episode of The Twilight Zone that was directed by a woman. Ida Lupino was known for making movies that commentated on the state of society and those who live under a specific social status.

Rod Serling wrote this great episode.

Jason Foster:  You’re cruel and miserable people! Because none of you respond to love! Emily responds only to what her petty hungers dictate! Wilfred responds only to things that have weight and bulk and value! He feels books, he doesn’t read them! He appraises paintings, he doesn’t seek out their truth or their beauty! And Paula there lives in a mirror. The world is nothing more to her than a reflection of herself. And her brother… Humanity, to him, is a small animal, caught in a trap, to be tormented! His pleasure is the giving of pain. And from this, he receives the same sense of fulfillment most human beings get from a kiss or an embrace! You’re caricatures! All of you! Without your masks, you’re caricatures!

Rod Serling Closing Narration: Mardi Gras incident, the dramatis personae being four people who came to celebrate and in a sense let themselves go. This they did with a vengeance. They now wear the faces of all that was inside them—and they’ll wear them for the rest of their lives, said lives now to be spent in the shadow. Tonight’s tale of men, the macabre and masks, on the Twilight Zone.

CAST

  • Robert Keith as Jason Foster
  • Milton Selzer as Wilfred Harper
  • Virginia Gregg as Emily Harper
  • Brooke Hayward as Paula Harper
  • Alan Sues as Wilfred Harper Jr.
  • Willis Bouchey as Dr. Samuel Thorne
  • Bill Walker as Jeffrey The Butler
  • Maidie Norman as Maid
  • Rod Serling as Host / Narrator – Himself

Dr Seuss – The Sneetches

It only lasts around 12 minutes and it was squeezed in between Green Eggs and Ham and The Zax. They were packaged in a program called Doctor Suess On The Loose.

The Sneetches teaches us all that we are all the same no matter who we are or what we look like… and the stupidity of discrimination. I would wait all year for these 3 great segments…

There were two different types of Sneetches that live near the beach. The Star-Belly Sneetches have stars on their bellies. They believe that the star makes them more important than the Plain-Belly Sneetches who do not have stars. The Star-Belly Sneetches brag that they are the best on the beach and will not play games or socialize with those without the star.

sneetches.jpg

One day Sylvester McMonkey McBean arrives and announces that he can solve the problem for the Plain-Belly Sneetches for a small price. They agree to his offer. The Plain-Belly Sneetches enter a large machine and pop out with a star on the bellies. The Star-Belly Sneetches are angry because they no longer feel superior. They decide to pay Sylvester McMonkey McBean to take off their stars. The Sneetches pay to put on, take off, and put on the stars for the rest of the day.

Eventually, the Sneetches run out of money and Sylvester McMonkey McBean leaves with all their money. He leaves saying that a Sneetch never learns. However, the Sneetches did learn a lesson that day. They decide that no kind of Sneetch is better than another. They forgot about the stars and became friends.

A toast! Raise your marshmallow stick!

A toast! Raise your good fellow stick!

A toast to the silly gimmick-ick

That we have here and thar

Sound off and let the welcome ring

So what to your star-spangled thing?

A toast! Raise your marshmallow stick!

A toast! Raise your good fellow stick!

And pooh pooh pooh to your bellied star!

https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Selected-Works-of-Dr-Seuss/the-sneetches-summary/

Twilight Zone – Time Enough At Last… #4

I’m going to write about my top 10 favorite TZ episodes in the next few weeks…Most of the Twilight Zones are like songs to me…to be enjoyed over and over. The Twilight Zone is not really an ordinary TV show. It’s THE TWILIGHT ZONE. This is my personal choice for #4 on my list.

This one I will be giving it all away…more than I usually do…so just a warning.

This one I love and it’s one of the most memorable episodes. If you have never seen it…stop reading now. It’s one of my favorites (and supposedly Rod Serling’s favorite of all that he wrote).

It’s so heartbreaking at the end and I feel so much for Mr. Bemis. This one more than any other Twilight Zone surprised me a bit. It is one of the best twists of any Twilight Zone.

Rod Serling Opening Narration: Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the printed page, but who is conspired against by a bank president and a wife and a world full of tongue-cluckers and the unrelenting hands of a clock. But in just a moment, Mr. Bemis will enter a world without bank presidents or wives or clocks or anything else. He’ll have a world all to himself… without anyone.

The show was written by Rod Serling and Lynn Venable.

Henry Bemis (Burgess Meredith) is a bookish bank teller who has a childlike fascination for the written word…any written word be it books, periodicals, newspapers. He delights in taking any moment to read, through his incredibly thick “coke-bottle” glasses, even on his salaried time. He is consistently harassed by his wife, customers, and boss for his love of print to the point that he must sneak into the bank’s vault where he works to read on his lunch hour.

During one such visit, a nuclear bomb blast levels his city, leaving him unscathed, whereupon he exits to find that he has “time enough at last” to read all he wants when he finds the local library’s contents scattered about. At this point, (warning: spoiler!) he stacks the books into towers and rejoices in the solitude that will allow him to read everything he can…but in reaching for a particular book, his glasses slip off his face and smash….leaving him to mutter: “That’s not fair… that’s not fair at all… There was time now…. There was…all the time I needed!.. It’s not fair”. The scene then closes with the image panning away from a crying Bemis.

The Twilight Zones are mostly moral plays and justice usually is delivered to a guilty party. On this one, Mr. Bemis isn’t a bad guy. I can’t help but feel pity for Mr. Bemis. It’s not like he was anti-social. He tried to bond with people, although awkwardly, he did try.

He wasn’t the best worker but not terrible and he did read on his lunch breaks. If this episode has a bad “guy” it would be his boss and wife who took away the thing he loved the most. Maybe he was a little selfish and single-minded…but he paid an awfully big price…but the positive…he did survive!

Rod Serling Closing Narration: The best-laid plans of mice and men…and Henry Bemis, the small man in the glasses who wanted nothing but time. Henry Bemis, now just a part of a smashed landscape, just a piece of the rubble, just a fragment of what man has deeded to himself. Mr. Henry Bemis, in the Twilight Zone.

CAST

Burgess Meredith – Henry Bemis
Vaughn Taylor – Mr. Carsville
Jacqueline deWit – Helen Bemis (as Jaqueline deWit)
Lela Bliss – Mrs. Chester

Twilight Zone – Little Girl Lost… #6

I’m going to write about my top 10 favorite TZ episodes in the next few weeks…Most of the Twilight Zones are like songs to me…to be enjoyed over and over. The Twilight Zone is not really an ordinary TV show. It’s THE TWILIGHT ZONE. This is my personal choice for #6 on my list.

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: Missing: one frightened little girl. Name: Bettina Miller. Description: six years of age, average height and build, light brown hair, quite pretty. Last seen being tucked in bed by her mother a few hours ago. Last heard: ‘ay, there’s the rub,’ as Hamlet put it. For Bettina Miller can be heard quite clearly, despite the rather curious fact that she can’t be seen at all. Present location? Let’s say for the moment… in the Twilight Zone.

I always thought Poltergeist borrowed heavily from this Twilight Zone episode. Both girls were lost in another dimension and it Poltergeist plays out much like this episode. The inside of the dimension in this episode is done really well.

A couple awakens in the night to hear their daughter Tina crying. When the father, Chris, enters her bedroom, however, she is nowhere to be found. She can be heard as if she is still in the room, but not seen. Moments later, the family dog, Mac, runs into the room in a state of agitation, goes under the bed and vanishes just like Tina. Panicking, Chris and his wife Ruth call their physicist friend Bill, who comes over immediately and begins to investigate, moving the girl’s bed and looking for the “opening.”

Chris and Ruth are nonplussed, but suddenly Bills hand seems to disappear through the bedroom wall, and he explains that he thinks Tina and Mac are trapped in another dimension. He draws on the wall with chalk and outlines the opening, explaining the theories about alternate dimensions. Suddenly, Ruth realizes that she can no longer hear Tina. The adults move around the house in a frenzy and finally hear her voice again, seemingly coming from another place, as well as the dog’s barks. Bill says to let the dog lead her back out, and Chris repeatedly calls Mac… Will they get her out safely?

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration: The other half where? The fourth dimension? The fifth? Perhaps. They never found the answer. Despite a battery of research physicists equipped with every device known to man, electronic and otherwise, no result was ever achieved, except perhaps a little more respect for and uncertainty about the mechanisms of the Twilight Zone.

Cast

  • Rod Serling (Narrator)
  • Robert Sampson (Chris Miller)
  • Sarah Marshall (Ruth Miller)
  • Tracy Stratford (Tina Miller)
  • Rhoda Williams (Tina’s voice)
  • Charles Aidman (Bill)

Twilight Zone – Nightmare at 20,000 Feet… #7

I’m going to write about my top 10 favorite TZ episodes in the next few weeks…Most of the Twilight Zones are like songs to me…to be enjoyed over and over. The Twilight Zone is not really an ordinary TV show. It’s THE TWILIGHT ZONE. This is my personal choice for #7 on my list.

I have to watch these again before I write about them…Now I wish I would have made this my top 50.

Rod Serling Opening Narration: Portrait of a frightened man: Mr. Robert Wilson, thirty-seven, husband, father, and salesman on sick leave. Mr. Wilson has just been discharged from a sanitarium where he spent the last six months recovering from a nervous breakdown, the onset of which took place on an evening not dissimilar to this one, on an airliner very much like the one in which Mr. Wilson is about to be flown home—the difference being that, on that evening half a year ago, Mr. Wilson’s flight was terminated by the onslaught of his mental breakdown. Tonight, he’s traveling all the way to his appointed destination, which, contrary to Mr. Wilson’s plan, happens to be in the darkest corner of the Twilight Zone.

In this episode he plays a husband (Bob Wilson) who just suffered a nervous breakdown on a plane 6 months before. Him and his wife Julia were taking a flight and you could tell Bob was a nervous as soon as he boarded the plane. He had just spent 6 months in an institution getting over his breakdown and now his Doctor said he was ready to fly again. He sits by the window and the fun begins… after take off he thinks sees a creature of some sort out on the wing of the aircraft.

Because of the breakdown he is not sure he saw the creature or not. Bob starts freaking out and eventually gets a gun from an officer on the plane. Hmmm gun, nervous man, and a plane. Nothing good will come from that. Everyone thinks he is crazy…is he? This one is a thriller with a creepy creature.

Richard Matheson wrote this episode. He wrote 16 Twilight Zones in all.

This is an iconic episode of the Twilight Zone. It was redone in the 1983 movie Twilight Zone with John Lithgow in the title role. I’ll take the classic version though.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration: The flight of Mr. Robert Wilson has ended now, a flight not only from point A to point B, but also from the fear of recurring mental breakdown. Mr. Wilson has that fear no longer… though, for the moment, he is, as he has said, alone in this assurance. Happily, his conviction will not remain isolated too much longer, for happily, tangible manifestation is very often left as evidence of trespass, even from so intangible a quarter as the Twilight Zone.

Cast

  • William Shatner as Robert “Bob” Wilson
  • Christine White as Julia Wilson
  • Ed Kemmer as Flight Engineer
  • Asa Maynor as Stewardess
  • Nick Cravat as Gremlin

The Sweeney

It’s funny how we find music, movies, and TV Shows. As I’ve said before I first watched a TV show in 2007-2008 called Life On Mars and not only was the show great but I also found some music I never heard before. The show was about Sam Tyler…a 2006 cop that got hit by a car and woke up in 1973. It remains one of my favorite shows of all time.

Life On Mars was based on a UK seventies cop show… this show… called The Sweeney. It took me a few years but I decided to check The Sweeney out. I love it. It’s gritty, dirty, and realistic. No cop shows at the time in America could be compared to this one. Shows like Kojak were more sanitized than The Sweeney. Filmed right on the streets of London, with plenty of graphic violence, the series nearly defines the expression “gritty drama.”

Many episodes had a bittersweet ending, with perhaps one villain caught, but justice rarely served for everyone, and plenty of loose ends as the credits rolled. And you could count on the heroes getting a pretty good thrashing in most episodes, though they gave as good as they got in fights.

The two main characters were Jack Regan (John Thaw) and George Carter (Dennis Waterman). Jack was Detective Inspector Regan who had little regard for protocol and would not think twice about getting criminals legally or otherwise. Detective Sargant George  Carter worked under Regan and tended to go more by the rules and was sometimes Regan’s conscious…when he listened.

As the series went along you could see the characters grow and even Regan started to go more with the guidelines. It’s a great show and the writing from episode to episode is consistent.

The show ran from 1974 through 1978 with 54 episodes plus two full length movies released in 1977 and 1978.  Although it was extremely popular, a combination of high production costs and creator burnout meant that it only lasted for four years.

For those of you who have seen Life On Mars…Gene Hunt was Regan…Hunt was more bombastic but the thread is there between the two. I could even draw comparisons to Sam Tyler and Carter trying to convince their boss to do the right thing. Life On Mars even used a Ford Capri as The Sweeney did.

This show would probably be an HBO series now if it were produced today…give it a try.

Twilight Zone – Come Wander with Me…#8

 I’m going to write about my top 10 favorite TZ episodes in the next few weeks…Most of the Twilight Zones are like songs to me…to be enjoyed over and over. The Twilight Zone is not really an ordinary TV show. It’s THE TWILIGHT ZONE. This is my personal choice for #8 on my list.

Probably one of the creepiest Twilight Zones. The way it ends keeps you thinking after the show is done. This was the final episode of The Twilight Zone to be filmed, although two episodes filmed earlier were aired afterwards.

Rod Serling Intro: Mr. Floyd Burney, a gentleman songster in search of song, is about to answer the age-old question of whether a man can be in two places at the same time. As far as his folk song is concerned, we can assure Mr. Burney he’ll find everything he’s looking for, although the lyrics may not be all to his liking. But that’s sometimes the case – when the words and music are recorded in the Twilight Zone.

Richard Donner wrote this episode. This one wasn’t rated as high as some of the others but it stuck with me for a long time. The desperation in Mr. Floyd Burney is something to remember. 

Come Wander With Me:  Singer Floyd Burney, a rockabilly singer, goes deep into the back woods hoping to find a folk song to buy and release. As soon as he arrives he hears a beautiful singing voice which draws him deeper into the woods. He eventually meets Mary Rachel who tells him the song he heard belonged to someone and that she’s forbidden to tell anyone about it. When she finally reveals it to him, Floyd learns that his future might be preordained. And the outcome might make him wish he never roamed into this strange place. 

Bonnie Beecher : Come Wander With Me (The Twilight Zone) : Aquarium Drunkard

Gary Crosby (Bing Crosby’s son) plays Floyd Burney and is very realistic as a fast talking rockabilly singer. Bonnie Beecher is the mystery of this show. She didn’t do much acting after this…her voice was used for the main song and it was beautiful. She ended up marrying Hugh Nanton Romney Jr. (Wavy Gravy) who was an entertainer and peace activist and was seen on the film Woodstock. 

Cast

  • Bonnie Beecher – Mary Rachel
  • John Bolt – Billy Rayford
  • Hank Patterson – Storekeeper
  • Gary Crosby – Floyd Burney

Twilight Zone – Ring-A-Ding Girl… #10

I’m going to write about my top 10 favorite TZ episodes in the next few weeks…Most of the Twilight Zones are like songs to me…to be enjoyed over and over. The Twilight Zone is not really an ordinary TV show. It’s THE TWILIGHT ZONE. This is my personal choice for #10 on my list.

If I had to name a favorite show of all time…this would be it. I have all of them and I’ve watched them all at least 5 or more times. Each are like a work of art on their own. I like shows that are “Twilight Zone like” but none measure up to the original. Even the reboots in the 80’s, 2000’s, and now doesn’t live up to the original.

Ring-A-Ding Girl was written by Earl Hamner Jr….the Waltons creator. He went on to write eight Twilight Zones and one more by him will be coming up in my top ten.

The way Rod Serling handled social problems with a science fiction twist was compelling. TV has a reputation of being dumb…and it earned that reputation fair and square… Serling cannot be blamed for that…he was all about quality.

Rod Serling Intro: Introduction to Bunny Blake. Occupation: film actress. Residence: Hollywood, California, or anywhere in the world that cameras happen to be grinding. Bunny Blake is a public figure; what she wears, eats, thinks, says is news. But underneath the glamour, the makeup, the publicity, the buildup, the costuming, is a flesh-and-blood person, a beautiful girl about to take a long and bizarre journey into The Twilight Zone.

Image result for rod serling

Unfortunately he died in 1975 at a young 50 years old. Now lets get to the episode…I don’t do spoilers and if I ever did I would mark it before you read it…so here it goes. Just a very short look at it.

The Ring-A-Ding Girl: This one is in my top ten of Twilight Zone episodes. An actress Barbara “Bunny” Blake is in Hollywood is about to take off to Rome to make a movie. She tells her PA that they will be flying over her old hometown of Howardville. She receives a ring from her sister which is giving her warnings to come home while she flies cross country.

Image result for ring a ding girl ring

She then visits her sister in Howardville. The Founders Day picnic is the same day but Bunny has other ideas. You can see something is bothering her so she goes down to the TV station. She announces that she wants to do a one woman play at the High School Gym. Everyone is upset because they think she is so full of herself that she is wanting people to come see her and not to the Founders Day picnic. She has her reasons and we find out at the end.

She knows something that everyone else doesn’t know…I won’t give away the ending.

Bunny Blake is a little self centered but likable. She is what you would think some stars of the 50s and 60s would be like. Maggie McNamara does a wonderful job playing her.

Cast

  • Maggie McNamara as Barbara “Bunny” Blake
  • Mary Munday as Hildy Powell
  • David Macklin as Bud Powell
  • Betty Lou Gerson as Cici
  • Vic Perrin as State Trooper (Jim)
  • George Mitchell as Dr. Floyd
  • Bing Russell as Ben Braden
  • Hank Patterson as Mr. Gentry
  • Bill Hickman as Pilot

Thank you for reading!

The Loner

What made me want to watch a western television show that only aired one season from 1965-1966? Rod Serling…that is the reason and a good enough reason for me.

Do You Remember... "The Loner"

This is the show that he started a year after the Twilight Zone. The show didn’t make it past one season. That is not because of the content. It was an adult western…Serling hated some of the westerns at the time and wanted to make this one more realistic. While he didn’t bring in the Twilight Zone scifi take he did bring his own way of conveying mortality tales.

That didn’t fly with some viewers who only wanted the shoot’em up cowboy tales.

Lloyd Bridges starred in this show about a man named Bill Colton who roamed the west a month after the Civil War ended. Along the way we would meet new characters every week. I watch this show and think…why didn’t it catch on? Was it too smart for some viewers? You did have action but the shows were character and story based.  Another reason it didn’t last is the Western theme at that time had been mined  and mined bare but Serling’s western wasn’t like many of the others.

This series I have to recommend to anyone. There are only 26 episodes all 25  minute each so it’s not a huge investment of time. Serling wrote 75 percent of the scripts so you know the dialog and stories are good. Lloyd Bridges is excellent in the staring role.

If you are looking for an intelligent western with good stories, dialog, and action when needed…get The Loner.

You can watch many if not all on youtube. They were released in 2016 on DVD.

Frosty The Snowman

“Frosty the Snowman,” debuted in 1969. It was by Rankin/Bass Productions, the same company that produced many holiday specials. Most of us had favorite Christmas specials we would watch. Mine was Rudolph, A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch, and this one…Frosty The Snowman.

Narrated by the legend Jimmy Durante, the special involves a magic hat that transforms a snowman, Frosty, into a living being. The magician who owned the hat wants it back now that he knows it contained actual magic, so the kids had to get together and find a way to bring Frosty to the North Pole to keep him from melting. However, once there, Frosty sacrifices himself to warm up the little girl, Karen, who took him to the North Pole. He melts, but Santa Claus explains that Frosty is made out of special Christmas snow and thus can never truly melt. Frosty then comes back to life and everyone has a Merry Christmas.

The song was written in 1950 by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson. They wrote it for Gene Autry, especially, after Autry had such a huge hit with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” the previous year. It was later recorded by Jimmy Durante as we hear in this wonderful cartoon.

This wasn’t the only animation of Frosty…

In 1954, United Productions of America (UPA) brought Frosty to life in a short cartoon that is little more than an animated music video for a jazzy version of the song. It introduced the characters mentioned in the lyrics visually, from Frosty himself to the traffic cop. The three-minute, black-and-white piece quickly became a holiday tradition in various markets, particularly in Chicago, where it’s been broadcast annually on WGN since 1955.