Television Report: The Twilight Zone Volume 21

Book coverWell, the joke is indeed on me, as I said when I reviewed Volume 19:

I’m clearly not watching them in order–well, it will become obvious when I finish the next volume and its number is not higher than 19….

Even though I shuffled them into the cabinet instead of keeping them together, I somehow ended up pulling them out in order. Well, unless there’s another one that I haven’t spotted which is somewhere in the middle of the volume numbers. Which is, again, not akin to order in the actual television series as each volume includes episodes from different seasons of the original series.

The wingspan of this volume is wider than the others; it includes an episode from the first season as well as from the fifth season whose opening was the one used on the syndicated program when I was growing up, so the one I associate most with the series.

At any rate, this volume includes:

  • “Mirror Image” from the first season where a woman at a bus station finds that the man at the counter and a woman in the restroom mention encounters and conversations with her that she does not recall, and she has checked her suitcase–or has she not? When looking in the restroom mirror, she sees through the open restroom door herself sitting on the bench outside. A friendly man, played by Martin Milner (who played Tod on Route 66, some episodes of which I watched in 2021 and I mentioned here and here), listens to her story but agrees with the station manager that she must be crazy. After the nice policemen take her away, Milner’s character sees himself run out of the bus station door. And he pursues his mirror image but loses him outside. And the episode ends, not with a DUN DUN DUH! but without a resolution. More speculative.
  • “Dust”, a message-based episode. The son of an immigrant family accidentally runs down a girl in an old west town and is sentenced to be hanged. The grasping peddlar who sold the rope to hang the young man also sells the superstitious father a bag of magic dust–a fake–to save his son. At the actual hanging, the father throws the magic dust at the townspeople, and his actions and words cause them to rethink the hanging. A message program again with no DUN DUN DUH!
  • “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” finds several different people in a featureless cell from which they seemingly cannot escape until a new resident convinces them to make a human pyramid to reach the edge where they discover they are toys in a toy collection bin in Victorian England. A nice bit of speculative work here even with its DUN DUN DUH!
  • “Ninety Years Without Slumbering” features an elderly man who believe he will die if his grandfather clock stops, so he tinkers with it constantly. His family, with whom he lives, makes plans to get rid of the clock to prove to him that it is not the case. AND IT IS NOT THE CASE! A reverse DUN DUN DUH?

An interesting collection, especially with the inclusion of something from the first season which might have been the strongest, before Serling and crew were driven by necessity to churn out more boilerplate and genre-adhering shows.

Still, my television watching these days has pretty much been confined to black and white, and it’s probably not at a personal loss.

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