Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #31: "Death Ship"

The Twilight Zone is an amazingly diverse program that offers stories of almost every conceivable theme and setting within the overall structure of intelligent modern fantasy. One area in which The Twilight Zone excelled was in the story of terror, exploring the darkest aspects of human existence in myriad ways. To celebrate the Halloween season, we’re counting down the 31 most frightening and unsettling moments from The Twilight Zone, one for each day of October. We’ll be revisiting some of the episodes we’ve already covered and looking ahead to episodes from the final three seasons of the series. Warning: Posts may contain spoilers.                                                                                                                                    -JP

#31 - A Vicious Cycle, from “Death Ship,” season four, episode 108
Written by Richard Matheson, directed by Don Medford, starring Jack Klugman, Ross Martin, and Frederick Beir

Richard Matheson’s “Death Ship” remains a fascinating study of will over existence and features a truly disturbing performance from Twilight Zone veteran Jack Klugman as Captain Paul Ross, a headstrong commander who is unwilling to accept his own death along with those of his crew. His hard-headed nature plunges the crew into an endless cycle of attempting to leave a planet upon which it becomes increasingly apparent they crash landed, killing everyone on board. Unable to accept this fate, Captain Ross intrudes upon the idyllic afterlives of his crew in some of the most effectively jarring juxtapositions in the entire series. The transitions in which Captain Ross pulls his crew back into his terrible sphere of influence is ably handled by veteran television director Don Medford. Ross Martin provides a heartbreaking performance as Lt. Ted Mason, who is repeatedly denied a reunion with his wife and daughter in the afterlife.


-Despite the effectiveness of his performance, Jack Klugman reportedly felt that this was the weakest of his performances for the series.

-Richard Matheson's original short story initially appeared in the March, 1953 issue of Fantastic Story Magazine. The story was collected in 1961 in the first of Matheson’s popular Shock! story collections from Dell. To fit the hour-long format of the show’s fourth season, Matheson expanded upon the original story, adding shades of characterization which greatly enhanced the story. The teleplay can be found in volume 2 of Richard Matheson’s The Twilight Zone Scripts (Gauntlet Press, 2002, edited by Stanley Wiater). 

1 comment:

  1. Happy October! This looks like it will be a fun series.