Monday, October 31, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #1: "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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.                                                                                                                                    -JP

Happy Halloween! Here's our top moment of terror from the series!


#1 - There’s Something on the Wing, from “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” season five, episode 123
Written by Richard Matheson, directed by Richard Donner, starring William Shatner, Christine White, Nick Cravat

The most frightening and unsettling moment of The Twilight Zone occurs in Richard Matheson’s fifth season masterpiece, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” which finds William Shatner playing Bob Wilson, an air passenger recovering from a mental breakdown who has the misfortune of witnessing a gremlin tampering with an engine on the airplane. Of course, no one believes there really is a gremlin on the wing of the airplane and Wilson is forced to take desperate measures to ensure the safety of the passengers. Over and again, the series presented stories in which individuals are isolated due to their experience of a preternatural event and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is perhaps the finest example of this type of episode. The dynamic which propels the story forward is similar that found in “Living Doll.” It is the psychological element which contrasts the manner in which other characters perceive Wilson’s mental state against what is actually happening. Also like “Living Doll,” Matheson includes the character of a wife (missing from Matheson’s original short story) who seems to exist in the story only to look incredulous at each progressing moment. To the credit of actress Christine White, she uses very expressive body language to convey the dilemma in which she finds herself. William Shatner’s performance may well be the finest ever showcased on the series. Because of the extreme nature of the character, it is a performance easily parodied, and the episode itself has served as comedic fodder for countless films and television series. William Tuttle’s makeup design was a rush job and has greatly lost its effectiveness yet remains an iconic image from the series. Though the episode shows some frayed edges Richard Donner’s camera work is exceptional here, especially the framing shot capturing the horrified expressions on the faces of Wilson’s wife and others crowded in the aisle after Wilson shoots out his window. The episode is crowned with a clever ending that finds Wilson, in a rare moment for the series, breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience. When this episode was reimagined for the 1983 film Twilight Zone: The Movie, so much of the subtlety of character and story was lost as to make it nearly a parody of the original story itself. The original series episode remains the definitive treatment of Matheson’s tale.

Trivia:
           
-Matheson’s original story appeared in the paperback anthology Alone by Night: Tales of Unlimited Horror (Ballantine, Jan, 1962). Matheson placed a second story in the anthology, “The Likeness of Julie,” under the pseudonym Logan Swanson. “The Likeness of Julie” was later adapted by Matheson’s friend William F. Nolan as the first of three segments in Dan Curtis’s 1975 horror anthology television film Trilogy of Terror. Alone by Night was edited by Michael and Don Congdon, the latter of whom was Matheson’s literary agent at the time.
           
-“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” was reimagined for the 1983 feature film Twilight Zone: The Movie, written by Richard Matheson (with additional material by George Miller), directed by George Miller, starring John Lithgow.
           
-“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is perhaps the most parodied of any episode of the series. A long list of instances of parody can be found on the episode’s Wikipedia page.

-If that’s not enough spooky Twilight Zone for you, here are a few more unsettling episodes we really enjoy which just missed out on the countdown. 

“Where is Everybody?”
“The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine”
“The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”
“A World of Difference”
“Shadow Play”
“Deaths-head Revisited”
“Spur of the Moment”

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #2: "Living Doll"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


#2 - Talky Tina Kills, from “Living Doll,” season five, episode 126
Written by Jerry Sohl (credited to Charles Beaumont), directed by Richard C. Sarafian, starring Telly Savalas, Mary LaRoche, Tracy Stratford, June Foray (voice of Talky Tina)

“Living Doll” is the pinnacle of the type of grim fantasy story the series frequently turned to during its final season. Though tales of terrible dolls were prominent by the time “Living Doll” was broadcast, Jerry Sohl’s story of an abusive, insecure man’s feelings of inferiority mirrored by a malevolent doll set the standard for many subsequent efforts. The devastating and effective measure used by Sohl is that each seemingly rational action taken by Erich Streator (Telly Savalas) to rid himself of the terrible toy appears to his wife as an irrational act of deliberate hate toward his stepdaughter. The series was always interested in using fantasy to examine marriage ("Nick of Time," “A Piano in the House," “Young Man’s Fancy,” etc.) but here Sohl takes it a step further by placing a child at the center of the conflict. The child seems not malicious in the least, leading the viewer to assume that the malevolent doll responds from some unconscious element of the child’s will or psyche. Even though the toy masquerades as a protector, it is clear that it is either a purely malign influence which happens by chance to have landed in the lives of this divided family or it is a supernatural reflection of the marital and familial strife within the household. 

Such conjecture is largely left unexplored in the twenty-six minute play, which only succeeds in making the episode stronger. It presents itself as a simple story and yet can be interpreted and explored in many ways. Perhaps the episode functions best as the simple story of supernatural persecution it presents itself to be, although many elements of the episode remain disturbingly ambiguous, such as the fact that Erich Streator, though certainly an awful husband and stepfather, is surely undeserving of such a horrible fate. Streator's most appalling actions all center around the doll, leading to a bit of a paradox in that Streator is punished by the doll for the escalating behavior caused by the doll. Sohl seems to hint that it was never simply about punishing Streator when the doll threatens the mother at the close of the episode. The addition of Bernard Herrmann’s exceptional score ensures “Living Doll” a very high place among the most memorable episodes of the series.  

Trivia:
           
-This is one of three episodes ghost-written by Jerry Sohl and credited to Charles Beaumont. Sohl wrote the scripts to help Beaumont honor his writing commitments to the series while Beaumont was suffering debilitating health problems.
           
-Talky Tina was a modified version of the Vogue Doll Company’s Brikette line of dolls. It was modeled on Mattel’s Chatty Cathy line of dolls which could speak a set of phrases when a string on the doll’s back was pulled. June Foray, who voiced Talky Tina, was also the original voice of the Chatty Cathy dolls. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #3: "The Howling Man"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP                                                                                                                               

#3 - The Devil is Released, from “The Howling Man,” season two, episode 41
Written by Charles Beaumont, directed by Douglas Heyes, starring H.M. Wynant, John Carradine, Robin Hughes

“The Howling Man” is writer Charles Beaumont’s masterpiece, a well-designed, expertly directed, character driven tale that manages to encompass themes characteristic of the series while feeling entirely different from any other episode. Beaumont’s story of a lost traveler who unwittingly unleashes the Devil from a remote monastery and ushers in the horrors of the Second World War is as close to a traditional tale of Gothic horror as the series ever came. Everything about the episode is unusual and compelling. Its unique narrative structure sees H.M. Wynant, in convincing aging makeup, tell the story in flashback, cleverly placing it within the oral folk tradition to which it is an homage. The episode is drenched in a Gothic atmosphere typical of 19th century supernatural literature, complete with a raging thunderstorm in a remote quarter of Eastern Europe. The episode also features three compelling performances from H.M. Wynant as the doubting traveler, John Carradine in a wonderfully over-the-top performance as the elderly leader of the monastic order, and Robin Hughes, whose devilish features are expertly used to create ambiguity as to the true nature of the imprisoned man. Of course, the episode also features a fantastic monster, revealed in a flourish of special effects shots, and a unique circular narrative structure which sees the monster released yet again at the close of the episode. Director Douglas Heyes’s camera seems never to sit still and the viewer is subjected to a number of tilting, turning, off-center camera shots which effectively mirror not only the mindset of the confused, disoriented protagonist but also the dreamlike nature of the narrative itself. In all, “The Howling Man" is a suspenseful, technically challenging episode that remains a high mark of the entire series.

Trivia:
           
-Beaumont’s original short story was rejected for publication in Playboy magazine, a publication which at the time was paying Beaumont a sizable retainer for first refusal rights to his fiction. Beaumont sold the story to the rival men’s magazine Rouge, which published the story in its November, 1959 issue. Harlan Ellison, a personal friend of Beaumont, was an assistant fiction editor at Rouge and was excited to publish the exceptional story. However, Beaumont could not publish the story under his own name for a rival publication and Ellison devised a pseudonym based loosely on Beaumont’s surname. The story was published under the name C.B. Lovehill. A more detailed account is given by Ellison in Charles Beaumont: Selected Stories (Dark Harvest, 1988, reprinted in paperback as The Howling Man, Tor, 1992).  

Read our full review of “The Howling Man” here.  

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #4: "The Masks"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


#4 - The Masks are Removed, from “The Masks,” season five, episode 145
Written by Rod Serling, directed by Ida Lupino, starring Robert Keith, Milton Selzer, Virginia Gregg, Brooke Hayward, Alan Sues

“The Masks” is not only Rod Serling’s last great script for the series but stands in the absolute top rank of the series entire. It is an episode whose fable-like quality seems never to age and it remains a wonderfully macabre, fantastically directed and acted episode which contains all the hallmarks of the finest of the series. Within an evocative, isolated set, Serling presents us with the story of a wealthy, dying old man who, in his final attempt to expose their ugly traits, subjects the members of his greedy family to a bit of Cajun magic when he forces them to wear grotesque festival masks until the hour of midnight if they ever hope to get their hands on his money. The old man himself wears the death mask visage of a skull. “The Masks” is a dialogue-heavy episode as Serling had fallen to dictating his late season episodes with a result that was a naturally talky style. While most of these late episodes suffered under the weight of all the dialogue, “The Masks” seems stronger for it. The dialogue adds weight and tension to the characters and events, and benefits from being delivered by a marvelous group of actors. The dialogue also possesses a natural progression, beginning as a series of exchanges shrouded in double talk only to descend into direct, focused attacks of a confrontational nature as the night wears on. Director Ida Lupino keeps the camera pulled in close in a series of tight framing shots that constricts the setting just as the masks constrict the family members beginning to break beneath the strain of the passing hours. The episode also features William Tuttle’s exceptional makeup designs in the both the masks themselves (sculpted by Tuttle's colleague Charles Shram) and in the physical transformations they produce. Even the subtle use of sound is highly effective as the viewer can hear the muted sounds of a Mardi Gras celebration outside the enclosed setting. In all, “The Masks” is a flawlessly executed work of imaginative dark fantasy which manages to combine elements of fable, Southern Gothic, and Serling’s inimitable moralistic style to create an enduring masterpiece. It is a perfect episode for first time viewer of the program as well an episode that rewards repeat viewings.

Trivia:
           
-Director Ida Lupino is in the distinctive position of being the only performer of an episode (season one’s “The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine”) to also direct an episode. Lupino is also the only female director of an episode on the series. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #5: "The Dummy"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP

We move into our top 5 most frightening moments!


#5 - Willy Takes Over, from “The Dummy,” season three, episode 98
Written by Rod Serling, directed by Abner Biberman, starring Cliff Robertson

Rod Serling’s “The Dummy” is a highly effective horror story inspired by a frequently used motif: the relationship between a ventriloquist and his dummy. Before sound film and the advent of television, live performance was a preferred form of entertainment. Among live performers, ventriloquists were a popular attraction. Writers were quick to capitalize on the inherent creepiness of a person throwing their voice to imbue a wise-cracking wooden dummy with life. Serling’s take on the theme follows an established formula: the tortured performer who believes his dummy is alive and malevolent. What elevates “The Dummy” above other stories of its type is the manic performance of Cliff Robertson, the disorienting, dreamlike camera work of director Abner Biberman and photographer George T. Clemens, and the harrowing final sequence. Serling was influenced by the final segment of the 1945 horror anthology film Dead of Night, from Britain’s Ealing Studio. In this segment Michael Redgrave stars as a man who believes his dummy, Hugo, is trying to take over his mind and body. Serling takes this concept a step further and delivers one of the most disturbing endings in the entire series as Willy, the dummy, assumes human form and Jerry, the ventriloquist, is transformed into a wooden dummy. The effect is startling as makeup transforms actor George Murdock into Willy and a dummy was created bearing a caricature of Cliff Robertson’s face. The reveal of the horrible switch is another moment of uniformly excellent camera work in the episode, which perfectly captures the grimy nightclub world of stage lights, cocktails, and cigarette smoke.

Trivia:
           
-“The Ventriloquist," or "The Ventriloquist’s Dummy,” segment of Dead of Night was itself inspired by two sources: the 1929 film The Great Gabbo, starring Eric von Stroheim, based on Ben Hecht’s 1928 short story “The Rival Dummy,” and Gerald Kersh’s 1939 short story “The Extraordinarily Horrible Dummy.” Read our full review of Dead of Night here.
           
-Both the original Willy dummy (created in the 1940s by puppeteer Revello Petee) and the Cliff Robertson dummy created for the episode are housed in magician David Copperfield’s private collection known as the International Museum and Library of the Conjuring Arts.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #6: "It's a Good Life"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


#6 - Jack in the Box, from “It’s a Good Life,” season three, episode 73
Written by Rod Serling (from the Jerome Bixby story), directed by James Sheldon, starring Bill Mumy, John Larch, Cloris Leachman, Don Keefer, Alice Frost

Rod Serling’s adaptation of Jerome Bixby’s disturbing short story is filled with unsettling moments, none more so than when Dan Hollis (Don Keefer), reinforced with liquor, decides to take a stand against the omnipotent child monster Anthony Freemont (Bill Mumy) during one of the most tension-filled birthday party ever presented on television. Hollis is betting on help from the final small group of townspeople Anthony has allowed to live in a closed off world, which includes Anthony’s own parents and his psychologically lobotomized Aunt Amy. Hollis quickly realizes, to his horror, that there will be no help from the others. Anthony’s reign of terror has completely negated any chance that someone will step up and attempt to kill the monstrous child. In a horrible instant, the viewer can see the moment of decision go against Hollis in the faces of the others. Hollis’s reward for his attempted uprising is to be transformed into a grotesque jack in the box, mockingly topped with a conical birthday hat. “It’s a Good Life” is a masterpiece of tension and terror. Bill Mumy is resplendently terrifying in his iconic role as Anthony but everyone in the episode is undeniably convincing. In a fantastic adaptation by Serling, he removed all of Anthony’s inner monologues from the story and focused the narrative on those around Anthony. These terrified people quickly become stand-ins for the viewer and we can easily visualize ourselves trapped in that nightmare world. The interesting philosophical question which arises from the episode is whether Anthony was born a monster or whether he was unable to properly mature psychologically and emotionally because of his terrible power. Whatever the case, “It’s a Good Life” remains one of the most potently terrifying moments from the series and an enduring piece of American television.

Trivia:

-Jerome Bixby’s original short story, properly titled “It’s a Good Life,” was first published in Star Science Fiction Stories No. 2 (Ballantine, 1953), edited by Frederick Pohl.
           
-A sequel to “It’s a Good Life” was produced for the third incarnation of the series, which aired on UPN from 2002-2003, titled “It’s Still a Good Life,” starring Bill Mumy as an adult Anthony Freemont and Mumy’s daughter Liliana Mumy portraying Anthony’s daughter Audrey Freemont.

Read our full coverage of “It’s a Good Life” here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #7: "The Hitch-Hiker"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


#7 - Going My Way? from “The Hitch-Hiker,” season one, episode 16
Written by Rod Serling (from the radio play by Lucille Fletcher), directed by Alvin Ganzer, starring Inger Stevens, Leonard Strong, Adam Williams

Rod Serling’s adaptation of Lucille Fletcher’s radio play is an engaging and atmospheric episode propelled by Inger Steven’s excellent performance as a woman on the run from a ghostly hitchhiker. Serling changed very little in his adaptation other than the gender of the protagonist. The role was originated on radio by Orson Welles and Serling chose to make the character a young woman whom he named after his daughter Anne (Nan was his daughter's nickname). The episode is cleverly structured, with the narrative leaving hints along the way as to Nan’s fate. Everything in the episode progresses in a manner reflecting Nan’s growing panic. The photography begins quite unobtrusively and slowly becomes more frantic with several subjective shots, giving the viewer a glimpse from Nan’s eyes. As the setting moves from day to night, so too does the increasing pitch of tension until Nan becomes completely unraveled. The episode is also surprising heavy on action, including a nerve-wracking scene in which Nan barely escapes an oncoming train when her car stalls on the railroad tracks. Another curious aspect of the story is the off-duty sailor to who hitches a ride with Nan. The traditional form of this story would follow the sailor and function on the twist ending that the sailor had hitched a ride with a ghost. Lucille Fletcher decided instead on following the ghost to see where he/she ended up. It is an interesting variation that gives the story more depth once the viewer has learned the ending. Leonard Strong gives a memorable performance as the ghostly hitchhiker refraining from any ghoulish action to instead remain a character whose intentions are shrouded in calm yet persistent behavior. The final sequence in which Nan calls home to discover the truth of her fate remains one of the most atmospherically staged and spooky moments from the series.

Trivia:

-Composer and frequent Twilight Zone contributor Bernard Herrmann was married to Lucille Fletcher at the time Fletcher wrote “The Hitch-Hiker.” Herrmann provided a memorable score for the radio play, portions of which were reused for the Twilight Zone adaptation.
           
-Alfred Hitchcock attempted to purchase the rights to adapt “The Hitch-Hiker” for his television series but Fletcher declined the offer. She later sold the rights to Rod Serling’s Cayuga Productions for the exact same amount previously offered by Hitchcock.
           
-Atlas Comics (now known as Marvel Comics) produced an unauthorized adaptation of Fletcher’s story for Marvel Tales #107 (June, 1952), titled “Going My Way?” In it, the character of the hitchhiker is portrayed as a grinning skeleton in a top hat, dispelling any mystery as to the ending of the story. The story was adapted by Stan Lee and illustrated by Bernard Krigstein.

Read our full coverage of “The Hitch-Hiker” here.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #8: "The After Hours"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


#8 - Voices in the Dark, from “The After Hours,” season one, episode 34
Written by Rod Serling, directed by Douglas Heyes, starring Anne Francis, Elizabeth Allen, John Conwell

Rod Serling’s “The After Hours” still retains its power to frighten the viewer. This is chiefly due to the excellent use of setting, as being locked inside an empty department store after closing hours is something every viewer can clearly imagine. It is the feeling of being lost, alone, afraid, disoriented, with the added horror of life-like mannequins looming over every darkened aisle from high pedestals. And when those mannequins begin to speak, to move, one can easily imagine their own level of terror and helplessness. Though the episode is seen largely through the eyes of an unreliable character, Serling is not content to present a one-dimensional thriller or even the type of psychological horror story he favored in which a young woman slowly loses her mind under the strain of a supernatural element. Instead, Serling gives us perhaps his most bizarre fantasy of the series, in which department store mannequins assume living, breathing form for a limited period of time in order to experience life as do those they watch in the store every day. The episode is director Douglas Heyes’s earliest masterpiece on the series and contains many of the hallmarks of Rod Serling’s classic episodes: a young woman in danger, an isolated, atmospheric set, a strong central performance, and a technically challenging element, in this case the mannequin forms of the principle actors created by chief MGM makeup artist William Tuttle and Tuttle’s colleague Charles Schram. After a first season spent searching for a unifying theme among the show’s output, “The After Hours” heralds the arrival of the show’s principle identity: serious, character-based dark fantasy with a strong psychological element.

Trivia:

-MGM makeup artist William Tuttle, with the assistance of Charles Schram, sculpted life masks from the faces of Anne Francis and Elizabeth Allen in order to create their mannequin counterparts for the episode. These life masks are housed alongside a number of Tuttle’s other creations for the film and television industries in the Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive at the University of Southern California.

Read our full coverage of “The After Hours” here.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #9: "The Invaders"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


#9 - The Small Assassins, from “The Invaders,” season two, episode 51
Written by Richard Matheson, directed by Douglas Heyes, starring Agnes Moorehead

Richard Matheson’s “The Invaders” is a masterpiece of understatement, design, and, despite Matheson’s own opinions to the contrary, pacing. More importantly, it is an episode that is not defined by its masterful twist ending, but rather by the culmination of elements which mark it as one of the defining moments of the series. Initially, it is an experimental episode, in which perhaps the most famous actress of the golden age of radio drama is cast in a role in which she utters not a single word. It is also a spellbinding thriller which is built around a fundamental premise and triumphs through innovation and design. The production crew which worked on the episode is impressive, perhaps more so than any other episode, and each creative member is working at the peak of their powers. Matheson, still wary of adapting his previously published works, turns in perhaps his finest original script for the series, which, due to a lack of dialogue, allowed for a remarkable versatility in interpretation. Director Douglas Heyes is responsible for more memorable episodes of the series than any other director and was producer Buck Hougton’s primary choice to helm technically challenging episodes. Heyes keeps the camera panning through the small set, stopping at intervals to focus on the tortured and frightened face of his actress. Composer Jerry Goldsmith provides perhaps the finest musical composition of the series with a steady, rhythmic string arrangement full of nervous energy. The special effects are pulled off convincingly and the invaders are wisely kept mostly in shadow. Of course, the entire episode depends on the performance of Agnes Moorehead and she turns in one of the most astounding performances of the series; that of a simple (and perhaps simple-minded), frightened woman battling for her life against something she doesn’t understand, acted entirely in an almost animal-like pantomime. Then there is that twist ending, which still manages to surprise first-time viewers of the episode. It is masterfully accomplished due mainly to the fact that the setting of the episode is shrouded in ambiguity. Quite simply, everything in the episode works to perfection and the result is a terrifying and timeless half hour of television.

Trivia:

-Richard Matheson revisited the basic story elements of “The Invaders” a few years later when he published his short story, “Prey,” about a young woman who is terrorized in her apartment by a Zuni fetish doll intent on killing her. The story is regarded as one of Matheson’s finest efforts. It was first published in April, 1969 issue of Playboy and immortalized in another memorable television moment when Matheson adapted the story for the third and final segment of Dan Curtis’s 1975 television horror anthology film Trilogy of Terror. The film contained two additional segments based on Matheson stories which were adapted by Matheson’s friend and fellow writer William F. Nolan.

Read our full coverage of “The Invaders” here.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #10: "To Serve Man"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP

We move into the top 10 most frightening moments!


#10 - It’s a Cookbook, from “To Serve Man,” season three, episode 24
Written by Rod Serling (from Damon Knight’s story), directed by Richard L. Bare, starring Lloyd Bochner, Susan Cummings, Richard Kiel

“To Serve Man” is easily one of the most popular, recognizable, parodied, and beloved episode of the entire series, and justifiably so, as it contains many of the elements which seem to remain with viewers, particularly the excellent twist ending. Though Rod Serling wrote a number of fantastic original teleplays for the series, one could argue that his true genius was in the adaptation of the works of others. Serling was never content to simply transpose a story into a teleplay. He always added nuances of character and setting, and expertly adapted the material for the unique narrative structure of half-hour television. “To Serve Man” is perhaps Serling’s finest adaptation (though one could argue for “Time Enough at Last” and “It’s a Good Life”) and features a number of unique touches not seen in other episodes. The episode features the uncommon use of a voice-over narration (by someone other than Serling) and even features a character breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience, all to the benefit of the episode’s overall effectiveness. The ending, of course, is what every viewer of the episode remembers, that and the towering figure of Richard Kiel as a morose, telepathic alien with an oversized head. The ending, and all that it implies, is truly one of the more imaginatively gruesome and unsettling moments of the series, all the more so because nothing explicit or violent is ever seen; all is left to the imagination of the audience. The Kanamits, a powerful alien race who deliver world peace in order to cultivate humans like cattle, are presented as benign, even gentle, beings, drawing more than one frightening parallel to our own relationship to the animals which we choose to eat.

Trivia:

-Damon Knight’s short story originally appeared in the November, 1950 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction. In Knight’s story, the Kanamits appear as pig-like creatures, drawing an even more horrible parallel to their intentions, as they closely resemble an animal frequently eaten by humans. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #11: "Eye of the Beholder"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


#11 - A Beautiful Outcast, from “Eye of the Beholder,” season two, episode 42
Written by Rod Serling, directed by Douglas Heyes, starring Maxine Stuart, Donna Douglas, William Gordon, Edson Stroll

Rod Serling’s “Eye of the Beholder,” which he originally composed under the evocative title, “The Private World of Darkness,” is perhaps his finest episode of the series. The episode perfectly captures Serling's primary concerns as a writer: the horrors of injustice, intolerance, and the erosion of individuality in the face of mindless conformity. The episode also happens to be a terrifying vision of a nightmare world ruled by an intolerant, hideous governing class that suppresses all forms of beauty because it is different. Serling doesn’t allow the story be one-dimensional, however, and the overall effect is one of sorrow and empathy, unlike more extreme episodes on a similar subject (“The Obsolete Man,” “The Shelter”). “Eye of the Beholder” also happens to showcase the horrifying makeup creations of William Tuttle, then head of the MGM makeup department, whose unique style has become a trademark of the series. There is a distinct shift in the episode once we leave the dark confines of the hospital room and are thrust into a brightly lit world filled with monsters. The raging dictator who follows us through the hospital on television screens is particularly effective. The episode is notable for keeping everything in shadow, both literally and figuratively. For reasons which become obvious, the faces of all the actors are shrouded in low lighting. Serling also gives us only glimpses of the society we find ourselves in. We know that it is populated by a hideously deformed majority and we also know it is under an oppressive ruling party. Serling was making obvious connections to the political climate of the Cold War era but leaves much to the imagination of the viewer. The episode also contains a melancholy score by Bernard Herrmann which progressively increases to a frantic pitch as our heroine attempts to make her escape. “Eye of the Beholder” is one of the more memorably frightening episodes and rightly regarded as one of the finest moments in television history.

Trivia:

- The production crew on “Eye of the Beholder” is truly remarkable, as it is the only episode to involve the team of Rod Serling (w), Douglas Heyes (dir), George T. Clemens (dop), William Tuttle (fx), and Bernard Herrman (mus) working together on a single episode. Which begs the question: Is this the finest crew ever to work on a single episode? The series had a steady group of crew members that only occasionally changed from episode to episode (in areas such as set design, editing, sound, production assistants, etc.) but some creators (typically in music, makeup, writing, directing, photography, and, of course, acting capacities) worked only occasionally for the show and it was unique for an episode to contain the work of creators who could each be argued as the finest at their craft among the show’s many participants. “Perchance to Dream” (Charles Beaumont (w), Robert Florey (dir), George T. Clemens (dop), Van Cleve (mus), with Richard Conte and John Larch) and “The Invaders” (Richard Matheson (w), Douglas Heyes (dir), George T. Clemens (dop), Jerry Goldsmith (mus), with Agnes Moorehead) come immediately to mind as having an exceptional collection of cast and crew.
           
-“Eye of the Beholder” was remade as an episode of the third incarnation of the series, which ran on UPN from 2002-2003, and starred Molly Sims.

Read our full coverage of “Eye of the Beholder” here.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #12: "Perchance to Dream"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


#12 - Nightmare Roller Coaster, from “Perchance to Dream,” season one, episode 9
Written by Charles Beaumont, directed by Robert Florey, starring Richard Conte, John Larch, Suzanne Lloyd

Charles Beaumont’s first episode for the series is also an episode that perfectly encapsulates Beaumont’s enduring fascination with dreams and dreaming, and the ability of dreams to infect our understanding of reality with the disruptive force of a supernatural entity. “Perchance to Dream” contains enough moments of shock and horror to fill several episodes and veteran director Robert Florey stages each progressive moment in the nightmare with an assured style and visual flair. Lighting, sound, and image are all expertly used to recreate the helpless, untethered feeling many of us experience during moments of vivid dreaming. “Perchance to Dream” is also concerned with the thin line between consciousness and unconsciousness, and how that line can be blurred beyond recognition. There is a feeling of utter helplessness about the episode, as well. The conclusion to Hall’s recurring nightmare is not only inevitable but seems to be feeding off Hall’s own vivid imagination, which can be so strong in concentrated efforts that Hall’s perception of reality becomes distorted, despite the reassurances of the rational part of his mind. An unnerving moment occurs when Hall relates his imaginative ability by telling of visualizing a man in the back seat of his car, a man who creeps over the front seat with a knife in his hand. Once the idea enters his mind, it becomes an obsession, something from which he cannot mentally release himself. The longer he stays connected to an idea, an image, or a place within a dream, the more power it wields over his waking state. Charles Beaumont’s choice of an amusement park to illustrate the progression of Hall’s nightmare is an inspired choice, as it is a place typically associated with feelings of happiness and excitement. Instead, Hall finds himself in a nightmare version of an amusement park where all the attractions try to kill you. Suzanne Lloyd portrays Mya, the cat girl, a beautiful woman who quickly crosses the boundary between alluring and dangerous. She functions as a personification of the part of Hall’s mind that obsesses and desires a release from the strain of wakefulness. Richard Conte is perfect as the tortured man with a heart condition who is convinced his dreams will kill him if he sees them through to the end. Of course he’s right, and Beaumont hits the viewer with a gut wrenching twist ending that perfectly illustrates the inevitability of Hall’s fate.

Trivia:

-Beaumont’s original short story was first published in the October, 1958 issue of Playboy, a magazine to which Beaumont was a frequent contributor, and where he published many of his classic short stories. Beaumont wrote several additional episodes that explore the thin line between fantasy and reality, including “A Nice Place to Visit,” “Shadow Play,” “Person or Persons Unknown,” and “Miniature.”

Read our full coverage of “Perchance to Dream” here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #13: "Long Distance Call"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


13. Grandma’s Calling, from “Long Distance Call,” season two, episode 58
Written by Charles Beaumont and William Idelson, directed by James Sheldon, starring Philip Abbott, Patricia Smith, Lili Darvas, Bill Mumy

“Long Distance Call” is high in the running as the most unsettling episode of the entire series. The idea of a toy telephone as a conduit for a loving grandmother to call her young grandson from beyond the grave and attempt to coerce the child to kill himself so that they may be reunited in the afterlife is both heartbreakingly sad and undeniably disturbing. The series rarely ventured into such emotionally jarring content. The overall effect is a suspenseful and almost unbearably tense episode which seems to benefit from the otherwise unappealing videotape format, which lends a disquieting and intimate feeling to the proceedings, giving the viewer an uncomfortable fly-on-the-wall perspective to a family tragedy. The scenes in which the young boy speaks to the dead grandmother through the toy telephone remain some of the creepiest moments from the series. The episode is not unrelentingly bleak, however, and the ending manages to resolve the horrible plight of the family without relieving the carefully built tension. Strong performances abound in this one, particularly from Lil Darvas, as the grandmother, and Philip Abbott as the desperate father. The episode also marks the first of three appearances from young actor Bill Mumy, who soon makes an unforgettable appearance on the series and earns him a high spot on this countdown.

Trivia:

-Charles Beaumont and William Idelson were on-set during the filming the episode and were asked to write a new version of the father’s monologue at the end of the episode. In the original version, the father begs for the life of his son by bringing up his own relationship to his mother. After trying the scene and finding it flat, the production crew felt it would work much better if the father concentrated on the young boy’s relationship to the grandmother, focusing on how little of life the boy would be allowed if he were to die so young. Beaumont and Idelson obliged and rewrote the scene on-set.

Read our full coverage of “Long Distance Call” here. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #14: "The New Exhibit"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


#14 - Nightmares in Wax, from “The New Exhibit,” season four, episode 115
Written by Jerry Sohl (credited to Charles Beaumont), directed by John Brahm, starring Martin Balsam

“The New Exhibit” is another grim offering on the series that walks the tightrope between supernatural and psychological horror. The story is cloaked in just enough ambiguity to conceal the true nature of the narrative and works equally well as a story of murderous wax figures imbued with life or as a story of a man in the middle of a homicidal breakdown unable to accept his horrid deeds. Horror stories revolving around wax effigies, particularly the effigies of famous murderers, was a well-worn theme by the time the series approached the material for an hour-long episode of the fourth season (see A.M. Burrage’s oft-adapted 1931 story “The Waxwork,” and the silent film Waxworks (1924)). There are some motifs of the horror story, ventriloquist dummies being another example, which are both enduring and versatile. “The New Exhibit” is one of the most evenly paced offerings from a generally uneven fourth season and consistent director John Brahm handles the proceedings effectively and without distracting flourishes. Brahm’s use of a perspective framing shot for the climactic moment in which the wax figures slowly come alive and move off their pedestals is brilliantly staged, giving the sequence the feeling of a picture coming horribly to life. Though some commentators have suggested “The New Exhibit” would be more appropriate for a series such as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour or Thriller (series which frequently presented stories of supernatural suspense), this notion flies in the face of the fact that The Twilight Zone frequently traveled along the paths of the horror story. One could argue that more horror stories were presented on the series than were science fiction stories, considering that the series rarely concerned itself with scientific inquiry and typically used the fantasy construct inherent in the science fiction story for its own purposes. One need only look to episodes such as “The Hitch-Hiker,” “The Howling Man,” “The Dummy,” or “The Masks” (or any others on this countdown) to see that the series was equally adept at the tale of supernatural terror as with any other type of tale, and perhaps more so.

Trivia:

-“The New Exhibit” is the first of three episodes of the series which were ghost-written by science fiction author Jerry Sohl and presented as the work of regular series writer Charles Beaumont. Beaumont became very ill from an aggressive form of mental degeneration that has been attributed to everything from early onset Alzheimer’s to lead poisoning. Beaumont soon lost his ability to write but had acquired numerous writing assignments including work for The Twilight Zone. In an effort to honor his commitments and continue to provide for his family, Beaumont entered into an agreement with his friend Jerry Sohl in which Sohl would provide scripts for The Twilight Zone under Beaumont’s name for fifty percent of the payment. Sohl, himself an accomplished writer for television, agreed to this arrangement largely because the Beaumont household had begun to struggle financially under the burden of Beaumont’s debilitating illness. What remains unclear, even at this late a date, is what, if anything, Beaumont contributed to the three teleplays, which also included the fifth season episodes “Living Doll” and “Queen of the Nile,” this latter episode a virtual remake of Beaumont’s first season episode, “Long Live Walter Jameson.” 

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #15: "Twenty Two"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


15. Room for One More, from “Twenty Two,” season two, episode 53
Written by Rod Serling, directed by Jack Smight, starring Barbara Nichols, Fredd Wayne, Jonathan Harris

Rod Serling’s “Twenty Two” is an episode which relies on the haunting refrain “room for one more,” along with moments of striking visual imagery, to deliver a compact and haunting story of premonition. Like Serling’s other stories of pursued women on the verge of breakdowns, “Twenty Two” unfolds around a familiar motif, the recurring dream, to engage the viewer in piecing together clues to reveal a larger picture of the character’s plight. The most effective scenes in the episode are those within the dream, in which our protagonist finds herself in a cavernous lower floor of a hospital. There she arrives before the doors of the hospital’s morgue unit. The nurse that emerges from the doors to ominously intone “room for one more” is played to chilling perfection by Arline Sax (better known as Arlene Martel). Though “Twenty Two” is one of six episodes shot on videotape, a largely disastrous attempt to lower production costs, little of the format detracts from the episode's effectiveness. A unique twist on this familiar story type is that, in “Twenty Two,” the character survives through her ordeal relatively unscathed, unlike similar characters in “The After Hours” (reverted back to a mannequin), “The Hitch-Hiker” (recognition of death), or “Mirror Image” (committed to an insane asylum). “Twenty Two,” though widely familiar as a story by the time Serling adapted it for the series, still manages to provide the eerie thrills of a traditional ghost story.

Trivia:

-“Twenty Two” is credited as being based upon an anecdote in Bennett Cerf’s 1944 anthology Famous Ghost Stories (Modern Library). The true source is the 1906 short story “The Bus-Conductor” by E.F. Benson. Benson wrote numerous ghost stories, a handful of which are acknowledged classics. To cause further confusion, “The Bus-Conductor” is not included in the Cerf anthology. The Benson story which is included is the 1904 story “The Man Who Went Too Far.” “The Bus-Conductor” has been reprinted and adapted so often since its initial publication (it has appeared in virtually every fictional medium) that the source of the story often becomes lost on those adapting it. Benson’s story was adapted for the excellent 1945 horror anthology film Dead of Night, as well as included, sans credit, as a story in Alvin Schwartz’s popular 1981 collection of folktales, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

Read our full coverage of “Twenty Two” here. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #16: "Mirror Image"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


#16 - Double Trouble, from “Mirror Image,” season one, episode 21
Written by Rod Serling, directed by John Brahm, starring Vera Miles and Martin Milner

Rod Serling’s “Mirror Image” is an underrated gem of the first season that brings an atmosphere of Gothic horror to a modern tale of malevolent doppelgängers. The episode is anchored by fine performances from Vera Miles, as a supernaturally persecuted woman slowly losing her grip on reality, and Martin Milner, as a sympathetic but doubting fellow traveler who soon learns the horrible truth of the situation. The episode benefits from a single, isolated set, a favorite motif of Serling’s episodes and one which he utilized to great effect in a number of classics (“The After Hours,” “Five Characters in Search of an Exit,” “The Masks,” etc.). This serves to constrict the space around the characters and increase the intrinsic tension of the story. In a clever touch, Serling subtly insinuates the notion that stations of traveling exchange (train depots, airports, bus terminals) are areas in which the space between our world and a parallel dimension are thinnest, allowing for “others” to pass through. Director John Brahm combines steady framing shots with unnerving, and disorienting, perspective shots as the episode moves toward its harrowing conclusion. The image of a clearly malevolent Vera Miles glaring out from a bus window at her unfortunate counterpart is a highlight, but the strangely effective perspective shot of Martin Milner chasing after, and subsequently losing sight of, his grinning double is like a vision from a particularly vivid nightmare.

Trivia:

-During the first season, Rod Serling was fond of a story type in which a woman, always alone and particularly susceptible to mental breakdown, is pursued by a supernatural force eventually revealed to be an apparition contingent with the individual self. Along with “Mirror Image,” Serling also gave us the characteristically related episodes, “The Hitch-Hiker,” “Nightmare as a Child,” and “The After Hours” during the first season.

Read our full coverage of “Mirror Image” here.  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #17: "The Jungle"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


#17 - A Native Vengeance, from “The Jungle,” season three, episode 77
Written by Charles Beaumont, directed by William Claxton, starring John Dehner

Charles Beaumont’s “The Jungle” is a bleak and brooding horror story that examines the contrast between modern science and ancient superstition. The tale of jungle horror or native vengeance was already a familiar story concept at the time Beaumont wrote his story, dating back at least to the middle Victorian era. What sets “The Jungle” apart is the strong, deterministic performance of John Dehner, as the unfortunate Alan Richards, and the excellent use of sound and images to tell the story. Dehner presents Richards as a quietly proud man determined to ignore all evidence that he is being targeted and pursued by things he doesn’t understand. This take on character makes the climactic moment of realization and subsequent breakdown all the more powerful. Dehner singlehandedly carries the episode along and the most effective moments come when he is being pursued through an eerily empty New York City. An episode in a taxicab is a particularly unnerving moment. Director William Claxton rises to the challenge and brilliantly helms a particularly atmospheric episode. There is a subtle supernaturalism in the episode, as in so many of the series offerings, which straddles the line between a tale of supernatural horror and one of psychological horror. Not until the end is the difference made explicit. Of course, “The Jungle” is greatly remember for its grisly ending, which is flawlessly staged using a live adult male lion, who is captured in an impressive leap over the camera.

Trivia:

-Charles Beaumont’s original short story was first published in the December, 1954 issue of If: Worlds of Science Fiction. The story differs greatly from the finished episode. The original story took place in a far future in which the wealthy members of society are forced to destroy a large portion of an African jungle in order to build a contained, sustainable city structure. Beaumont was forced to abandon most of this story configuration due to the budget limitations on the show, as the construction of such a city structure proved unfeasible. The story benefited greatly from this forced change, as the original story is overly long and too preoccupied with building its fictional world. By eschewing the science fiction trappings and placing the story in a recognizable, modern setting, Beaumont is able to continue his series of episodes which examine the psychological effects of unreality on a determinedly rational man.

Read our full coverage of “The Jungle” here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Twilight Zone Vortex 2016 Halloween Countdown #18: "Stopover in a Quiet Town"

The Twilight Zone excelled in telling tales 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. -JP


#18 - A Child’s Playthings, from “Stopover in a Quiet Town,” season five, episode 150
Written by Earl Hamner, Jr., directed by Ron Winston, starring Barry Nelson, Nancy Malone

Frequent contributing writer Earl Hamner, Jr. was a truly unique voice on the series and his idiosyncratic style shines through in many of his efforts for the show. Hamner arrived in the third season and displayed a skill in combining Southern folklore and rustic fantasy. Occasionally, however, Hamner’s stories fell more in line with the type of modernistic science fantasy typical of the series. Hamner’s fifth season episode, “Stopover in a Quiet Town,” is perhaps his strongest script and certainly his most fondly remembered episode by viewers of the show. This is primarily due to the outlandish, yet nightmarish, ending to the episode. “Stopover in a Quiet Town” concerns a drunken couple who awaken to find themselves trapped in what is essentially a doll’s house. And who are the dolls? And, a more frightening question, who is coming to play with the dolls? Haunted by the ephemeral, lilting voice of a young girl, the couple try in vain to escape their makeshift prison (for the exterior of the house proves as confining as the interior) only to discover the true horror of their situation in a brilliant, climactic reveal. Hamner uses elements of several previous episodes (including prominent use of “Where is Everybody?” and “Five Characters in Search of an Exit,”) to craft an atmospheric and engaging episode of supernatural persecution with an effective, and seemingly requisite, twist ending.

Trivia:

-The story of supernatural persecution was easily the most common story type on the series. Every regular series writer tried their hand at it and the results are a number of the show’s classic episodes, including “The After Hours,” “The Hitch-Hiker,” “The Invaders,” “Perchance to Dream,” “The Dummy,” “Mirror Image,” and “Person or Persons Unknown,” to name a few. Hamner previously attempted this type of story with the earlier fifth season episode, “You Drive.” This episode type is quite unlike the other story types common to the show, and shares more characteristics with mystery and horror fiction than with science fiction, the latter of which is a term often erroneous used to broadly characterize the series. Even as early as the latter portion of the first season, the writers of the show began to borrow from one another to create this type of episode and this allows for fascinating juxtapositions between these familiar but versatile stories.