Monday, February 25, 2019

Reading Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, Part 12

In which we take a closer look at each issue of the magazine. For our capsule history of the magazine, go here.

Volume 1, number 12 (March, 1982) 

Cover art: Tito Salomoni

TZ Publications, Inc.
President & Chairman: S. Edward Orenstein
Secretary/Treasurer: Sidney Z. Gellman
Executive Vice Presidents: Leon Garry, Eric Protter
Executive Publisher: S. Edward Orenstein
Publisher: Leon Garry
Associate Publisher & Consulting Editor: Carol Serling
Editorial Director: Eric Protter
Editor: T.E.D. Klein
Managing Editor: Jane Bayer
Assistant Editors: Steven Schwartz, Robert Sabat
Contributing Editors: Gahan Wilson, Robert Sheckley
Design Director: Derek Burton
Art and Studio Production: Georg the Design Group
Production Director: Edward Ernest
Controller: Thomas Schiff
Administrative Asst.: Doreen Carrigan
Public Relations Manager: Jeffrey Nickora
Accounting Mgr.: Chris Grossman
Circulation Director: William D. Smith
Circulation Manager: Janice Graham
Eastern Circulation Mgr.: Hank Rosen
Western Newsstand Consultant: Harry Sommer
Advertising Manager: Rachel Britapaja
Adv. Production Manager: Marina Despotakis
Advertising Representatives: Barney O’Hara & Associates, Inc.


--In the Twilight Zone: “Pleasant Dreams . . .” by T.E.D. Klein
--Other Dimensions: Books by Robert Sheckley
--Other Dimensions: Screen by Gahan Wilson
--Other Dimensions: Music by Jack Sullivan
--TZ Interview: Fritz Leiber
--“The Man Who Never Grew Young” by Fritz Leiber
--“The New Man” by Barbara Owens
--“The Return of the Screw” by Kevin Cook
--“Crusoe in New York” by Ron Goulart
--Some THING wicked This Way Comes! by Ed Naha
--TZ Screen Preview: Stab by James Verniere
--“The Bite” by Elizabeth Morton
--“Incident on Park Bench 37” by Robert E. Vardeman
--“Three Bananas” by Larry Tritten
--“Sleep” by Steve Rasnic Tem
--“Breakthrough” by Richard Stooker
--Show-by-Show Guide: TV’s Twilight Zone: Part Twelve
--TZ Classic Teleplay: “A Passage for Trumpet” by Rod Serling
--Looking Ahead: In April’s TZ

--In the Twilight Zone: “Pleasant Dreams . . .” by T.E.D. Klein

-Klein spends his editorial space writing about dreams and their influence on fantasy fiction. He alludes to H.P. Lovecraft’s dream stories, particularly the early story “The Statement of Randolph Carter,” and muses on the origin of “Persons from Porlock,” a term denoting the incident in which Samuel Taylor Coleridge was interrupted by a visitor from Porlock while attempting to complete his dream-influenced poem “Kubla Kahn,” which he never finished. Klein then introduces this issue’s contributors with brief bios and thumbnail images.

--Other Dimensions: Books by Robert Sheckley

-Sheckley reviews a clutch of then-current fantasy and horror books. Briefly, here’s what he had to say:

On Ghost Story by Peter Straub: “Straub’s interweaving of details, action, and apparently unconnected events is finely done. This is a first-rate horror novel, in a class with the work of Stephen King and one or two others: not to be missed.”

On Congo by Michael Crichton: “Crichton is fun to read. His prose is clear, he knows what he’s talking about, and he tells a compelling story. What else must the guy do? Can’t we forgive him for not revealing the darkest secrets of the human heart?”

On The Fantastic Stories of Cornell Woolrich edited by Francis M. Nevins: “Woolrich lacked a way with words. Reading him, we know why the pulps died.”

On The Nameless by Ramsey Campbell: “I wasn’t much taken with this novel, but I suspect it’s a pretty fair one. The pace picks up steadily throughout; there are some scary sequences, and a neat resolution at the end.”

On Splatter Movies by John McCarty: “This is a large-format paperback with many black and white stills from splatter movies past and present, and an informative and interesting commentary.”

On Is Nothing Sacred? by Gahan Wilson: “Wilson is a master of graveyard humor. He comes up with bizarre twists on everyday situations and everyday twists on bizarre situations.”

--Other Dimensions: Screen by Gahan Wilson

-Wilson reviews the delightful 1981 British fantasy film Time Bandits, written and directed by the American expatriate Terry Gilliam, a member of Monty Python who also directed such well-regarded SF films as Brazil and 12 Monkeys. Wilson spends the majority of his glowing review on the cast and it is an impressive one: Sean Connery, David Warner, Shelley Duvall, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, Ralph Richardson, and John Cleese, among others. The late Beatle, George Harrison, was an executive producer on the film and provided the song “Dream Away” for the production. Wilson briefly examines fantasy films concerning children who find their way into a fantasy world, such as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Since Wilson enjoyed the film he gives it a thorough comb through to uncover interesting instances of character and circumstance. Wilson’s reviews are far more informative than the average offering and as such come recommended.

--Other Dimensions: Music by Jack Sullivan

-Sullivan is back with another installment in his examination of classical macabre music. Sullivan provides listings of the best then-current recordings of the selections he covers. If you have an interest in classical music, particularly macabre music, then this essay series is required reading. It is a thorough, dense examination of a niche subject and the only place I have seen such space devoted to cataloging the subject. 

--TZ Interview: Fritz Leiber: SF’s Wizard-in-Residence
Interview by Paul Sammon 

-If you read this blog regularly then you likely know my affinity for the works of Fritz Leiber (1910-1992). Leiber was one of the finest of the late-era pulp writers who made titles such as Unknown and Weird Tales essential reading for fantasy and horror fans. Leiber was the son of successful stage and film actors and initially pursued an acting career before discovering a love of writing through voracious reading and correspondence with his friend Harry Fischer. Inspired by Fischer, Leiber began his most notable work, the stories and novels recounting the adventures of the sword-and-sorcery duo Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. The first story in the series, “Two Sought Adventure” (1939), was Leiber’s first professionally published work of fiction and began a series he would continue to work on for the rest of his life. Leiber refined the sword-and-sorcery genre by adding humor and a high literary style to his tales. Later in life Leiber was paid regular royalties by game publisher TSR for the influence of Leiber’s tales on the popular roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons. Leiber was awarded Grand Master recognition in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

-This interview shines a light on many aspects of Leiber’s personal and professional lives, including his early acting roles, his work in the pulps, his correspondence with H.P. Lovecraft, the occasional adaptations of his works in film and television (including two Night Gallery episodes: “The Dead Man” and “The Girl With the Hungry Eyes” as well as Burn, Witch, Burn (aka Night of the Eagle) an adaptation of Leiber’s novel Conjure Wife by writers Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont), his current projects, and even his battle with alcoholism. Leiber’s incredible range as a writer comes through clearly. He was equally adept at the story, novel, or essay in the genres of horror, fantasy, science fiction, and, occasionally, detective fiction. Leiber speaks on his influences in all of these genres and his inspiration in creating some of his most notable works, such as his World Fantasy Award-winning masterpiece Our Lady of Darkness.

-The one aspect of the magazine I have been most impressed with since beginning this read-through is the interviews with the leading genre writers of the day. These interviews are conducted by seasoned genre journalists and are very in-depth. Often the interviewer will have conducted the interview with the subject over a number of days, not hours, as was the case with Sammon’s interview of Leiber. If you are a fan of such interview books as Faces of Fear by Douglas E. Winter or Dark Dreamers by Stanley Wiater then I highly recommend tracking down these early issues for the interviews.

-Paul Sammon, interviewer, is a longtime genre journalist and editor probably best known for Future Noir, his book-length examination of Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner. Sammon also edited two now-collectible anthologies from the ‘90s: Splatterpunks: Extreme Horror (1990) and Splatterpunks II: Over the Edge (1995). 

--“The Man Who Never Grew Young” by Fritz Leiber
Illustrated by José Reyes 

“The classic tale of a backwards Methuselah and a future that didn’t work.”

-An old man witnesses the course of human events turn backwards from the future to the earliest civilizations.

-Accompanying the interview with Fritz Leiber is this 1947 story. It was first published in Leiber’s first book, Night’s Black Agents (Arkham House). The collection is a Leiber sampler, with examples of his supernatural horror, his urban horror, and his sword-and-sorcery with “The Man Who Never Grew Young” serving as a transition piece from the older settings of the fantasy pieces to the contemporary settings of the horror tales. It is a short, clever, and affecting meditation on the failures of mankind. It is told from the point of view of an aged man who witnesses the world around him grow young (revert backwards) while he remains old. Leiber alludes to several notable events in human history and ends the story on a haunting, open-ended note. The story has been reprinted many times. It was first reprinted in Avon Fantasy Reader No. 9 (1949) and included in The Best of Fritz Leiber (1974), a collection which focuses on the best of Leiber’s science fiction. 

--“The New Man” by Barbara Owens
Illustrated by E.T. Steadman 

“In which madness takes the form of a smiling, freckle-faced twelve-year-old boy.”

-A recovering alcoholic is confronted by a young boy who claims to be his son. The young boy’s unwanted presence in the man’s life brings madness and ruin.

-Although Barbara Owens’ story is an effective horror tale, very much in the style of The Twilight Zone, it is even more effective as an examination of a recovering alcoholic. Owens perfectly captures the daily struggles of the recovering alcoholic, from having to say no to a drink with the boss to the inability to repair trust issues with a family that has been burned too often. Owens uses a rather simple setup to propel the story into a bleak, character-driven tragedy. The story was later adapted as the premier episode of Tales from the Darkside (after the pilot episode, “Trick or Treat,” which aired the previous year). The tale was adapted by writer Mark Durand and director Frank De Palma, starring Vic Tayback as recovering alcoholic Alan Coombs, Kelly Jean Peters as his long-suffering wife, and Chris Hebert as Jerry, the young boy who brings ruin to Coombs’ life. The television adaptation slightly alters the ending of the tale, somewhat muting its effectiveness, but the episode can be recommended on the strength of Tayback’s harrowing performance. T.E.D. Klein included the story in the premier issue of the TZ Magazine sister publication Night Cry.

-Barbara Owens (1934-2008) wrote a number of short horror, fantasy, and mystery stories in the ‘80s and ‘90s, with “The New Man” marking her first sale to an SF magazine. She published another story, “Something Evil,” in the August, 1982 issue of TZ Magazine as well as the story “Portrait: Edward Larabee” in the August, 1986 issue and a final story, “Sliding,” in the August, 1988 issue. She published a number of stories in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction as well as in mystery digest magazines. Her story, “The Cloud Beneath the Eaves,” published in the January, 1978 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award, beating out the likes of Bill Pronzini and Donald E. Westlake.  

--“The Return of the Screw” by Kevin Cook
Illustrated by Randy Jones 

“When a 15X2 hex-head cap screw says he’s sending alligators after you, chances are he’s telling the truth.”

-A slovenly laborer is confronted by an alien intelligence housed inside a screw. The alien informs the man that everything humanity has ever experienced is fabricated by the alien and his fellow kind. An unfortunate accident proves the alien is telling the truth.

-This first in an overabundance of humorous stories in the issue is largely composed of a series of gags played on a hapless human by an unseen alien intelligence, including a liberal use of alligators to keep said human in line. The story builds to a punchline ending in which the screw which houses the alien intelligence is accidently knocked into a boiling vat of zinc, the only chemical element able to subvert the alien intelligence. After this occurrence, the world and everything in it falls away since the alien was creating all the narrator perceived. Kevin Cook placed another story with the magazine with “Omniscient Mitch & The Million-Dollar Pain & Gain Machine,” which appeared in the August, 1988 issue. He is also a frequent letter-writer to genre magazines. 

--“Crusoe in New York” by Ron Goulart
Illustrated by Bruce Waldman 

“Maybe it was lonely at the top; it was certainly desperate at the bottom. But what a destiny awaited him!”

-A struggling writer of throw-away paperbacks is brooding at the location of a very successful writer’s latest publicity stunt when he encounters a time traveler from the future. The time traveler is not only a fan of the writer’s works but informs the writer that he is admired as a major literary figure in the future after the success of his novel Crusoe in New York. Elated by this news, the writer returns to the scene of his rival’s publicity stunt only to suffer an accident and seal his fate.

-Goulart (b. 1933) makes another appearance in the magazine with this ironic and humorous fantasy. The most interesting aspect of the tale is a connection to writer Harlan Ellison. I have no idea what sort of relationship, if any, existed between Ellison and Goulart but Ellison is clearly the model for the successful writer envied by the narrator. In the story, the successful writer makes use of a specific type of publicity stunt which was also utilized by Harlan Ellison: writing in a bookstore window. For Ellison, this was a way to show the public that writing was work and that there was no magic formula to creating fiction other than sitting down and putting one word after another. Although this practice is disparaged in the story it was likely nothing more than a friendly dig at a colleague. “Crusoe in New York” was included in Goulart’s 1990 collection Skyrocket Steele Conquers the Universe and Other Media Tales.  

--Some THING Wicked This Way Comes! by Ed Naha 
“Hollywood – and a piece of Alaska – are doubling for Antarctica in John Carpenter’s remake of ‘The Thing.’ Ed Naha reports from the set.” 

-Although it was generally not well-received during its initial release, John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) has become a defining horror film of the 1980s. As much as this writer enjoys Halloween (1978), The Thing will remain Carpenter’s best film to my mind. An adaptation of John W. Campbell, Jr’s 1938 story “Who Goes There?” it is the tale of a team of scientific explorers besieged at a research station by a malevolent, shape-shifting alien lifeform. Carpenter’s film is a more faithful adaptation of Campbell’s story which eschews the love interest of the first film adaptation, 1951’s The Thing from Another World, and focuses more on the shape-changing abilities of the alien. The highlights of the film include the cast and makeup artist Rob Bottin’s stunning creature effects.

-Naha (b. 1950) is a prolific and accomplished genre journalist and occasional fiction writer with notable work including a long tenure with Starlog magazine and several movie novelizations. Naha also wrote two novels during the horror paperback boom of the 1980s that have become collectible: Breakdown (1988) and Orphans (1989). Naha structures his set visit with interviews with star Kurt Russell and director John Carpenter. Since the special effects for the film were kept highly secretive during production, Naha can only hint at what was in store for audiences in 1982. The interview segments with Kurt Russell and John Carpenter are rather in-depth and give insight into the process of remaking a beloved SF film as well as the challenges of shooting the film on a claustrophobic set. Highly recommended for fans of the film.

--TZ Screen Preview: Stab by James Verniere

“Scheider and Streep join Benton and Newman in a hush-hush modern-day ‘Jack the Ripper’ tale. James Verniere tracks down a few important clues. 

-This is a full-color preview of the 1982 psychological thriller film Still of the Night, working under the production title Stab. It is a film largely forgotten today which is surprising considering the star power in front of and behind the camera. It stars Meryl Streep, Roy Scheider, and Jessica Tandy and was directed by Academy Award winner Robert Benton. The film largely functions as an homage to Alfred Hitchcock with several overt sequences recreating memorable moments from Hitchcock’s films. Contemporary reviews praised the acting and direction but faulted the script for the film’s lack of success. 1982 was also a very strong year in film and this film likely suffered from the fact that Streep’s performance in Sophie’s Choice was on its way to winning an Academy Award.

-As Still of the Night is ostensibly a Jack-the-Ripper tale, an inset article explores Jack the Ripper in cinema. Naha gives a brief overview of Red Jack on film, beginning with Hitchcock’s The Lodger (1927) and continuing with the 1944 remake starring Laird Cregar and directed by John Brahm. Other films covered include A Study in Terror (1965), Hands of the Ripper (1971), Murder by Decree (1979), and Time After Time (1979).  

--“The Bite” by Elizabeth Morton
Illustrated by Frances Jetter 

“Beware of dogs that bite . . . and also those that keep their teeth clenched.”

-A woman comes home to her apartment to find her dog in a corner clenching its teeth and refusing to open its mouth. She brings it to the vet who has an office in the building and returns to her apartment. The vet soon calls the woman and urges her to quickly get out of the apartment. He has found two human fingers in the dog’s mouth.

-This story has the feel of a dark urban legend or one of Fredric Brown’s shocking short-shorts. Sharp and effective. Morton was a pen name for Rosalind Greenberg (b. 1951) an anthologist and occasional short fiction writer who was married to prolific anthologist Martin H. Greenberg (1941-2011). “The Bite” was reprinted in the Fall, 1985 issue of Night Cry.

--“Incident on Park Bench 37” by Robert E. Vardeman

Illustrated by Marty Blake 

“It was fun to sit and watch the world go by . . . and some things not of this world!”

-An old man who sits on the same park bench to feed pigeons each day is suddenly witness to a form of futuristic punishment as criminals from the future are sent into the past and appear on his park bench. The old man decides to steal the time travel mechanism from the next time traveler to appear in order to escape his dull existence.

-Another humorous story about time travel. This one runs overlong but is crowned with a nice ending. Vardeman (b. 1947) is a hugely prolific author of SF and fantasy, creator of many novel series and prolific writer of media tie-in books. Interested readers can check Vardeman’s entry on the Internet Speculative Fiction Database for a listing of his work in SF. 

--“Three Bananas” by Larry Tritten
Illustrated by Larry Blizard 

“It was a tough case, but the private eye knew he’d crack it. All he had to do was comb 21st-century San Francisco in search of . . .”

-In the future, a private eye is hired by a wealthy man to track down the only three known bananas in the world. Fruit has become scare after the attrition of wars and ecological disaster. The private eye dives into the grimy world of pornographic video to track down the fate of the bananas.

-This humorous ode to Raymond Chandler is a bit too self-aware and the intentionally cartoonish writing style grows tired. It is also the longest story in the issue. Most of the story functions as humorous imaginings of the foibles of future society. Tritten (1938-2011) was a prolific short story writer who placed stories with TZ magazine while also appearing in most of the major SF magazines of the 1980s and 1990s. His TZ Magazine stories include: “The Grey Lawns Cold” in the Nov/Dec, 1984 issue and “Televisionaries” in the Feb, 1986 issue. He also placed a story, “Bugs,” in the second issue (Summer, 1985) of Night Cry.

--“Sleep” by Steve Rasnic Tem

Illustrated by D.W. Miller 

“The lucky ones, they say, die in bed. The unlucky simply lose their way.”

-A woman who experiences particularly vivid dreams has a premonition of her husband struggling against a mass wandering people inside a tunnel. She awakens her husband only to find that he has become lost in the dream world and another person has taken residence in his body.

-Another effective short-short with a shock ending. I really enjoyed this story due to the fact that Tem subverts the reader’s expectations by not playing the drama for horror but for sadness. The trope which Tem is playing with is astral projection, the idea that the essence of a person can leave the physical body during unconsciousness. Tem (b. 1950) is a prolific author known for his idiosyncratic horror fiction, mostly short stories. He collaborated often with his wife Melanie Tem (1949-2015). Steve Rasnic Tem has won many awards for his fiction, including the British Fantasy Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the International Horror Guild Award. “Sleep” was reprinted in 100 Great Fantasy Short Short Stories (1984). Valancourt Books recently released a career retrospective of Tem’s fiction titled Figures Unseen: Selected Stories. 

--“Breakthrough” by Richard Stooker
Illustrated by Gregory Cannone 

“Is he a madman . . . or a messiah? Perhaps the answer lies in this case history.”

-The tale of a violent and mentally deranged young man whose life may hold the key to a larger aspect of existence and the universe.

-This story is structured like the case history of a mental patient. There are intimations that the subject, a violent psychotic, is also capable of impossible intellectual feats, including writing, reading, and speaking dead and ancient languages. The hints to the subject’s abilities are layered throughout the case history until the revelation that the subject has engineered an escape from the mental hospital and is perhaps set to end or take over the world. It is a story which is intentionally ambiguous and as such will not be to every reader’s taste. Richard Stooker wrote a few SF stories in the 1970s, including appearances in Fantastic and Amazing Stories. “Breakthrough” has not been reprinted.

--Show-by-Show Guide: TV’s Twilight Zone: Part Twelve by Marc Scott Zicree
-Marc Scott Zicree continues his episode guide to the original series. This issue begins his coverage of the fourth season and he includes an essay on the troubles the show underwent after getting abruptly canceled following the third season before being picked up as a replacement series in an hour-long format. Zicree gives credits for cast and crew along with Rod Serling’s opening and closing narrations and a summary for the following episodes: “In His Image,” “The Thirty-Fathom Grave,” “Valley of the Shadow,” and “He’s Alive,” all of which we have covered here in the Vortex.

--TZ Classic Teleplay: “A Passage for Trumpet” by Rod Serling 

-Rod Serling’s classic episode is presented in script form accompanied by stills. “A Passage for Trumpet” was Serling’s It’s a Wonderful Life inspired tale about a suicidal trumpet player who comes to realize the value of life. The episode is notable for being the first appearance of TZ regulars Jack Klugman and John Anderson. It originally aired on May 20, 1960 and was directed by Don Medford. You can read our full review here.

--Looking Ahead: In April’s TZ
-Next month’s issue looks to be a good one. We have Dan Simmons’ award-winning first story, “The River Styx Runs Upstream,” as well as stories from Joan Aiken, Ramsey Campbell, and Harlan Ellison. The interview subject next time is the man himself, Rod Serling. Mike Ashley returns to educate us on another classic horror writer. This time it’s William Hope Hodgson. Ashley includes Hodgson’s classic tale of nautical horror, “The Voice in the Night,” and I’ll share some bonus illustrations of the story from my personal collection. The issue also includes a special section detailing a party celebrating the publication of Marc Scott Zicree’s The Twilight Zone Companion, the guest list of which included many of the writers, actors, and technicians that Zicree interviewed for his book. See you next time when we’ll take a closer look.


Monday, February 4, 2019


The Doll (Claire Griswold) and Charley Parkes (Robert Duvall)

Season Four, Episode 110
Original Air Date: February 21, 1963

Charley Parkes: Robert Duvall
Mrs. Parkes: Pert Kelton
Myra Russell: Barbara Barrie
Dr. Wallman: William Windom
Buddy Russell: Lennie Weinrib
Guard: John McLiam
Diemel: Barney Phillips
Harriet: Joan Chambers
Guide: Chet Stratton
The Suitor: Richard Angarola
The Maid: Nina Roman
The Doll: Claire Griswold

Writer: Charles Beaumont
Director: Walter E. Grauman
Producer: Herbert Hirschman
Production Manager: Ralph W. Nelson
Director of Photography: Robert Pittack
Associate Producer: Murray Golden
Film Editor: Edward Curtiss
Art Direction: Edward Carfagno & George W. Davis
Set Decoration: Henry Grace & Don Greenwood, Jr.
Assistant Director: Ray De Camp
Assistant to the Producer: John Conwell
Music: Fred Steiner
Sound: Joe Edmondson & Franklin Milton
Mr. Serling’s Wardrobe: Eagle Clothes
Filmed at MGM Studios

And Now, Mr. Serling:
“Next on Twilight Zone a most unusual program called ‘Miniature.’ The very eminent Charles Beaumont takes us into a brand new realm of science fiction and fantasy that is at the same time intriguing and strangely believable.”

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

“To the average person a museum is a place of knowledge, a place of beauty and truth and wonder. Some people come to study, others to contemplate, others to look for the sheer joy of looking. Charley Parkes has his own reasons. He comes to the museum to get away from the world. It isn’t really the sixty-cent cafeteria meal that has drawn him here every day, it’s the fact that here in these strange, cool halls he can be alone for a little while, really and truly alone. Anyway, that’s how it was before he got lost and wandered into The Twilight Zone.”

John McLiam as the museum guard, with Robert Duvall

            Charley Parkes is an introverted man who works a menial job and still lives with his mother. He uses his lunch breaks from work to visit a nearby museum. There he comes across a curious dollhouse. A staging of a nineteenth century domestic scene, the dollhouse comes to life before Charley’s eyes. A beautiful young woman seated before a piano begins to move and play. Amazed, Charley asks the museum guard how this effect is achieved. The guard gives Charley a questioning look and tells him that the wooden doll does not move and there is no music to be heard.
            Charley eagerly visits the dollhouse each day, standing in front of the glass display watching the young woman go about her daily business. The museum guard begins to show an interest in Charley, curious as to what Charley sees in the display. Charley’s obsession with the dollhouse grows to the point where he is gently let go from his job after returning late from lunch.
            Instead of looking for work Charley spends more time at the museum gazing into the dollhouse and speaking softly to the young woman within. Into the world of the dollhouse comes a caped, mustachioed rogue who is after the young woman’s hand in marriage. Charley is helpless but to watch as the young woman futilely attempts to ward off the rough suitor.
            Charley’s frequent trips to the museum catch the attention of his sister, Myra, who is concerned about her brother’s welfare. Myra believes Charley should be free of their mother’s house and living with his own wife and family. Charley reluctantly agrees to go on a blind date with Myra’s friend Harriet, a date which ends in disaster as Charley is unable to loosen up and enjoy himself.
            When Charley again visits the dollhouse he sees the rouge suitor attacking the young woman and tries to break the glass display in order to stop it. Charley is subdued and committed to a psychiatric institution where he is placed under the care of Dr. Wallman, whose stated mission is to help Charley rid himself of the delusion that the doll of the young woman is alive.
            At first Charley refuses to acknowledge that it is a delusion but soon realizes that his only way free of Dr. Wallman’s care is to feign a total recovery. Charley is eventually released into his mother’s care where he appears to have made a remarkable turnaround.
            Charley escapes from his bedroom as soon as he is able in order to return to the museum and the dollhouse. Charley hides inside the museum and waits until after closing to emerge into the darkened corridor. There he turns on the dollhouse display and sees the young woman inside. She is sad and crying heavily. Charley desperately wishes to comfort her but he cannot do so from outside the dollhouse. He wills himself desperately to join the young woman's world inside the dollhouse.
            Charley’s family discovers his absence and contacts Dr. Wallman, who knows exactly where Charley has gone. A search of the museum, however, yields no evidence of Charley’s whereabouts. Or does it? As the museum guard gazes into the dollhouse he sees a new doll within. It is a familiar looking young man sitting comfortably beside the young woman. The guard smiles because he knows this man, and he also knows that he will not say anything about what he’s seen because nobody would ever believe him.

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
“They never found Charley Parkes because the guard didn’t tell them what he saw in the glass case. He knew what they’d say and he knew they’d be right, too, because seeing is not always believing, especially if what you see happens to be an odd corner of The Twilight Zone.” 


            It is a terrible irony that the fourth season is arguably the strongest showcase for the talents of writer Charles Beaumont. The season served as a swan song of sorts for his writing career before the onset of debilitating effects from what is believed to be early onset Alzheimer’s. As is well documented, Beaumont began to suffer memory loss which increased in severity and slowly robbed him of his ability to write. Beaumont’s professional commitments were completed by his friends under Beaumont’s byline to benefit the Beaumont family.
The fourth season is also occasionally derided as unworthy of time or consideration due to the hour-length of the episodes and the resulting change to the snap-ending formula of the half-hour segments. The fourth season showcased a number of moving and thought-provoking stories which offered more complex narratives and greater shades of characterization than many of the half-hour offerings from previous seasons. Charles Beaumont provided more teleplays (5)* for the fourth season than he did for any prior season and appeared to flourish given the extra half-hour of time. Among this final gathering of Beaumont’s tales is perhaps his finest script for the series, “Miniature,” a highly personal vision aided by an exceptionally moving performance from Robert Duvall and the spoils of the show’s talented production team. It is perhaps not too strong to suggest that “Miniature” is one of the finest hours of fantasy television presented in that rich decade of the 1960s.
            Beaumont excelled at crafting the half-hour drama from the beginning of his television writing career but quickly proved that he was equally adept at producing longer work, writing his first feature in 1958 (Queen of Outer Space), following it with now-highly regarded scripts for director Roger Corman (The Premature Burial, The Haunted Palace, The Masque of the Red Death, The Intruder) and supplementing this work by writing hour-long segments of Boris Karloff’s Thriller and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Beaumont was inspired to write “Miniature” by his close friend William F. Nolan, a prolific short story writer then at the beginning of a long film and television writing career. Much of Nolan’s life at the time was mirrored in that of protagonist Charley Parkes. We spoke to William F. Nolan in 2017 and took the opportunity to ask about his connection with “Miniature,” to which he replied: “Well, for one thing, the character was shy around women and Chuck (which is what we called Beaumont) was well aware of this. It was partly his way of ribbing me, but I also have always had a thing for miniature figures and models. Maybe it’s because my eyesight – I am near-sighted in one eye and far-sighted in the other – prevents me from really seeing large objects in 3D. But a small object that I can hold up in front of my face can become a whole world to me. I can see it in its totality and study it. It fascinates me. Chuck was one of the only people who knew me well enough to pick up on this and used it in the story.”
            Nolan revealed more about his role as inspiration for “Miniature” in an audio commentary which accompanied the episode on the Blu-ray release of the series. Beaumont took the raw material of Nolan’s life at the time, his shyness around women, his meek appearance, his living situation with his mother, his struggles to fit in at work, and crafted a moving tribute to his close friend and a potent examination of the ways in which society can pressure an outsider to fit an acceptable mold.
            A surprising aspect of the episode is its humor. Though the humor is never in danger of spoiling the carefully constructed gravity of the narrative, it lightens the fantasy and prepares the viewer for the lighthearted and sentimental tone of the ending. A humorous moment occurs on the initial visit to the museum with Charley. Discovering the cafeteria to be closed, Charley attempts to ascend the main stairway only to be ambushed by a tour group descending the stairs. Attempting to push his way upwards through the crowd, Charley is instead pushed back down the stairway as though by a wave. Incidentally, it is in this way that Charley happens upon the display of the dollhouse which will come to consume his life. It is a perfectly staged moment which not only serves to provide humor but also to illustrate Charley’s place in the world as a mild man who prefers quiet solitude but continually finds himself pushed this way and that by crowds, coworkers, and family members. A broader moment of physical humor occurs later when Charley witnesses the young woman in the dollhouse being led away by the roguish suitor. Attempting to better see them exit the dollhouse, Charley presses his face against the glass in a comical expression. It is an odd moment for comedy but fortunately does not ruin a carefully built scene of tension. The intrusion of humor in an otherwise serious production is sometimes used to reinforce the idea that the play is a fantasy and not to be taken too seriously, although it is just as likely that here the humor was used to better illustrate the awkwardness of Charley Parkes.
            “Miniature” also contains some recognizable motifs from Beaumont’s other scripts, notably the use of psychoanalysis as a tool for narrative transition. Beaumont was clearly fascinated with the field of psychology beyond its utility as a method for conflict. Beaumont’s first episode for the series, “Perchance to Dream,” is told from the psychiatrist’s couch. A later episode, “Person or Persons Unknown,” makes use of similar circumstances. Beaumont seems to have little faith in the process, however, as each case features a person undergoing an extraordinary event but unable to convince rational-minded authority figures of their sanity.
            Producer Herbert Hirschman told author Marc Scott Zicree that he believed the episode had its genesis in a previously published story, one which also concerned a dollhouse and featured an enormous hand descending on an occupant of the house. The story Hirschman recalled is “None Before Me” by Sidney Carroll. Carroll (1913-1998) is remembered as an accomplished screenwriter (The Hustler) who also wrote for television, winning an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his episode “The Fine Art of Murder” on the anthology series Omnibus (1956). Carroll also wrote for Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected. “None Before Me” was originally published in the July, 1949 issue of Cosmopolitan and benefited from being reprinted in Ray Bradbury’s anthology of fantasy stories, Timeless Stories for Today and Tomorrow (1952). The anthology went through numerous printings down the years and should be relatively easy to find. The story relates the tale of an elderly miser whose time is spent coveting the fine items his lifelong passion for collecting has yielded. The man purchases an antique dollhouse which quickly becomes an obsession. He creates imaginary lives for the occupants while also terribly mistreating them until a giant hand descends from above to crush him, as though he were in a dollhouse of his own. If Hirschman’s recollection is accurate then Carroll’s tale inspired two episodes of Twilight Zone as Rod Serling’s third season episode, “The Little People,” features an ending sequence also likely inspired by the tale.
            According to litigation introduced by a television writer named Clyde Ware, Beaumont’s script had its genesis in another story, a script Ware submitted to Rod Serling’s Cayuga Productions in the spring of 1961 titled “The Thirteenth Mannequin.” Ware’s claim of plagiarism was ultimately found baseless by both the initial judge and the appeals judge but did result in “Miniature” being kept out of syndication packages of the series for decades. “The Thirteenth Mannequin” concerns an elderly department store guard who becomes obsessed with the store’s twelve mannequins. The mannequins begin to feel more real to him than other people; they move and speak to him. Soon after the old man’s death a thirteen mannequin is added to the store, a mannequin which looks like him. Cayuga passed on Ware’s script and returned it to the writer. It was never produced for television although Ware steadily sold his writing to various series through the 1970s. Of interest is his adaptation of Robert Bloch’s 1960 story “The Final Performance” for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. “The Thirteenth Mannequin” somewhat resembles Rod Serling’s first season episode “The After Hours,” which itself was the subject of baseless plagiarism charges when veteran pulp writer Frank Gruber claimed Serling stole the idea from Gruber’s 1949 story “The Thirteenth Floor.” Ware’s tale better resembles the later fourth season episode “The New Exhibit,” an episode which wears its influences on its sleeve. That episode was attributed to Charles Beaumont but was actually written by Beaumont’s friend Jerry Sohl. The subject of “The New Exhibit” is wax figures but the similarities remain. Those who desire a more detailed look at the litigation are directed to Martin Grams, Jr.’s The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic (2008).
The subtle special effects in “Miniature” were handled simply and efficiently. A full-sized interior set was constructed along with the actual dollhouse. The dollhouse could be filmed in exterior or outwards from the interior. The full-sized set was used to the stage the action within the dollhouse.
“Miniature” was one of a number of episodes featuring dolls, dummies, and effigies from the fourth and fifth seasons. The series was producing so many of these type episodes (“Miniature,” “The New Exhibit,” “Living Doll,” “Caesar and Me”) that the show’s final producer, William Froug, declined to put into production a script by Richard Matheson simply titled “The Doll.” Froug felt there was an overabundance of doll stories being produced on the series and sold the script back to Matheson. It was eventually published in the June, 1982 issue of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine before being produced on Steven Spielberg’s anthology series Amazing Stories. Phil Joanou directed the segment from Matheson’s script and the episode was broadcast on May 4, 1986. The nearly twenty-five years it took to arrive before an audience paid off for its creators as star John Lithgow took home an Emmy Award for his central performance and Richard Matheson nabbed a Writer’s Guild nomination for his script. 
A colorized segment of "Miniature"

            The first appearance of “Miniature” after its initial broadcast came during a television special titled The Twilight Zone Silver Anniversary Special on October 20, 1984. The special consisted of three episodes previously unavailable in syndication: “A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain,” “Miniature,” and “Sounds and Silences.” The special was hosted by actor Patrick O’Neal, star of “A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain.” In an article covering the special, Stephen Holden of The New York Times described “Miniature” thus: “the young Robert Duvall plays a 30-year-old mamma’s boy who falls in love with a wooden doll in a museum exhibition. . . Mr. Duvall’s role demands only that he be half-witted and sweet.” The television special was notable because the dollhouse sequences from “Miniature” were colorized using hand-colored and computer processes. This has occasionally caused confusion from those who first experienced the episode with the colorized segments being led to believe the episode originally included color.

            Robert Duvall (b. 1931) is one of the most accomplished performers whose early careers included a stop on The Twilight Zone. The young actor who gives a moving yet emotionally restrained performance as Charley Parkes would go on to acclaim as one of the most gifted actors of his generation, nominated for seven Academy Awards (winning for Tender Mercies (1983)), as well as winning a number of other awards, including the Golden Globe (of which he won four), the Screen Actors Guild, and the Emmy Award. Duvall was at one time labeled the most versatile actor in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records during a career which saw him play a diversity of roles, including such political figures Joseph Stalin and Adolf Eichmann. Born in San Diego and raised in the Annapolis, Maryland area due to his father’s service in the Navy, Duvall would eventually make his way to New York City to study acting. A busy and fruitful career on the New York stages during the 1950s led to television work in the early 1960s. Duvall appeared as the titular character in an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “William Wilson” in the premier episode of the short-lived replacement series Great Ghost Stories (1961). He also appeared in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “Bad Actor” (1962), scripted by Robert Bloch from a story by Max Franklin. Duvall appeared in The Outer Limits episodes “The Chameleon” and the two-parter “The Inheritors.” Other genre television appearances include Kraft Suspense Theatre, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and The Time Tunnel. After a hiatus Duvall returned to television for the award-winning miniseries Lonesome Dove (1989), based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Larry McMurty, for which Duvall received a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award as Captain Augustus McCrae.
Film work followed the early television work, including a memorable role as Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).** An appearance in George Lucas’ first film, THX 1138 (1971), led to a role in that film’s producer Francis Ford Coppola’s production of The Godfather (1972), a career defining moment. Duvall also appeared in Coppola’s troubled production of Apocalypse Now (1979) as Lt. Colonel Bill Kilgore, the surf-loving commander who uttered the famous proclamation, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Other notable film roles include The Godfather Part II, The Great Santini, The Handmaid’s Tale, Falling Down, The Apostle, The Judge, and many others. Most recently, he appeared in the 2018 suspense film Widows.
From left: Barbara Barrie, Pert Kelton, Lennie Weinrib
            In support of Duvall’s central performance is an impressive assemblage of veteran actors. Pert Kelton (1906-1968) portrays the doting Mrs. Parkes in the way of an endearing caricature. The veteran actress began her career in vaudeville before moving to more lucrative stages, eventually making it on Broadway. Regular film work followed in the 1930s. Kelton took a hiatus from screen acting after the end of the decade, not reappearing until the advent of television in the early 1950s. She is probably best remembered today as the original Alice Kramden, wife of Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), on the variety series Cavalcade of Stars.
            Barbara Barrie (b. 1931) portrays Myra, Charley’s perceptive and protective sister. Barrie has enjoyed a distinguished career built up the old-fashioned way through the New York stages. Barrie enjoyed stage work and continued to appear on stage well into her film and television career. She was nominated for a Tony Award for her role as Sarah in Stephen Sondheim’s Company (1970). Like so many stage actors Barrie transitioned to television in the 1950s, appearing on dozens of series including turns in such genre programs as Suspicion, Great Ghost Stories, Kraft Mystery Theater, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and The Invaders. Barrie’s breakthrough screen role came in 1964 in the controversial film One Potato, Two Potato, in which she portrayed a white divorcee who falls in love with a black man. Barrie received an Academy Award nomination for her performance. Barrie aged gracefully into a reliable character actor who has continued to appear regularly in guest roles on a variety of television series.
            Lennie Weinrib (1935-2006) portrays Myra’s good-natured husband Buddy. Weinrib appeared in a handful of Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes and in Roger Corman’s Poe-anthology Tales of Terror (1962), scripted by Richard Matheson, but found his true calling as a voice actor. Beginning in the 1960s, Weinrib amassed dozens of voice acting credits on many children’s programs, most notably as the voice of H.R. Pufnstuf. His last credited voice work was as Max the Mole in an updating of Hanna-Barbera’s Yogi the Bear titled Yo Yogi!
            Claire Griswold (1936-2011) graced the episode as the beautiful, melancholy doll trapped inside the dollhouse. Griswold’s brief acting career began on television in 1958 and included a variety of appearances on the leading series of the time. Griswold appeared alongside Ray Milland in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode “A Home Away from Home,” scripted by Robert Bloch from his story which originally appeared in the July, 1961 issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Griswold married actor/director Sydney Pollack in 1958 and quietly retired from acting in 1967 to raise their family. Pollack previously appeared on The Twilight Zone as the pushy young theater director in E. Jack Neuman’s “The Trouble with Templeton.”
The Doll (Claire Griswold), the Suitor (Richard Angarola)
and the Maid (Nina Roman)

            Richard Angarola (1920-2008) portrayed the menacing, black-clad suitor. Angarola had a long and busy career as a hardworking supporting player. He began his television career in a bit role on Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond in the episode “The Return of Mitchell Campion.” A lot of work in crime and detective series followed although Angarola’s versatility is apparent in his diverse number of appearances: Mike Hammer, Bonanza, The Andy Griffith Show, and Honey West, among others. Angarola’s genre appearances include two episodes of Kraft Suspense Theatre and the 1969 shocker What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?
William Windom

            The remainder of the cast should be familiar faces to regular viewers of The Twilight Zone. William Windom (1923-2012) portrayed the obligatory psychiatrist. Like many of Beaumont’s doctors, Windom is sympathetic yet incapable of understanding the extraordinary circumstances of his patient. Windom was a prolific television actor who graced dozens of programs with exceptional acting. He previously appeared on The Twilight Zone as the Major in “Five Characters in Search of an Exit.” He appeared in perhaps his finest role as a businessman on the edge of retirement coming to terms with the past in Rod Serling’s masterful Night Gallery episode, “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar.” Windom returned to Night Gallery for “Little Girl Lost.” Other genre programs to get the Windom touch include Lights Out, Boris Karloff’s Thriller, Kraft Mystery Theater, The Invaders, and Circle of Fear, the latter being an anthology series developed by Richard Matheson.
             Prolific actor John McLiam (1918-1994) gives a refreshingly different performance as the curious museum guard, a role which in lesser hands would have devolved into one of antagonism and one-dimensional service. As it is, McLiam imbues the guard with a sympathetic nature whose own loneliness (or boredom) draws him to the curious Charley Parkes. The way in which the episode ends, with a circular narrative in which the guard sees the life inside the dollhouse, is more than a fitting denouement. McLiam appeared in dozens of television series, mostly westerns and police dramas. He also appeared on The Twilight Zone in “The Shelter,” “The Midnight Sun,” and “Uncle Simon,” only receiving credit for the first. McLiam also appeared on other genre programs such as The Outer Limits, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and The Invaders.
Barney Phillips with Robert Duvall
            Rounding out the cast is the ever-reliable Barney Phillips (1913-1982) as Charley Parkes’ boss Mr. Diemel, who must let Charley go when it becomes clear that Charley will never fit in with his co-workers. Phillips is one of the most recognizable actors on The Twilight Zone due to his appearance in Rod Serling’s “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” in which Phillips donned a third eye on his forehead to portray a Venusian masquerading as a short-order cook in an out of the way diner. Phillips also appeared in “The Purple Testament” and “A Thing About Machines.” Phillips can also be spotted in episodes of Science Fiction Theatre, Kaft Suspense Theatre, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and the cult film I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957).
            The director and composer for “Miniature” deserve mentions, as well. Walter E. Grauman (1922-2015), director, was behind the camera only this single time for The Twilight Zone. He began by directing the low-budget horror film The Disembodied (1957), a film notable for offering a starring vehicle to Allison Hayes a year before she portrayed the title character in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958). Grauman moved quickly into the lucrative television market and began a busy career shooting dozens of series. The intermittent feature film offered such items of interest as Lady in a Cage, a 1964 shocker which featured Olivia de Havilland as a woman trapped in her private elevator who is tormented by a young James Caan.
            The music of Fred Steiner (1923-2011), composer, can be heard in dozens of Twilight Zone episodes. Notable are Steiner’s original compositions for “King Nine Will Not Return,” “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim,” “The Passersby,” and “Mute,” portions of which reverberate across the series as stock music cues. Steiner enjoyed a long and busy career providing music for many television series and feature films. He composed the theme for Perry Mason and several scores for the original Star Trek. The wistful composition which the Doll plays on the piano is “Piano Sonata no. 11 in A major” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

            “Miniature” is an episode which has a number of excellent selling points: a thoughtful, sensitive script by Charles Beaumont, a quiet yet mesmerizing performance by Robert Duvall, an excellent supporting cast, some pleasing special effects, and a fine Fred Steiner score. The notoriety of the episode has likely suffered due to its long absence from syndication packages as well as its misfortune of being one of the hour-long fourth season episodes. Nevertheless, it is essential viewing, especially for fans who desire a full appreciation of the show’s range. It may even sway some viewers who do not always enjoy the hour-long episodes. It comes highly recommended. 

Grade: A

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following:

The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree, second edition (1992)
The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic by Martin Grams, Jr. (OTR, 2008)
“Silver Anniversary for ‘The Twilight Zone’” by Stephen Holden (The New York Times, Oct 19, 1984; digitized copy)
Audio commentary with William F. Nolan and Marc Scott Zicree (Blu-ray)
The Internet Movie Database (
The Internet Speculative Fiction Database (

*A sixth episode, “The New Exhibit,” is credited to Beaumont but was ghost-written by Beaumont’s friend Jerry Sohl after Beaumont became unable to write due to the effects of the disease which would take his life four years later.

**To Kill a Mockingbird is a film whose cast should be familiar to viewers of The Twilight Zone. Members of that cast included Frank Overton, Ruth White, Collin Wilcox, Robert Duvall, William Windom, and Mary Badham, all of whom appeared on The Twilight Zone.

--William Windom also appeared in the third season episode, “Five Characters in Search of an Exit,” as well as in two segments of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” and “Little Girl Lost.”
--John McLiam also appeared in “The Shelter,” “The Midnight Sun,” and “Uncle Simon,” uncredited in the latter two episodes.  
--Barney Phillips also appeared in “The Purple Testament,” “A Thing About Machines,” and, most memorably, in “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”
--Chet Stratton also appeared in “The Mind and the Matter.”
--“Miniature” was adapted as a Twilight Zone Radio Drama starring Lou Diamond Phillips.