Ain't It Cool News (

Light and Shadow:
Quint crosses over into The Twilight Zone!
Episodes 1.7-1.9 reviewed!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the next Light and Shadow, my systematic and possibly suicidal attempt at going episode by episode through one of the best scripted shows to ever be beamed to idiot boxes, THE TWILIGHT ZONE. As I mentioned in my intro to the first installment of this article The Twilight Zone was on regular rerun rotation as a kid, but outside of an odd episode here or there as I flip through channels at 4am I haven’t revisited the series since my childhood. Even then the reruns all seemed to be the same two dozen episodes. This is the first installment of Light & Shadow that covers an episode I know for sure I’ve seen before, that being the infamous TIME ENOUGH AT LAST starring the great Burgess Meredith. Oddly enough that episode also marks the first real gut-punch ending of the series, the ironic twist that makes you go “Oh, damn!” when watching. The series is kind of known for those twists, but up until that particular episode even the ironic twists still had some degree of optimism or hope to them. But we’ll talk more about that when we get to that review. Here’s what’s on the slate for this report: This installment features episodes 1.7 (“The Lonely” starring Jack Warden and Jean Marsh), 1.8 (“Time Enough At Last” starring Burgess Meredith) and 1.9 (“Perchance to Dream” starring Richard Conte and Suzanne Lloyd). Enjoy!

1.7 – “The Lonely”
Directed by Jack Smight
Written by Rod Serling
Original Airdate: November 13nd, 1959

Witness if you will a dungeon, made out of mountains, salt flats and sand that stretch to infinity. The dungeon has an inmate: James A. Corry. And this is his residence: a metal shack. An old touring car that squats in the sun and goes nowhere, for there is nowhere to go. For the record let it be known that James A. Corry is a convicted criminal placed in solitary confinement. Confinement in this case stretches as far as the eye can see because this particular dungeon is on an asteroid nine million miles from the Earth. Now witness if you will a man's mind and body shriveling in the sun, a man dying of loneliness.
As you can tell from Rod’s great intro this is a tale of loneliness as a man (Jack Warden), wrongly convicted of murder in the distant future, is isolated on an asteroid, which oddly looks like the deserts outside of Los Angeles. There are no bars on his windows, no guards at his door, but where would he go? Four times a year he is visited by John Dehner’s Allenby, the captain of a spaceship that carries supplies and information across the universe, but other than that sparse and brief interaction Warden is left to occupy his time with building odds and ends all by his lonesome. Allenby takes pity on him when he has to deliver the news that Warden’s appeal has been denied. So he delivers a large crate, telling his crew nothing about it and asking Warden to wait to open it until after they leave. When Warden does crack the case he finds himself a girl. A robot girl. Or, as they constantly say in this episode, a ro-butt. I don’t know why I find it so funny as it was obviously a common pronunciation back in the ‘50s... I’ve seen robots called ro-butts in many films and TV series of this era… but it does make me crack a smile every time I stumble across it. This robot is played by a young Jean Marsh, who our UK friends will know from UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS and DR. WHO, but who will always remind me of two extremely creepy bad guys of ‘80s fantasy: Bavmoda in WILLOW and that fucking headless lady from RETURN TO OZ. I can’t deny that she’s pretty hot here. There’s a dark innocence to her in this episode… I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim Burton watched this one as a kid and discovered a whole new world of sensations. Marsh’s Alicia looks a bit like Sally in NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Jack Warden is what keeps this episode afloat. The writing is fine, but the whole thing feels rushed, like they didn’t have enough time to really tell this story. At first Warden can’t see this robot, Alicia, as anything but a kitchen appliance with skin. He’s a rude fucker, insulting this poor girl even though she seems to have all the same emotions as he does. She feels pain, rejection, thirst, hunger, loneliness just like he does. The bulk of that rushed feeling comes from this middle section where Warden turns from rude asshole to caring companion within one scene and then we get the “11 months later” narration, not really getting any time to see how these two grow to love each other. So when the captain returns, proclaiming that Warden’s pardon has been granted, but they have to leave within 10 minutes and only have room for Warden I didn’t feel the torture of that news as much as I wanted to. Don’t get me wrong, that horrible decision is sold 100% by Warden. At first he doesn’t understand, then denies and pleads, looking insane for saying that Alicia’s a real person, there’s a real soul in there, the machine parts be damned. A lot of these episodes you have to fill in your own gaps, take some leaps you might not have had to take if there had been slightly more budget or time to develop these stories and I absolutely admit this is a well done episode, just one that I felt was done a disservice. If they had time for just one or two more scenes between Marsh and Warden I wouldn’t be picking nits. The actual ending of the episode I won’t spoil, but it’s a corker, even if I think the impact would have been greater if we had seen more of Marsh and Warden’s relationship.

1.8 – “Time Enough At Last”
Directed by John Brahm
Written by Rod Serling, based on the short story by Lynn Venable
Original Airdate: November 20th, 1959

Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the printed page but who is conspired against by a bank president and a wife and a world full of tongue-cluckers and the unrelenting hands of a clock. But in just a moment Mr. Bemis will enter a world without bank presidents or wives or clocks or anything else. He'll have a world all to himself, without anyone.
Now we’re in to one of the all time classic episodes… not just of Twilight Zone but of any episodic TV ever broadcast. I remember watching this as a kid and it really having and impact on me because the whole damned episode is about gaining your trust and then punching you in the gut. Seriously, rewatch this episode. Every moment is designed to make you sympathize with Burgess Meredith’s bookwormy Henry Bemis. Every person he’s around is a hateful douchebag, even his wife. Especially his wife. If they made this episode today they would have made Meredith’s character an uber-nerd, terribly withdrawn, socially awkward and pathetic and, in doing so, miss the point. Henry Bemis loves books because he can get lost in them without having to be talked down to, scolded or mocked. The feeling I get is that if he were in a better position, surrounded by better people he wouldn’t be forced to escape into his reading the way he does here. There’s a giddy excitement when he thinks his cunty wife (I was going to say “bitchy” wife, but go watch the episode again… she steps way out of Bitch territory and firmly into Cunt County here) is actually engaging him. The character is starved for interaction and if he had other outlets he wouldn’t turn to books as zealously as he does when we meet him. But as it is, his wife is a miserable human being, his boss at the bank is a big dickhead and he has no other friends, so Meredith, with his coke bottle glasses, turns to whatever books he can sneak. Of course I see a parallel between Mr. Bemis and myself. He has novels, I have DVDs. Fortunately for me, I don’t work in a bank, sneaking peeks at Criterions on a portable DVD player as I go about my day to day duties. I get to talk about my passion every day, but like almost every other movie geek I know there was a time when I thought I was the only one out there. And as any DVD/Blu-Ray hoarder will admit to when pressed there’s a certain “end of the world” fantasy involved in stocking your own video store, essentially. Between movies and TV I myself have probably 10 months worth of unseen stories on my DVD shelves. Of course, if the scenario that Henry Bemis finds himself in happened to me I’d be left with a few thousand shiny coasters since I doubt I’d have the electricity needed to play my media after the A-bomb drops. Unlike my issues with The Lonely this episode feels perfectly paced. You spend just enough time with Meredith pre-bomb drop to get to know him and just enough time after to feel his complete isolation and loneliness. Then that glimmer of hope as he stumbles across one of the few remaining structures in the post-apocalyptic wasteland: the public library. That represents Serling throwing a nice, cozy rug down for us to trod upon just so he can yank it out from under our feet leaving us with one of the most memorable finales ever, sold impeccably by Meredith’s heart-breakingly pathetic murmurs of the words “It’s not fair…” Awesome episode, even better than I remember it being.

1.9 – “Perchance to Dream”
Directed by Robert Florey
Written by Charles Beaumont, based on his short story
Original Airdate: November 27th, 1959

Twelve o'clock noon. An ordinary scene, an ordinary city. Lunchtime for thousands of ordinary people. To most of them, this hour will be a rest, a pleasant break in the day's routine. To most, but not all. To Edward Hall, time is an enemy, and the hour to come is a matter of life and death.
This episode marks the first Twilight Zone not scripted by Rod Serling. Instead series collaborator Charles Beaumont adapts his own short story in a dreamscape tale that surely provided the groundwork for Wes Craven’s A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Basically you follow a young Richard Conte (from The Godfather and pretty much every knock-off of The Godfather until his death in 1975) as he goes to see a new shrink after suffering a series of recurring nightmares that are putting such a strain on his weak heart. He’s certain he’s going to die the next time he falls asleep. This episode more than any other covered up to this point got under my skin. It’s not even the big moments, but a simple story Conte is telling his shrink about how his imagination can sometimes make him see things. He describes reading about a woman being killed while driving by a murderer hiding in her backseat, so we see him nervously driving along shooting glances into his rearview mirror. All we see is blackness. The editing becomes more and more frantic and I realized I was clenching up a bit in anticipation of what was going to pop up. Freddy Krueger isn’t hunting Conte. Quite the opposite, actually. A beautiful woman haunts him. He dreams of being at a carnival and conversing with this woman, a dancer known as Maya, The Cat Woman, who has the devil in her eyes. She wants him dead, Conte is sure of it. Because he dreams in sequence he knows that the progressively bizarre and scary dreams are about to come to a head and is bound and determined to stay awake. The dream sequences are filmed with Dutch angles and a Vaseline-smeared lens giving them a true nightmarish quality. In a technical respect this episode is years ahead of its time. Conte is great here, really selling his torment as he spills all this to a sympathetic psychiatrist. You can probably spot the ending if you pay close attention to the beginning, but it’s cleverly hidden. It’s a solid episode, not as iconic as the previous, but artistically well done and notable for playing with a conceit that would become a cornerstone of horror in the coming decades. I also have to love the throwback to the feel of the Val Lewton horror films, which all felt dreamlike as well. There you have it. Another three down! I’ll be attacking the next three this week, so stay tuned! -Quint Follow Me On Twitter

Previous Twilight Zone Articles:

Episodes 1.1-1.3
Episodes 1.4-1.6

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • May 11, 2010, 4:03 a.m. CST

    Time enough at last is my fav TZ eppy

    by djdark01

    It's reeeeallly good.

  • May 11, 2010, 4:14 a.m. CST

    All 3 of those episdoes

    by The Guy Who Slept Through Everything.

    are absolutely terrific. Keep it up!

  • May 11, 2010, 4:59 a.m. CST

    Episode 1.7 reminds me of Castaway and Wilson

    by V'Shael

    Humans can imbue great personality into something which isn't human, out of nothing but sheer lonliness.

  • May 11, 2010, 6:14 a.m. CST

    High on the list of reasons ...

    by The StarWolf

    ... why I can't be bothered with the Oscar ceremonies: Burgess Meredith never won one. And what does this say about their lack of taste?

  • May 11, 2010, 6:39 a.m. CST

    Funny thing about "The Lonely"

    by V'Shael

    Just watched the ending of it again, because I hadn't seen it in years and I wanted to refresh my memory. <p> For some reason, my memory of the episode was different. (No doubt I saw it through different eyes when I was younger.) <p> In my memory, once the other astronauts were there, she acted more robotic. And when she was shot, the robot didn't even look that human any more. So to me, it seemed that his lonliness contributed to him hallucinating a more human looking female. And her mannerisms were also a symptom of his unbalanced mental state. <p> Watching it now, I have a different interpretation. One that, if anything, is even darker. Brilliant episode that.

  • May 11, 2010, 7:04 a.m. CST


    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Dr. Zoidberg...?

  • May 11, 2010, 7:48 a.m. CST

    Yeah, "Ro-butt" is always funny

    by BizarroJerry

    You may notice that old Star Trek episodes toss in the pronunciation "Klin-gun", which is fun, too.

  • May 11, 2010, 7:52 a.m. CST

    Saw 1st two recently on Syfy

    by Powerring

    The lonely was superb. There was a much more graphic science fiction story along those lines about a lonely guy aboard a deep space mission, and his graphic thoughts about violence. Burgess has to have one of the worst trade-off's of all time. Be careful what you wish for. Here is a suggestion: A la star trek: TOS re-cgi the old series to bring the effects up on par with the stories.

  • May 11, 2010, 7:58 a.m. CST

    Even if Mr. Bemis had not broken his glasses

    by Ingeld

    he would have soon found himself in despair. As a book lover he was obviously fascinated by the lives and thoughts of humanity; he would have soon felt how empty this fascination would be without any real humans around.

  • May 11, 2010, 8:16 a.m. CST

    That nightmare episode freaked me out too.

    by Tacom

    And it's true you can fall asleep for just a few seconds and the dream feels like it lasts an hour.

  • May 11, 2010, 9:28 a.m. CST

    These mini reviews

    by optimus122

    Make me want to go out and buy all of these dvd's. V'Shael, when you rewatched The Lonely...what made it darker? And was he imagining her looking and being so human? I didn't see the episode but I want to know what happened lol.

  • May 11, 2010, 9:54 a.m. CST

    @Optimus122 :

    by V'Shael

    He wasn't imagining her looking human. In the episode, she's definitely humanoid looking. And when she gets shot, her face is obliterated by the bullet, but the rest of her body still looks utterly human and feminine.<br /><br />It was darker for me now, I suppose, because I've seen far more scifi where conscious thinking machines are still treated as little more than toasters by their human masters. <br /><br />So it occurred to me that Alesia might have been deliberately not acting like a woman, to make it easier for Corry to leave.<br /><br />On top of that, if we assume it wasn't all in his mind, and that the robot/android was as we saw her, then ... I found myself wondering if those guys were ever going to make it home. Because if you have a guy who has already served time for a crime he didn't commit, and then you shoot his woman and take him away... he might just not see the big deal in killing you.<br /><br />As such, I took Corry's last lines as being almost like he was trying to reign himself in, while still being in shock.<br /><br />Basically, my interpretation now includes a sentient robot who self-sacrifices out of love, and an innocent man finally driven to commit murder, and kill the only guy who showed him any kindness while he was in 'prison'. So, a little darker than my original "she was just a machine all along, and his lonliness made her seem more human than she was".<br />

  • May 11, 2010, 11:05 a.m. CST

    "So it occurred to me that Alesia might have been deliberately n

    by Alientoast

    I thought the same thing, too. I thought she did it on purpose, because she wanted him to go home and be happy. That's why these old Twilight Zone episodes are hard to top...they are just small nuggets of awesome storytelling you can eat by the handful.

  • May 11, 2010, 11:21 a.m. CST

    The greatest series ever...

    by Banshee7

  • May 11, 2010, 11:23 a.m. CST

    and it was done 50 years ago.

    by Banshee7

    What does it say about our current filmmakers that nothing can touch this series?

  • May 11, 2010, 12:59 p.m. CST


    by carlotta_valdes

    ...that's a beautiful thought, suggesting Alisha's sacrifice for Corry. I don't feel it plays out that way, but it's great that there's so much room in these stories for that kind of personal interpretation.In regard to Quints main issue with the storytelling in The Lonely (more relationship scenes to heighten the dramatic outcome), in the syndicated version there were even less. The star gazing scene was completely removed to make room for more commercial time! Until I bought this definitive set a couple of year's back I had never seen it. This is another great thing about these restored episodes, if you grew up watching the zone through reruns...there are about 5-6 minutes which are completely new to you per episode. One other thing that I really enjoy across the board with 50's shows is the limited scientific knowledge...makes for some very amusing explanations. Love the way the ship's crew is always in a rush to leave stating that if they wait too long they'll lose their 'orbital position' and never get home. If that were true, how could you continue to make multiple takeoffs and landings to deliver supplies? According to the logic of the episode, couldn't you just wait a little longer and leave then?...not knocking the show at all, these elements just add to the charm of it for me. Regarding Henry Bemis. Burgess Meredith's performance is the reason you feel such a heightened sense of tragedy even beyond the extinction of the entire human race when the 'gut punch' happens. He draws us into Bemis' passion for the written word extending beyond rational perspective. His joy becomes ours as does his crushing defeat. I also think it's the only time in the shows history where a sympathetic character gets punished for a fairly normal and innocent indulgence. I've never seen anything like it before or since on tv...classic. Sorry for the post length.

  • May 11, 2010, 4:59 p.m. CST

    "If they made this episode today they would

    by hst666

    have made Meredith’s character an uber-nerd, terribly withdrawn, socially awkward and pathetic"<p><p>Seriously Quint, how could you not draw that conclusion from watching this episode. I thought that was the whole point. I am not sure how much of a Twilight Zone you are if you never saw the Homewood episode before, either.

  • May 11, 2010, 5:50 p.m. CST

    Please spoil Quint!

    by Amfpsych

    I love hearing about these great episodes but I doubt I'll even actually watch the series. Please tell us the twists and endings of the episodes.

  • May 11, 2010, 7:46 p.m. CST

    You seem to have a lot of free time on your hands

    by Trazadone

    Wow, I wish I had so little going on in my life that I could watch and review every episode of the Twilight Zone. Actually I wouldn't bother, anyone who goes to this site has already seen every episode of this show.

  • May 12, 2010, 3:35 a.m. CST

    John Dehner in The Lonely

    by knightrider

    I had forgotten that John Dehner was in that. He was a great character actor, in absolutely everything during the 1950s and 1960s, and always excellent. I watched him just the other day in the Maverick episode "Shady Deal At Sunny Acres" - a great hour of classic TV that looks to have inspired The Sting.

  • May 12, 2010, 8:34 a.m. CST

    Top 20 episodes

    by kenyonnoble

    Top 20 BEST Twilight Zone's ever 1) Number 12 looks just like you 2) Five Characters in search of an Exit 3) Time Enough at Last 4) The Silence 5) To Serve Man 6) The Howling Man 7) Stopover in a Quiet Town 8) Eye of the Beholder 9) Nick of Time 10) Will the real Martian please stand up. 11) Monsters are due on Maple Street 12) The Obsolete Man 13) People are Alike all over 14) Of late I think of Cliffordville 15) The Four of us are dying 16) A game of Pool 17) The Midnight Sun 18) The Masks 19) Kick the Can 20) Its a Good Life

  • May 12, 2010, 9:50 a.m. CST

    John Dehner...

    by carlotta_valdes

    ...great actor. Was he in more than 3 Zones? Can only think of 'Mr Denton on Doomsday', The Jungle and this. Any others?

  • May 12, 2010, 9:55 a.m. CST


    by Alientoast

    Another good episode was the one with the bomb shelter in the basement of that couple's house that was hosting a dinner party, when suddenly the radio alerts that a nuclear attack is on the way and it turns into an every-family-for-themselves fight for survival.

  • May 12, 2010, 1:27 p.m. CST

    scratch 'Mr Denton on Doomsday'...

    by carlotta_valdes

    ...I meant 'McGarrity and the Graves'.

  • May 12, 2010, 3:33 p.m. CST


    by kenyonnoble

    Agreed. There are a few that barely missed my list. The Shelter along with Alone in the Dark (Redford's debut), The Dummy, Nightmare at 20,000 ft & A Stop at Willoughby" are also classics.

  • May 12, 2010, 4:26 p.m. CST

    kenyonnoble, no love for...

    by carlotta_valdes

    The After Hours, Long Live Walter Jameson, The Grave, The New Exhibit and On Thursday We Leave For Home?

  • May 12, 2010, 4:35 p.m. CST

    Redford's debut...

    by carlotta_valdes

    ...was a good three years previous. He had done a number of guest appearances on western tv shows as well as Perry Mason and Hitchcock Presents before TZ.

  • May 12, 2010, 5:05 p.m. CST

    by kenyonnoble

  • May 12, 2010, 5:20 p.m. CST


    by kenyonnoble

    On Thursday is a great one, one of the best hour longs, along with New Exhibit (ending always creeped me out). All of your choices are valid. There are so many episodes that could be a top 50 best.

  • May 12, 2010, 5:34 p.m. CST

    Don't avoid the spoilers, man.

    by HorrorFan81

    The talkbackers can watch the episodes before reading the article. We have the technology. They can do it.

  • May 12, 2010, 5:35 p.m. CST

    Top 50...

    by carlotta_valdes

    ...sounds about right. I give you a lot of credit for even attempting a top 20. I couldn't do it. Of the 156 episodes there are probably 40-50 great, 60-70 very good with the rest being okay to poor. Just an incredible success ratio.

  • May 13, 2010, 7:09 a.m. CST

    @Trazadone...Why do you care?

    by brokemart

    Why do you care how much free time the author has? And why do you care how he spends it? And why would you waste your obviously valuable time reading and responding to something you feel is such a waste of time? You make zero sense. Let the people who are interested in this column enjoy it and you can continue to carefully manage your precious time elsewhere.

  • May 13, 2010, 9:21 a.m. CST

    Top Episodes

    by knightrider

    I couldn't put together a Top 10 list, but here's my picks of the best episodes for each season:</p> Season 1:<br> Walking Distance; The Lonely; Time Enough at Last; The Hitch-Hiker; The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street; People Are Alike All Over; A Stop At Willoughby</p> Season 2:<br> The Howling Man; Eye of the Beholder; Nick of Time; The Invaders; Shadow Play; Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?; The Obsolete Man</p> Season 3:<br> Two; Five Characters in Search of an Exit; Nothing in the Dark; The Hunt; Kick The Can; The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank; To Serve Man; Little Girl Lost</p> Season 4:<br> Jess-Belle; Printer's Devil; The New Exhibit; Of Late I Think of Cliffordville; The Incredible World of Horace Ford; On Thursday We Leave For Home</p> Season 5:<br> Nightmare At 20,000 Feet; Living Doll; The Old Man In The Cave; The Masks</p> Sorry that the list is so long, but as carlotta_valdes says, this series has such an incredible success ratio. I'm sure I've even missed out a few.</p> If I had to pick one 'best' episode, I think I'd go with Eye of the Beholder. A taut story, excellent direction, and a universal message. This series is just great, great television.

  • May 13, 2010, 9:45 a.m. CST

    I forgot...

    by knightrider

    'It's a Good Life' and 'Long-Distance Call' with Bill(y) Mumy, and 'Night Call' with Gladys Cooper!

  • May 13, 2010, 12:20 p.m. CST

    ditto knightrider...

    by carlotta_valdes

    ...if i were to pick one episode to show to someone who had never, ever heard of the show, it would be 'Eye of the Beholder'. It just seems to encapsulate so much of what Twilight Zone was about...amazing visual style, great writing/performances, social commentary concealed in a sci fi framework and a fantastic twist ending which at the time, must have been mind blowing to a 1960's audience. Sadly, some people today fail to understand what makes this groundbreaking episode so special seeing it as predictable, having experienced many other like story telling conventions that were birthed in the Twilight Zone. I always bow down to the original and it's greatness.

  • May 13, 2010, 12:41 p.m. CST

    concerning 'It's a Good Life'...

    by carlotta_valdes

    ...Dan Hollis rocks!...all he ever wanted was to listen to his Perry Como record...and look what happened? "Happy Birthday to me...Happy Birthday to me..."

  • May 15, 2010, 12:10 p.m. CST

    Pretty envious...

    by whitsbrain

    ...of you Quint. I watched all of the Twilight Zone episodes in broadcast order just as you are now a few years ago. I enjoyed them so much, I did it again. Great, great stories. I wish I could see them all again for the first time. I bought the Definitive Edition DVDs as they came out one season at a time and ended up paying about $350 for all five seasons. Oh, and don't look now, but Image Entertainment is releasing all of these episodes with reportedly new/additional extras on Blu-Ray.

  • May 20, 2010, 4:36 p.m. CST

    Nine and done?...

    by carlotta_valdes

    ...Quint where are you? You can't be burned out already?

  • May 24, 2010, 12:42 p.m. CST

    yeah, what happend to this feature

    by Bathman

    I was looking forward to seeing all 156 episode reviewd, Was interest not high enough to warrant more then the first 9..whats up wit dat?

  • May 31, 2010, 7:11 a.m. CST

    So i guess this feature wasn't a hit?

    by Bathman

    It's been 3 weeks and no more of them...what a shame