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Twilight Zone, The: Season 2 (1960)

Genre: Drama Fantasy Sci-Fi Mystery Thriller Series

Starring: Established as well as up-and-coming talent.

Created By: Rod Sterling

Overview: There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone. - Opening Narration

Very few people haven't heard of "The Twilight Zone". The original series was more often than not a moral tale told with a streak of irony, all topped with some weird sci-fi twists to frame the lesson, and ran for five years.

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) led to the popular 1985 revival of the series which ran for 4 years - I think we all remember watching that - and in 2002 Forest Whitaker hosted a season of a third revival. From the legacy of the original we see this show's influence in "Tales from the Darkside" , "Tales from the Crypt", and "The Ray Bradbury Theater", just to name a few.

But what defines a good show is not how many times a network can rehash it, or even I dare say, how good its intended audience considered it. What truly defines a show as being great is its staying power decades later, rather than merely being, as I said in my review of Season 1, "a nostalgic air of an era I've never lived in... enjoyable, anthropologically."

Those things from Season 1 that left a sour taste are merely enhanced in Season 2. Certain premises are so far fetched that they go against human nature. As is often all too true with the second season of many a television show, ideas put in production are taken from the B-List.

For example, Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up? is an episode where county policemen are trying to find an alien among bus passengers holed up during a storm in a coffee shop. Suspicion and doubt abounds, but no one stands up and declare the ridiculousness of the nature of the police inquiry, you know... ALIENS. At the same time, the officers tasked don't apply their authority sufficiently to get the job done because, 'they can't hold anyone on suspicion of being an alien'. Why go that far and stop half way through?

The Rip Van Winkle Caper's premise finds a genius devising a system for a 100-year cryogenic sleep intended to ensure that the recent million dollar gold bullion heist ends smoothly. No one doubts the logic of 100 years of sleep. No one raises the obvious issues of inflation, population growth that may lead to their discovery during stasis or the socio-political climate when they awake. No one even asks the simple question of "What is the statute of limitation on Grand Larceny?"

These are just two examples of what turned out to be a somewhat disappointing season of ironic 60s sci-fi. The thing I found most painful about Season 2 was the use of new technology. Rather than every episode sporting crisp images shot on film, we have a third of the shows recorded on tape and shot in studio with new equipment. The result is choppy dolly shots, unimaginative backgrounds, and overall poor sound and video quality. Let's hope Season 3 refrains from this degree of cost-cutting.

All is not lost however, as more of my personal favourites can be found in Season 2: Nick of Time, starring a very young William Shatner, where he is trapped in a small town diner by a fortune telling machine; A Penny for Your Thoughts starring a mind-reading Dick York of "Bewitched" fame and A Hundred Yards Over the Rim, a tale where an 1847 pioneer crests a hill to find medicine and ends up in present day New Mexico.

Oh right, I fogot the one where a genie turns a dude into Hitler... GAWD
Oh right, I fogot the one where a genie turns a dude into Hitler... GAWD

Overall Rating: 64% (More Like Late Dusk)

I've long ago given up on the fact that I've found some hidden treasure in the original "The Twilight Zone" series, but it's still a perfect thing to have around when you're not in the mood for a feature, and you can't stand watching commercials...well except for Rod Sterling plugging Oasis cigarettes, that's awesome.

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I'm a huge TZ fan, but I have no interest in the season packs because for the most part there are more terrible TZ episodes than good ones. I pretty much have all my favorite TZ episodes on DVD when they were released in installments, so it's not much use to splurge for the seasons.

There are a LOT of clunkers in Season 2, far more than you mentioned: Night of the Meek, A Thing About Machines, The Mind and the Matter (awwwwful special effects), etc. But a lot of my favorites are in this season as well: The Howling Man (all-time favorite), Shadow Play, The Lateness of the Hour, and The Invaders (some of the best special effects and direction of the series).

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