[June 5, 1962] Into the Sunset (the End of The Twilight Zone, Season 3)

by Lorelei Marcus

You hear that? That’s the last school bell ringing, signifying the end of the school year. That means the beginning of summer break, and with it the end of another season of The Twilight Zone. However, unlike the previous seasons of The Twilight Zone, I hear this may be the last. I am both sad, and a bit relieved. I have very much enjoyed reviewing this series with my father, and I am very sad to see it go. However, I believe its also time for it to go. It had a very good first season, and progressively got worse over time as Serling strained for more ideas. It was obvious that by the end, Serling was out of inspiration. Still, rather than focus on all the many mediocre episodes, I’d like to go back and appreciate the really stand-out episodes of The Twilight Zone.

The first ones I would like to honor, of course, were the two recent five star rated episodes, Little Girl Lost and The Fugitive. Truly spectacular works that were the perfect balance of peculiar, creepy, and heartwarming. Next I would like to honor The Mirror in its complete awfulness. It was really terrible, in a “so bad it’s good” kind of way. Finally, I would like to say something about Time Enough at Last and It’s a Good Life, because I know people are going to be asking about them. Time Enough had an interesting setup and conflict, however I didn’t like the ending at all. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for happy endings, but just having his glasses break seemed like a cheap cop-out rather than an actual twist. It’s a Good Life also had an interesting setup, however from there it just went downhill for me. There wasn’t really a message I got out of it other than “don’t spoil your kids,” which I assume was not the intended theme. At least I don’t have to babysit the kid. If you’d like to see full reviews of all the episodes I just mentioned, and more, just peruse past articles of Galactic Journey with The Twilight Zone in the title.

Alright, enough talk about episodes I’ve already reviewed; let’s talk about the last four episodes. Which just so happen to be the literal last four episodes of The Twilight Zone:

Young Man’s Fancy, by Richard Matheson

We start off with a more Season One style episode. A newlywed couple goes to the husband’s dead mother’s house to pack and get ready to sell it. It becomes clear fairly quickly that the husband is still clinging to the house and the memory of his mother. The wife, on the other hand, is the polar opposite, relieved she can finally have her husband all to herself. Throughout the episode, certain strange things keep happening around the wife, such as a broken clock starting to work again, and a modern vacuum magically changing into a much older one. It seems as if the ghost of the husband’s mother is malicious and trying to scare the wife off. The episode ends with a twist that neither me nor my father predicted for once, so that was a nice surprise. However I am still a little confused by the ending as well, and haven’t really been able to decide what it means. I’d love to hear some feedback of what you think. I give this 3 stars.

I sing the Body Electric, by Ray Bradbury

This second episode was a bit of a contrast to the first one. It was very touching and I found it very enjoyable to watch. It’s about a single father struggling to raise three unhappy children. Everyone misses the mother of the family very much. Luckily, they’re just so happens to be a company that makes robotic caretakers that are perfect for a lonely household! Of course the family heads over to check them out. From this point until near the end of the episode, I was convinced the twist would be that something terrible was going to happen. This idea was only reinforced by the infinitely creepy salesman and his “create your own person” type product. Still, the episode proved me wrong and ended very sweetly. I would highly recommend that you would watch this episode on a bad day, it has a very happy ending and theme, that I think will cheer you up. I give this episode a whopping 4.5 stars!

[Gwyn, our fashion columnist felt similarly (ED)]

Cavender is Coming, by Rod Serling

The third episode was about a clumsy but charming woman who couldn’t keep a job if her life depended on it, and her 24-hour guardian angel, who isn’t so great himself. The Angel tries to make the woman happy by giving her lots of money, but in the end, of course she wants to go back to her old, silly life. Hmmm, this plot sounds awfully familiar doesn’t it? That’s probably because it’s the exact same plot as Mr. Bevis except done worse. I won’t bother to go into detail about my opinions on this episode, since it would be the same as my father’s review of Mr. Bevis. I give it 2.5 stars.

Changing of the Guard, by Rod Serling

Unfortunately, this final episode is not the big awesome finale I think some of us were hoping for. In fact, I was actually having trouble remembering the episode when sitting down to write this review! The entire plot can be summarized to about two sentences. Teacher gets fired and is depressed. Gets told he’s done a lot for the world, and becomes no longer depressed. Now imagine that, but drawn out into 22, very slow minutes. However, I did realize while writing this article, that this final episode had a deeper meaning. The teacher realizes at the end that, it is his time to retire and let a new teacher in. He has left a great mark on the world and will not be forgotten, however he is also done and it is his time to step out of the light. In a way, this is a metaphor for The Twilight Zone. It has had a long, good run, and I imagine it will not be forgotten anytime soon. However, it is time for it to end, as all things must do, and give room for new amazing shows to come. I will still only give this episode 2 stars, because it was incredibly boring, but it did give this for me to think about.

I have the final average of 3 stars. A nice middle to end on. Not particularly good, but at least not too bad either. I will miss you Twilight Zone, but I’m also glad it’s over. Besides, I need to make room for all the fantastic summer blockbusters yet to come. Until then,

This is the Young Traveler, signing off.

by Gideon Marcus

And here’s the Old Traveler..er..the Just Plain Traveler signing in.  My two-and-a-half cents:

Young Man’s Fancy was tedious, though the final twist was somewhat interesting.  Two stars.

I liked I sing the Body Electric less that my youthful counterpart.  It’s a fantasy, not science fiction, and perhaps would been better framed in that context.  But David White (the father) is quite an excellent actor, and young Veronica Cartwright (the eldest sibling) did a fine job.  Josephine Hutchinson, in the Mary Poppins role, somehow left me cold.  Three stars.

Cavender is Coming fell incredibly flat, some of the blame I must lay at Jesse White’s (Cavender) feet.  Two stars.

Changing of the Guard features an excellent performance by British actor, Donald Pleasence, but the soliloquies are all 20% too long, and the “twist” broadly telegraphed.  2.5 stars.

Thus, for me, The Twilight Zone ends with a whimper, and I suspect there is truth to the rumor that the show has failed to get a sponsor for next season.  Nevertheless, however spotty this final run has been, we must still give Serling his due for creating a revolutionary anthology show, one which will rightly be remembered (and hopefully imitated) for years to come.

11 thoughts on “[June 5, 1962] Into the Sunset (the End of The Twilight Zone, Season 3)”

  1. Odd how long it took Bradbury to appear on Twilight Zone, by this time he had five Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Faith of Aaron Menefee airing there earlier this year. So far 1962 a good year for Bradbury, the hour long The Jail on Alcoa another Hitchcock association. Icarus Montgolfier Wright scheduled to appear in August. Like one teleplay a year since Moby Dick. He is now , kind of a ‘name’ and his deepest desire was to work in Hollywood. Hard business tho, at the top of his visual narrative form he must have a lot un-produced work.

      1. The Jail was odd, as a 30 min. story it have made a better TWZ.
        It had a twisty idea. I thought the presentation was kind of lackluster considering that the story is interesting and the cast was good.
        Bradbury is an odd fish to me , I realized early on he was not writing science fiction. Some jumped him , accusing him of ‘calculated lyricism’ , but that really never bothered me.  I was off and on entertained by his speculative fiction, which sometimes contained too much naively.  Funny only read Dandelion Wine lately, I liked that very much.

  2. “Time Enough at Last” is certainly intended to hit home to all of us reading fanatics, but a moment’s thought after the credits roll rather dilutes the effect.  To wit:

    The guy is as near-blind as all that, and he has not bothered with the trivial safeguard of having one or two duplicate pairs of glasses?  Or at least of keeping around those intended for his previous prescription, which while not perfectly adapted to current state of his eyes should be close enough to allow reading?  Difficult to believe.  (I’ve worn glasses since first grade, and have three or four still “usable” if somewhat outdated old pairs on hand.)

    The guy has access to every building in town (and in theory to every one in the world), including optometrists’ shops.  (And certainly he’d know where at least one or two local ones were.) Shouldn’t he make a beeline to the nearest one and try on glasses waiting to be picked up by customers who are now dead and will never call for them?  Or isn’t it likely that he knows of other people with severe eyesight problems, and that he can break into their homes and retrieve their glasses to see if there’s an acceptable match?  Again, maybe not perfect, but surely he could find things that would work to some extent.

    Books on tape for the blind was already a thing, right?  I assume electrical power is defunct, but were there tape players that ran on batteries, which could be found/scavenged?  I’d never fully accept Talking Books as a substitute for the pleasure of reading a physical book, but, again — much, much better than nothing.

    There are probably other ploys that have not yet occured to me.  But I can’t have much respect for the poor fish if none of the above have occured to him.

    1. > one or two pair of duplicate glasses

      Uh… you realize that a pair of glasses can cost more that what most people pay for rent or a mortgage per month, right?  And not everyone thinks to get their old lenses back when they have new ones made.

      Grinding a pair of lenses takes a lot of equipment, a skilled workman, and time.  Automated machinery exists for making ordinary lenses used in binoculars, cameras, and rifle scopes, but those machines can’t deal with all the varied eccentricities of eyeglass lenses.

      Maybe such things could be automated in the future, but glasses will probably continue to be expensive for a long time.

    2. The poor man was near suicide from loneliness and despair when he found the library.  To be given a brief respite from his problems, only to have it taken away is more of a blow than you’re imagining.  In a few hours or days, he may, though nearly blind, find another pair of glasses, but he needs the relief of reading _now_; he doesn’t need another challenge.

  3. “Young Man’s Fancy” was an interesting story, with its Freudian ending.  One of the more frightening episodes, really, when you think about its implications.

    “I Sing the Body Electric” was nicely done, and I tend to like Bradbury (while admitting he can descend into unintentional self-parody some times.)

    “Cavender is Coming” was the nadir of the series for me.  Just awful.  Carol Burnette is a gifted comedienne — have you seen her on The Garry Moore Show? — but her talents are wasted here.  And that darn laugh track!

    The performance of Donald Pleasence in “The Changing of the Guard” makes the episode for me.  It overcomes the thinness of the story.

  4. Despite the lackluster “Cavender”, I hope Miss Burnett has a long career in comedy. She’s easily the funniest thing on Garry Moore, and I bet she could anchor a variety show better than he does.

    Maybe us ladies just like “I Sing the Body Electric” more than the gents.

  5. “Young Man’s Fancy” was, alas, utterly predictable, mostly because it was the sort of ending we’ve come to expect from the show. On a different show, maybe Thriller if it were still on, there might have been some suspense over which woman would win.

    “I Sing the Body Electric” is one of my least favorite top-tier Bradbury stories. It doesn’t even have the benefit of a bad Bradbury story. A bad Bradbury story is like watching a palsied, old, drunk magician performing a trick. You can see how it’s done and maybe learn something about the craft. This one is just sentimentality.

    As for “Cavender”, you can add me to the list of Miss Burnett’s fans. Jesse White isn’t terrible, but he can only do two things: hang-dog and third-tier Damon Runyon hoodlum. I can see the appeal of a Runyonesque guardian angel, but it needs Nathan Detroit, not Second Gambler from the Right.

    I generally like Donald Pleasence.  I found this story a little too sentimental as well. And it’s really just Goodbye, Mr. Chips in Twilight Zone clothes. But probably not a bad note for the show to end on.

    Overall this has been a good show. At its best, this is what television done right looks like. At its worst, it might still be a cut above most of the other nonsense on TV. And its influence will be felt for a while. I hear that ABC is developing an anthology show with a science fiction bent for the fall. Maybe that will fill the hole from this show’s passing.

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