The Twilight Zone Season 3 (1961)

The Twilight Zone Season 3

The Twilight Zone Season 3 Review

The third season of The Twilight Zone is an interesting one mainly because it is the biggest one with the highest amount of episodes and also because it managed to bounce off of its weaker beginning and ending on the same quality level as the second season which is really quite an accomplishment.

The first two episodes are forgettable and two of the weakest. But episode three The Shelter is an improvement with its tense survival tale pitting against neighbors. But the next episode called The Passersby is the first truly great episode of this season that succeeds mostly due to its eerie nature and just fantastic black-and-white imagery. But it also is questionable because it made me ask how many times more will they do Civil War and Lincoln? It just seemed repetitive, which is a problem this season barely overcame in the end.

A Game of Pool is not a standout and The Mirror is a really good episode, but also the one that didn’t quite deliver on its awesome premise. But The Grave is a phenomenal piece of entertainment. It is, like the forth episode, filled with absolutely amazing and highly memorable scenery and photography. I also like its amusing plot and its creepy nature.

It’s a Good Life is one of the best episodes of the season without a doubt. It is about a boy who terrorizes the whole village with his supernatural powers. This is one of those Twilight Zone episodes that is easily recognizable for all the good reasons as it is beautifully fantastic and also horrific with quite a good child performance at the center of it all.

Deaths-Head Revisited is a great episode that is really intense in its ending, but once again the subject matter of Nazism is getting repetitive. My main problem with this season is how they rely too much on war episodes, especially Nazi Germany and Cold War instead of going back to science fiction and horror.

The Midnight Sun is absolutely superb both in its excellent performances, imaginative premise and fantastic twist ending that was really unexpected. It is definitely one of the best. Still Valley is another Civil War episode, albeit a pretty good one. As for The Jungle about cursed objects and place, it is probably the weakest part of the whole season because it is boring and just dated with its black magic plot.

Now we come to Once Upon a Time, an episode that is not only one of the best here, but one of the best ever for Twilight Zone. It is astonishing from start to finish not only for its highly entertaining and thankfully this time refreshing time travel plot, but also because it perfectly captures the silent films and pays an homage to them with its half silent approach.

Five Characters in Search of an Exit is one of those episodes that I can see why it is one of the favorites by many, but is not personally my favorite. It starts off pretty slow but is redeemed by its highly original premise and above all authentic setting and a phenomenal twist that is one of the best this season.

A Quality of Mercy is about an American who becomes Japanese during WW2. It is a pretty good episode, but my problem with it is that it really takes its time to get there and it never properly explored its subject matter and should have been way too emotional.

Nothing in the Dark is a warm and eerie tale of an old woman who does not want to die whereas One More Pallbearer is instantly memorable and influential with its highly authentic and perfectly executed premise. Dead Man’s Shoes is nothing remarkable, but The Hunt is really heartwarming and refreshing for its inclusion of a dog in the story and the view of heaven.

The next western episode is one of the weakest and does not deserve more talk, but Kick the Can is really something special. It is about old people in the nursing home who follow one of the men into recapturing their youth. It is perfect from start to finish, a melancholic and endlessly touching tale of growing old and staying a child at heart. It really spoke volumes to me and is one of the highlights for sure.

A Piano in the House is simply superb and very creepy, but I wished for more in its ending. The next vampire horror episode was forgettable at first, but really picked up later on. To Serve Man is about an alien race who come to Earth to help people. It is again an instantly memorable tale and a welcome return to sci-fi.

The Fugitive is really heartwarming and in the end grounded, but Little Girl Lost is how ‘Poltergeist’ should have turned out. That movie totally ripped-off this episode which is not at all cheesy as the movie, but honestly emotional and highly original.

Person or Persons Unknown is about a man whom  suddenly nobody can recognize. It is a standard thriller plot, but the one that surprised me how well executed it is. The Little People is another great science fiction story about an astronaut who becomes a god to a race of tiny aliens. It is essentially a message film, but it’s not preachy but rather intelligent.

The next episode is about an alchemist who wants to get rid of evil people and it is once again a great social commentary. And the next episode about a deceiving old man who attracts the attention of aliens is definitely an excellent episode, but the one somehow affected by an annoying main character in my opinion.

The Trade-Ins is about an old couple who want to trade their old bodies. This is the return to a socially conscious, incredibly smart and original sci-fi that this third season unfortunately lacked early on. The Gift is a really smart and dramatic sci-fi story. The Dummy about an alive evil doll is naturally a creepy and really well done and influential horror piece. But Young Man’s Fancy is one of the most underrated works as it perfectly explores the unnatural obsessive relationship between a mother and a son.

I Sing the Body Electric is about a robot nanny and at heart it is rather endearing instead of dark. I really loved its perfect conclusion and this is one of the most memorable stories as well. Cavender is Coming, about a clumsy woman who gets her clumsy guardian angel, is absolutely superb and the episode that surprised me the most not only how beautiful it is, but also how comedic in tone it is. And The Changing of the Guard about an old professor who doesn’t want to retire is naturally some heartbreaking and powerful stuff.

Overall, this season started off weak and it should have dealt more with sci-fi and horror instead of being repetitive with war episodes, but this is still a season that is on par with season two because it redeemed itself later on with a bunch of classic, highly memorable and instantly iconic episodes filled with smart, socially conscious and just entertaining and endearing plots. It is a very strong season and another reason how incredibly good this show is.

 Worst Episodes:  The Arrival, A Game of Pool, The Jungle and Showdown with Rance McGrew.

Best Episodes: It’s a Good Life, The Midnight Sun, Once Upon a Time, Five Characters in Search of an Exit, Young Man’s Fancy and I Sing the Body Electric.

 My Rating – 4.7

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