The fourth season of The Twilight Zone is the only season in which the episodes last not for twenty five, but for around an hour. And that was this season’s biggest strength and also the biggest problem as some episodes are dragged, but some are on the other hand big-scale and fitting for such a treatment.
The first couple of episodes are the finest. In His Image is absolutely terrific and is one of the best parts of the whole season thanks to an excellent incorporation of robotics and some very human moments. It is also very mysterious and engaging from start to finish with such a beautiful conclusion. The Thirty-Fathom Grave is also a really good episode as it has such a great atmosphere and realistic, likable characters. Both the setting and the theme are unique and make it really interesting to watch.
Valley of the Shadow is the third episode and is the most thrilling of the bunch, or at least one of the most thrilling. It works wonderfully within that genre with such an authentic and clever premise and many great moments. He’s Alive is a typical territory for the series, but it is executed really well with such a great anti-war statement and an amazing ending that makes you forgive the whole predictable nature of the story.
Mute is easily one of the very best episodes of this season. The premise alone is worth the watch, but it is the thrilling and smart execution that make it a classic episode. There are many memorable, almost creepy moments here and it is one of the best executed episodes here. Death Ship is engaging to watch and for once a sci-fi story, but it is predictable and too typical to be enjoyed more.
Jess-Belle is a traditional tale that seems lacking at first, but in the ends proves to be really superb thanks to well developed characters, intriguing story and a great use of magic in its storytelling. Miniature is a great character study with a refreshingly atypical protagonist, but it also has an authentic story and it is visually quite pleasing.
Printer’s Devil has probably one of the most memorable villains ever for the series. It is naturally original and riveting, but it also has fleshed-out characters, emotional intensity and such an intense third act that make it a must see. No Time Like the Past is a clichéd Twilight Zone episode that means well and has its moments, but is too similar to the other episodes and doesn’t differentiates itself nearly enough as it should.
The Parallel is the science fiction highlight of season four thanks to a really well done story, nicely realized characters, superb ending and it explores its now clichéd, but for the series original subject matter really well. I Dream of Genie, on the other hand, is unfortunately one of the worst episodes of the season due to its detour, filler-like approach. It means well and is charming from time to time, but is overlong and too repetitive to be enjoyed properly and the main character was a nuisance in my honest opinion.
The New Exhibit is absolutely magnificent! This is the part that not only uses its premise to the fullest extent, but also transcends it due to a powerhouse performance from Martin Balsam who creates one of the most memorable characters in The Twilight Zone history. He is so unique, so crazy and unpredictable and the whole episode is so creepy at times, but always atmospheric and just mesmerizing. Of Late I Think of Cliffordville is again a time-travel tale, but it is this time thankfully done differently with an emphasis on character development and message, working beautifully as a cautionary tale. It also has such an unforgettable and menacing character in Miss. Devlin.
The Incredible World of Horace Ford is again a typical territory for the show, but is still really well done, with sympathetic and caring characters and such a heartwarming finale. On Thursday We Leave for Home has a sci-fi setting to it, but it is more than anything else a human drama with a message on authority and God-like behavior. It is prolonged, but works rather well.
Passage on the Lady Anne is one of the most pleasant surprises of the fourth season with such a moving and endlessly warm story, likable characters and such a sophisticated, simply beautiful to behold outcome. But The Bard is such a mediocrity when compared to the other episodes here with an interesting premise and some comedic moments, but with too ridiculous approach and rather boring results.
This season is without a doubt inferior to the previous ones, but not too inferior. It was ruined by some quite weaker episodes, but those are in minority thankfully. The choice to go to an hour running time was also a two-edged sword as some stories just did not need that and consequently felt way too sluggish in pace. But the overall frame did work as some episodes felt all the more epic and all the more poignant. It still has the tendency to go into typical territories with time-travel and war stuff happening too often, but most are really original and most are quite sophisticated as well. But almost all episodes are very involving and wonderfully acted and directed. Speaking of genres, sci-fi was not as good here or as often explored, but some episodes did go to horror territory and thriller and dramatic episodes were the highlights. It still has a lot of quality in it which is amazing for a fourth season and all the more admirable for its prolonged running time.
The fourth season of The Twilight Zone is not as good as the previous ones due to some weaker episodes and some sluggishly paced parts, but it is mostly really good with many original tales wonderfully explored, many memorable characters created here and most of the episodes are so well done, so dramatic or thrilling, so professional and so riveting that it is impossible to resist.