The Twilight Zone Season 5 (1963)

The Twilight Zone Season 5

The Twilight Zone Season 5 Review

The fifth season of The Twilight Zone is naturally a step down from the previous seasons, but having in mind that this is the last, it is still very good and has its highlights with a couple of truly memorable and fantastic episodes.

After season four which had less episodes but with much longer running time, this season returns to its former format and has thirty six episodes which is a big number, but most are superb which is great. In Praise of Pip is the first episode and such a weak way to open the season as it is not only inferior to the rest, but also extremely forgettable and uninspired. But Steel is a return to form with such a relevant look at robotics and of course great social commentary. It is a morality tale, but most importantly a very original sci-fi episode about boxer robots very well executed.

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet isn’t as phenomenal as I expected it to be, but this is still one of the creepier parts of the season with such an authentic and ghostly atmosphere and a superb premise well realized. A Kind of a Stopwatch is also a bit disappointing, but still uses its premise to a solid degree and in a typical Twilight Zone fashion, punishing the protagonist and teaching him a lesson.

The Last Night of a Jockey is similar to the previous episode in that it is also a morality tale framed in a fantasy setting and leading to a similar ending with an ironic twist. But of the two, I liked this one a bit more. Living Doll is not only one of the finest episodes here, but also one of the classic episodes of the entire show. It has such a memorable character in Talky Tina, it has great characterization overall, wonderful story and such a frightening, deeply unsettling atmosphere and many creepy moments with Tina being just horrific in torturing our hero. This is such a gem and an endlessly satisfying and very memorable excursion into horror.

The Old Man in the Cave has a really unexpected, fun ending and it has a really good point, but it is still a bit too preachy to be enjoyed more. Rod Serling can get preachy often in this show which is a known fact, but there are times when he can cross the line in doing that and that is mostly evident in this season which suffers from such an approach more than a couple of times. Uncle Simon, on the other hand, is a much more satisfying story with a superb take on crazy relatives and vengeance. I liked the robot here and I liked the bitter arguments between the two characters. And I also found its conclusion satisfying.

Probe 7, Over and Out is a strange episode. It had a lot of potential to be better, but I still found it very good as it is a great parallel on the Adam and Eve story with a lot of atmospheric thrills and overall fine finale. The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms is definitely a good episode and a very good one at that, but the tendency to go into Civil War setting once again robs this story of being more memorable or dramatic.

A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain is without a doubt one of the very best episodes of this fifth season. It is absolutely amazing! I loved its extremely authentic plot, but most of all I loved the characters, the pacing and especially the third act which is just jaw-dropping in its twist and so clever. It is easily one of the most memorable parts of the season. Ninety Years Without Slumbering has an admittedly clever premise and it is executed pretty well, but I nevertheless found it a bit boring and uneventful.

With just one of a kind storyline filled with many nuances and an admirable attention to detail, terrific visuals and such a superb character development, Ring-a-Ding Girl just might be my personal favorite episode of season five and the one that is the most emotionally satisfying and wonderfully intriguing and fantastical. You Drive is another strong point of the show with such an endlessly influential and original script, excellent visual approach and fantastic conclusion. It is a great thriller and one of the most entertaining and atmospheric parts here.

The Long Morrow is another strongly influential and groundbreaking story that uses character moments and emotion to its greatest advantage, resulting in such a powerful and deep third act. The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross is an episode that should be great as it is a great cautionary tale filled with well developed characters and a fine fantasy inclusion, but I still found it disappointing as the ending in particular is too brutal.

Number 12 Looks Just Like You is a classic Twilight Zone tale that is essentially an attack on cosmetic surgery which must have been getting popular at the time, but it is also a strong, human story that is so relatable and so important and just timeless. Black Leather Jackets has such a superb atmosphere, very interesting story and is incredibly entertaining from start to finish, but it has such a disappointing and abrupt ending that is also useless and ruins the overall story.

Night Call is one of the most frightening episodes of the entire show as it has such a disturbing story with the ending being especially creepy and sad at the same time, but it is also extremely atmospheric and just so fun from beginning to end. From Agnes – With Love is, on the other hand, a ridiculous episode. It is original and has its moments, but is mostly weak as it focuses on comedy which is something this show rarely got right.

Spur of the Moment isn’t one of the best episodes ever, but I still found it phenomenal as it has a great structure with a terrific beginning and conclusion, it has a wonderful story and is essentially such a great metaphor with a powerful theme of ruined life and bad choices. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is arguably not an episode of this show, but it doesn’t matter as this is such a visually arresting, powerful and even poetic story filled with beautiful imagery, great twist ending and inherent poignancy.

Queen of the Nile is such a fun story fueled by an excellent twist, such superb visuals and groundbreaking special effects. And that ending is disturbing as hell. What’s in the Box is authentic and enjoyable, but still disappointing and expected.

The Masks is one of this season’s highlights as it incorporates excellent characterization and for once a delightfully preachy morality display to give the audience a shocking and unnerving twist. I Am the Night – Color Me Black is preachy, but I liked its point and I found it visually remarkable, but still somewhat slight and disappointing.

Sounds and Silences is typical and doesn’t use its premise particularly well. Caesar and Me isn’t original as it again uses dummies and dolls, but it is still great because the character and plot progression is natural instead of forced and that girl character is so well realized as you just love to hate her.

The Jeopardy Room is one of the rare non-fantastic episodes and it is a boring political story that is definitely this season’s weakest effort. Stopover in a Quiet Town is a classic without any doubt. It reminded me of so many of those beautiful, twisty episodes of the first two seasons which I just loved. It has good characters and their relationship is well established, but it is above all very atmospheric and even a bit intense at times with an inarguably effective and fantastic twist ending.

The Encounter had its potential and is solid, but is still typical, predictable and easily the most preachy episode here and that says a lot. Mr. Garrity and the Graves, on the other hand, is just gorgeous. It is the rare Twilight Zone comedy episode that works as it made me laugh a couple of times with its beautifully realized black comedy. It also has such an original story, hilarious characters and such a good, double twist ending.

The Brain Center at Whipple’s is a clichéd story about technology replacing people that is forgettable and forced, but Come Wander with Me is a very good episode that isn’t fantastic, but is still unique and somewhat different and moody which I liked a lot.

The Fear is very cheesy and has incredibly dumb dialogue at times, but is still great as it is very chilly, it has a fun ending and it has really well fleshed out characters that share a great chemistry together. And The Bewitchin’ Pool is the last episode not only of this season, but of the entire show. It is thankfully awesome and made my heart melt. I loved every second of it as it is a rare full-fantasy excursion, but it is also very relatable and has such a big heart as well. It shows us how children handle their parents’ divorce and it uses such a clever metaphor.

Although this fifth season of the Twilight Zone is weaker than the previous ones and it does have a couple of boring or too repetitive or preachy episodes, it is still superb as it closes the show in a satisfying manner, it has its fair share of absolutely amazing episodes, excellent incorporation of many genres and it is mostly really entertaining, atmospheric and of course hugely influential and original. I am so sad that it is over, but I am still happy to say that after this great season, The Twilight Zone will probably remain my favorite show and the television show that I consider to be the best of all time.

Worst Episodes: In Praise of Pip, From Agnes – With Love, Sounds and Silences, The Jeopardy Room, The Encounter and The Brain Center at Whipple’s.

Best Episodes: Living Doll, A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain, Ring-a-Ding Girl, The Long Morrow, Number 12 Looks Just Like You, Night Call, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, Stopover in a Quiet Town, Mr. Garrity and the Graves and The Bewitchin’ Pool.

My Rating – 4.6

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