I think it’s important to be objective when evaluating the Twilight Zone episodes, not just feign joy over every one of them. Rod Serling himself demanded excellence and he wouldn’t want anyone to accept less than that in his program. It’s impossible to hit a homerun every time, so the bad apples have to be set aside in order to be delighted by the gems.
Everyone has their personal favorites, so this is a very subjective topic and open for discussion. Yet, as much as I love Twilight Zone, when any one of these episodes comes on, I don’t bother to watch. Yes, I actually turn the channel and look for an intellectually stimulating episode of “Gilligan’s Island.”
The Bewitchin’ Pool
Countrified, stupid southern drawl and it’s downhill from there. Most, probably all, backwoods style episodes were not as good as the other stories. Even though Earl Hamner (The Waltons) was writing, they were never as good as the stories set in New York City. I could never even figure what part of the country those stories were actually in. West Virginia? Kentucky? Arkansas? Had to be the hills, but not too far south. Must be the twilight zone of the Twilight Zone.
The acting was bad by the actors playing the parents, one dimensional. The acting by the woman portraying Aunt T (what kind of a name is that?) in Tom Sawyer land was also excruciatingly bad. The children were Jeb and Sport, again, who came up with these names?
In this story, the southern drawls didn’t make sense. The kids were playing in a huge in-ground swimming pool outside of a mansion. Why did they talk like hillbillies?
Two children wanting to be free of their quarreling parents is a poignant story theme, but it was mishandled on so many levels. Earl Hamner was inspired to write it by witnessing the huge number of divorces and absent parenting after relocating to Southern California. Entering another world at the bottom of the swimming pool is interesting, but why did it have to be Tom Sawyer Land?
The speaking part of the young girl had to be dubbed in by an adult because of a technical problem. The girl who had acted the part had gone back home and couldn’t be brought back to redo the audio and this further contributed to the poor quality of the show.
There was confusion between the tone of the story, is it sad, humorous or both? They seem to be in contradiction rather than cohesive.
It’s unfortunate that this was the last episode of Twilight Zone in the series. It left the series in a bad light.
Cavender is Coming
Why do people in TV shows not accept the good fortune they received? Also, just like the episode “Mr. Bevis,” but with Carol Burnett as a female lead.
Another lame story about people who reject overcoming their troubles and decide to live with them. I also feels it’s a blatant ripoff of “It’s A Wonderful Life” with the guardian angel, Harmon Cavender (hence the episode title), who needs to earn his wings by helping some poor awkward nitwit.
It’s unfortunate that actors become permanently associated with certain roles, but Jesse White just couldn’t shake that Maytag Repairman persona from those commercials. At least not with me.
Most “humorous” episodes of Twilight Zone just don’t cut it with me and my opinion is verified by the fact that this episode has been voted the “most hated” of the entire series and “generally despised by fans.” At least it didn’t affect Carol’s career. This was also the only episode to use a laugh track. Perhaps Serling just didn’t get humor or it was too far out of his nature.
Five Characters in Search of an Exit
I was terribly disappointed with the conclusion of this story. I didn’t like the characters throughout the episode. They were annoying, particularly the clown. I was expecting so much more. That they were just toys in a drop-off barrel at Christmas time was just stupid. In reading about this episode, I found that others liked it, proving that Twilight Zone appeals to people for a variety of reasons. I did find one reviewer that found it as lame as I do.
I read one reviewer who stated, “This is very obviously a piece which addresses post-modernist perspective in the context of the Cold War era.” What? I sure didn’t get that. The reviewer went on to say that it was one of the best episodes of Twilight Zone.
That’s crazy, in my opinion. However, I’ve read other writers who think my favorite episode, “Back There,” about the assassination of Lincoln is one of the worst episodes.
Mr. Dingle, The Strong
Another so-called humorous episode and another ridiculous story. A two-headed Martian gives superhuman power to a timid vacuum cleaner salesman played by Burgess Meredith. Deciding that Mr. Dingle doesn’t use his power properly, the Martian takes it away just in time for him to be humiliated on television when he fails to demonstrate the great feats he was formerly able to do.
There is little to like about this episode. The writing is bad, the acting is bad, the Martian costume looks like it was created by kindergarteners, and the story fails to convey any meaningful lesson.
I can draw a parallel to another much more famous episode that Burgess Meredith starred in, “Time Enough At Last,” about the book lover whose glasses are broken after the nuclear war and he can no longer read his books. In both he plays a beleaguered individual who seems to have finally gotten the upper hand, only to lose in the end. “Mr. Dingle” is definitely the poorer story, though.
Don Rickles has a small role in this episode as a barfly with a memory for baseball statistics. He’s always funny, even in TV shows like this one.