The Changing of the Guard

The Twilight Zone: The Changing of the Guard (1962)

With an episode that concerns a suicide attempt of it’s main character, you could understandably be confused when I say it is not only one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes but one of the best “Christmas Themed” TV episodes.

The Changing of the Guard is a moving episode focusing on one Professor Ellis Fowler (Played expertly by Donald Pleasence!), a man who is forced into retirement by the headmasters of the school he teaches at on Christmas Eve. Brought low by the news of his dismissal he returns to his home and after looking through his many yearbooks, recalling the students he taught from years past he comes to the conclusion that his teaching have been for naught. In a fit of despair her intends to take his own life on the school grounds.

Let us not forget though…this is the Twilight Zone.

Just a bit of trivia about this episode:

1) The “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity,” quote that Pleasence mentions in the episode is credited to Horace Mann, the first President of Antioch College, which happened to be Rod Serling’s Alma Mater.
2) In fact, after completing the script for this very episode, Serling took a teaching position at Antioch College.

A huge thank you to Nally Bud over on YouTube for uploading this episode!

Night Gallery - You Can't Get Help Like That Anymore

Night Gallery: The Sins Of The Fathers/You Can’t Get Help Like That Anymore (1972)

This creepy episode of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery originally aired on the NBC network on the night of February 23rd, 1972. The first tale stars Richard Thomas (The Waltons), Michael Dunn (The Wild Wild West), Geraldine Page (The Rescuers), and Barbara Steele (8 1/2). It deals with a young man (Thomas) who must pretend to be a Sin-Eater at a nobleman’s wake.

The second tale in the episode deals with an abusive couple who mistreat their maid, in this case a robotic servant. It stars Cloris Leachman (Young Frankenstein), Broderick Crawford (Highway Patrol), Henry Jones (Vertigo), Severn Darden (The Six Million Dollar Man), and Lana Wood (Diamonds Are Forever). I have to say that I’m always very moved by Dr. Kessler’s (Darden) righteous anger towards the couple in this tale, he really does a great job with it.

A big thanks to the Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: A Shadowy Museum of the Outre site for the screencap of the painting from You Can’t Get Help Like That Anymore.

Night Gallery

Night Gallery: A Question Of Fear & The Devil Is Not Mocked (1971)

Originally airing on Oct. 27th, 1971 this second season episode of the Night Gallery presented the viewer with two tales. A Question of Fear stars Leslie Nielsen (Creepshow) as Col. Dennis Malloy who pits his courage against the boast of of Dr. Mazi (Fritz Weaver, also of Creepshow) that he cannot stay a night alone in the good Doctor’s house where he witnessed something so horrible that his hair was turned white. If he can stay the entire evening and not perish from fright he will be awarded $15,000.

The Second portion of the episode is entitled, The Devil Is Not Mocked, and stars Francis Lederer (Lux Video Theatre) and Helmut Dantine (Hollywood Canteen). Helmut plays General von Grunn, a Nazi officer during WWII…who is confronted by an evil greater than himself.


Twilight Zone – Examination Day (1985)

With the Retroist’s great podcast on the 1985 revival of the Twilight Zone posted earlier today, I thought I would share one of the handful of episodes that I can clearly remember watching from back in my youth.

I’ve gone on record before with an earlier post about the episode The Shadow Man, that while I did enjoy the series on a whole I was…disappointed…that it chose to tell darker and outright meaner stories overall.

Submitted for your approval, a dark tale of the future. Examination Day.

This episode was adapted from the short story of the same name by Henry Slesar which was originally published in Playboy back in 1958. You can read the original short story, here.

David Mendenhall played the rather bright young kid, Richard “Dickie” Jordan, and has appeared in numerous TV roles and a certain 80s feature film that I hold close to my heart, Transformers: The Movie, where he provided the voice for Daniel Witwicky. He also supplied the voice of G.I. Joe member, Mainframe, in the episode “Grey Hairs and Growing Pains”, where the some of the Joes are transformed into children.

A big thanks to Calia386 for uploading this episode over on YouTube!


Retroist Podcast – Episode 096 – Twilight Zone 1985

On today’s show we talk all about the too short lived TV revival, The Twilight Zone, sometimes called The New Twilight Zone or just The Twilight Zone. I talk about how it was made, the people behind it, the narration and its release on home video. Halloween is coming, so it is a good time to sit down and watch a good spooky TV series.

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Night Gallery - Class of 99 - Night Gallery. Net

Night Gallery: Class of ’99 (1971)

Debuting on September 22nd on NBC back in 1971, the Class of ’99, is a chilling short starring the legendary Vincent Price, as well as Brandon de Wilde and Randolph Mantooth. It was written by Rod Serling and like many of his classic Twilight Zone episodes ends up tackling all forms of human bias. This short was directed by Jeannot Szwarc who also helmed the awesome Night Gallery “episode”, Big Surprise, which was written by none other than Twilight Zone contributor and famed author, Richard Matheson.

Sadly this was the last piece of work that Brandon de Wilde did as he was killed in a car crash in Colorado on June 6th, 1972. Brandon was probably most famous for his role as Joey Starrett in the 1953 classic western, Shane.

A big thanks to Becky The Trekky3 for uploading this over on YouTube as well as to Night Gallery.Net for the painting introducing the episode up top.

New Twilight Zone - CBS Ad

The New Twilight Zone: The Shadow Man (1985)

I have always, always been a very big fan of Rod Serling’s TV masterpiece we know as the Twilight Zone. I grew up to be a devotee to Rod Serling in general so I naturally love Night Gallery as well as his other works be they literary or on the Silver Screen.

So…picture if you will…myself at thirteen learning that CBS was bringing back the Zone to TV, it was going to be called the New Twilight Zone, which made sense because we had New Coke on the shelves, right? To be fair I don’t think CBS ever called it the New Twilight Zone themselves, media and fans just used it to explain what series they were referring to I reckon.

So my family and I sat down to watch the first episode which featured Bruce Willis (Shatterday, a story by the legendary Harlan Ellison!), Melinda Dillion (A Little Peace and Quiet), and Robert Klein (Wordplay). We all liked it though my Father was hesitant on his praise for the series, his complaints would be the same I would pick up just a couple of episodes later, this new version of the Twilight Zone seemed to be darker…meaner…and sometimes incredibly cruel.

The tenth episode in the first season had a tale called “The Shadow Man” and was written by Rockne S. O’Bannon (Alien Nation, Farscape) and directed by none other than Joe Dante (The Howling, Gremlins). It starred Jonathan Ward (Who’s The Boss?, Mac and Me), Heathe Haase (Gremlins 2, Growing Pains) and Jeff Calhoun (Aria) as the Shadow Man. This particular story of a young boy who befriends the Shadow Man that lives under his bed really shook me up, scared me silly. Which should go a long way to point out how well this episode was made considering I watched the entire thing in the electronics section of my local Wal-Mart. While my Father was shopping I just stood in front of their television displays…and maybe having those 30 televisions of various sizes all showing the Shadow Man do his horrible deeds kind of made everything a little more surreal.

Thanks to thetwilightzone745 for uploading this episode over on YouTube!