What World War II was like in "The Twilight Zone"
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 08/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The common denominator for three of the four episodes on Volume 13 of "The Twilight Zone" is World War II, although since the fourth system deals with a totalitarian society that is clearly patterned on a fascistic state. All four of the episodes were written by Rod Serling, so there is that unifying aspect as well. As interesting collection, although none of these would be universally considered classic episodes:
(10) "Judgment Night" (Written by Rod Serling, First aired December 4, 1959) is an early first season episode set in 1942 when a German named Carl Lanser (Nehemiah Persoff) finds himself on the deck of a British steamship. He has no idea why he is there, but he does have an overwhelming sense of doom, which gives us a pretty good clue as to who Lanser is and why he is aboard the S.S. Queen of Glasgow. However, Persoff's performance makes up for the shortcomings of the script. This is another "Twilight Zone" episode where justice is delivered in a way that would have made Dante proud. This episode has Ben Wright as Captain Wilbur, Patrick Macnee as the First Officer, and young James Franciscus as Lieutenant Mueller.
(80) "A Quality of Mercy" (Written by Rod Serling, First aired December 29, 1961) stars Dean Stockwell as Lt. Katell, who has recently arrived in the Philippines in August of 1945 and wants to prove himself in battle before the war ends. When he orders an attack on a group of starved Japanese soldiers trapped in a cave, Sgt. Causarano (Albert Salmi) tries to talk him out of it. Katell refuses and suddenly finds himself as Japanese Lt. Yamuri, ordered by his captain (Jerry Fujikawa) to attack a cave where wounded American soldiers are holed up. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Neither of these is a classic Zone episode, but they are still worthy of your consideration.
(65) "The Obsolete Man" (Written by Rod Serling, First aired June 2, 1961) offers a dystopian word in which religion and books have been banned. The title character is Romney Wordsworth (Burgess Meredith in another stellar performance) as a librarian who is judged obsolete and sentenced to death by the Chancellor (Fritz Weaver). Wordsworth is allowed to select the moment and method of his public execution, and what he comes up with will mean that his death was not in vain. The closing narration is a bit hyperbolic, but Meredith's performance grounds the morality in more human sensibilities.
(19) "The Purple Testament" (Written by Rod Serling, First aired February 12, 1960) offer Serling's take on World War II and the brutality of war. Set on the Philippine Islands during the war, William Reynolds plays Lt. Fitzgerald, who sees a strange light on the faces of those men in his platoon who are about to be killed in battle. As you can imagine, this shakes the young lieutenant up and affects how he does his duty. Also in this one are the familiar faces of Dick York as Captain Riker, Barney Phillips as Captain Gunther, and Warren Oates as the Jeep Driver."
Good episodes with eventually well known actors
CinemaNET | 07/14/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Three of the four stories in this DVD deal with war... and the one that doesn't is the best of all. In "Judgement Night" (Season 1) a passenger on a war-time ship has a premonition that the boat will sink at certain hour (cast includes James Franciscus). "A Quality of Mercy" (Season 3) is a powerful story about the horrors of the war, where a young liuetenant (Dean Stockwell) suddenly finds himself as a soldier on the enemy side, looking at things with a whole new perspective (the episode also features Leonard Nimoy). "The Obsolete Man" (Season 2) stars Burgess Merdith as a librarian in a society of the future that considers him obsolete - a great episode -. Finally "The Purple Testament", another war story, shows us an officer with the peculiar ability to know who is going to die in battle (this chapter could be a reference for "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose", one of the best episodes in another Sci-Fi Classic TV Series, "The X-Files")."
Extraordinary thought provoking episodes
Deborah MacGillivray | US & UK | 06/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Four episode that are exceptionally well acted, superbly written and brought to life by some of the most brilliant actors of the period, with the best episode ever filmed: THE PURPLE TESTIMENT stars the underrated and gorgeous William Reynolds (The Gallent Men, FBI) and Dick York. Reynolds suddenly has acquired the unwanted ability to see look in a man's face and tell when he is going to die. JUDGMENT NIGHT stars the great Nehemiah Persoff as a man trapped on a ship doomed to be torpedoed, with no one listening to his warnings. (A very young James Fransicus, of Longstreet fame, appears at the end with a terrible German accent!). In the OBOSETE MAN you have the powerhouse pairing of the great actors Bergess Meredith and Fritz Weaver in a contest of willS where books have been banned and it is against the law to have them, with Meredith refusing to give them up. The last one QUALITY OF MERCY has super Dean Stockwell as a soldier who is suddenly forced to face the war from the body of the enemy.CBS put out these episode at 4 per tape at nearly twice the price, so getting them on DVD at this low cost is a value no Twilight Zone Fan can pass up."
Brilliantly Retrospective Episodes from Rod Searling
gobirds2 | New England | 01/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Twilight Zone: Vol. 13 contains four episodes written by Rod Searling. JUDGMENT NIGHT from the First Season features Nehemiah Persoff, as a passenger aboard a freighter during wartime who becomes obsessed that the ship will be sunk by 1:15 am. It is a very ominous and atmospheric episode and plays out very well beginning with Bernard Herrmann's opening title music. Patrick McNee and James Franciscus are also featured. THE OBSOLETE MAN from the Second Season is a futuristic tale that pits Burgess Meredith labeled as "obsolete" against government authoritarian Fritz Weaver. This is a good story of social ideology told with great imagery and nail biting suspense. THE PURPLE TESTAMENT from the First Season is a strange World War II story set in the Pacific about a U.S. Army lieutenant who can predict death from a strange glow on the faces of the doomed men in his outfit. William Reynolds, a highly underrated actor, gives a brilliant performance as the lieutenant as he runs the gamut of emotions from frantic disbelief to beaten disillusionment about his terrible gift. The cast is very good including Dick York, Warren Oates, and Paul Mazursky. This is an outstanding episode. A QUALITY OF MERCY from the Third Season is another World War II story set in the Pacific. Dean Stockwell is an American soldier who has absolutely no empathy or remorse for killing enemy soldiers no matter what the circumstances are. When his situation becomes juxtaposed with the enemy he gains new insight into his convictions. The sentiments of this episode seem somewhat naive considering today's global political and militaristic posture. The nobility of combatants on contrasting sides seems a thing of the past. This episode is written from the perspective of the ordinary man sent into the extraordinary situation of war and how he reacts. On the surface this episode could easily look like a lot of hokum but its implication run much deeper. It features another good cast including Albert Salmi and Leonard Nimoy. Rod Searling was a man of great literary and social intellect as is represented by these four episodes. Over time these episodes seem much more important for the emotional reaction that we now have seeing them again in a new time in history.