STATIC Deserved Better
gobirds2 | New England | 11/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Six episodes of the "Twilight Zone" were recorded directly onto videotape instead of film. STATIC is one of those episodes. It was written by Charles Beaumont and directed by Buzz Kulik. It starred veteran character actor Dean Jagger as a cantankerous old man tired of the mundane quality of television. Confined to a boarding house full of idly comfortable couch potatoes, he longed for the simplistic days of his beloved radio broadcasts and for a fellow boarder whom he once loved but was never able to express his feelings for. This is one of the best episodes of the "Twilight Zone" and is a companion piece to KICK THE CAN. Because it was recorded direct to videotape it suffers from the technical shortcomings from that era and loses all its dramatic impact. I never realized how good this episode was until I watched this DVD. STATIC should have been the classic episode it was meant to be right up there with WALKING DISTANCE. I recommend this one from the heart. FOUR O'CLOCK is a tour de force for actor Theodore Bikel as a man bent on exposing all evil at 4 o'clock. I believe that this is Rod Serling's commentary on the McCarthy era. This is a very memorable and important episode.THE PARALLEL is a fourth season hour episode written by Rod Serling. Steve Forrest gives a very good performance as a returning astronaut whose life seems to contain very subtle changes. I read some criticism about Steve Forrest's "wooden performance." On the contrary, Steve Forrest is the professional United States Marine pilot who remains cool headed and objective while trying to analyze the dilemma he is now in. This is a good episode."
STATIC is a very good story but the other two do not really
Tom Brody | Berkeley, CA | 02/08/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Volume 35 contains three stories, STATIC, FOUR O'CLOCK, and THE PARALLEL. STATIC was filmed with a videocamera, not with photographic film. Thus the image quality is slightly impaired. STATIC is excellent. FOUR 0'CLOCK (at least in my opinion) is irritating, since its disclosure of a mean-spirited man is too close to reality. THE PARALLEL, at least in my opinion, could have been better developed.
STATIC takes place in a rooming house, with various elderly people. Most of them like watching T.V. We are shown some of the T.V. shows, including an amusing commercial for chlorophyll cigarettes. But one of the roomers, an old man, prefers to listen to his large floor-standing vacuum tube radio. The old radio provides
Tommy Dorsey music broadcasts, and news broadcasts, including one with Franklin Delano Roosevelt speaking. One of the boarders is the man's former fiancee, with whom he'd once been in love. From the outset, the other boarders in the rooming house think that the old man is crazy. When the old man beckons them to come upstairs to hear the radio, all they hear is static. Eventually, the other boarders have the old radio toted away by a junk dealer, but the old man recovers it and pays $10 for it. Back in his room, he continues to listen to old Tommy Dorsey programs (which are in fact, solely in his imagination). The story is concluded when the old woman (the former fiancee) comes into the room -- she is a couple of decades younger -- and the old man has his hair back and is also a couple of decades younger -- and they embrace. In other words, the conclusion discloses that the old man has gone further off the deep end. This is a solid feel-good type of story. It is not quite the masterpiece of another Twilight Zone story about old folks in a rest home (KICK THE CAN). FIVE STARS for STATIC.
FOUR O'CLOCK concerns a red-baiter and trouble-maker who likes to make anonymous telephone calls, with the goal of ruining the careers of other people. Theodore Bikel's characterization of the trouble-maker is excellent. The character wears extremely thick glasses, and has odd mannerisms. An excellent addition to the stage set is a parrot. The parrot adds local color. But that is about all there is to the story--we are shown repeated telephone calls to employers, where the trouble-maker tries to ruin another man's career. The storyline is unpleasant. This Twilight Zone episode just discloses a typical example of one person's ambitious goal of pestering a man's family.
During the last five minutes of FOUR O'CLOCK, the trouble-maker decides that he will make all of his victims undergo a change in size, to make them 2 feet tall. He just decides this on his own. The story fails to disclose how he will make his victims 2 feet tall. At any rate, the story ends when Theodore Bikel turns 2 feet tall. The Theodore Bikel character is irritating to watch, since the character is truly a nut case, lacking any humanity or quirky charm. ONE STAR.
THE PARALLEL shows an astronaut going up in space. There are excellent shots of the rocket ship going up. Once in space, the astronaut sees a bright light, and then he lands safely. As it turns out, he is on a "parallel world," and his family perceives him to be a different man (though the story never discloses what it is that makes him appear different). Also, the astronaut perceives some changes, for example, a wooden fence has materialized in his front yard. NASA puts the astronaut under observation. The hour drags by extremely slowly. Eventually, we see the man in the space capsule again, and there is another bright light. When the man lands back on earth, everything is back to normal again. But there is a twist. NASA personnel find evidence that there really was a parallel world (This is a bit like the ending in Jodie Foster's CONTACT). The evidence is that the space capsule was manufactured in a slightly different way, though the story does not disclose how. The script really is like a rough draft. The plot is under-developed. ONE STAR.
The same story was more fully developed in the full-length color feature JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN, with actor Roy Thinnes. The reviews of this color movie have been generally very good. JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN has too much yelling and arguing and, at least in my opinion, I found that it did not make for good sci-fi entertainment.
For those just starting their Twilight Zone collection, I might recommend volume 2 (Time Enough at Last; Nightmare at 20,000 Feet), volume 3 (Kick the Can; Steel), volume 8 (To Serve Man), volume 9 (Nick of Time), volume 32 (Printer's Devil), volume 29 (Penny for Your Thoughts), and volume 39 (Mister Bevis; The Silence)."