Friday, April 20, 2018

The Twilight Zone S2 E25: The Silence

"You're travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind.
A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.
That's the signpost up ahead.
You're next stop, The Twilight Zone."

Our journey into The Twilight Zone to see some of the stars we loved and adored from our yester years reaches the latest sign post, The Twilight Zone, Season Two, Episode 25, The Silence directed by The Omega Man's (1971) Boris Sagal.

Once again circling about the stars that once populated the original classic that was Lost In Space, this episode features one Jonathan Harris.

After a look at Season Two, E22, Long Distance Call with little Billy Mumy, his future cast mate and friend Harris arrives just a few episodes later. Never fear Smith is here.

The late great Harris, best remembered as the villainous and often cowardly Dr. Zachary Smith in Irwin Allen's Lost In Space (1965-1968), appeared in a number of other genre classics in television. You may recall his part as the voice of Lucifer in the classic Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979). He played another villain in Allen's Land Of The Giants (1968-1970) in Pay The Piper. He appeared in beloved Bewitched (1964-1972) and Sanford And Son (1972-1977) and sci-fi fans will likely recall Space Academy (1977) for a single season (15 episodes).

Harris delivers a much more sobering performance, a kind of anti-Lost In Space-Season Three-Dr. Smith.

(SPOILER) The tale is of a bet between two men that in the end reveals a sad truth about them both. Each gives away something that becomes no longer of value to the other. One man severs his vocal cords to ensure he wins the bet because he knows he will not be able to remain silent without such a move. The other man offering the bet reveals himself to be as much of a fraud as the man he despises. One has nothing to give but loses face and all credibility in the end while the other has everything to gain, but loses his voice and gains nothing.

Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone wasn't ingenious in being entirely original at every turn, but the series was often original in employing ideas and concepts to science fiction or horror that had been traversed before by executing brilliantly.

The Silence offers a kind of spin on the O. Henry (author William Sydney Porter) story The Gift Of The Magi (1905). It's not exactly the same, but the idea of two people attempting to give one another something each needs or wants, but in the end both are proven to have no value. And like the twist-ending of the aforementioned O. Henry story, The Twilight Zone too was often incredibly smart at delivering a twist in its tales.

While the O. Henry story centers on love and how far a couple is willing to go for their love, The Silence, in turn, is about a seething hatred and how far two men are willing to go to make a useless point as greed and hatred root the men in evil intent.

This writer never saw The Silence, but it's a solid little morality play and almost literary in style in its approach to inverting a concept like The Gift Of The Magi. It's less science fiction and simply a solid story idea populated by one of the science fiction performing legends in the late Jonathan Harris.

Writer: Rod Serling. Director: Boris Sagal (The Omega Man).

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