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This show, hosted by the Serling scripted "the Man" star James Earl Jones,
consists of two lost episodes of the Twilight Zone--scripts that were either
started by Rod Serling (and finished by Richard Matheson, a TZ collaborator
of his from the original series) or written by the master himself.
The first episode is pretty much forgettable.
It is the second story, concerning a Civil War surgeon who seeks a way of prolonging the lives of his patients, that should provide some amusement for Serling fans. It was indeed eerie(or should I say "twilight zone" like?) to recognize the famous writer's voice in the dialogue(especially Palance's). The tale is a decent variation on Frankenstein and like the best of Serling's work, has some biting commentary on human nature. Though I wouldn't go so far as to say this is a "classic," and the ending was predictable, it has more depth than alot of similar efforts in genre tv airing today.
I just wish they would have filmed it in harsh black and white--now that would have been a blast from the past!
The first episode was a Twilight Zone classic.
It features a young woman with commitment issues who keeps putting off her boyfriend/fiancé's marriage proposals. She thinks she has all the time in the world, but doesn't know what lies waiting for her at the local movie theater where "His Girl Friday" is playing. During the movie she suddenly sees an on-screen video of her earlier conversation with her boyfriend, which no one else seems to see. Thinking it's a prank, she confronts him and he acts dumbfounded, not knowing what she's talking about. As the movie unfolds, she makes repeated trips to the theater, each time seeing more video of her past, and future. Her boyfriend thinks she is having a breakdown and recommends therapy and to "not go back there again", but by this time she's obsessed and can't get away from it. In the end she sees herself get hit by a bus and fulfills her own death prophesy.
In the last scene her boyfriend finally watches the movie and sees the sequence of videos himself. The moral of the story is to live life to the fullest and don't take time for granted, because we don't know the future.... or, in rare cases, we may see it in our minds if it's projected from "The Twilight Zone".
James Earl Jones of "One Book" commercial fame does a great job as "Rod Serling" doing the narrative at the end. To me it's a classic Twilight Zone episode that could have come right out of the 1960 series.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
TWILIGHT ZONE: ROD SERLING'S LOST CLASSICS is the twin presentation of
two previously unfilmed scripts by TWILIGHT ZONE creator Rod Serling,
here given the 1990s treatment (colour, famous actors) and released as
a double bill. The host is none other than James Earl Jones, doing a
passable Serling imitation, and the good news is that the classic intro
is present and correct.
A pity, then, that the '90s-era presentation of these stories is below par, with too much focus on emoting and over the top acting which makes the whole experience more than a little cheesy. What I would have preferred was something more low key and realistic, but what we get is typically glossy and overblown. The first story, THE THEATER, sees CARRIE star Amy Irving playing a woman who goes to see a Cary Grant flick at the cinema, only to find her own life story playing out on the screen. Eventually, she begins to witness events that have not yet taken place. The reliable Gary Cole co-stars, but the whole story feels sentimental and unappealing.
The second tale, WHERE THE DEAD ARE, is a riff on H.G. Wells's THE ISLAND OF DR MOREAU, but suffers from poor direction where everything takes place at night so that you can't see what's going on. It's a historical story in which surgeon Patrick Bergin goes off to investigate weird goings-on on a remote island and discovers old-timer Jack Palance at the heart of a conspiracy. Palance is great here and the story has potential, but the execution is merely so-so and rather underwhelming if I'm honest.
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