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The Twilight Zone: In His Image (1963)
Possibly the best acted TZ episode of all
Although I am just old enough to have seen many of the TZ episodes during their first run, it wasn't until the past few years that I have intentionally watched the original series in its entirety. I come to season four out of order after watching 1,2,3, and 5 in sequence because the source I was watching on didn't have the fourth season in its repertoire. I've long considered Twilight Zone to be similar to Monty Python... some truly memorable wheat in a big barrel of chaff. "In His Image" is definitely the former.
The story in this episode is a familiar one, particularly in the SciFi and suspense genres, with a man's bewilderment at finding familiar people and places wrenched from him as if he has never existed, but Charles Beaumont brings a unique storytelling style which never leaves you feeling like you've seen it all before. The pacing is masterful, without resorting to cheap shocks or rushing Alan Talbot's gradual journey to the truth. The extended one-hour format of TZ's season four provides enough time to tell this story properly, and the suspense is palpable as you learn along with Talbot that his life may not be what he thought it was.
Even with the terrific writing by Beaumont and deft direction by Perry Lafferty, this episode would probably rate an eight without the sensitive portrayal of Alan Talbot by George Grizzard, which elevates it to among the very best few TZ eps. At no time did I feel that Grizzard's Talbot wasn't truly bewildered by his predicament. Many TZ performances by established and famous actors are damaged by scenery- chewing or heavy-handed portrayals, but Grizzard was restrained and completely believable throughout, even during the concluding scenes when lesser thespians might have tended to histrionics.
Gail Kobe too turns in an excellent performance as a woman genuinely in love with a man she barely knows and who may be unravelling before her eyes.
As Serling's closing narration began I found myself literally thinking to myself... Wow! 10 out of 10.