This is rare that we have two stone-cold classics in “The Obsolete Man” starring our old friend, Burgess Meredith, the second season finale of Twilight Zone, and then we wrap it up tonight with “Two”, the third season premiere of Twilight Zone starring Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery. I couldn’t finish this season with only the one episode, as there were 29 episodes produced, so we had an odd number and decided to kick off the third season. I’m very happy to be joined by Mark Jeacoma, who stepped in and saved my ass for the episodes, “Mr. Dingle, the Strong” and “Static” – that was the favor, and this is the job, so I assigned him two, in my opinion, gold-standard episodes of Twilight Zone.
So here we are, at the end of this season, and we start with “The Obsolete Man” written by Rod Serling, directed Elliot Silverstein, starring Burgess Meredith and Fritz Weaver. This is a heavy-handed episode. You have this stark, expressionist lighting scheme in, I presume, a courtroom, some court of final judgment where Burgess is being tried or sentenced to death for the crime of being “obsolete”, the definition of which is no longer in use or no longer useful. I don’t know how they come to that conclusion, other than that he leads a insular existence in a furnished room, reading books, reading the Bible, and really he doesn’t seem to be bothering anybody, right?
Apparently this is a crime in this alternate universe. This is obviously a totalitarian regime, and the uniforms resemble those worn by Nazis or other types of fascist leaderships. Visually, the palette resembles Hitler, standing at an enormous podium or lecturn, high above the masses; Fritz Weaver appears as a god-like figure to the defiant Burgess Meredith.
Next up is “Two” starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Charles Bronson, before they became famous icons, courtesy Bewitched and Death Wish (interesting mash-up: “Deathwitched”). It’s Mark’s theory that we are witness to another alternate universe. It’s my supposition that we have a Cold War allegory extended into an undetermined future. Both theories work. I love both of these episodes; both expertly well-done. “Two’s” writer/director Montgomery Pittman would make another episode, “The Grave”, in the third season (but shot for the second season) starring a Who’s Who of actors from westerns.
Don’t forget to visit Mark’s sites, VHS Rewind! with Chris Hasler and On The Odd with Alex Saltz – it’s good stuff!
Written by David Lawler
Additional Commentary by Mark Jeacoma
Original Music by Alex Saltz, APS Mastering
Introduction Music: “You’re the One That I Want” (John Farrar).
Audio Clips: “The Obsolete Man”, “Two”
Recorded September 1, 2016
© BlissVille, David Lawler copyright 2016 for all original vocal and audio content featuring David Lawler and selected guests each episode. Original Music © Alex Saltz copyright 2015. This podcast, “That Twilighty Show About That Zone” is not affiliated with CBS Entertainment, the CBS Television Network, or The Rod Serling Estate. Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. I do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.
Running Time: 33:36