Canceled by CBS at the end of its third season, the weekly, half-hour fantasy anthology The Twilight Zone was at the last minute revived for a fourth year on the air, though it would not return to CBS' prime time manifest until after a four-month hiatus. Also, the series was expanded from 30 to 60 minutes per week for season four in keeping with an industry-wide trend for hour-long programs (the better to attract more sponsors). Unfortunately, the added length did more harm than good for Twilight Zone, with several episodes that would have played just fine in the 30-minute format seeming attenuated and strained when expanded to twice that length. Wisely, when the series returned for its fifth season, Twilight Zone's original half-hour format was restored. Despite the above-mentioned artistic and esthetic problems inherent in the 60-minute Zone, a handful of the fourth-season installments can be ranked among the series' better efforts. These include "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville," a comic episode starring Julie Newmar as a curvaceous female Satan; "Jess-Belle," featuring Anne Francis as a mountain girl who will go to any lengths to win back her sweetheart (this episode is distinguished by an original ballad, which is heard at the finale in place of host Rod Serling's traditional narration); "Printer's Devil," in which Burgess Meredith makes his only villainous Twilight Zone appearance; "Death Ship," a Pirandellian nightmare starring another frequent Zone guest star, Jack Klugman; and "The Bard," a wild spoof of TV commercialism co-starring a young Burt Reynolds as a Marlon Brando wannabe. One of the best hour-long Twilight Zones is "Miniature," a bittersweet fantasy starring Robert Duvall. Due to a legal entanglement, this episode was long absent from the series' syndicated package but was reissued in the mid-1980s in a semi-colorized version.
Cast & Crew