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Lunch » Tags » Tv Shows » Reviews » The Twilight Zone (A Stop At Willoughby, The Last Flight, Night Call, The Last Rites Of Jeff Myrtlebank) VHS » User review

Two great episodes and two clunkers

  • Mar 24, 2010
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In the modern world of rapid movements and change, nearly everyone wishes at some point that they could get off the world and rest. It is a natural thing and is a regular topic of fantasy. Gart Williams works as an advertising executive and when a major deal falls through and his boss is criticizing him in the guide of a pep talk he snaps and yells back. When he gets home and tries to talk with his wife about his stress, she is completely unsympathetic; her only concern is maintaining the unaffordable finery to which she is accustomed.
To cope, Gart starts falling asleep on the commuter train and dreaming that the train is stopping at a town called Willoughby. It is no ordinary town, it is a quiet village set back in the 1880's and the weather is idyllic being warm and sunny. The lure is great, but Gart stays on the train and is transported back to his daily struggles.
The pressure finally becomes so great at work that he quits and his wife is in the process of leaving him. Resolving to get off at the Willoughby stop if at all possible, he is happy to hear the conductor announce that the next stop will be Willoughby. With a smile on his face and a peace he has not known for some time, Gart steps off the train with a result he did not anticipate.
This is an episode that all working people can relate to, right up to the end it builds to a very common fantasy. The surprising and unexpected ending turns what would otherwise be a good fantasy episode into a great one.
"The Last Flight" is based on a device that has been used in many areas, including "The Twilight Zone." British Flight Lieutenant William Decker is a World War I fighter pilot and he becomes lost in the clouds when flying back to his unit. These do not appear to be ordinary clouds, when he is in one everything goes silent; he cannot even hear the sound of his engine. Decker is relieved when he spots an airfield and comes in for a landing. He is shocked to find enormous cargo jets on the runway, for somehow he has been transported forward into 1959.
Decker is brought before the commanding officer and his story is discounted; yet there is something very compelling about it. He becomes very agitated when he learns that the base is expecting the arrival of his old wingman, the man he was flying with when he got lost. Decker then confesses to an Air Force officer that he became lost because he was fleeing from an air battle and he left his wingman to fight solo against an overwhelming number of enemy planes. After some thought, Decker realizes that the only way history can play out the way it should is if he goes back up and fights with his friend.
Fighting his way out of captivity, Decker gets his plane back into the air and disappears into the clouds. Shortly after this his former wingman, now with the rank of Air Marshall arrives at the base and identifies the effects of his comrade. The story now is that Decker came in and engaged the Germans, enabling his comrade to escape and be a hero in the Second World War.
Getting the opportunity to get a second chance to rectify a major mistake is a fantasy that we all have but few are able to take advantage of. Decker is a coward, but when faced with the chance to do things differently, he dies a heroic death, changing the world for the better. We all can identify with this wish, absent the death of course, which makes this an episode that maintains your interest.
"Night Call" is a bit of a clunker; Miss Elva Keene is an elderly woman that is confined to a wheelchair. She is lonely and a bit cantankerous; her only real human contact is with the woman that comes during the days to take care of her. One night there is a powerful thunderstorm and she starts getting odd phone calls that are largely static but she can make out what appears to be a person saying hello. The calls continue and Elva becomes more and more disturbed over them. She calls the phone company and their records indicate that no calls were made.
When the phone company manages to fix the major damage due to the storm they discover that there is a phone line laying on the ground that is the probable cause of the calls. Elva is stunned to learn that the line is down in the cemetery, so she insists that her companion drive her there. Everything is now clear to her, the downed line is on the grave of her deceased fiancé. She then confesses that he died in the automobile accident where she was crippled and that she was driving at the time. Elva believes that he is trying to contact her so she eagerly anticipates the next call. Unfortunately, her previous responses have led him to give up.
Stories about communication from beyond the grave have no doubt been around from the time that humans began understanding what death is. This one is simply average; there is some drama but nothing that gives you an intense case of the creeps.
"The Last Rights of Jeff Myrtlebank" is a spoof on the cliché of the small town loaded with gossip, intrigue and petty deceptions. It opens with the funeral of Jeff Myrtlebank that is taking place in a log cabin. There is a collective gasp among the mourners when the lid of the wood coffin opens and Jeff sits up. A mad dash for the door ensues and the mourners stand by their cars in terror. Jeff and the preacher walk out the door and Jeff appears normal, although he says he is tired.
The doctor reaffirms that Jeff was clearly dead and then invents a ridiculous disease that he says was extremely rare and the symptoms would match what Jeff exhibited. Two weeks later, Jeff appears fine, although his mother notices that he eats less and works harder than before. This is the initial step in a snowballing rumor mill that leads to a group of local men reaching the conclusion that Jeff is some kind of monster.
Jeff then goes back to courting his sweetheart and she is afraid. When her older brother threatens Jeff, there is a fight and Jeff easily defeats him. Everyone finds it odd, because the older brother never had any trouble beating Jeff in a fight in the past. The local men then reach the conclusion that Jeff must be driven out of the county. They all pile into a vehicle and head to Jeff's place. Their arrival is an amusing scene because the old vehicle cannot handle the load of all the men. Some must periodically get off and push in order to keep it moving.
Meanwhile, Jeff has resumed contact with his sweetheart and she agrees to marry Jeff. He then tells the crowd of men that if they are right about him they should be wary of his powers and do whatever they can to stay on his good side. This calms them down and off they go, pushing the vehicle to keep it going. At the end, his girl asks Jeff if he really has any powers and he tells her not to be foolish, although something happens that indicates that he really does.
Most of the men in this episode wear tattered and patched bib overalls and act like ignorant hicks. The women are almost all gossipy airheads and even the educated doctor

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Charles Ashbacher ()
Ranked #76
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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