Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The John Wayne Movie That Katharine Ross Called "the Biggest Piece of Crap I've Ever Done"

Here are some interesting tidbits about Katharine Ross's title quote. She made it during the production of Hellfighters (1968), which is not the kind of publicity favored by movie studios. She had only made a handful of films at that time, though one of them was The Graduate (1967)--so perhaps Hellfighters was her worst film to date. However, Ms. Ross later made some pretty crappy movies like The Swarm, The Betsy, and The Legacy (all produced in 1978). If she had dubbed Hellfighters the "crappiest" after that trio, then that would have meant something!

Sandwiched between two of John Wayne's best known films--The Green Berets and True Grit--Hellfighters owes more to the former (without the politics) than the latter. In fact, two of the Duke's fellow Berets, Jim Hutton and Bruce Cabot, team up with him again in Hellfighters. This time, the trio are fighting oil fires for money. Wayne plays Chance Buckman, whose Houston-based company's motto is: "Around the clock. Around the world." Their clients are oil well owners, who buy insurance just in case one of their wells turns into a tower of spewing flames. When that happens, the phone rings (answered by the ever-efficient Barbara Stuart) and our guys take off in their helicopter to put out the fire.

Ross--she didn't like the movie.
That's no easy task, of course, and the film's best scenes show Buckman's well-rehearsed crew managing the flames before they blow them out with nitroglycerin. I don't know about you, but handling nitro in the vicinity of a raging fire is not my idea of a promising occupation. This opinion was apparently shared by Madelyn Buckman (Vera Miles), Chance's ex-wife, who left him and took their young daughter Tish. However, when Chance undergoes a life-threatening surgery, his right-hand man Greg (Hutton) sends for the now-adult estranged daughter (Katharine Ross).

Not only does Tish reconnect with her father, she also marries Greg. Their daughter's wedding reunites Chance and Madelyn, who have never stopped loving one another. Chance retires from the oil firefighting business and take a boardroom job (resulting in an entertaining scene where the board discusses the virtues of various bathroom colors for their gas stations). Can Chance live without the adrenalin rush or will Madelyn be forced to leave him again? Will Tish be able to continue coping with Greg's risky occupation? And what about those South American guerrilla fighters trying to blow up the wells where Greg's team is working?

Despite its unusual topic, Hellfighters is a formula movie, the kind that dominated much of Wayne's later career (e.g., McQ, Big Jake, The Train Robbers). It's way too long at 118 minutes and, after the second oil well fire, the action scenes become redundant. Its worst crime, though, is wasting Vera Miles in a small and thankless role.

Ad from the Red Adair Company's web site.
Hellfighters is loosely based on the life of Paul "Red" Adair, who founded his oil firefighting company in 1959. Adair gained fame in 1962 when his company doused the flames of a Sahara Desert oil well fire that had burned for over five months. Adair, who was one of several consultants on the making of Hellfighters, died in 2004. A company bearing his name still provides services for "wild well control, oil well fires, and blowouts."

While Wayne and Ross went on to memorable roles (in, respectively, True Grit and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), Jim Hutton moved from the big screen to the small screen. He starred in several made-for-TV movies and made guest appearances in series like Marcus Welby, M.D., The Name of the Game, and Love, American Style. He was perhaps best remembered for playing Ellery Queen in the 1975-76 series. He was still active in television when he died of liver cancer in 1979.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Five Coolest Cars on Classic TV

Classic television and memorable cars have a long history together. Who can forget My Mother the Car, in which Jerry Van Dyke's mom was reincarnated as--yes--a car (a 1928 Porter voiced by Ann Sothern)? Police cars earned title credits in Car 54, Where Are You? and Adam-12. Even cartoons got into the act with Speed Racer. But what were the coolest cars on classic TV? There are many to pick from, but befitting this month's theme at the Cafe, we limited our picks to the Top 5:

1. Route 66 (1960-64) - One of the most iconic cars in American pop culture, the Corvette driven by Tod Stiles (Martin Milner) was the only possession his deceased father left him--other than a lot of bills. There were actually several models and colors of Corvettes used in the series (Chevrolet was a sponsor). For all but one episode of the first season, Tod and Buz (George Maharis) cruised the country in a blue 1960 'Vette. Still, it looked gray since the series was filmed in black and white!

2. Knight Rider (1982-86) - The Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT) was a black 1982 Pontiac Trans Am that cruised at 300 MPH, contained a fine array of weapons (e.g., a flamethrower), and featured an amazingly durable exterior. Its most distinctive feature was a talking computer with artificial intelligence and a a haughty personality to match.

3. Batman (1966-68) - Sure, the movie incarnations of the Batmobile may look sleeker, more realistic, and boast more gadgets--but the '66 version was considered pretty cool for its time. Customized from a 1955 Lincoln Futura (a concept car), the Batmobile was a staple at touring auto shows for years. Today, it is estimated to be worth $2 million.

4. The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-86) -  While Bo, Luke, and Daisy may have gotten more fan mail, the "General Lee"--the boys' 1969 Dodge Charger--was mighty popular. With a Confederate flag on its roof and a horn that played "Dixie," it sure had a Southern vibe. Over 200 General Lees were used during the filming of the series. The doors were welded shut for the stunts--though it looked cool, too, when Bo and Luke climbed in and out of the windows.

5. UFO (1970) - Most of the vehicles in Gerry Anderson's futuristic series were nifty miniatures, but the car driven by Commander Ed Straker was a modified Ford Zephyr Mark IV with doors that open upward. Although probably the least-known auto in our Top 5, it has a cult following among pop culture car enthusiasts and Dinky Toys even marketed a die-cast miniature called, appropriately, Ed Straker's Car. For a few years, it was owned by a BBC Radio 1 disc jockey.


Honorable Mentions:  1975 Ford Gran Torino from Starsky & Hutch; 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS from Magnum, P.I.; 1974 Pontiac Firebird Esprit from The Rockford Files; the "Black Beauty" from The Green Hornet; and Emma Peel's Lotus Elan from The Avengers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Damon and Pythias: How Far will a Friend Go?

When it was first released, Damon and Pythias (1962) was no doubt lost among the dozens of Italian sword-and-sandal films produced in the 1960s. Except for its setting--Greece and Sicily in 400 B.C.--it has little in common with those pictures. There are no muscular heroes, no mythical creatures, and surprisingly little action. Instead, Damon and Pythias is a film about the power of friendship and its effect on others.

When their ruler dies, the Athenians determine that he will be replaced by the wise missionary Arcanos. Unfortunately, Arcanos resides in Syracuse, where he has been teaching Greek philosophy as part of an underground movement. Pythias (Don Burnett) volunteers to bring back Arcanos, although the journey into enemy territory will be perilous. He struggles with how to break the news to his high-strung pregnant wife Nerissa (Ilaria Occhini). He finally opts for the easy way out...and leaves that task to his brother and sister.

Guy Williams as Damon.
In Syracuse, Pythias runs afoul of petty thieves led by a rogue named Damon (Guy Williams). Despite their initial conflict, the two men grow to like one another. As Damon explains to his girlfriend Adriana (Liana Orfei), it's nice to have to a friend "that's really worth something." Still, Damon betrays his new-found friend before having second thoughts and warning Pythias. His efforts come too late, though, when Dionysius the Tyrant (that's how he's labeled at the start of the film) captures Pythias.

Nerissa...pretty but dramatic.
In an act of unparalleled friendship, Damon offers to be executed in place of Pythias. At first, Pythias rejects the idea--but he has second thoughts after learning that Nerissa may die in childbirth. Dionysius, thinking that he can crush this dangerous idea of brotherhood, tells Pythias that he will be released for two months. If he does not return by that time, Damon will be killed in his place. Will Pythias return? Will Dionysius ensure that he doesn't? How will the always dramatic Nerissa  react to this news?

Loosely based on a Greek legend, Damon and Pythias could have been a first-rate picture with a stronger script and bigger stars. Perhaps, MGM's original intent was to mount a rival production to the big-budget epics of the same period (e.g., Spartacus, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire). However, with its modest budget and low wattage cast, it's clear that the studio ultimately set its goals much lower.

Don Burnett as Pythias.
Still, that's not to say that Damon and Pythias isn't an entertaining excursion. Guy Williams, fresh off a popular two-year run in Disney's Zorro, has the requisite charisma to make Damon a likable rascal. Don Burnett, on the other hand, turns the serious Pythias into a glum, boring protagonist--albeit one with good intentions. Liana Orfei holds her own as Damon's realistic girlfriend, but this is a film about male bonding and that leaves her with little to do.

Williams and Burnett, friends in real life, both had Italian connections. The American-born Williams was of Italian descent and his real name was Armand Catalano. After playing Dr. John Robinson in TV's Lost in Space, he retired to Argentina in the 1970s and died of a brain aneurysm in 1989. Don Burnett spoke at his memorial service.

Burnett retired from acting after Damon and Pythias and eventually became a successful stockbroker. Burnett's first wife was Italian star Gia Scala (The Guns of Navarone, The Angry Hills). They divorced in 1970; she committed suicide two years later after struggling with depression and alcoholism. Burnett eventually married Barbara Anderson, one of Raymond Burr's co-stars on the TV series Ironside.

Real-life friends Burnett and Williams--with guard between them.
So what's the final score on this test of friendship? We'll give Damon and Pythias a solid "B" for stretching the bounds of the sword-and-sandal genre and for conveying a worthy message with a minimum of pretensions.

Warner Archives provided a screening copy of this DVD.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

DVD Spotlight: Garrow's Law

Andrew Buchan as William Garrow.
Are you a fan of British courtroom shows like Rumpole of the Bailey? How about historical dramas along the lines of Poldark? If you answered yes to both questions, then you may want to check out Garrow's Law, a 2009-12 BBC series that smartly combines both genres. Andrew Buchan (Cranford) stars as William Garrow, a real-life London barrister (1760-1840) credited with coining the phrase: "Innocent until proven guilty."

In the series, Garrow is a curt intellectual interested more in legally or socially significant cases than in a profitable career. His associate, a middle-aged solicitor named John Southouse, often confers with their clients in the damp, cold confines of Newgate Prison (where moldy water trickles down the walls). Their cases range from an attempted assassination of King George III to treason to torture of a slave (a misdemeanor according to British law at the time). Interestingly, the cases were culled from actual trials documented in the proceedings of the Old Bailey (click here to visit the online database).

Lyndsey Marshal as Lady Sarah Hill.
Garrow's courtroom appearances attract the attention of Lady Sarah Hill (Lyndsey Marshal) and the two quickly develop a mutual attraction. Unfortunately, Lady Sarah is married to Sir Arthur Hill, a pompous baronet with a second-rate political career. It's not long before others note the smoldering exchanges between Garrow and Lady Sarah, resulting in scandalous rumors and eventually an allegation of adultery.

The continuing plot line involving Lady Sarah offers interesting insights into the limited rights of British women during the Georgian era (e.g., she owns no property, even her jewelry belongs to her husband). However, it never quite gels as an effective love story despite the strengths of the individual characters. One reason is that, as Southouse tells Sarah: "Garrow will be Garrow." In other words, his love of the law and his detached persona form an obstacle in developing normal relationships. From a dramatic standpoint, Garrow's legal discussions with his mentor Southouse overshadow the soapier scenes with Sarah.

Alun Armstrong as Southouse.
Andrew Buchan brings the requisite dash and brooding quality to Garrow. However, British veteran character actor Alun Armstrong steals the series as the clever and quietly kind Southouse (pronounded soot-house). PBS fans may remember Armstrong for his portrayals of Inspector Bucket in Bleak House (2008) and as Flintwich in Little Dorrit (2008).

From a production standpoint, Garrow's Law looks like a big-budget film. The filthy streets of the London slums and the dark tunnels of Newgate Prison are skilfully contrasted with the bright, ornate residences of the aristocrats. 

The real William Garrow from rose humble beginnings to a highly successful career as a barrister, politician, and judge. In 1812, he was knighted when he was appointed His Majesty's Solicitor for England and Wales (essentially the Deputy Attorney General). The following year, he became the Attorney General. Garrow had a long-term relationship with Sarah Dore, who had previously had a child out of wedlock with Sir Arthur Hill. Garrow and Sarah finally married in 1793--several years after the births of their two children.

Garrow's Law works well as a keen portrait of Georgian England and an examination of a legal system that was evolving rapidly. If its dramatic subplots falter occasionally, they never get in the way of the show's strengths. With a mere total of 12 episodes over its three seasons, it's a shame that the BBC cancelled it so early in William Garrow's career.

Acorn Media provided a copy of the season 3 DVD set of Garrow's Law.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Five Best Hitchcock Cameo Appearances

Hitchcock has appeared briefly in each of his films since 1926's The Lodger, in which his appearance was simply to "fill the screen." Often, he can be glimpsed as a passer-by, usually showing up near the beginning of a film (so viewers don't get distracted looking for him). It was tough to single just five cameos, but here goes:

Lifeboat
1. Lifeboat - Easily Hitchcock's most famous cameo, this one featured him in a before-and-after newspaper advertisement for a fictional weight-reducing drug called Reduco. The film's setting (in a lifeboat, of course) called for some creativity. Hitchcock initially considered playing the part of a floating body ("I was afraid I'd sink," he told Francois Truffaut). Since he was dieting at that time, he decided to immortalize his real-life weight loss with a fictional ad. He actually received fan letters asking where to buy Reduco.

Dial M for Murder
2. Dial M for Murder - Hitchcock appears in a Cambridge class reunion photograph, seated at a banquet table (second from the left) with Ray Milland and others.

3. Rear Window - In the apartment with the composer, Hitchcock can be glimpsed winding a clock.

To Catch a Thief
4. To Catch a Thief - Cary Grant catches a bus and plops down between Hitchcock and a cage of birds. Cary shoots the famous director a quizzical glance.

5. Family Plot - His famous silhouette appears behind the glass door of the Registrar of Births and Deaths.

Honorable Mentions: The Birds (walking two dogs as he exits the pet shop); Shadow of a Doubt (playing bridge on the train, but only shown from behind); and Notorious (downing a glass of champagne at a party).

Here's an entertaining compilation of every Hitchcock cameo appearance:


Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Five Best Movie Gimmicks

The "Golden Era of Movie Gimmicks" was in the late 1950s and 1960s when producer William Castle came up with some very innovative ways to lure audiences to his low-budget thrillers and horror films. Although Castle remains the undisputed King of Gimmicks, there were memorable ones before and after him. The Cafe takes a shot at listing the five best movie gimmicks:

The shadow of the Tingler. Scream,
scream for your life!
1. The Tingler - Vincent Price stars as a doctor who discovers a crustacean-like creature that grows at the base of the spine during moments of intense fright. When one screams, the creature reduces in size and becomes harmless. However, if you’re too afraid to scream, the Tingler snaps your spine, causing instant death! At the film's climax, Price surgically removes a Tingler, which subsequently escapes to a movie theater below him.  The screen goes black and Price urges the real movie audience to: “Scream!  Scream for your lives!” To heighten the effect, some patrons at selected movie theaters received mild electric shocks (yes, Castle had actually wired some of the seats!). 


2. House on Haunted Hill - If five guests can spent the night in Vincent Price's haunted house, each will receive $10,000. Castle's big gimmick, dubbed “Emergo” (love the name!), was simply a skeleton on a wire which projectionists dropped over unsuspecting viewers during the film’s big shock scene. Again, the gimmick was only used in selected theaters, although it was recreated for a New York City film festival in 2010. 

3. Scent of Mystery - Mike Todd, Jr. produced this light mystery about a novelist trying to save an heiress (an unbilled Elizabeth Taylor) from a murder plot. In selected theatres, over 30 aromas were piped in via plastic tubes at appropriate points in the film--this was dubbed “Smell-O-Vision.” There have also been other attempts to create smelly movies, the most famous being John Waters' campy Polyester, which took the low-tech route with scratch-and-sniff cards (Waters, who has a great appreciation of "B" cinema history, called his gimmick Odorama).

If you can see these ghosts, you
must be wearing your glasses!
4. 13 Ghosts - This second haunted house movie (albeit a family-friendly one) from Castle was filmed in "Illusion-O." With this gimmick, Castle provided viewers with filtered glasses which allowed them to see the movie’s “invisible” ghosts.

5. Earthquake - The most expensive and large-scale gimmick (short of 3-D) was Sensurround, in which a film's soundtrack was amplified in certain scenes to cause a rumbling sensation. It also caused headaches.  The first Sensurround film was the disaster flick Earthquake in 1974. It was followed by Midway (1976) and Rollercoaster (1977).

Honorable Mentions:  Macabre (Castle offered a $1000 life insurance policy if anyone died of fright while watching the movie); Homicidal and Ten Little Indians (1965) paused the action momentarily for a "Fright Break" and a "Murder Minute," respectively; the otherwise forgettable thriller Wicked, Wicked was shot in "Duovision," meaning that  almost the entire movie was shown in split-screen so the audience could follow simultaneously-occurring events; and, finally, Robert Montgomery filmed all of the Philip Marlowe mystery The Lady in the Lake in first-person (Marlowe is only glimpsed via reflections).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Five Best "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" Episodes

In terms of longevity, Alfred Hitchcock Presents was the most successful American television anthology series. It ran from 1955 to 1962 in a half-hour format and then from 1962 to 1965 as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. The list below includes only the 268 half-hour episodes.

Barbara Bel Geddes looking calm.
1. Lamb to the Slaughter - When a meek housewife (Barbara Bel Geddes) learns that her cheating husband is leaving her, she whacks him--fatally--with a frozen leg of lamb. She then calmly calls the police to report that her husband was murdered by an intruder. This darkly amusing tale, written by Roald Dahl, works to perfection--right down to the killer punch line. It was one of only 17 episodes (of the total 268) directed by Hitchcock.

2. Man from the South - Based on another Roald Dahl story, this episode stars Steve McQueen as a young man who bets a wealthy oddball (Peter Lorre) that he can light his lighter ten times in a row. If he can, he wins Lorre's snazzy convertible. But if the lighter fares to produce a flame just once, he loses a finger. A suspenseful, well-acted classic featuring another one of Dahl's trademark twists.

Vera Miles in Revenge.
3. Revenge - The very first episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents raised the bar very high. A distraught woman (Vera Miles) tells her husband she has been assaulted. When the police investigation goes nowhere, the couple seek their justice and go looking for the assailant. In a long-running series featuring a number of memorable twist endings, "Revenge" features perhaps the most potent one. Directed by Hitchcock.

4. The Glass Eye -Director Robert Stevens won an Emmy for this haunting tale of a middle-aged woman (Jessica Tandy) who falls in love from afar with a ventriloquist she has never met. After they begin exchanging letters, he agrees to meet her--with disastrous results. This beautifully written teleplay (by Stirling Silliphant) provided underused actor Tom Conway (George Sanders' brother) with his last good role. It's ultimately a very sad story of two lonely people.

Billy Mumy with loaded gun.
5. Bang! You're Dead - Hitchcock directed this wonderfully tense episode about a young boy (Billy Mumy) who mistakes a real gun for a toy pistol and spends the day playing with it. The worst part: the gun is loaded. Mumy's success as Will Robinson on Lost in Space has obscured his finest TV work, as in this episode and the "It's a Good Life" episode of The Twilight Zone.

Honorable Mentions:  One More Mile to Go (a man with a corpse in his car trunk) and Victim Four (a Paul Henreid-directed episode about a woman whose bad headaches are really bad). It's interesting to note that both Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone featured adaptations of Ambrose Bierce's An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge. However, The Twilight Zone episode was actually a short French feature filmed two years before its broadcast on Twilight Zone.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Five Best "Outer Limits" Episodes

Leslie Stevens and Joseph Stefano (who wrote the screenplay for Psycho) were the creative talents behind the best sci fi anthology of the 1960s (maybe of all time). The concept was that each show would stay within the confines of the science fiction genre and feature a “bear”—Stefano’s nickname for a scary monster. The scripts weren't as consistently strong as The Twilight Zone and the show’s budget often worked against some of the high-end concepts. But when The Outer Limits was good, it was very good. Without further adieu, we list our picks for the five best episodes.

Trent getting handy advice.
1. Demon with A Glass Hand - Trent (Robert Culp) is a man “born ten days ago” who has no previous memory and is being pursued throughout a huge deserted office building by alien beings that want to kill him. His actions are guided solely by his hand, which is made of glass with a tiny computer inside. The hand has two digits—the thumb and pinky—and talks to Trent. This fascinating episode penned by Harlan Ellison showcased The Outer Limits at its best: a brilliant concept, an offbeat setting, and a strong central performance.

2. The Architects of Fear - With the world facing annihilation from a nuclear war, a group of idealistic scientists decide to fake an alien invasion so warring factions will join against a greater enemy. In this way, they hope to achieve world peace. They draw lots and Dr. Allen Leighton (Robert Culp again) is selected to undergo surgeries that will transform him into an "alien being." Like any great science fiction story, The Architects of Fear balances social comment on the macro level with human drama on the micro level (in this case, the relationship between Leighton and his wife). The ending of the popular graphic novel Watchmen owes much to this classic Outer Limits episode.

A very memorable alien creature.
3. The Zanti Misfits - The imaginative premise has an army unit occupying a modern-day ghost town to ensure the safe arrival of an alien spacecraft carrying prisoners. No one is enthused about this mission--the Zantis threatened to declare war if their request to establish a penal colony on Earth was not granted. Although the army has secured the area, a low-life criminal (Bruce Dern) and his runaway wife (Olive Deering) break through the barricade. Their meddling ultimately leads to a memorable, all-out battle between the bug-like Zantis and the soldiers. A memorable exercise in visual horror, writer Joseph Stefano also makes a chilling statement about the nature of the human race.
Bee-ware of the new lab assistant!

4. 
Zzzzz - An entomologist studying bees needs a new lab assistant. A queen bee who can transform herself into human form needs a new mate. The entomologist is married. We now have a conflict. This entertaining episode benefits mightily from Joanna Frank, who scores as the exotic bee queen determined to get her way. This episode may lack the social significance of other better episodes--but it is sure is fun.

5. The Inheritors - An Army officer, Lieutenant Minns (Steven Ihnat), miraculously survives after being shot in the head by a bullet forged from a meteorite. He tracks down three other men who endured a similar experience. They began to build a spaceship while Minns recruits handicapped children for a special mission. What in the heck is going on? The Outer Limits' only two-part episode is a stellar one, unfolding as a mystery and ending in inspirational fashion. Ihnat, a good actor often relegated to supporting roles, is first-rate as Minns.

Honorable Mentions:  Soldier (also written by Harlan Ellison); The Sixth Finger (David McCallum becomes the man of the future); and It Crawled Out of the Woodwork.

What are your favorites?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Five Best "Twilight Zone" Episodes

Trying to sift through all 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone and pick just the five best episodes is rather daunting. Plus, it opens one up to mass criticism because TZ fans are passionate about their favorite episodes. But this is the start of our annual "Five Best" month at the Cafe and we're ready to take the heat. Here are our picks for TZ's five best episodes (and some honorable mentions):

Billy Mumy as Anthony.
1. It's a Good Life - The residents of a small town live in fear of a young boy (Billy Mumy) with limitless powers who controls their day-to-day existence. Disagree with Anthony and you're liable to find yourself in "the cornfield" (a place you don't want to be!). Disturbing and even downbeat at its conclusion, It's a Good Life is the most chilling TZ episode--and, in my opinion, the best one. In Twilight Zone: The Movie, Joe Dante ruins the story with a happy ending.

John Carradine as Brother Jerome.
2. The Howling Man - While touring a post-World War I Europe, a young man named David seeks shelter from rural monks during a storm. At first, the monks refuse admittance but they relent when David passes out. Later that night, David hears a strange howling and finds an imprisoned man who claims the monks are holding him against his will. This atmospheric, eerie tale written by Charles Beaumont is a rare TZ excursion into straight horror. It works extremely well, right down to the hand on the door knob in the epilogue.

3. Nightmare at 20,000 Feet - A man recently recovered from a nervous breakdown looks out the window of his airplane seat and sees a gremlin trying to sabotage the wing. No one believes him, of course. William Shatner's tendency to overact works to his advantage in this clever tale of a man who must convince himself of his own sanity and then risk his future in order save his fellow passengers. This one was also adapted for Twilight Zone: The Movie with John Lithgow shining in the Shatner role.

One of the Kanamits (on
the right, that is).
4. To Serve Man - A witty story that builds up to the best punchline of any TZ episode. To say anymore would spoil it for viewers who haven't seen it.

5. Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up - Two troopers tracks what may be an alien to a snowbound diner inhabited a by a soda jerk, a bus driver, and his passengers. The catch is that six passengers got off the bus, but now there are seven. Which one is an alien? A great example of one of the lighthearted episodes, complete with a neat twist, this one always draws me in if I happen on it during one of those TZ marathons.

Honorable mentions:  Five Characters in Search of an Exit (the soldier, the ballerina, etc.); The Invaders (Agnes Moorehead protects her home); Time Enough to Last (Burgess Meredith and his spectacles); Night of the Meek (Santa Claus); The Eye of the Beholder (a young woman undergoes plastic surgery); In His Image (the best of the hour-long episodes).