Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Twilight Zone Day: Repeat Zoners

Today we celebrate Twilight Zone Day by looking at two repeat actors who appeared in more than one episode of The Twilight Zone. Since the show featured a different story every week, it was a challenge to produce each episode. Most shows have at least a handful of sets that are used every episode. The Twilight Zone, however, had different sets, different actors, different stories every week. An actor who knew how the process worked and had proven themselves was invaluable to Mr. Serling.

So we see Arlene Martel in two classic episodes; the first being a favorite of Temporary Layoffs- What You Need. Ms. Martel plays a down on her luck dame who tries her luck buying from an old peddler who sells her what she needs- cleaning solution. As it turns out, a handsome ex-baseball player, who was given a ticket to Scranton finds out he's been given a second chance with a minor league team in that very city. His suit jacket, however, is stained. Of course, Ms. Martel's character has just the thing to clean it. They shuffle off together, getting exactly what they needed.


Arlene's second appearance is in the following season's Twenty Two, another favorite. She only gets one line- "Room for one more, honey!" but says it in a menacing way as a vicious nurse in a dippy starlet's nightmares. The nurse frightens the starlet in her dreams nightly, inviting her into the hospital morgue.


The starlet is convinced that she just has a touch of hysterics and should leave the hospital to get back to Hollywood. She convinces herself that the doctors are right until she sees the face of the stewardess on her flight- it's the menacing nurse who repeats her chilling line- "Room for one more, honey!" The starlet shrieks and runs back into the terminal. As she watches the flight take off, it explodes. Her "hysterics" were really a premonition that saved her life.


Our second repeat Zoner is William Shatner who also starred in two classic episodes. The first was Nick of Time in which he plays a newlywed whose car breaks down in a strange town. When a novelty fortune telling machine seems to accurately predict the future, he becomes obsessed with it. Fearing that he's slowly going insane, his wife finally convinces him to leave the machine behind. Meanwhile, another couple sits down, obviously too far gone in their own obsession with the device.


His second episode would be Terror at 20,000 Feet. This is such an iconic episode that it is probably not necessary to recount its plot. (It's the one where Shatner sees a gremlin outside the airplane.) This installment would be directed by Richard Donner, who would go on to direct The Omen, Superman, The Goonies, Lethal Weapon and many other films. This episode would be a worthy start for a Hollywood legend.