The Munsters Episode 63: Prehistoric Munster

General Information

Director: Joseph Pevney

Writer: Douglas Tibbles

Cast: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Pat Priest, Butch Patrick, George Petrie, Richard Poston, and Harvey Korman

Composer: Jack Marshall

Air Date: 3/10/1966

 

Overview

When Marilyn molds a sculpture of Herman for her class project, Professor Fagenspahen (Harvey Korman)—the art teacher at Marilyn’s university—informs his the-munsters-prehistoric-munstercolleague, Professor Hansen (George Petrie), that a “missing link” has been discovered. Thereafter, Hansen and Fagenspahen arrange a meeting with Herman, who had recently been nominated for Father of the Year by Eddie—a detail that causes great confusion for Herman and his examiners.

“Prehistoric Munster” operates on a mildly amusing premise, namely that a dignified anthropologist would mistake Herman for a missing link. It should be indicated, however, that a similar premise had been employed more humorously in “Herman, the Master Spy.”

 

Pros

the-munsters-prehistoric-munsterUpon receiving an invitation from Professors Hansen and Fagenspahen, Herman assumes that he has just won a Father of the Year contest and must travel to the college to collect his prizes—a misunderstanding that results in many hilarious, cleverly written exchanges between Herman and the professors, both of whom decide to “humor” their guest with the prospect of prizes in order to make him cooperate.

 

Cons

Though likely intended to parody the bizarre, pretentious qualities commonly possessed by modern-day art instructors, the exaggerated personality of Professorthe-munsters-prehistoric-munster Fagenspahen often clashes with the subtle manner exemplified by Hansen—a more realistic professor played by George Petrie. Especially over-the-top is Harvey Korman’s fake German accent, which may, at least on occasion, induce cringing from the audience (the same criticism can be directed at Korman’s portrayal of Dr. Leinbach, an idiotic German psychologist who appears in “Yes, Galen, There Is a Herman” from season one).

 

Analysis

By conducting himself like a spoiled, egotistical child throughout the episode, Herman never demonstrates the maturity that one would likely associate with the-munsters-prehistoric-munsteran exemplary father figure—much in contrast to his selfless, if incredibly naive, tendencies in many prior installments of The Munsters.

 

Concluding Comments

A flawed but entertaining episode, “Prehistoric Munster” should be praised for its comedic subject matter. Specifically worth noting is Grandpa’s confrontation with a ghostly checker opponent, who must be chased out of the Munster home due to his rude behavior.

 

Overall Quality: 6/10

 

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Mothra (1961)

General Information

Director: Ishiro Honda

Writer: Shinichi Sekizawa

Cast: Furanki Sakai, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kyoko Kagawa, Yumi Ito, Emi Ito, Jeri Ito, Ken Uehara, Akihiko Hirata, Kenji Sahara, Seizaburo Kawazu, Takashi Shimura, Yoshio Kosugi, Yoshifumi Tajima, Ren Yamamoto, Haruya Kato, Ko Mishima, Tetsu Nakamura, Shoichi Hirose, Hiroshi Takagi, Yasuhisa Tsutsumi, Teruko Mita, Koji Iwamoto, Mitsuo Tsuda, Masamitsu Tayama, Toshio Miura, Tadashi Okabe, Akira Wakamatsu, Yutaka Nakayama, Joni Yosefu, Oberu Waiatto, Harorudo Esu Koneui, Robato Danhamu, Akira Yamada, Koji Uno, Wataru Omae, Toshihiko Furuta, Keisuke Matsuyama, Koji Kamimura, Katsumi Tezuka, Takeo Nagashima, Mitsuo Matsumoto, Shinpei Mitsui, Kazuo Hinata, Shigeo Kato, Rinsaku Ogata, Yutaka Oka, Ko Hayami, Hiroyuki Satake, Kazuo Imai, Yoshio Katsube, Hiroshi Akitsu, Akio Kusama, Haruo Nakajima, Ryoji Shimizu, Ryuichi Hosokawa, Junpei Natsuki, Junnosuke Suda, Toku Ihara, Hiroshi Sekita, Akira Kitchoji, Masaaki Tachibana, Toshiko Nakano, Tsurue Ichimanji, Tatsuo Sakai, Nanako Yamada, and Nichigeki Danshingu Chimu

Composer: Yuji Koseki

Release Date: 7/30/1961

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

 

Overview

While exploring Infant Island, an expedition team consisting of capitalist Clark Nelson (Jeri Ito), radiation specialist Dr. Harada (Ken Uehara), and stowaway reporter Senichiro Fukuda (Furanki Sakai) discovers a pair of diminutive, telepathic fairiesmothra (Yumi Ito and Emi Ito). Motivated by monetary gain, Nelson captures the “tiny beauties” and forces them to sing in a Tokyo theater, prompting Mothra—a giant egg/larva/moth perceived as a god by the island natives—to rescue the girls from captivity.

An iconic entry in Toho’s original series of daikaiju films, Mothra will appeal to monster buffs young and old. Especially commendable is Yuji Koseki’s musical arrangement, the enchanting quality of which serves to accentuate the magical, awe-inspiring nature of Mothra and her connection with the Infant Island fairies.

 

Pros

As opposed to her fellow kaiju, Mothra embodies a graceful, delicate manner to counterbalance her destructive tendencies, thereby eliciting sympathy mothrafrom the audience (even while trampling New Kirk City in search of the kidnapped fairies, Mothra operates solely on instinct and without a hint of malice). Though quite unusual for a giant monster, Mothra’s temperament adds an air of realism to the attitudes and beliefs held by the Infant Island natives, who worship and pray to the title creature as if it were a benevolent deity.

Also exceptional is the performance of Furanki Sakai, a comedic actor known for his portrayal of Lord Yabu in Shogun. Despite lacking the attributes commonly possessed by a monster movie protagonist, the Japanese reporter played mothraby Sakai contributes humor to a highly tense situation; but does so without undermining the serious threat posed by Mothra.

 

Cons

By laughing maniacally while relishing his evil deeds, the character of Nelson comes across as a one-dimensional, if not thoroughly cartoonish, villain.

 

Analysis

Similar to Rodan, Gojira, and the original version of King Kong, Mothra contains a harrowing statement on the human tendency to exploit and mothratamper with nature, as well as the potential consequences of so doing. Specifically, Nelson abducts and later showcases the fairies of Infant Island simply to profit from their uniqueness, with no concern for the fact that Mothra (implicitly a product of nuclear testing) could devastate entire cities while retrieving said fairies—a fantastic but meaningful commentary on the greed, arrogance, and callousness of man, especially with regard to other lifeforms and the environment as a whole.

 

Concluding Comments

mothraThe cinematic debut of the second most popular monster in Toho’s classic ensemble, Mothra should be requisite viewing for enthusiasts of the kaiju eiga genre. Worth praising in particular is the lighthearted tone of this film, which, unlike the solemn atmosphere of Gojira and Rodan, will no doubt captivate fans of all ages.

 

Overall Quality: 8/10

 

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The Twilight Zone Episode 59: A Hundred Yards Over the Rim

General Information

Director: Buzz Kulik

Writer: Rod Serling

Cast: Cliff Robertson, John Crawford, Evans Evans, Ed Platt, Miranda Jones, Ken Drake, Robert L. McCord III, Jennifer Bunker, and John Astin

Composer: Fred Steiner

Air Date: 4/7/1961

Production Code: 173-3654

 

Overview

While traveling from St. Louis to the New Mexico Territory, wagon train member Christian Horn (Cliff Robertson) must temporarily abandon his fellow travelers to search for water. Having nearly been crushed by an eighteen-wheeler, Chris the-twilight-zone-a-hundred-yards-over-the-rimwanders into a café owned by married couple Joe (John Crawford) and Mary Lou (Evans Evans). Shortly thereafter, Chris—now aware that over one hundred years have suddenly and inexplicably elapsed—attempts to deliver a bottle of modern medicine to his son, whose ailment will surely kill him if left untreated.

“A Hundred Yards Over the Rim” puts a unique and memorable spin on the fish-out-of-water trope. Rod Serling enthusiasts are therefore advised to view this entry, minor historical inaccuracies notwithstanding.

 

Pros

Though entirely fantastic, the time leap in this episode is made credible by the performance of late actor Cliff Robertson, whom fans of The Twilight Zone will recognize from season three’s “The Dummy.” For example, when observing the the-twilight-zone-a-hundred-yards-over-the-rimcombination of dismay, confusion, and desperation expressed by Chris upon arriving in 1961, viewers should have no difficulty accepting that a temporal anomaly has just occurred.

Complementing the quizzical reactions of Robertson, the skeptical attitudes of Joe and Mary Lou are exactly what one would expect of two ordinary, then present-day people confronted with a pioneer sporting an “antique” rifle. Notably, both characters hesitate to accept Chris at face value, but can offer no explanation for his anachronistic behavior—a conflicted response that few time travel narratives have managed to depict in such a believable fashion.

 

Cons

None.

 

Analysis

(Spoilers beyond this point)

“A Hundred Yards Over the Rim” contains an early example of the predestination paradox, now a common theme in the science fiction genre—yet another indication that the-twilight-zone-a-hundred-yards-over-the-rimSerling was well ahead of his time, perhaps in more ways than one. Specifically, Chris travels to the future and takes a bottle of penicillin with him upon returning to the past, thereby saving the life of his pneumonia-stricken son, who, as implied in a medical encyclopedia, would later discover the antibiotic responsible for curing him—a fascinating, if highly illogical, twist ending that serves to challenge the scientific principle of causation.

 

Concluding Comments

the-twilight-zone-a-hundred-yards-over-the-rimThe first installment of The Twilight Zone starring Cliff Robertson (known for his portrayal of Uncle Ben in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy), “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim” should be praised for its compelling use of a bizarre premise. Especially worth commending are the performances in this episode, which add an air of realism to the extraordinary plot device employed by Serling.

 

Overall Quality: 10/10

 

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The Munsters Episode 62: The Musician

General Information

Director: Ezra Stone

Writer: Richard Baer

Cast: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Pat Priest, Butch Patrick, and John Carradine

Composer: Jack Marshall

Air Date: 3/3/1966

 

Overview

At the suggestion of Mr. Gateman (the parlor boss from “Herman’s Raise”), Herman requires Eddie to practice the trumpet every day despite his lack of musical the-munsters-the-musicianability. Unbeknownst to Herman, Grandpa brews a magic potion for Eddie, thereby improving his skill level. A complication arises when Grandpa fails to duplicate his initial results, causing Eddie to adopt the playing style and vernacular of a then modern-day jazz performer.

“The Musician” is an entertaining, if somewhat dated, episode of The Munsters. Notably, Mr. Gateman’s morbid, parlor-themed puns add a nice touch to the dinner conversation of the Munster family.

 

Pros

While dining at the Munster home, Mr. Gateman—a man who prides himself on his sense of humor—tells a variety of cringe-inducing jokes, e.g. “you’ve been as quiet as a (parlor) customer all evening” in response to the subdued manner the-munsters-the-musicianof Grandpa. Hoping to flatter his boss, Herman bursts out laughing whenever Mr. Gateman opens his mouth, prompting an annoyed reaction from him. The situation described above will surely appeal to fans of The Munsters, especially when complemented by the straight performance of John Carradine—a dignified actor known for his portrayal of Count Dracula/Baron Latos in the Universal Monster series.

 

Cons

Though hilarious at the time of filming, Eddie’s “jive talking” will likely fail to amuse the majority of modern audiences.

 

Analysis

the-munsters-the-musician“The Musician” indicates that children should never be forced to develop talents where none exist, offering a bit of wisdom for real-life parents.

 

Concluding Comments

For combining pop culture references with darkly comedic subject matter, “The Musician” should be praised by viewers of The Munsters. John Carradine enthusiasts will likewise enjoy this episode, which contains another memorable appearance from the Mr. Gateman character.

 

Overall Quality: 7/10

 

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Konga (1961)

General Information

Director: John Lemont

Writers: Aben Kandel and Herman Cohen

Cast: Michael Gough, Margo Johns, Jess Conrad, Claire Gordon, Austin Trevor, Jack Watson, George Pastell, Vanda Godsell, Stanley Morgan, Grace Arnold, Leonard Sachs, Nicholas Bennett, Kim Tracy, Rupert Osbourne, Waveney Lee, and John Welsh

Composer: Gerard Schurmann

Release Date: 3/22/1961

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

 

Overview

Botanist Charles Decker (Michael Gough) returns to England one year after crash landing in Africa. Having discovered a means of growing plants and animals tokonga extraordinary sizes, Decker and his lab assistant, Margaret (Margo Johns), experiment on Konga—a baby chimpanzee who, following his transformation, willfully aids Decker in eliminating his enemies. Complications arise when Decker develops a romantic interest in Sandra Banks (Claire Gordon), a high school student with an extremely jealous, hot-tempered boyfriend named Bob Kenton (Jess Conrad).

Konga is a goofy, uninspired effort by the writing team responsible for I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Exceptionally awful is the main plot, which combines (albeit poorly) the premise for King Kong with a mad scientist theme.

 

Pros

kongaThe crazed manner exhibited by Michael Gough (known for his portrayal of Alfred in Tim Burton’s Batman series) adds a frightening quality to the determination of Decker, who resorts to murder, blackmail, and a host of other ethical violations while working to achieve success within the scientific community.

 

Cons

Prior to the finale, Konga contains an inordinate amount of expository dialogue and tends to suffer from pacing issues as a result—a shortcoming of many British horror films. Viewers may therefore wish to avoid the first two-thirds of Konga, which does not feature a giant ape (arguably the only highlight of the entire movie) until its climactic sequence.

kongaAlso worth criticizing are the scientific inaccuracies that plague the story from start to finish. Perhaps most obvious of all, no attempt is made to rationalize how Konga—initially a chimpanzee—transforms into a gorilla-like creature after being injected with Decker’s growth serum. Though likely a consequence of budgetary constraints, the above discrepancy should nevertheless have been explained within the actual film.

Lastly, Konga fails to include a sympathetic lead character with whom the average person can relate. Margaret, for example, agrees to remain silent about the crimes of Decker—a cold-blooded murderer—when persuaded by her attraction toward him. Even Sandra, the ostensible female protagonist, is never developed to an extensive degree. For this reason, audiences may have a difficult time investing in Konga beyond a surface level.

 

Analysis

kongaKonga lacks a compelling social commentary to redeem itself from the stale, campy, and thoroughly nonsensical subject matter within its narrative. The original versions of King Kong and Mighty Joe Young, on the other hand, provide harrowing statements on the human tendency to invade, exploit, and tamper with nature when motivated by selfish gain, thereby complementing the giant monster trope with thought-provoking implications.

 

Concluding Comments

A second-rate imitation of King Kong, Konga is marred by abysmal production values and science fiction concepts of a dubious variety. Fans of B-grade cinema may, however, wish to view this film for its unintentionally amusing aspects.

 

Overall Quality: 3/10

 

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The Twilight Zone Episode 58: Long Distance Call

General Information

Director: James Sheldon

Writers: Charles Beaumont and William Idelson

Cast: Philip Abbott, Lili Darvas, Patricia Smith, Billy Mumy, Jenny Maxwell, Reid Hammond, Henry Hunter, and Lew Brown

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 3/31/1961

Production Code: 173-3667

 

Overview

the-twilight-zone-long-distance-callOn his birthday, Billy Bayles (Billy Mumy) is given a toy telephone by his beloved grandmother (Lili Darvas), who dies shortly thereafter. Much to the concern of his parents, Chris and Sylvia (Philip Abbott and Patricia Smith), Billy claims that his new telephone allows him to communicate with Grandma Bayles.

“Long Distance Call” is a haunting episode of The Twilight Zone. Though produced on a shoestring budget, this installment deserves praise for its realistic portrayal of an extended family in turmoil.

 

Pros

For balancing poignant subject matter with undertones of an ominous variety (a difficult combination that few episodes have managed to achieve), “Long Distance Call” should be commended. On one hand, the opening scene the-twilight-zone-long-distance-callestablishes the loving, natural bond that Billy and his grandmother share with each other, thereby tugging the heartstrings of sensitive viewers. Later on, however, the formerly sweet relationship between a young boy and his grandparent adopts a more sinister quality; that is, the now deceased Grandma Bayles communicates with Billy from beyond the grave, implicitly instructing the child to “join” his grandmother in death. The above-described shift in tone is made quite chilling, at least in part, by child actor Billy Mumy, the innocence of whom creates a disturbing contrast to the morbid obsession of his character.

 

Cons

Despite addressing topics of a heavy nature (i.e. the loss of a grandparent and the attempted suicide of a five-year-old boy), “Long Distance Call” struggles to deliver a dramatic impact when necessary—undoubtedly a consequence of the videotape on which it was filmed.

 

Analysis

the-twilight-zone-long-distance-call“Long Distance Call” offers a statement on the need for generational boundaries within families, especially where personality clashes are likely to arise. Specifically, Grandma Bayles attempts to live vicariously through her grandson Billy, even when doing so means ignoring the wishes of her daughter-in-law—a convincing depiction of those who, perhaps unintentionally, become overinvolved in the raising of their grandchildren and drive wedges between family members as a result.

 

Concluding Comments

The first episode of The Twilight Zone to feature Billy Mumy, “Long Distance Call” will no doubt appeal to fans of the young Lost in Space actor. It should be indicated, however, that a soap opera effect undermines the emotional, character-driven material at the heart of this entry.

 

Overall Quality: 8/10

 

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The Munsters Episode 61: Cyrano De Munster

General Information

Director: Joseph Pevney

Writer: Douglas Tibbles

Cast: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Pat Priest, Butch Patrick, Joan Staley, Chet Stratton, and Eileen O’Neill

Composer: Jack Marshall

Air Date: 2/24/1966

 

Overview

the-munsters-cyrano-de-munsterParlor employee Clyde Thornton, the practical joker from “Herman’s Peace Offensive,” falls head over heels in love with Clara Mason (Joan Staley). Unable to impress Clara on his own, Clyde relies on Herman’s poetry to spark the interest of his new crush.

For its effective use of a comedic misunderstanding trope, “Cyrano De Munster” should be praised by fans of this series. Especially worth noting is the love rectangle involving Herman, Lily, Clyde, and Clara, which, in addition to being quite humorous, teaches a valuable lesson about the dangers of jumping to conclusions.

 

Pros

Arousing the suspicions of Lily, Herman sneaks out in the middle of the night to feed poetic lines to Clyde, now struggling to kindle the affections of Clara. Sometime later, a jealous Lily decides to confront Clyde at his apartment, causing the-munsters-cyrano-de-munsterHerman to assume that his wife and co-worker are having an affair. Clyde, on the other hand, believes that Herman has stolen Clara from him; yet in reality, Clara is the one who pursues Herman after discovering that he, not Clyde, had written the poetry in question. Needless to say, hilarity ensues when Lily, Herman, Clara, and Clyde encounter one another in the climactic sequence.

 

Cons

“Cyrano De Munster” operates on an implausible premise, namely that any woman would be enamored of Herman’s cringe-inducing poetry. (In all fairness, Grandpa himself draws attention to this fact.)

 

Analysis

the-munsters-cyrano-de-munsterThough strictly asinine, “Cyrano De Munster” rightfully implies that in order to avoid conflict, husbands and wives should always communicate their true intentions to each other. Specifically, if Herman had initially explained to Lily the reason for his poetry writing, she might never have doubted the loyalty of her husband. (That being said, longtime viewers may question why Lily continues to accuse Herman—a faithful partner of one hundred years—of philandering with women despite lacking evidence to indicate as much.)

 

Concluding Comments

“Cyrano De Munster” contains an amusing mix-up scenario that will appeal to enthusiasts of The Munsters. It should be mentioned, however, that Douglas Tibbles’ main narrative concept (i.e. Lily’s paranoia regarding the mysterious behavior of Herman) had been thoroughly exhausted by this point in the series.

 

Overall Quality: 7/10

 

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Daikaiju Baran (1958)

General Information

Director: Ishiro Honda

Writer: Shinichi Sekizawa

Cast: Kozo Nomura, Ayumi Sonoda, Koreya Senda, Akihiko Hirata, Fuyuki Murakami, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Minosuke Yamada, Hisaya Ito, Yoshifumi Tajima, Nadao Kirino, Akira Sera, Akio Kusama, Noriko Honma, Akira Yamada, Fumindo Matsuo, Soji Ubukata, Toku Ihara, Yoshikazu Kawamata, Yasuhiro Shigenobu, Takashi Ito, Mitsuo Tsuda, Jiro Kumagai, Shoichi Hirose, Keisuke Yamada, Hideo Shibuya, Koji Suzuki, Masaki Shinohara, Michiko Kawa, Yasuo Onishi, Toshiko Nakano, Hiroshi Akitsu, Mitsuo Matsumoto, Toshiko Nomura, Rinsaku Ogata, Junichiro Mukai, Satoko Taira, Eisuke Nakanishi, Takashi Narita, Keiichiro Katsumoto, Haruya Sakamoto, Ryuichi Hosokawa, Ko Hayami, Tokio Okawa, Tazue Ichimanji, Hiroko Terasawa, Toriko Takahara, Katsumi Tezuka, and Haruo Nakajima

Composer: Akira Ifukube

Release Date: 10/14/1958

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

 

Overview

While investigating a rare species of butterfly, two etymology students are crushed to death in a mysterious landslide. Scientific researcher Kenji Uozaki (Kozo Nomura) and Yuriko Shinjo (Ayumi Sonoda), the sister of one of the deceased men, daikaiju-baranpay a visit to the village near the Kitakami River—the location of the disaster. Initially unimpressed by local legends of a mountain god, Kenji and Yuriko soon discover that a giant, prehistoric reptile has awakened from a slumber spanning millions of years.

A generic effort by Gojira director Ishiro Honda, Daikaiju Baran (literally translated to Giant Monster Varan*) will appeal to only the most passionate enthusiasts of the kaiju eiga genre. The serious tone, acting, and musical direction of this film do, however, deserve respect from those of a critical mindset.

 

Pros

For composing a powerful soundtrack to accompany the special effects of Eiji Tsubaraya, Akira Ifukube should be commended. (Kaiju fans will note thatdaikaiju-baran elements of Ifukube’s score were later featured in the iconic theme for Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.)

Also praiseworthy is the performance of Akihiko Hirata, known for his portrayal of Dr. Serizawa in the original version of Godzilla. Though quite minor, the scientist character played by Hirata adds an air of gravitas to an otherwise mediocre film.

 

Cons

By insulting the religious beliefs held by the people of Iwaya Village, Kenji Uozaki does a poor job of establishing himself as a likable hero figure. Even more problematic is the romantic subplot involving Kenji and Yuriko, the shallowness daikaiju-baranof which may prevent the audience from relating to either protagonist.

In addition to its lack of character development, Daikaiju Baran never builds an adequate level of suspense or intrigue around the monster Varan. When considering the goofy, uninspired qualities of Varan, viewers may struggle to understand why the village high priest prays to and worships the creature as if it were a deity.

 

Analysis

daikaiju-baranAs opposed to Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan, Daikaiju Baran fails to explore the origin of its title monster, leaving no room for a political statement on real-world affairs (e.g. the consequences of nuclear testing).

 

Concluding Comments

Daikaiju Baran forgoes narrative substance in favor of copious action, thereby solidifying its reputation as the weakest entry among Toho’s original lineup of kaiju films. Especially disappointing is the absence of social commentary, which, until this point, had been a defining aspect of the Japanese monster movie.

 

Overall Quality: 5/10

 

*To avoid confusion with the Americanized Varan the Unbelievable, the original Japanese title of Daikaiju Baran has been retained for this review.

 

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The Twilight Zone Episode 57: The Prime Mover

General Information

Director: Richard L. Bare

Writer: Charles Beaumont

Cast: Dane Clark, Buddy Ebsen, Christine White, Nedson Booth, Clancy Cooper, and Jane Burgess

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 3/24/1961

Production Code: 173-3647

 

Overview

Restaurant owner Ace Larson (Dane Clark) wishes to marry Kitty Cavanaugh (Christine White), but cannot afford to do so. One evening, a simple-minded employee named Jimbo Cobb (Buddy Ebsen) reveals his ability to manipulate objects the-twilight-zone-the-prime-moverwith his mind. Thereafter, Ace takes a trip to Las Vegas and, with a little “help” from Jimbo, becomes quite rich overnight. No longer satisfied with casino play, Ace contacts Big Phil Nolan (Nesdon Booth)—a gangster from Chicago—and attempts to double his winnings, with predictable results.

“The Prime Mover” is a cute and amusing episode of The Twilight Zone. Though mostly unremarkable, this installment should be praised for utilizing comedic subject matter to teach a valuable life lesson.

 

Pros

By realistically conveying the desperation of a gambling addict, actor Dane Clark strengthens the credibility of an otherwise fantastic premise. Note that the-twilight-zone-the-prime-moverin addition to risking everything on a foolish bet, Ace repeatedly shuts out his fiancée and best friend, even going so far as to ignore Jimbo’s headaches (a result of using telekinesis too often) whenever money is at stake—a convincing, albeit disturbing, depiction of compulsive behavior.

Also excellent is the character of Jimbo, who serves as a compelling (if frequently ignored) moral compass for Ace. Similar to his performance on The Beverly Hillbillies, Buddy Ebsen portrayed Jimbo with a great deal of small-town charm, thereby allowing the audience to relate with him despite the implausible nature of his talent.

 

Cons

the-twilight-zone-the-prime-moverThe levitation effects in this episode are a tad silly, at least by modern-day standards.

 

Analysis

A simple but commendable cautionary tale, “The Prime Mover” employs quirky humor in conjunction with science fiction to warn of the dangers of habitual gambling.

 

Concluding Comments

The first episode of The Twilight Zone to feature actress Christine White (the second being “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”), “The Prime Mover” contains a worthwhile narrative for the whole family to enjoy. Nevertheless, the twist ending will hardly come as a surprise to the majority of viewers.

 

Overall Quality: 8/10

 

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The Munsters Episode 60: Zombo

General Information

Director: Ezra Stone

Writer: Dennis Whitcomb

Cast: Fred Gwynne, Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis, Pat Priest, Butch Patrick, Louis Nye, Mike Barton, Jimmy Stiles, Jackie Minty, and Digby Wolfe

Composer: Jack Marshall

Air Date: 2/17/1966

 

Overview

No longer interested in emulating his father, Eddie finds a new role model in Zombo (Louis Nye)—a ghoulish, albeit comical, horror movie presenter who the-munsters-zombovaguely resembles the Hypnotist (Lon Chaney’s character) from London After Midnight. Upon winning a contest to meet Zombo in person, Eddie discovers that his favorite television icon may not be so exciting after all.

“Zombo” is a clever and amusing satire on the gimmicky nature of the 1960s horror host. Especially enjoyable are the antics of Eddie, whose outburst in Zombo’s studio will induce “howling” laughter from viewers of all ages.

 

Pros

While eavesdropping, Herman catches Lily and Marilyn describing Zombo with a variety of flattering adjectives (i.e. lovely, handsome, and impressive). Hoping to the-munsters-zomboimitate Zombo, Herman drinks a magic potion and turns out “gorgeous” according to Grandpa (in reality, Herman now looks like a cross between Frankenstein’s monster and Mr. Hyde). Unfortunately, the new guise fails to impress Eddie, who insists that Zombo is a “real guy” and not a faker like Herman. Though quite silly, the above subplot effectively incorporates the bizarre, upside-down standards held by the Munster family.

 

Cons

None.

 

Analysis

the-munsters-zomboFor stressing the importance of selecting good, positive role models during childhood, “Zombo” earns its status as a classic episode of The Munsters. Notably, despite all his kooky and absurd tendencies, Herman proves himself to be an excellent father figure for Eddie—much in contrast to Zombo, who considers hosting a children’s show to be a degrading line of work.

 

Concluding Comments

By combining creepy hijinks with family values, “Zombo” will undoubtedly appeal to fans of The Munsters. Specifically worth praising is Eddie’s final chat with Zombo, who encourages the Munster child to become a “nice, normal human being” like his father.

 

Overall Quality: 10/10

 

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