Director: James Sheldon
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Gary Merrill, Vaughn Taylor, Mark Tapscott, Jack Mann, and Ben Cooper
Composer: Wilbur Hatch
Air Date: 11/24/1961
Production Code: 4808
Traveling to a small town on a scouting mission, Confederate Sergeant Joseph Paradine (Gary Merrill) discovers a company of Union soldiers frozen in time. Investigating further, Paradine encounters an old man named Teague (Vaughn Taylor)—a warlock who, perceiving the Yankees as invaders, claims to have cast a spell on every soldier passing through the valley. To assist Paradine in defeating the Union Army, Teague reveals a book of witchcraft that—in order to be used effectively—requires the reader to align himself with Satan.
Despite benefiting from a clever and original premise, “Still Valley” is marred by copious exposition, languid pacing, and conflict resolution of an anticlimactic variety. For the above reasons, Civil War buffs and Rod Serling enthusiasts alike may wish to avoid this offering.
Exemplifying the bravery and determination that one might expect of a patriotic soldier, character actor Gary Merrill should be praised for his performance in this episode.
Upon meeting Sergeant Paradine, the old man portrayed by Vaughn Taylor (whom fans of The Twilight Zone will recognize from “Time Enough at Last,” “I Sing the Body Electric,” “The Incredible World of Horace Ford,” and “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross”) offers a plodding, long-winded explanation of black magic and how it can be used to overpower the Union Army. Though necessary for revealing important details to the viewer, Paradine’s conversation with Teague is drawn out to the point of extreme tediousness, leaving no opportunity for tension or suspense to accumulate prior to the final scene.
“Still Valley” is a poorly executed episode of The Twilight Zone. Serling’s thought-provoking use of a supernatural horror concept should, however, be commended by the audience.
Overall Quality: 4/10
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