The Twilight Zone Episode 94: Four O’Clock

General Information

Director: Lamont Johnson

Writer: Rod Serling

Cast: Theodore Bikel, Phyllis Love, Linden Chiles, and Moyna MacGill

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 4/6/1962

Production Code: 4832

 

Overview

Determined to eradicate evil from the world, busybody Oliver Crangle (Theodore Bikel) makes an extraordinary declaration: at exactly four o’clock in the afternoon, The Twilight Zone Four O Clockevery terrible person on Earth will undergo a dramatic transformation. Surprisingly, Crangle’s prediction comes true—with an ironic twist.

“Four O’Clock” contains a worthwhile lesson on how meddling in the affairs of others, even those of an ethically dubious nature, can result in devastating consequences. This episode does, however, deserve criticism for its mediocre presentation.

 

Pros

The Twilight Zone Four O ClockDespite believing in absurd fantasies, the character of Crangle maintains a realistic quality due to the performance of Theodore Bikel. Notably, Crangle embodies all the passion that one would expect of a moral crusader, adding a hint of menace to his otherwise laughable, paranoid suggestions for punishing wrongdoers.

 

Cons

Lacking the nuance of a well-written villain, Crangle never presents a compelling motive to justify his contempt for humanity. Viewers may therefore struggle to identify with Crangle, whose characteristics often border on cartoonish.

The Twilight Zone Four O Clock(Spoilers beyond this point)

In addition to being rather silly and predictable, the twist ending of “Four O’Clock” is marred by an illogical execution. Specifically, no explanation is provided to indicate how Crangle—an ordinary man with a god complex—manages to shrink all the evil people, including the main character himself, to two feet tall.

 

Analysis

As opposed to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, “Four O’Clock” struggles to offer subtle, thought-provoking commentary on the effects of McCarthyism, instead The Twilight Zone Four O Clockportraying anti-Communism as a form of prejudice against well-meaning individuals.

 

Concluding Comments

Combining fantasy tropes with a relevant social message, “Four O’Clock” may appeal to enthusiasts of The Twilight Zone. Casual fans, in contrast, should likely avoid this episode for its preachy subtext, hackneyed dialogue, and cringe-inducing finale.

 

Overall Quality: 5/10

 

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