Director: Alan Grosland Jr.
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Steve Forrest, Jacqueline Scott, Frank Aletter, Paul Comi, Shari Lee Bernath, Morgan Jones, William Sargent, and Philip Abbott
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 3/14/1963
Production Code: 4859
After losing contact with ground control, astronaut Major Robert Gaines (Steve Forrest) arrives on Earth with no recollection of his return trip. Now struggling to connect with his wife Helen (Jacqueline Scott) and daughter Maggie (Shari Lee Bernath), Gaines eventually makes a horrifying discovery about the President of the United States.
Exploring the concept of a parallel universe, this episode may appeal to fans of the science fiction genre. “The Parallel” is, however, marred by sluggish pacing and superfluous dialogue.
Actresses Jacqueline Scott and Shari Lee Bernath deserve praise for their portrayals of Helen and Maggie Gaines, respectively. Specifically, both characters recoil in alarm when touched or embraced by Robert—a minor indication that the protagonist, though apparently suffering a nervous breakdown, could very well come from a parallel dimension as he claims.
“The Parallel” spends an inordinate amount of time establishing the nature of Gaines’ predicament, leaving little opportunity for building a suspenseful, engaging atmosphere—much in contrast to the similarly themed “And When the Sky Was Opened,” which generates an air of horror, claustrophobia, and impending doom around an alternate reality premise.
Another aspect worth criticizing, the subtle changes in Gaines’ environment are conveyed only through copious exposition—a blatant violation of the most important rule of screenwriting (show, don’t tell).
“The Parallel” is an underwhelming entry of The Twilight Zone. In spite of its intriguing subject matter, this episode suffers from drawn-out sequences and a predictable twist ending.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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