The Twilight Zone Episode 138: Black Leather Jackets

General Information

Director: Joseph M. Newman

Writer: Earl Hamner Jr.

Cast: Lee Kinsolving, Shelly Fabares, Michael Forest, Denver Pyle, Tom Gilleran, Michael Conrad, and Irene Harvey

Composer: Van Cleave

Air Date: 1/31/1964

Production Code: 2628

 

Overview

Arriving in a peaceful town, three leather-clad, motorcycle-riding teenagers begin causing trouble for neighbors Stu (Denver Pyle), Martha (Irene Harvey), and Ellen Tillman (Shelley Fabares). Before long, Scott (Lee Kinsolving)—the most sensitiveThe Twilight Zone Black Leather Jackets member of the trio—forms a relationship with Ellen and warns her of a deadly future.

Exploring the flaws of human nature within a sci-fi setting, “Black Leather Jackets” is a commendable entry of The Twilight Zone. Nevertheless, this episode suffers from a goofy atmosphere, a nihilistic ending, and a complete absence of character development.

 

Pros

The Twilight Zone Black Leather JacketsFeaturing alien invaders posing as teenage bikers, a plot to destroy the human race, and a fearless leader who appears as a giant eye on a computer monitor, “Black Leather Jackets” will likely appeal to fans of B-grade science fiction films. (In fact, sci-fi/horror buffs may observe many parallels between this episode and Teenagers from Outer Space—a 1950s cult classic.)

 

Cons

Lacking the poignancy of an organic romance, Ellen’s relationship with Scott is hampered by a hackneyed execution. Notably, Ellen fails to grow suspicious of ScottThe Twilight Zone Black Leather Jackets despite his monotone voice, robotic demeanor, and psychopathic gaze, instead falling in love with him for no apparent reason.

In addition to its uninspired romantic subplot, “Black Leather Jackets” may evoke criticism for its alien invasion premise. Rather than annihilate humans in order to harvest the resources on Earth, for example, the aliens wish to eliminate all people because of their “hate” for one another—a weak, if not paradoxical, motive for a genocidal plan.

 

Analysis

The Twilight Zone Black Leather JacketsTypical of a Rod Serling narrative, this episode indicates that human hatred may lead to terrible destructive outcomes if left unrestrained—a thoughtful concept marred by heavy-handed moralizing.

 

Concluding Comments

“Black Leather Jackets” is a cheesy and poorly written offering. Certain viewers may, however, enjoy this episode for showcasing a variety of retro sci-fi tropes.

 

Overall Quality: 3/10

 

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