Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Adventures in Cat Training......

I have a very special relationship with my feline companion Cleopatra ("Patra").

Thursday, April 7, 2016

We're Coming to Phoenix

I touched down late last night in beautiful Phoenix and am so excited to meet the wonderful local dancers who have been preparing to join me in this production!

Although Blood on the Veil is a monologue, in early 2013, I added some segments that could include other performers.

So now I am joined in every show by between four and as many as twenty local performers!!

The show begins with a dynamic emcee (Dayna, in Phoenix) who introduces the audience to the event, and then brings up two pre-show acts, showcasing contrasting styles of bellydance. These can be solos or group acts -- the only requirement is that they be of different styles.
Cane Dancers Adrienne, Mahin, and Melisula,
sporting the new Blood on the Veil Tank Tops!

The local producer (in  this case, Mahin, pictured in the center) chooses from among the local talent, and will usually look for a Tribal act and a Cabaret act, though in some shows we've had other interesting pairings such as folkloric/oriental, shaabi/American cabaret, gypsy fusion/pop cabaret fusion, and so forth.

The Phoenix show will feature Adrianne (at left) performing American cabaret, and Divine Chaos, performing their unique blend of world fusion tribal style.

At the end of the first act these and other guest performers join me in a special showcase of the various props used in bellydance (made possible by the local stage manager -- who will be TC, in Phoenix), which culminates in a riveting Egyptian cane dance (raks assaya). The Phoenix show will feature Adrienne, Mahin, and Melisula, pictured above.

At the start of Act 2, the audience is treated to a performance by a Master Teacher -- this is a dancer who is over age 45 and has been performing/teaching bellydance (any style) for more than 30 years.

For audiences new to bellydance, this is a rare treat that quickly dispels any notion of bellydance being about young girls wiggling for men's pleasure.

The Master Teachers -- in Phoenix, we are honored to be joined by the phenomenal Jazmine -- demonstrate the profound depth, skill, and magic of bellydance at any age.

Every show, I am so honored to share the stage with such powerful talent and warm hearts.

Thank you, Phoenix, for bringing the production here!

See you tomorrow night!!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Tandava's Guide to the Zone--2015-16--Part VII: January 3rd Midnight to Noon

We're in the  Zone stretch with the seventh and final part of this year's Guide.

As mentioned in prior Parts I,  IIIII IV,  V , and  VI, the SyFy channel is airing the whole series -- all 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone in order.

This part covers the final 24 episodes of the Fifth Season, which unfortunately contains mostly turkeys, but there are a few that are excellent (such as "The Masks" at 6:00 AM directed by the TZ's only female director, Ida Lupino), and the remarkable "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", which is actually an Oscar-winning French film based on a story by Ambrose Bierce.

I don't recall ever seeing this episode aired in any cycle of reruns.

Also never aired is "The Encounter" (9:00 AM) which is an engaging character study of guilt and vengeance with George Takei as the son of a Japanese American who had worked at Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately it contains not only racism but refers to a character who colluded with the Japanese during the attack, which is historically inaccurate and offensive enough even in fiction to have it removed from syndication.

The multi-plot-twisting "Sounds and Silences" (7:00 AM) was also pulled from syndication due to a legal issue, so this is the first time it will be aired since its first broadcast in 1964.

The turkey list is pretty long, and contains episodes that are considered by many to be worth watching (a la Plan 9 From Outer Space) simply because they are so bad, such as "The Fear" and "The Bewitchin' Pool".

As always, at the top is a short list including the current Time Top 10, my personal favorites, other noteworthy episodes, and the episodes which have not been aired recently.

The colors marking these categories are:

(1) Episodes on the Time Top 10 List – Listed in red.

(2) My Personal Favorite Episodes – These are underrated gems with strong scripts and beautiful performances – in green.

(3) Episodes Worth Watching – These have flawed scripts or execution, but often have compelling performances and/or ideas – in blue.

(4) Episodes That Haven't Been Aired Recently – These may or may not be good, but they are worth watching just because they have been off the air for so long – in purple.

Happy Zoning and have a wonderful 2016!!

My Favorites  Short List
(Click the time to jump to the episode description.)

12:30 AM  You Drive
1:00 AM  The Long Morrow
1:30 AM  The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross
2:00 AM –  Number Twelve Looks Just Like You
3:00 AM  Night Call
3:30 AM  From Agnes–With Love
4:00 AM  Spur of the Moment
6:00 AMThe Masks
7:00 AM  Sounds and Silences
9:00 AM  The Encounter
10:30 AM 
 Come Wander with Me

Full List  With Descriptions

12:00 AM – Ring-a-Ding Girl – S5.E13 | Medium episode about movie star returning to her home town and throwing a “celebrate me” performance of her one-woman show – competing with the town's annual picnic. Is this a diva craving attention, or is something else going on? Even though it’s not great, I always find myself watching this one all the way through.

12:30 AM  – You Drive  S5.E14 | A hit-and-run driver tries to escape consequences, but his car has other ideas. So-so story with some well done effects.

1:00 AM  – The Long Morrow  S5.E15 | Robert Landsing (Star Trek TOS's Gary Seven) is an astronaut preparing for a 40-year mission into deep space and back, for which he will be put into suspended animation. Mariette Hartley (Spock's girlfriend Zarabeth) is the woman he falls in love with a month before. A well-played story about love and sacrifice, in spite of the less than wonderful writing and massive plotholes. [Note: the SyFy channel had previously incorrectly listed this as "The Mirror", but that has since been fixed.]

1:30 AM  – The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross  S5.E15 | An abusive jerk makes TZ-style "trades" (e.g. 46 years of his life for an aging millionaire's fortune and apartment) so he can become the kind of man who can win the heart of the woman he desires. Good performances burdened by poor writing, but the twist at the end makes it worth watching.

2:00 AM  Number Twelve Looks Just Like You – Dystopic utopia where everyone is beautifully identical and lifts their pretty mugs with a glass of Instant Smile. (Perhaps an inspiration for Scott Westerfeld's excellent Uglies series -- where a "beautiful world" has a particularly nasty underpinning?) Mediocre script saved by Collin Wilcox's terrific performance.

2:30 AM  Black Leather Jackets – S5.E18 | Evil Fonzie-esque leather-clad alien (dressed this way to "blend") falls for local Earth girl in this poor man's Avatar.

3:00 AM  Night Call – S5.E19 | Originally called "Sorry Right Number," this careful-what-you- wish-for tale features calls from beyond and a beautiful performance by Gladys Cooper. It has also been recycled as internet glurge.

3:30 AM  – From Agnes–With Love  S5.E20 | Socially inept computer programmer finds his attempts at a love life ruined by Agnes, the advice-offering computer in his charge. Ridiculous, bordering on misogynistic. Skip it.

4:00 AM  – Spur of the Moment  S5.E21 | A young woman about to be married to a stockbroker whom she doesn't love is pursued by a terrifying woman trying to warn her not to make the wrong choice. An interesting twist and some good performances make this otherwise shrill episode worth watching.

4:30 AM  – An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge  S5.E22 | A Confederate spy about to be hanged gets a TZ-style chance at escape. This episode is adapted from an Oscar winning French film based on a story by Ambrose Bierce.

5:00 AM – Queen Of The Nile  S5.E23 | Dopey episode about life-sucking millennia-old Egyptian queen. Blah blah blah. Skip it. "Long Live Walter Jameson" (6:30 AM 12/31) handles the material much more skillfully.

5:30 AM – What's In The Box – S5.E24 Lame and ridiculous episode about a couple’s bickering leading to accidental murder and capital punishment. Freaky TV predicts it all. There, now you don’t have to watch it and aren’t you glad?

6:00 AM  The Masks – S5.E25 | One of the GREAT underrated episodes, and the only TZ episode to be directed by a woman, Ida Lupino (she also stars in “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine” 8:30 PM 12/30). A crusty millionaire geezer tells his greedy family he will die before Mardi Gras is over – but they must wear freaky custom masks through the evening if they want to claim their inheritance. Gives the term "know thyself" new meaning....

6:30 AM – I Am the Night–Color Me Black  S5.E26 | Murderous bigotry, hatred, and fear are bad things. OK. We get it.

7:00 AM  – Sounds and Silences  S5.E27 | A nautical enthusiast who was raised in a neurotically quiet home now enjoys the bells, whistles, horns, and explosions of recorded naval battles  to the chagrin of his wife who can't take it anymore. Now free to enjoy the din, he finds himself the subject of a TZ-style transformation. Amusing plot twists and a little psychobabble ensue. Due to a legal issue, this episode has not been aired since it was first broadcast in 1964.

7:30 AM – Caesar and Me – S5.E28 | Satan-spawn dummy drives hapless ventriloquist Jackie Cooper to a life of crime – matched in evilness only by tormenting then-child actress Morgan Brittany (later of Dallas fame). Similar material is handled much better in "The Dummy" (9:30 PM 1/1).

8:00 AM – The Jeopardy Room – S5.E29 | Defecting ex-KGB Martin Landau has three hours to find the bomb in his hotel room planted by his former Commissar, sniper-rifle-wielding John van Dreelen: If he tries to leave, he gets shot; if he doesn't find the bomb, it goes off (or is he supposed to get shot then, too?). Poor writing, overwrought direction and too many plot holes make this episode unsalvageable even by Landau's typically fine acting.

8:30 AM  Stopover In A Quiet Town – S5.E30 | At least it was quiet until this nattering couple woke up in a strange house with no memory of how they got there, and no one to ask where they are, or why the grass is made of papier-mâché. And if they'd shut up for two seconds, we just might care....

9:00 AM  – The Encounter  S5.E31 | A WWII veteran and the Japanese-American son of a Pearl Harbor worker (George Takei) find themselves in an attic where truths and bigotry reveal themselves. Most likely due to the veteran's copious racial slurs and the implication of Japanese-American involvement in the Pearl Harbor attack, this episode has not been aired since it was first broadcast.

9:30 AM – Mr. Garrity And The Graves – S5.E32 | A more humorous take on the “value of mortality” theme explored in "Long Live Walter Jameson," " Escape Clause," and others; add to this "be careful what you wish for” of "A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain," "A Nice Place to Visit," etc.

10:00 AM – The Brain Center At Whipple's – S5.E33 | CEO Whipple automates manufacturing with low-maintenance machines. Does he understand "the value of a man"? Go tell it to Skynet. Features the second of three cameos of Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot in the TZ; others include "Uncle Simon" and "One for the Angels".

10:30 AM  – Come Wander with Me  S5.E34 | "Rockabilly Boy" Gary Crosby searches the backwoods for folk music and romances a good ol' boy's fiancee to let him record the song she sings. Murder, mayhem, and a confusing cycle of pursuit ensue in this nonsensical episode.

11:00 AM – The Fear – S5.E35 | Reclusive writer and state trooper battle giant (or maybe not-so-giant) aliens in this bottom-of-the-barrel turkey.

11:30 AM  The Bewitchin' Pool – S5.E36 | Worst. Episode. Ever. So bad it is actually worth watching in a Plan 9 sort of way... Even To Kill a Mockingbird's Oscar-nominated Mary Badham couldn't save this dismal excuse for a story. Spoiled brats escape manipulative divorcing parents by finding their way to SuperGrandma via an enchanted pool. Now, if Grandma dumped the tots in an oven, then we might have a story....

Tandava's Guide to the Zone--2015-16--Part VI: January 2nd 12pm to Midnight

Please note: This entry is a work in progress. Check for updates each hour. Thanks!! 

And the  Zone goes on  – with Part VI of this year's whopping seven-part Guide to the Zone.

As mentioned in prior Parts I,  IIIII IV, and  V he SyFy channel is airing the whole series -- all 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone in order, twice as many as the usual 80-90 that they show
Telly Savalas in the Fabulously Creepy "Living Doll", airing at 8:30pm

Over the past three days, we've gotten through Seasons One, Two, and Three (36, 29, and 37 episodes, respectively).

We are nearly done with Season Four, and at 6pm enter Season Five – the final season which contains some of the best ("Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" at 7 PM, and "Living Doll" at 8:30 PM) and some of the worst ("A Kind of Stopwatch" at 7:30 PM and "Uncle Simon" at 9:30 PM)

As always, at the top is a short list including the current Time Top 10, my personal favorites, other noteworthy episodes, and the episodes which have not been aired recently.

[Note, I'm picking up with Season Five and will update the descriptions for Season Four later.]

The colors marking these categories are:

(1) Episodes on the Time Top 10 List – Listed in red.

(2) My Personal Favorite Episodes – These are underrated gems with strong scripts and beautiful performances – in green.

(3) Episodes Worth Watching – These have flawed scripts or execution, but often have compelling performances and/or ideas – in blue.

(4) Episodes That Haven't Been Aired Recently – These may or may not be good, but they are worth watching just because they have been off the air for so long – in purple.

Happy Zoning!!

My Favorites  Short List
(Click the time to jump to the episode description.)

6:00 PMIn Praise Of Pip
6:30 PM  Steel
7:30 PM – Nightmare At 20,000 Feet
8:00 PM  Jockey
8:30 PMLiving Doll


Full List  With Descriptions

6:00 PM  In Praise Of Pip – S5.E1 | I LOVE this episode. I REALLY love this episode (and did I mention I love this episode?). Jack Klugman  delivers a top-notch, tragic performance as a dying no-good trying to do right by his serviceman son, Pip (a much less fearsome Billy Mumy). Sweet, sad magical ending.

6:30 PM  – Steel  S5.E2 | [Description to be added later]

7:00 PM – Nightmare At 20,000 Feet –  S5.E3 | "There's a man out on the wing!!" Shatner at his whiteknuckle best. #6 on the Time list.

7:30 PM – A Kind Of Stopwatch –  S5.E4 | Blabbering bore gets comeuppance via magical timepiece. Perhaps an inspiration for the 80s' silly Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything?

8:00 PM  – The Last Night of a Jockey   S5.E5 | Mickey Rooney in the tour de force monologue of a ne'er-do-well jockey who is offered his deepest desire. TZ once again examines the "be careful what you wish for" theme, this time delivered powerfully by good writing the excellent Rooney.

8:30 PM  Living Doll – S5.E6 | "My name is Talky Tina – and you'd better be nice to me!" Telly Savalas takes on June Foray's creepy voiced doll. This one gave me nightmares. #1 on the Time list.

9:00 PM – The Old Man In The Cave – S5.E7 | Confused story set in a post-apocalyptic future of 1974 (!!!). Town listens to the “old man” until soldiers tell them not to be superstitious – and it doesn’t work out well for anyone. What’s the message? Don’t trust your own perceptions? Ugh. Only worth watching for a young James Coburn.

9:30 PM – Uncle Simon –  S5.E8 | Two despicable people in a screeching, unredeemable story. Sadistic eponymous Uncle berates greedy, gold-digging niece caretaker into an "accidental" (and fatal) lapse in care. Twist ending? Yeah, but who cares. By the time it's over you'll want to twist off your head. Geeks may get a kick out of the brief cameo of Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot; the ambulatory prop also appears on "The Brain Center at Whipple's" (10:00 AM 1/3) and in miniature in "One for the Angels" (7:30 PM 12/30).

9:30 PM – Probe 7 Over and Out – S5.E9 | Stranded astronaut Richard Basehart, meets hostile alien female on deserted planet. She hurls rocks at him. Or maybe it's just foreplay. Now, what shall we call this place...? (Appropriately rhymes with "dearth.") The same story is better told in "Two" (5:30 AM 1/1).

10:00 PM  The 7th Is Made Up Of Phantoms – S5.E10 | Spooked National Guard tank crew gets drafted into Custer's 7th Cavalry. Big whoop.

10:30 PM – A Short Drink From A Certain Fountain – S5.E11 | Here we go again with the be-careful-what-you-wish-for theme. Rich geezer wants to keep up with his greedy vain young wife; comeuppance awaits them both.

11:30 PM – Ninety Years Without Slumbering – S5.E11 | Ed Wynn fears that if his heirloom grandfather clock stops ticking, so will his heart! Pragmatic pregnant daughter sends him to a shrink for some serious de-Zoning. Too bad. According to Marc Scott Zicree, the original superior script stayed within (and was worthy of) the Zone.


Descriptions are Being Updated; Please Check Back Later 
(for now, the notable episodes are marked with asterisks)



1200p S4.E13 The New Exhibit *
100p S4.E14 Of Late I Think of Cliffordville *
200p S4.E15 The Incredible World of Horace Ford *
300p S4.E16 On Thursday We Leave for Home *
400p S4.E17 Passage on the Lady Anne *
500p S4.E18 The Bard *

Friday, January 1, 2016

Tandava's Guide to the Zone--2015-16--Part V: New Year's Day 7pm to January 2nd 12pm

Please note: This entry is a work in progress. Since I was not able to add updates in time, I am moving on to Part VI, and will update the below later for your future reference. Thanks!! 

ZoneZone, and more Zone! Welcome to Part V of this year's whopping seven-part Guide to the Zone.

As mentioned in prior Parts I,  IIIII, and  IV, the SyFy channel is airing the whole series -- all 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone in order, twice as many as the usual 80-90 that they show
Cliff Robertson in "The Dummy", airing 1/1 9:30pm

Over the past two days, we've gotten through Seasons One and Two (36 and 29 episodes, respectively), and 27 of Season Three's whopping 37 episodes.

Now we enter Season Four, which contains the series' rarely-seen hourlong episodes. Since this season has only 18 episodes, I am extending this entry to noon on January 2nd.

I would strongly recommend setting your recorder for this one since it may be a while before these episodes are broadcast again.

As always, at the top is a short list including the current Time Top 10, my personal favorites, other noteworthy episodes, and the episodes which have not been aired recently – which are the bulk of Season Four's episodes.

Since there are no episodes on the Time Top 10 List this Part's categories are:

(1) My Personal Favorite Episodes – These are underrated gems with strong scripts and beautiful performances – in green.

(2) Episodes Worth Watching – These have flawed scripts or execution, but often have compelling performances and/or ideas – in blue.

(3) Episodes That Haven't Been Aired Recently – These may or may not be good, but they are worth watching just because they have been off the air for so long – in purple.

Happy Zoning!!

My Favorites  Short List
(Click the time to jump to the episode description.)

7:30 PM  Four O'Clock
8:30 PM  The Trade-Ins
9:30 PM  The Dummy
10:00 PM  Young Man's Fancy
11:00 PM  Cavender is Coming
11:30 PM  The Changing of the Guard
12:00 AM  In His Image


Full List  With Descriptions

7:00 PM – The Little People –  S3.E28 | Ego and physical relativity clash in this memorable (though mediocre) episode, which has been lampooned  in The SimpsonsSouth Park, and Futurama. Good performance by Claude Akins.

7:30 PM  – Four O'Clock  S3.E29 | A McCarthyesque fanatic (entertainingly portrayed by the excellent Theodore Bikel) has kept detailed lists and files on all the "evil people" in the world, and will shrink them all to two feet tall at 4 o'clock. Unfortunately, Bikel (who passed in 2015) can't save the overwrought caricatured script.

8:00 PM – Hocus-Pocus and Frisby – S3.E30 | A braggart gas station attendant's tales of prowess are believed by some seriously gullible aliens who want to take him home as a specimen of Earth's finest. Meh.

8:30 PM  – The Trade-Ins  S3.E31 | An old, ailing couple go to New Life Corporation to transplant themselves into young, artificial bodies  but they only have enough money for one body. A good script and excellent performances serve the high themes of love, compassion, and courage well. Try to catch this one.

9:00 PM – The Gift – S3.E32 | Mexicans fear an (ahem) illegal alien. Too bad, cuz he could have really helped you guys... Crappy script, wooden performances. Skip it.

9:30 PM –  The Dummy – S3.E33 | The terrific Cliff Robertson as a troubled ventriloquist whose creepy dummy will simply not stay in the box.

10:00 PM  – Young Man's Fancy  S3.E34 | A man and his wife prepare to sell the house of his boyhood shortly after his mother's passing. Aided by the spooky house, he is overcome with nostalgia for his youth and begins to have a change of heart... Mediocre script and acting, and a twist ending we've seen before.

10:30 PM – I Sing The Body Electric – S3.E35 | Sweet story about a robot nanny lovingly bonding with motherless tots.

11:00 PM  – Cavender is Coming  S3.E36 | Carol Burnett is a down-on-her-luck newly unemployed usherette (an employment experience taken directly from Burnett's own life, in particular her manager's absurd hand signals) who gains the services of bumbling angel Cavender (Jesse White) trying to earn his wings. Similar to "Mr. Bevis" (12/31 11am) she is given riches and luxuries ... and has a similar reaction to them. A lousy script unworthy of Ms. Burnett, but it's fun to watch her in one of her first television performances.

11:30PM  – The Changing Of The Guard  – S3.E37 | It's A Wonderful Life meets Goodbye, Mr. Chips, TZ-style. Sweet, sentimental, with beautiful acting by Donald Pleasence.

12:00 AM – In His Image  S4.E1 | Bitter, lonely robotics genius Walter Ryder (portrayed by the superb George Grizzard) creates an artificial duplicate of himself, who is charming, content, and loved  a "perfect" version of Ryder, except for one small problem.... Another exploration of identity and what makes us human. Insightful and thoughtfully written, with a tour-de-force by Grizzard. One of my favorites.

Descriptions are Being Updated; Please Check Back Later 
(for now, the notable episodes are marked with asterisks)


100a S4.E2 The 30-Fathom Grave
200a S4.E3 Valley of the Shadow
300a S4.E4 He's Alive
400a S4.E5 Mute
500a S4.E6 Death Ship
600a S4.E7 Jess-Belle
700a S4.E8 Miniature
800a S4.E9 Printer's Devil
900a S4.E10 No Time like the Past
1000a S4.E11 The Parallel
1100a S4.E12 I Dream of Genie 



Tandava's Guide to the Zone--2015-16--Part IV: New Year's Day 7am to 7pm

The Zone goes on! We continue with Part IV of VII of this year's Guide to the Zone (see Part

As mentioned in Part I,  Part II, and Part III, the SyFy channel is showing the whole series -- all 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone in order. This is twice as many as the usual 80-90 that they show, so I have had my work cut out for me!


Over the past 36 hours, we've gotten through Seasons One and Two (36 and 29 episodes, respectively), and have enjoyed some little-seen gems, and waded through some turkeys.

As always, at the top is a short list including the current Time Top 10, my personal favorites, other noteworthy episodes, and the episodes which have not been aired recently.

So, the categories are:

(1) Episodes on the Time Top 10 List – These are the acknowledged classics – in red.

(2) My Personal Favorite Episodes – These are underrated gems with strong scripts and beautiful performances – in green.

(3) Episodes Worth Watching – These have flawed scripts or execution, but often have compelling performances and/or ideas – in blue.

(4) Episodes That Haven't Been Aired Recently – These may or may not be good, but they are worth watching just because they have been off the air for so long – in purple.

Happy Zoning!!

My Favorites  Short List
(Click the time to jump to the episode description.)

7:00 AM  The Passersby
7:30 AM  A Game Of Pool
8:00 AM  The Mirror
8:30 AM The Grave
9:00 AM  It's A Good Life
9:30 AM  Death's-Head Revisited
10:00 AM  The Midnight Sun
10:30 AM  Still Valley
11:00 AM  The Jungle
11:30 AM – Once Upon a Time
12:00 PM –  Five Characters In Search Of An Exit
12:30 PMA Quality Of Mercy
1:00 PMNothing In The Dark
1:30 PM – One More Pallbearer
3:00 PM – Showdown with Rance McGrew
3:30 PMKick The Can
5:00 PM – To Serve Man
6:30 PM – Person or Persons Unknown

Full List  With Descriptions

7:00 AM  – The Passersby  S3.E4 | A postbellum Confederate widow (Joanne Linville, best known to sci-fi fans as the Romulan commander in TOS "The Enterprise Incident") takes revenge on a passing Union soldier, with an unexpected result. Unfortunately, the moving theme of compassion and forgiveness, and solid performances and direction, can't help the plodding script.

7:30 AM – A Game Of Pool – S3.E20 | This taut two-person drama explores winning and losing, and what's really important in the game of life. Fine performances by Jack Klugman (who passed in 2012) and Jonathan Winters (who passed this last spring). Not crazy about the end, though; the real (and better) ending was done in the 80s TZ version.

8:00 AM  – The Mirror  S3.E6 | Peter Falk as an embarrassingly obvious Castro-style dictator who sees enemies everywhere, but the real enemy lies in ... yeah, you guessed it. Amusing for Falk's over-the-top performance, if you can handle the political heavy-handedness.

8:30 AM  S3.E7 | The Grave – Spooky old west tale of a dare gone bad, featuring a handsome, raw Lee Marvin and a posturing James Best. 

9:00 AM  S3.E8 | It's A Good Life – One of the most famous episodes (#3 on the Time list) featuring little Billy Mumy as a terrifying child who can create and destroy at will. The brilliant Cloris Leachman is his petrified mother. ("That’s a good thing you did… A real good thing… Now please wish it into the cornfield!").

9:30 AM  Death's-Head Revisited –  S3.E9 | Former Nazi captain's trot down memory lane via Dachau brings him to some unexpected denizens. Top-notch performances by Joseph Schildkraut and Oscar Beregi Jr.

10:00 AM – The Midnight Sun – Earth has been knocked off its orbit and is gradually approaching the sun. Thermometers pop, a painting melts off its canvas (this is actually a painted wax tablet on a hot plate!), but this apocalyptic tale is most interesting for its relationships – an excellent script, beautifully acted.

10:30 AM – Still Valley  S3.E11 | A confederate soldier comes upon a town filled with motionless Union soldiers and is made to question whether ends can justify means. Very little to recommend this one, especially given that the entire premise is itself a huge plot hole. Skip it.

11:00 AM – The Jungle  S3.E12 | A developer returns to New York after building on an African tribe's ancestral land, scoffing at the curse placed on him. A straightforward story of far-reaching magic, but suspenseful and engaging nonetheless.

11:30 AM – Once Upon a Time  S3.E13 | A charming though surprisingly unfunny comedy featuring Buster Keaton as a disgruntled 1890s janitor who yearns for the technology of the future and builds a time machine which transports him to the shocking clamor of 1962, where he meets a scientist who yearns for the quiet of the past... Predictable, but worth watching for Keaton.

12:00 PM  Five Characters In Search Of An Exit – S3.E14 | A soldier, a clown, a tramp, a bagpiper, and a ballerina wake to find themselves in a doorless empty room. Well-played and engaging.

12:30 PM  A Quality Of Mercy – S3.E15 | In WWII Philippines brash Lieutenant Dean Stockwell learns to walk a mile in the other guy's army boots. Good performances all around, plus a pre-Spock Leonard Nimoy in a bit part.

1:00 PM – Nothing In The Dark – S3.E16 | Aging Gladys Cooper tries to keep Death at bay by shutting her door – until angelically beautiful Robert Redford shows up. I guarantee, it's not his acting that convinces her to open up..... Worth watching for her nuanced performance – and his mesmerizing good looks!

1:30 PM – One More Pallbearer  S3.E17 | A millionaire invites a schoolmarm, military officer, and preacher – all of whom he feels wronged him – to an underground bunker, offering sanctuary from an imminent nuclear armageddon... but for a price. This episode is supposed to be a comeuppance for the millionaire, revealing the trio's righteous honor in the face of death, but the actor (Joseph Wiseman) plays him with such compelling sympathy that we can't help feeling bad for him. And the sanctimonious trio come off like a bunch of jerks.

2:00 PM  Dead Man's Shoes – S3.E18 | Bum dons dead gangster's wing-tips and finds himself stepping into the thug's revenge-thirsty ex-life. You might feel bad for the bum if you find yourself caring about anything in this one.

2:30 PM – The Hunt – S3.E19 | This mediocre folksy tale by The Waltons creator Earl Hamner Jr. has been recycled as internet glurge. Guy and dog have died and are walking along the road to heaven. Guy at pearly gate says, “No dogs allowed.” Guy says, “I ain’t goin' nowhere without my hound…” Sheesh. (This one has also been recycled as Internet glurge.)!

3:00 PM – Showdown with Rance McGrew  S3.E20 | An obnoxious Hollywood cowboy phony is brought back to the Old West – and face-to-face with the real Jesse James. Amusingly played, with a few funny moments, but ultimately the episode disappoints because the "real" West and Jesse (who complains that the modern Hollywood renderings of him and other gunslingers hurt their "feelings") are every bit as phony as the Hollywood ones.

3:30 PM  Kick The Can – S3.E21 | Timeless story about rest home residents learning that you are indeed as young as you feel. "Look! Think! Feel! Doesn't that wake some sleeping part of you?!"

4:00 PM – A Piano In The House – S3.E22 | Enchanted ivories reveal uncomfortable secrets; akin to "What's in the Box" (5:30 AM 1/3) and "A Most Unusual Camera" (5:30 PM 12/31), and slightly better than either. But only slightly. The episode features some genuinely moving performances, but the sadistic piano-owning theater critic (competently played by Barry Morse) is shrill, one-dimensional, and unsympathetic even when he is predictably exposed at the end.

4:30 AM – The Last Rights Of Jeff Myrtlebank – S3.E23 | Small-town good ol' boy James Best wakes up at his own funeral, and seems much improved by the experience! Cute, folksy tale.

5:00 PM  To Serve Man – Aliens come to earth offering solutions to all the world's woes; their trouble-entendre mission: "To serve man." An undisputed classic, #8 on the Time list.

5:30 PM – The Fugitive – S3.E25 | A crippled little girl is best pals with a lovable old codger with magical powers – until till two ominous Men-In-Black types come looking for him. Cinderella story TZ-style. Not great; not terrible.

6:00 PM – Little Girl Lost – S3.E26 | Little girl has slipped into another dimension. Can her parents and their conveniently present physicist pal rescue her before the portal closes forever? Decent script but bland acting and Rhoda Williams's voice as the little girl is absurd and irritating. Tune in for the final 10 minutes for all you need to know.

6:30 PM  – Person or Persons Unknown  S3.E27 | A man wakes up to find that no one including his wife and mother – recognizes him. Well-written and well-played, TZ once again questions the nature of reality and identity.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Tandava's Guide to the Zone--2015-16--Part III: New Year's Eve 7pm to New Year's Day 7am

The Zone goes on! We continue with Part III of VII of this year's Guide to the Zone (see Part

As mentioned in Part I, and Part II, the SyFy channel is showing the whole series -- all 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone in order. This is twice as many as the usual 80-90 that they show, so I have had my work cut out for me!


Over the past 24 hours, we got through Season One's 36 episodes and twelve episodes of Season Two, which contained many more episodes that have not been aired in the Marathon than in Part I.

As always, at the top is a short list including the current Time Top 10, my personal favorites, other noteworthy episodes, and the episodes which have not been aired recently.

So, the categories are:

(1) Episodes on the Time Top 10 List – These are the acknowledged classics – in red.

(2) My Personal Favorite Episodes – These are underrated gems with strong scripts and beautiful performances – in green.

(3) Episodes Worth Watching – These have flawed scripts or execution, but often have compelling performances and/or ideas – in blue.

(4) Episodes That Haven't Been Aired Recently – These may or may not be good, but they are worth watching just because they have been off the air for so long – in purple.

Let's stay Zoned for 2016!!

My Favorites  Short List
(Click the time to jump to the episode description.)

7:00 PM  Back There
7:30 PM – The Whole Truth
10:00 PM  The Invaders
10:30 PM  A Penny For Your Thoughts
11:30 PM  The Odyssey Of Flight 33
12:00 AM  Mr. Dingle, The Strong
12:30 AM – Static
1:30 AMLong Distance Call
2:00 AM –  A Hundred Yards Over The Rim
3:00 AM  The Silence
3:30 AM – Shadow Play
4:00 AM – The Mind and the Matter
5:00 AM – The Obsolete Man
5:30 AM – Two

Full List  With Descriptions

7:00 PM  – Back There –  S2.E13 | Poor  Russell Johnson (Gilligan's Island's Professor) can't seem to get enough of TZ-style time travel -- murder, mayhem, and unintended consequences. Just twelve hours before, we watched him lift convicted criminal Albert Salmi out of an Old West hanging, and now he transports himself back to the night of Lincoln's assassination -- and comes up against Doctor Who's Blinovich Limitation Effect: Some events just can't be changed, now an old saw of time trave fiction. Worth watching for Johnson's competent performance.

7:30 PM  – The Whole Truth –  S2.E14 | Enchanted Model A compels whomever owns it to tell the truth -- in this case, a used car salesman and a politician. This one hasn't been in the Marathon, and we haven't lost much from its absence: A hokey plot mixed with political ax-grinding makes this a must-miss.

8:00 PM – 10:00 PM:  WWF Smackdown

8:30 PM  The Invaders – S2.E15 | Agnes Moorehead's virtuoso 25-minute wordless monologue; riveting  with a slick twist at the end. #7 on the Time list.

10:30 PM   S2.E16 | A Penny For Your Thoughts – Not a classic, but one of my favorites, featuring a young Dick York (the first Darren from Bewitched.)

11:00 PM -- Twenty-Two -- S2.E17 | Recovering dancer is troubled by prescient dreams. "Room for one more, honey!" Shrill performances, flat writing. Mediocre tale best suited to Internet urban myth..

11:30 PM – The Odyssey Of Flight 33 – S2.E18 | A 707 picks up a freak tail wind and travels back in time. Run-of-the-mill by modern sci-fi standards, but notable for its realistic cockpit dialogue created by Serling's aviation writer brother, Robert Serling.

12:00 AM  Mr. Dingle, The Strong – S2.E19 | Loud-mouthed salesman pisses away alien gifts on trivial feats. Worth watching for an adorable Burgess Meredith and amusing (and very young) Don Rickles.  [Note: This is incorrectly listed on the SyFy Schedule as S2.E20]

12:30 AM  – Static – S2.E20 | A bitter aging bachelor retrieves his old wireless from the basement, which delivers the charmed and charming programming of his youth. Sweet story about nostalgia for old-time radio, true love, and second chances. [Note: This is incorrectly listed on the SyFy Schedule as S2.E21]

1:00 AM – The Prime Mover – S2.E21 | Compulsive gambler cajoles his telekinetically-enabled pal (an enjoyable Buddy Ebsen) into to helping him cheat Vegas. Doesn't work out too well, but could be worse. Moral: Be happy with what you have; know when to quit. [Note: This is incorrectly listed on the SyFy Schedule as S2.E22]

1:30 AM  Long Distance Call – S2.E22 | Creepy dead grandma wants her favorite grandson to be with her forever, and conveys her wishes via a toy phone. (Now if only Billy Mumy –  TZ's favorite child actor – could wish her into the cornfield!) Nice performance by Philip Abbott as the kid's dad. [Note: This is incorrectly listed on the SyFy Schedule as S2.E19]

2:00 AM  A Hundred Yards Over The Rim – S2.E23 | Underrated episode featuring a very young Cliff Robertson as a pioneer dad who will go yards, miles, and years to heal his ailing son.

2:30 AM  The Rip Van Winkle Caper – S2.E24 | It's Treasure of the Sierra Madre with suspended animation and blah writing. Good performances and a fun twist at the end make it sort of worth watching.

3:00 AM –  The Silence – S2.E26 | Tense, beautifully acted study in interpersonal dynamics and irony. Based loosely on Chekhov's The Bet, there is no supernatural hocus-pocus in this one. And there is no need for any. (And no Doctor Who jokes please... ☺)

3:30 AM  Shadow Play  S2.E26 | A condemned man believes his trial and execution are all part of his recurring nightmare, and that once he is gone those around him will cease to exist as well. He offers some convincing evidence, but will they believe him? Well written and acted, this episode manages to be suspenseful in spite of its somewhat predictable plot. [Note: the SyFy schedule claims this will be the 80s version, but the original was aired.]

4:00 AM  The Mind and the Matter  S2.E27 | Misanthropic office worker Archibald Beechcroft (comedian Shelley Berman) reads a book on mind power and plays God. Another be-careful-what-you-wish-for morality play served up with some clever twists and fun performances. One of the few episodes done on video where the format doesn't diminish the story.

4:30 AM – Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up – S2.E28 | This was voted 8.5 on the IMDB, but I think it’s dopey and ridiculous. Bus passengers are stranded at a diner – but there is one too many. Oh, and rumor has it that a spacecraft crashed nearby. Give me a break.

5:00 AM – The Obsolete Man – S2.E29 | The superb Burgess Meredith is back to his book-loving ways, this time as a librarian in a dystopic totalitarian future, where both he and his books are declared obsolete.

5:30 AM  Two –  S3.E1 | Apocalypse survivors Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery approach each other warily in this sparsely written, beautifully acted episode.

6:00 AM – The Arrival –  S3.E2 | Mystery plane lands itself at airport. The flight inspector "with a perfect record of solving cases" brings in a team to investigate. Everyone sees different registration numbers, seat cushion colors, then all but the investigator disappear. Could it all just be the investigator's guilty conscience hallucinating? Ummm... maybe... Sigh.

6:30 AM – The Shelter – S3.E3 | "Maple Street" meets the lazy grasshopper. The industrious ant of this tale has built a bomb shelter for his (and ONLY his) family, and his neighbors scoff – until there is an emergency... Bloated prose and one-dimensional characters make this a must-miss.