The Twilight Zone: Season 3 (1961 - 1962)

SEASON:

Season 3
The Twilight Zone

Critics Consensus

The Twilight Zone's third season manages to overturn an uneven structure with some superb writing that borders on profound and some of the finest half hours in the series' history.

82%

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Critic Ratings: 11

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Episodes

Air date: Sep 15, 1961

Season Three of Twilight Zone got off to a flying start with this episode, written and directed by Montgomery Pittman. Some five years after a devastating war that wiped out virtually all mankind, a pair of surviving soldiers from opposing armies confront each other in the deserted streets of a bombed-out city. Only the male soldier, played by Charles Bronson, has any dialogue; the female soldier, played by Elizabeth Montgomery, prefers to do her "talking" with a high-powered rifle. While the episode's ending is inevitable, the buildup to that ending takes a variety of unexpected twists and turns. Filmed on the old Hal Roach Studios backlot, "Two" originally aired September 15, 1961.

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Air date: Sep 22, 1961

FAA investigator Grant Sheckly (Harold J. Stone) is called to the scene when Flight 107 from Buffalo makes an unscheduled landing. Inasmuch as the plane arrived with no luggage, passengers, or crew members, Sheckly really has his work cut out for him. Even allowing for the other-worldy nature of Twilight Zone, this Rod Serling-scripted episode has logic holes one could drive trucks through. Watch for Bing Russell, father of Kurt Russell, in a featured role. Originally filmed for the series' second season, "The Arrival" didn't make its arrival until Season Three, on September 22, 1961.

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Air date: Sep 29, 1961

One of the few Twilight Zone episodes with virtually no sci-fi/fantasy trappings whatsoever, this is nonetheless a disturbing and unsettling half hour. In the midst of a surprise birthday party, the revellers are shocked to hear a Civil Defense announcement on the radio, declaring that America is under attack from UFOs. Only Dr. Stockton (Larry Gates) has had the foresight to build a bomb shelter, and before long, he and his family are besieged by desperate neighbors, demanding to be allowed to take refuge in Stockton's cellar. As tensions reach a fever pitch, all of the suppressed hostilities and prejudices of the neighbors come rushing to the surface -- a dangerous situation reminiscent of the finale of the first-season episode "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street," minus the extraterrestrial punchline. Written by Rod Serling, "The Shelter" first aired on September 29, 1961.

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Air date: Oct 6, 1961

As the Civil War limps to a close, Confederate widow Lavinia Godwin (Joanne Linville) sits grimly on the porch of her ruined mansion, watching a seemingly endless parade of wounded soldiers drag themselves down the road in front of her property. One of the soldiers, a Southern sergeant (James Gregory) with a wooden leg, stops to rest, engaging the embittered Lavinia in conversation. As they talk, a sudden horrific realization hits them both -- a realization confirmed by the climactic appearance of "the last casualty of the Civil War." Originally telecast October 6, 1961, "The Passersby" was scripted by Rod Serling.

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Air date: Oct 13, 1961

In his second Twilight Zone appearance, Jack Klugman stars as pool hustler Jesse Cardiff, who would like nothing better than to challenge legendary pool champion Fats Brown. Only trouble is, Fats has been dead for a year. But Jesse is persistent, and before long the ghost of Fats (Jonathan Winters) puts in an appearance and challenges Jesse to a winner-take-all game of pool -- with Jesse's life as the "stakes." George Clayton Johnson's teleplay underwent several changes before filming, including a complete rewrite of the ending, which in its original state was fascinating, if not entirely satisfying. "A Game of Pool" first aired October 13, 1961.

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Air date: Oct 20, 1961

This sledgehammer attack on Cuban dictator Fidel Castro stars Peter Falk as bearded banana-republic revolutionary Ramos Clemente. Upon taking control of the government, Clemente summons forth the man he has deposed, General DeCruz (Will Kuluva). Gloating, Clemente asks DeCruz if he has anything to say before he is executed. With a sly smile, DeCruz directs Clemente's attention to a huge mirror in the presidential palace, informing Clemente that the mirror will reveal the faces of those who will ultimately destroy him. He's right, of course, and any viewer who can't see the ending coming a mile away deserves to be drummed out of the living room in disgrace. Written by Rod Serling, "The Mirror" was originally telecast October 26, 1961.

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Air date: Oct 27, 1961

Originally filmed for Twilight Zone's second season, writer-director Montgomery Pittman's "The Grave" was not telecast until Season Three -- to be exact, October 27, 1961. Lee Marvin stars as western gunslinger Conny Miller, who upon arriving in a flea-bitten town for a showdown with outlaw Pinto Sykes, is told that Sykes is already dead. Convinced that Miller is a coward who never really wanted to catch up with him, the dying Sykes had challenged Miller to visit his grave, warning that he would reach up from the ground and drag Miller in with him. Goaded by the townspeople, the terrified Miller ventures into the graveyard in the dead of night. Western-movie regulars Strother Martin and Lee Van Cleef appear in key supporting roles.

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Air date: Nov 3, 1961

Adapted by Rod Serling from a story by Jerome Bixby, "It's a Good Life" stands the test of time as one of the best-ever Twilight Zone episodes -- not to mention one of the series' most frightening efforts. The terrified citizens of Peaksville, Ohio, are held in thrall by a "monster" in the form of angelic-looking youngster Anthony Fremont (Billy Mumy). Possessed with the ability to read minds, coupled with mysterious destructive powers, Anthony bristles whenever he senses that someone is thinking bad thoughts -- and whenever he bristles, something really bad happens (yes, this is the one with the cornfield and the jack-in-the-box). Understandably, this episode has always been a favorite of youngsters, who would give anything to wield Anthony Fremont's awesome powers over their own parents. First telecast November 3, 1961, "It's a Good Life" was later reworked in the 1983 theatrical film Twilight Zone: The Movie -- and a few years after that, it was delightfully lampooned on one of The Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror" episodes.

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Air date: Nov 10, 1961

The ongoing trial of Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann was the obvious inspiration for Rod Serling's "Death's-Head Revisited." Oscar Beregi stars as Capt. Lutze, the sadistic former commandant of the Dachau concentration camp. Travelling incognito, Lutze makes a "sentimental journey" to the camp, fondly recalling the misery he had wreaked in the final months of WWII. But Lutze is in for quite a few horrible surprises when one of his former prisoners, the emaciated Becker (Joseph Schildkraut), shows up to see that justice is finally done. "Death's-Head Revisited" was originally telecast November 10, 1961.

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Air date: Nov 17, 1961

For reasons beyond comprehension, the Earth has changed its orbit and is moving inexorably toward the sun, sending temperatures soaring into the triple digits. Though most of New York City has been deserted, art student Norma (Lois Nettelton) and her landlady Mrs. Bronson (Betty Garde) elect to stay behind, braving the intense, blistering heat until the bitter end. And don't be misled by that "is it all a bad dream?" finale. Written by Rod Serling, "The Midnight Sun" made its Twilight Zone debut on November 17, 1961 (imagine the audience reaction had the episode been telecast in August).

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The Twilight Zone: Season 3 Photos

Tv Season Info

A collection of sci-fi, suspense and goose-bump-inducing tales.

News & Interviews for The Twilight Zone: Season 3

Critic Reviews for The Twilight Zone Season 3

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (3)

Silly, inoffensive, but also a bit of a bore.

May 8, 2018 | Full Review…

Rod Serling... had his sentimental streak, but what made that sentimental streak as effective as it was had to do with the way he deployed it only a handful of times per season.

May 1, 2018 | Rating: B | Full Review…

It's excellent writing... I'm impressed at how much feeling Serling is able to jam into his dialogue; at his best, he pushes past overripe and into something profound.

May 1, 2018 | Rating: A | Full Review…
Top Critic

"To Serve Man" features what is probably one of The Twilight Zone's most famous twists in pop culture history-and with good reason.

May 9, 2018 | Full Review…

Season 3... represents a kind of maturity in the writing... and in the kind of actors that they can hire to guest star.

May 9, 2018 | Full Review…

Like watching 24 minutes of people on pins and needles.

May 8, 2018 | Full Review…

Very simple, but effective -- especially for little kids who have always feared that their bed might just be a portal to another dimension.

May 8, 2018 | Full Review…

"Five Characters in Search of an Exit" is as accurately descriptive as you can get for an episode title.

May 8, 2018 | Full Review…

Serling was never happier than when he displayed our frailty in the face of doom.

May 8, 2018 | Full Review…

Though uneven, The Twilight Zone - Season 3 offers some of the series' finest half-hours as well as a big handful of underrated episodes worth rediscovery.

May 8, 2018 | Full Review…

The third season of The Twilight Zone was bound to be a little disappointing at times purely because of the sheer volume of content generated.

May 4, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Twilight Zone: Season 3

  • Aug 24, 2018
    One of the best series ever, and one of the best horror stories (though it's not too scary). Very good scenes with special effects. Highly recommend.

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