The Key of Imagination Episode 01: Where Is Everybody?
Written by: Rod Serling
Starring: Earl Holliman, James Gregory and Paul Langton
And so we sit down, extremely large-screen HD TV in front of us, Blu-ray disc in the PS3, 7.1 surround sound system on and waiting. It is time to start an epic journey through the weird and wonderful world of The Twilight Zone. Your travellers? I am Neil, a radio producer, writer and director, she is Tanja, my fiancée, a German, and complete TZ virgin. This should be interesting.
As soon as the episode begins, all we can think about is “That is one BIG chin!” Not in a negative way, for the chin, belonging to actor Earl Holliman, is an heroic chin. But it is a chin the like of which is rarely seen in modern television.
Earl (and his chin) is all alone in a deserted all-American town. In fact the town bears an uncanny resemblance to the one in the Back to the Future films (same set, perchance?). He (and presumably his chin as well) is suffering from amnesia, and he is looking for help. But everywhere he turns he encounters… well, nothing! The town is spotlessly clean, and it looks like there were people there just moments ago, but now he is on his own (chin notwithstanding).
As he searches buildings and back lots, the tension increases. It almost boils over in one shocking scene where he gets trapped inside a phone booth. What’s that you say? A phone booth isn’t terrifying? This one is, and Earl makes us believe so with consummate ease.
I’ll go no further in to the plot as it will involve spoilers, and we wouldn’t want that! But I will happily tell you that Tanja and I sat there, glued to the screen, loving every minute of Earl’s one-man performance. This is no easy task for any actor, and to do it while layering a fantastical element on top is testament to his incredible acting chops (they go naturally with the irrepressible chin!)
Because it is Blu-ray, you can expect crystal clear image and fabulous sound. And a real feast of extras, from commentary tracks and isolated scores, to the brilliant period sponsor adverts and even a radio drama version (my favourite bonus, for obvious reasons.)
This episode showcases not only Earl Holliman’s fantastic chin-enhanced acting skills, but also everything Rod Serling was setting out to do with TZ. It is an imaginative, gripping, thought-provoking drama, kept short where others would take twice the airtime. And for me it was a wonderful reunion with a favourite of my youth (OK, 1980s TV syndication…I’m not THAT old!)
And Tanja? Her first experience of TZ was greeted with a small round of applause and much praise for the acting, storyline and high hopes for the following episodes. Both of us were ready to watch more TZ as soon as possible.
Favourite Things: the almighty ‘Chin Of Earl’; the phone booth scene; Rod’s intro to the next ep, vintage United Way advert
SCORES: Neil 5/5 Tanja 4/5 Total 4.5/5
To hear more of Neil's thoughts on the episode click the player below.