Friday, April 13, 2012

TZ Promo: "Hocus-Pocus and Frisby” (4/13/1962)

Season 3, Episode 30 (95 overall)
Cayuga Production # 4833

50 years ago tonight, a notorious teller of tall tales learnt his lesson about fabricatin’ fibs in a most unexpected way. That’s right, naïve aliens kidnap him, believing every bit of bullshit he’s ever espoused about himself. He’s clearly a prime specimen of humanity (he said so himself!), and they’ve got an intergalactic zoo that he’ll fit right into.

The success of “Hocus-Pocus and Frisby” hinges on whether or not you can stand Andy Devine and his nails-on-a-chalkboard voice. I find him (and his voice) grating to the point of headache, so I guess that means I don’t find this episode successful. Your mileage may vary, of course.

One thing I do appreciate is the design of Frisby’s extraterrestrial abductors. At first they are simply human-looking stiffs, but as Frisby discovers when he takes a poke at one, their true faces are hidden beneath full-head masks (a nice reversal on the usual “guy in a rubber monster mask” approach). An effective approach by makeup maestro William Tuttle.

In their natural state, they look like nothing else ever presented on The Twilight Zone, with their nightmarish immobile faces and their swinging sixties blazer-and-turtleneck duds. They remind me a bit of the arachnid-faced alien from The Outer Limits’ “The Children of Spider County.” Something about well-dressed aliens just works for me, I guess.

The Frisby alien is another lucky TZ character to be granted plastic immortality by Bif Bang Pow!. The action figure, due out in August, can be preordered (in a two-pack with the nurse from "Eye of the Beholder") over at Entertainment Earth.

Forbidden Planet alert! The alien spacecraft is --- yep, you guessed it --- the United Planets C-57D Space Cruiser, this time playing a much smaller craft but with its enormous three-dimensional transparent navigation ball prominently featured. “Movie prop, ain’t it? Yeah, that’s what it is, ain’t it? One of them Hollywood things, advertising a flying saucer picture or something. Yeah, that’s it, ain’t it?” asks Frisby in a deliciously meta moment as he examines the navigation ball. Act two opens with a wonderful shot of Frisby filmed through the nav-ball.

Ugh. I dunno, folks. It’s by no means the extreme bummer that “Four O’clock” was last week, but Andy Devine is damned tough to listen to (not to mention look at) for half an hour. But we do get those cool aliens, not to mention the most Forbidden Planet eye candy per minute than any episode so far in the series. So it’s kind of a draw, I guess.

Next: “The Trade-Ins” takes us into the near future, where the elderly can swap their weak bodies for fresh, new ones… at a price, of course.

1 comment:

Geoffe Haney said...

What's great about Andy Devine is that he is raw, which is what one might expect if we came upon this group of backwoods yokels. There is little polish on this episode, for good reason, we simply are viewers, and do not get to choose the cast of characters we come to meet. I should say this happens to be one of my top 5 episodes. Foe me it is a nice blend of the obscure and the real.