Worst to Best
1980s Twilight Zone
Season Three

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18 Dream Me A Life

A fairly sweet episode that sees Eddie Albert in an old folk's home, having dreams where he can communicate with his mute neighbour, Frances Hyland. Through his dreamscape he's able to deal with their mutual grief and look forward to a new life together in old age. Like most of season three, it lacks real dynamism and drags in spots, even for a laid back storyline like this one, but it has charm. As with all of the 80s Twilight Zone, the video look has aged badly, causing the deliberately grainy, black and white dream sequences to look even worse than they are. Barry Morse (A Piano In The House) excels as usual in a supporting role, even though his character is largely there just for purposes of delivering or prompting exposition.

17 Love Is Blind

With just over twenty minutes of material to play with, telling an entire story with a traditional three-act structure is a hard task. Perhaps this is why, for the only time, the narrator is called upon to not set the scene or sketch the main cast, but actually deliver backstory exposition: "... A lot has changed for Jack because of one overheard telephone conversation. He learned that tonight his wife is meeting another man here at the Mustang Bar, his name unknown..."
     There's a fair amount of fun with this episode, with real-life singer Sneezy Waters as a blind singer who sings songs that reveal fates. However, it has an unmistakable cheesy nature, despite the considerable chemistry between Waters and lead Ben Murphy, and the incidental music by Carlos Lopes and Aidan Mason is one of the more jarring in the season.

16 Cat and Mouse

Canadian Page Fletcher stars as that most clichéd of characters - a French lover who can turn into a cat. Writer Christy Marx had largely worked on cartoons, such as Jem and Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, and, while her work here doesn't really raise the bar much higher, it's clear that events aren't meant to be taken entirely seriously. The ranking of the episode is elevated by a very witty ending to a sexual episode, albeit an ending that no male writer would ever be likely to craft...

15 Memories

An intriguing premise whereby a past life regression therapist wakes up in a world where everyone can remember their past lives, and so put no value in their present ones. Consequently the therapist (Barbara Stock) takes on a career as a person who makes everyone forget their previous lives in order so they can live their current ones. As a paean to mindfulness (which is more popular today than it was in 1988, a time when the "past lives" therapy of the episode was a major fad) then it's a little pat, but works.
     What really harms the third season of this version of The Twilight Zone is the lack of true acting credentials on display in so many of the episodes. Stock is fine, but a lot of the supporting cast fail to register. Although the third season was not without some bigger stars, such as Dean Stockwell and Janet Leigh, most of the run was made up of relatively anonymous talent. In fact, as the third season was produced in Canada, then a frightening amount of its guest actors come from The Littlest Hobo.

14 Acts of Terror

Acts Of Terror makes for an uncomfortable watch, spotlighting domestic violence. Like all of the series, it's "80s" in the negative sense of the term, but away from the dated incidental music and the poor picture quality, there's something worthwhile at the heart of this one. Abused wife Melanie Mayron leaving her husband at the end makes for a nice ending, but an even better one would be if she kicked out her husband and stayed there. What's worth remembering is that, nearly thirty years after this episode was broadcast, domestic violence has a lot more stigma than it did at the time, where events depicted would be, sadly, far more commonplace.
     Director Brad Turner went on to have, and continues to have, a successful career, including helming almost a quarter of the episodes of 24. He was also behind four episodes of the UPN Twilight Zone revival in 2002/2003... sadly, none of his episodes there managed to break the top ten of their respective season, with thirteenth-placed The Pool Guy his highest offering.

13 The Cold Equations

Based on a short story by Tom Godwin that was first published in Astounding Magazine in 1954, this wasn't the first or the last time it would be adapted for television. A spacecraft pilot taking medical supplies to another world finds that a girl has stowed away so she can get to see her brother. Unfortunately, due to fuel restrains, he is forced to eject her into space otherwise the craft will crash due to the extra weight. Christianne Hirt gives her best in the role of the doomed girl, but the other cast members aren't able to keep up with her. Not only that, but, while the Twilight Zone doesn't necessarily have to have a twist, the straightforward plot trajectory is a surprise in a series of this nature. Ultimately, while fine, it's an episode that works better in print, or, as in the case of Blake's 7's Orbit, the characterisation is subverted into something more sinister.