Episodes: "Escape Clause" (Ep. 6, November 6, 1959) - A hypochondriac (David Wayne) exchanges his soul for immortality and indestructibility. When life soon becomes very boring, his unsuccessful attempts to find new thrills bring unexpected results. "Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room" (Ep. 39, October 14, 1960) - Ordered to commit a murder he doesn't want to perform, a small-time hood nervously looks in the mirror and sees the man he could have been--confident, strong...and determined to get out. "The Midnight Sun" (Ep. 75, November 17, 1961) - The Earth's orbit has suddenly changed, drawing ever closer to the sun and promising eminent destruction. Or has it? Who really knows how the Earth may be doomed? "A Kind of Stopwatch" (Ep. 124, October 18, 1963) - The world's biggest bore and most avid talker gets a magical stopwatch that can stop everything except him. But when he misuses it, a wonderful conversation piece becomes a real party killer.
At least one of the episodes collected on volume 15 of The Twilight Zone
DVD offerings is an all-time classic--if by classic we mean the kind of show that still produces a shudder of recognition years after viewing. This is "The Midnight Sun," an apocalyptic tale in which a cosmic event has hurled the earth toward the sun, sending the thermometer to 120 degrees and the population into despair. Aside from the twist ending and the attractive sweating of Lois Nettleton, what's likely to be remembered from this episode, is the haunting image of an oil painting melting with the heat. Other episodes in this collection, all scripted by series creator Rod Serling, emphasize bravura acting. In "Escape Clause," gracefully directed by Hollywood pro Mitchell Leisen, the whimsical David Wayne plays a hypochondriac whose anxious life is changed by the arrival of Death (veteran heavy Thomas Gomez). Soon the indestructible hero is courting exotic ways of destroying himself, just to alleviate his boredom: "Let's give the electric chair a little whirl," drawls the blithely curious Wayne. The claustrophobic "Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room" takes on technical challenges typical of The Twilight Zone
. It never leaves the confines of a tiny, shabby hotel room and leading man Joe Mantell plays much of the dialogue with a mirror image of himself. The point of the episode is somewhat monotonous, but Mantell's performance, as a loser facing his last chance at decency, is fully juiced. "A Kind of Stopwatch" shows what happens when a loudmouth pest (Richard Erdman, the annoying personification of the can-do man with ideas) comes into possession of a watch that can stop the whole world in mid-motion. Justice eventually is meted out, per the usual scales of The Twilight Zone
. --Robert Horton