Take “Two”: TZ’s Powerful Season 3 Opener
As someone who runs a Twitter page that quotes The Twilight Zone daily, I shouldn’t be a fan of “Two”, should I? The Season 3 opener, after all, is largely silent.
On the contrary. I may not place it in my top 25, but I actually rate it quite highly. For an episode that doesn’t have much to say, “Two” says a lot.
It’s anti-war, but not in a preachy, haranguing way. It’s a quiet look at the futility of engaging in an all-out nuclear holocaust with people who, in the end, are a lot like us. And by not shouting, it conveys that idea more powerfully. Writer-director Montgomery Pittman, who also did “The Grave” and “The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank”, deserves a lot of credit.
“Two” is a marvel of set design. True, TZ crew members had the good fortune to film it at the Hal Roach Studio (home of the Little Rascals), which was already abandoned and decaying. But they still needed to create the illusion of years of neglect, and they did it perfectly.
Everything – the streets, the shops, the restaurant kitchen, the barber shop – looks as if no one has touched it in ages. And yet you know an entire film crew is right there, and they’ve just finished making sure everything is in a state of utter disarray.
You can watch it in high definition all you want, and you won’t find any seams. It’s a first-rate job from first shot to last.
The acting, too, is top-notch. Think about it: Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery don’t have a large cast around them. They can’t blend into some crack ensemble. It’s just the two of them, front and center, the whole time. That takes work. Viewers are going to be watching you very carefully — there’s no one else to distract them.
Bronson and Montgomery have no virtually no words either – he gets a few lines, and she gets just one word. There’s no great dialogue from Rod Serling or anyone else to perform.
“If you looked the other actor in the eye and told the truth, and said Rod’s words, you were home free,” Jack Klugman once said. So when you don’t have “Rod’s words”, what then? You have to tell that truth with only your expressions. Your body language. And Bronson and Montgomery are certainly up to the task.
We really feel as if we’re watching two lone survivors coping with a post-apocalyptic world. Montgomery’s feral wariness, and Bronson’s weary resignation, are all the dialogue we need. We see the fear etched on their faces, but we also see an unquenchable desire for things to somehow get back to normal.
It’s that sense of hope that, for me, really distinguishes this episode. Thanks to “Two,” Twilight Zone’s third season was off to a beautiful start.
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Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!