This set collects six more Twilight Zone radio dramas recreating classic Twilight Zone stories.
“Five Characters in Search of An Exit” finds a man (Jason Alexander) in a major’s uniform dropping into a cylindrical room where four other people are located. They’re dressed as a clown, a hobo, a bagpiper, and a dancer. None has any memories or knows why they’re there. The newly arrived Major tries to engineer an exit. This is a solid tale that delivers a classic Twilight Zone twist and also ties in nicely to the Christmas season.
“The Arrival” is set at a small aiport where a flight comes in on time, but it’s the wrong plane and no one’s aboard. This leads to an experienced FAA investigator being called in. This one has some pretty good twists. I’m not sure its story logic holds up well. But it’s still a decent listen.
“Queen of the Nile” is about a reporter who goes for an interview with a beautiful Hollywood actress who looks far younger than her age or career should indicate. While I do think the solution (or something like it) was a kind of obvious answer, the way its delivered and some of the details make this a pretty engaging outing.
“I Dream of Genie” is about a born loser who finds a magic lamp with a genie who will provide one and only one wish. He begins to mull over the most popular wish options and imagines how good they could be, before also imagining how it would all end horribly. It’s an interesting concept and his solution to the wish dilemma, while simple, is kind of intriguing.
“It’s a Good Life” is one of the most nightmarish tales The Twilight Zone came up with. A small town in Ohio is cut off from the rest of existence and held in thrall to a six-year-old boy with amazing mental powers but zero emotional maturity. The adults in town spend the entire episode cowering. Those who say the wrong thing or think the wrong thing about him risk his wrath. With a thought, the boy could strike you blind, turn you into a monster, or strike you dead. The town, in order to keep him calm and happy, affirms everything he does as good. The transition to radio is very well-executed and this makes for an entertaining if unsettling half hour.
“Masks” finds an elderly man (Stan Freberg) dying on the last day of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and his family (his hypochondriac daughter, his greedy son-in-law, their vain daughter, and their cruel and stupid son) are coming to visit before they start dividing the spoils of his estate. Lest you think my description is unfair, this is the entirety of their characterization and we’re given an introduction telling us explicitly who these people are…because some of us might not figure out after three minutes. It’s made obvious bad things are going to happen to them and that they deserve it. That does tend to make this a bit predictable and on the nose. However, the way the change is realized and the sound design does make it unnerving. It’s not a bad release, but it is one of the weaker stories in this set.
Overall, this was another solid release with a combination of skilled acting, solid sound design, and scripts that mostly tended to be among the stronger ones from the original series.
Rating: 4 out of 5