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Revisiting The Twilight Zone, S3:E2 - "The Arrival"

The Twilight Zone, Season Three: “The Arrival”

Written by Rod Serling

Directed by Boris Sagal

Director of photography - George T. Clemens

Music - stock

First watched September 9, 1985

Rod Serling must’ve loved airplanes. He made them essential components of many Twilight Zone episodes, including “The Last Flight,” “The Odyssey of Flight 33,” “King Nine Will Not Return,” “Twenty-Two,“"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” and others. Maybe Serling’s brother Robert also had the airplane bug: he wrote several aviation-related works of non-fiction and fiction, most famously the novel The President’s Plane Is Missing (1967). So I guess Rod comes by it honestly.


When a DC-3 makes a perfect landing at an airport, the on-ground personnel are baffled to find the plane contains no luggage, passengers, pilots, or crew. FAA investigator Grant Sheckly (Harold J. Stone) is on the case, doggedly insisting that (1) there’s an answer and (2) he’s going to find it.

I remember being disappointed in the episode when I first saw it in 1985 (though I hadn’t yet seen the similar - and far better - episode, “Where Is Everybody?”) and even more disappointed now. The first sign of trouble is in Sheckly’s braggadocio-filled statements that he’s never had an unsolved case. Even watching this in my early 20s, I knew where this was headed. An even bigger problem: for the first several minutes of the episode, Sheckly isn’t even on the premises, so we can’t be in his point-of-view, which is necessary for the scenario to work. Although “The Arrival” looks good and is quite compelling until its denouement, it’s not an episode I’ll return to often.

Let’s hope tonight’s premiere of the Jordan Peele incarnation of The Twilight Zone fares better. I wish Mr. Peele and all concerned the very best of luck!

Photos: Sci-Fi & Scary, Syfy, Shadows and Substance, OtakuKart News

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