May 5 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1961 premiere of 'Shadow Play'

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May 5, 2018

Today, May 5, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1961 premiere of "Shadow Play."

Dennis Weaver stars as convicted murderer Adam Grant, who claims he's in what today we call a Groundhog Day scenario as he's forced to repeat his trial and execution every day. Charles Beaumont wrote this episode, and it reminds one of Rod Serling's first-season "Judgment Night" scenario, the difference being that two witnesses to Grant's outburst — District Attorney Ritchie (Harry Townes) and reporter Paul Carson (Wright King) — begin to suspect they may be living in the same loop.

Convicted murderer Adam Grant (Dennis Weaver) doesn't have to wait for the verdict. He's heard it before in "Shadow Play."

Director John Brahm brings his signature ability to create a sense of creeping dread to the episode, and Weaver (Gunsmoke, Touch of Evil) is just terrific. Harry Townes returns to the series after playing one of the faces in "The Four of Us Are Dying," while Wright King would return to the Zone in Season 4's "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville" as Hecate the janitor.

Reporter Paul Carson (Wright King, left) doesn't know what to make of convicted murderer Adam Grant's (Dennis Weaver, right) ravings in "Shadow Play."

So let's hoist one to the genius of Charles Beaumont, the super talent of Dennis Weaver, and another disquieting trip into the courtroom of strange we call The Twilight Zone.