Today, March 14th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1963 premiere of “The Parallel.”
Another underrated one-hour from TZ's abbreviated fourth season, this episode stars a solid Steve Forrest as likable U.S. astronaut Robert Gaines, who makes what appears to be a successful flight into space, returns to Earth and begins to notice odd changes to his home and planet. For instance, why is everyone calling him colonel, when he left for space as a major? There's a picket fence in front of his house, which wasn't there when he left; his daughter (Shari Lee Bernath) is looking at him funny; and the reaction his wife (Jacqueline Scott) has when they kiss is downright confounding.
Writer and TZ creator Rod Serling was fascinated with the prospects of space travel and enjoyed creating unusual obstacles for our astronauts. "The Parallel" is cut from the same cloth as "Where is Everybody?," "And When the Sky was Opened" and "I Shot an Arrow Into the Air," playing loosely with time, space and perception. Forrest is terrific as the increasingly frustrated Gaines, who begins to honestly believe he's returned to a different Earth. Jacqueline Scott is equally convincing as the wife who begins to wonder if this is really her husband.
Interestingly, this episode ran exactly one week after "No Time Like the Past," which starred Dana Andrews, Steve Forrest's brother in real life – Forrest's real name was William Forrest Andrews.
So let's celebrate a marvelous hour in another dimension, placed squarely on the show that featured the ultimate dimension: The Twilight Zone.