Twilight Zone – Chameleon (10/04/85)

tzchameleon19I have said before that if you stick a couple of guys in space suits, and I’m on board for just about anything.  Apollo 18 — not great, but OK. Europa Report — a little slow, but it kept me awake.  Prometheus — well, there is a limit.

This episode got off to an immediate good start with me by being so mundane.  We get a couple of minutes of stock footage of the Space Shuttle and astronauts doing EVAs.  It was this simple beginning that reeled me in.  As much as I liked Gravity, George Clooney wasting fuel doing dangerous circle jerks around the ship and running his yap nonstop while Sandra Bullock was trying to work just took me out of the movie.

Here we get simple dialogue, and the kind of simple joshing that astronauts always put on to keep the funding coming.  Astronaut Becky sees a blue light flash from her EVA. Nothing comes of it, and the shuttle lands safely.

tzchameleon05After the shuttle is back on the ground and up on the rack, the technicians start tearing it apart. Camera #2 seems to have had a problem, going haywire just like NASA cameras do when the UFOs show up.

As Chief Simmons is taking it away for analysis, it begins glowing purple. Simmons disappears and the camera falls to the ground.  I suppose this is the same light the astronaut reported.  Maybe purple just looked better than blue in post-production.

His assistant Tyson declares a Code F emergency.  Really, this happens so often there is a code assigned?  And not even like Code ZAGH, but the 6th code in the book?  The camera is taken to a secure isolation room to be analyzed.  While four scientists are looking on, the camera glows again and Simmons reappears in the isolation room.  They note that the camera is gone which doesn’t make much sense.  Did the camera turn into the man?  When the man first disappeared, the camera was left behind.

tzchameleon08Simmons demands to be let out. Director Heilman shows up and begins questioning him.  Soon, Simmons disappears and it is Simmons’ wife in the isolation room. When Simmons reappears, he gets even more belligerent, destroying equipment in the room.  When he passes out, Heilman goes in with a gas-mask.  Turns out he was only playing possum.  He grabs Heilman and turns blue again.  This time both men disappear and an atomic bomb appears in the room.  Its countdown clock is at 2 minutes.

One of the scientists goes into the room and tries to reason with it.  He actually talks to the device, which makes sense but is a little odd looking.  It is suspenseful as the machine just continues counting down as the man talks to it.  At 1 second to go, it transforms into Heiland and walks out the door.

One of the scientists finds him outside and asks why he came here.  He replies, “Just curious.”  Then turns into a little ball of light and zips away.

tzchameleon14Well, this was like finding out Wallyworld was closed.  I loved every minute of the trip . . . then, a big nothing.  Like Wordplay yesterday, it lacks the features of a 1960s TZ episode:  irony, a twist, come-uppance, self-realization; most of all, closure.  I guess this is the new & improved TZ, although 30 years old now — but closer to the original than to present day.  Both segments were very well-made but seemed to be lacking something at their core.

Nonetheless, another fun outing.


  • Skipped segment:  Sweet Dreams is an 8-minute segment which would have been right at home as one of Night Gallery’s filler bits — and that’s not a good thing.  It is an OK little short, fine effects and Meg Foster is entrancing.  Just not much original here.  BTW, way to spoil the twist on the menu picture!

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