The Wednesday Play: The New Twilight Zone – A Small Talent For War (1985)

Plays can come in all shapes and sizes. They can be several hours, sometimes even days, or in the case of the new Twilight Zone episode A Small Talent For War, they can be as short as eight minutes.

As remarked previously, Rod Serling’s original Twilight Zone turned in some of the finest works of short drama ever to grace US TV screens. With a revival of Alfred Hitchcock Presents proving popular in the 1980s and a Twilight Zone movie doing reasonably well at the cinema, too, so The Twilight Zone was resurrected for three seasons of largely original scripts between 1985 and 1989. These included contributions from Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C Clarke, Stephen King, George RR Martin, David Gerrold, J Michael Straczynski, Rockne S O’Bannon and others, with directors Wes Craven, William Friedkin and Joe Dante all getting a turn behind the camea, too.

One of the revival’s most novel features – for the first two seasons, at least – was to forego the mandatory half-hour or hour-long episode length, with many episodes airing in tandem or triplets with others to make up the full run-time. While it never quite reached the heights of the original, one of the new series’ very finest short pieces was A Small Talent For War, starring John Glover (Brimstone and Smallville) as an alien who delivers an ultimatum to the world. It’s a lean piece of brilliance, entertaining, funny, chilling and in its own way profound. Enjoy!