The Twilight Zone

Season 3 Episode 23

The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank

Aired Unknown Feb 23, 1962 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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out of 10
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  • Fear ensues when an entire town shows up for the funeral of young Jeff Myrtlebank, only to have the deceased sit up in his coffin, with some slight changes.

    Not necessarily the best or the best-known episode, this is superb in its own right. The premise is simple yet effective: A young man returns to life at his own funeral. He has undergone some distinct changes--an improved work ethic, a skill in fisticuffs, a touch that kills flowers, and the ability to light matches without striking them. Given the backwoods community in which he lives, the natural assumption is that Jeff isn't really Jeff--that an evil spirit has taken over his body.

    A lot of good things can be said here, but I'd like to focus on this one: The characterization of the people of this "Midwest, Southernmost section" community. It would have been really easy for the writer to present them as caricatures that would have been insulting to almost anyone of Southern lineage. Instead, writer Montgomery Pittman perfectly walks the tightrope of having characters who are Southern without making them into caricatures. This complements a script that is well-crafted overall.

    Look for a young James Best (Roscose from "Dukes of Hazzard") and even the Dub Taylor ("The Hubba-Bubba Man" from commercials here. Also, the final special effect with the match is quite memorable. If you get a chance to watch this episode (like on one of Sci-Fi channels July 4th or New Year's marathons), you need to watch it.