"The Rip Van Winkle Caper" is the 24th episode of the second season of The Twilight Zone, and was first broadcast in April of 1961. It starred Simon Oakland, Oscar Beregi, Lew Gallo and John Mitchum as a gang of four thieves.
Farwell, a criminal genius, has planned a daring and original crime: he, with the help of three accomplices, is going to derail and rob a train carrying gold from Fort Knox, and then lock the gang and the gold in a cave. With the use of a suspended animation procedure he has invented, they will then sleep for a hundred years, in effect laying low until their crime has been forgotten. They will then emerge into a world where they will be free men, with a fortune of gold.
After the premise has been introduced, we find the men waking up in the future. They have hidden themselves in Death Valley, so they must return to civilization before they can gain their reward. However, both the climate of Death Valley and the fact that there is no honor amongst thieves cause complications, and the story begins to turn into a story of betrayal and survival somewhat akin to the first season's I Shot an Arrow into the Air. And all of this happens before the twist ending, which was actually something that I anticipated.
In my review of the previous episodes, I said that Twilight Zone episodes work best when the fantastic element dovetails naturally with the story. In this episode, it certainly did: there was a natural relationship between the machinations of the crooks and the science-fiction element. The only problem with this episode is that there is a bit too much going on: there really isn't time to develop the character conflict, and there isn't time to explore the ramifications of waking up a 100 years in the future. There is also more than a few plot holes in the story.
Also, being that I watched this episode in 2014, I am now closer to the time that they woke up (2061) then to the time they fell asleep. As such, 1961 can seem more fantastic to me than 2061 does. I found it especially funny that the crooks thought that "one million dollars" was a gigantic sum of money: my first sign that the use of that phrase in Austin Powers was not simply a matter of hyperbole.