"Four O'Clock" is the 29th episode of the third season of The Twilight Zone, and was first broadcast in April of 1962. It stars Theodore Bikel as Oliver Crangle, a reclusive misanthrope, and also features some other character actors in minor parts.
It has been a while since I wrote one of these, and in the meantime, my own life, and the United States have changed a lot. So, before I watched this episode, I wondered if I would still be engrossed in The Twilight Zone, if Rod Serling's hokey mid-20th century morality tales would still seem relevant at all.
And oh goodness, do they. The details have changed, but this is a story about an internet troll. Before the internet. Oliver Crangle is a basement dweller who lives alone with his pet parrot and spends his time doxxing people. The word didn't exist, but the concept is there. Oliver Crangle doesn't have the internet, but he does have an apartment filled with card catalogs, where he obsessively records the evil-doings of people he doesn't like, like communists and "thieves", and then reports them to their employers. His dress code even looks like a variation on the "Alt-Right", being simultaneously dandyish and slobby. He might even have a fedora. So alone, stewing in his venom, barely interrupted by a string of visitors who try to dissuade them, he plans his revenge. (Given this week's mass shooting in Las Vegas, I had to look at people's response to his vague threats as somewhat quaint---people in 2017 would be much more alarmed at a bitter loner talking about taking revenge on the world).
Disappointingly, when the "revenge" does come, it is, in the Twilight Zone's tradition, somewhat hokey rather than frightening. The episode could have gone with many different moods, but the somewhat creepy premise was transformed into a farce by Theodore Bikel's hammy acting. But that is intentional, I believe: The Twilight Zone had many stories about the individual against society, and in some they are the hero, in some they are the villain, in some it is quite serious, and in others it is a comedy (And in one of the Twilight Zone's most famous episodes, Time Enough At Last, the loner protagonist is both hero and villain in a story that is both comedy and tragedy). Despite the episode's simple production values and somewhat hasty ending, and despite the fact that this is now 55 years old, I found myself immediately absorbed into the story.