Story by Martin Pasko and Rebecca Parr
Directed by Gerd Oswald
Original Airdate - December 6, 1985
Charles Martin Smith - Dr. Dennis Barrows
Martin Landau - William Cooper-Janes
Giovanni Ribisi - Teddy
Cheryl Anderson - Townsperson
Scott Lincoln - Trooper
Hayley Taylor Block - Townsperson



A writer out traveling comes upon a mysterious lighthouse next to a closed community, when his car breaks down.  He walks to the general store, where the storekeeper is friendly and helpful.  Everyone in the community has blonde hair, and they seem to act weird about the lighthouse.  The writer senses something odd going on.  He begins asking questions, and eventually he pays for asking them.


"The Beacon" marks the first episode where an alumnus of the original Twilight Zone starred in an episode of the new Twilight Zone.  Martin Landau, who was in two of the original TZ's, stars in this as the extremely strange leader of an extremely strange cult-life community.  Such roles are the type that Landau loves and excels at; it allows him to stretch his acting wings.  Remember, this is the man who turned down the role of Spock in "Star Trek," because it would be the same thing week after week.  His protagonist in the episode as the writer is Charles Martin Smith, from "American Graffiti" and "Starman." Amazingly, Giovanni Ribisi is the main child actor in the teleplay, in one of his first acting jobs at age 11.

I love both of the main characters, but only Landau comes through this unscathed.  He's the best thing about the episode, which is just not fleshed out enough.  His performance saves the piece from being completely routine. 

It was directed by Gerd Oswald, who directed 14 episodes of the original "Outer Limits," and several "Star Trek's," which certainly gives him the chops to direct a story about a sentient lighthouse surrounded by an inbred cult, but I'm not sure he was up to the experience.  Written by Rebecca Parr and Martin Pasko, "The Beacon" suffers a bit from slow pacing, and some silly dialogue.  Pasko wrote for many of the big cartoons of the 1980's, and is still doing story editing in Hollywood.  Rebecca Parr seemed to be his writing partner for awhile, but she has done story editing and writing for "Cheers," "Simon and Simon," and several other high profile shows and also continues to work.  It could be that the rapid pace of doing a weekly TV series just got in the way of the episode, and they couldn't go back to fix the problems in the pacing.  They wrote several other episodes of the new Twilight Zone, which were much better than this.
Our first sight of the village and lighthouse is excellent, thanks to some good special effects.  The look of those blonde wigs the characters wear, though, harmed the visuals.  They're obviously fake, and it makes the episode seem like a rip-off of the "Children of the Damned."  I'm not altogether sure that M. Night Shymalan didn't, in his turn, rip off "The Beacon" to make his film "The Village."  In some aspects the story is similar.  This is not one of the better NTZ's, though as I said Landau's performance is the reason to watch it.  He's always excellent, and his performance at the end of the episode is truly powerful.