Story by Roger Zelazny
Teleplay by George R. R. Martin
Directed by Jeannot Szwarc
Original Airdate - April 11, 1986
Richard Kiley - Sir Lancelot du Lac
Jenny Agutter - Morgan Le Fay
John Cameron Mitchell - Tom
Norman Lloyd - Merlin
Anthony LaPaglia - Punk #1
Don Stark - Punk #2



The heroes of ancient Camelot meet in present-day London to defeat Merlin in a final battle.



Based on Roger Zelazny's evocative short story, "The Last Defender of Camelot" is a fantastic ending to the first year of the new Twilight Zone. I have said in several places on this website that I am one of Zelazny's biggest fans, and it's the truth. A friend loaned me the first five "Nine Princes in Amber" novels back in the early 1980's, and it was my first introduction to Zelazny, or so I thought. I adore the Amber novels, and it's one of the great tragedies of fantasy literature that Roger died before he could complete the series. If my son had been born after I read the stories, his name would have been Corwin, after the main character in the first set of five books; he had to settle for Steven, a much more common name.

Another of the great tragedies of the world is that the Amber series has not been adapted for the screen, and I would love to see what Peter Jackson could do with it. George R. R. Martin, who was to become a steady presence on the NTZ writing team, in the first part of the second season, has recently said he would love to see the series adapted as well. Since his "Game of Thrones" has been such a hit for HBO, and he has experienced a renaissance as a personality, I hope someone listens to him and does adapt the Amber novels for the screen, or cable. It can't be done as anything other than a long mini-series, or it won't be faithful to the books.

After I read the Amber novels, I started collecting Zelazny stories and books, and ran across "Creatures of Light and Darkness." I realized as I started reading it that I'd read it before. Back in 1970, when I was 13, I'd checked a book out from the library and loved it. I'd forgotten the name of it but remembered the plot. This was that book, so I was a Zelazny fan much earlier than I had thought. In any case, if you haven't read Zelazny, find anything by him and read it because it's worth the search.

George R. R. Martin did an excellent job adapting "The Last Defender of Camelot" into a teleplay; it was his first segment for the show. It was directed by Jeannot Szwarc, who also directed the well-done "Red Snow" for the NTZ, and 19 of the best episodes of Serling's Night Gallery. The limitations on a weekly TV series to handle a fantasy story of this magnitude are obvious, but within their limited means the writing and production team were successful. Morgan Le Fay's parlor is dark and mysterious, and is filled with shadowy corners and unique items. The later battle scenes seem like they're staged at Stonehenge, and though it's obviuosly a set it's effectively foggy. The final vision of Camelot is wonderfully done, and lends a bit of magic to the ending.

The master stroke of the production is getting Richard Kiley to play Lancelot. I'm also a long-time fan of Kiley, thanks to his role in the Night Gallery TV movie segment, "The Escape Route," and especially due to his performance in the Season 2 NG episode, "The Ghost of Sorworth Place." He appeared on hundreds of films and TV shows over the years, and was wildly successful on Broadway as the original Don Quixote in "Man of La Mancha." His voice is sheer magic to listen to, and he was a magnificent screen presence; it seemed like he could do anything. Here, he plays Lancelot as a courtly aging knight bent on saving the world one last time, and I don't need to say that he was brilliant in the role. If there was any actor out there that I could believe as Lancelot, it's Kiley.

Jenny Agutter is also excellently cynical as Morgan Le Fay. She is right for the role, and even gets the audience on her side by not being completely evil; she gives us her side of the story, which helps. She and Kiley play off each other well, and seem to have a chemistry.

Norman Lloyd seems a strange choice for Merlin, at first glance, but when you watch the episode he's brilliant in it. Lloyd is 98, here in 2012, and he's still out acting. He was in one of the best, wierd Night Gallery segments, "A Feast of Blood," as a smarmy man who thought way too much of himself, and didn't like it when women thought he was beneath them. Lloyd is great at playing smarmy, weaselly characters, but he's also good a comedy, drama, and just about everything else, and over the years he's played the full range of characters. He was also a member of Eva LeGalliene's famed theater troup in the early- to mid-20th century. Lloyd plays Merlin like a schoolyard bullly, but he's resigned when he realizes he's outlived his own reputation.

This is an episode you don't want to miss, and makes me yearn for the days when fantasy was treated with respect by the networks. It also makes me miss the new Twilight Zone even more.