After two years on NBC, the long-running suspense anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents returned to its original stamping grounds, CBS, for its eighth season on the air. Only it wasn't Alfred Hitchcock Presents anymore: responding to a then-current industry trend, the series had expanded from 30 to 60 minutes per week, and had been rechristened The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Not only did this provide the series' production staff with the opportunity to do longer, more complex and more in-depth stories, but it also allowed host Alfred Hitchcock to make three between-the-acts appearances per episode, rather than just two. Moving into its new 10 p.m. Thursday slot in the fall of 1962, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour kicked off its eighth season with "A Piece of the Action," starring veteran Gig Young and relative newcomer Robert Redford, and directed by frequent series contributor Bernard Girard. Former Hitchcock contractee Vera Miles, who has headlined the series' very first half-hour episode, "Revenge," back in 1955, returned to star in the second hour-long entry, "Don't Look Behind You," helmed by John Brahm. As for Hitchcock, his only directorial foray this season is the fourth episode, the Rashomon-like "I Saw the Whole Thing." It would be the last of the series' Hitchcock-directed installments; thereafter, The Master confined his TV activity to his hosting and story-editor duties, reserving his directorial energies to such theatrical features as The Birds and Marnie.
Highlights of the series' inaugural one-hour season include "Captive Audience" and "Dear Uncle George," a brace of "perfect-murder" yarns penned by Richard Levinson and William Link of Columbo and Murder, She Wrote fame; "The Black Curtain," adapted from Cornell Woolrich's famous whodunit; "Ride the Nightmare," scripted by Richard Matheson, who also wrote the episode The Thirty-First of February" under the nom de plume of "Logan Swanson"; "Diagnosis: Danger," directed by Sydney Pollack, who had previously worked on the series as an actor; "The Long Silence," co-authored by Charles Beaumont; and "Death of a Cop," written by veteran Hollywood scenarist Leigh Brackett, whose film credits ranged from The Big Sleep to The Empire Strikes Back. In the tradition of the previous season's "Bang, You're Dead," season eight offers another "serious" episode, in which Hitchcock foregoes the traditional humorous epilogue to deliver a straightforward cautionary message about an all-too-real social problem. In this case, the problem is alcoholism, and the episode in question is "Hangover," co-written by mystery author John D. MacDonald and co-starring Tony Randall and Jayne Mansfield. After a shaky start opposite the high-rated NBC variety series The Andy Williams Show, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour moved from Thursday to Friday evenings in January of 1963, where it fared somewhat better opposite the flagging 77 Sunset Strip and the low-rated satirical series That Was the Week That Was. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
- Alfred Hitchcock