Monday, December 26, 2011

Top Notch Television: The Twilight Zone

Sometimes all of us need to escape into a completely different dimension. We need to escape reality and enter some form of fantasy. When you enter The Twilight Zone, this fantasy isn't always a positive fantasy, but sometimes it is a world that we do not necessarily want to live. This world may very well be a world in which we live in the future and some of these scenarios have become extremely accurate in some way or another. The Twilight Zone is a horror fiction delight, because it plays with the mind and causes a kind of fear. This fear being what we as a society are allowing the future to bring.

The Twilight Zone was created, produced, and narrated by Rod Serling. Serling did a lot to contribute to the feel of the show. Whether it be with his narration or with the stories and scripts that he contributed, many of the stories of which he created. The narration that he gave was generally a bit of background information to start the episode and then to sum it up, he provided a "for instance," that would leave us, the viewer, to think about the entire episode. When Serling wasn't contributing, he had a wide array of writers, such as Charles Beaumont, Ray Bradbury (best known for works such as Fahrenheit 451 and Dandelion Wine), Richard Matheson (best known for I Am Legend and The Shrinking Man), among many others. What Serling had was a great team that produced such a great show, which had an original run from 1959 to 1964.

There were several highlight episodes in the series. "Time Enough At Last" featured Burgess Meredith, playing a bank teller who loved to read. He would read anything and everything, but it interfered with the way he lived, and those such as his impatient boss and nagging wife felt he needed to stop reading. When an H-Bomb hits and wipes out humanity, he's the only survivor. He finally has time to read, but a specific twist stands in the way.

"The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" delivers a strong message. The episode involves an alien invasion that causes the power to go out in the neighborhood and the neighbors ultimately blaming one another for being an alien. The message has to do with holding prejudices and creating scapegoats for our problems. This episode can be used in each of our everyday problems.

In "Night Of The Meek," The Twilight Zone gets into the Christmas spirit in a sentimental episode about Art Carney playing an alcoholic who plays a mall Santa each year. His alcoholism stands in the way of performing him well, but all he wants is to have a good holiday where all of the children are happy and satisfied. He gains help from a magical sack.

In "A Game Of Pool," Jack Klugman plays a pool player, challenging a dead great, played by Jonathan Winters, to see who's the best. The episode challenges the boundaries between life and death in a way far different from a visit from the Grim Reaper.

"To Serve Man" was in my opinion a strong episode. The story has to do with an alien played by Richard Kiel promising to serve man. Well, he holds his promise to doing so, but there is more than just one way of serving man. How about being served in order to satisfy aliens of another race... for dinner. It's so incredible how something that could be so graphic can be portrayed without being graphic.

"Nightmare At 20,000 Feet" is one of the more memorable episodes. Written by Richard Matheson, it starts William Shatner in his early days as an airplane passenger. He continues to see a hairy creature on the wing of the airplane, but only he could see this creature. This episode has been redone many of times, but as always, the original would be extremely hard to top.

These are only some of the amazing episodes in the series. Other premises that have been touched include physical appearance, computers taking over the jobs of everyday people, and the need to be exactly like everyone else. The scary thing is that this may very well be the direction in which we are heading. Rod Serling was a man beyond his years and provided us with different insights to what the future may bring. It was unfortunate that his heavy smoking would cost him his life at a very early age, but the legacy of The Twlight Zone lives on.

Even in Disney World, The Twilight Zone lives on through "The Tower Of Terror," which is an elevator ride from hell. Just imagine being in an elevator and having the chord snapped. The ride does have different experiences for each visit, making the ride that much scarier.

The Twilight Zone has really made an impact for readers who enjoy taking that extra mile to thinking about what they just read. These are readers that enjoy the experience that lies ahead and is willing to think outside the box. This is top-notch television that should definitely be checked out whenever the opportunity occurs.

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