Greetings from the Twilight Zone! Yes, ever since my last post, it’s been one strange thing after another.
The weather has been acting weird, too. Winter may take a break, as it did on Saturday, but weather never takes a holiday here. So, we’re back in subzero wind chills, again. And more snow….
As a consolation, I offer for your consideration, the classics of the Twilight Zone.
Hosted by Rod Serling, the Twilight Zone ran from 1959 to 1964. It was a half-hour format. Rod Serling wrote or co-wrote many of the 156 episodes, and other great writers also contributed stories. Among them –Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, Earl Hamner, Jr. and Richard Matheson.
Many now- famous actors had early parts on the show–These include William Shatner, Jack Klugman, Robert Redford, Dennis Hopper, Elizabeth Montgomery, Anne Francis, Charles Bronson, Jean Marsh, Dick York, Claude Akins and John Astin!
Each episode is a masterpiece of writing, acting and visual production. There is no filler, no wasted words, no reliance on special effects. This is storytelling at its best. If you want lessons in tight writing (and screenwriting) you can learn alot. If you enjoy a really good story, these episodes do not disappoint.
There’s time travel and cowboys, boxers and jazz musicians, aliens and diners, love and magic, death and redemption. There’s usually a plot twist, and a moral to the story.
Many of the stories in the Twilight Zone are set in “the present” at the time, or a near future. They deal with suburban life, computers, robots, space exploration, post WWII, the Cold War, air travel, civil rights, workers’ rights, conformity. Such topical issues still have a message for us today. These are really timeless stories, always intelligent and thought-provoking, even if the show was produced over 50 years ago.
These are stories that ask you to question reality and maybe what it means to be human. There are so many good stories, it would be hard to pick just one. Among my favorites are, “Number 12 Looks Just Like You,” “What You Need,” “The Lonely,” “A Stop at Willoughby” and “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” (I imagine meeting Rod Serling in a place like that–a diner somewhere. We would have coffee and smoke cigarettes. He would have four hands. I would have a third eye. We would talk about writing and reality, and other things.)
Another favorite is “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.” It’s a perfect summer afternoon in a suburban (or city) neighborhood. Suddenly, there’s a mysterious power outage. In that afternoon and evening, everything falls apart. Neighbor turns against neighbor. If you think it couldn’t happen today, imagine what could happen without internet access, and the phones don’t work.
If you want to learn more about Rod Serling, and his writing, this article by John Pietaro is an excellent start.
The SyFy channel will be having its annual Twilight Zone marathon starting on New Year’s Eve, going all day New Year’s Day and through January 2. Here is the schedule, set for Eastern Time. Not a bad way to start off the new year.
For those of you who don’t have cable (I don’t, either) the Twilight Zone airs Monday thru Friday at 10:00 PM on WCIU, Channel 26.3. Hope to see you there!
Do you watch the Twilight Zone? Do you have a favorite episode? Please share in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like this post, Remember Prairie Vortex?
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