The past three nights, my wife and older son were out town, meaning the other two boys I were on our own. When the younger dude went off to bed at night, my 11 year old and I pulled out a DVD box set of The Twilight Zone that I had received at Christmas but never really watched. In fact, the only time I had watched an episode was with him, and it was not a very good one — it had no dialogue and the pacing was glacial. I was afraid that would turn him off to the series, which I love and want him to at least respect for its storytelling, but he was game to give it another try.
We had a long discussion first about what is the Twilight Zone — he had this idea that it was a place, or a setting, and not a frame of mind. I think he understands it now. Not sure. Then, he asked about how the episodes had twists in the narrative — those little turns at the end of a show that make you go “hmmmm” when it is over. He asked about Rod Serling, and then as we watched the dates of when the episodes aired, we thought about how old my father (his grandfather) was. I think this helped give him some sense of how long ago this show was on the air, and maybe some sense of how revolutionary it was for its time.
We started on Friday with Time Enough At Last about the desire for our own space and what happens when our dreams come true.
And then went into Saturday with The Monsters are Due on Maple Street about how mobs are formed and then how fear turns us on ourselves.
And finished up last night with Steel about machines taking the place of men, and then men taking the place of machines.
(ACK — no video available)
I wanted to show him the classic — To Serve Man — but it is not in my DVD set. What’s up with that? However, thanks again to our trusty friend, the Internet, the episode is right here to be watched.
It was interesting, because the last one we watched — Steel — was towards the end of the Zone run, where Serling was no longer the writer or producer. The footage was clearer, the pacing was faster, and the acting was slicker. But the story did not hold up to the earlier ones. And my son, when the show was over, turned to me and asked: What’s the twist? There was none, and we were both disappointed.
Peace (in the Zone),