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EmpressPixie's avatar

Do you have all too academic thoughts about the Twilight Zone?

Asked by EmpressPixie (14721points) September 26th, 2008

The Twilight Zone was a great series. I watch it whenever I can with my dad. We’ve seen it so often that I know at least half of the stories by heart, so eventually I started thinking about the warnings the Twilight Zone delivers about humans, to humans, and about the unknown.

Have you given this more thought than you should? If so, what are some things you’ve learned from the Twilight Zone. Have we heeded the warnings it gave us, or ignored them utterly? Do we still face the same problems today or are they antiquated issues?

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18 Answers

xxporkxsodaxx's avatar

I just watch the show and wonder how anybody could have come up with such outlandish stories that were like acid trips.

I love that show.

tonedef's avatar

I see TZ eps as divisible into three different categories:

1) Moral tales, like “The Masks,” and “Eye of the Beholder.”
2) Psychological exploration, like that one with the guy being hanged over the river (edit: OH! and that awesome one about how it kept getting colder outside, but the person was just having a fevered nightmare induced by dehydration by skyrocketing temperatures! or the other way around. I can’t remember.
3) Horror and Sci-Fi with a twist, like “The Invaders” and “Terror at 20,000 Feet”

I like that all three categories challenge our notions about the way people behave. Sometimes, the moral messages are just really corny, but a lot of them are chilling, and extremely poignant for their historical setting.

Every holiday, my television is tuned to the Sci Fi channel!

EmpressPixie's avatar

That’s really interesting, I’ve found that they fall into a number of categories as well, but usually categorize them as something like:

1. Conformity
2. Reaction to the unknown
3. Challenging assumptions
4. Education

Is Terror at 20,000 the name of the gremlin show? I’m pretty sure it is, and I always put that more into either psychological exploration of your categories or challenging assumptions in ours. Either way, I’m always intrigued by it because it is one of the few (as they point out) shows that leave tangible proof behind to exonerate the victim of the TZ.

I guess I separate more into the themes they cover again and again than the exploration those themes are used for.

tonedef's avatar

Yeah! I still get goosebumps when the camera pans over to the shredded up wing. I got goosebumps typing about it! I really think it was ruined in the movie. It was so scary because the cinematography was such that you were just about as sure as the man on the plane that it was there. it was really just a shadow- a hint of an outline in the darkness. They only barely showed it at the very end of the flight, before the emergency landing. That one totally deserves classic status.

deaddolly's avatar

I always thought that show had insights way and beyond what everyone else did. It was classic and I can watch the shows over and over again.

Same with some of the Outer Limits.

JackAdams's avatar

I own every one of the original series on DVD, and I never tire of re-running them, over and over and over.

Rod Serling envisioned the episodes as miniature “morality plays,” often showing the protagonist getting his/her comeuppance, based on previous actions.

But he soon reasoned (correctly) that sponsors would not wish to have their products associated with “morality plays,” so he disguised them as stories about strange, weird, unusual and atypical happenings/events, so potential sponsors would not recognize them for what they really were.

Rod Serling was truly a creative genius, and I can only think of one episode that “disappoints.”

EmpressPixie's avatar

Which one?

only one of them makes me cry, but that’s different

JackAdams's avatar

Time Enough At Last.

Ask, if you wish for an explanation of why it was his worst-written episode, ever.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I think that one is my mom’s favorite. I can understand why it would disappoint, but she really connects with the character.

The one that makes me cry is super uncommon—it’s the hour long version of Mute. There is a half-hour version that isn’t so bad.

waterbearer's avatar

I love TZ and LIVE for the holidays that have marathons on TV. I agree with DeadDolly about the show having insights. I believe there’s a message in every single episode.

augustlan's avatar

@Jack: That is one of my favorite episodes. The ending is my personal nightmare.

MacBean's avatar

haha @Jack and augustian—That is my absolute favorite episode of The Twilight Zone ever. (And I have seen all of them.) No matter how many times I watch it, I still get the same feeling of utter despair at the end. It feels like I’ve been kicked in the chest and it’s a little difficult to breathe. Nothing else I’ve ever seen or read can affect me quite like that.

JackAdams's avatar

Because I got a PM asking me to explain why I don’t like that episode, here is a detailed explanation of why Time Enough At Last was the worst-written episode of the series (and I apologize in advance, for the “nit-picking“):

The first factual error in this episode occurs when we see Henry Bemis for the first time in the bank vault. We see the book flip open, then see the glass shatter in the pocket watch, followed by the sound of the nuclear device (supposedly a Hydrogen Bomb) being detonated directly above the bank vault.

The error is that in real life, we wouldn’t be able to see the book cover being flipped open, nor the glass in the pocket watch being shattered because the Electromagnetic Pulse prior to the detonation would have caused a power failure in the vault, extinguishing the light. Also, the same vibrations that shattered the glass in the pocket watch, would have also shattered the light bulb, and the glass in Henry Bemis’ eyeglasses. When he regains consciousness in the bank vault, the light bulb is still illuminated, which would not have been possible.

Next, when Bemis enters the bank president’s office, he hears the tape recorder playing. The EMP would have prevented that device from functioning, also.

When he leaves the bank and wanders around the debris, no dead bodies are seen. Yes, many of the victims would have been evaporated by the blast, of course, but not all of them, as photos from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have shown that not everyone “disappeared,” and some folks actually remained alive for several years after those blasts.

He is next seen sitting in what is probably the remains of a former grocery store, munching on contaminated food, that probably has a high Strontium-90 count. This means that he should die within the next 5 days, depending on the amount of contamination he has consumed.

After he awakens from his nap, he finds a car and honks the horn. No sound would be heard coming from that car at all, because of the damage done to the electrical system (battery) by the EMP. Likewise, you would never have heard any kind of engine-cranking noise from a car with no functioning electrical system.

As he’s contemplating committing suicide with a gun he has found in the remains of a sporting goods store, he sees the public library and all those books.

Here’s a question for you: If a hydrogen bomb was detonated anywhere near a library, and considering that the bomb was powerful enough to “evaporate” human beings and level buildings, would there be any likelihood at all, that books (filled with paper that burns at +451°F/+232.78°C) would have survived such intense heat? No, there would have been no books for him to read, anywhere within a 20-mile radius of ground zero.

So, now you know why it was a poorly-written episode. Rod Serling just did not do his scientific research very well.

MacBean's avatar

I think if you’re watching The Twilight Zone for scientific accuracy, you’re missing the point.

JackAdams's avatar

When I first saw the episode I mentioned, it was originally aired on November 20, 1959, and I was only 10 years old, so I watched it with all of the fascination and awe that a child of that age would have.

Now, as I watch it 49 years later, I see it with a different pair of eyes than those of a 10-year-old.

That’s why I sometimes envy Peter Pan in a way; he could forever remain a child and had a unique attitude about the aging process…

fireside's avatar

Actually, Time Enough At Last is one of the most recognizedTwilight Zone episode ever.
According to Wiki it ranked #25 in TV Guide’s 100 most memorable moments on television.

I’m looking for the Futurama spoof of the episode that they did in “A Head in the Polls” – if I find it I will post it up here.

JackAdams's avatar

Here is something about it.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@JackAdams, talk about picky. Sheesh. The episode wasn’t about the scientific details, it was about a sad little man looking for time to do what he loved most, and how everyone conspired against him. I personally loved that episode.

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