Thoughts on “The Twilight Zone”

I have always been a big fan of “The Twilight Zone”. I remember my uncle and grandmother watching reruns when I was growing up and I think that it probably stuck in my psyche somewhere pretty deep and played a part in forming who I am.
A while back I bought the entire series on DVD (box set with episodes in order of airing). We’ve started watching them from the beginning and I’ve noticed some peculiar things. Now let me first say that, yes, I do realize that TV was a completely different beast back then as well as movies and probably just general storytelling techniques. I still love this show but have noticed it’s tendency to assume that the viewer is so stupid as to be just shy of brain dead. This is kind of funny because on the other hand it can go to some pretty cerebral places too so it almost seems as if it’s catering to really smart folks and people who are dumber than a box of non-sentient rocks.
For example, in one episode, Burgess Meredith plays a man who loves to read. So much so that at lunch time he goes into the vault of the bank where he works to read. One day while in the vault, the world gets destroyed by H-bombs but he survives since he was in the vault. We see all this on screen. Well we don’t actually see the H-bombs and such but it’s all illustrated quite clearly.
Then, upon leaving the vault and seeing the state of the world, he monologues to himself (since everyone else is dead) something along the lines of:
“Oh my god! The world was destroyed by H-bombs! Everyone is dead except for me! *a look of realization* I survived because I was in the vault!”
Well. That was a bit of totally unnecessary exposition! And we just won’t mention the two dimensional character that was his harpy of a wife who refused to let him read at home.
Then there was another episode where these astronauts go missing off the radar as they launch. It turns out they’ve crash landed on “an asteroid” as they call it. An asteroid with an perfectly human compatible atmosphere and mountains and stuff. O.K. so they really should have just called it a planet. Then they have a conversation about how, from the looks of things, the sun appears to be the same distance and trajectory as from the Earth meaning that they must be on an asteroid in the same orbit as the Earth!
So basically, five minutes into the episode, they’ve just hit you over the head with their “twist” ending. OMG! It wasn’t an asteroid at all! It turns out they had just crashed in the Nevada desert! All that strife and killing wasn’t necessary after all!
As I said, I just find these things fun to nitpick. I still think The Twilight Zone is an awesome, brilliant, landmark show.

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