Does the man in the picture ( see above) look familiar? Rod Serling was responsible for The Twilight Zone television series. He wrote more than half of the series’ 156 episodes. How many of the 156 have you seen? From the late 1950s to 1964, the program was on television. Now, at least where I live, you can watch a Twilight Zone marathon (maybe as long as a few days) during a holiday season. Every story begins with the above words to set the mood and generate excitement and a feeling of familiarity. You know you are about to see some old (television) friends again.
Some of the Zone’s most familiar stories could include the following. The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street shows you a typical street somewhere in America. Most of the inhabitants are familiar to each other, but not all. When unusual events are added to the atmosphere, some residents wonder if monsters (from outer space?) are invading their neighborhood. They are not, as the show’s ending tells the viewer, because “the world is full of Maple Streets.”
Perhaps To Serve Man triggers your memory. In this episode, aliens actually arrive on Earth. They promise peace and scientific advances that will benefit mankind. As humans enter the visitors’ space craft for a visit to their planet, a linguist realizes a book of the visitors is actually a cookbook. But it’s too late.
Everyone must remember Nightmare at 20,000 Feet starring a young James T., eh, excuse me, a young William Shatner as a man recovering from a nervous breakdown who is boarding a plane. Once seated and aloft, only Kirk, eh, excuse me again, Mr. Shatner can see a monster tearing apart the plane’s wing. Our hero suffers a relapse and is taken off the plane on a stretcher while mechanics are puzzled to explain a torn wing and engine damage.
The Invaders is a silent story about a woman who cannot, or does not, speak and her investigation of a continuing noise on her roof. Eventually, she attacks the small space suited beings causing the noise that emerge from their craft as the story ends. Their craft has, on its hull, the letters: U S A.
And if you want to see (again) my favorite story, look for Time Enough at Laststarring Burgess Meredith (see above). He plays a bank clerk whose thick glasses would rather gaze upon the great books of literature rather than irritating customers and his nagging wife. During his lunch hour, spent in the bank’s vault for silence in which he can read, a nuclear attack wipes out all other human beings. Upon emerging, he finds a library’s books which he can read because he finally has, well, you know. Unfortunately, he drops something (see below)and his future plans are gone.
What was your favorite Twilight Zone story?