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(another Twilight Zone thing) Reality mirrors ‘The Twilight Zone’: TV episodes

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Old November 22nd 20, 12:55 AM posted to alt.astronomy
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Default (another Twilight Zone thing) Reality mirrors ‘The Twilight Zone’: TV episodes


Reality mirrors ‘The Twilight Zone’: TV episodes from 1950s and 1960s
are eerily similar to circumstances today
UPDATED: Mon., Nov. 16, 2020

1 / 7
Rod Serling pauses for a cigarette and coffee between scenes during
filming of “The Twilight Zone” in this 1961 file photo. (Associated Press)

By Ed Condran

It looks the same, it smells the same, and it feels the same – but it
isn’t the same. There is something not quite right. Either an invisible
contagion has invaded our country, or we’re in “The Twilight Zone.”

Apparently, it’s the former, but it certainly feels like the latter. For
the uninitiated, “The Twilight Zone” is a compelling TV series created
and hosted by Rod Serling, who wrote most of the scripts. The series,
which ran from 1959-1964, featured an array of genres, from dystopian
fiction and supernatural drama to black comedy. Each episode typically
included a twist, and the original shows are still relevant today.

There have been other versions of “The Twilight Zone,” the latest by
director-writer Jordan Peele (“Get Out,” “Us”), which airs on CBS All
Access. Karen Petruska, associate professor of Communications Studies at
Gonzaga, agrees that it feels like we’re living in the seminal TV show,
which influenced Steven Spielberg and Chris Carter, the creator of “The
X-Files,” among others.

“It is like ‘The Twilight Zone’ right now,” Petruska said. “It’s like
the show in that we’re trying to make sense of what we’re experiencing.
There’s something that is obviously wrong. It’s weird at times during
this pseudo-lockdown.

“You can go to the park, but you can’t have people over for dinner. I
want to invite you into my house, but I can’t let you in. Obviously,
something is off. It wasn’t quite right with Major League Baseball.
Without people watching in person, something was definitely off.”

Something is definitely off, but that’s the story behind most “Twilight
Zone” episodes. Now is the time to go back or check out classic
“Twilight Zone” episodes for the first time.

As Serling once said, “You unlock this door with the key of imagination.
Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of
sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and
substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into … the
Twilight Zone.”

There are a number of classic episodes that mirror or are a reminder of
what we’re experiencing courtesy of the coronavirus or due to human
behavior. Also consider what “The Twilight Zone” has spawned: a board
game, graphic novels, two other series with the same name and format and
a film. The entire “Twilight Zone” collection is available on Hulu and

1. ‘The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street’

Season 1, Episode 22, original air date: March 4, 1960

The suburban subdivision appears idyllic at the beginning of the
episode. Children are playing during a sunny afternoon as an ice cream
truck drives by. However, everything changes when a flash of light
streaks through the sky, and the residents lose power. Those on Maple
Street convince themselves that aliens disguised as humans have been
residing in their community.

Some strange events occur, and suspicion follows. After a resident’s car
inexplicably starts, the group of friendly neighbors turns into an angry
mob. How different is their behavior from Americans’ views of the
Chinese? How many Chinese restaurants went out of business after the
coronavirus struck? It’s also reminiscent of post-9/11 views of Middle

What do humans do in a time of crisis? “There are weapons that are
simple thoughts, attitudes, prejudices,” Serling said at the end of the

2. ‘Time Enough at Last’

Season 1, Episode 8, Nov. 20, 1959

A bank clerk disappears with a book during his lunch break and locks
himself in a vault, which saves him from a nuclear assault. The meek and
mild inveterate literature junkie, played by Burgess Meredith at his
finest, is ecstatic as he ventures to the library. There is no one
around in the rubble to interrupt him as he indulges in the classics.

However, it doesn’t take long for him to discover that there are
pitfalls to isolationism. It wasn’t easy for folks to be by their
lonesome during the lockdown, and considering what is projected, people
might be starving for human contact again.

3. ‘Where Is Everybody?’

Season 1, Episode 1, Oct. 2, 1959

“The Twilight Zone” pilot features a man clad in a U.S. Air Force flight
suit wandering into a desolate town. The protagonist walks into a diner
with freshly baked pies and a hot pot of coffee on the stove, but
there’s no sign of life.

He spots a lit cigar in an empty police station. Not every episode of
“The Twilight Zone” is explained, but the reason for what the man
experiences is detailed at the conclusion of the episode. It’s all about
dealing with isolation. How long can we tolerate it?

“The barrier of loneliness: The palpable, desperate need of the human
animal to be with his fellow man. Up there … is an enemy known as
isolation. It sits there in the stars waiting, waiting with the patience
of eons, forever waiting … in the Twilight Zone.”

A fascinating side note. Serling, who died at 50 in 1975, intended for
his script “The Happy Place” to be his “Twilight Zone” debut. The
episode revolved around a society in which people were executed upon
reaching their 60th birthday since they were deemed no longer useful.
However, network executives refused to run with that episode since it
was deemed too dark.

4. ‘The Midnight Sun’

Season 3, Episode 10, Nov. 17, 1961

A pair of Manhattan apartment dwellers are all that’s left in their
building as Gotham heats up. The Earth’s orbit is disturbed, and it’s
moving toward the sun. The mercury is rising, and New Yorkers are either
moving north or perishing in the sweltering city. Since the pair are all
that’s left, they’re in isolation. Aside from that common denominator
with the coronavirus, the script screams global warming.

5. ‘The Shelter’

Season 3, Episode 3, Sept. 29, 1961

Everyone is having a great time at a birthday for a neighborhood doctor
who has cared for each guest as their physician. Shortly after the party
ends, a civil defense warning reports that UFOs have been detected
traveling toward the United States. The doctor and his family retreat to
their bomb shelter.

His friends/patients beg their doctor to open the door to the shelter,
where there is only room for three. Desperation and violent acts follow.
There is the element of isolation but also of division, which reflects
the state of our country. The closing narration has a solution. “For
civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized.”

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Emma Epperly
Emma Epperly does a lot of everything. As a general assignment reporter,
she is called on to cover car accidents, interview movie stars, pitch in
on breaking news and take on whatever story the day presents her with.
She has come to appreciate the unexpected.


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