Monday, November 29, 2010

Lessons I Learned From the Twilight Zone, Part I

In the spirit of the post on what I learned from reading Goosebumps, I decided to do a post on what I learned from watching everyone's favorite creepy old TV show, the Twilight Zone.

To Serve Man

Synopsis: Aliens come down to earth offering humans all kinds of wonderful gifts. The earthlings are unsure of whether or not to trust them. They decide to translate a book the aliens leave behind called To Serve Man. To their horror, it's a cookbook.

Lessons Learned: Aliens are evil. Don't trust them when they offer the human species gifts. There's probably a horrible twist.

The Gift

Synopsis: An alien comes down to a small town offering a gift. Distrusting him, the townspeople slaughter him, whereupon it's revealed that his gift is a cure for all diseases.

Lessons Learned: ...Except for when they're good. No, you can't win.

Purple Testament

Synopsis: A WWII soldier finds he can predict death by seeing a flash of light on the faces of doomed men.

Lessons Learned: Apparently Angelica Huston died soon after the Addams Family franchise finished up.

Long Distance Call

Synopsis: A little boy's grandmother gives him a toy telephone before she passes away. After she dies, she's able to contact him on the phone and asks him to join him. Soon, the little boy tries to end his own life in order to be with his grandmother. The boy's father pleads with the grandmother (his mother) over the phone to let the boy live his own life.

Lessons Learned: Yes, Sadako, there is a more overbearing fictional mother out there than Mrs. Costanza.

A Nice Place to Visit

Synopsis: A crook named Rocky Valentine dies and wakes up in a world beyond his wildest dreams where he's rich, can gamble nonstop, and has beautiful women who are attracted to him. It turns out that the afterlife is a bit too good to be true, though. Growing bored of a world where there's no possibility of anything bad ever happening, Rocky begs to be taken to the other place (i.e., Hell), only to be told that he's already there.

Lessons Learned: Be good, boys and girls, or you'll have to gamble nonstop with beautiful women. Compared to Dante's Inferno, it's pretty tame. Then again, Rod Serling's depiction of Hell is a lot closer to the obligatory visit to Atlantic City that the Real Housewives of NJ go on every season. Rod Serling may know more about Hell than Dante and Virgil ever did.

The Howling Man

Synopsis: A group of monks finds the devil and put him in a room locked with a staff, but a visitor is soon talked into letting him out.

Lessons Learned: The devil can hold his own in fiddle contests, induce pea soup vomiting, and still find time to head up the law firm of Milton, Chadwick & Waters. Yet in the face of a simple staff, he's as helpless as an infant in a playpen. (Actually, more helpless if said infant is starring in an animated TV show on the Nickelodeon network.)

It's a Good Life

Synopsis: Welcome to a world where a six year old boy named Anthony has the power to read minds and to create anything. At the end, little Anthony transforms a man trying to stop him into a jack in the box.

Lessons Learned: Back in the day, the worst thing that living in a 6 year old's paradise entailed watching dinosaurs fight on TV instead of Ozzie and Harriet and getting turned into a jack in the box. Irritating, yes, but we live in a day and age when your average kid gets exposed to creepier things than a jack in the box. Furbies. Bratz dolls. Tickle me Elmo. Billy Mumy's world was creepy to be sure, but I don't want to imagine what would happen if this episode got remade.