Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lessons I Learned From the Twilight Zone, Part II

Part II of what I learned from watching the Twilight Zone.

Night of the Meek

Synopsis: An out of work department store Santa with a drinking problem finds a magical sack that lets him give presents to children. He eventually transforms into the real Santa Claus.

Lessons Learned: Your children are writing letters and setting out cookies for an underemployed alcoholic.

Stopover in a Quiet Town

Synopsis: After drinking and driving, a married couple wakes up in a strange house. In an odd twist, it's revealed that the town they find themselves in is nothing more than a toy for a gigantic alien girl.

Lessons Learned: Rod Serling should have been writing anti-drug afterschool specials. This was a lot better than some of the actual anti drug episodes I've seen. The idea of drinking and then waking up in a scary town is a lot more frightening than the prospect of having Winnie the Pooh, the Ninja Turtles, and the Chipmunks disapprovingly wonder what's to become of me.

I Dream of Genie

Synopsis: A man is given the chance at one wish by a genie. He considers several ideas but decides he's cut out for customer service as he wishes to become a genie so he can spend his whole life helping people.

Lessons Learned: The good people at Disney had this episode in their list of things to rip off when they were writing Aladdin, didn't they? (Right under Kimba the White Lion.) Apparently, the most horrifying thing Michael Eisner could imagine for the villain Jafar was a future of making life easier for others.

The Eye of the Beholder

Synopsis: In the future, ugliness is banned. Deformed outcasts are forced to submit to plastic surgery until they conform. A woman covered in bandages is waiting to see the results of her last plastic surgery operation (the twist being, of course, that she's a conventionally attractive woman by today's standards in a world of strange pig faced people).

Lessons Learned: To paraphrase both the Beastie Boys and Scott Westerfeld (author of the Uglies series), you gotta fight for your right to be ugly.

Number 12 Looks Just Like You

Synopsis: Once again, it's the future, and it has become compulsory to undergo medical surgery to become beautiful. A headstrong young girl tries to turn down the procedure.

Lessons Learned: Much like the flying car, one of the things movie and TV show producers from the past assumed would happen today is compulsive beauty. As I go about every day tasks, I wonder where the beautiful people are that I was promised. (Also, Marty McFly's self drying jacket.)

I Sing the Body Electric

Synopsis: A widower with three children finds a factory that specializes in custom built robots. The robot grandmother they create serves the children until they mature, whereupon she is sent back to the factory to be disassembled until she is needed by another family.

Lessons Learned: Between this and the pro assisted suicide grandma of Long Distance Call, I'm not sure I want to know what Rod Serling's relationship with his grandmother was like. Also, this robot grandmother would have been the perfect person to give Number 5 of Short Circuit a pep talk on why being "DISASSEMBLED?!" wouldn't be so bad.

Nick of Time

Synopsis: A newlywed couple stops in a town to get their car repaired. The man, played by William Shatner, believes that the fortune teller game they find in a diner actually can predict the future and starts to obsessively base his life decisions on the device.

Lessons Learned: So that's what people did back in the day before there were FarmVille crops to be harvested and important Perez Hilton messages to retweet.

The Bewitchin' Pool

Synopsis: A young girl and boy named Sport and Jeb take refugee from their arguing parents by finding a secret world on the other side of their swimming pool. Many unhappy children have fled to this world. Here, the only grown up is an elderly woman named Aunt T, who puts the children to work doing good, wholesome chores. When Sport and Jeb's parents announce they'll be divorcing and that the children will have to choose who to live with, they finally escape to Aunt T's world for good.

Lessons Learned: Divorce is a phenomenon so evil and unnatural that it drives children to voluntarily spend all eternity doing chores for a woman who looks suspiciously like the prototype for Mom's Friendly Robot Oil Company.