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re-discovering the twilight zone

When I was younger, probably fourth grade, I had a black and white TV in my room. It only got a few channels because though it was hooked up to cable, the dial only went up to 9. Still, one of the channels, I have no idea which one used to run The Twilight Zone re-runs late at night. I caught an episode one night after falling asleep to the TV. When I woke up in the middle of the night, it was the middle of an episode, one about a creepy hitchhiker. I missed the first part of the episode and picked it up where the girl is talking to herself after running out of gas. The episode stuck with me. I remembered it a few years later when I devoted my English project in seventh grade to poems about Death. I wasn't fascinated by Death but rather the metaphors which represented it, the way it had been personified, described, explained. Of course, I had no language to describe these thoughts and my parents were a bit concerned. My father, who had been taking me to hospitals and funeral homes because he had to work and take care of me and my brother, was less surprised by my interest than my fragile mother. What I couldn't explain just seemed weird to my mother; that I would think about Death in a literary way didn't occur to anyone.

No one close to me died when I was young. My great-grandmother Oswald was the first family member's funeral I can remember attending. I was a teenager. Even then it seemed surreal to me. It was, I think, the first dead body I'd seen. Though I'd accompanied my father to funerals before, I purposefully waited outside or in the funeral director's office, safely away from the "realities" of death. And all I remember about my Granny's funeral is that her fingernails were painted and I couldn't stop laughing about it. There is an incredibly absurd element to funerals. When Candace died, someone I loved and who died who was not a member of my family, I was overwhelmed with guilt, loss, fear. It was as if I had to face something, a truth about Death I was unprepared for. And still, I am intrigued by how I've explained the ending of life, how I have experienced loss and watch my closest friends experience it. We understand or come to terms with Death in various ways. What I think is interesting about the Twilight Zone and similar shows and stories, particularly in Science Fiction, is that they are often about surviving. I think that's why I love Supernatural so much. There are a lot of storylines that take an idea from the Twilight Zone and push it a step further. But ultimately it's about relationships and sacrifices and survival.

As I write about this now, after discovering Twilight Zone clips on YouTube (I love the Internets!), my obsession with forensic shows and mysteries makes a bit more sense. I could probably try to explain my love of most horror movies as originating from my psychology as a child who stayed up late and watched Twilight Zone episodes though most of my watching came in high school when the episodes aired on one of the local channels or maybe on Nick-at-Nite. When I was in my Master's program they aired some new episodes with Forest Whitaker as the host. And though some of the episodes don't have the same bit as Serling's original series, I loved them. When I saw the episode "Night Route," I was so reminded of that episode "The Hitchhiker" I'd seen at 10 only this time Life is personified and the woman seems much more aware of what might be happening to her as if she grew up watching Twilight Zone episodes. I prefer the black and white episodes and some of the storylines are better, and better acted.

Other favorites of mine are Mirror Image, Number 12 Looks Just Like You (if you've read Scott Westerfield's Uglies you'll recognize the theme), The Eye of the Beholder, which is also really interesting in terms of what we find beautiful and is an episode referenced frequently by other TV shows;The Bewitchin' Pool, Nightmare as a Child and of course, The Monsters are Due on Maple Street (I haven't seen the updated version of this yet).

If you have nothing to do for a few hours you should check them out. Or at least watch "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street":



Part Two:


Part Three: