I'm not saying "the zone" wasn't thought provoking in its day and I'm not saying I don't like seeing the fledgling celebrities who used the show as a springboard to success and I'm not saying that I don't have a solid five favorite episodes that I would watch over and over. But what I am saying is, other than those five, nearly all the rest, for my taste, are tedious.
I would expect TV purists to be disappointed in my assessment. They might argue that THE TWILIGHT ZONE was a forerunner of modern science fiction and that the genius of the stories made viewers think and re-think the boundaries of reality. But I think the same people would agree that its cutting edge subject matter, (influenced greatly by the Cold War, space race and threat of a nuclear holocaust) was inexpensively produced in black and white and is now passe. Even worse, when all the shows are closely examined as a whole, the same concepts wrapped differently (like surviving the cataclysm) are often repeated.
Maybe the same people who are disappointed in my opinion of the Twilight Zone also believe that a real cataclysm with the potential to end the world as we know it, will destroy earth later this year, (December 21st).
Doesn't this doomsday prophecy, (stemming from the end of the Mayan calendar) sound like great fodder for another Twilight Zone episode. Those that do believe that the end is upon us, point to the crazy weather and claim that it is an omen to our planet's demise.
My Twilight Zone would maintain the paranormal, futuristic characteristics of the original. It would also concentrate on disturbing events and conclude with a penetrating message.
The show would open by establishing that currently, Mother Nature has been hammering the globe with tsunamis, monsoons, earthquakes, the melting of the polar icecaps etc. The story would then zero-in on my neighborhood. The character's opening dialog would lay the foundation of the recent mayhem caused by devastating weather pattens and dwell on my son Andrew's high school graduation, (June 7th). Then via flashbacks, we go back to that event and see thousands of spectators crammed in and around the aluminium bleachers that surround his school's football field.
|REMINISCENT OF A TORNADO, THE OMINOUS CLOUDS ABOVE THE GRADUATION CEREMONY PRODUCED A REAL, LIFE THREATENING, ELECTRICAL HAIL STORM THAT SPRANG-UP FROM A BENIGN FORECAST.|
Due to the disintegrating weather conditions, the ceremony is sloppily rushed along. Then within seconds of the last graduate receiving their diploma, the suddenly obvious, massive storm rips through the proceedings. Like a Hollywood production, giant, dense raindrops fly horizontally before morphing into hail stones. The panicky crowd is pelted by the painful pings and drenched in seconds as they make a chaotic dash for the log-jammed exits. Luckily lightning wasn't a factor but still, in the early stages of this twenty-minute ordeal, people were knocked down, trampled and had seizures.
|IT LOOKS LIKE THE ICE MAN HAS ALREADY COMETH...BUT NO, THAT'S THE REMNANTS OF THE HAIL STONES, IN MY GARDEN, IN THE AFTERMATH OF THIS EDITION OF NATURE'S FURY.|
The episode's next scene is another flashback three weeks later, on June 29th. In my house, during a family conversation, we mention that the forecast calls for a ten percent chance of scattered thunderstorms. But our dog Roxy has better hearing. The camera notices that our poor puppy is becoming increasingly antsy before we perceive the menace of distant rumblings. Within a short time, there is a cloudburst and my community is again besieged by a terrifying storm.
|LOOK AT THAT BEAUTIFUL FACE, LIKE THE TRUE EDELBLUM THAT ROXY IS, THE ONLY EXTRA SHE REALLY WANTS OUT OF LIFE IS, PEACE AND QUIET.|
My family, our house's interior, the exterior property and power systems were mercifully spared by this two-plus hour train wreck from the sky. But poor Roxy was inconsolable. In fear of the prolonged claps of thunder and whistling 80MPH gales, she kept trembling, pacing and panting long after the storm passed.
When the storm subsides, this episode moves to "real" time as my wife Sue, in a light drizzle, peels some of the matted-down leaves from her windshield. At 3:AM, she inserts the GOLDEN EARRING CD, "CUT," and innocently goes to work.
|THE DUTCH HARD ROCK BAND, "GOLDEN EARRING" HAD ONLY ONE #1 RECORDING IN THE USA. FROM THEIR "CUT" ALBUM IN 1982, IT WAS "TWILIGHT ZONE."|
Off our street, Sue is soon surprised by the widespread damage. In the true sense of the Twilight Zone, she is alone on the road and the lights are all out. The streets are littered by fallen branches. It's like navigating through an obstacle course.
The adjacent city is bucolic Absecon. This town, old enough to boast descendants from the Mayflower was particularly hit hard. It was there that Sue encountered her first other car. Through her wet, leafy windshield, she thought this driver was drunk. On Route-9, he not only veered into the oncoming lane but his left tires went up onto the curb. When Sue came to that spot, she was face to face with a stately oak that had smashed a fence, crushed an SUV and blocked nearly the whole street.
Her mind boggling odyssey continued as she saw telephone poles snapped like twigs and downed electric wires. The eeriness hit its apex at the White Horse Pike. All the traffic signals weren't working as she approached Route 30. When she saw that the familiar neon of the usually busy thoroughfare was missing, Sue realized the gravity of the colossal, atomic bomb-like carnage.
The story fast-forwards a couple of days. In daylight, my car radio announces that the staggering heat wave will continue. The next reporter then says; this is the worst wind damage here since 1962. A quarter million homes and businesses throughout Atlantic County (and beyond) are still without power.
A roadblock then detours me through Absecon. There is sadness everywhere. It seems every other house is dealing with a gigantic, fallen tree. The "powerless" victims with chainsaws and the like, try to slice through their ruination as those without equipment, swelter in a trance of hopelessness.
Even now, six days later, plenty of friends, neighbors and stores are still in the dark. It seems incredible but, we soon found out that towns twenty miles to the southeast were hit harder and going fifteen miles west were ravaged even worse.
On June 30th, Andrew discovered that for himself when he arrived at Sears for work but they couldn't open without electricity, (however, associates brought emergency items to the mall's curbside and sold generators, saws etc., for cash only).
The abstractness of this Twilight Zone episode continues. We had planned a backyard high school graduation party for Andrew on July 1st. Due to the hellish circumstances, we considered postponing the event when we learned that several of our suppliers were still not opened. But the invitations were sent out and loved ones with busy schedules had committed to coming from North Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. We decided to plow-on but we had to make some major, last-minute adjustments.
On the night before the party, we opened our house to some of Andrew's friends so that they could sleep in air-conditioning. In the morning, a couple of Sue's friends came to use our shower. In the hours before the party, we were disappointed because many local invitees felt compelled to stay home because their properties were teetering on a bigger disaster.
At the same time, I went to the newly reopened supermarket to buy ice. The store manager told me it was like a Twilight Zone episode because customers charged the ice delivery van as if it contained gold. She said that to stop the pushing and shoving, they sold their allotment straight off the truck. Then tempers flared when the customers who weren't served were turned away.
I made some calls. It seems storm victims who thought they still had a chance to save their food from rotting were buying up all the ice in the county. That's when I was forced to call one of our long distance invitees, ZYMBOT. He lives a hundred miles away and had no idea that our calamity was of biblical proportion. He agreed to import the ice.
Our guests began trickling in. It was awkward on a 92 degree day to be stuck serving hot soft drinks and a minimal amount of cold food. Then like a knight in shining armor, our "cool" hero and his smiling wife FLOGLOW made their deliverance. I wanted to bow to him and say; I am not worthy. But I figured with my luck that I'd throw my back out. So instead I just called him, "My savior." Then someone in the crowd called out, "The Iceman Cometh!"
It would have been apropos for Rod Serling to end the episode by saying, "Suffering comes in many degrees. While our planet readies itself for Armageddon, it doesn't matter if your pain was caused a hurricane named Katrina, an oil slick caused by BP or by a hurling asteroid the size of our moon. All that matters, is conquering your fear, helping your neighbor and surviving...because, everyday...even crossing the street, is a Twilight Zone adventure."
What a coincidence, a few days after the party, (on the 4th of July), the SYFY NETWORK ran a Twilight Zone marathon. I was channel surfing and clicked on that station in the hope of randomly spotting one of my favorite episodes. Unfortunately, it wasn't one of my big five. But in the short time I watched, I saw a post-cataclysm couple wandering around in an artificial neighborhood. Everything is fake and there are no other people. Soon the man spots a tree that he is convinced is real. He envisions salvation and happily pounds the trunk. In so doing, he topples the tree and reveals that its roots go no further than the two wooden planks that serve as its base.
This past week, just like in that old Twilight Zone episode, I saw so many perfect trees ripped out of the ground by their roots. So maybe Rod Serling's vision is timeless after all and the Mayans knew what they were talking about too. Perhaps the end is near? December 21st, is less than six months away.
For the full affect, replay the "Twilight Zone" song now !