Happy, or should I say Mysterious, National Twilight Zone Day!
That show, in its various incarnations, has been one of the best shows TV has seen. Anthology shows are a lot of fun to watch. It’s kind of cool to see a different story with completely different characters every time you tune in.
First run of the original series was a little before my time, but like millions of other people, I’ve logged countless hours watching it in reruns. It was on from 1959-1964, but hardly any of the stories seem outdated. In fact some, like “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, are so enduring that they’ve been remade more than once!
Most of the original episodes were a half-hour long, which was just right. The couple of hour-long ones that I’ve seen do seem to drag a little. And you never quite knew what you were going to get. Maybe suspense, maybe sci-fi, once in a while even comedy! The episode starring Carol Burnett actually had a laugh track! (That was the only one, thank goodness.)
Among later branches of the franchise was a 1985 series which was I liked a lot, but it didn’t do that well in the ratings. That one had a great time-travel episode about Elvis called “The Once and Future King”.
And there was the 1983 theatrical movie starring Dan Aykroyd as a kind of “bookend” between the 3 stories. That one kind of had overtones of comedy.
There was the series hosted by Forest Whitaker in 2002, which was also not bad, but again not a ratings hit.
The only Twilight Zone that I considered truly awful was the radio series that ran from 2002-2012. I tried listening lots of times because I like The Twilight Zone and I like radio drama, but it’s amazing how bad it was! It was mostly if not all scripts from the TV show expanded to an hour, and boy did they drag! And who told the producer that having background music during the entire episode was a good idea? It always felt like you were in a scene change! I’m glad that’s over.
Which brings us to Jordan Peele’s latest revival on CBS All Access. Having seen Get Out, I’m dying to check out this new Twilight Zone! Unfortunately, I’m too much of a cheapskate to pay for a premium channel. I’ll check it out in a couple years in reruns somewhere. For now, it’s in a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of money.