Twilight Zone Mania 2009

by Rae Lori

It's the most awesome time of the year to get into the zone. Yes, it's that time again for the Twilight Zone New Years Marathon. This has become a yearly tradition in my home. Every year, New Years Eve morning I flip on the television early and let it sit on the SF channel all day as I make breakfast and spend time with my family. I love to see what episodes pop up one after the other and now that the awesome definitive version of the series has come out, the channel shows bits and pieces of commentary and behind the scenes tidbits about the show.

The cool thing about the Twilight Zone is the classic nature of the series. There are episodes of pure comedy, romance, macabre, cautionary social commentary, horror, whimsical fantasy, optimistic sci-fi and everything in between. Rod Serling's open narratives coupled with the theme of the show has become a staple of pop culture and the stories are still relevant in our world today.

This is my first year blogging during the marathon and I thought it'd be fun to count down to my top three favorite episodes of the series. For any other Zone fans, I'd love to know what your favorites are and if you have any Twilight Zone memories to share, please feel free to share 'em!

#1 The Shelter

"What you are about to watch is a nightmare. It is not meant to be prophetic, it need not happen, it's the fervent and urgent prayer of all men of good will that it shall never happen. But in this place, in this moment, it does happen. This is the Twilight Zone."

During a party for Dr. Stockton, the radio announces that UFOs are headed southeast and that everyone should head for their shelters. The Doc, his wife and son barricade themselves in their shelter, but their neighbors are unprepared and beg to be let in. Doc refuses saying there is only food and air for three. The neighbors find a pipe and beat the door down. Just then, the radio announces that the UFOs were really just satellites. The neighbors apologize but Doc knows that the experience has destroyed them all.

"No moral, no message, no prophetic tract, just a simple statement of fact: for civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized. Tonight's very small exercise in logic from the Twilight Zone."

This is tied with my other favorite The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street which shares the theme of humanity at its ugliest. I love the juxtapositon of the opening party compared to the end when the threat is revealed to be a false alarm. By then it's too late and like the main character wonders, can they ever go back to the way things were? I imagine this was a frightening episode back in the days of the nuclear threat.

#2 The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

"Maple Street, U.S.A. Late summer. A tree-lined little world of front porch gliders, barbecues, the laughter of children, and the bell of an ice-cream vendor. At the sound of the roar and the flash of light, it will be precisely 6:43pm on Maple Street. [Narration interrupted by the effects described above, as well as character action and dialogue.] This is Maple Street on a late Saturday afternoon. Maple Street, in the last calm and reflective moment before the monsters came."

After what is believed to be a meteor flies overhead, Maple Street experiences a total power failure. Pete Van Horn leaves to find what is going on. Tommy, a reader of sci-fi, says human- looking aliens have infiltrated Maple Street. No one takes this seriously until Mr. Goodman's car cranks for a few seconds. Suspicion falls on him, made stronger by a neighbor's memory of seeing him looking up at the stars at night. Everyone begins to panic as the evening approaches. When a mysterious figure walks towards them in the dark, Charlie Farnsworth takes a neighbor's rifle and fires.

"The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices - to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own - for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone."

Like, the Shelter, this was another arresting episode that showed humanity at its bare bones ugliest. I loved the opening narrative that alluded to monsters and the question remained who really were the monsters? The aliens are seen at the end and their chilling narrative about how easy it would be to take away the basics to make humans question each other and then let them destroy themselves stayed with me ever since I first saw this episode.

#3 The Living Doll

"Talky Tina, a doll that does everything, a lifelike creation of plastic and springs and painted smile. To Erich Streator, she is a most unwelcome addition to his household - but without her he'd never enter the Twilight Zone."

Erich Streator doesn't like the new doll his wife has bought for his step-daughter. His dislike grows when the doll tells him she doesn't like him. After trying to get rid of the doll, he agrees to let his step-daughter keep it.

"Of course, we all know dolls can't really talk, and they certainly can't commit murder. But to a child caught in the middle of turmoil and conflict, a doll can become many things: friend, defender, guardian. Especially a doll like Talky Tina, who did talk and did commit murder - in the misty region of the Twilight Zone."

I LOVED this episode as a kid. It creeped me out to no end but it was memorable and since I saw it, the episode became my favorite. When you're a kid, toys already seem like they have a life of their own in your imagination. But to have an episode where the doll literally takes on the role of protector for her owner, wow. I'm sure this episode inspired many a horror writer in the generations to come. Effective storytelling, quick pacing and great characterization within such a short time, this ep still holds a special place in my heart.

This year the SF channel is bringing in the New Year again with the annual Twilight Zone marathon starting early morning on December 31st. I hope you all catch your favorites and have a wonderful 2010!

Synopses courtesy of The Original Twilight Zone Episode Guide.

Rae Lori
"Art and any media of the mind is most powerful with a voice"
Voice of Abandon ~ A contemporary sweet romance ~ Now available


  1. Hi Rae :)
    I love the Twilight Zone. It continues to inspire my writing.
    Happy Holidays!

  2. Hear hear, RK! :-D

    Hope you have a wonderful week and thanks for stopping by!

  3. A favorite of mine is the episode where Burgess Meredith finally has time to read in an empty town where he's the only survivor - and then he breaks his glasses.

  4. Fun post Rae! I've watched episodes on and off over the years - there is one episode that takes place in a department store - where the mannequins come to life? It's always fun to watch them on New Year's day. ;) Cheers! And Happy New Year.

  5. Love the Twilight Zone. The ones you shared are great episodes. And Julia and Joanna both mentioned two other absolute favorites.

    Of course, who can forget the William Shatner one where he sees the alien through the window of the airplane? Hah!

    There's another one starring him with a fortune-telling mini-jukebox.

    I loved the Twilight Zone so much that when I first started writing short stories, my goal was to create the perfect TZ type of story.

    Okay, for me there are two (although if I'm perfectly honest, there are dozens of favorites, including the ones mentioned) that spring to mind.

    Probably because my childhood wasn't the happiest around, this first one had such an impact on me, I spent an entire summer feeling around the concrete bottom of the community pool, just searching for the secret passageway to paradise.

    "The Bewitchin' Pool"

    (Intro) A swimming pool not unlike any other pool, a structure built of tile and cement and money, a backyard toy for the affluent, wet entertainment for the well-to-do. But to Jeb and Sport Sharewood, this pool holds mysteries not dreamed of by the building contractor, not guaranteed in any sales brochure. For this pool has a secret exit that leads to a never-neverland, a place designed for junior citizens who need a long voyage away from reality, into the bottomless regions of the Twilight Zone.

    This next one really blew me away. I loved the exploration of death in humanity and the humanity within death. Of course, Robert Redford is absolutely amazing. An exceptional episode that to this day still has the same impact on me.

    "Nothing in the Dark"

    (Intro) An old woman living in a nightmare, an old woman who has fought a thousand battles with death and always won. Now she's faced with a grim decision: Whether or not to open a door. And in some strange and frightening way, she knows that this seemingly ordinary door leads to the Twilight Zone.

    Great post, Rae! Now I want to go searching for more TZ episodes!! *grin*


  6. I forgot to add, that episode with the doll just scared the crap out of me!! *snort*

    So, check it out, if you have the time and inclination, the last episode I mentioned (Nothing in the Dark) is on!! Woo-hoo!

    Happy New Year, everyone!

  7. Um, not sure if the entire URL made it to the comment. *sigh* However, if you Google CBS and "Nothing in the Dark", I think it will come up.

  8. I could use a good Twilight Zone marathon! So many great episodes! And so many now-famous actors who appeared while still unknown, a real treat to come across now.
    Happy new year, Rae!

  9. Ooh! You guys mentioned some real goodies among my faves list as well! Chiron, I just caught the Bewitchin' Pool and that's so one of my faves. I wish there really was the Aunt's Gingerbread house because I'd so want to drop by there! lol.

    Another that was a goodie is Number 12 Looks Just Like You which is very much relevant to today's youth obsessed, beauty obsessed society. Young women of today should see that episode.

    I agree, Cate! It's always good to have a nice extended T-Zone marathon now and then. :-D

    Hope you all had an awesome end of 2009!


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