Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Twilight Zone - Where is Everybody?

You're traveling through another dimension.
A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.
A journey into a wondrous land;
who's boundaries are that of imagination.
There's a signpost up ahead
Your next stop:
The Twilight Zone

Rod introduces us to the series
When you hear those words, you know that for the next thirty minutes, everything you know is wrong.  This, the most popular and probably most well known of the Twilight Zone intros, coupled with the iconic theme song would send shivers down my spine when I was a kid.

A little theatrics never hurt....
I was first introduced to The Twilight Zone by my aunt.  When I was young, I would spend a weekend over my her house.  She'd pick me up on a Saturday and we'd go to the store and pick stuff up for dinner and nighttime snacks.  Then we'd head back to her house for a night of vintage TV and movies.  I think I can probably attribute my collecting bug to her as well.  Aunt Patty had a HUGE collection of movies and TV shows on VHS.  Star Trek, Dark Shadows, The Outer Limits and of course The Twilight Zone were among many of the shows that I was exposed to at a young age.  Her collection of classic sci-fi and horror movies rivaled that of Video Paradise....our local Mom & Pop video store.

How did I get here????
Even cooler....she had her collection numerically organized in a series of cassette holders and she made up a printed list of what each VHS cassette contained.  She made me a copy of the list so that I could peruse over it and decide what I wanted to watch and she'd let me borrow tapes to watch at home as well.

I have many a memory of sitting in her kitchen while she made dinner and mulling over her video list, asking her to tell me about different movies and TV Shows.  After dinner, it was time to settle in with a glass of Kool-Aid and watch some videos.  This is where I watched many of my first episodes of The Twilight
Zone.  I was absolutely hooked.  Some of the episodes absolutely terrified me and gave me some pretty intense nightmares.  I can still feel that palpable tension after witnessing Nightmare at 20,000 feet for the first time.  I can still feel the uneasiness of seeing my sister's dolls after witnessing Talky Tina kill Erich Streator.

Lonely....I'm Mr. Lonely.....
It is with these memories in mind that I have decided to embark on a journey into the land of both shadow and substance and watch each of the 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone in order.  Of course I will write up a review for each one,  perhaps with bits of memories and recollections of watching these in my youth.

Today we start with the pilot episode, Where is Everybody?

This episode was written by Rod Serling and stars Earl Holliman as an amnesiac who finds himself walking down a dusty road.  He comes across a cafe with a jukebox playing loud.  Problem is there's no one in the cafe, though the coffee is on the stove and hot.  It first aired on October 2nd, 1959.

Not even an operator....

He wanders into town only to discover that there is no one there either.  No cars on the roads, no one in any of the shops.  He thinks that he see's a woman in a truck, but it turns out that she is a mannequin and the truck belongs to a dept store mannequin service.  A phone in a phone booth starts to ring and he runs to answer it, but alas there is no one there.  His attempts to reach an operator only yield a recording.

Who turned on the lights?
Other bits of eeriness include a drugstore where the ice cream is still cold and all the books on the bookstand are copies of The Last Man on Earth (the novelization of the movie that was made from Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend.  Whew!).  Everywhere he turns there seem to be signs that someone was just there.    In a police station, he finds a cigar burning and water running in a jail cell sink.  A movie theater lights up and starts to project a film called Battle Hymn.  Our amnesiac remembers that he was in the air force....but still nothing more.  The twist ending was quite unexpected for me.

Not exactly a wide selection.....

Many of the shots in this episode are very atmospheric...
I will not reveal the twists in any of the episodes because I don't want to ruin it for those who have not seen them.  It is through this little project born of nostalgia that I hope to regain a little of that old magic again.  So many episodes that I haven't seen in such a long time, I am sure that it will be like watching them again for the first time....and perhaps if someone out there discovers the wonders of The Twilight Zone through it, all the better!


  1. One of my favorites was "A Stop at Willoughby"

    "A peaceful, restful place, where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure."

  2. "Willoughby....whatever it is, it's part sunlight and serenity...and it's part....of The Twilight Zone."

    I love that episode! I am very much looking forward to reviewing it in just 29 more episodes!

    I enjoy episodes like Willoughby.....another one of my favorites is Season 3's The Hunt.