Monday, December 31, 2007

Today's "The Twilight Zone" Marathon

I grew up with the original The Twilight Zone. It was a wonderful series, one of the best to ever grace television. Every week, I would be transported to strange places and exposed to mind-bending ideas, chills, and terrors. I've seen most of its episodes countless times since they first aired between 1959 and 1964, and I'm tempted, so very tempted to tune in to The Twilight Zone marathon showing all day today and much of tomorrow on the Sci-Fi channel. But I'm trying to resist, because I know that if I start watching, I won't be able to tear myself away and do anything else, and I have so much else to do today and tomorrow and so little time to do it all. Watching episodes of Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone, which are virtually inscribed into my DNA after all these years, is like hearing a great old song. It doesn't matter how many times you've heard it. It doesn't matter that you know every note of the tune. You still want to hear it again and again and again.

There are so many unforgettable episodes. When I was a child, I was particularly impressed by an episode in which two parents awaken to hear their young daughter calling out to them from somewhere within the house, but she can't be seen anywhere. Finally, it's discovered that she has fallen from her bed through the adjoining wall into another dimension and universe caused by a rare and temporary intersection of universes. There was something about this idea that lit my imagination on fire and had me feeling the wall next to my bed on many a dark night to see if I could plunge my hand right through it into a Twilight Zone universe.

However, it was only a relatively few years ago that I saw the episode that has left the biggest impression on me, moving me to tears the first and subsequent times I saw it. It was called Miniature and featured Robert Duvall as a bright but extremely self-controlled and almost autistically alienated man who falls in love with a living doll in a dollhouse in a museum. Duvall's performance is so incredibly touching, and I guess I felt special empathy for his character who wanted so little part of the world around him but still deeply longed to connect with someone somewhere. The very end of this special one-hour episode made me weep with joy.

The old expression "They don't make 'em like they used to" has never been more true or regrettable than in the case of the original The Twilight Zone and episodes like Miniature.

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