The Twilight Zone

In the 1950’s kids were generally not allowed to watch TV as much as today. When you came home from school you were expected to be outside. If it was raining or extremely cold, you might be allowed to stay inside and watch “Industry on Parade” on WJAC TV (“Serving Millions from atop the Alleghenies”) or perhaps if it was something real special and you nagged a lot you might get to see 5 O’clock Theater when it was showing “They Died with Their Boots On” or maybe, “The Thing”.

Friday and Saturday night however were not school nights and more liberal rules – if any – applied. For me nothing beat The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling’s iconic introduction was enough to stir the blood. I remember some episodes that particularly captured the imagination. One featured an airplane that flew into the mist and back in time. The passengers could see dinosaurs – kind of “High and Mighty” meets “Jurassic Park”. The pilots attempted to flay back but only made it to the 1939 World’s Fair – a time when there were no extended runways. Scary, but it seemed to me you could land somewhere! Another episode featured a man who found the stopwatch that could stop time. This allowed him to go and rob a bank without being noticed. Tragically, he dropped the watch, it broke and there was no returning to the land of the animated. The bank thief was trapped in a frozen moment of time – perfectly able to move about himself but unable to interact with his fellow man. Look out for getting your wishes come true! Didn’t he ever read about King Midas?

My favorite involved the crashing of a flying saucer into what appeared to be a Nebraska farmhouse on a desolate prairie. A woman fought alone against tiny spacemen with ray guns as the moved through her house. We empathized with the fright of the woman trying to hold her own against small but technically advanced aliens. They shot ray guns and burned her. They crawled about and appeared faster than she could swat them with her broom. The horrific injustice of these aliens attempting to assert themselves into what we saw as our heartland was overwhelming. We could cheer with any successful swat she might deliver to the little men – that is we could cheer until we saw the close up of the space ship clearly labeled United States of America.