Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

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Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:03 pm

And the new CBS All Access revival of Twilight Zone begins today. The first episode is available for free on YouTube-- maybe just today or maybe for a week, I'm not sure.

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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by scottydog » Tue Apr 02, 2019 12:19 am

Fingers crossed that it's good! :thumbsup: :cross:

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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by scottydog » Tue Apr 02, 2019 1:45 am

Just watched it. It was good, but too long. I think TZ works best at 30-45 minutes.

The ending was not quite what I expected. I thought that the last person Samir would talk about during his set would be the legendary comedian at the bar. Making the legend disappear would be one way Samir could get all the people back whom he made disappear. But talking about himself worked well, too, and is probably the ending that is most TZ-ish.

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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:39 pm

I do think that the episode was a bit long for Twilight Zone, but that didn't make it bad-- just different from (most) Zones. TZ should have punch, and this was a slow-burning nightmare. Which was fine.

The cast was good (Samir's frenemy was a knockout) and the guy who played Samir was great with his face language at communicating the realization, horror, indulgence, and repentance that were swirling around in his head. After the dog and the nephew vanished, it didn't take him long to figure out what was happening-- he probably watched Twilight Zone as a kid-- and his first impulse was to use his newfound power to make the world a better place, which was the whole purpose behind his strident, humorless routine from the start. But then the negative consequences kicked in and when he lost his girlfriend he went completely off the rails. The montage of him shrieking his hatred of his former tormenters while the audience inexplicably laughed was both chilling and painful.

In true TZ fashion, the universe just decided to screw with Samir for no apparent reason, maybe just to see what would happen. We'll probably never know who TC Wheeler really was. He was introduced as a famous former comedian, but why did he show up now to mess with Samir? Did he sell his own soul once, and this is now his Hell? Was it a test? Did he succeed with Samir or fail?

The ending I expected-- or at least what I would have done-- is go out and do a routine about TC Wheeler. That would have undone all the events of the story, and perhaps a lot more. But Samir's redemption by self destruction, followed by the final twist of Wheeler moving on to his next victim, was classic TZ.

All in all, it was pretty good. Better than the last revival, perhaps as good as the 80s version. We'll see what they have in store for us.
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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by scottydog » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:01 pm

RJDiogenes wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:39 pm
The montage of him shrieking his hatred of his former tormenters while the audience inexplicably laughed was both chilling and painful.
Yes. Their laughter was jarring, because at first, Samir was funny in his descriptions of people in his private life. It was indeed chilling when I realized the audience was now laughing inappropriately.

Once again, we have serious science fiction shows paralleling The Orville. Remember the 2 ways that The Walking Dead mimicked The Orville? (we had tests of loyalty with the evil leader asking someone to kill a favorite character (Primary testing Isaac and Alpha testing Lydia). Then we had a best friend from a major character's past revealing how the best friend had dramatically changed (Orin in The Orville and Jocylin from TWD)).

So in this episode of TZ, Samir learns that if you remove his girlfriend's mentor, she never goes to law school -- just like Gordon Malloy learning that if you remove Laura's boyfriend Greg, she never pursues a music career.

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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:20 pm

Wow, that's true. There's been a lot of coincidences lately, and that's just in the small group of shows that we watch. Very interesting.
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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by scottydog » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:24 pm

^^ I think it's great. All these shows are making me think. That's a rare feat :lol:

Because I liked this first episode of TZ, I'm going to have to subscribe to CBS access -- which is a good thing because it will finally get me watching ST: Discovery.

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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:15 pm

I'll subscribe to give TZ a chance, but I don't see myself watching Discovery. :lol:
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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Fri Apr 05, 2019 9:53 pm

Okay, let's see if I can finally watch episode 2 tonight.
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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by scottydog » Sat Apr 06, 2019 2:01 am

I'll try to watch this weekend :ghost:

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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Sat Apr 06, 2019 6:26 pm

I got to watch it! And I enjoyed it. It mostly succeeded in achieving that fabled TZ vibe, but I'm not sure quite what to make of it overall. I loved seeing the creeping shadow of The Twilight Zone invade the modern world of podcasts and mobile devices and cockpit cameras (and possibly flights to Mars-- I didn't quite catch what that billboard was about). The sets and effects were unfortunately photorealistic, but the disorienting and claustrophobic camerawork more or less compensated for that. The casting was classic TZ, with the protagonist, the hijacker, the captain, and the air marshal all distinctive character actor types. Where did the spooky MP3 player come from? Who cares? This is the Twilight Zone, where the universe fucks with you for no apparent reason. (And also, why an MP3 player, which would be a retro touch right now, let alone in the day-after-tomorrow future of this episode?).

One thing that really made me happy was that this was not a remake of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"-- the title was just an homage. They didn't even recycle the character names. Thank you, Jordan Peele. And the main character's performance was certainly an homage to William Shatner, as he not only made an increasing nuisance of himself to the flight crew, but also managed to sneak around the narrow confines of the aircraft and poke into people's belongings without being noticed. He even went a step further than Shatner-- instead of just shooting out a window, he managed to crash the plane.

But it was the ending that really kind of messed with the narrative. Throughout the episode, the podcast was pretty explicit about the aircraft being lost with all passengers and crew-- and yet when the journalist finds the MP3 on the beach (both conveniently located and still working), the narration reveals that everyone but him survived. This implies a change in the timeline, and that his actions saved everyone's lives. Yet all the passengers gang up on him (and apparently dispose of his body without a trace). The podcast doesn't mention the hijacker at all. Did he survive? Was he a stowaway? A ghost? The passengers and crew that attacked the journalist were actually behaving like vengeful EC Zombies, which would have made sense aside from that being at odds with the podcast. I think a better ending, more fitting to the mental and temporal disorientation of the episode, would have been just leaving him alone on the beach with the podcast telling him that everyone had been saved months later-- leaving him not only abandoned, but time displaced. As it was, it kind of felt like the first episode of a Lost reboot-- or parody.
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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by scottydog » Sun Apr 07, 2019 5:53 pm

I also very much liked this episode. And I'm also glad we didn't see a creature on the wing of the plane. We get an entirely different kind of nightmare on a plane.

I agree that the ending was problematic, but that's okay. As you mention, the overall 'feel' and 'vibe' of the episode was very much classic Twilight Zone. So I'll keep watching :yes:

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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Sun Apr 07, 2019 8:47 pm

Me, too. And I got a coupon in my email good for 20% off for three months.
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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:38 pm

Apparently the new Twilight Zone is a big success, at least according to CBS All Access. They never release any actual numbers, but they're saying that it's doing better than Discovery did when it premiered.
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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by scottydog » Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:21 am

^ That's really good news. :thumbsup:

The question is: Can it maintain its success?

Here's another question: What distinguishes Twilight Zone from other sub-genres of sci-fi and horror? While thinking about the last episode, it occurred to me that one answer is delicious irony. The last episode was classic -- the guy on the plane, in trying to avert the disaster, actually brings about the disaster.

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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:17 pm

Probably the ironic twist ending is the biggest hallmark of the Zone. Another common thread is that in the Zone, the universe is insane and screws with you for no reason-- and it doesn't care if things work out well for you or not. A coin lands on its side and you can suddenly read minds, Martians infiltrate society but Venusians got their first, you're beautiful but are born in a world where ugly is king, you have all the time in the world but you break your glasses. It's not a moral universe, like in Tales From The Crypt where evildoers get their comeuppance, and it's not a logical world, like in The Outer Limits where everything makes sense once you know all the facts, it's just flat-out crazy and you better hope you land on a soft spot when it spits you out. :lol:
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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:00 pm

Episode 3, "Replay."

Well, that was kind of like the pieces of a Twilight Zone episode that fell on the floor and didn't get put back together just right. Or maybe several episodes, because it was kind of reminiscent of "The Hitchhiker" and "A Most Unusual Camera," and maybe a couple of others. It started out great, with a lonely diner in middle America, complete with a jukebox. And then we've got an old-fashioned camera (that would have been futuristic on the original Twilight Zone) that can rewind time-- possibly stop it and speed it up, too, but nobody ever tried that. Nor do we know if it will work for anyone else but the mom.

But then we set up a premise where the state trooper, who seems to represent an inhuman force, will always get them as long as they bypass the uncle's house, because the story seems to be about the mom's disconnection from her family. Along the way, we get some talk about alternate dimensions and cosmic strings, just to have the words out there, apparently, and some self-contradictory comments from the son about the Big Bang giving rise to a deterministic universe, implying that the camera is trying to get around that and the universe is fighting back. And then we learn that the camera once belonged to the mom's dad, strengthening the idea that the camera is haunted and trying to protect them, while maybe using the state trooper to force them into a family reunion. But then when the family reunion leads to a safe path to the school using memories from childhood, the state trooper shows up anyway, this time with reinforcements, strengthening the idea that the universe didn't want the kid to make it to the school and is trying to right itself. Then the antique camera that has been the central prop of the story so far is not used to protect the kid and his family from the forces of evil-- a barricade of modern cameras connected to the cloud are instead, totally undoing both the premise of the mom's father's ghost protecting them or the universe trying to keep its timeline intact. Then we flash forward ten years in the future, where everything is okay, but the camera gets broken and we get a hint that the evil state trooper or his equivalent is immediately on the scene to get the kid now that he is no longer under the protection of the haunted or universe-bending antique camera-- except that he never was, because the previous time reversals were only there to show us that the camera could not protect him and that his fate was inevitable.

I think it would have all come together better if the mom's idea of talking to the state trooper had been the climax, and that it had worked. That would have made the story elements come together more seamlessly and have provided a more positive them to the events.
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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by scottydog » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:29 am

I'll try to watch this episode in the next day or so. Then I'll come back and read your comments :thumbsup:

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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by scottydog » Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:07 am

RJDiogenes wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:00 pm
Well, that was kind of like the pieces of a Twilight Zone episode that fell on the floor and didn't get put back together just right.
I agree with you. It's almost like they tried too hard to make this a good episode. Sometimes simpler is better, less is more. They threw in a few too many ideas.

At first, I thought the entire episode was going to be about how she was going to extricate herself and her son safely from the time loop that always began and ended in that diner. So it surprised me when they made it to the town where the uncle lived.

Your analysis is spot on and they should hire you as a writer or writer consultant. Just sayin.

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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:38 pm

scottydog wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:07 am
I agree with you. It's almost like they tried too hard to make this a good episode. Sometimes simpler is better, less is more. They threw in a few too many ideas.
Yeah, just like the airplane one where the ending on the beach was just one step too far.
At first, I thought the entire episode was going to be about how she was going to extricate herself and her son safely from the time loop that always began and ended in that diner. So it surprised me when they made it to the town where the uncle lived.
Right, if they had gone with her changing the cop's behavior by befriending him then breaking the time loop would have become a metaphor for breaking the cycle of racism.
Your analysis is spot on and they should hire you as a writer or writer consultant. Just sayin.
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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by scottydog » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:24 am

RJDiogenes wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:38 pm
scottydog wrote:
Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:07 am
I agree with you. It's almost like they tried too hard to make this a good episode. Sometimes simpler is better, less is more. They threw in a few too many ideas.
Yeah, just like the airplane one where the ending on the beach was just one step too far.
Yes, exactly right about the beach scene. I see this same problem in the movies today. There's more of everything, as if more means better. More action, more chase scenes, more explosions, more plot twists and more false (or trick) endings to the story.

Ahh well. We may be fuddy-duddies.... curmudgeons who are behind the times and impossible to please. (but I doubt it)

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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Fri Apr 19, 2019 10:05 pm

I think the elements of good storytelling are pretty timeless.
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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Sun Apr 21, 2019 9:00 pm

And now I've seen episode four, "A Traveler," which starred Glenn from Walking Dead. Again, it superficially captured the feel of The Twilight Zone, but the fragments never quite came together. And for a small police station in an out-of-the-way town, that place sure had long corridors and a big dungeon. Also, it was a Christmas episode-- did they not get the memo on when the series would air?

So, in classic TZ fashion, we've got an isolated spot with spooky and inexplicable goings-on going on. In essence, it seems, an alien has disguised himself as a human in order to get the secret location of a shed that controls the power supply to a nearby Air Force monitoring station, so that it can be shut down and open a window for the invading saucers to come. Okay then. Why did the alien choose to appear mysteriously inside a locked cell underneath the police station, raising all kinds of suspicions? Why was the sergeant the only one who was actually suspicious and the captain not even interested in how the guy got into the underground holding area? If the aliens have the power to appear in human form, why did the traveler use this power in such a lame-ass fashion? If the traveler has access to the inner secrets of the townspeople, why would he need to trick the captain into revealing the location of the shed? And if he is such a know-it-all, why does he lie sometimes and sometimes tell the truth? Why does he come at the time of the Christmas party and feign interest in the festivities, only to use his secrets to incite interpersonal conflicts that never go anywhere? Why does the sergeant try to arrest the captain even though no Russians show up and there's no evidence that the traveler was telling the truth? If the shed is so important, why do neither Russians nor space aliens show up to tamper with it, yet the saucers come down anyway? And why is that particular area so important to the aliens' invasion plans?

Why do the aliens even want to invade? And, from a storytelling perspective, what was the point of all this?

The Narrator's narration talks about a "night of the most powerful myth," presumably Christmas, and that "there is no difference between myth and mistruth." How does an alien invasion connect with Christmas being based on myth? Because the alien is a pathological liar? The town drunk says to the alien that "we might be better off with you in charge," even though nobody seems especially bad off, and the sergeant kind of hates the captain, because he has a somewhat overbearing personality even though he seems like a decent enough guy, so is the theme that banal aliens are no different than banal humans? Happy Holidays or Take Us To Your Leader-- six of one, half a dozen of the other. And how does that tie into the sergeant's alleged gift for sniffing out lies, which she didn't really demonstrate in any convincing fashion? Everything about this story was just half hearted and didn't link up in any kind of cohesive narrative.

We're almost halfway through the first season of this revival, and so far the style is really nice-- but the substance has been lacking at best.
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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by RJDiogenes » Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:45 am

This week we have episode five, "The Wunderkind" (starring that guy who was on the first season of Sleepy Hollow). This one was the most baffling yet. I think at this point we can safely say that this revival is aimed squarely at the Millennial Generation, because the levels of political naivete and thematic misfires are astonishing.

There really wasn't what you would call a story here. There was a sequence of events that involved a child being elected president, followed by his campaign manager apparently being killed because of a random statement the kid had made outlawing adult doctors. There was no thematic connection to any element of the story and no relevance to the assumed target of the satire. He might as well have been set upon by that pack of dogs. Furthermore, this pseudo-twist was telegraphed from the opening scene, so it wasn't even a surprise.

The most glaring deficit, aside from a plot, was the lack of a catalyst propelling us into the Twilight Zone. The original show would set the stage for a social satire of this magnitude by placing us unambiguously in an alternate reality or a vaguely futuristic time. But here there was no such surreal setting, nor was there even a mysterious bar patron or traveler, haunted video camera or MP3 player, or even a JFK silver dollar sitting inexplicably on edge. There wasn't even a prologue in the opening narration noting how all qualifications for the presidency had been impulsively repealed without thought to the consequences. Nothing. The venue was essentially the equivalent of our world in which more impossible things happened than even Mary Poppins could handle.

Clearly, this was supposed to be a satire of President The Donald-- but at this it failed badly. While the genuine article gained traction by exploiting the base vulgarity of one ideology and the moral abdication of the other, this kid won over the country across the board with love and puppies. What the hell kind of satire is that? The Donald is only childish in the sense that he's mentally retarded-- wouldn't an escapee from an asylum or a psychotic sniper be a better surrogate? Why make the theme that power corrupts when your source material is about how corruption is power? And how are we to parse the campaign manager, who had regrets and died for them? What is the message here, folks?

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Re: Twilight Zone - Season 1 - Spoilers

Post by scottydog » Tue Apr 30, 2019 3:03 am

I've got to get caught up with these last two episodes. I can probably watch Episode 3 tomorrow and 4 on Wednesday.

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