My favorite TV show of all-time is Rod Serling’s classic “Twilight Zone” which aired from 1959 to 1964. The show and its creator, host and writer for most of the episodes, Mr. Serling himself won several Emmy awards for his work on the show. Many of the stories have stood the test of time and will last forever.
Sure, some of the stories were whacky and out there but most of them were well-written stories with memorable plot twists, especially at the end (the Twilight Zone trademark). There were always wonderful metaphors and allegories sprinkled throughout the stories.
Update: Netflix has started streaming a great deal of classic Twilight Zone episodes! 4 of the 5 seasons are there now. Only the 4th season of hour long episodes isn’t available at this time.
Here are some of my favorite stories off the top of my head (Click the title to watch the full episode):
Walking Distance: A stressed out buiness man somehow manages to go back in time to his old neighborhood and childhood. The scene where he meets his dad is unforgettable.
Kick the Can: One of the best ever! An old man tries to make everyone remember how it feels to be young again!
Time Enough At Last: A bookworm survives the nuclear war and can finally find the time to read all the books he wants until another tragedy occurs.
A Stop at Willoughby: Businessman dreams about living in a paradise called Willoughby that he dreams about during his long commute to work.
The Changing of the Guard: A professor regrets that he wasted his entire life teaching boys nothing worthwhile only to be visited by many of his students (ghosts!) and realizes his life meant more than he thought. It smacks of Goodbye Mr. Chips and It’s a Wonderful Life and even “Dead Poet’s Society”! What a trio!
The Trade-ins: An old man who’s very ill and his wife decide to get younger bodies but can only afford one body so the old man gets it since he’s sick. The problem is that now his wife is still an old woman.
Eye of the Beholder: A woman has extreme cosmetic surgery because she’s hideous and wants to fit into society.
Number Twelve Looks Just Like You: In the future, people can choose how they will look. One woman rebels against this conformity and wants to remain her own flawed self.
Night of the Meek: Art Carney plays a drunk that wishes he could be Santa for one Christmas.
Nothing in the Dark: An old woman is afraid to die and becomes a shut-in. Death comes knocking in a surprising manner.
To Serve Man: Aliens come to Earth and everyone loves them except one scientist who has suspicions.
Those are just a few of my favorite episodes that same to mind without any research. I’m sure there are many more that I can’t recall right now. They are all wonderful little movies to me with big life lessons. I love Rod Serling and consider him a genius. Sadly, he died very young at the age of 50 in 1972 from a heart attack. He was famous for being a chain smoker and known to enjoy a drink of two. It wasn’t a surprise that he suffered heart problems at such a young age (50) and died during heart surgery.
Still, he’s left us an incredible body of work. Not just the work on the zone but also all of the award winning plays he wrote for live television in what they call the Golden Age of television. Also, he worked on the script for “Planet of the Apes” including one of the most memorable cinematic endings ever when Charleston Heston sees the Statue of Liberty. Pure Rod Serling and a Twilight Zone moment indeed.
Here are some episodes in clips and in their entirety. “Walking Distance” and “A Stop at Willoughby” are extra special because they were written by Rod Serling and believed to be very personal to him. They were about men getting older and feeling the stress and pressure of their careers and dream of a simpler more peaceful time and existence. Rod was feeling the same pressure thanks to the intense grind of his career. Another one that he wrote was for the NightGallery series was called “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” (1971). Some Serling experts consider this one to be the third in a trilogy along with Walking Distance and A Stop at Willoughby. It was also about a burned out executive after 25 years at a company at age 48 and feeling washed up. Here’s the episode:
“The Changing of the Guard” is also considered important because it was another one written by Serling and supposedly echoed his own doubts about whether or not his life’s work (his writing) really meant anything to anyone just like the professor in the story wonders if his work meant anything. I truly wish Serling knew how timeless and important his work was. I hope he knew deep down. I feel solace from the fact that he did enjoy massive success in his lifetime with many awards and praise for his writing.
I remember enjoying this show called “James at 15” when I was a kid. I thought he (Lance Kerwin) was so cool. What did I know? I think I liked him cause I looked a little like him. Plus, from what I remember, the shows were entertaining and always had some life lesson to learn. Think After School Special meets movie of the week.
I did some research and it appears James, or the actor Lance Kerwin, is in his 40s now and a minister somewhere. He hasn’t acted since 1995 so his film career is long gone but memories of his day in the sun remain for many of us kids from 70s.
Here’s Lance back then and today
Here’s the original intro to the series
Here’s the intro to the show when it became James at 16
Here’s a scene with Kate Jackson from the red hot Charlie’s Angels series
I enjoyed the TV show Family Ties but the episodes where Michael J. Fox’s character falls in love with his soon to be real life wife Tracy Pollen’s character was the show’s high point. Maybe it’s because we know the two actors actually fell in love with each other that adds something special to the shows. Also, they’re well-written, funny and touching. The song “At this moment” also added a great deal to the experience. I like the way Alex Keating (M.J. Fox) tries his best to convince himself that he doesn’t love this woman who’s nothing like the kind of girl he wanted to marry. Isn’t that the way love goes? So wonderful.
I really loved the Emmy award winning “ThirtySomething” which was on the air for only a few years from 1987 to 1991.
I remember thinking man those people are so old but now I don’t think that way anymore. Great stories and wonderful characters. Everyone remembers the theme music to the show I’m sure.
My favorite episode was the one where Gary dies tragically (the long haired dude). I still think of that one from time to time. It was such an emotional experience if you were a fan of the show. The acting was superb and the message was so powerful. Here’s this person, Nancy, struggling for her life against cancer and everyone’s celebrating her remission then out of the blue a healthy vibrant friend is killed. Her reaction was utter disbelief and denial. “It’s not right! I’m the one that’s supposed to die! Not Gary!”
The acting performance by Michael as he receives the news of his friend’s death is chilling. Up until that moment I always thought he was kind of wooden kind of actor but he shined like never before in this episode. It’s one of the best acting performances on TV or film that I’ve ever witnessed.
Another fantastic job was turned in by Melanie Mayron whose character had an on again off again romantic thing with Gary. She took the news the hardest of all because they were actually not speaking due to some trivial spat. Another eye-opening life lesson about forgiveness and how painful it can be if you don’t make peace with those you love should they pass away unexpectedly.
The ending of that episode was especially memorable as Nancy reads a passage from the Alice in Wonderland book he gave her before his untimely demise. They showed images of a laughing happy Gary riding his bike as they faded to black.
Here’s the entire epsiode. It’s an unforgettable experience.
I had a crush on Marlo Thomas as a very young man, perhaps even a boy still. Hey, Italians deal with puberty earlier than most (I think anyway). I loved her show “That Girl” which was on the air from 1966 to 1971. It centered around a single working girl in the big city, pre-dating my all-time favorite sitcom “Mary Tyler Moore” which gets credit for being the first to cover this ground (MTM was on from 1970 thru 1977). The ironic twist here is that the series was created by Bill Persky and Sam Denoff who were the head writers on the Dick Van Dyke Show which co-starred none other than, yes, you guessed it, Mary Tyler Moore. Wild, huh?
I think one of the main reasons why I’ve always had affection for Marlo Thomas and That Girl was because my very first girlfriend looked exactly like her! Maybe it was a fluky coincidence, maybe it was directly connected. Who knows. All I know is that I’ll always like Marlo and that show.
Here’s the official That Girl website which has an excellent episode guide for all 136 shows.
The fourth season will be available on DVD in August which means you could own 4 of the 5 seasons. The final season will be available on DVD in the next year or two.
Commercials don’t have to suck, ya know. They can be wonderful little movies instead of queues to go to the bathroom or fast forward thru in Tivo. Check out this little gem that gets me every single time!
The tough little kid has a devious plan and works it to perfection! The music is great too. Watch the expressions on his parents’ faces at the end. Love it!
They sure don’t make ‘em like that anymore! Solid Gold was TV show from 1980 to 1989 that featured the “solid gold dancers” (see photo) that performed jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring choreography for the top songs that week. OK, I might be exaggerating a tad there. I think it helped young men get thru puberty if you ask me. When a young unknown named Arsenio Hall started hosting the show the writing was on the wall for its demise.
My favorite dancer was Deborah Jensen the brunette in the middle of the photo and starts the video off. No one gave a more sultry glare than she did.
Here she is along with the rest of her prancing cohorts.
I’ve been a fan of American Idol since day one and I’ve been enjoying season seven a great deal. However, the news I just read is giving the producers a major headache and has left a sour taste in my mouth. I can’t believe what is going on this season. A major controversy among the fans is brewing regarding the contestants who made the final 24. It even involves some of my favorite performers such as the adorable 16 year old David.
On American Idol, Simon, Paula and Randy whittled it down to the final 24 contestants Wednesday night, and some of their casting decisions caused more controversy than Amy, Natalie, and Aretha combined. Not only were a few surefire fan favorites (Josiah Leming, the teary-eyed teen who lives in his car; Kyle Ensley, the geeky aspiring politician) inexplicably cast aside, but some of the contenders who made it through actually have extensive past industry experience, causing message boards to buzz with conspiracy theories about an allegedly fixed competition.
Among the suspicious singers in the Idol season 7 running are Carly Smithson, who was once signed to MCA Records under the name Carly Hennessy; Michael Johns, who used to front the major-label rock band the Rising under the name Michael Lee; onetime Star Search winner David Archuleta; former Boys N Girlz United boyband singer (and Britney Spears‘s ex-boyfriend!) Robbie Carrico; Cheyenne cast member Jason Castro; Making The Band also-ran Jason Yeager; former Arista Nashville signing Kristy Lee Cook; and Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance plus-size beauty pageant winner Joanne Borgella. Poor Josiah and Kyle never had a chance, fat or otherwise, against these pros!
I am still letting the information sink in so I don’t really know if this will ruin my enjoyment of this season or not yet. Is American Idol about finding NEW undiscovered talent? Or is it all right if it becomes a place for second chances at fame like it has for former recording stars like Carly, Michael and others who failed in their first shots at the big time? I tend to lean towards being a place for new talent who’ve never had a chance to make it big. Sort of like the Olympics used to be for amateurs until they allowed professionals in and totally destroyed the spirit of the games. I hope the same thing doesn’t happen to American Idol.