Twighlight Zone beats reality … TV

Published 8:09 am Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Over the July 4 weekend, the Syfy Channel aired a marathon of the original “The Twilight Zone” episodes — all 156 of them, I do believe — and Hubby and I watched our fair share during our time off.

Almost everyone has heard of The Twilight Zone, even if they never saw Rod Serlings’ original series; that distinctive and slightly creepy opening music is also familiar to many.

But if you have never watched any of those 156 black and white episodes, which ran from 1959 to 1964 to popular and critical acclaim, then you’ve missed something rather special in the annals of television.

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The series was an anthology, meaning different stories and characters and settings each and every week.

The stories were an intriguing mixture of fantasy, science fiction psychological thriller, mystery, suspense, horror and humor.

Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never knew “what you were gonna git” from week to week with TTZ, which was part of its appeal.

The scripts were literate and intelligent, and the stories often featured a very clever twist at the end.

They actually gave you food for thought, points to ponder after viewing.

As we watched the marathon over the weekend, my husband said, “You know, they really don’t make many shows like this anymore. Intelligent shows, with some thought behind them. With a message . . .”

Oh, some of our series of today have a message. The problem is the message seems to be the more knock-down, drag-out hair-pulling, expletive-laden fights you can get into, the more half-naked hot tub shenanigans you can indulge in and the greater the level of idiocy you can achieve, the more time on camera you will get and the more famous you will become.

Reality shows are cheap to produce.

You don’t have to pay scriptwriters or actors (although some of this pseudo-celebs start making rather pricey salary demands along the way).

Oftentimes, they are cheap in other ways, pandering to the lowest common denominator, to cheap thrills and shallow relationships as contestants hope to get their 15 minutes of fame to milk for all it’s worth.

Frankly, I would much rather hang out in the Twilight Zone than with Snooki, the Situation and all the housewives in their version of reality.

At least my brain wouldn’t feel insulted there.