I’ve been collecting movies and television programs for almost 40 years. From VHS cassettes, to DVDs, to Blu-rays, I’ve amassed a huge collection over the years. On the top shelf of my bookcase, next to a 60 inch television, is a boxed set of 29 DVDs containing all five seasons and 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone.
I don’t watch them often, certainly not often enough to justify what I paid for them, but I bought them just the same. Why? Because in the fifties and early sixties it seemed entertainment was made by – and for – people who were on fairly strong antidepressants. Especially television programming. Nothing was too high … or too low … just solidly in the calm middle ground of sameness. The comedies weren’t funny, any drama could be resolved in under an hour, and ultimately Father Knows Best.
But starting October 2nd, 1959, on Friday nights at 10:00pm, on your local CBS affiliate, was … The Twilight Zone. A weekly journey to a small oasis in the vast television wasteland where Things Are Not As They Seem … or … Things Are Exactly What They Appear To Be.
In the best episodes, there was little comfort no matter how it turned out.
This seems like pretty heady stuff for a black and white half hour TV show, doesn’t it? But sandwiched between the commercials, and constrained by network censors (AKA office of Standards and Practices), were ideas that still managed to retain a glimmer of their original power: that something was terribly amiss in White Middle-Class America. And no amount of steady consumerism, no amount of money, no well-chosen steps along a good career path, could completely obscure the persistent fear that something … had gone wrong.
The Middle Ground Between Light and Shadow – broadcast on The Mike Malloy Show January 31, 2018
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