Friday, October 9, 2009

TZ Promo: "One For The Angels" (10/09/59)

As I’ve stated in previous entries, I’m watching one Twilight Zone episode per week, on the 50th anniversary of its first broadcast. It started last Friday with my viewing of the premiere episode (“Where Is Everybody?”), and it continues tonight with “One for the Angels,” which first aired on this date in 1959. It’s the charming tale of an elderly pitchman who gets an unexpected visit from the one guy NOBODY wants a visit from. Rod Serling wrote it, Ed Wynn stars in it, and it starts promptly at 7:00 pm in my micro-home theater (also known as my office).

7:00? The show actually aired at 10:00 pm when it was originally on (both east and west), but I tend to doze off fairly early these days (I’m not exactly a spring chicken, y’now), so I decided I’d watch ‘em at 7:00 pm instead. Hey, it’s 10:00 on the east coast, so it’s close enough.

Since the show ran for five seasons (1959-1964), I’ll be doing this faithfully for the next five years. Yeah, it’s a big commitment, but I fully intend to see this thing through to the end. I’ve actually avoided watching the show for the past couple of years in anticipation of this endeavor (and the waiting’s been tough, let me tell ya; there were several times when I had to force myself to leave the DVDs on the shelf and find something else to watch). But now the time has finally arrived, and I can savor the series the same way America first savored it: once a week, no more, no less.

I first discovered the show in syndication (it was on six days a week!), and subsequently enjoyed it for many years at my leisure on home video, so rigidly following the original broadcast schedule promises to be a markedly different experience. I’m hoping to gain an even deeper appreciation for the series (if that’s possible). And I must say, I’ve been eagerly looking forward to tonight all week long, as I’m sure original fans of the show did fifty years ago. I feel an emerging new level of connection to the series as I set out to trace its history, as if I’m somehow touching the past.

My good friend Bill Huelbig (who watched the series when it originally aired, the lucky bastard) sent me the following email last Friday, on the 50th anniversary of the premiere episode:

"Enjoy your trip into the Zone at 10 PM tonight. And if you do find yourself actually transported back into 1959 while watching the show, I hope you can easily find your way back, and not by going through Willoughby either."

He knows me too well. I had this crazy idea that if I watched the episode at exactly the right time, and wished hard enough, and if the moon and the stars were precisely aligned, that I’d magically find myself in 1959. I’d find Rod Serling and shake his hand. There are many other hands I’d shake, too… Charles Beaumont, Bernard Herrmann, Jack Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, John Coltrane, Alfred Hitchcock, James Dean… and countless others. God, imagine it. What an exhilarating fantasy.

This is my life in the shadow of The Twilight Zone. Sometimes it’s dark and foreboding, other times it’s bright and hopeful. Tonight’s episode is, appropriately enough, in that second category.

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