Cayuga Production # 4818
50 years ago tonight, The Twilight Zone offered yet another glimpse of the end of the world. It wasn’t a nuclear war, or a worldwide plague, or even a planet-wide uncreation courtesy of Anthony Fremont. No, this was something new.
“The Midnight Sun,” written by Rod Serling and directed by Anton Leader, finds the earth losing its celestial bearings and settling into a collision course with the sun. Predictably, society disintegrates quickly as people prepare for a fiery end. Our story focuses on one woman, an artist named Norma, who opts to wait it out in her high rise apartment.
What does work, besides Nettleton’s performance and Serling’s script, is the clever way in which the oppressive heat is depicted. Aside from the usual spray-on sweat and drenched clothing, special effects are employed to drive the point home: a mercury thermometer explodes before our eyes, and Norma’s oil paintings melt right off their canvases.
And that twist ending ---- pure genius. The following picture is as close to a spoiler as you're getting outta me.
I’ve historically counted “The Midnight Sun” in my top ten favorites, but I’m not feeling quite as warmly toward it these days (har har). It’s definitely got a lot to offer, but when truly great episodes like “The Lonely” and “Mirror Image" (not to mention “Eye of the Beholder"!) are rated LOWER on my list…. yeah, it might be time for some further revisions.
“The Midnight Sun” is one of six season three episodes adapted into short story form by Rod Serling in New Stories from The Twilight Zone (the third in a trilogy of such books). As previously recounted, I acquired these paperback gems shortly after discovering the series in the early 80’s, so in several instances I read the after-the-fact story version before I ever saw the actual episode. “The Midnight Sun” is one such case.
TZ scores, “The Midnight Sun” has never been released on vinyl, tape or CD… but it CAN be acquired, thanks to the isolated music track Image Entertainment included in both the season three Definitive Edition DVD and blu-ray sets. It’s on my iPod, playing as I type this.
Next week: Nothing says Thanksgiving like… black magic?