Saturday, June 21, 2014

Retrospectre: My Life in the Shadow of The Twilight Zone

When I started this blog back in 2009, I didn’t have a game plan, or a blueprint, or even a vague idea of what it would ultimately look like. It wasn’t my intent to review, critique or rate each episode, as that had already been done (and continues to be done to this day); rather, the blog was intended to chronicle my re-exploration of the series as each episode celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its original broadcast. My initial intent was to post a quick entry every week, a kind of pre-viewing announcement, and then maybe post some thoughts the next day if I felt inclined. I wasn’t writing it for an audience; it was just something for me to track my progress, and maybe record some memories of how the show had impacted my life.

As those of you who have been with me these last five years can attest, the blog sort of mutated as it went along. I started writing more about the specifics of each episode and, before long, a process of formalization slowly, almost insidiously, worked its way into the proceedings. By the end of the first season, the blog was starting to feel a bit like a glorified episode guide. I still wasn’t rating the episodes, but I was definitely critiquing them.

The second and third seasons brought more rigid formatting; I also found myself increasingly willing to spoil the plot twists. By the fourth season, I was constructing each episode spotlight from a fixed template: introduction, spoiler-filled synopsis, thoughts and musings, cast, music and soundtrack information, and a wrap-up at the end. This approach continued through the fifth and final season and, as I look back over these last five years, it seems that everything I intended this blog not to be somehow came to pass anyway.

But you know what? Maybe it’s not such a bad thing. I’m pretty proud of this beast, and not just because I somehow made it to the end. This blog possesses an identity that sets it apart; nobody’s gonna confuse it with the other TZ blogs out there.* And even if it’s ultimately just another episode guide/review blog, blipping feebly in the vast ocean of the internet, I think it’s a pretty cool one. However, if that’s indeed what this blog is… well, that means that my work here is most certainly not done.

Allow me to direct your attention to my other blog, My Life in the Glow of The Outer Limits, which launched in earnest last fall. Given this blog’s lack of uniformity over the years, it was vitally important to me that my Outer Limits effort arrive on the scene fully formed. When viewed in its totality (so far, anyway; it’s still got another year to go), it’s definitely much more cohesive than this much longer-toothed blog. I’m a bit OCD, so yeah, it bugs me. But the lack of organizational or cosmetic standardization doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the fact that my early episode spotlights were so damned sparse and cursory.

So: my first order of business will be to revisit season one in its entirety. My initial inclination is to spotlight each episode on its 55th anniversary… but we’ll see. I’ll still be doing the Outer Limits blog until halfway through January, and doing both simultaneously for nine months straight proved to be really tough. So I dunno, we’ll see (I’m hoping to use these summer months to get ahead).  I’m not sure how all this will play out. Do I write entirely new entries, supplanting the originals? Do I keep the originals, but reformat them and incorporate the new content?  Or do I keep the new entries separate from the old, and tether them across the ether with hyperlinks? Yeah, that might be best.  But then again….

I imagine the new spotlights will look much like season five has looked, retaining the most recent stylistic change (which evolved throughout January and was finalized with, of all things, “Black Leather Jackets.” It was at this point that this blog more or less mirrored its Outer Limits sibling, with much larger pictures and expanded cast connections); however, I do have a couple of new ideas that I might play with as well. I’m also toying with the possibility of reformatting the other seasons to match (at least approximately), but I probably won’t add new content…. or will I? I’m very interested (okay, obsessed) with the home video histories of both series; this is definitely apparent in my Outer Limits blog, where I chronicle the VHS, LaserDisc and DVD releases. The Twilight Zone has a more complex home video history, which I’ve always wanted to explore more in these pages, so if I go down this road, I’ll add a “Home Video” section to all 156 episode entries. Oh, and I should probably add the cue sheets to every episode spotlight that currently lacks them, for you obsessive music fans out there. And the screencaps for the first two seasons are only DVD-resolution, so those will need to be replaced. Y’now, the further I get into this, the more I realize that I’ll be working on this blog for years to come.

It’s funny: as I slogged my way through the show’s fifth and final season, I found myself growing increasingly weary of the whole endeavor (both the blog and, to be perfectly frank, the series in general). Since wrapping up the first season of The Outer Limits a month ago, I’ve experienced something of a renewed interest in All Things Twilight Zone, and a corresponding (and unexpected) excitement about continuing on with the blog. Call it the "second honeymoon" phase of our relationship, which is to say: I’m not done with the old girl quite yet.

* A few of those blogs/sites are:

Exploring The Twilight Zone is a joint effort by Twitch Film and Film School Rejects, which stopped abruptly at “Stopover in a Quiet Town” in January 2012. That’s right, they stopped six episodes from the end.

The Onion’s A.V. Club just started on season five within the last couple of weeks. They tackle two episodes per week, so they oughta be done before too long.

Andrew Ramage’s The Twilight Zone Museum looks at each episode and offers what he calls “critical commentary.” He relies a bit too heavily on dialogue excerpts for my tastes but, as near as I can tell, he was the first of us to make it through all 156 episodes (online, anyway).

The Twilight Zone Vortex is easily the best of the bunch, and I daresay it’s got my humble efforts more or less beat. It's a bit early to call it (they're only partway through season two as of this writing), but I think they'll ultimately take the crown. I'm not jealous in the least, because they deserve it.

1 comment:

Scott Stevenson said...

Hello again Craig.
Well, it has been a wonderful experience following your blog for the past five years and I am really looking forward to your future posts.
Who knows, you might just be analyzing "Where is Everybody?" on October 2, 2059 for its 100th anniversary!!!!!!!
Anyway from one TZ fanatic to another, I applaud your efforts and Mr. Rod Serling is smiling from ear to ear from another dimension.
Thank you so much Craig.