Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone was, and still is, my favorite TV series in late 1980s. It was a tradition, once a week we, my siblings and I, try not to miss an episode of The Twilight Zone. Why? Because to our young minds, we were–and still are– attracted to the fascinating, inspiring, and bizarre. We were–and still are–attracted to the idea that things are not always what they seem, that strange things do happen. That sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction. And the show is making that real right in front of our eyes at night. Every story is captivating . Every story has a remarkable twist in the end that could take your breath your away or boggle your mind. So when it ceased to exist, even when I’ve grown old, that inner kid inside me sometimes wish that The Twilight Zone of 1980s would return to TV.
I seemed to have stepped on the Twilight Zone because though it didn’t return on TV because of the telenovela/drama trend that we have now, the universe granted my wish through a different medium. Because The Twilight Zone that I’ve never forgotten about and still cherish is accessible in cyberspace where all The Twilight Zone episodes or its plots are printed online through wikipedia.com. If you wanna see those plots in motion picture, some are available in youtube.com. I think it also has DVD copy which I don’t know if it’s available here or if I can afford it.
But hey, I still enjoy remembering those episodes in written form through Wikipedia. Here are some of those stories from The Twilight Zone that would either intrigued or haunt you the same way it did to me when I was younger, and until now.
DEAD WOMAN’S SHOES
Maddie Duncan is a timid thrift store employee. One day at work, she finds a pair of expensive looking high heeled shoes in a box of donations. Upon fitting them on, her personality completely changes to become confident and assertive. She storms out of the store and catches a cab to a mansion, where she is strangely comfortable. When the maid asks who she is, she claims that she is Susan Montgomery, the wife of Kyle Montgomery, a wealthy big city lawyer and the owner of the house. She then shares tales of the maid’s life which a stranger could not know. She tells the maid she is having a bath and runs up to change. When Maddie takes the shoes off, she turns back to the timid girl she was at the start. The maid proceeds to run her off, but once the shoes return to her feet Maddie regains the confidence and knowledge she had when she first entered the house. Maddie had acquired the shoes shortly after the death of Susan Montgomery, when Kyle ordered the maid to dispose of Susan’s remaining clothing at the thrift store where Maddie works.
When Kyle returns home, he finds Maddie sitting on his couch dressed in his dead wife’s clothes. Maddie, as Susan, retells the events of her death, revealing how Kyle killed her. She then picks up a gun and begins shooting at him. After a bit of a chase, Maddie’s feet begin to hurt. She takes off the shoes and returns to her usual personality. Afraid when she sees the gun in her hand, she suddenly drops the gun, dumps the shoes in a garbage can and runs off.
Another maid from a different house where the garbage can is, preparing to move belongings from the house, sees the shoes and puts them on. As soon as she does she picks up the gun and walks back into Kyle’s house. A single gunshot is heard.
Closing narration: As we walk through life, if we learn nothing else, we learn the only sure things are death and taxes. Well, one out of two isn’t bad. And haven’t we all said “You can’t take it with you”? Another comforting adage without exceptions in the real world, that somehow goes all wonky when considering exit lines, delivered…in the Twilight Zone.
TO SEE THE INVISIBLE MAN
Opening narration: It’s a world much like our own, yet much unlike it. A twisted mirror of reality, in which a man can find himself cast out, made invisible by public acclamation, belonging no longer to society, but only to the gray reaches…of the Twilight Zone.
Mitchell Chaplin, a man living in a world parallel to ours, has been found guilty of the crime of “coldness” – of not being friendly or open enough with those around him. According to the State, his punishment is to be rendered “invisible”, a social outcast, for one year. A scarring implant placed on his forehead warns others to ignore him on penalty of being sentenced to a similar fate.
What seems like a welcome chance to be left alone becomes a lesson in humility, compassion, and empathy, as Chaplin begins to feel the consequences of social isolation. Under the omnipresent eye of floating security drones that monitor their society, people continually shun him. A blind man he meets, unable to see his mark, is refreshingly cordial, until a passing woman whispers the warning “invisible” to him. The blind man furiously curses Chaplin and turns away.
Misfortune after misfortune befalls Chaplin, with his lowest point reached when he is denied medical care after being hit by a car. Finally, on the last day of his sentence, two guards enter his apartment and remove the implant, restoring him back to society.
Four months after completing his sentence, Chaplin is accosted in public by a young woman (whom he encountered during his term of invisibility) who also wears the scar of an implant. Knowing the law, initially he ignores her, but her crying moves him to turn around and hug her. As they are surrounded by drones warning him of a new sentence of invisibility for his crime, he declares that he can see the woman, and that he cares.
Closing narration: A small footnote found in the court records of some parallel world. The name of Mitchell Chaplin, who served his sentence of invisibility and learned his lesson well. Too well. This time, however, he will wear his invisibility like a shield of glory. A shield forged in the very heart…of the Twilight Zone.
A LITTLE PEACE AND QUIET
Opening narration: Wouldn’t it be nice if, once in a while, everyone would just shut up and stop pestering you? Wouldn’t it be great to have the time to finish a thought or spin a daydream? To think out loud without being required to explain exactly what you meant? If you had the power, would you dare to use it, even knowing that silence may have voices of its own…to the Twilight Zone?
Penny is a very harried housewife with a dim-witted and hapless husband, Russell, and four children: Janet and Susan, who are always fighting; Gertie, who is very clumsy; and Russell Jr., who is always playing pranks. A typical morning consists of Penny being awakened by her excessively loud clock radio, cooking breakfast while Janet and Susan fight and interrupt her, Russell Jr. playing a prank, Gertie spilling something, Russell complaining about something, the phone ringing, the dog barking, and the washing machine acting up.
One day, Penny works in her garden while her neighbor loudly removes tree limbs with a chainsaw. As she digs, she discovers a wooden box containing a beautiful gold pendant in the shape of a sundial. Not thinking anything of it, she takes it inside and puts on.
At the grocery store, Penny is harassed by the whining Gertie and Russell Jr. and by annoying customers. While driving home as Janet and Susan loudly fight, she seems to be on the verge of a total nervous breakdown. While she tries to cook dinner, her children begin to pester her again and her husband comes downstairs complaining about a rip in his shirt. As the noise level becomes too much, she yells at them to shut up – and they freeze in time. She is confused at first, but soon realizes that the pendant is an amulet that can stop time. She tells her family to start talking and time restarts. She is happy as she realizes that she will finally have a little peace and quiet. “Shut up” is the phrase to stop time and “start talking” restarts time. However, the power will only work if Penny is wearing the amulet.
Later that night, Penny watches a news program about the recent peace talks between the United States and the Soviet Union. She becomes annoyed and briefly freezes time, then expresses her happiness and goes to sleep.
The next day, Penny uses her time-stopping power to enjoy a peaceful breakfast with her family, to shop at the grocery store without incident, and to avoid being pestered by two anti-nuclear weapons activists; she drags their frozen bodies into the yard, lays them down, then restarts time, and the shocked activists decide to skip her house.
Later that evening, Penny enjoys a relaxing bath when air raid sirens go off and she hears her husband calling loudly from the bedroom. When she goes into the bedroom, the radio announcer reveals that nuclear missiles are heading for the United States. When the radio reveals that ICBMs have entered U.S. airspace and Russell and Russell Jr. begin to weep, Penny quickly freezes time just as an explosion is heard in the distance. She then leaves her house and walks through the frozen town. She looks up to see what the frozen, terrified people are looking at… and is horrified to see a Soviet nuclear missile frozen over the city, nose down and seemingly a second or two from detonating.
The episode ends with Penny facing an impossible dilemma: Will she live eternally alone in a silent, but safe, world… or unfreeze time but have the world be destroyed by nuclear war?
Opening narration: Focus on Warren Cribbens, a myopic little man. Precise with figures, awkward with people. His horizons? A bottom line dotted with decimal points. But his safety in numbers is about to be erased.
Opening time, ten o’clock at the local farmers bank. Sandy, a teller, is at the door, letting the customers in. When business starts to pick up, Mr. Warren Cribbens, an officer in the bank, is called into the bank manager, Mr. Cutler’s, office. He tells Cribbens how efficient and hard-working he is. He offers Cribbens a promotion to bank loan officer. Cribbens is apprehensive about this change and feels he isn’t cut out for that particular position, but Cutler doesn’t pay attention to him.
When Cribbens leaves Cutler’s office, Sandy bumps into him and accidentally steps on his glasses and cracks them. After a blowup on the phone with a defaulted loan, Cribbens looks through his cracked glasses and sees a teller accidentally drop a large denomination bill into a trash can. When he tells her about it, they look and see nothing, but later, she does drop the bill and thanks him for noticing. He then is told to foreclose on any mortgages that are outstanding and can’t pay. But when he looks at the unfortunate people through his cracked glasses, he sees their desperate, hopeless future—which will happen if he goes through with the foreclosures. He tries to help but nothing seems to work out.
When Cribbens talks to Sandy about how to deal with the problem, he sees in her future, falling off a ladder and breaking her neck. He begs her to be careful around the bank, and then pulls money out of his own account to give one of the farmers a personal loan. In Cutler’s office, Cutler wants Cribbens to offer the farmer bottom dollar for his land, since he is so far in debt, he’ll take anything. Cribbens puts on his glasses to find out Cutler is being shady about the foreclosures because he will get some kickback from a big highway going through the farmland while these people will lose their homes. When Cutler finds out about Cribbens’ loan to the farmer, he fires him. Just then, Sandy falls from the ladder but Cribbens saves her just in time. She apologizes for breaking his glasses again but he says don’t worry, he doesn’t need them anymore…
Closing narration: Accidents will happen, and Warren Cribbens had a lucky break. Instead of blindly following orders, his eyes were opened and he saw humanity and discovered it was his greatest asset. Add him to the list of those who have peered into…the Twilight Zone.
Opening narration: Mary McNeal, dealer in dreams and memories to whom the recovering of past lives is the greatest good she can render to a forgetful humanity. 8:57 P.M. and Mary McNeal makes another attempt to discover a previous life. However, the journey she is about to take is to another place; a land whose borders are defined by the region we call… the Twilight Zone.
Two women are sitting in a room, one on a couch, the other in a chair. The one in the chair, Mary McNeal, is putting the woman on the couch under hypnosis to find a significant past life. The woman, Mrs. Gustin, finds herself working in a dress shop during the American Revolutionary war. She discovers this is why she is fearful of men in uniform. When Mrs. Gustin asks if Mary has been able to find a past life, she claims that she has been unable to remember. After Mrs. Gustin leaves, Mary once again tries to hypnotize herself and discover a past life. She awakens the next day on her couch, with no new information about any past lives or so she thinks.
Mary arrives at what she thinks is her next appointment, and is late. She knocks and discovers that the woman already knows about her past lives and is abruptly shown out. Confused, Mary goes to what she thought was her office only to find it is now an employment counselling center. She tries to find help since she has no idea why everything is different. The man at the employment center, Jim Sinclair, attempts to help her, thinking she is another unemployed person. She is curious when he asks why she didn’t put information about her past lives. When she is unable to recall, then panics and leaves, Sinclair calls someone and talks to them about Mary and saying that “she could be the one”.
Later on, Sinclair and another man discuss Mary again, talking about how she might have to be killed. Meanwhile, Mary finds a homeless woman who wants to die. When Mary asks why, she tells her that in her past life, she had a pretty good life, but now she hates her present life. Mary tries to make her believe that she is needed here and now, by Mary herself, because she doesn’t have anyone or anything. Maybe they could start over together. Mary runs to get help but runs into Sinclair and they drug and kidnap her. When she awakens in an empty warehouse, Mary discovers that the fact that she doesn’t know her past lives makes her someone these people need. They put her under and she starts talking about herself but still no information about her past lives. When they discover she is telling the truth, they want her to help them forget their past lives.
In this alternate reality, everyone remembers all their past lives; being able to remember past grudges, stressful times, and everyday problems from each life. To remember so much can drive anyone insane. And not only that, knowing you can just die and go on, one can become lethargic and just kill themselves, so they can go on to another life. They want her to help them and others quit trying to avenge or yearn for joys from the past and make this life, the present life, much more desirable. They know she has a drive to help others. Most of all, she has a gift: the ability to make one forget past lives and all the “baggage” that comes with them. Soon, Mary is working with Sinclair to help people forget about their past lives through hypnotism and lead happier lives…
Closing narration: Mary McNeal, who set out on a voyage of discovery that brought her home again by a most curious route. Now, appointed guardian of doors best kept sealed, in the mirror, mirror world…of the Twilight Zone.
Opening narration: The devil, they say, having so far, failed to destroy the human race with nuclear weapons, toxic waste, or elevator music, has finally devised his most cunning weapon: long term credit, with fine print written…in the Twilight Zone.
After having a number of credit cards revoked for lack of payment, Linda Wolfe, a mother of three, apparently is invited to become a cardholder from a credit company called The Card. Entering the office of The Card, she notes a woman clutching a baby coming from a door labeled Acquisitions, then entering a door called Disbursements. During her appointment with Catherine Foley, the office manager, she discovers they have reviewed her credit and because it is poor, she will have to agree to special terms of payment. She will be required to make payments weekly. Nevertheless, they want her as a cardholder and she immediately signs.
Linda’s husband, Brian, soon discovers the new card and that Linda has used it already to buy herself a bottle of perfume. He begs her to be very careful this time. One week later, she is delinquent on one payment, and her cat mysteriously disappears, but when she asks her family about it no one seems to remember that they ever had a cat, nor is there any evidence the cat existed. Then Linda and Brian attempt to buy a refrigerator and she discovers she neglected to make the first payment. The next week, once again, Linda neglects to pay and their dog is the next thing to disappear and, as before, none of the family remembers ever owning the dog. Then, Linda’s car breaks down and she needs a mechanic. Since she only has twelve dollars in cash, she uses her credit card. As a result of her not keeping current with the payments, Linda’s three children disappear. Of course, Brian doesn’t know anything about the children and this pushes Linda over the edge.
Linda starts to realize that the credit card company might be behind it all. She goes to The Card and Catherine informs her that because she is behind in payment they are repossessing items to cover her bills, along with all memories that anyone but her have of them. She tries to buy back her children with a check from her joint account and Catherine accepts it but warns that if the check doesn’t clear another penalty will be assessed.
Linda arrives home to tell Brian about the check but he tells her the bank already called about it and he had stopped payment on it. Everything then starts to disappear around her—car, furniture, and her husband. She ends up cutting up the credit card to keep things from disappearing but it’s too late. As the card falls to the ground her house and everything remaining in it, including her, disappears…
Rockne O’Bannon is a famous script writer, but few people know the truth: he has writer’s block and has not had an original idea in twenty years. When he complains to his neighbor about this, the man advises him to retire, but Rockne cannot bring himself to do that until he writes one more story. Unfortunately, he has no ideas to write about – until he begins seeing mysterious, hooded creatures in his neighborhood.
At first, he is able to escape the creatures, which no one else can see, but one night they destroy his car and break into his apartment, surrounding him. Rockne asks what they want from him, and the creatures inform him that they want to be written about. If Rockne will write a story about them, they will leave him alone and never return. Presented with the story idea he had been so desperate for, Rockne begins writing, and as he puts words on paper, the creatures begin to vanish, one by one.