I’m going too fast to enjoy the Twilight Zone review process so starting today I’ll post them only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That should give me time to recharge my critical batteries.
It’s Official, Leftist Journalistic Hatchet-Man Admits Russiagate Has Destroyed the Credibility of the “Press”
Matt Taibbi, the Rolling Stone hatchet-man, has the bare honesty to admit that the outright lies that were the stock in trade of the Russiagate frenzy have convinced an outright majority of Americans that the press was in the bag for the Dems and they shouldn’t believe anything the press tells them about President Trump.
It’s a long, boring, rambling indictment but to give him credit it’s pretty substantive and paints his allies on the Left as at best partisan fools and at worst perjured criminals.
One cheer for Matt Taibbi?
Jack Klugman plays a small-time pool player named Jesse Cardiff. He is bitter that even fifteen years after the death of pool master Fats Brown everyone still considered Fats the greatest pool player. And he rails at a photo of Fats on the wall of his local pool hall and says, “I’d give anything, anything to play him one game!”
In the next scene we see Fats Brown (played by Jonathan Winters), apparently up in Heaven, and he’s being summoned by some kind of celestial appointment intercom. He heads down to Earth and appears in Jesse Cardiff’s pool room and tells him his wish has been heard and Fats is there to grant it. The catch is that the stakes for winning and losing are life and death. Now Jesse is taken aback. Sure, he’s anxious to prove his skill but betting his life seems nuts. But Fats goads him and mocks him until he agrees to the bet.
They now engage in a long, skillful and fiercely fought game of pool. At last it comes down to one ball and it is obvious that Fats has thrown the point and he tries to give Jesse one last chance not to take the crown of being the greatest pool player in the world. But Jesse sinks the ball and wins. Fats congratulates Jesse and leaves with a mysterious smile. Jesse revels in his victory but then seems almost deflated by the anticlimax of having won.
In the next scene we’re back in heaven and Jesse is dejectedly sitting next to the celestial pool table waiting for the next challenge to take. Being the champ is a grueling existence and Jesse must be envying Fats who Serling announces has gone fishing.
This is one of those goofy fantasy episodes. Heaven arranges pool rivalries and allows life or death stakes on the outcome? But who cares! Jack Klugman and Jonathan Winters ham it up to the hilt.
In my family, pool was a bizarre fetish. My paternal grandfather had a pool table in his basement. But we, his poor grandsons were anathema and weren’t even allowed to hold a cue near “the felt.” There was a shrine where an autographed photo of Willie Mosconi presided over the pretty terrible players that my grandfather surrounded himself with. So, pool had the reputation of being a boring waste of time. We preferred street football or stickball. Watching these two pool players agonize over fractions of a millimeter and an invisible degree of angle is strangely familiar in its futility. Funny thing is there was a full sized pool table in my basement when I bought this house so I make a point of letting the grandsons play on it any way they please. “The felt” is starting to look less than pristine but I don’t mind and neither do they.
Obviously, I have no objectivity about this subject but I find myself always enjoying this episode immensely. I’ll call it an A.
Hallelujah, the endless Chinese water torture is finally over and Mueller can go off to assume his new role as head of security in Hell.
I’ve summarized his points below.
1. Mueller did not indict Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, or other people whose purported legal jeopardy was the subject of intense media speculation in the last year.
2. Mueller did not charge anyone in the Trump campaign or circle with conspiring with Russia to fix the 2016 election.
3. Mueller did not subpoena the president.
4. The president did not fire Mueller.
5. The president did not interfere with the Mueller investigation.
So here’s the question I have, when will the rest of the rats be cleared out of the FBI and the rest of the DOJ? And when will Comey and McCabe be indicted?
The scene opens on a woman sitting on the porch of a southern mansion that has been devastated by the Civil War. On the road in front of her home a stream of war veterans from both sides is limping along. A Confederate Sergeant asks the woman if he can have some water from her well and she graciously agrees. While he drinks the water, they talk about the war and its aftermath. He was wounded and has a serious leg injury. She has lost her husband in the war and was herself recently deathly ill with a fever. To cheer both of them he asks if he can play his guitar and she gladly agrees.
As we see more of the soldiers who are passing on the road it seems obvious that they are unbeknownst to themselves actually the dead. One Union officer who had helped the Sergeant when he was wounded is revealed to be an animated corpse that shows no meaningful effect when the woman shoots him with a gun. She does this at a point when being reminded of the pain of losing her husband she vows to take revenge on the Union soldiers. After this event the Sergeant knows he must reach the end of the road. But just as he is leaving the woman’s husband is heard approaching the house singing a song. The husband tells his wife that they are both dead and there is nothing left holding them to this world. He says he is headed to the end of the road and if she does not come with him now, he’ll wait for her at the end until she makes up her mind to come. The Sergeant heads off down the road and the woman’s husband soon after that. She unsuccessfully pleads with her husband to stay and then collapses on the road in front of the house in sorrow.
Just then Abraham Lincoln shows up walking down the road and tries to persuade her to proceed. He tells her he is the last man on the road because he is the final casualty of the Civil War. At first, she refuses but then changing her mind she runs down the road to catch up to her husband.
The story has a sort of melancholy grace to it and the characterization of the woman and the Sergeant are very affecting and natural. Serling uses Lincoln as a touchstone to represent the tragic consequences of war for both sides. Although I don’t think it describes the complexity of the psychic wounds that still stalk the land, I recognize that he wants to allow grace for both sides in the conflict and that is admirable. B.
Gonzalez hits on some of the more flagrant excesses of our rainbow overlords. And I thought the Supreme Court was conservative. Guess it’s too busy.
This story opens up in the home of Dr. Bill Stockton where his family and neighbors are celebrating his birthday with a cake and some speeches in his honor. But as they are celebrating, a television announcement tells them to tune into the radio and listen to CONELRAD to hear a bulletin on an emergency situation. The bulletin tells them that the Distant Early Warning radar has detected incoming objects that may be a missile attack.
The neighbors leave and run home. Dr. Stockton, and his wife Grace and young son Paul start collecting supplies and fill water bottles before heading into their bomb shelter. Just before they locked themselves in their neighbor Jerry Harlowe shows up and begs Dr. Stockton to let Jerry and his family share the bomb shelter. Stockton explains that he can’t because the shelter only has the capacity to provide air for three people. After a heated exchange Stockton locks the shelter door with Harlowe still outside.
Now the rest of the neighbors who were at the party show up and start panicking and come up with a plan to smash in the shelter door. But then they start fighting about who gets to be in the shelter. There are even the obligatory racist and anti-immigrant sentiments from one man against his Hispanic neighbor.
Just as they finish bashing in the door, they hear the CONELRAD announcing that the incoming objects aren’t missiles but a satellite and there is no danger. The rampaging mob collapses in relief and shame. They all start apologizing to Stockton and each other for their insane behavior. When someone says that the bombs didn’t destroy them after all, Dr. Stockton says that maybe they’ve destroyed themselves.
So Serling reveals his liberal bona fides for all to see. He manages to make a bomb shelter an Un-American abomination and reveals all of our neighbors and families to be racists and hypocrites. Charming.
I’ll grant that anxiety over impending thermonuclear war might not have us acting like saints but painting us as Nazis is a cheap shot. F.
A DC-3 airliner lands in Buffalo NY and when the runway crew arrives at the plane, they find out there’s no one aboard. No crew and no passengers. The FAA sends Grant Sheckly their top investigator to solve the mystery.
Sheckly interrogates the airport staff and management and they can find nothing to explain the mystery plane. But once they start describing the details of the plane inconsistencies start cropping up. One man says the plane’s seats are blue another brown. And even with all of the group standing next to the plane they can’t even agree on what number is painted on the tail of the plane. But Sheckly thinks he knows what’s going on.
His theory is that there is no plane but that mass hypnosis has them convinced that they’re seeing one. Sheckly says he can prove his theory by sticking his hand into the running propeller. Enlisting the help of the group, they start the engines and he indeed walks into the propeller. And just as he thought he is unharmed and the illusion of the plane disappears. And after the plane disappears the group of people he has been questioning disappear too.
Now Sheckly goes running into the management offices of the airport and there he finds that the people in charge don’t know anything about an empty landing plane. In fact, the flight he’s interested Flight 107 landed without incident earlier in the day and there was proof because a movie star was aboard and it made the newspaper.
Bu now the airport manager remembers Sheckly and that fifteen years earlier there was a Flight 107 that disappeared while on route to Buffalo and Sheckly had been the investigator. It was the only case he was never able to solve. After hearing this Sheckly leaves and walks out onto the tarmac and starts talking to the air asking what happened to Flight 107. The end.
This episode sucks. I guess it’s psychological. But it’s heavy on the psycho and light on the logical. You know how I feel about episodes where someone is shouting at no one. Well here’s another exhibit. Damn it Serling, come on. Do some work and write an actual story. D
Rod Serling tells us the town we see has been deserted for five years after a war. He tells us this could be a century in the future or a million years in the past.
A shapely young woman in a military uniform arrives in the town. Her face is covered in grime and she seems very wary of her surroundings. Walking down the street she sees a building with a sign that says restaurant. She walks in and rummages through the shelves until she finds a food can. She opens it but before she has a chance to examine its contents, she sees a man enter wearing a military uniform different from hers. She immediately throws a kitchen cleaver at him and follows it up with a frying pan. He dodges the missiles and attempts to restrain her but she continues to pummel him with kitchen ironmongery so he clocks her in the jaw and knocks her cold.
The man (played by Charles Bronson) walks over to the can of food and starts eating the chicken drumsticks it contains. On a personal note, the chicken always made me a little hungry but I think I might have hesitated to eat canned chicken that was over five years old.
Now the man goes over to the unconscious woman (played by Elizabeth Montgomery a very attractive actress of the day) and checks to see if he has broken her jaw. Satisfied that she is intact, he picks up a pot of water and pours it over her face. This revives her and she cowers at his feet. Neither speaks the other’s language but he tries anyway to tell her that there is no longer any reason for them to be enemies. He pushes the can of chicken toward her and leaves the building.
He walks down the street and finds a barber shop. He gathers a razor and some soap and water and proceeds to give himself a shave. Meanwhile, the girl has finished her meal and has followed him into the barber shop. As he finishes his shave, he tosses her a bar of soap and she washes her face. Now feeling slightly more human they walk out on the street together and inspect the town. They walk over to the movie theater and see a poster for a war-time romance film which makes them smile but then they both notice two skeletons with rifles. Each grabs a rifle and points it at the other but the man soon decides to just ignore the threat and walks away with the rifle strapped over his shoulder. The girl follows behind him and they end up in front of a clothes store and they both look at a mannequin wearing an evening dress. The girl says something that must mean pretty and the man goes into the window display and takes the dress off the mannequin and throws it to the girl. He walks to next door and points to it to tell her to go inside and change into the dress. After hesitating for a moment, she goes inside and he waits across the street on the curb.
Inside she begins to get undressed but the storefront is a recruiting station and there are pictures of the armed forces and they represent her army as the enemy. This angers her and she runs out the door and fires two energy rounds at the man (so it is not the 20th century anyway). She misses him with the shots but keeps the rifle trained on him. He reacts in shocked disbelief but soon walks away and is gone.
In the next scene the girl is sleeping in the barber shop during a rain storm and looking very lonely. The next day the man is on a second story porch putting on some civilian clothes and gathering some jars of preserved fruit. When he looks down, he sees the girl’s head poking above a car parked across the street. He yells to her to go away because, “this is civilian territory.” But she walks around the car and he can now see that she is wearing the evening dress. Smiling, he throws her a jar of fruit and walks down the street in front of her. She hurries to catch up to him and lifts her dress to walk faster and we can see she’s still wearing her army boots. She catches up to him and they walk on hand in hand.
Bronson and Montgomery are perhaps the least likely couple I could imagine in a love story. But damned if this isn’t a very affecting and enjoyable teleplay. It’s especially interesting that Bronson was given all the lines. He is usually the strong silent type in his movies. Good Zone. A.
Burgess Meredith is the obsolete man of the title. He is Romney Wordsworth and his self-declared occupation is Librarian. Unfortunately, Romney lives in a future authoritarian state that has eliminated books and made their possession a capitol crime. By declaring himself a librarian he has by definition defined himself as an obsolete man and therefore legitimately categorized as requiring termination (death).
The opening scene has Romney entering a cavernous hall where the Chancellor is standing at a raised lectern that is much higher than a long table at which his assistant is seated reading out the charges against Romney. Romney is forced to step into a glaring spotlight while the Chancellor harangues him and mocks his claims of relevancy and worth. The Chancellor and his assistant talk of the charges and the needs of the state in quasi-liturgical language and chant the charges and verdict as if they were priests of some fanatical blood-thirsty cult. Because of Romney’s refusal to recant he is sentenced to death. But he is allowed to chose the method and location of his death. As the location, he chooses his own apartment and asks that his death be televised. And as one of the details he asks that the details of the method not be shared with anyone but himself and the executioner.
On the day of the execution Romney invites the Chancellor to see him at his apartment before the execution. During this visit we learn that Romney is a deeply religious man and has a Bible hidden in his room and that he is at peace with his approaching death. Then he tells the Chancellor what the method of his death will be. A powerful bomb is hidden in the apartment and at midnight it will explode killing everyone in the apartment. And at this juncture Romney reveals that he has locked the door so that the Chancellor cannot escape the bomb either.
While all of this is being televised, we get a chance to compare the strength and courage of the god-fearing meek, mild, librarian and the atheistic, athletic, brash leader of the state as they both stare down their own deaths. As the appointed hour approaches the librarian is reading aloud the psalms that comfort the afflicted while the Chancellor becomes more and more panicked until finally, he shouts “for God’s sake let me out.” And because he implored in God’s name, Romney unlocks the door just in time to allow the Chancellor to escape with his life. The scene ends with Romney bowing his head in prayer as the explosion rocks the building and the Chancellor cowers at the bottom of the staircase below the door to the booby-trapped room.
In the next scene the Chancellor is walking into the cavernous hall and suddenly he is in the harsh spotlight and his assistant is now at the high pulpit denouncing him for cowardice and declaring him obsolete. He tries to defend himself but is shouted down and now the mob of agents of the state surround him and drag him to the floor where they exact the penalty for obsolescence right then and there with their own bare hands.
This is a very iconic episode. Basically, we are looking at the imagery of 1984. The all-powerful state crushes anyone who defies it and does so in the public eye to make an example that none can ignore. Burgess Meredith is excellent as a man of integrity and faith who refuses to knuckle under and save his life by betraying everything he believes in. And the Chancellor is delightfully strident and bombastic.