An Art Tribute and Labor of Love
There are Trekkies. There are Star Warriors. There are Potterheads. There are all kinds of names for the super-geeks of a franchise. So what would you call a devoted fan of the original Twilight Zone Series? Someone with a fine-tuned discernment in entertainment, is what.
I am an admitted Zone Zealot (forgive me, I made the name up on the fly). I have loved this series since I was a kid. Although I was not yet a twinkle in my parents' eye when the series aired (October 1959), it wasn't long before it found its way into the family room, and into my imaginative little heart. The fandom was cemented when we would watch the Twilight Zone marathon every Thanksgiving as a kind of post-prandial ritual.
Fast forward a few years and I would gain a more adult-based appreciation of a series that covered such topics as discrimination, government overreach, war and the ills of society, often ending with a moral monologue. Some episodes were quite prophetic when viewed through the lens of present day. It covered many genres, from Sci-Fi to Horror to Dramedy.
Fast forward a few more years to 2020 and I would fall in love with the series all over again as I reconnected during the pandemic lockdown, and viewed it as a comforting lullaby of sorts.
So is it any wonder I would create an artistic tribute to a most loved TV series? I created the art from 15 screen captures of my favorite episodes spanning the five seasons. I kept them true to the capture. No abstractions, no interpretations, no unnecessary elements to boast creative virtuosity, I'm a purist at heart and although it doesn't often reflect in my art with all it's layering effects, I felt compelled to keep this series true to the capture as you really can't improve on perfection. The only embellishment I offer is a splash of color amongst the black and the white.
I know this particular blog post is more than a 'Byte'. but understand...these pieces were a month-long labor of love. Take your time perusing these examples of fine fan art. Enjoy my tribute to a well-loved series. Perhaps you'll fall in love with it all over again, too.
SEASON 1 / EPISODE 1 / OCT 1 1959
"WHERE IS EVERBODY?"
The first episode of the anthology stars Earl Holliman as a U.S. Airforce astronaut-in-training. The opening scene finds him on a lonely road, entering a deserted town, wandering with no recollection of who he is or how he got there but with a feeling of being watched. As the episode unfolds, his sanity unravels. I suppose extreme isolation and an unfulfilled need for companionship will do that to a person.
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: There's something unnerving about the feeling you're the last person on earth. It's what nightmares are made of and this episode explores that feeling in a simple, yet powerful way.
SEASON 1 / EPISODE 5 / OCT 30 1959
This episode, a favorite among favorites, stars Gig Young as Martin Sloan. A New York City executive whose immediate desire is to flee the urban rat race for a parcel of peace. Pulling up at a roadside service station, Martin realizes he's within walking distance of Homewood, his home town. There he will encounter himself as an 11 year-old, re-live a piece of his past, and take an action that rewrites his future.
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: Perhaps it's that little errant wish that a man might never become old. Or perhaps it's the episode's musical score by Bernard Hermann. Either explanation will suffice.
SEASON 1 / EPISODE 7 / NOV 13 1959
Richard Corry, a convicted murderer (who claims to have killed in self-defense) is banished to an asteroid millions of miles from earth to serve out a sentence that many on his home planet feel is inhumane. The very humane Commander of the supply ship that visits quarterly is Corry's only break from the excruciating tedium and loneliness driving him mad. Until he is left with a gift he didn't ask for...or want...at first.
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: I like the surrounding scenery of this episode shot in Death Valley. The barren, inhospitable landscape completely nails the feeling of isolation, living with deprivation, and being so lonely you want to die.
SEASON 1 / EPISODE 16 / JAN 22 1960
An iconic episode and a favorite of many Zone Zealots, Nan Adams is on a road trip from New York to California. Along the way she encounters a shabby little scarecrow of a man hitchhiking along the road, showing up in town after town, state after state until she reaches Tucson, Arizona and finally learns her fate.
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: Actress Inger Stevens knows how to ratchet up the fear as she tries to outrun the hitchhiker during the course of her road trip. And using such an innocuous little man to symbolize a rather grim entity is genius, in my opinion.
SEASON 2 / EPISODE 7 / NOV 18 1960
"NICK OF TIME"
A superstitious newlywed, car trouble, and a tabletop mystic are the elements of an episode exploring a well-presented theme; can the future be predicted? Should it be predicted? As their car is being repaired, Don and Patsy Carter are held hostage by a bobble-headed seer in a mid-west diner that spits out penny answers, vaguely accurate, about future events.
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE? A young, handsome William Shatner. We'll leave it at that.
SEASON 2 / EPISODE 23 / APR 7 1961
"100 YARDS OVER THE RIM"
Traveling as part of a small wagon train from Ohio to California, Christian Horn, his wife and son, are almost at the end of their endurance. With dwindling supplies of food, water and no medicine for his dying son, Christian decides to check out the rim 100 yards away. And finds what he's looking for in a New Mexico diner, 100 years into the future.
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: Again, the filming location in Death Valley. And the setting of a quaint roadside diner in the middle of nowhere, run by a homey, hospitable couple. Stars a young Cliff Robertson, better known as 'Uncle Ben' from the 2002 Spiderman movie.
SEASON 3 / EPISODE 7 / OCT 27 1961
Hired gun, Conny Miller (Lee Marvin), is on the hunt for the outlaw Pinto Sykes. He tracks him to his hometown only to discover he's already been shot dead and buried. Rumor in town has it that Conny is afraid of Pinto, even in death. A wager is placed among a few of the townsfolk; does Conny have the gumption to visit the grave at midnight, where Pinto is supposedly waiting to reach up and grab him?
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: it's just plain spooky. From the wind-blown, lonely Western town with its dingy saloon, to the creepy windblown graveyard where Pinto's sister, Ione, offers Conny a 'belt of redeye to make it all easier'.
SEASON 3 / EPISODE 8 / NOV 3, 1961
"IT'S A GOOD LIFE"
A small midwestern town is enslaved by a pint-sized, freckle-faced monster who has the ability to make objectionable people (in his opinion) disappear. The townsfolk, surviving without modern conveniences (because the monster doesn't like them and wished them away) play nice lest they be the monster's next victim. Until one of them, after fortifying shots of the town's dwindling whisky supply, decides he's had enough.
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: The idea of a totalitarian regime in the form of a child is clever. Who would want to arrange a coupe and take out a child even to make their own life more livable? And who can forget that disturbing scene at the end of what was wished into the cornfield?
SEASON 3 / EPISODE 10 / NOV 17 1961
"THE MIDNIGHT SUN"
It's 12 midnight. Sun's still shining. It's the hottest day in history. The earth's orbit is skewed and heading closer to the sun. As is usually the case in doomsday scenarios, people flee the cities and head toward the relative safety of outlying areas. Those left behind must fend for themselves. As do two women in an abandoned New York City apartment building who must find food where they can, conserve precious water, hope their power stays on and defend themselves by whatever means possible.
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: I like that the main character is an artist...but why does she keep painting the sun when it's so darn hot outside? And I've always loved the polar twist at the end of this episode.
SEASON 4 / EPISODE 8 / FEB 21 1963
This hour-long episode centers around shy and socially awkward Charlie Parkes (Robert Duvall) who lives with his needy, dominating mother, is teased by coworkers, coined a square peg by his employer, and the butt of his meddling sister's schemes. Charlie, in his loneliness, is primed for his imagination to take flight, to become obsessed with a museum dollhouse display, and to fall in love with the little wooden doll that inhabits it.
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: Square pegs can certainly relate to Charlie and his need to find another world in which he will comfortably fit. To find love, understanding and that sweet and happy ending that makes one want to stand and applaud.
SEASON 4 / EPISODE 11 / MAR 14 1963
Call this one of the first faltering steps of man; to sever the umbilical cord of gravity and stretch out a fingertip toward an unknown. So states creator Rod Serling in the opening monologue of The Parallel. In another of Season Four's hour-long episodes, Major Robert Gaines is launched into space, loses transmission, blacks out and then with no further mishap, returns to earth...to the same neighborhood, the same house, the same family, in a totally different universe.
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: To ponder a parallel universe is a recurring theme in the Zone and the series presents it so well, making it easy to imagine the horror of being the same person in a whole different landscape.
SEASON 4 / EPISODE 13 / APR 4 1963
"THE NEW EXHIBIT"
Curator and guide of a wax museum's Murderer's Row exhibit, Martin Senescu is saddened by the museum's imminent closing. Having come to view the wax figures as friends, he convinces the owner of the museum, and his wife, to store the figures in his basement where he can continue to care for them and keep them well-preserved. And become possessed by them. Or is it the other way around?
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: It's creep-factor. Who would want to store five famous murderers in their basement, wax or otherwise? Perhaps another murderer in another of The Twilight Zone's famous plot twists.
SEASON 5 / EPISODE 6 / NOV 1 1963
"My name is Talky Tina, and I love you very much." So says the doll who is 'alive', according to six year-old Christie. But her stern stepfather soon discovers that's not the only thing she says and some of the things she says are not very nice. This is a dark episode where Talky Tina is subject to being burned, squeezed in a vise, run under a table saw, and wrapped in a burlap sack and tossed in the trash. While she remains largely unharmed, the stepfather, not so much.
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: My mother always wanted to buy me these types of dolls when I was a kid, but NO WAY, was I having one in my room. Like clowns, I viewed them as creepy. Mom could never understand my aversion to them but Talky Tina justified it. See, mom? I WAS RIGHT!
SEASON 5 / EPISODE 14 / DEC 26 1963
Film star Bunny Blake, collector of rings, is gifted a ring by the citizens of her hometown. On a flight from California to New York, the ring shows her curious visions and compels her to make an unscheduled and unexpected stop in Howardville, her hometown. Unbeknownst to Bunny, she is called there to avert a tragedy of epic proportions, all while still on the flight.
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: The other Zone Zealots in my family are not all that fond of this episode, but I think it's one of the cleverer plot twists of the series with a very poignant ending.
SEASON 5 / EPISODE 26 / MAR 20 1964
A wealthy man is dying and his next of kin comes to New Orleans for a bedside vigil while eager to collect their inheritance, But Jason Foster knows his family's character. The only way they'll inherit a penny is if they each wear masks with certain properties as part of a Mardi Gras celebration. His family is not amused, but greed makes them don the masks, much to their own peril, as the end reveals.
WHY IT'S A FAVORITE EPISODE: This is probably one of the most favored episodes among Zone Zealots and it's not hard to figure out why. Who is not glad to see the greedy, clutching, boorish family get their just desserts?
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