Tuesday, July 27, 2010

In The Zone

Just a couple minutes ago, I came across this article about classic Twilight Zone episodes. I've only seen a few of them, although I'm familiar with nearly all of them. Such is the power of Twilight Zone - it's an integral piece of American culture.

One episode in particular really stood out for me. Time Enough at Last has been my favorite Twilight Zone episode ever since I first saw it some twenty plus years ago. I haven't seen it in a while, but I still remember quite clearly the effect that it had that first time. I'd say "Spoiler Alert," but this episode is over half a century old. The statute of limitations is long past.

I identified with the main character almost immediately. I've been a book lover for as long as I can remember. By the fourth grade I was regularly borrowing my dad's Star Trek novels, and soon thereafter, I began my own collection. This did not do anything to improve my social standing. As such, I immediately saw the story's beleaguered bookworm, one Henry Bemis, as a kindred spirit. The proverbial hook had caught me, and I was drawn into the story.

Henry, who works in a bank, retreats to the solace of the vault during his lunch break. There, he settles down to read in peace, far from the ridicule of his colleagues. I'm a little jealous at this point; there's no solace to be had in a middle school cafeteria.

As the story progresses, I'm right there with Henry. I feel his sadness when he realizes that he's completely alone. I share his elation upon discovering an intact library, full of books, with none of his former antagonists around (I may have exclaimed "Oh cool!" at this point, I'm not sure).

Then, just as everything was about to work out...Henry stumbles, dropping and shattering his thick glasses. Being new to The Twilight Zone, I had no idea that this was generally how things worked. As such, I was taken completely by surprise. This ending left me stunned; I found myself re-playing it in my mind, shocked at the horror of a man who, on the brink of suicide, finally finds something to live for, only to have it snatched away.

Pretty intense stuff for an eleven year old. Is it any wonder this is the one that sticks out for me?

No comments:

Post a Comment