Happy Twenty-Ten everyone! This is what I wish for you: Bamboo for good luck…candies to remember that life is sweet and a martini for when all else fails. Cheers!
I spent the end of 2009 as I’ve spent most of the year: in The Twilight Zone.
More precisely, we watched a Twilight Zone marathon.
From 11pm up through about 1am, in-between the phone ringing with fam and friends (most of whom are in an earlier time zone, thankyouverymuch) da boys and I got in about six episodes, including pausing the DV-R in the master at 11:54 and barreling down the stairs to watch Dick Clark’s Rocking Times Square Par-tay on Taylor’s tv. All I can say is, “What was J.Lo thinking with that getup??”
Six episodes…in black & white…from around 1960. Rod Serling introduced one episode as being one of “absolute terror”. I responded with “Show me, Rod. Scare the crap outta me….I dare ya.” This one had us laughing so hard, I was crying. My tears were partly from laughing and partly from the pain in my back. I basically sounded like this:
“HA! (Ow!) Noooooo! HAHAHA! (OH, that HURTS!) Are they kidding? OHMYGOD! This is SO CORNY! HA HA HA HA!!! (Crap…I think I just sprained my spleen…ow, ow, ow!)
So. This impoverished woman lives alone, see? And she has no running water…and no utilities. No cable, no telephone, no internet, no toilet to flush…although it’s 1960, so we don’t actually see her use the facilities or anything….because in 1960, I do not believe people were actually crude enough to use the bathroom. They had too much CLASS.
She’s making her traditional Tuesday evening gruel with…what? potatoes?….and possibly…maybe...yams?...something round and very, very hard. She’s making every effort to convey this to her viewing audience…she’s also grimacing as she works, so you get the sense that she’s not a big fan of this particular Tuesday-gruel, or her life…for that matter. Okay…so life sucks for rural-lady…but at least she’s got yams, right?
Things progress….and she hears something land on the roof….winds up climbing some rickety wooden ladder to the trap door which leads to the roof to take a lookie-see. (Kathryn: “Nooooo! Don’t go up there! You NEVER GO UP THE RICKETY LADDER…ARE YOU INSANE??”)
Well. There’s a freakin’ spaceship up there! Who woulda thunk that?? (Rod Serling…that’s who.) It looks to be about 2-3 feet in diameter…but STILL. Totally scary and uncannily realistic. During all this intense drama, I am struck by the fact that the actress is completely mute, aside from some gasping in exertion and the occasional wheeze of surprise. We’re yelling at the screen at this point, randomly deciding what she must be thinking…yelling “WTF?” and “Why can’t I talk? Because they don’t PAY me enough to talk….I can convey pages of dialogue with a single withered glance….a grunt, if you will. They probably spent all of $34.00 on this set. I’m Agnes Moorehead, the actress…not a miracle worker.”
Shortly thereafter, a small 6” toy robot emerges from the spaceship and Agnes freaks out and kicks it down the hatch door and into her house. She seems relieved by this narrow escape of certain death until she hears the pitter-patter of yet another little robot-guy...and this one’s pissed! (We’re laughing hysterically at this point ‘cause the little-toy robot cannot walk…it’s doing that toy-robot shuffle and it has a little turning antenna on its head…and I’m coughing and wheezing, I’m laughing so hard.) It’s shooting little red laser-thingies, as seen by the little red light blinking on and then off and Agnes is shouting in pain and clutching her arm, so you know she’s been HIT!
YOU COULD CUT THE TENSION WITH A WILLIAMS & SONOMA BUTTER KNIFE, IT WAS SO INTENSE.
Agnes was basically terrorized by these little metal assassins…and she spent the lion’s share of the show chasing ‘em down with some kind of homemade broom...or may it was an axe. We weren't sure. One robot-ette turned up (wiggling like a kitten) in her bed, where she summarily beat it to death and threw it in the fireplace. Another somehow managed to blow a hole in her stone foundation and cut her with her very own (very sharp) knife! Connor was quick to point out that she’d miraculously healed by the next scene however, where she continued to fight the fight. That's our Agnes....she's a trooper.
This was a compelling tale of good versus evil! We were all mesmerized! (Da boys are patting my back and asking me if they should perform an emergency tracheotomy to stop me from choking...I'm waving my hand in the universal, "I'll be fine...don't worry about me" sign.)
In the end, she wound up back on the roof where she beat the crap out of that spaceship. (Seriously...with drama to spare...grunting...and gasping...and axe-ing...) You then hear a voice-over as she’s hacking away and it’s saying “INHOSPITABLE GIANT CREATURES ON THIS PLANET! EVERYONE’S DEAD! ABORT MISSION! ABORT, I SAY!!” or something to this effect.
The scene ends with a close-up shot of that spaceship…and it has the words “United States NASA” on it.This went straight over Connor’s head. When I exclaimed that the aliens were really US and the lady was the giant alien on another planet, you saw that look of grudging respect appear on his face for those long-ago writers of this classic, campy series.
Was it corny? Yeah. Was it hugely entertaining? Double-yeah. If I could do it all again, would I spend New Year's any differently??
Not a chance.
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