Monthly Archives: September 2014

Gimme “Shelter”: The Perils of Survival At Any Price

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”
― John Wooden

The fifth-dimensional equivalent? I’d put it this way: “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when he believes his life is in danger.”

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Case in point: “The Shelter,” Rod Serling’s sobering look at a neighborhood full of average families who are happy to treat each other well … until the day when a nuclear bomb is apparently headed their way, and only one family has gone to the trouble and expense of building a bomb shelter. (If you haven’t watched it, or it’s been a while, go here.)

Serling excelled at entertaining us, but he never flinched from asking some tough questions. And here we’re left with two big ones:

1) If you had a shelter only big enough for you and your family — that had just enough supplies for all of you — what would you do if a missile was bearing down on you, and your neighbors were pleading for you to let them in? Read the rest of this entry

Fifth-Dimensional Finishes

The Twilight Zone is famous for its twist endings. But for me, the real cherry on top of our inter-dimensional sundaes is Rod Serling’s closing narrations.

Surprisingly, some critics deride them as unnecessary. How dense are we, right? Can’t we figure out the lesson without having it spelled out by an omniscient referee? Perhaps, but that’s not the point.

Rod Serling - The Obsolete Man1

The conclusions aren’t there because we’re slow. They serve an important purpose. Sometimes they tie up loose ends, sometimes they lay on a little irony, and sometimes they make a wry comment on the proceedings.

In short, they’re there to make the stories more enjoyable. Hearing Serling introduce and wrap up each episode, with his trademark voice and poetic language, is the perfect framing device. I’m convinced the show wouldn’t be as beloved without them. Read the rest of this entry