The Perils and Pitfalls of Social Distancing … in the Twilight Zone

“Social distancing” is a new skill for most of us. Even many introverts are finding the new norms to be a bit much.

But in the fifth dimension, it’s a different story. Keeping your neighbors at arm’s length isn’t all that unusual.

Just ask astronaut Mike Ferris. He spent most of the Twilight Zone pilot, “Where is Everybody?”, wandering around an empty town. The closest thing he found to another human being was a store mannequin.

Or how about the prisoner in “The Lonely”? Poor Corry was not only in solitary confinement, he wasn’t even on Earth. Weeks would go by before anyone showed up to bring him supplies.

Then there was Henry Bemis in “Time Enough at Last”. Nothing like a little nuclear blast to ensure you get some major “me time”.

And hey, if you’re feeling trapped inside your own home, don’t complain to Sam Conrad. The lone survivor of a trip to Mars in “People Are Alike All Over” may not be alone, but he can’t even make a quick trip to the grocery store when he needs something.

Though Sam’s house-prison looks more comfortable than being the only person in the middle of the desert, as James Embry discovers in “King Nine Will Not Return”.

Sure looks hot. Though it seems as if it was even worse for Jackie Rhodes, the sweat-soaked would-be killer in “Nervous Man in a Four-Dollar Room”.

When it comes to social distancing, though, it’s hard to beat Jamie Tennyson in “The Silence”. A glass-encased apartment, with everything you need brought to your door? Pretty nice arrangement!

But the all-time Zone solitude pro has to be Archibald Beechcroft in “The Mind and the Matter”. Practically the minute he’s mastered the art of concentration, he’s wishing away the entire human race (except himself, of course).

But as he soon finds out, being alone for too long isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It can lead to a lot of one-on-one ranting and raving, as Grady shows us in “The Last Night of a Jockey”.

And hey, deep down, no one really wants to be left behind. Just ask William Benteen in the closing moments of “On Thursday We Leave for Home”.

Or the ever-chatty Patrick Thomas McNulty in the final scene of “A Kind of Stopwatch”.

The people left alone in the fifth dimension crave company, as Adam Cook demonstrates in “Probe 7, Over and Out”.

Or Douglas Stansfield, hurtling through the cold reaches of deep space on a solo flight in “The Long Morrow”.

At some point, our social distancing will end. Considering how it usually plays out on The Twilight Zone, though, I hope it’s sooner rather than later! Stay safe, everyone.

About Paul

Fanning about the work of Rod Serling all over social media. If you enjoy pics, quotes, facts and blog posts about The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Serling's other projects, you've come to the right place.

Posted on 03/27/2020, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. So, I read your entire post with Rod’s voice! I wonder who else will!😄

    I hope it ends sooner rather than later too. Stay well, Paul.

  2. I sincerely hope this situation gets people to re-examine their thoughts and actions and how they affect everyone else. It’s not just careless and mindless contact or sneezing that runs rampant across the globe without our awareness, but consider what you say to others…how you treat them. Whether or not you smile at someone, make eye contact, or offer a kind word—or do not. Yes, these, too, travel the world like a rampant killer virus. We ARE all much closer than we think. More…connected…then we realize. Everything we do DOES affect everyone else in ways we just cannot imagine.

    But given that this isn’t the first time something like this has happened…well, we can see how effectively “all that” has worked out for us in the past.

    • Yes, this situation, like many crises past and present, gives us a chance to show what kind of people we are. Hoping that, inspired by Serling’s wise words, we all pass the test, so to speak.

  3. Like Deborah, as I read this post, Paul, I started hearing it in Rod’s voice. This was so well done. He brought out the wide spectrum of fears and anxious moments we are all feeling today. Nicely done!

    Take care and stay safe!

  4. Until he broke his glasses, Henry Bemis was quite content to spend the rest of his days alone with an endless supply of books. So isolation isn’t always a bad thing.

  5. This is such a cool post. You know a show is iconic when it’s applicable to nearly all situations, and appeals to our shared emotions and the imagination. Truly great writing.

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