Religious content in The Twilight Zone? The sci-fi fantasy show about time travel, homicidal dolls and aliens with hostile intent? The idea may seem absurd at first.
Yet the deeper one looks for religious messages — and Lent certainly seems like a good time to do it — the more one finds them popping up, both directly and indirectly. (Spoilers ahead, casual Zone viewers.)
For starters, consider how often we see the Devil or one of his emissaries. In “Printer’s Devil”, for example, Burgess Meredith plays a man who helps a small-town publisher on the brink of suicide achieve financial success by ferreting out scandal stories that smash the competition. He then unfurls a contract stating that only by agreeing to relinquish his soul can the publisher cement this arrangement. Read the rest of this entry
Joe Wilson is 94 years old. Yet he still has nightmares about what he saw 70 years ago today.
On April 29, 1945, Wilson and other members of the U.S. Army’s 45th Infantry Division — which had already endured over 500 days of savage fighting in Sicily, Italy, France and Germany — liberated Dachau, one of the Nazi’s most infamous concentration camps.
“Concentration camps.” What a despicable euphemism. They were death factories. They were, simply put, Hell on earth. Just reading about them makes my blood boil. The mind reels to think anyone could willingly inflict such torture and engage in such wholesale slaughter.
Rod Serling had much the same reaction — to put it mildly. And he poured his outrage into one of the most searing episodes of The Twilight Zone ever written: “Deaths-Head Revisited”. It follows the arrival of a former Nazi guard named Lutze (Oscar Beregi) at Dachau in what was then present-day Germany (1961) — only 16 years after the war had ended. Read the rest of this entry
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.
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