THE TWILIGHT ZONE
"What Do You See When You Look At Me?"
"The Twilight Zone" was a turning point in television because of its entirely human characters, its situations, its usage of the supernatural and the astronomical and it's perplexing surprise endings which were a study in divine poetic karma. Back when the pop-culture geek fad of choice was pulp fiction magazines which contained short stories dealing with fantasy, science-fiction, horror and macabre... it was "Twilight" that started the great practice of putting them on the small screen. And with an urgent moral commentary about humanity overall no less.
But what's really made so much of this series stand the test of time and the measuring stick for what the quality of "quality programming" is measured by the fact that the show was a lot like a fairy tale. Or the Bible, or any religious tome.
This time, the "Zone" shines it's twilight on an elderly wealthy man on his last gasp. His doctor tells him how critical his situation at this point. He may not have years or even months... he may not even have more than days or minutes.
This particular rich elder still has a few more tasks and loose ends to tie up before he shuffles off this mortal coil. One final task. The family is coming into town... for Mardi Gras. But Mr. Foster is not fortunate enough to be embraced by the bosom of a warm embrace full clan when he makes his way down the stairs. His kin is not there to spend the holiday of Mardi Gras with someone they care for deeply in his last few moments. They are only there to assure they will inherit everything of value once Jason passes. He is not entirely pleased to see them. He knows why they are all there.
The family are the type who have not only character faults, they wear them quite prominently. The family almost seem to be living embodiments of the seven deadly sins. But they all withhold two precise to heart--greed and selfishness, if not outright absolute evil.
After a magnificent meal, he tells everyone he has a surprise for the whole family. He presents a collection of masks hand-made by an old Cajun. He informs the family that a custom of Mardi Gras is to wear masks that are the exact opposite of a one's true self. Thereupon, he says sarcastically that these masks are just that. The family refuses. He threatens to disinherit them all but completely if they do not humor this little eccentric, dying, senile old man... Funny thing, the masks almost seem inspired by the seven deadly sins. When the family's little no-tech masquerade ball itself ends, and the masks themselves are to be removed...
This is one of Serling's most famous episodes. And with good reason. There isn't a lot of action and topical subjects such as the Cold War and conformity to be had here. It deals with a timeless subjects such as family and love.
Actors are all fine here, they all seems big as life. Flesh-and-Blood. But much of this show belongs to one Robert Keith who plays the terminal Jason Foster.
But of course, the real star of this one is, as always the teleplay of one Rodman Edward Serling. The man not only penned the bulk of what was seen on "The Twilight Zone," he raised the bar for what was seen on the tube and what "well written" really meant. He took home six Emmys, more than anyone had in history back then. After him, scripture for television became a respectable pursuit.
NOTE: This review is dedicated to Edward Rodman Serling, a man who not only fought to protect our country and our way of life in WWII and took a fair amount of injury for it. But also fought the censors on TV twice as hard to make sure his vision was seen and heard. When TV was about shows like "Leave it to Beaver" and "Donna Reed," here was a man who wanted to use the box to illuminate serious problems like the cold war, racism, anti-society, paranoia and other destructive elements that come from within us. He was buried with military honors. I hope television honors as well. All he wanted was to remembered as a writer. Well.... I remember....
--Holy Worship for Rod Almighty, Dane Youssef