"The Twilight Zone" poster features Rod Serling who narrates the show. (Image courtesy of "The Twilight Zone")
The Webb Schools

Review: A blast from the past — ‘The Twilight Zone’

Old movies and shows get too little attention. The only attention they’ve gotten in the 21st century is their animation quality or their shoddy CGI and VFX. But after I watched “The Twilight Zone,” the thing that stuck with me wasn’t their poor production by modern standards. Instead, I remembered most vividly the storytelling and lessons — things I find lacking in today’s media.

In today’s movies, the mainstream ones at least, they follow a straightforward outline. The protagonist meets villain, gets defeated, and triumphs the second time with confetti falling and trumpets blaring. And I personally find this outline boring and mundane. I try to find refuge in TV shows, but after a while, the same characters and their consistent triumphs and few failures get boring too.

However, what makes “The Twilight Zone” unique is their ability to tell multiple stories through the course of their seasons. They introduce new characters every single episode and tell an entrancing tale. Every episode, from season 1, start to finish, could win awards on their own right. And this type of storytelling is certainly a refreshing break from shows that involve the same character facing similar trials and tribulations time and time again. But wait, you say, “Black Mirror” is a wonderful alternative that takes the innovative storytelling found in “The Twilight Zone” and merges it with the beautiful effects of the modern age. And I say you are undoubtedly right.

Now, this is all from my perspective, an existential teenager. You may enjoy lessons of “Black Mirror” or the action and drama of blockbuster movies. But personally, I find those films all too dull and trite. I enjoy “The Twilight Zone” because of its blast from the past — it introduces old but standing and refreshing perspectives on human nature and we act.

Image result for entire history of you black mirror
The protagonist’s eyes glaze over as he recounts a memory with his implanted chip. (Image courtesy of Zac Nicholson)

But “The Twilight Zone” still trumps “Black Mirror” in my mind. “Black Mirror” does offer that refreshing perspective on story-telling, but they do it in an hour. Meanwhile, “The Twilight Zone” gives short but fulfilling episodes that each convey their own lesson. But wait again, you say, “Black Mirror” offers interesting lessons to every episode. And once again you are indeed right. However, I find those lessons to all be too dry cut. And many of them follow a theme of technology. For example, in “The History of You,” the story warns of having a record of everything and what technology may come to which can all change certain people as we see the protagonist change. Similarly, the episode “Nosedive” shows us a ranking system that comes with technology and how it changes people.

But “The Twilight Zone” gives timeless lessons. Technology is an ever-changing force, but life tends to remain the same until technology makes its way into how we exist. However, as of now, existence and human nature have more or less remained the same since the stone age. “The Twilight Zone” gives lessons on those areas. For example, in the first episode, “Where is Everybody,” it speaks of the barrier of isolation, mans insatiable thirst for a companion.

In another episode, “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” “The Twilight Zone” emphasizes not to get caught up in the past and look ahead into the future. These lessons will remain true, and they have with the test of time. But teachings from “Black Mirror,” mostly from a technological perspective, tend to fall out as we advance as a civilization. In the future, it may become apparent that a ranking system is necessary or having a memory of all events is essential. But in the future, the barrier of isolation will always exist because it is merely an integral part of human nature.

Now, this is all from my perspective, as an existential teenager. You may enjoy lessons of “Black Mirror” or the action and drama of blockbuster movies. But personally, I find those films all too dull and trite. I enjoy “The Twilight Zone” because of its blast from the past — it introduces old but standing and refreshing perspectives on human nature and we act.

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