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What I Watched Last Night

If you were alive and owned a TV set during the early 1960s, Twilight Zone was one of the most creative shows around. If you were alive between New Year's Eve and New Year's Day this past weekend, you could watch what was probably the entire series during Sci-Fi Channel's Twilight Zone marathon. Since I paid good money for a color television, I settled for just two episodes, all filmed in classic black-and-white.

If NASA was anything like the space program depicted in the 1960 episode "I Shot An Arrow Into The Air," you'd wonder how we ever managed to get to the moon in the first place. A half-dozen or so astronauts sent on the first manned space flight disappear from radar just after lift-off, crash-landing on an "asteroid of some kind," killing half the crew on impact. Since it would take another four-and-a-half years to build another ship from scratch because, well, NASA was more laid back then, the three surviving 'nauts embark upon a campaign of killing each other over water rations until a sign for Kilson's Motel (Eats - Gas - Oil) informs the last survivor that he's a mere 97 miles from Reno, Nevada.

So the bozos never got off the planet in the first place. Not that there weren't clues galore that either they weren't in outer space or Rod Serling never thought of hiring a continuity director. Things like clouds in a blue sky and a perfectly breathable atmosphere without the need for space helmets. Other nagging questions compounded the confusion, such as why an astronaut might need an AK-47 in space if you're not carrying Sigourney Weaver or Bruce Willis along to blow something up, and what sort of space program would send up five measly gallons of water in jerry cans and canteens.

The 1960 space theme continued, sort of, with the next episode, "The Monsters Are Due On Main Street." It's a pleasant summer day on the 300 block of Maple Street, in a town straight out of Leave It To Beaver, until a strange oscillating noise fills the air along with a series of bright flashes in the sky.

Figuring "it must have been a meteor" because the first law in science fiction is to blame meteors for everything, the neighborhood goes back to its business until everyone discovers the electricity and the phones are out and Claude Akins' car won't start. Everyone wanders around looking horribly clueless
because this has apparently been the first phone and power outage in recorded history. And they'd probably still be wandering about like that today if some smart-aleck comic book-reading kid named Tommy hadn't put it into everyone's head that monsters from space were to blame. Not only that, but a few years prior, the aliens sent ahead a human-looking mom, dad, sister and a brother, and now the mothership has returned to pick them up.

Since only on TV and in Congress can such a crackpot notion like that be taken seriously, the finger-pointing over who might be the aliens in everyone's midst escalates until someone gets clocked in the head with a rock and another someone gets shot.

In the closing scene, we see the real culprits: From their perch inside the steaming cup of coffee on the billboard, Larry Mondello and Beaver Cleaver sit monkeying with the neighborhood power grid. No, I made that part up. It was actually two aliens (looking a lot like they stepped off a Dutch Masters cigar box), standing atop a hill overlooking the neighborhood, flicking the town's lights off and on. This way, as they've been finding out in other similar tests across nation, it's easier to take over the planet when everyone in it kills each other first.

Hey, haven't the people over at ComEd been really squirrely lately? Yeah. Think about it.


Murder teaches us something, and there was plenty to learn Sunday on E!'s 20 Most Horrifying Hollywood Murders. The main and very obvious lesson learned is: Fans are fucking nuts, so if you want to live a long and healthy life, stay the hell away from them. Way away.

But not everyone learns from the mistakes of others, so here were things to learn:

Dump your loser boyfriend before you get famous (Dorothy Stratton). If your father doesn't like you much, don't buy him a handgun as a gift (Marvin Gaye). When your parents tell you not to open doors to strangers, they mean it (Rebecca Shaeffer, Sharon Tate). If you're going to be a gold digger, take a lesson from Anna Nicole Smith and do it right by marring a guy older than dirt with barely the strength to breathe, much less fire a gun (Bonnie Lee Bakley). Invest your cash wisely early in your career to pay for the really good attorneys when your wife turns up dead (Robert Blake, O.J. Simpson). The world's just not ready to give peace a chance (John Lennon). When you're a waitress and some crackpot record producer at your table tips you $450, it means you have the fare to take a taxi home instead of his limo (Lana
Clarkson). We now have the Internet and FAQs to learn about home video and porn all by ourself, so use it (Bob Crane). Hire mentally-balanced family members to work for you, not fans; the worst your family will do is stab you in the back, and you can always recover from that (Selena). Stick to straight porn (John Holmes). Gospel singers make a decent living and rarely get capped in drive-bys; maybe give that a try first and see how it goes (Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur).

There was one very subtle, unspoken lesson permeating the whole two hours that you had to pay close
attention to catch. That is, if you're connected even years later to people who are still very powerful in
the entertainment industry, you won't have to face the indignity of having E! incorporate crime scene photos of your bloody corpse into a sordid two-hour program.

When in Hollywood, date and marry wisely, young stars and starlets. Date and marry wisely.

Find more life lessons learned from television in the What I Watched Last Night files.


Posted on January 2, 2007

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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