Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

After eight long years, Michael Scott’s legendary screenplay has been released to the masses. If you a fan of The Office it is certainly a must-see. Enjoy . . .

Listen, I have a soft spot for the 80s. Why, you ask? Because I started teaching in 1984 and I swear to God everyone in my Junior High classes dressed like Molly Ringwald, Ferris Bueller or Cyndi Lauper. Big hair, spandex, leg warmers, ripped jeans (yes, they existed in the 80s), neon colors, mullets, side ponytails, cut-off sweatshirts, cool hats on the girls, sweat pants rolled up to the knees, skinny ties, they were all on exhibit in the hallowed halls of Greenfield Middle School. It was glorious, man.

With that in mind I came up with the ultimate 1980s trivia quiz, designed specifically for those students I personally taught.*

*I use the term “taught” loosely.

Let us begin. Answers will be revealed in due time, so chillax.

  1. What alternative band did the students of Greenfield Middle School learn about long before they hit it big in the early 90s?
  2. What was the name of Punky Brewster’s dog?
  3. What was the name of the oldest child on The Cosby Show?
  4. What was Jolt?
  5. What popular toy did E.T. use as part of his makeshift communicator to “phone home” with?
  6. Who starred in “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’d Dead”?
  7. What was the name of He-Man’s home planet?
  8. What was Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign all about?
  9. Who hosted Star Search?
  10. Name all five Breakfast Club characters.
  11. Who was Balki and where was he from?
  12. What was Jem?
  13. Name 5 singers who performed on the song “We Are the World”.
  14. Who was Teddy Ruxpin?
  15. What was Melmac?
  16. What kind of animal was Bubbles?
  17. What happened to a space shuttle called Challenger?
  18. What was the Noid?
  19. Who was Samantha’s crush in Sixteen Candles”?
  20. What was the name of the pirate ship the gang discovers in The Goonies?
  21. Who was the main villain in Thundercats?
  22. What singer made a video with a cartoon cat?
  23. What was the video game Oregon Trail all about?
  24. Who was Mac Tonight?
  25. Which Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle was “cool but rude”?
  26. In which movie did a character wear a t-shirt that read “what are looking at dicknose”?
  27. What do you have to fight for your right to do?
  28. In what show was Alex P. Keaton the main character?
  29. What TV show was based in southern Florida and featured Crockett and Tubbs?
  30. Describe a scrunchie.
  31. ‘Where’s the beef?” was a slogan for what fast food chain?
  32. Who sang “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”?
  33. What was a Boom Box?
  34. Who said, “Follow my nose”?
  35. Who was John Hughes?
  36. What do the initials NKOTB stand for?
  37. Who was Martha Quinn?
  38. What was the green goop on Nickelodeon called?
  39. Who were “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock, B. A. Baracus, John “Hannibal” Smith and Templeton “Faceman” Peck?
  40. Neil Patrick Harris played genius who became a doctor at 16. What was his name?

So, how many do you think you got right?

Bonus 80s video! Fun fact: My guy Steve Forbert plays Cyndi’s boyfriend in this video. Awesome.

 

Only Norm could pull this one off.

The 80s, man. What a decade. Big hair, spandex, high-wasted jeans, leg warmers, neon colors, cut-off sweatshirts, mullets, I could go on forever. I taught at a middle school in Greenfield, Ohio back then and everyone looked like they were straight out of Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club or Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Anyway, I ran across this gem today and it’s so 80s it hurts. Denim for days, man.

PS- I had no idea Jordache jeans still existed, but damned if they don’t.

PPS- That one guy looks like the lead singer of Fine Young Cannibals. Google it.

PPPS- If I was that denim I’d be distressed, too.

I don’t think I missed an episode of Soul Train or Midnight Special. Watch these dancers groove to Love Train by my buddies the O’ Jays. On a related note, Don Cornelius was the coolest cat around back then.

Just spectacular.

So I ran across a list of the Top 50 Comics in an old Rolling Stone and it got me to thinking. Isn’t it weird how some comics appeal to some people and others don’t? I swear I sat through an hour and a half Dane Cook special at a friend’s house one night and never cracked smile. In the meantime everyone else in the room was rolling in convulsive laughter. Dane Cook, man. Dude just doesn’t tickle my funny bone. Others I don’t get? Don’t judge, but . . . Bernie Mac and, oh, this is going to piss some people off . . . Kevin Hart. Sorry, but I just don’t get his act. On a related note, his movies are intolerable.

But on to the comics I find funny, from #1 to #10. Being the professional blogger that I am, I shall include video. Let us commence . . 

Norm MacDonald

What can I say? Norm cracks me up every time. Check him out the night he hosted the ESPYS. Dude offended almost everyone.

And check out the time Norm absolutely hijacked the Conan O’Brien show. A television classic that I beseech you to watch until the end. Trust me, it’s worth it:

Richard Pryor

I know not how, but I got my hands on his CRAPS- After Hours album when I was 15 or so and my life changed as I knew it. Just wild stuff for a small town southern Ohio boy in 1971. Pryor hit his peak in the late 70’s – early 80’s, and he always made me laugh hysterically. Here’s a bit from his “Live on the Sunset Strip” show.

Jonathon Winters

Jonathon Winters was the Robin Williams of the 60s. You could give him a word like “tree” or “bicycle” and he’d do a 10-minute act about it. Here is on Johnny Carson just making stuff up as he goes along.

Steven Wright

Steven Wright’s low-key observations and quirky takes on every day life absolutely kills me. Every. Time.

George Carlin

George Carlin is consistently ranked among the Top 3 All-Time comedians, for good reason. Here’s his legendary take on Baseball vs. Football.

Sam Kinison

Sam, man. He was one of the most inappropriate, offensive, cringe-worthy comedians ever. I saw him live once and I swear my jaw was sore the next day from laughing so hard and so long. Don’t believe me? Listen to hit bit called “If Jesus Was Married.” Just remember, you have been warned.

Rodney Dangerfield

Oh, man. Rodney Freakin’ Dangerfield. If you’re not familiar just watch the movie “Back to School” and get back with me. For now, just watch Rodney on Johnny Carson back in the day:

Chris Rock

Chris Rock? Give a look to this video called, “How to Not Get You’re Ass Kicked By The Police.” ‘Nuff said.

David Letterman

Dave was always funniest when he was outside the studio, like the time he visited Taco Bell…

Robin Williams

Robin Williams was manic, out of control and insane. Here’s his first appearance on the Johnny Carson Show. Classic.

So there ya go. Sure, I left out a gazillion funnymen – Chapelle, Leno, Seinfeld, and many more. Still, those are my Top 10. Who you got?

 

 

 

 

 

Hanks, man. Pretty deep sketch if you think about it.

Truth. My favorite movie or TV cliché is when somebody walks in on another person and that person, instead of stopping and listening, just keeps on doing whatever they’re doing as they talk.

[click and scroll, kids]

Nobody writes titles like me. You’re welcome.

Ladies and gentlemen, what you are witnessing is a true professional, a man at the highest level of his craft. This is the television equivalent of a hole-in-one, a perfect game, a masterpiece of art. Breathtaking really.

TV theme songs. What the hell happened to them, man? Back in the day all the good shows had cool, catchy theme songs. Today, not so much. You know what else I miss? Prime time cartoons. Sure, we have The Simpsons and Family Guy and stuff like that but back in the day we had must-see TV like The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Johnny Quest. Good stuff man.

Anyway, without further ado let us take a trip down memory lane, back to a simpler time, to a time when television shows had catchy, memorable theme songs. Here are my favorites:

Cheers – “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”

Perhaps the greatest TV theme song of all time is sappy as hell, but sometimes we really do want to go where everybody knows our name. This one does what a great theme song should do—set the scene while being catchy as hell at the same time.

Friends – “I’ll Be There For You”

Could “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts be a more perfect song about friends that feel like they’re your family? Although not written specifically for the show, it fit perfectly.

The Flintstones – “Meet the Flintstones”

The Flintstones. They were the modern stone-age family, man. And for anybody over the age of 50, somewhere in your brain there is an image of Fred Flintstone sliding down the back of his dinosaur crane into his waiting rag-top car. The closing theme was stellar as well. “W-I-L-M-A!!!”

Rawhide

“Keep those doggies rollin’, Rawhide! All those things I’m missin’, good vittles love and kissin’, are waiting at the end of my ride.” And who can forget The Blues Brothers singing this song in the movie? Classic stuff, and you can watch it here.

Mr. Ed

Mr. Ed was a show about a talking horse, and this song rhymes horse, of course, source, endorse, and hoarse. The 60s were a weird time, man.

Hawaii Five-0

Of all the songs on this list, this is the one that you’ll have stuck in your head for the rest of the day. The theme was later recorded by the Ventures, whose version climbed to No. 4 on the charts. And remember when Bill Murray famously butchered it as part of his Nick the Lounge Singer bit on Saturday Night Live? Good stuff.

WKRP in Cincinnati

Loved this show. “I’m living on the air in Cincinnati, Cincinnati WKRP.” So damn good.

The Courtship of Eddie’s Father – “Best Friend”

Just a great, catchy song about a father who’d lost his wife and is raising his son by himself. Fun Fact: The song was written by rock great Harry Nilsson.

Batman

Hey, the lyrics are essentially one word, but damn if this isn’t a catchy tune. And don’t mistake the campy, hilarious 1960s Batman with the dark Batman movies of today. Totally different vibe, kids.

Welcome Back Kotter – “Welcome Back”

Nearly a decade after the break-up of Lovin’ Spoonful and the mostly unsuccessful solo career that followed, frontman John Sebastian found himself with a No. 1 hit when he wrote “Welcome Back” for the TV show. Great tune.

Andy Griffith Show

This theme is quite simply an American treasure and probably the most recognizable theme in TV history. By the way, that’s song co-writer Earle Hagen you hear whistling the intro. Just beautiful in its simplicity.

The Jetsons

“Meet George Jetson! His Boy Elroy. Daughter Judy. Jane, his wife.” Yep, that’s about it, but if you were there you’ll never forget it.

Twilight Zone

This theme is so iconic that people still sing it today when something strange happens. Admit it, you’ve all done it. “Doo-do-doo-do, doo-do-doo-do . . .” Still chilling after 60-years.

Beverly Hillbillies – “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”

That’s Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs on guitar and banjo kids, two of the most famous bluegrass musicians of all time. The first time through Jerry Scoggins sings the premise, and then Scruggs goes nuts on banjo. Again, just an amazing, iconic song.

M*A*S*H – “Suicide is Painless”

Yes, the song was called “Suicide is Painless”. I loved M*A*S*H, and it was unique in that it was a tragedy with a laugh track. M*A*S*H was a black comedy pointing to the absurdity and horror of war. There are really haunting lyrics to the song, but they were left out for the show. All that was needed was that beautiful melody.

Spider-Man

This song from the 1966 sitcom was the bomb-diggity, man! “Is he strong? Listen bud, he’s got radioactive blood!” LOVE this song.

The Jeffersons – “Movin’ On Up”

Let’s all sing it together!

Well we’re movin on up, to the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up to the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie!

Gilligan’s Island – “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island”

Another iconic song that nearly everyone can sing along to. And did you know the original version (below) left out the Professor and Mary Ann? That’s cold, man. Cold.

The Addams Family

Kudos to Vic Mizzy, who also wrote the theme to Green Acres, for writing awesome rhymes like “they’re altogether ooky” and “they really are a scree-um.” And how in the hell did this show get canceled after only 3-years?

Laverne & Shirley

The show was a spin-off of Happy Days—a theme song that could have made this list in its own right—and the theme was composed by the same team of Gimbel and Fox. Fun Fact: “Schlemiel = “a habitual bungler”, schlimazel = “an extremely unlucky or inept person”, and Hasenfeffer =“rabbit stew”. Oh, and that’s Cyndi Grecco singing.

Just Missing the Cut:

Combat, The Monkees, Taxi, All in the Family, The Brady Bunch, Frasier, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Simpsons, Sanford & Son, Pink Panther, The A-Team, Bonanza, The Big Valley, Three’s Company, The Love Boat, I Love Lucy, Magnum P.I., Happy Days, The Office, Green Acres.

So, who did I miss? Let me hear your favorites!

I love The Office. I’ve seen all 201 episodes in chronological order probably 7-times. Yep, straight through, with breaks of course. I don’t know, there’s just something about the awkward, sometimes uncomfortable and politically incorrect humor that I love. Anyway, I thought I’d attempt list a few of my favorite scenes of my favorite sitcom. Without further ado, let’s get it on (That’s what she said*).

*If that means nothing to you then you should probably stop right here.

Michael’s Retirement From Comedy

In this one the legendary Todd Packer shows up to offend just about everyone in the office right as Dunder Mifflin orders a company-wide review of its harassment policy. The best scene is the moment when Michael decides to retire from comedy, and in particular his favorite line, “That’s what she said.” He walks out to deliver the news to the office, and this happens . . .

Dwight’s Fitness Orb

In this scene Dwight shows up with a fitness orb, much to the annoyance of Jim. You will see that Jim handles things accordingly.

Christmas Prank

Here’s another scene involving Jim’s continual pranking of Dwight. It’s a classic.

Jim Impersonates Dwight

Once again, Jim is pranking Dwight. Successfully I might add.

CPR Training

In this scene the office is undergoing CPR training, and as usual things take a left turn. Classic Dwight here.

The Fire Drill

Dwight believes the employees in the office need a little tough love in their fire emergency training. Per usual, he goes j-u-s-t a tad too far.

The Password

Here’s a hilarious scene where the gang needs to remember the password to reset their computers. Awkward hilarity ensues.

Sensitivity Training

Michael, never known for his sensitivity, imparts his own form of training on the office.

Drug Testing

Great scene where Dwight is tries to find out who left a joint in the parking lot.

Michael Drives Into a Lake

We all can relate to this scene on some level, amirite?

Little Kid Lover

A perfect example of The Office’s awkward, non-politically correct humor.

Parkour PARKOUR!

Funny opening when Dwight, Michael and Andy are practicing their parkour moves.

Michael Scott’s School of Management

Another totally un-PC scene.

Stapler in Jello

Yet another prank that Jim pulled on Dwight.

The Injury

From the hilarious episode where Michael burnt his foot on a George Foreman grill.

Dwight Smashes the Watermelon

Short scene from the episode where Michael was going to fake his own suicide to make a point. Again, not very PC. Here they are testing the trampoline.

Can She Fit In a Rowboat?

Again, completely inappropriate. Also funny as hell.

Every “That’s What She Said”

Regarding the previously mentioned “that’s what she said”, here’s every one ever.

Michael’s Appearance at Dwight’s Wedding

In the final episode, Michael made a surprise appearance. This was after he’d left the show a couple years prior. It was a poignant, touching scene.

Opening to The Emmys

Thought I’d throw this in as a bonus. Enjoy!

There are a hundred other scenes I could’ve picked, these were just off the top of my head. Stay tuned. I’ll leave you with the best of several characters and some random videos:

 

 

 

This is a few years old but is still hysterical. LOVE Conan.

The NBA had their goofy awards show last night and Charles Barkley was recognizing Bill Russell for some reason, blah-blah-blah. Anyhoo, this was Bill’s reaction. Well played, Bill. Well played.

In the days leading up to the royal wedding between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, Thomas J. Mace-Archer-Mills was all over your television screens. You remember him. The dude with the tweed caps and bowties, heavy accent, just British like you read about. He was always identified as an expert on the monarchy.

Yeah, turns out Mace-Archer-Mills is actually an American guy from New York named Thomas Muscatello.

Oh, that’s too good.

Listen, Muscatello is an expert on the monarchy. He’s the founder and chairman of the British Monarchist Society and publishes Crown and Country magazine, which covers royal topics. Bro is even applying for British citizenship, and he found an elderly British man and woman who agreed he can call them his grandparents.

Well, that’s weird.

The story is that he’s been obsessed with the royals since he was a kid. While acting in “Oliver” in a high school play he learned all about British Royal history. And somehow, Muscatello uses this to land a job for himself as a royal consultant.

I don’t know, there’s just something about all the reverence and seriousness over this wedding that makes this funny. The “royal expert” everyone was breathlessly listening to was actually Tommy Muscatello from New York. You can’t make this stuff up, man.

While perusing the worldwide interweb late last night I stumbled across this little mind-blowing nugget. The pilot episode of a TV series called The Lone Gunmen, broadcast on March 4th, 2001, featured a plot to hijack a plane and fly it into the World Trade Center. That, my friends, is chilling. Watch and try not to feel all freaky and whatnot:

Aaaand, speaking of predictions . . .

The actor Creed Bratton went by his actual name in the TV sitcom The Office, playing Creed Bratton. He was also a member of the band The Grass Roots.

 

Creed Bratton, far right.

 

 

You know what I hate most about all the talking sports heads on television? When they imprint how they think they would feel upon the athletes they’re covering. Some examples:

Boy, the Falcons are really looking to get revenge for that waxing the Eagles gave them 2-years ago!”
 
“Well Curt, it’s Senior Night here at Schmedlap Field so I’m certain the Panthers are going to be fired up to play!”
 
“Well, we all know what Billy Bob Stinkerton said about the Owls last week, and they didn’t like it one bit. That’s bulletin board material Joe!”

And all I’ve heard this week on Sports Talk Radio is how the negative ESPN story on the Patriots is going to fire up New England . . .

Wow, that’s going to be something! The Patriots have a point to prove now! They have extra incentive to win!”

Uh, no they don’t. Belichick won’t give that nonsense a second thought.

Truth be told, emotions last about a minute into a competition and then the teams have to play the game. All that “we owe them from last year” stuff doesn’t go very far. As Mike Tyson once said, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get hit.

So true.

Ask any athlete at any level. You can get as fired up as you want, but after the first few minutes you have to play the game. You get tired. That’s when fundamentals and preparation come into play.

The fact is the team that’s the most prepared and/or has the most talent is going to win. You can play all the uplifting songs, show all the inspirational videos, and give all the rousing pep talks you want, but if you’re not prepared and mentally ready to play you’re going to lose.

Simple as that.

Classic scene from “A Bronx Tale.”

Violence in cartoons was intense back in the day, man. People thought it was the height of comedy to have cartoon characters blow each other up or blast each other’s heads off. And even movies cartoons could be emotionally intense. Check out this scene when Bambi’s mother got shot by hunters:

Hell, that scene can scar a 7-year old for life. It’s tough for even me to watch it right now. Guess we were a little more callous back in the day.

Don’t get me wrong, kids are probably exposed to more violence today, it’s just not disguised as humor. If you don’t believe me just take a look at video games like Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat or Postal. They’re blood orgies to put it mildly.

Like I said, the interesting aspect of the older cartoons is that they were contained within these cute little TV shows about, usually, talking animals of all things. We’ll take a look at just a few, but first, a video so you can get the vibe:

Sort of jarring when you see it all at once, ya know?

After perusing just a few Tom & Jerry cartoons on the YouTube I viewed the following:

  • Jerry stuffing a lit stuck of dynamite into Tom’s mouth, where it explodes.
  • Tom shooting himself in the head with a shotgun.
  • Jerry slamming a red-hot waffle iron shut on Tom’s tail.
  • Jerry getting impaled through the groin with a pool stick. Not kidding.
  • Jerry slicing Tom’s tail to shreds with a pair of scissors.

Check it:

I swear, what happens on these shows rivals any torture or murder ever seen on the show Criminal Minds. Those little scamps were evil, dude.

And everyone remembers Pepe Le Pew, right?  Little bro was a French skunk with an aversion to taking no for an answer, Le Pew’s adventures read like a “How To” book on sexual harassment. Narcissistic, creepy, and obsessed with every female prospect that crossed his path, Le Pew was the ultimate anti-role model for a society trying to make steps towards gender equality. Here’s a sample of Pepe sexually harassing a cat. Yes, I just typed that:

Finally, what about the morbidly obese Fat Albert? Hell, today those friends that called him fat would find themselves in Sensitivity Training, since obesity is now being called a psychological condition. And the callousness doesn’t end there, kids. Consider poor Dumb Donald, Mushmouth, Weird Harold, and Bucky. Poor victims were given cruel nicknames that mocked their greatest insecurities and handicaps, over which they have little or no control. Tragic really. Here’s poor Mushmouth, who clearly had issues:

Oh, and what about Popeye? Dude used to beat the hell out of everyone.

Sadly, many brutal scenes have been edited out when shown nowadays, and that’s sort of sad. I mean, we all turned out OK, right?

Right?

Pretty sure he was saying to get the hell out of there.

Before we begin, let us simply recall the iconic opening to every episode of one of the most amazing TV shows of all-time, The Twilight Zone . . .

Yes, there were variations of the same opening, but you get the gist.

I recorded the Twilight Zone Marathon recently, and I just finished watching nearly 70-episodes. There were 156 total, but these were deemed some of the best. I learned a few things while watching, and the most striking of these was that Rod Serling got away with a lot of crazy and outrageous stuff.  More on that later.

I also learned that lots of stars and future stars were on the show. People like Mickey Rooney, William Shatner, Ron Howard, Burt Reynolds, Carol Burnett, Buster Keaton, Robert Redford, Dennis Hopper, Leonard Nimoy, Lee Marvin, and Don Rickles all guest starred. The décor – early 60’s Mad Men style.

Another aspect that stood out was the introductions and closing remarks by Serling. Just incredible writing. Here’s a sample:

Nobody else, and I mean nobody, could pull that off like Serling. Love it. Here’s a sample of one of his closing monologues:

Again, so well done.

It was also amazing how Serling touched on political issues of the day. Some episodes even touched on World War II and the treatment of Jews.  This was just 15-18 years after the war, and the scenes were brutal. They spoke of the experiments done on prisoners and everything. Pretty incredible for such a conservative era.

That said, I’ll now give you my 12 favorite Twilight Zone episodes. Let us commence . . .

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

William Shatner (later to become Captain Kirk in Star Trek) stars in what might be the most famous and revered of all Twilight Zone episodes. He plays a man traveling aboard a commercial flight with his wife. He spots a monster on the wing, trying to damage it. He tries to alert the crew and other passengers to the potential danger lurking just outside his window seat. However, the clever being makes sure to fly out of view every time someone else peers through the glass, leaving Shatner to look foolish and delusional. In typical Twilight Zone fashion, the final shot is the killer. As Shatner is taken away on a stretcher, the camera pans away showing actual damage the monster has done to the wing. Awesome. On a related note, the shot where Shatner has closed the window, only to open it to see the monster’s face pressed against the window scared the bejesus out of me.

Note- Watching it now, the “monster” appears to have been created by a 5th grade art class. Still a classic episode.

Living Doll

This episode is always referred to as “Talking Tina” and it was the single scariest thing I’d ever seen in my life. Trust me, as a 6-year old this was just petrifying and life-altering to witness. I still hate dolls to this day because of this show. In this one Telly Savalas plays a man who isn’t a fan of his stepdaughter’s new “Talky Tina” doll, especially after the doll starts telling him she’s going to kill him. What follows is a twisted domestic drama powered by the actions of an evil toy. There have been dozens of TV shows and movies that have told stories about talking dolls since, but Rod Serling’s take is still the best by far. Believe me, I haven’t looked at a doll the same since.

The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street

Ah, another great one that asks the viewers to decide who the real monsters are, the alien invaders or their very own friends and neighbors? “Monsters” finds the residents of an unnamed town in a panic when they conclude an alien invasion is afoot, and it began because of a loud noise and a power outage. Rather than team up to combat the terror from beyond the stars, they succumb to paranoia and vigilante-like behavior, leading their invaders to conclude that the best way to destroy mankind is to let us do the deed ourselves. Rod Serling, who wrote the episode, summed it up best in the closing narration, making a social point as he often did:

“The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, and prejudices — to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill. And suspicion can destroy. And a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own – for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is, that these things cannot be confined . . . to the Twilight Zone.”

Wow.

The Invaders

In this one, a poor impoverished woman (Agnes Moorehead, who went on to play the mother on Bewitched) lives alone in a rustic cabin. She is dressed shabbily, and there are no modern conveniences in evidence. After hearing a strange noise above her kitchen roof, she is attacked by small intruders that come from a miniature flying saucer that has landed on her rooftop. Two tiny figures about 6-inches high, which may be robots or beings wearing pressure suits, emerge from the craft. As a kid this was creepy as hell. Anyway, the small figures attack the woman, using small, pistol-like weapons that leave radiation burns on her skin, and, after following her into her cabin, slashing her ankle and hand with her own kitchen knife. The suspense builds as the woman searches for the invaders. She eventually destroys one, wrapping it in a blanket and beating it until it is still, then throwing it into the burning fireplace. She follows the other to the saucer-ship on her roof, which she proceeds to attack with a hatchet. From within the craft, she hears a voice speaking in English. These are the first words we’ve heard the whole episode, and the intruder knows he’s about to die. He then proceeds to frantically warn other potential visitors that the planet is inhabited by giants and they are impossible to defeat. Then comes the kicker. The camera pans slowly away to reveal the markings on the side of the ship, which reads U.S. Air Force Space Probe No. 1. You see, the invaders were human astronauts from Earth, and the woman in the small farmhouse belongs to a race of giant humanoids native to another planet. Another shocking ending.

The Bewitchin’ Pool

In my mind, one of most unforgettable of all the Twilight Zone episodes. A young girl and her little brother live in a beautiful suburban home, complete with a large swimming pool. Their parents are cold, short tempered, and forever fighting in front of their children. One day, a boy pops up from the deep end of their pool and invites them to follow him. Wait. What? The children then follow by diving underwater and surface in a beautiful countryside. It is simple and plain, and unlike their spectacular home. There are no adults except for a kindly woman who bakes desserts and offers kind words. The children go back home through the swimming pool because they’re worried that their parents have missed them. They break through the water to find that their neglectful parents haven’t even noticed that they were gone. The children return again to the idyllic countryside by diving through the pool, and this time, they stay. Their parents search for them in the pool, but never find them. The children remain happily ever after, cared for and loved, in this paradise. It wasn’t until I watched this episode as an adult that I saw that it could be perceived as legitimizing childhood suicide in response to bad parenting, and a child’s simple wish to get the hell away. No way this would be broadcast today.

The Hitch-Hiker

Another terrifying example of the plot twists Twilight Zone was known for. We begin with a young woman traveling alone cross country trip. She blows a tire and when she takes her car in for repairs, we get a hint that something is amiss when the mechanic tells her she should have called a hearse, not a car repair service. She drives on, but keeps seeing a man hitchhiking no matter how far she drives. Shaken, she finally stops and calls her mother, only to be told that her mother had a nervous breakdown when her daughter was killed in a car accident 6-days ago. She is in disbelief, but returns to her car, where the hitchhiker awaits her. She ultimately realizes that the hitchhiker is death, patiently waiting for her. What I see now that I didn’t see then is that you can’t outrun fate. In the unforgettable final scene, Nan returns to the car and looks in the vanity mirror on the visor. Instead of her reflection, she sees the hitchhiker. He looks at her and asks, “I believe you’re going my way?” Jeebus.

After Hours

There is another episode I can directly blame for one of my phobias and that is my fear of mannequins. In a department store, there is a 9th floor for no one else but the store’s mannequins. Once a month, they take turns living as humans in the real world. When their time is up, they return to the 9th floor, except for the day that Mannequin Marcy decides she likes being human too much and is not going back. My older and wiser take on it now? Serling was telling us that, sometimes, a small taste of honey is worse than none at all.

Time Enough at Last

What a great, great episode that is often ranked as the best Twilight Zone ever. Burgess Meredith stars as Henry Bemis — a man who just wants to get away from the everyday world and bury his nose in a good book. Henry gets his wish one day when the rest of humanity is wiped out in a nuclear attack. He soon discovers an untouched library — a place where he can read in peace for the rest of his existence. Thrilled with his discovery, Bemis settles in. As he gets ready to crack open his first book, the worst happens – he breaks his glasses. Virtually blind, Bemis is now stuck in a world with all the time and books he could ever want and no way to enjoy them. Damn you Rod Serling!

To Serve Man

Another classic. In this episode, mankind has seemingly found a kindly alien savior in the form of the Kanamits — a race of towering space travelers who are all too willing to help Earth get rid of the problems of hunger and war. But their personal manifesto, a book entitled To Serve Man, isn’t the guide for peace that everyone thought it to be. As the woman who figured it all out yells at the end of the episode, “It’s a cookbook! IT’S A COOKBOOK!” Ah, to serve man. It all made chilling sense in the end.

It’s a Good Life

Bill Mumy was absolutely terrifying as the 6-year-old Anthony Freemont, a boy with incredible psychic powers who holds everyone around him under his power. Little Anthony could simply think you out of existence for displeasing him. He was some sort of godlike child with the ability to read minds, make people disappear, mutate other living beings, and control the weather. The adults obviously tiptoe around the temperamental kid, but it never really matters, because he’s six, and six-year-olds aren’t particularly rational in the first place, amirite? Here’s Serling closing quote:

No comment here, no comment at all. We only wanted to introduce you to one of our very special citizens, little Anthony Fremont, age 6, who lives in a village called Peaksville in a place that used to be Ohio. And if by some strange chance you should run across him, you had best think only good thoughts. Anything less than that is handled at your own risk, because if you do meet Anthony, you can be sure of one thing – You have entered The Twilight Zone.”

The Eye of the Beholder

I watched this as a kid and it terrified me for weeks. A young woman undergoes surgery to improve her appearance and look like everyone else. She spends most of the episode swathed in head bandages as shadowy doctors and nurses talk around her. She’s terrified they won’t be able to make her beautiful. When the wraps are removed, the doctors proclaim the procedure a complete failure — but the audience sees the lovely Donna Douglas and wonders what the holy hell they’re talking about. It all becomes clear when the doctors and nurses are revealed. In one of the most memorable Twilight Zone endings of all time, the docs and nurses all look like some sort of mutant pigs. “Eye of the Beholder” indeed.

Long Distance Call

This episode frightened me so much that I promised myself I would never see it again. I lied. After his grandmother dies, a little boy is mysteriously given a phone. On this phone, only calls from his deceased grandmother can come through. Grandma then tries to convince Little Billy to kill himself to join her. And so he tries, several times in several ways. I can say without a doubt that today, this storyline encouraging childhood suicide would never be allowed to be aired. Just normal prime time entertainment for the Twilight Zone, though.

So there ya go, my personal favorite Twilight Zone episodes. What are yours? Let’s hear it!

Many members of the cast of Seinfeld have done well for themselves. Here’s the estimated net worth of 7 of the co-stars:
Jerry Seinfeld – 870-million
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine) – 200-million
Jason Alexander (George) – 50-million
Michael Richards (Kramer) – 48-million
Jerry Stiller (George’s dad) – 12.5-million
John Hurley (J Peterman) – 8.5-million
Wayne Knight (Newman) – 8-million

 

ÒSeinfeld: Season 7Ó (Sony, 24 episodes, four discs, $49.95) has, among others, ÒThe Maestro,Ó ÒThe Sponge,Ó ÒThe Soup NaziÓ and ÒThe InvitationsÓ (that is, the unfortunate stamp-licking end of George’s fiancee Susan).(Handout/MCT)

To hell with the game, man.