Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Twilight Zone, S1, E20: "Doc Baker Does a Doodoo"

Imagine wandering into your local cemetery to have a meditative moment to think about those you loved who passed on and being approached by the caretaker. He starts digging a grave while chatting cordially and you're all, "Hey, man, I'll just let you get to work while I go ponder our temporary state of self-knowing over there." And then he stabs you in the face and throws you in the grave because only dead people belong in cemeteries and you're disrupting his binary paradigm. Not only would that be a terrible story to be a part of, it's also a terrible story to tell. So why did The Twilight Zone tell it to me in the episode entitled "Elegy"?!

The concept of "Elegy" isn't bad. The people of Earth have finally realized that cemeteries take up too much space simply so people can turn self-pity and reflection into a nice walk among ruinous stone plaques. So they decide to turn an asteroid into the place they inter their dead. My guess is these same Earthlings have realized golf courses are even worse so I imagine the astronauts in this episode came pretty fucking close to having a nice vacation instead of a tragic ending.

Speaking of alternate possibilities, remember that show Sliders where the kid from Stand By Me traveled to all sorts of alternate dimensions where things were just slightly different? The entire premise of that show was that a universe exists for every possible choice (or possible thing you could think up, I guess? I just saw the synopsis of an episode as I was flipping channels and it was all, "On this Earth, people can speak to fire!"). And that's why I never gave the show a chance. Because what do I care if they land in some universe and save the day when I know there's an exact duplicate of that universe where they failed to save the day?! I'd have watched the show if I'd heard they die tragically every few episodes. Also, I'm not saying the show couldn't have been entertaining. I'm sure it was good fun! I'm just saying the concept ruined it for me from the outset.

Speaking of things that are getting further and further away from discussing The Twilight Zone, I rewatched The Devil's Rejects on PlutoTV this morning and I think advertisers should be more cautious about what movies they allow their ads to be played during. Because I'm not sure I'd want my product to be shown immediately after a half-naked woman with a mask made out of her husband's face exploded after being hit by a semi-truck. Maybe that's just optimizing their audience? It's a good thing I'm face blind when it comes to commercials or else whatever product was being pitched which I now can't remember would forever make me think of a house with 1000 corpses buried under it.

So these three astronauts find themselves on a planet full of taxidermied people. They're super confused throughout the episode until an actual person comes along and is all, "It's a cemetery, guys! Isn't it cool?!" And they're all, "It's pretty elaborate." And the caretaker responds, "We bury people in the place they'd most like to be. By the way and entirely unrelated, where would you most like to be?" And they're all, "Heading home in our ship! Oh boy, this tea you made us is delicious! Ack! We've been poisoned! But why?!" And the caretaker shrugs and doesn't say, "We've had terrible trouble with vandals and anti-Semites." No, he just says, "It's a quiet place and y'all are fucking getting on my nerves."

The moral of the story — like the moral of loads of horror stories — is to never get lost. Don't fucking do it, man! Once you're lost, you're fucking doomed. You're either going to wind up at a motel where they turn guests into jerky or wind up at a motel where they kill people in their showers or wind up at a motel where a hick family of necrophiliacs and sadists led by their clown father will torture and murder you or wind up at a motel where the locals beat your ass because you're a smug advertising salesman who maybe wasn't lost but his car broke down and that's just as bad as getting lost. Maybe the moral is to never stay at a motel! Anyway, it's not like these astronauts did anything to deserve their fate. It was just bad luck. So maybe sometimes the moral of the story is simply "Life fucking happens the way it happens and even when you're being poisoned by a mad cemetery caretaker, take comfort in knowing that it's nothing you did and there's nothing that could have been done differently (aside from killing the caretaker before you even knew he was going to kill you, making you the asshole)."

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