Friday, December 13, 2019

Review of The Twilight Zone, Season 1, Episode 11: "Three Unnecessary Characters"

From early on in the story, you can feel something different about The Twilight Zone episode, "When the Sky Was Opened." It's not because the main character is so sweaty that it causes the viewer to feel uncomfortable, anxious, and sexually satisfied. Something about the existential dread felt by the characters in this episode reaches a level only hinted at in previous episodes. So it was absolutely no surprise to see that while Rod Serling wrote the teleplay, Richard Matheson, sci-fi/horror legend (wordplay!), wrote the story this episode was based on. I knew his name would be showing up in the credits eventually but wasn't expecting it so soon. In a way, it's a bit disappointing because I was thinking, "Wow! Rod really began hitting his writing stride earlier than I realized!"

This is a story about three test pilots who wind up in one of existence's subplots that Somebody ultimately realized wasn't needed. They return to Earth after crashing an experimental craft, begin to feel an undefined existential dread, and then disappear from existence entirely one by one. My theory is that God has a higher power which we should call The Editor. The Editor looks upon God's creation and, occasionally, says, "Do we really need this story about this experimental craft? I mean, it's 1960. Are people going to believe this crap? Maybe wait until later in the decade for this kind of thing. And now that you've got me looking closely at the three pilots, do we even need them? Just excise their entire existences. But don't mess with that nurse! I've always loved Miss Landers!" Although Sue Randall (Miss Landers) died at 49 which I guess is either proof that God's Editor loved her too much or not enough. It's hard to tell when you're dealing with omnipotent beings like Gods and editors.

Maybe Rod Serling learns something from his experience writing the teleplay of this story. Maybe he learns you don't need a compelling and definitive explanation for the cause of the main character or characters' existential dread. You don't need the U-boat first officer explicating the first two-thirds of the story during the final third. You don't need the accidental time-traveler's father patiently explaining to his time traveling son how maybe he should stop time traveling, literally and daydreamily. You don't need the man full of existential dread to dream the reason for his existential dread before he flings himself out of the window to die on the couch. You can just present a situation to which the protagonist can react with fear, paranoia, and anxiousness until that fear, paranoia, and anxiousness is ultimately proven true and the protagonist disappears without a hint of a reason why. Oh, sure, this story isn't perfect in that regard. But the theories as to why these men are disappearing come straight from the men trying to figure out why they're disappearing. Which is the entire point of this episode and The Twilight Zone in general and life in super general.

We're all eventually going to die and be forgotten. If that doesn't make you, at least occasionally, sweat like an anxious and terrified protagonist of a 1960s television show, you might not understand life at all.

I realize that I would only make every story I review worse with my suggestions but here's my suggestion to make this story better: instead of the main protagonist going back to the third astronaut after the first one disappears in his need for somebody to understand his terror of how reality has warped before him and his need to find some meaning behind it and possibly a way to fix it, he should just stay in the hotel fucking his girlfriend until he disappears mid-thrust. Some people might think I'm a pervert for coming up with that story change and, while I am a pervert who still thinks about Maya the Cat Girl's sexy dance (but with Sue Randall in the original actress's place), it would also be a pretty good metaphor for life. We're all just here to fuck until we wink out of existence because fucking is the only way to ensure that you're not the only one who has to suffer existing. Fuck you, future generations! You need to experience this terror too! Because if there is one thing more powerful than the drive to produce offspring, it's the drive to make people suffer as much as you've suffered. I could point to politics but I'd rather point to and Ringu and Bill Cosby (in three different examples. I don't have an overarching theory that combines them all). I feel when most people see, there's a biological need to show somebody else. Maybe even a gleeful need to make somebody else experience the shock and pain you've just experienced. In the novel, Ringu, the only way to keep from dying after watching a movie full of existential dread and terrifying images is to make another person watch the video as well (and to make a copy! Which only bolsters what I'm saying since Ringu really just asks the question, "What are memes?" I mean, it asks the question, "What is the biological imperative of every living thing and can inanimate objects somehow have the same viral drive to replicate?" Okay, maybe it doesn't ask that exactly but what am I? A critic? I mean an actual critic that is smart and does research and actually understands things like plot and character development and why movies hardly ever show boobies anymore). My third example doesn't have anything to do with Bill Cosby drugging and raping people. It's about his comedy which is still pretty good even if it now makes you think, "I'm laughing hysterically at a guy who raped people!" In whatever album it is where he talks about Fat Albert, he tells the story of being scared by a friend with a Frankenstein mask. After getting scared, the first thing Bill wants to do is scare somebody else. It's just the way we're fucking programmed, man!

Does that make my perverted story idea sound better when I add a bunch of bullshit 7th Grade argumentative reasons for it? I suppose the other reason is that I just want to see two people fuck for ten minutes but nobody wants to agree to that one! At least not out loud.

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