Your Guide to the New Year’s SyFy Twilight Zone Marathon
The highest compliment I’ve received as a suspense author has been the comparison of my short stories with the Twilight Zone. The concept of my work accomplishing the same unnerving, twisty fun as one of the best TV series of all time, well it makes me feel pretty damn good.
I moved to the U.S from Canada when I was twelve. One of my greatest finds was the SyFy network (although it wasn’t spelled with the trendy ‘y’ at the time). As the “new girl” in a strange land called Minnesota, I was thrilled to find an escape in everything SyFy had to offer; showings of TV movies like The Stand, cheesy horror films like Mosquito, but most of all the show that would eventually greatly influence my writing, The Twilight Zone.
Every New Year’s since I was a pre-teen, I watch at least a few episodes of the SyFy annual marathon. Here are some of my picks for must-watches, and one miss.
Let me know your Twilight Zone faves @MegHafdahl.
Sunday, December 31st, 2017
The marathon begins early (4 am) but I recommend you sleep in a bit to charge yourself up for the TV sprint ahead.
10/9c: Start with “The Obsolete Man”. Like many episodes, this one takes place in the future. With the current state of the world in 2017, this depiction of a totalitarian state where being a librarian is an executable offense, doesn’t seem all that impossible. While the episode’s star, Burgess Meredith, is known better for his appearance in the episode “Time Enough at Last” in which he breaks his glasses at an ironic moment, the lesser known “The Obsolete Man” is my favorite of his two appearances. It’s a momentous beginning for my favorite kind of marathon, one that allows me stay in my pajamas.
3/2c: After a snack break, come back in time for “The Midnight Sun”. This was the first episode I showed my children, as it has a haunting twist ending and it’s just plain cool. This female led episode takes place during an apocalyptic crisis: the Earth has spun of its axis and is careening much too close to the sun. No matter how snowy it is outside, you’ll feel the scorching heat while watching “The Midnight Sun”.
6/5c: Go ahead and miss “The Bewitchin’ Pool”. One of my least favorite episodes, “The Bewitchin’ Pool” does have a tender story at its heart, about children forgotten by their selfish parents in the wake of divorce. But, the little girl portraying the main character (and who competently played Scout in the classic To Kill a Mockingbird) has all of her lines dubbed over by an adult. It creates an annoying and needless distraction that ruins the whole thing. This is a good time to catch up on your social media, or maybe take your last bubble bath of 2017.
9:30/8:30c-11:30/10:30c: Okay, now it’s time to get serious. Turn of your cell, ignore those friends trying to get you to their New Year’s party, and hunker down for some of the best episodic TV of all time. Starting with “The Invaders” a thrilling thirty minutes with no dialogue, starring one of my favorite character actresses, Agnes Moorhead (Bewitched, Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte). Moorhead plays a woman alone in her rural home, attacked by a tiny alien. She takes matters in her own hands, which leads to an effective, brutal twist. Next, comes arguably the best episode of The Twilight Zone. “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” is an exploration of paranoia and classism. It focuses on one suburban American street during a time of crisis, exposing that true darkness is where we least expect it. Stick around for “The Dummy” about a ventriloquist and his bizarre relationship with his doll, always a creepy treat, and finally for “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”. William Shatner stars as a man terrified by a troll-like creature on the wing of an airplane. It’s a Twilight Zone classic, and a must-see.
Go ahead and get some sleep, maybe even ring in 2018 before you return for more.
Monday, January 1st
Start this morning off with “Last Stop at Willoughby”. I brazenly stole the idyllic town’s name for my own short story series and upcoming novel series. Quite a few people have recognized the connection, which always starts a fun Twilight Zone chat. This episode is a slow burn, saving most of the horror for the final moments.
4/3c: I consider “The Hitch-Hiker” one of the scariest episodes. It leans more toward horror than others, and provides a chilling conclusion. This one will stick with you long after it’s over.
9:30/8:30c-12/11c: There are quite a few decent episodes as the afternoon goes on, but make sure you’ve returned to the couch for the evening lineup “Living Doll” is an unforgettable battle between Telly Savalas and a sweet looking doll. Who do you think wins? Then comes a Sci-Fi heavy installment called “To Serve Man” about aliens with questionable intentions. For a laugh, stick around for “A Penny for Your Thoughts”. More comedy than horror, this is a nice chaser after the previously serious and dark episodes. Next, the most famous episode “The Eye of the Beholder” is a play on how beauty is all relative, if you don’t know the twist in this one, you have some catching up to do. Finally, end on “Number Twelve Looks Just Like You” a surprisingly poignant look at external beauty and happiness.
Do yourself a favor and miss the crowds. Stay home this New Years and travel to another dimension. One as vast as space and timeless as infinity.