So 2017 has officially started! While ushering in the new year is always exciting, equally exciting is saying goodbye to the previous year.
Many people like to go out and celebrate New Year’s Eve, toasting friends and family with champagne, fireworks and midnight kisses. But there are some of us who say ‘no’ to the obligatory year-end parties and champagne so that we can hole up for a couple of days and binge watch episode after episode of “The Twilight Zone”.
Yeah, no sparkly dress, heels and socializing for this girl. Since I was a child, I’ve loved nothing more than ringing in the new year with Rod Serling and Co. There are a number of times when my friends were less than impressed with me after I nixed fun plans they tried to include me in on December 31. But as I told them, the Syfy Twilight Zone New Year’s Eve Marathon is a tradition — and a tradition that comes around only once a year.
I can’t pass it up. I just can’t. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen the episodes, how many times I’ve screamed at the television when Syfy cuts the unmasking of Jason Foster at the end of “The Masks” (but this year they didn’t! Yah!), or how many times I’ve fallen asleep mid-episode in the wee hours of the morning.
It doesn’t matter. It’s tradition. Yes, I have the discs and can watch high-def episodes whenever I want. But if you opt out of watching on New Year’s Eve because you’re a “quality snob”, then you’re missing the point of the marathon. The whole “set it and forget it” mentality is exactly what makes the marathon appealing. And Syfy has been running this marathon for 20+ years — loooong before Blu-rays or DVDs even existed.
So, like I said — it’s tradition. And you just don’t go breaking with certain well-established traditions. At least not with Talky Tina and Little Anthony running around.
So everyone in my immediate circle knows that come December 31, I have a standing 48-hour date with Rod Serling.
Last year, Syfy
screwed up tinkered with our long-standing tradition and had a huge let’s-air-all-156-episodes marathon. They betrayed surprised me again this time with a marathon that was less than ALL the episodes, but still more than the manageable 48 hours that I prefer.
I know, I know. I’m crabbing about getting too many episodes. I know. I can’t help it. I like things to be “just so”, and that means a 48-hour New Year’s Eve marathon, no tinkering required.
But regardless of length, one thing stands true during every marathon: I think, “Man, I wish Syfy would let ME program the episodes.”
The Syfy marathon schedule can be all over the place, with no rhyme nor reason to the episode placement. And that bugs me. I like things to have order and meaning. And being a big fan of the show, and a supremely efficient organizer, I think I’m more than qualified to mock up my own ultimate New Year’s Eve Twilight Zone marathon line-up.
This is something I’ve been wanting to do for years now. But whenever marathon time rolls around, well, you know, I’m busy watching the marathon! But this time, I was prepared — I started this post before December 31 — and now that another New Year’s Eve marathon is in the bag, I’m ready to unveil my ideal schedule.
What follows is my dream line-up of TZ episodes. I’ve slotted nothing at random. I’ve chosen every episode very carefully, and considered not only the time it’s airing but also the other episodes it’s airing alongside. I’ve managed to work in a few of my favourite hour-long season 4 episodes — like “The New Exhibit” — and I’ve eliminated the episodes I really don’t care for, like “Mr. Dingle, the Strong”, “Hocus-Pocus and Frisby”, and “The Bewitchin’ Pool”.
After you’ve perused my selections and setup, I’ll explain a few of my decisions. But for right now, see what you think. For your consideration, Syfy and dear readers, my ultimate New Year’s Eve Twilight Zone Marathon schedule!
Twilight Zone New Year’s Eve Dream Marathon
8:00am – Where Is Everybody?
8:30am – The Chaser
9:00am – The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine
9:30am – The Lonely
10:00am – People Are Alike All Over
10:30am – From Agnes–With Love
11:00am – Still Valley
11:30am – Mr. Bevis
12:00pm – Printer’s Devil
1:00pm – What You Need
1:30pm – The Trade-Ins
2:00pm – I Sing the Body Electric
2:30pm – A Stop at Willoughby
3:00pm – Jess-Belle
4:00pm – Perchance to Dream
4:30pm – Walking Distance
5:00pm – Time Enough at Last
5:30pm – A World of His Own
6:00pm – Nick of Time
6:30pm – The Dummy
7:00pm – Ninety Years Without Slumbering
7:30pm – Living Doll
8:00pm – Black Leather Jackets
8:30pm – Death’s Head-Revisited
9:00pm – Twenty-Two
9:30pm – Eye of the Beholder
10:00pm – The Howling Man
10:30pm – The After Hours
11:00pm – Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?
11:30pm – The Masks
12:00am – Night Call
12:30am – Nothing in the Dark
1:00am – The Hitch-Hiker
1:30am – The New Exhibit
2:30am – A Most Unusual Camera
3:00am – The Silence
3:30am – A Nice Place to Visit
4:00am – I Am the Night—Colour Me Black
4:30am – One More Pallbearer
5:00am – The Bard
6:00am – Long Distance Call
6:30am – The Odyssey of Flight 33
7:00am – The Passersby
7:30am – The Arrival
8:00am – He’s Alive
9:00am – The Trouble With Templeton
9:30am – The Hunt
10:00am – The Gift
10:30am – Queen of the Nile
11:00am – Number 12 Looks Just Like You
11:30am – Ring-a-Ding Girl
12:00pm – Two
12:30pm – A Hundred Yards Over the Rim
1:00pm – Spur of the Moment
1:30pm – A Piano in the House
2:00pm – Long Live Walter Jameson
2:30pm – Static
3:00pm – Passage on the Lady Anne
4:00pm – A Kind of a Stopwatch
4:30pm – The Old Man in the Cave
5:00pm – The Mind and the Matter
5:30pm – The Changing of the Guard
6:00pm – The Night of the Meek
6:30pm – Dust
7:00pm – The Shelter
7:30pm – The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street
8:00pm – Third From the Sun
8:30pm – The Obsolete Man
9:00pm – The Jungle
9:30pm – Mr. Garrity and the Graves
10:00pm – The Grave
10:30pm – Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
11:00pm – The Fear
11:30pm – The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank
12:00am – Five Characters In Search of An Exit
12:30am – A World of Difference
1:00am – Miniature
2:00am – The Lateness of the Hour
2:30am – The Invaders
3:00am – Stopover in a Quiet Town
3:30am – The Midnight Sun
4:00am – Valley of the Shadow
To no one’s surprise, I’m sure, my slightly OCD brain was predisposed to kick off my marathon with “Where Is Everybody?”, Twilight Zone’s premiere episode. Just seems fitting, no?
For Day One, I tried not to get too heavy-handed with my favourite episodes, being sure to slot them in between some of the regular ones. I also was determined not to schedule all the more famous episodes in one big block, instead spreading them out over the course of the day, mixed in with the lesser known stuff.
I did want a nice “nighttime” themed primetime block though, with a great run from 6:00pm to 2:30am of Nick of Time, The Dummy, Of Late I Think of Cliffordville, Living Doll, Black Leather Jackets, Death’s Head-Revisited, Twenty-Two, Eye of the Beholder, The Howling Man, The After Hours, Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?, The Masks, Night Call, Nothing in the Dark, The Hitch-Hiker, and The New Exhibit. “Night Call”, had to be at midnight as it’s one of TZ’s most frightening episodes. For me anyway!
All these episodes have a certain “creepy” factor, making them not only perfect to show together, but also to show in the dark. They start out mild and like a rising crescendo, they get scarier and scarier as the night goes on.
It was important that “The After Hours” get a prime spot at 10:30pm because it’s an episode that almost always gets shown around 4 in the morning — when no one is up to enjoy it. That’s just unacceptable. It’s one of the most TZ-ish TZs out there, and as the title suggests, is best viewed “after hours”.
In the early morning hours of January 1 are your typical middle of the pack TZs. How many people will be watching from 4:00am to 9:00am? So I put in some good ones for the die-hard fans, but saved the better episodes for later. Including this nice little run of my favourites starting at 9:30 — when I usually tune in for the day. The Hunt, The Gift, Queen of the Nile, Number 12 Looks Just Like You, Ring-a-Ding Girl, and Two. Since people are just starting their day, I wanted the episodes to be TZ-ish but nice and more easy-going. No ghost stories or scary dolls when you first get up.
The rest of the afternoon is a very solid selection: The classics that don’t quite make it into a lot of people’s “most iconic” lists, but that deserve to be there.
Then once again, for primetime, I wanted to build up with suspense and more suitable “after dark” viewing. And of course, slipping in a few of those iconic episodes when people are most likely to be watching. The Changing of the Guard, The Night of the Meek, Dust, The Shelter, The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, Third From the Sun, The Obsolete Man, The Jungle, Mr. Garrity and the Graves, The Grave, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, The Fear, and The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank.
Finally, as the marathon comes to a close, just shy of a full 48 hours, the remaining episodes are the ones that are good representations of the show, but that sometimes get neglected. I couldn’t give them any of the prize primetime slots, but they still needed to be here, you know? I mean, there’s a squirrel (albeit a dead one) in “Stopover in a Quiet Town”, so there was no way I was leaving it out. ;P
See, now THAT is my idea of the perfect Twilight Zone New Year’s Eve marathon. I know there are episodes missing from my line-up that a lot of you would want to include in your own ultimate marathon, but there was no way this was going to be entirely unbiased in favour of my favourites. And thanks to my DVDs and your Blu-rays, we can each stream our own ultimate marathon any time we want.
The great thing about The Twilight Zone is that there’s really something for everyone. And even the worst episodes are still somehow better than the best of what most other shows bring to the table. I’d rather watch “Hocus-Pocus and Frisby” than Black Mirror any day. Because even when he wasn’t the one writing the story, Serling somehow infused the essence of his character, his values, his very being into every last show. Rod Serling was The Twilight Zone, and it was his determination to make the world a better place, his dedication to raising awareness, and his discipline when it came to never putting out less than the best of your ability, that has cemented the show’s iconic standing in television history.
50+ years later, and thousands, if not millions, of people still set aside New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to watch episode after episode of The Twilight Zone. Even though they’ve seen them all a dozen times before.
Yeah. Let’s see if Game of Thrones can boast THAT in 50 years.
What do you think, Don? Does it stand a chance?