Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year from The Twilight Zone

I'm not sure when this started, but for at least the past dozen years the Science Fiction cable channel has broadcast a two-day marathon featuring episodes of the classic TV program The Twilight Zone beginning on the morning of December 31 and continuing through New Year's Day. I've always liked The Twilight Zone, and I'm pretty sure I've managed to catch at least a couple of episodes every year since I first learned about these marathons. It's the only time I ever watch the Science Fiction channel, and one of the few times I watch anything on live television anymore. Created by writer Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone tends to feature stories with an underlying message or moral. Most of the these messages are humanistic in nature and champion "the little guy" against oppressive government or societal institutions. I think that's why I like the show so much -- that, and the unexpected and sometimes terrifying plot twists that typically leave the viewer with an awful lot to ponder. Not a bad way to start the new year.

I've only seen two episodes so far this year, but I'm posting a third episode -- perhaps my favorite one ever -- below. It's called "Night of the Meek," starring Art Carney as a department store Santa who, after being fired for reporting to work drunk, manages to find a much better gig.  Now presented, for your consideration:

Incidentally, this isn't the only time Art Carney played Santa Claus. He put on a slightly better beard and Santa suit to reprise the role in The Night They Saved Christmas, a 1984 movie featuring the late great Mason Adams as a determined executive whose plan to drill for oil at the North Pole threatens Santa's workshop. Carney is also responsible for a tune I've been hoping to use on my last few holiday CDs and may well use next time. It's a spoken word record in which Carney recites the classic poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas," in syncopation against the jazzy backdrop of a single drummer's beat. You can hear it HERE.

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