Last New Year’s Day, TCM showed “Sunset Boulevard” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” back-to-back, which is about all you can ask of an afternoon devoted to taking down the Christmas tree. This year, no such luck. So we dipped in and out of the “Twilight Zone” marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel, which started New Year’s Eve and showed no signs of slowing by midafternoon the following day.
I introduced Kate to TZ after our trip to Chicago and the American Girl Place. I was trying to explain why I didn’t want to buy a doll that looked like her, and told her about the “Living Doll” episode, then found it at the library. She was appropriately amused/creeped out by it, and we watched a couple others on the DVD, including the one about the ventriloquist whose dummy starts talking to him. It was one of the very few times in my life as a parent that I could act like a TV parent (appropriately enough) and say, “So now you see why mom finds certain dolls a little creepy,” and Kate replied that she understood perfectly.
When we turned on the marathon Sunday night, they were showing “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” with the young William Shatner. A classic, that one, followed by “It’s a Good Life,” with Billy Mumy as the monster kid who can make his imagination come to life. Of course that was a big hit with Kate, who’s been going around the house ever since shrieking, “Die, three-headed gopher, die!”
I let them wash over me and thought about all that was admirable about the series — the swish pan to Rod Serling and his elegant, well-written intros, the pop-cult references to Freudian psychiatry, and finally, the thing that makes them as good and fresh today as they were 40 or 45 years ago — the way they send their taproots right down into the collective unconscious. Seriously. Kate is a modern kid, ever-wary of being seduced by anything I like, which she considers boring and old. (She was assigned to do a school report on Stevie Wonder — this is life in Detroit — and acted like she had to write two pages on Millard Fillmore.) I can still reach her with an old movie and sometimes a pop song, but it requires extra effort; the minute she sees black-and-white photography she puts up her blast shields. But Talky Tina in “Living Doll” hooked her immediately, and after that she was a sitting duck.
Hit the Big Themes, and you’re golden.
I just spent the last 45 minutes writing quite a bit more for this post, doubling its length, including linkalicious bloggage and more brain-numbing details of my pathetic daily life. And then Safari quit unexpectedly and it all went away.
Die, three-headed Safari, die!
I think it was a sign. Time to hit the showers.