No matter what dimension you call home, The Twilight Zone offers life lessons that can do more than just save you from being eaten by aliens.
In Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone (Thomas Dunne Books), Cleveland Plain Dealer TV critic Mark Dawidziak shares practical advice he’s gleaned from Rod Serling’s classic 1960s TV anthology series.
Many of the chapter lessons may be familiar — “Count Your Blessings,” “Don’t Live in the Past,” “Be Your Own Person” — but they are accompanied by engaging episodic parables from the five-season series, whose stories of fantasy and science-fiction, mostly dramatic but often leavened with humor, still wear well today.
The chapter “Divided We Fall” may be all too relevant today, unfortunately. “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” a 1960 episode referencing the anti-Communist McCarthy era, shows how quickly friendly neighbors can become enemies when trust evaporates, destroying themselves before invading aliens have to do anything.
In “Suffer the Little Children,” Dawidziak features episodes that show the rewards of sacrificing for the sake of young ones (1959’s “One for the Angels,” 1963’s “In Praise of Pip”). On the more devilish side, it explores the penalty for crossing a tiny, super-powered tyrant (1961’s all-time classic, “It’s a Good Life”). Wouldn’t we all like the power — used judiciously, of course — to wish certain people into a cornfield?
The age-old question of how to judge whether aliens are helpful or hostile is explored in the 1962 episode, “To Serve Man,” featured in the very literal chapter, “Never Judge a Book by Its Cover.” Since it’s tough to label the ending of a 55-year-old episode a spoiler, here’s the twist on the title of the alien tome, “To Serve Man”: It’s a cookbook!
“Remember Your Happy Place”…