Monday, August 30, 2010

The Top Five Best Things About "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"

"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" is one of the best episodes of The Twilight Zone, which is one of the undisputed greatest TV series of all time. If you don't agree with that statement, you don't belong in my readership (but thanks anyway for the hit!). Back when the TV biz was nowhere near as established (or corrupt) as it is now, much of the programming that found its way beamed into living rooms across America was essentially glorified filler made to take up time in between commercials (as opposed to now, when... wait). I sometimes like to tell myself that anyone with a camera, a script, a group of people to fill in as actors, and at least half a clue could have made history in the burgeoning picture business of this era. This is because I equate every writer and director of this era with Ed Wood for some reason.

Enter Rod Serling (shown here as the innovator of the old "arrow through the head" gag), who would have been better than you no matter when he was born no matter what you think. He was one of those ridiculously prolific types who can churn out works of irrefutable depth and profound social resonance at breakneck pace and on no budget (which, other than the "irrefutable depth and profound social resonance" part, actually sounds exactly like Ed Wood).

Don't get me wrong - just like any anthology series, there are more than a few Twilight Zone eps that could be generously described as clunkers (and the Serling-penned Night Gallery segment "The Nature of the Enemy" is actually one of the worst things I've ever seen). But the man wrote 148 of these episodes, among a ton of other things, many of which I love the shit out of, so I'll balk at calling him an overhyped hack and settle for "creative genius." Remember, kids, on the internet you're either one or the other.

But before I really digress and this turns into another Hood of Horror epic, let's just hurry up and get down to ranking the top five best things about "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet."

And by the way - you can fully watch this episode on YouTube.