Monday, January 22, 2018

The Twilight Zone -- Season 1 Episode 14 (Third from the Sun)

 WARNING:  Im going to give away the ending of the episode.  If you haven't seen it yet, you've been warned.


I remember reading about the 2004 version of Battlestar Galactica and their decision to use things that we’d recognize.  This was particularly evident with clothing.  Someone wearing a nice suit probably means that he’s probably a lawyer.  If it looks like they’re wearing a uniform, they’re probably military.  I thought of this when I watched Third From the Sun.

The episode takes place on a planet that looks a lot like Earth.  They have factories with workers that go home to houses with wives and, possibly, children.  They play card games and have telephones.  In fact, two of the factory workers talk about all-out war being realized within the next 48 hours.  One of those men, Will Sturka, has a plan to steal a spaceship along with coworker Jerry Riden.  They’ll take their respective wives and Sturka’s daughter to a new planet, some 11,000,000 miles away, which happens to be called Earth.

It’s strange how some of the Twilight Zone episodes can seem somewhat dated whereas others, like this one, still seem relevant.  Consider that Hawaii just hat a threat of an inbound missile.  Such threats have always existed.  If you knew that a civilization-ending attack was coming, wouldn’t you want to get off the planet?

It may seem a little odd that the buildings look so familiar or that they have playing cards much as we do, but Most Twilight Zone episodes had less than 30 minutes to work with.  There’s not much time to waste on figuring out what’s what.  Those escaping go from factory to house to ship to Earth in short order.

This is why I’m a little hesitant to call out the fact that Earth is supposed to be so close to this other planet.  The distance from the Earth to the Sun is about 93,000,000 miles.  We don’t know that their mile is the same as ours, but we can assume that they’re similar insofar as this episode is concerned.  It seemed that The Twilight Zone wasn’t so good with astronomical distances.

When the wife serves chocolate cake and lemonade, it seems odd that they would have lemons and chocolate.  However, these details are minor.  What we call the refreshments is unimportant.  In all the major respects, the societies are similar.  So much so that we realize that the group of five people haven’t really escaped disaster.  At best, they’ve only delayed it.





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