New Year’s Twilight Zone! Three Favorite Famous Episodes

Well I’m amped for the annual New Year’s SyFy marathon of the classic television series The Twilight Zone. For those of you who grew up, ironically, in the Twilight Zone and are unaware of this show it is a classic series of science fiction one-offs with an ever changing cast by the prolific writer/creator/and host of the show Rod Serling. The show ran originally from 1959 to 1964 on CBS and pushed the envelope of science fiction and social commentary in the medium. To this day the episodes are relevant in their core themes based in humanity’s trappings and the ways of the world. Even though the series is mostly available in other media, especially Netflix, the marathon on SyFy is is a treat as the mind bending and difficult moral questions posed by the show are a lovely addition to any day as they play on autopilot. The iconic introduction, and Rod Serling’s trademark suit are beyond pop culture and have entered pop consciousness, become something much larger than “a show from over 50 years ago”. The show spawned movies and numerous attempts at restarts, but none could ever capture the brilliance of Serling and almost always fall short because of it. So…submitted for your approval, a list of three of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes. (I won’t worry about spoiling the episodes as they are over 50 years old and I think the statute of limitations has passed…but do consider yourself forewarned).

Eye of the Beholder

Everything about this episode is magic. In my creative writing course I show this episode as a segue into what good science fiction can do. Eye of the Beholder is a beautiful blend of  cinema and camera angles, brilliant understanding of the human condition, and an off putting world where the utopia proves the dystopia. Set around the story of a horribly disfigured young woman and the struggle of the doctors to make her look more socially acceptable, the story unravels into a tale of conformity, communism, and the importance of individuality. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this episode is that you don’t notice that nobody’s face is actually shown until sometime into the episode–and once you realize it you don’t know why, or what is so off putting. In the end beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder as the “disfigured” woman is quite beautiful by the viewer’s standards but not by the pig faced inhabitants of the world. While many episodes are famous in their own right, this episode is undeniably one of, if not my absolute, favorite of the series because of the marriage of the writing and the medium.

 

Time Enough at Last

Another fantastically famous episode starring Burgess Merideth (who was in many many episodes). This installment in the 5th dimension follows Mr. Bemis, a banker who would much rather be reading. So much so that it becomes a hindrance to his daily life–he is suffering in his work due to his reading and his wife becomes cruel to him. Asking that he read to her from a poetry book, he eagerly obliges on to find each page redacted and blacked out. One day, Bemis takes his daily break to read in the bank vault to find the world destroyed to his delight. He is the world’s only survivor, now with plenty of time to read—that is until his glasses break. The episode draws no clear moral victory on either the side of social activity or intellectualism (or really anti-intellectualism, though it certainly doesn’t favor that) as Bemis’ desire to read isn’t vilified…but also in the end his need for others is clearly drawn. I did always wonder why he didn’t just fumble around to find an optometrists’ office after his glasses broke, though I suppose he might’ve after the credits; the episode’s ending stands as a highly parodied moment which even I cannot separate from Milhouse Van Houten weeping “My glasses…”

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

This episode starring William Shatner (and John Lithgow in the movie remake) is another episode that is part of popular consciousness–which is a mark of the immense impact the show had on American culture. Bob Wilson, as played by Shatner, is an airline passenger who is tortured as being the only one who can see a horrifying gremlin on the wing of the aircraft (actually the costume is ridiculous and the face makeup resembles that of the faces in Eye of the Beholder). The gremlin slowly drives the crew and other passengers to think Wilson has gone mad. This is further complicated as it is revealed that he had a major breakdown on a plane just six months earlier. He tries to convince himself that the horror he is seeing–the eventual demise of everyone on board the airplane–eventually going so far as to try and kill the creature by opening the window with a revolver. Eventually Wilson is carted off in a straight jacket but the viewer is informed that he is in fact a hero as the gremlin has left damage on the wing that would have surely killed all aboard.

There we have it. Essentially all the episodes are classics and some push the envelope in ways that might not even be possible today. Certainly no writer would have the level of creative control the Serling was afforded in today’s world–nor might any show be successful without a staple cast. I even wonder if we’d be able to watch a show without a storyline today…but one can only hope that someday an iteration of this show might be made that captures the spirit and quality of the original without rehashing the mid-twentieth century storylines. Originality required has always been the downfall of the remakes.

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Happy New Year From Eat Your Serial

Dearest Flakes,

We here at Eat Your Serial would like to wish you and your families the Happiest of New Years. As 2013 approaches we hope that we’ll be seeing even more of you clicking on our door. We resolve to offer you the best reading and entertainment out there as we have been for almost two years now. It is has especially been our pleasure this year as we changed our format to a web magazine and opening our online store—you have made 2012 incredibly fulfilling for us. We look forward to seeing you again in 2013 (and bring your friends with you! Everyone is invited to our year long reading party!). We’ve got plenty of tricks left for next year, so stick around, and check in regularly. We hope you all have a wonderful, exciting, fun, and fantastic New Year. Be safe out there tonight.

Best Regards and Wishes,

Eat Your Serial.

 

The Toast | Koi No Yokan

The Deftones released their seventh studio album Koi No Yokan last month. Clearly, the album name is in another language. A quick Google search brought me to the website that explained that “Koi No Yokan,” simply put, means that when a pers

on first meets someone they can sense that they will fall in love. This is much like the English “love at first sight” concept, but an album full of love songs from the Deftones?

Not exactly. While the band has never lacked passion in their music, this album did have some romantic elements to it. Could the recent marriage of lead singer Chino Moreno be the inspiration? Whatever the inspiration was, Ki No Yokan is one of those albums you listen to from start to finish without skipping a single track.

The first single, “Leathers,” draws the listeners in with a sense of calm guitars until Moreno breaks in with his signature snarl. The transition from calm to chaotic, the hushed whisper of Moreno’s voice to a scream, these are a few of my favorite things about the Deftones and are elements that the band has perfected over the years. The song itself is one of strength, about speaking your mind and being yourself. This may be too literal of a translation, but with lyrics like “This is your chance
Revolt, resist! Open your chest Look down, reach in” and “Shed your casing, show your lines and shapes,” one can’t help but feel empowered.

I’ve always felt like the Deftones had a lot of lust incorporated in their music so to hear a love song from there isn’t too far fetched. Listening to the song “Romantic Dreams” felt like a romantic seduction. The sweetest line of the song? “I promise to watch and raise your babies.” What can I say? I’m a sucker for a guy who loves kids.

“Tempest” is beautiful. The eerie ambiance of the guitar is what initially draws you into the song. But like most of the Deftones’ songs, just because it starts off slow, doesn’t mean it will stay that way. I enjoy the emotional build up the band presents in all of their music. So much beautiful tension all waiting to be broken.

One of the more striking tracks on the album, “Rosemary,” is another love song. The song is almost seven minutes long and reminds me of a wedding proposal. “Stay with me As we cross the empty skies Come sail with me We play in dreams As we cross the space and time Just stay with me.” After what sounds like desperately pouring your heart out, the song transitions from aggressive to tranquil and finishes off with light ambient electronic music and guitars fading into silence. It is spectacular.

It’s great to hear another album from one of my favorite bands. After the 2008 accident that badly injured their bassist Chi Cheng, fans (including myself) anxiously awaited for their next move (and album). Their 2010 album Diamond Eyes was worth waiting for and gave fans hope they would continue to move forward. This album has a lot of heart and even though it touched on some topics that might not necessarily be expected from the Deftones, it did not and will not disappoint.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

 

 

 

The Toast | Ted

My Facebook feed was exploding with Ted statuses the other night. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was anxiously waiting for the movie to finally come out on DVD.  The movie was a like a giant Family Guy/American Dad party and i

t should come as no surprise because it was written/directed and starred creator Seth MacFarlane. This is MacFarlane’s first movie and he nailed it.

When I went to pick the movie (I ordered in OnDemand from Time Warner Cable) there were two versions, TV-MA and R (they were also edited and unedited versions). When you have to pick between TV- MA and a rated R movie, you have to figure that the movie is pretty dirty/vulgar/trashy/awesome, and it definitely was. If you don’t enjoy toilet humor, then you might as well quit reading this while you’re ahead.

Growing up is hard, especially when you have no friends. John Bennett was a loner and no one wanted to be his friend. A group of bullies beating up a child told him to go away when he asked to join in, even the kid getting beat up told John to leave! When he receives a bear for Christmas, he makes a wish for his bear to be real so they can be best friends forever. His wish comes true.

John is so excited that he runs downstairs to show his parents (Alex Borstein and Ralph Garman), and needless to say, they’re shocked (and it’s hilarious,) but once that “oh my god, my son’s stuffed animal has come to life!” initial shock has worn off, they look at is as a miracle. Teddy then becomes an instant celebrity… at least for a little bit.

Flash forward to 2012 and Ted (Voiced by MacFarlane) is still living with John (Mark Wahlberg) and his girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis), and now he isn’t a child, he’s a man bear, a drinking, weed-smoking, foul-mouthed manbear. Ted often gets in the way of John’s work, making him late or getting him to leave early. One plus about John’s job would be his coworkers. Patrick Warburton makes an appearance as a coworker who gets drunk and texts someone to beat him up at night.  We find out who the aggressor is later on in the movie, and it’s a definitely a surprise.

Lori sees the pattern and asks John to have Ted move out. For the sake of their relationship and John’s job, he complies, but he’s not entirely happy about it. From here, the shenanigans ante is upped and Ted meets a crazed fan and this isn’t a harmless, teeny-bopper, he’s a bonafied creeper.  Surprisingly, this movie lacked jokes/references to Family Guy or American Dad, which I thought was a good move. There might have been one or two, but not enough to be shamelessly promoting the shows or be obnoxious.

The movie also features Giovanni Ribisi, Joel McHale, Norah Jones and Sam Jones. Sound like a strange cast? It actually all ties in together and works in it’s own strange way. Ted is not suitable for children or anyone who lacks a sense of humor. From raunchy sex jokes to just plain dumb “bro” humor, this movie keeps you in stitches until the very end.

This movie is by no means going to earn an Oscar, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of the script and cast. It’s such a simple and ridiculous concept, but believe it or not, it works. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time and I definitely won’t look at a teddy bear the same ever again. If you didn’t get it for Christmas, make sure you check out Ted! It’s available to rent or own now.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

 

 

The Toast | Three More Iconic Christmas Movies

Ah the day is upon us. Joy to the world…and I mean it this time. Unlike yesterday’s list of movies that could have really done without the Christmas context the list of movies I will provide for you today really are Christmas movies in the se

nse that you’d want to watch them every year; and furthermore they just happen to be all around enjoyable movies. If you’re like me, your family gatherings occur around the yuletube so every time you need to stoke that sucker pop in (or pull up) one of these fantastic Christmas classic flicks! These are full of old men pulling pranks, Bobcat Golthwait firing shotguns, and well…more guns that may just shoot your eye out.

 

Grumpy Old Men

This comedy classic starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon with Ann-Margret is a Christmas movie that you can watch any time of year if for nothing else than for the marvelous chemistry the leading men displayed time and again through the years. John Gustafson and Max Goldman are two grumpy old men, former best friends who had a falling out over a girl back in the year of the flood but still managed to be next door neighbors in the small town of Wabasha, Minnesota. Now both widowers the men find themselves playing pranks on each other like changing the channels across the property line and spraying hoses on the other’s roof to make the snow fall (both great pranks, though I’ve only ever attempted the former). Enter wonderfully refreshing Ann-Margret who is cultured, fun, and beautiful. The men resume their rivalry full force over this woman while their grown and divorced children, Daryl Hannah and Kevin Pollak, embark on their own romance. The movie starts really coming together as the children of the Grumpy Old Men try to get their fathers to make peace for Christmas. After a heart attack, a few more pranks, and some old people nudity we come to an ending that left us aching for more…which we got in the sequel Grumpier Old Men. While you may be thinking that I’m stretching the term “Christmas Movie” to include anything with Christmas and snow I tell you shut up and watch Burgess Merideth say funny stuff. This is a movie that makes you laugh and makes you feel good…and let’s be honest wouldn’t we all just love to watch Walter Matthau call people schmucks for an hour and a half? I’d buy that for a dollar.


Scrooged

 

There is no denying this as a bona fide Christmas Movie. This adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol starring Bill Murray is without a doubt the best version of the tale I’ve ever seen—including the original. Then again, I’m pretty partial to Bill Murray. The movie follows Frank Cross (Murray) as a terrible person in the role of programming executive—and while playing the role of the terrible person who later gets redeemed is quite a stretch for Bill Murray he manages to pull it off. The special effects are horribly late 80s—in that good way—and we watch as Cross’ past of being a decent guy slowly becomes his horrible present. We watch as while he is losing his mind, disgruntled employee Bobcat Goldthwait shows up trying to kill him like a sort of deranged Bob Cratchet (Bob and Bob, GET IT?) Cross goes through all the motions of Scrooge and even has a fairly scary moment of being in his own coffin while he’s getting cremated. We see a grim spirit with a TV and demons under its cloak, and we get a cab ride that is forever etched into my mind as the cab you’ll never want to get into. All the while Cross is trying to put on a production of a Christmas Carol for live television and win back his college sweetheart (who he apparently met in Animal Farm, and who went on an adventure looking for the Lost Ark shortly after their break up). All in, this movie has tons of Bill Murray carrying the show, which is just fine by me because…let’s be honest, wouldn’t we all just love to watch Bill Murray be a schmuck for an hour and a half? I’d buy that for a dollar.


A Christmas Story

 

A Christmas Story is one of those undeniable classic flicks that has become totally inextricable from Christmas thanks to the TBS 24 hour Christmas marathon. It’s a story that we can all relate to regardless of our religious affiliations because it is rooted in very human terms—dysfunctional families, childhood manipulation of parents, and the trappings of the American school system. The pop culture impact of this movie cannot be denied as Jean Shepherd’s Ralphie Parker and his misadventures leading into Christmas have treated us all to prestigious awards, Little Orphan Annie decoder rings, fathers battling boilers, kids eating soap, and of course the holy grail the lauded Red Rider BB Gun. As Ralphie starts laying hints left and right for his parents to buy him the much desired weapon/toy of his choice he is stymied at every turn by the famous warning “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Ralphie’s daydreams of his mother and teacher as a wicked witch, himself as a man blinded by soap poisoning, or as a crackshot cowboy protecting his family are balanced by the real goings on of his life: friends getting their tongue stuck to flagpoles in the icy winter, bullies getting their just desserts, the best enunciation of “Fragile” you’ll ever hear, and of course the Pink Bunny Pajamas (he’s like a pink nightmare!). The Parker Family is all a little off their rockers, as all our own families are, but in the end they love each other and enjoy their Christmas. I probably don’t have to tell you to make sure you watch this one as you’ll probably watch it several times (or have already by the time you read this!). Its an All American look at the post-war Christmas in the every-states, and in many ways is the dirt under the fingernails of the Norman Rockwell picture of the season. And let’s be honest…we all have a little dirt under our finger nails. Umm…I’d buy that for a dollar.


Now that you’re all Christmased up go and enjoy your family, enjoy your gifts, and make sure you don’t shoot your eye out! Merry Happy, Cookies and Milk!

A Happy Holidays From Eat Your Serial

Dear Flakes,

We here at Eat Your Serial would like to take a moment to wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season to all our readers. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or any other holiday we extend our wishes of go

od cheer and good will to you. We have been having a lot of fun the past few days with Christmas and we hope you’ve enjoyed it. We have been blessed with fans that are loyal and true, and for that we consider you our family. We’ve got presents that we’re looking to drop on you coming up, and we try to give you the gift of entertainment year round but for today we’d just like to wish our fans and readers a restful, peaceful, and enjoyable day with those you love best. Thanks for coming back and reading with us every day. Our promise to you is that we’ll keep serving it if you keep eating it.

 

Best wishes for our family to yours,

Eat Your Serial

The Toast | Three Iconic Christmas Movies of the 90s

Well, tomorrow is Christmas and even a Jewish-half-Puerto-Rican like myself is getting swept up in the spirit. I just saw Santa ride by on the back of a fire truck in my neighborhood (don’t ask) and I’m pretty ready to start watching some Chr

istmas movies and get this over with. Honestly, I’ve been avoiding the Christmas of it all, but now that it’s right on top of me, I thought I might share a few Christmas flicks from my youth in that strange and far off decade of the 1990s. It was a simpler age when movies about children being left home alone, and a boy who vowed never to grown up would resume his vow after growing up; an age when men dressed as bats could have movies set at Christmas…then again…that is every age. An age when Christmas would be so well marketed that its Christmas movies might have almost no Christmas in them at all. So, without further delay, here is a list of a few Christmas winners from the decade of my learning everything I’d ever need to know–THE 90s.

 

Home Alone

Yup I started here. Of course, many things started here; not the least of which is my desire to hit burglars with paint cans and not kill them. Believe it or not, this is the first movie I ever saw Joe Pecsi in, and I had only known the voice of Daniel Stern from “The Wonder Years.” Catherine O’Hara I knew, of course, from Beetlejuice, and Michael C. Maronna I would later know very well from “Pete and Pet”e–but enough about my childhood and more about Christmas. In this loveable tale, marking the fall of John Hughs, young Kevin McCallister manages to wish his family away in a glaring oversight of parental responsibility and is left, ahem, Home Alone at Christmas. In a flurry of over sleeping, his parents manage to get a whole buttload of extended family into a set a vans and on their way to fly to a Christmas destination vacation with jerky Macaulay Culkin left behind to fend for himself for a few days. While he runs amok shaving, grocery shopping, watching gangster flicks (keep the change ya filthy animals), and generally having a really sad Christmas party with cardboard cutouts, the Wet Bandits aka Tommy DeVito…wait..I mean Harry and Marv, rob the neighborhood blind and leave their water running. Bastards. Only the sly eight-year-old and his house full of cleverly planned non-lethal (though in real life totally lethal) traps stands between the bandits and their Christmas success. What’s the deal with the creepy neighbor? Who else always thought that the gangster movie was a real movie until they were an adult? Was this actually John Candy’s last movie appearance? Did anyone stare at the traps map poster that came with the VHS on their wall for endless hours daydreaming as a kid? All these questions and less answered as you watch the trailer for this iconic 90s smash hit! (ALSO THE SCHOLASTIC BOOK NOVELIZATION AND TERRIBLE VIDEO GAME ADAPTATIONS! Just sayin’)

 

Batman Returns

Yes, the sequel to Tim Burton’s Batman is a Christmas movie, if only in the most basic way: it is set at Christmas time. This movie did quite a bit for defining some traits for the Penguin for many years via Danny DeVito’s portrayal of him and does have an awesome scene in which his father–Pee Wee Herman–casts him into a freezing river. And really what’s more Christmasy than that? Having the movie set in the context of of the Yuletide really, to my recollection doesn’t do much put provide a backdrop for the Penguin to have many penguins marching down the street with missiles and other forms of artillery strapped to their backs. I mean, yes there are some elements to it like the aforementioned baby in the river, and the Penguin plotting to kill the first born male of every aristocrat in Gotham that make this move very Passover Christmas appropriate? I dunno. I know that Christopher Walken is in it and he owns a Department Store…and Catwoman blows it up? And that’s a metaphor for something? Also, I guess, the movie spawned a lot of action figures (LIKE THE BATMAN FIGURE WITH THE GLIDERS!) and that is the most seasonal trick of all! Incidentally, this was also the first movie I saw any of these actors in as well–except for Michael Keaton whom I knew from the first Batman (and Beetlejuice of course). (ALSO THE SCHOLASTIC BOOK NOVELIZATION AND TERRIBLE VIDEO GAME ADAPTATIONS! Just sayin’)

 

 

Hook

In another move of marketing skill, this work from the mind of Steven Spielberg starring Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman asked the question: What if the Boy Who Never Grew Up grew up? A great concept, honestly, and in this case placing a movie at Christmas provided the perfect context for Peter Banning (nee Pan) to visit Granny Wendy with his wife and kids after a long absence from London Town. This movie is full of the magic and wonder one might expect from a Spielberg joint–and many of the inconsistencies as well. Regardless, the movie has a formidable main cast with the addition of Julia Roberts and Dame Maggie Smith (who, lets be honest, is just the spirit of Old English Lady). Honestly, I watched this movie just two days ago, have seen it dozens of times, and saw it four times in the theaters as a kid. The whole concept of Peter Pan is really attractive to me–as even as a grown up, I have refused to do so (read some of my posts for proof). The movie has its fair share of cameos including Glenn Close, Phil Collins, George Lucas, and Carrie Fisher. It has long left me with a sense of wonder and imagination from bangarang, to imaginary rainbow food, to desiring a golden sword. The element of Christmas in this movie is the perfect set up for rekindling strong family togetherness, rediscovering your inner child, and again lots and lots of merchandising. Honestly, I can say again that without a doubt I knew none of the actors in this movie until I saw it (with the notable exception of Bob Hoskins whom I knew from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?). It’s a lot of fun, but really doesn’t have much to do with Christmas proper. (ALSO THE SCHOLASTIC BOOK NOVELIZATION AND TERRIBLE VIDEO GAME ADAPTATIONS! Just sayin’)

 

 

And well, there are others. I mean, I could have written about The Santa Clause, Jack Frost, All I want for Christmas or any number of other crapfests from the 90s Christmas Season, but these really stick out to me as particularly iconic Christmas movies of the 90s for a few reasons. The biggest reason of all being that they really don’t have much to do with Christmas, but do have a hell of a lot to do with marketing. With the exception of Home Alone, these fims use Christmas as a non-essential backdrop to the plot, and probably all could have really done without it and gotten the similar effect. They all had a buttload of money tied in to them in merchandise, toys, and tie-ins though and that’s what thew 90s was all about: building franchises. So, as the franchise of American Christmas descends upon us, let us all remember to buy the Scholastic Novelization and the Crappy Video Game Adaptation of our own family gatherings–regardless of our particular beliefs because in America Christmas is about spending money…and all peoples can get behind that!

 

(All humorous cynicism aside, Happy Holidays everyone. Enjoy your families when and if you celebrate, and be safe and happy no matter what you do! And of course, a Festivus for the rest of us.)

 

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Written by: Brandon Melendez